#BlogTour Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon

Let’s kick off the BlogTour for Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon. It’s a riveting combination of literary fiction meets noir, which brutally kicks the characters aside on occasion to allow for some brash contemporary reality. It is the kind of read that ends up on the tip of wagging tongues and achieving cult status.

About  the Author

Jonathan Lyon was born in 1991 in London. He studied at Oxford University, graduating in 2013 with the Gibbs Prize. He moved to Berlin in the same year. He has had a chronic illness for over a decade. He is a self-made demon. His debut novel, Carnivore, was published by HQ (HarperCollins) in August 2017.

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Buy Carnivore


About the book

Meet Leander: lover, fighter, liar.

He learnt a long time ago that nothing is as intoxicating as blood. But whether it’s his or someone else’s doesn’t matter any more. There’s a mysterious pain in every muscle of his body – and it’s got so bad that he’ll do anything to escape it.

Up to now, it’s been his secret. But it’s hard to remain invisible when you leave a trail of destruction everywhere you go. So, when he comes to the attention of one of London’s most infamous criminals, Leander decides to put his appetite for violence to the ultimate test.

Let the villain win.

Extract of Carnivore

‘What’s your fantasy?’

All sex and storytelling starts with this, of course. Sometimes the question’s self-directed, sometimes it’s only implied. But here, obviously, I was supposed to reply ‘being dominated,’ so that’s what I said.

I was actually fantasising about eating a satsuma, slowly, slice by slice, on the edge of a rooftop, or perhaps on a hilltop, watching a building below me burn in a fire I’d started. But this would be too long to say aloud, and probably wouldn’t arouse a man in the prime of his mid-life crisis as easily as a boy begging for a beating.

So now that my victim thought that I was his victim, he could breathe more heavily, and began struggling to unbutton his shirt.‘No, no you should be doing this,’ he said, fluttering his fingers. ‘I mean, undress me, boy!’

Unsuited to the dominant role, he recoiled at his own orders. Clearly, he was a submissive – if I’d had the energy, I could’ve had him on all fours in a few minutes. But energy is not one of my vices. ‘Of course, sir,’ I said instead, my mouth twitching into a smile I had to hide by lowering my head.

Beneath his shirt was a paunch of greying hairs. As I removed the rest of his clothes, he hovered awkwardly between sitting and standing, his hands just above my back, not yet confident enough to touch me.

‘Now, now… you!’ I took off my tracksuit – the uniform he’d requested – delivered my finest doe eyed simper, and knelt down. But he rejected this arrangement and instead dragged me upwards onto the bed. ‘No time for that… boy. Let’s get to the point.’ He forced my face into the pillow and I began to moan in a way that would make him hard. Perhaps he hoped I’d feel a kind of shame in this, but ‘this’ meant nothing.

‘This’ was merely boring.

Review

Leander is like a ticking time bomb with a propensity for violence and a tendency to bury any emotional response, which may appear to the mere human eye to be a humane reaction or at least one deemed suitable by society. He hides behind the games. Fighting pain with more pain, regardless of whether it is inflicted upon others or done unto him.

To be completely frank I think Lyon has carved out a large piece of his soul and woven it straight into this story.

Leander may describe himself as a psychopath, but perhaps his coping mechanisms are just a little more extreme than those of other people. His physical pain has become the demon wailing inside him and battling to take over. To combat the demon he must distract it by any means necessary. Which means hurting those who purport to love him, destroy and play mind games with the shallow ones merely craving his physical appearance.

It’s a riveting combination of literary fiction meets noir, which brutally kicks the characters aside on occasion to allow for some brash contemporary reality. It is marmite toast served with a chilled glass of champagne. It is the kind of read that ends up on the tips of wagging tongues and achieving cult status.

Jonathan Lyon devours himself, his desires, his fears and his pain whole in this ode to the black hole and Shakespearean play of millennialism. Carnivore is perfused with the wealth of an intellectual mind in constant battle with itself, refusing to be taken prisoner by the borders and boundaries of society or literature.

Are you a carnivore, am I? Are we all destined to be devoured by the hidden insanity and self-destructive tendencies of others or ourselves, whilst sailing along in the interim in our self-inflicted state of stasis, coping and yet barely living.

Yes, it is that kind of read.

Buy Carnivore at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Out in Paperback 5th April 2018

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#BlogTour We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for this wonderful combination of literary, crime and maritime fiction, We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard, translated by David Warriner. It is a true testament of talent.

About the Author

Ten years or so ago, Roxanne Bouchard decided it was time she found her sea legs. So she learned to sail, first on the St Lawrence River, before taking to the open waters off the Gaspé Peninsula. The local fishermen soon invited her aboard to reel in their lobster nets, and Roxanne saw for herself that the sunrise over Bonaventure never lies. We Were the Salt of the Sea is her fifth novel, and her first to be translated into English. She lives in Quebec.

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Translation by David Warriner @givemeawave

Buy We Were the Salt of the Sea

About the book

As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman’s nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man’s heart in

knots. Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he’s thrown into the deep end of the investigation.

On Quebec’s outlying Gaspé Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen’s wharves. Interviews drift into idle chit-chat, evidence floats off with the tide and the truth lingers in murky waters. It’s enough to make DS Morales reach straight for a large whisky…

Both a dark and consuming crime thriller and a lyrical, poetic ode to the sea, We Were the Salt of the Sea is a stunning, page-turning novel, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Review

After many years of unanswered questions Catherine decides to try and poke a stick right into what she perceives to be a hornets nest. Instead she is confronted with a confusing contradiction of welcoming warmth and gnarly disdain.

The town has a Ryan’s Daughter attitude about it. The outsider who asks too many questions and threatens any insider becomes the enemy. Catherine is in the unenviable position of being disliked for her genetic connection to Marie, and yet at the same time liked for her lack of relationship to her mother.

Not everyone understands the need for connection or closure in an adopted child, in this case given away for safekeeping child. You can love the people who raise you unconditionally, and yet still have a burning desire to find a biological connection to the person who gave you away. Catherine is torn between wanting to finally meet her biological mother and avoiding an encounter between the two of them.

The real question she has is which man managed to impregnate her mother. Who is her father? Simultaneously this story is also her path towards acceptance and freedom. Sometimes the past doesn’t leave enough information or clues, and the so-called witnesses may never part with their important memories.

Bouchard gives the reader much more than just a story about a search for answers and the closure for a woman without familial ties. Bouchard hands us the sea on a silver platter. You can taste the salt, feel the waves, and are almost convinced to set sail on the open seas yourself. In contrast to that scenario the author presents the dangers of the sea. Looking out upon the calm surface bobbing softly along as the sun sets and sinks on the horizon, the mind is tricked into believing the Fata Morgana of pure innocence. So many set sail on the premise of sanctity and peace, only to be taken hostage by the wild uncontrollable nature of the oceans.

As if that wasn’t enough incentive to read this book then perhaps the subtle crime story the author has woven into the delicate fabric of this combination of literary, crime and maritime fiction.

Bouchard’s writing is as smooth as caramel sauce being poured into a bowl of melted chocolate. Fortunately Warriner’s translation reproduces this warm comfortable flow beautifully. Barring the excessive use of ‘Christ in a chalice and Hee’ this is a stunning lyrical read, and I expect to be seeing Bouchard’s name on award lists.

Buy We Were the Salt of the Sea at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

#BlogTour Turning for Home by Barney Norris

I am absolutely delighted to be part of the #BlogTour for this incredibly talented author. Believe you me the hype is not only worth it, it is also absolutely accurate. Barney Norris has a knack for storytelling and is a scribe worth watching.

About the Author

Barney Norris was born in Sussex in 1987, and grew up in Salisbury. Upon leaving university he founded the theatre company Up In Arms. He won the Critics’ Circle and Offwestend Awards for Most Promising Playwright for his debut full-length play Visitors. He is the Martin Esslin Playwright in Residence at Keble College, Oxford. Barney’s new play Nightfall is one of the three inaugural productions at Nicholas Hytner’s new Bridge Theatre, beginning early 2018.

Follow @barnontherun @DoubleDayUK

Buy Turning for Home

About the book

Once a year, every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house in the country to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, grandchildren, distant cousins – it is a milestone in their lives and has been for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met – and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Robert is determined that this will be the final party. But for both him and Kate, it may also become the most important gathering of all.

As lyrical and true to life as Norris’s critically acclaimed debut Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, this is a compelling, emotional story of family, human frailty, and the marks that love leaves on us.

Barney’s debut novel, Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain was bestselling and critically acclaimed – the Guardian called it a ‘state of the nation novel’, and ‘deeply affecting’, and the Mail on Sunday praised it as ‘outstanding…a moving, strangely uplifting novel…Superb’. It featured as Waterstones Book of the Month, and was shortlisted for prizes including the RSL Ondaatje Prize and Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards.

In Turning for Home, Barney tackles the issue of eating disorders, a very personal subject that has affected someone close to him. Barney has much to contribute to current discussion around how mental health and eating disorders in particular are handled by our health services.

Review

It isn’t often one finds an author self-assessing their own novel at the end of said novel, and then pinpointing exactly what my thoughts are on the story in question.

Norris himself says that initially this started out as a story about the Boston Tapes. They started out as a series of frank interviews given by former loyalist and republican paramilitaries that chronicles their involvement in the Troubles, in an attempt to create an oral history of those times. In return for names, dates, places and details, the former paramilitaries made a deal that the interviews wouldn’t be made public until after their deaths.

Including the frank admission that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams had his own squad within the IRA, who were responsible for the so-called ‘Disappeared’ of the Troubles. The people who were targeted, kidnapped, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA.

I digress.

Turning for Home is like reading two stories in one, and I am sure both would make excellent stand-alone novels. Together they become something special. A spark ignites and weaves its way through this poignant tale of pain, grief and control.

The reader follows Robert and Kate, grandfather and granddaughter. Their individual tales collide at the annual celebration for Robert’s birthday. A family reunion that has an air of finality to it, especially since the loss of Robert’s wife.

Robert is dealing with the implications of the Boston Tapes. The possibility of secrets being aired has some of his connections running scared, and after so many years the past has the power to insert itself into the future.

Kate’s story is a wee bit more complex. She suffers from anorexia nervosa, which comes under eating disorders in the DSM. Norris gives the reader a candid look into the thought process of someone with an eating disorder, and how many misconceptions there are about how to help someone with the disorder. Even so-called mental health professionals have difficulty really comprehending the grip it can have, and the impact it has on entire families.

It’s all about control and loss of control. When you experience loss of control it is a normal response to try and regain it. You start to look for the one thing no one else can control but you. Food, fat and calories become the enemy and you start to fight them with every inch of your body.

Aside from the obvious familial connection, the thread that connects both Robert and Kate, and their stories, is coping with loss and feelings of guilt. Unresolved emotional distress, trauma and conflict are the equivalent of malignant tumours in our bodies. Sometimes the inner enemy is evident and sometimes it is a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode.

Norris writes with a finesse and wisdom beyond his years. He has the gift of gab, a knack for telling a story and pulling his readers along with him on a journey even he doesn’t have the directions for. Eventually he brings himself and us home, regardless of wherever that may be.

Buy Turning for Home at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Autopsy of a Father by Pascale Kramer

AutopsyFather 2I think it is fair to say that Kramer manages to sneak into your head-space and then lets the events unfold in front of you like a slideshow of personal memories.

Family can give you the best experiences in life, but also the worst. Parental relationships can be the foundations of your identity, however the flip-side of the coin can also be a dysfunctional relationship that means there is no foundation of identity at all or a lack of one.

Although the relationship between Ania and Gabriel takes the main stage in this story, it is so much more than a daughter’s autopsy of the relationship with her father.

Kramer rips a plaster off of the pus filled boil of immigration. She has chosen the suburbs of Paris to point a spotlight at this and the underlying racial tensions in France. To be completely fair, to France that is, it is a topic of contention in quite a lot of western countries at the moment. An issue that has swayed elections and given fodder to the right-wing. We are living in an era where we have to be very careful that we don’t repeat mistakes of the past.

Gabriel is a well-known and admired journalist until he decides to publicly support a group of young French men, who ruthlessly murdered an innocent African immigrant. The victim was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Gabriel is vilified for his xenophobic rant. He loses his job, and his neighbours and fellow villagers aren’t afraid to show him how displeased they are by his opinion.

The former left-wing intellectual has suddenly taken on an anti-immigrant stance, which is sort of hypocritical considering that his wife was Iranian. His family structure sort of mirrors that of his home country. His half French and half Iranian daughter embraces her dead mother’s culture and religion. He loved his wife, and yet he rejects his daughter. He used to embrace the diversity in his country and now he rejects anything but the French culture.

Ania is unaware of all of this. The two of them have a fractured relationship. She never lived up to his expectations and he never accepted her shortcomings. The two of them are strangers bound by nothing more than blood. Ania isn’t really bothered by the lack of interest, at least that is what she tells herself. What really gets her goat is when her father treats his grandson, her son, with the same disinterest. I think most readers will be able to comprehend the difference. You get used to the indifference or the negative qualities your parents have and accept them as part of their eccentricities, however we react like protective parents when our children are subjected to the same personality flaws.

There is a moment in the story when Gabriel and Ania are in the same train compartment, and yet he pretends he hasn’t seen them. Almost as if he doesn’t want to associate himself with the two of them in public. Are these the actions of a xenophobe or of a man ashamed of his past actions? Is this realisation the reason he commits suicide?

In a way the story ends without any definitive answers. There is no clarification between Ania and Gabriel, and no resolution in general. Of course that is the reality of life and relationships, sometimes conflicts aren’t resolved.

Aside from the parallels Kramer draws to the political situation in France, which is quite cleverly done in the context of a family setting, I really think she portrayed the relationship between daughter and father well. The dysfunctional side of family, the distances that grow between people, and the hard and hurtful truth that usually remains unspoken.

Buy Autopsy of a Father at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman

a horse

Stick with it, would be my first observation. It may take a while for you to be drawn into this, and to be fair Grossman plays his cards close to his chest. The majority of the book takes place on stage with Dov and his stand-up comedy routine.

Dov bares his emotions and soul to the audience. He pays particular attention to his old acquaintance Avi, after extending a personal invitation to him. Why comedy? Well, that becomes self explanatory when Dov tells everyone what happens to his parents.

Avishai is both observer and narrator, through past and present. I think one of the most important questions is what role he plays in the story. Why does Dovaleh want him there? What will his presence change? Does Dov expect something from Avishai?

I do believe Dov wants Avi to comprehend what he did and how he treated Dov all those years ago. There is a moment during the comedy routine or rather the life monologue where Avi is once again given the choice between looking away or intervening. This decision may be the beginning of a healing process, then again perhaps it is just late justice.

Grossman reminds me of Roald Dahl in a sense that his writing reflects his grief. You can feel the pain of losing his son in his words. Even after a decade he still seems to be searching for the why of it all. This is also a theme within this particular story. Why Dov? What is the point of our existence? Why one person and not the other? Perhaps most importantly why so many of us look the other way when someone is in need or just needs some support.

This is an unusual read, one I can imagine well as a short film. It is a confession of sorts, the type that needs absolution or maybe Dov is seeking it for others. A Horse Walks into a Bar is a complex conversation full of self flagellation in the form of jokes.

Buy A Horse Walks into a Bar at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

homo_deusIt’s smart, complex and quite frankly a wee bit terrifying. Harari doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to saying it like it is. It certainly isn’t the kind of book you read and just delegate to the back rows of read books. It’s the kind of read you digest and ponder over.

One of the issues he discusses or argues is that humans have tried their hand at everything, and the only thing that could possibly stroke their egos more is extending the length of their power. Immortality or as close as we can come to it. It just proves how egotistical and self-enamoured humans are.

Harari wants the reader to put down their phones, step away from technology and perhaps reflect upon the questions, facts and suppositions he throws into the room. It is a very thought-provoking read.

It is quite hard to put the content into just a few words. There is just too much information to do that. I do however have to hand it to Harari for making all the information and hypothetical situations readable and understandable.

Buy Homo Deus at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Orphan Mother by Robert Hicks

the-orphan-motherHicks portrays the contentious political atmosphere in 1867 quite well. Despite the Civil Rights Bill and the Freeman’s Bureau, there was still great opposition to the rights and freedom of ex-slaves.

Many of the white people find it difficult to accept the fact the former slaves now have a voice and aren’t afraid to use it. Those that weren’t born into a life of slavery view the ex-slaves as different to themselves, there is even a hierarchy amongst the slaves.

However they do agree on their common enemy. Those that hate all of them, because of the colour of their skin.

There are also the beginnings of the structure of organised disruption and attacks on blacks and white sympathizers. White men banding together to commit murder, arson and torture.

The story wanders from the future into the past and the atmosphere above. Mariah’s tale is slowly woven one, but certainly one worth staying with until the end. The loss of her son determines the rest of her life. His death is the catalyst to the entire events that unfold.

Hicks hits upon so many important issues during that era, but they never overshadow the actual main plot. From Mariah’s strange bond between herself and her former owner, and her quest for answers, which isn’t about vengeance, although Tole mistakenly thinks it is.

I could go on for quite a while about this book, it is a good read, and I just have to add that the author’s note was an interesting conclusion to the read. I really enjoyed the way the author kept a comfortable pace and took his time to let the characters grow, feel and explore within the narrative.

Buy The Orphan Mother at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

P.S: I adore the cover!