Notebook by Tom Cox

Notebook by Tom Cox


Sure, sex is great, but have you ever cracked open a new notebook and written something on the first page with a really nice pen? The story behind Notebook starts with a minor crime: the theft of Tom Cox’s rucksack from a Bristol pub in 2018. In that rucksack was a journal containing ten months worth of notes, one of the many Tom has used to record his thoughts and observations over the past twelve years. It wasn’t the best he had ever kept – his handwriting was messier than in his previous notebook, his entries more sporadic – but he still grieved for every one of the hundred or so lost pages. This incident made Tom appreciate how much notebook-keeping means to him: the act of putting pen to paper has always led him to write with an unvarnished, spur-of-the-moment honesty that he wouldn’t achieve on-screen. Here, Tom has assembled his favourite stories, fragments, moments and ideas from those notebooks, ranging from memories of his childhood to the revelation that ‘There are two types of people in the world. People who f*cking love maps, and people who don’t.’ The result is a book redolent of the real stuff of life, shot through with Cox’s trademark warmth and wit.

My Review:

Notebooks, I must admit I love them. I have so many of them and I would never get rid of any of them, and I have to use a good quality fountain pen. I would be out of my mind if I ever lost one or had one stolen. But that is exactly what happened to Tom Cox as he explains at the start of his new book that is called appropriately Notebook (Unbound) and it is out now.

Tom Cox loves his notebooks and in these he writes his thoughts and observations on life and the places he visits. Until back in 2018 when he visited a pub in Bristol, and someone walked off with his rucksack that contained his precious notebook while he was strutting his stuff to Michael Jackson. I would be mortified. All Tom’s work had been stolen and this is how Notebook became a book.

I loved Tom’s previous books, and Notebook is just the perfect read, it has moments where you cannot help but laugh. Here are his thoughts from his collection of notebooks that Tom has kept. These are random thoughts on almost anything in life. Trips to various locations and places he has lived, even woodpigeons manage to get into his notebooks as does his love of vinyl records and cats and nature.

Every page is trademark Tom Cox, his warmth and his humour are a real joy to read. Tom’s parents Mick and Jo contribute illustrations throughout the book. At only 144 pages this a tonic to dip in and out of and then there is the stunning cover design by Clare Melinsky. Notebook by Tom Cox is a fabulous read. Be prepared to laugh out loud.





144 Pages.

My thanks to both Unbound and to Anne at Random Things Tours for the review copy of Notebook by Tom Cox.

Notebook by Tom Cox is published by Unbound and was published on 18 March 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through that supports your local independent bookshop. UK


The Night Gate by Peter May

The Night Gate by Peter May


In a sleepy French village, the body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree. A week later a famous art critic is viciously murdered in a nearby house. The deaths occurred more than seventy years apart.
Asked by a colleague to inspect the site of the former, forensics expert Enzo Macleod quickly finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the latter. Two extraordinary narratives are set in train – one historical, unfolding in the treacherous wartime years of Occupied France; the other contemporary, set in the autumn of 2020 as France re-enters Covid lockdown.

And Enzo’s investigations reveal an unexpected link between the murders – the Mona Lisa.

Tasked by the exiled General Charles de Gaulle to keep the world’s most famous painting out of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940, 28-year-old Georgette Pignal finds herself swept along by the tide of history. Following in the wake of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as it is moved from château to château by the Louvre, she finds herself just one step ahead of two German art experts sent to steal it for rival patrons – Hitler and Göring.

What none of them know is that the Louvre itself has taken exceptional measures to keep the painting safe, unwittingly setting in train a fatal sequence of events extending over seven decades.

My Review:

Hard to believe this really book number 7 in the Enzo Macleod series. But sadly, it is the finale. But what an ending to the series The Night Gate (riverrun) by bestselling author Peter May is released today 18th March and is set between France and Scotland in World War II and present day including covid lockdown France and is Peter May at his absolute best.

Forensic expert Enzo Macleod should be enjoying his retirement with his wife but has been asked by a former colleague to come and look at the remains of a man that has been discovered beneath a tree in a quiet French village, closer inspection reveals the man was shot in the head and has been buried here for about 75 years. But close by an art dealer is murdered. Now Enzo is investigating both cases and there is more than a passing regret at excepting the request. Enzo suspects that both cases could be linked. To do this Enzo must look to the past to solve two murders separated by over 70 years.

Set against a backdrop of different timelines and countries, but at the heart of this brilliant novel is da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. When France fell to the Germans in 1940, it was Hitler who wanted the Mona Lisa to be the centre piece of his super museum at Linz in Austria and has recruited Paul Lange to acquire it but also at the same time Hermann Göring has eyes on the famous painting for his own private collection and he has Karlheinz Wolff determined to get his hands on the painting first.

This is a gripping and compelling thriller that lasts for 500 pages, as Enzo gets to grips with two dead bodies the story goes back in time as de Gaulle now in London asks a young female to make sure that the Mona Lisa is kept out of reach of the Nazis as they plundered art from all over France. Enter 28-year-old Georgette Pignal who heads to the Isle of Lewis for her training before she heads to occupied France. Georgette is young and brave and determined to do everything she can to foil the Nazis of getting their hands on the Mona Lisa (called La Jaconde in France).

The story weaves from wartime France and a France in lockdown of the autumn in 2020 and as Covid-19 has the world in its grip.

I loved how Peter May has weaved a stunning thriller out of history and current day using the pandemic as part of the story. I am not going to give any clues as to what happens in the novel, as if you are a fan of Peter May’s previous thrillers you will want to read The Night Gate. You will not be disappointed.  


496 Pages.

My thanks to Sophie Ransom and Midas PR for the review copy of The Night Gate by Peter May.

The Night Gate by Peter May is published by riverrun today 18 March 2021 and is available NOW to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through that supports your local independent bookshop. UK

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The Field by Robert Seethaler

The Field by Robert Seethaler

Translated by Charlotte Collins


From their graves in the field, the oldest part of Paulstadt’s cemetery, the town’s late inhabitants tell stories from their lives. Some recall just a moment, perhaps the one in which they left this world, perhaps the one that they now realize shaped their life forever. Some remember all the people they’ve been with, or the only person they ever loved.

These voices together – young, old, rich poor – build a picture of a community, as viewed from below ground instead of from above. The streets of the small, sleepy provincial town of Paulstadt are given shape and meaning by those who lived, loved, worked, mourned and died there.

From the author of the Booker International-shortlisted A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler’s The Field is about what happens at the end. It is a book of human lives – each one different, yet connected to countless others – that ultimately shows how life, for all its fleetingness, still has meaning.

My Review:

From the author of the 2016 Man Booker Prize shortlisted A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler returns with The Field (Picador) a novel that heads to a fictional small town of Paulstadt and the cemetery. But it is those that are buried here and the stories they tell and the conversations they have. These are their stories.

I loved reading A Whole Life and The Tobacconist and Robert Seeethaler does not disappoint with The Field. With each of his novels there is a real sense of quiet storytelling. In the town of Paulstadt lies a field and this is the oldest part of the cemetery and here lie some of the towns most outspoken residents.

The story begins as an old man sits and contemplates those that are buried here and what if they could talk? What would they say? And so, it begins, those long departed begin the conversations.

Far from resting quietly these are some of the most outspoken of the community, they were the old, the young, poor, or wealthy but now they are recounting their lives, or some recall a moment from their lives as it has just happened or may be happier or sad times. But one that lies here just has one word to say.

I have to say that this is unlike anything I have read before conversations of those departed. Each chapter begins with the name of the departed soul, but that is it, the stories they tell is of different moments in time from early days of the town to how the town grew. Each of the deceased has their own story to tell. Some angry some just quiet reflection from a child’s voice to the oldest of the inhabitants of the field. Not all the conversations are sad, there is some joyful conversations, but this is mixed with great sadness and Seethaler manages to bring not only the conversations to life but the history of the town of Paulstadt and its inhabitants who now lie here. A real mix of characters and their professions.

The Field is Wonderfully crafted by Robert Seethaler and beautifully translated by Charlotte Collins.

#RobertSeethaler #TheField

You can follow Charlotte Collins on Twitter: @cctranslates

240 Pages.

My thanks to Camilla Elworthy for the review copy of The Field by Robert Seethaler.

The Field by Robert Seethaler will be published by Picador on 18th March 2021 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through that supports your local independent bookshop. UK

From Field & Forest: An Artist’s Year in Paint and Pen by Anna Koska

From Field & Forest: An Artist’s Year in Paint and Pen by Anna Koska


Highly respected illustrator Anna Koska is best known for her drawings of fish and fruit and is widely celebrated by food journalists and restaurateurs. In this mindful, artistic journal, Anna celebrates the natural world; the changing of the seasons, the blossoming of flowers and the ripening of fruit.

Working in watercolour, pen and ink, oils and luscious egg tempera, Anna’s illustrations are reproduced in beautiful detail and they are accompanied by her musings and observations of objects, engaging us in the everyday realities of her artistic practice.

Anna sources inspiration from the flora and fauna in the fields and forests surrounding her home in East Sussex. Her illustrations root us in nature, allowing us to pause to admire and appreciate the beauty and significance of everyday occurrences – whether she is drawing wasps feasting on apples fallen in the orchard, or trying to capture the cerulean blue of a winter sky. \

In this book, image and narrative text are wedded to create a beautiful journey through the seasons, taking time to appreciate our surroundings.

My Review:

Anna Koska is a celebrated illustrator of around 25 years over the years she has illustrated fruit, vegetables and nature, Anna’s work has featured in over 100 books but just published is Anna Koska’s first book, From Field & Forest: An Artist’s Year in Paint and Pen (Pavilion Books) that looks at the seasons and nature that surround her home and it really is an incredibly beautiful book.

Beginning in autumn and working through the seasons Anna celebrates the natural world that surrounds us. The beauty of From Field & Forest is that it is like being out in nature in that it makes you stop and wonder of the beauty that we have in front of us, and Anna captures this in both words and through her stunning illustrations. As the seasons change so does the natural world from autumn to the dark winter months and walking through a muddy landscape or hearing the gentle crunch of a frost covered field listening to the winter birdsong. As natural world awakes from its winter sleep, and life begins again Anna captures this beautifully within the landscape that surrounds her Sussex home.

Finally, Summer has arrived, and the hives are busy, and flowers are plentiful, there is something about standing in your garden at first light of a Summer’s day, the grass damp with early morning dew, listening to the birdsong. Anna describes these moments, and it is like you turn a page and you are there. Anna Koska has written and illustrated the most beautiful book in From Field & Forest that anyone who loves the natural world will enjoy through the seasons.

You can follow Anna Koska on Twitter: @GremKoska and also via her stunning Instagram account: @gremkoska

For mor information of books available via Pavilion Books: Pavilion Books

144 Pages.

My thanks to Komal Patel for the review copy of From Field & Forest by Anna Koska.

From Field & Forest by Anna Koska published by Pavilion Books on 4th March 2021 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through that supports your local independent bookshop. UK

Covid Thoughts created and Photographed by Gemma Levine

Covid Thoughts created and Photographed by Gemma Levine


This book is a thought-provoking exploration of the challenges, lessons learnt, and personal experiences of the global pandemic communicated through the eyes of some of the influential public figures in society.

It features contributions from 30 personalities and politicians including the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel, Bryan Robson, Prue Leith, Sir David Suchet, Joanna Lumley, William Boyd, Dame Maureen Lipman, and Terry Waite.

As well as raising funds for Lymphoedema research, Covid Thoughts is a compelling collection of the real accounts of people from across a diverse range of backgrounds offering a humbling and insightful glimpse into their Covid journeys.

Introduction by GEMMA LEVINE FRSA

My Review:

Gemma Levine is a well-known photographer and has published 20 books of photographs, she began her career back in 1975 and she is especially known for her stunning black & white photographs and since the 1980’s the list of names that she has photographed from British society are Politicians, sportsmen and women, many from stage and screen, writers, six Prime Ministers and royalty.

As the pandemic struck here in the UK Gemma Levine asked 40 people to pen their ‘Covid Thoughts’ and to go alongside this Gemma photographed each. And the photographs are amazing and so natural. Each contributor gives thought provoking and personal experiences of the pandemic as it took hold in each of our lives. For everyone, The Covid-19 pandemic has been a journey where all of us have experienced loss and grief and a journey through the course of the past 12 months.

Reading the words of famous names and those working on the front line and in care homes and from all walks of life their own words strike a chord as they describe their own personal journey.

Many famous people have supported this project by Gemma Levine in support of Lymphoedema research at St George’s Hospital in London. Names such as: Dame Judi Dench, Baroness Joan Bakewell, William Boyd, Simon Callow, Dame Joan Collins, Sir Karl Jenkins, Prue Leith, Joanna Lumley, Priti Patel, Dame Esther Ranzen, Dr Miriam Stoppard, Sir David Suchet, Terry Waite, The Lord Mayor, plus those who work on the front line: A Covid ITU nurse, also there are contributors from the Arts, Care Homes, Hospitality, Medicine, Music, Media, Politics, Sports, School and University students. etc.

*Lymphoedema is a long term-cronic condition that causes the swelling of the body’s tissues. It can affect any part of the body but usually develops in the arms and legs. If not identified and treated early it can get worse.

World Lymphoedema Day on Saturday 6 March 2021.

Copies of Covid Thoughts by Gemma Levine can be purchased Here

More details of the St George’s Hospital Charity can be found here: St George’s Hospital Charity

Price per copy: £15.00

My thanks to Grace Pilkington for the review copy of Covid Thoughts by Gemma Levine.

Covid Thoughts by Gemma Levine was published on 6th March 2021 and is available to order through via: Covid Thoughts   Proceeds from sales will go to Lymphoedema Research Charity, at St George’s Hospital.

David and Ameena by Ami Rao

David and Ameena by Ami Rao


Modern-day New York, a subway train. David, an American-Jewish jazz musician, torn between his dreams and his parents’ expectations, sees a woman across the carriage. Ameena, a British-Pakistani artist who left Manchester to escape the pressure from her conservative family, sees David. When a moment of sublime beauty occurs unexpectedly, the two connect, moved by their shared experience. From this flows a love that it appears will triumph above all. But as David and Ameena navigate their relationship, their ambitions, and the city they love, they discover the external world is not so easy to keep at bay. Ami Rao’s masterful debut novel picks apart the lives of two people, stripping them of their collective identities and, in doing so, facing up to the challenge of today: can love to give us the freedom to accept our differences?

My Review:

On a New York subway train eyes meet across the carriage and in that fleeting moment both David and Ameena fell for each other. David and Ameena (Fairlight Books) is the debut novel by Ami Rao and is beautiful modern day love story. Two people from different cultures and backgrounds and their hopes and ambitions and above all can love conquer the challenges that the pair face.

David is Jewish, his day job is an advertising executive but, in the evening, he plays jazz at various locations. Jazz is David’s first love. Ameena is a British Muslim from Manchester. After arriving in New York, she began a career as a journalist for a fashion magazine but there is more to Ameena, as away from her day job Ameena is an artist but there is more than just frustration in her work. Ameena is more than a strong character whereas David has a more relaxed and gentle way through life.

Form the first page until the last this is a beautiful story of just two people trying to find a way through this thing, we call life and everything that goes with it. Life is like the eb and flow of the tide and sometimes life like the sea can be quite rough and through both David and Ameena’s story we see the challenges they face, because of their cultures and their backgrounds.

I loved reading their story and wanted to cheer them on at every level. This is a couple that fell in love from that first fleeting glance across the carriage. But life was going to not make it easy for them. I loved reading about David’s love of jazz, mainly because I have love jazz for many years and Ameena’s struggles at being an artist. Sometimes it takes someone close to you to tell just how good you really are. When Ameena had to return home to Manchester for family reasons, there is a fear she may not return to New York and to David. Is this where their relationship comes to an end?

Settle down with David and Ameena story. I can recommend reading while listening to some jazz in the background.

It is so pleasing to see Ami now having written her first novel and already keen to see what comes next.

You can find out more about Ami Rao by visiting Ami’s website: Ami Rao

400 Pages.

My thanks to Fairlight Books for the review copy of David and Ameena by Ami Rao.  

David and Ameena by Ami Rao published by Fairlight Books and was published on published on 4th February 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through that supports your local independent bookshop. UK

Two Summers: Nixon and Trump by Greyhound Bus by Tim Albert

Two Summers: Nixon and Trump by Greyhound Bus by Tim Albert


In 1969 the 22-year-old Tim Albert spent three happy months on a 12,000 mile road trip around the United States on Greyhound buses. Half a century later – to the day – he set out to revisit his trip, armed with his original 30,000-word diary. Would he find the America of President Donald Trump much altered from the America of President Richard Nixon? How would Greyhound bus travel have changed in a world flooded by motor cars and electronic devices? And would his 72-year-old body last the course?

In this funny and finely observed account, our game hero tours New York with a 50-year-old Michelin Guide; discovers that bus passengers speak into their phones and not to each other; celebrates the golden jubilees of the moon landings, the gay rights movement and Kermit the Frog; declines the offer of a mail-order AK-47; and is told by half the people he meets that the President is a dangerous embarrassment and by the other half that he is a saviour who never lies. When two older ladies assume our scruffy traveller is homeless and reach into their handbags to give him money for food, he realises that one thing hasn’t changed – the generosity of Americans.

My Review:

The year was 1969 and Tim Albert (aged 22) travelled to the USA and spent three months travelling 12,000 miles across the country via the famous Greyhound buses. This was the time of President Nixon. After this mammoth adventure Tim became a journalist both local and national and for medical publications. 50 years later in 2019 Tim decided that it was time to recreate the trip across the USA.  

This time it was the era of Trump in the Whitehouse, so setting off on his adventure 50 years later together with the original diary and his old guidebook and a 12,000-mile adventure awaits. But just how has the USA changed in the 50 years since his last trip? I have to say after swapping many emails with Tim about this, just what a fantastic idea to recreate his original trip really was. Exciting and brave at the same time.

Just stop and think for a moment, 50 years ago, there was no mobile phone, no internet let alone email! You not just Google when you needed information, you had to go and find it yourself. But now times have really moved on. People on buses not communicating with each other but would rather communicate via mobile phones. But not everyone is Google happy and have the latest smartphones.

To get to know the USA of today you must really speak to people on the street and this is what Tim does, and gets a real feel for how people think of Trump and their homeland of today. Tim writes superbly and has lost none of the journalist. Yes, you can of course read this as a travelogue but one thing his trip across the USA did prove was that just how divided the country had become under Donald Trump as President.

From July 2019 and arriving in New York to September Tim travelled across country, I loved the humour and how despite the hiccups Tim faces and sometimes asking for help you find out just how kind people really are. There are conversations with many people from all walks of life and these really are interesting. Across the bus rides visiting cities and towns Tim Albert takes the reader on a Greyhound adventure. An excellent read and Tim’s love for the USA really shines through.

262 Pages.

My thanks to Tim Albert for the copy of Two Summers: Nixon and Trump by Greyhound Bus by Tim Albert.

Two Summers: Nixon and Trump by Greyhound Bus by Tim Albert was published by Elbow Publishing on 26th June 2020 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through that supports your local independent bookshop. UK




This week we welcome to the Independent Publishing Showcase Pushkin Press a publisher I have become a big fan of over recent years. Founded in 1997 and publishes novels, non-fiction, and children’s books. Under Pushkin Collection, Pushkin Vertigo, Pushkin Children’s Books and One. You will find unique and award-winning writers from across the world many have gone on to feature on the Booker Prize, the International Booker Prize and even the Nobel Peace Prize.

They have an extremely exciting listing of books in both fiction and poetry, these can be ordered by visiting their website with details below.

Keep an eye on their Twitter feed @pushkinpress or visit their website: Pushkin Press

A selection of the fiction, crime and children’s books currently released:

Little Gods by Meng Jin

Published: 25th February 2021


On the night of the Tiananmen Square massacre, a woman gives birth alone in a Beijing hospital. Years later, her daughter Liya travels from America to China with her mother’s ashes, hoping to unravel the legacy of silences and contradictions that she inherited from that night.

As Liya seeks to untangle the mystery of her family, we travel through Shanghai and Beijing, and deep into the past, uncovering an unexpected love triangle whose repurcussions are felt in the present moment.

Ambitious yet intimate, Little Gods is a gripping story of migrations both literal and emotional, and of the tragic impact of history on personal lives.

Meng Jin’s s narrative prose has appeared in the Pushcart Prize AnthologyThreepenny ReviewPloughshares, the Bare Life ReviewVogue, and Best American Short Stories 2020. A Kundiman Fellow, she has an MFA from Hunter College, and received the David TK Wong Fellowship at the University of East Anglia. Jin was born in Shanghai and has lived in the UK and the US.

The Captain’s Daughter: Essential Stories by Alexander pushkin

Published: 25th February 2021


A dazzling new collection of Pushkin’s most essential fiction, in definitive translations by the acclaimed Anthony Briggs

Pushkin’s restless creative genius laid the foundations for Russian prose. His stories, among the greatest and most influential ever written, retain stunning directness and precision, more than ever in Anthony Briggs’s finely nuanced translations.

Upending expectations at every turn, Pushkin depicts brutal conflicts and sudden reversals of fortune with disarming lightness and sly humour. These are stories of fateful chances: a stationmaster encourages his young daughter to ride to town with a traveller, only to lose her forever; a man obsessively pursues an elderly woman’s secret for success at cards, with bizarre results; and in The Captain’s Daughter, Pushkin’s great historical novella of love and rebellion in the era of Catherine the Great, a mysterious encounter proves fatally significant during a violent uprising.

The Elephant by Peter Carnavas

Release Date: 28th January 2021


A big grey elephant is following Olive’s father around. It leaves with him for work and trails behind him when he comes home, keeping him heavy and sad. Every day, Olive wishes it would disappear.

When she is asked to bring something old and wonderful to show her class, Olive immediately wants to bring her old bike – but she will need her father s help to fix it. Teaming up with her cheery grandad and best friend Arthur, she sets out to chase the elephant away.

The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji

(Pushkin Vertigo)

Translated by Ho-Ling Wong

Release Date: 3rd December 2020


The lonely, rockbound island of Tsunojima is notorious as the site of a series of bloody unsolved murders. Some even say it’s haunted. One thing s for sure: it’s the perfect destination for the K-University Mystery Club’s annual trip.

But when the first club member turns up dead, the remaining amateur sleuths realise they will need all of their murder-mystery expertise to get off the island alive.

As the party are picked off one by one, the survivors grow desperate and paranoid, turning on each other. Will anyone be able to untangle the murderer’s fiendish plan before it s too late?

A Stranger in My Grave by Margaret Millar

(Pushkin Vertigo)

Release Date: 2020


A nightmare is haunting Daisy Harker. Night after night she walks a strange cemetery in her dreams, until she comes to a grave that stops her in her tracks. It’s Daisy’s own, and according to the dates on the gravestone she’s been dead for four years.

What can this nightmare mean, and why is Daisy’s husband so insistent that she forget it? Driven to desperation, she hires a private investigator to reconstruct the day of her dream death. But as she pieces her past together, her present begins to fall apart…

For further information on the publications from Pushkin Press please visit their website: Pushkin Press

You can also find them on Twitter: @pushkinpress and also their Instagram feed @pushkin_press and Facebook: @pushkinpress

If you have enjoyed this week’s showcase, please look out for my next Independent Publishers Showcase next week. If you are an indie publisher and would like to add your name to the showcase, you can contact me via Twitter: @TheLastWord1962

Deity by Matt Wesolowski

Deity by Matt Wesolowski


A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rake over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Are reports of a haunting really true? Why was he never officially charged?

Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…

My Review:

When Matt Wesolowski released his first novel Six Stories (Orenda Books) back in 2017 he had hit on an idea based on a series of six podcast interviews that try to resolve a complex crime mystery. Deity by Matt Wesolowski is book five and has just been released and the host of the podcast series ‘Six Stories’ Scott King returns in a dark and chilling novel about pop megastar Zach Crystal who has died in a fire in his remote Scottish Highlands home.

Having read all the previous four in the series and loved them all, Deity is a triumph for Matt. He has done it again. This time around focussing on a pop icon Zach Crystal who set up home in the Scottish Highlands and called it Crystal Forest, but all is not well here. With the trapping of being a worldwide pop mega star come those who follow every word that Zach Crystal says and every step he makes. In 2018 Zach Crystal just disappeared without a word and no sign of him. Was this the end for the pop icon, had he had enough of the fame and the whispers abut him. Those that loved him, truly adored him, but he has his detractors who clearly believed there was a much darker side. Was there really a tree house on the estate?

When Zach Crystal suddenly reappeared and announced that there was a new album coming but then there is a devastating fire at his isolated home and his remains are found in the ruins. There was to be no comeback for the pop icon. Now the stories and accusations started about Crystal and the young girls that was said he had an interest in. To his followers Zach Crystal was nothing more than a legend who did so much for charity and that these stories were designed to destroy his legacy and he was not there to answer them.

Now ‘Six Stories’ podcast host Scott King has turned his attention to the death of Zach Crystal. What Matt Wesolowski does with these stories is allow them to get under your skin and really make you go cold at some of the revelations and stories and how he created the pop megastar that made me feel rather uncomfortable the more you read. Truly brilliant. So now begins the six interviews that would try and unearth the truth about the man. There is so much packed into this gripping book I found that as with Matt’s previous series I could not leave the story alone. I wanted to find out more. Stop the clocks, turn off the tv and switch your phone off. Deity by Matt Wesolowski will get all your attention until the very end. If you have managed to miss the previous four in the series, then fear not as this can be read as a standalone but you may want to seek out the others in the series after.

320 Pages.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of Deity by Matt Wesolowski.

Deity by Matt Wesolowski was published by Orenda Books and was published on 18th February 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through that supports your local independent bookshop. UK




The sixteenth in the series of Independent Publishers Showcase and this week we welcome Sandstone Press Ltd. Founded in 2020 by Robert Davidson. An independent publisher with an international outlook. Publishing both fiction and non-fiction titles from unique voices. In 2014 and 2019 Sandstone Press won the Saltire Society Scottish Publisher of the Year Award. The first company to win the award twice and the Nibbies small press of the year in 2019 and was also shortlisted for the IPG Trade Independent Publisher of the year in 2020.

They have an extremely exciting listing of books in both fiction and non-fiction, these can be ordered by visiting their website with details below or through UK

Keep an eye on their Twitter feed @or visit their website: Sandstone Press

A selection of the fiction and non-fiction titles currently released from Sandstone Press:

Love is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar

Published: 2nd February 2021


 Queer. Muslim. Arab American. A proudly Fat woman. Randa Jarrar is all these things. In this provocative memoir of a cross-country road trip, she explores how to claim joy in an unravelling and hostile world.

Told as a road trip across the United Stated of America, this is Randa’s bold and frank personal story: a Palestinian daughter shamed about her weight, her background, and her decision to become a teenage mother as she rebels against her abusive family and the expectations others have of her.

The Snow and the Works on the Northern Line by Ruth Thomas

Published: 7th January 2021


Hidden within the confines of The Royal Institute of Prehistorical Studies, Sybil is happy enough with her work – and her love life. Then to her dismay, her old adversary, assertive and glamorous Helen Hansen, is appointed Head of Trustees. To add insult, Helen promptly seduces Sybil’s boyfriend. Betrayed and broken-hearted, Sybil becomes obsessed with exposing Helen as a fraud, no matter the cost.

Offbeat and darkly funny, The Snow and the Works on the Northern Line is about things lost and found. It is also a story about love, grief and forgiveness: letting go and moving on.

The Munros in Winter: 277 summits in 832 days by Martin Moran

Release Date: 3rd November 2020


The first round of the Munros in winter in a single journey was accomplished by Martin Moran 1984, ably supported by his new wife, Joy. Martin’s account of the adventure has since become a Scottish outdoor classic. This reissue is awaited by a substantial section of the outdoor/mountaineering market in Britain.

The March Fallen: 5 (A Gereon Rath Mystery) by Volker Kutscher

Release Date: 10th September 2020


A dead man has been found lying under railway arches in Berlin. An old soldier, hideously disfigured, he has been killed mysteriously. Gereon Rath is brought onto the case while his fiancée, Charlotte Ritter, blazes her own trail. Meanwhile, the Nazis consolidate their hold on power, the Reichstag is burned down, and things become a lot worse not only for Berlin’s Jewish community but also for those police officers who can remain in action.

A Friendship in Letters: Robert Louis Stevenson & J.N. Barrie by Michael Shaw

Release Date: 13th November 2020


A Friendship in Letters, Dr. Michael Shaw brings together correspondence between two of Scotland’s most famous writers for the first time.

Though they never met, Robert Louis Stevenson and J. M. Barrie developed a warm friendship, revealed in these amusing and gossipy letters, with vivid commentary on each other’s literary work. Until recently, Barrie’s side of the correspondence was presumed lost by his biographers. This epistolary volume reunites Barrie’s letters with Stevenson’s and contextualises them through an engaging introduction and a series of appendices, including a delightful short story by Barrie.

For further information on the publications from please visit their website: Sandstone Press

You can also find them on Twitter: @sandstonepress and also their Instagram feed @sandstonepress/ and Facebook: @sanstonepress

If you have enjoyed this week’s showcase, please look out for my next Independent Publishers Showcase next week. If you are an indie publisher and would like to add your name to the showcase, you can contact me via Twitter: @TheLastWord1962