No Honour by Awais Khan

No Honour by Awais Khan

Summary:

In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.

When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore and then disappears.

Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.

Moving from the depths of rural Pakistan, riddled with poverty and religious fervour, to the dangerous streets of over-populated Lahore, No Honour is a story of family, of the indomitable spirit of love in its many forms … a story of courage and resilience, when all seems lost, and the inextinguishable fire that lights one young woman’s battle for change.

My Review:

Having read No Honour (Orenda Books) by Awais Khan during the last week of August I have been thinking about this book ever since. Trying to find the right words for this outstanding and poignant novel has been hard. As you read through the opening of the book you know immediately this is going to be a difficult and at times harrowing read.

In a small Pakistani village sixteen-year-old Abida lives with her family. This is a village were age old rules that must be obeyed. Her father Jamil loves his daughter, but the families honour must come first as the rules say. Girls are not allowed to go to school and must not disobey and uphold the families honour. But Abida loves Kalim and an intimate relationship begins. We find out that in a similar situation we find out that other young women have been murdered to protect the honour of the family.

Now Abida must flee the village before she is found out and faces a similar fate. Jamil loves his daughter and so he aids her escape rather than the public death that will follow. Abida now finds herself in the big city of Lahore. Very quickly she finds out that life here is going to be no better and in fact things start to get out of control. This is no life for a young strong minded young woman. Meanwhile her father Jamil recalls how he was brought up by his mother and how strong willed she was and now he sets off to find his daughter. Soon they are trapped in a desperate dark world where drugs and prostitution and corruption seem the norm. All Abida wanted was a new life for herself her child and Kalim. The narrative of the story alternates between Abida and her father Jamil and you may think that reading this that the novel is just too horrific to read and yes at times it is graphic and hard to read but what there is here is hope and Awais Khan has written a beautiful story.

As I read through No Honour, I wanted Abida to find the freedom to bring up her child and settle down with Kalim and Abida’s father who risked everything and the shame it would bring to his family. But love for his daughter is more means everything to him. This is an important book and there were times it felt as though my heart had just been ripped out. All I will say is here is that the one thing we have is hope, and we cling to that like a life raft.

What an outstanding writer Awais Khan really is. I await to see what comes next.  

276 Pages.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of No Honour by Awais Khan.

No Honour by Awais Khan is published by Orenda Books and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

The Beresford by Will Carver

The Beresford by Will Carver

Summary:

Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.

There’s a routine at The Beresford.

For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.

Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. 

In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers. 

And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.

Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…

Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.

My Review:

There is something about Will Carver’s novels, I have been lucky enough to have read all of them so far and loved each one and his latest The Beresford (Orenda Books) is out in bookshops now and this is right up there with Carver’s previous novels but just be aware of the doorbell! There is something creepy about Will Carver and his books and his latest is no exception. It is dark, eerie and chilling.

Welcome to The Beresford this old building that has apartments, and some rather interesting tenants, except many won’t be around for long and so we hear the doorbell ring that heralds a new arrival.

The rates are cheap at The Beresford and so they come. We meet Mrs May whose age no-one really knows but guess. She has a daily routine; she makes coffee and lets it go cold because that is how she likes it. She even prays for many of the residents that come to stay. She prunes the roses and believes she knows everything that goes on at The Beresford.

Then we meet Abe, who seems like a nice guy, but Abe has just killed Sythe and has exactly sixty seconds to move the body. But Abe is a good person and did not want to kill Sythe. But just how is he going to dispose of the body?

The doorbell rings and a new arrival has come to stay, Blair Conroy has arrived finally away from her devout religious parents and now has the freedom to do want every she wants even with the bedroom door open.

Death awaits those who come to stay at The Beresford when the doorbell rings there is that dread of knowing that murder will follow, and each new arrival is a character, and each has their own story to be told.

Will Carver does write brilliant books and there is real humour to be found within the pages of The Beresford and you the reader are going to meet the residents as they arrive, their fate is sealed but are YOU going to judge them before they meet their fate?

But why are the people here committing murder? If the walls could speak what tales, they would tell of the goings on in this old apartment building. Of the people that come to stay and ultimately die. The Beresford is just a brilliantly chilling read in a way that only Will Carver can create. Is that the doorbell I have just heard?

276 Pages.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of The Beresford by Will Carver.

The Beresford by Will Carver is released through published by Orenda Books and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

Translated by Rosie Hedger

Summary:

My Review:

Anne’s life is rushing to an unexpected and untimely end. But her diagnosis of terminal cancer isn’t just a shock for her and for her daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia it shines a spotlight onto their fractured and uncomfortable relationships.

On a spur-of-the moment trip to France the three generations of women reveal harboured secrets, long-held frustrations and suppressed desires, and learn humbling and heart-warming lessons about how life should be lived when death is so close.

With all of Helga Flatland’s trademark humour, razor-sharp wit and deep empathy, One Last Time examines the great dramas that can be found in ordinary lives, asks the questions that matter to us all and ultimately celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, in an exquisite, enchantingly beautiful novel that urges us to treasure and rethink … everything.

My Review:

Having really enjoyed A Modern Family I have been so looking forward to One Last Time (Orenda Books) and is Helga Flatland’s sixth novel and her second to be translated into English and beautifully translated by Rosie Hedger. I have become a fan of Helga Flatland’s writing as she does really bring a story alive with her characters.

Families can sometimes be complicated, and secrets can be kept and even cracks that appear are papered over. In One Last Time we follow the story of Anne who has been diagnosed cancer and the news is bleak. Now is a time for those close to Anne to come together and no more so than her daughter Sigrid but also for her granddaughter Mia.

In this family there have been many problems that have really caused cracks in the family to become much deeper which in turn has affected all the relationships in the family. The story focuses mainly on mother and daughter but not ignoring the problems that are occurring between Sigrid and her daughter Mia.

You may think that this is a novel that could be bleak and even dark, but with Helga Flatland you just know that she will bring something into the story even humour will find a way into the devastating storyline. Many novels can leave a lasting impression and is why I have come to love Flatland’s writing as this is a storyline that will leave a legacy on the reader as much as Anne only wants to leave only the positive of memories behind. This is a family trying to reconnect and trying to reconnect with themselves.

At the end of the day all we have is love and love can mend broken hearts and even broken families. The characters that have been created are characters you will come to know, and it is Anne and her strength and even humour when faced with what is to come.

Helga Flatland has again weaved a beautiful and emotive story and one to be cherished like life itself.

276 Pages.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of One Last Time by Helga Flatland.

One Last Time by Helga Flatland is published by Orenda Books on 24th June 2021. Available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

Summary:

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.

When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.

Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…

Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.

My Review:

This is an exceedingly difficult review to write, I am not sure that I have the right words to describe just what an outstanding debut novel Everything Happens for a Reason (Orenda Books) by Katie Allen really is. A very poignant story that was inspired by the authors own experience of stillbirth and grief.

The main character in the story is Rachel whose heart is shattered when her son was stillborn. But for Rachel who is on maternity leave without a baby wants to know why her son Luke was born sleeping and now finds herself trying to make sense of everything as well as the pain and grief. But what I will say here, there is humour in the story despite the grief.

Rachel has borrowed her mother’s sausage dog but really believes she herself is to blame for the loss of her son as on the day she found out she was pregnant she managed to stop a man committing suicide by jumping in front of a train.

If there is one statement that I really dislike is that ‘everything happens for a reason’ I have had that said to me just recently and the same happens to Rachel in the story and this is where her quest begins, try, and find the answer to ‘why’. Rachel also decides she needs to find the man she saved that day, and, in some way, it may help her to try and find some answers.

Rachel’s journey to find the man and find answers for the loss of her son will take her on a journey where she will meet some unexpected people, and this could well help her in her journey to find reasons. Then of course there are the emails, and this I will leave there for you to discover. It is a heart-breaking story packed with emotion but let us not forget the humour that is in the storyline as well.

I do not know if I am the right person to write a review about such a painful loss but Katie if you by chance read this review, you have written an incredible debut novel that I will not forget and cannot wait to see what you do next. Highly Recommended.

320 Pages.

My thanks to Orenda Books for the review copy of Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen.

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen is published by Orenda Books and is published 10th June 2021 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Deity by Matt Wesolowski

Deity by Matt Wesolowski

Summary:

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 Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Independent Publishers Showcase # 3

INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS SHOWCASE

# 3. Orenda Books

Orenda Books was established by Karen Sullivan in 2014 after she left her role as managing editor at Arcadia Books. The name of the business comes from the novel The Orenda by Joseph Boyden and is based on the Canadian First Nations word meaning: “The mystical power that drives human accomplishment”.

In Orenda Books first year of publishing it released six books that then raised to sixteen titles in its second year. I have been incredibly fortunate enough to have known Karen and Orenda Books as we both started in the same year and I have been incredibly fortunate enough to have read so many of the books published by Karen Sullivan. With an emphasis on crime/thrillers and many being translated. There has always been a big focus on debut authors, like many writers they have suffered the rejection process and yet they have gone on to write superb books under Orenda Books and with some of the authors then going on to be shortlisted for awards and Orenda Books themselves also going on to be shortlisted in publishing awards. With the exciting return of Ragnar Jónasson to Orenda Books to conclude his million-copy Dark Iceland Series with Winterkill due for release in December this proves that I can only see Orenda Books growing in strength in the years to come as Karen continues to find exciting new writers who have a story to tell that will capture the imagination of readers far and wide. For more information on the books released visit their website:  Orenda Books

Here are a selection of the titles currently released and also titles soon to be released through Orenda Books:

A Song of Isolation by Michael J. Malone

Published: 17th September 2020

Summary:

Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?

Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press witch hunt quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.

While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is isolated a child trying to make sense of an adult world.

Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives in an instant.

Betrayal by  Lilja Sigurdardóttir

Published: 1st October 2020

Summary:

Burned out and traumatised by her horrifying experiences around the world, aid worker Úrsula has returned to Iceland. Unable to settle, she accepts a high-profile government role in which she hopes to make a difference again.
 
But on her first day in the post, Úrsula promises to help a mother seeking justice for her daughter, who had been raped by a policeman, and life in high office soon becomes much more harrowing than Úrsula could ever have imagined. A homeless man is stalking her – but is he hounding her, or warning her of some danger? And why has the death of her father in police custody so many years earlier reared its head again?
 
As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witch-like cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher…

The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard

Release Date: 12th November 2020

Summary:

When an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift off the coast of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, DS Joaquin Moralès begins a straightforward search for the boat’s missing captain, Angel Roberts – a rare female in a male-dominated world. But Moralès finds himself blocked at every turn – by his police colleagues, by fisheries bureaucrats, and by his grown-up son, who has turned up at his door with a host of his own personal problems.
 
When Angel’s body is finally discovered, it’s clear something very sinister is afoot, and Moralès and son are pulled into murky, dangerous waters, where old resentments run deep.
 
Exquisitely written, with Bouchard’s trademark lyrical prose, The Coral Bride evokes the power of the sea on the communities who depend on it, the never-ending struggle between the generations, and an extraordinary mystery at the heart of both.

Winterkill (Dark Iceland Series) by Ragnar Jónasson
Release Date: 10th December 2020 (HB)

Summary:

When the body of a nineteen-year-old girl is found on the main street of Siglufjörður, Police Inspector Ari Thór battles a violent Icelandic storm in an increasingly dangerous hunt for her killer … The chilling, claustrophobic finale to the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. 
 
Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.

Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.
 
Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death… 

As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.

Chilling, claustrophobic and disturbing, Winterkill marks the startling conclusion to the million-copy bestselling Dark Iceland series and cements Ragnar Jónasson as one of the most exciting authors in crime fiction.

Deity by Matt Wesolowski

Release Date: 18th February 2021

Summary:

Online investigative journalist Scott King investigates the death of a pop megastar, the subject of multiple accusations of sexual abuse and murder before his untimely demise in a fire … another episode of the startlingly original, award-winning Six Stories series.

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 rakes over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Whose remains – still unidentified – were found in the ashes? 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…

Exciting, thrilling and gripping books available now or due for release in the weeks ahead some of the most perfect books to curl up with during the autumn and winter. If you are reading or going to read any of the titles from Orenda Books, drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Visit the Orenda Books Website for information on all their books and you can also find a manuscript submission page: Orenda Books

You can also find them on Twitter: @OrendaBooks and Instagram: @orendabooks

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s showcase. 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