Monday, 30 October 2017

Book Review: Western Fringes by Amer Anwar

Western Fringes
Amer Anwar
Published by Edurus Books
Available in paperback & ebook

Winner of the CWA Debut Dagger award, Western Fringes is a gritty, hard-hitting crime thriller full of violence, family feuds and revenge.

Zaq Khan, recently released from prison, is working a dead-end job in a builder's yard, trying to make enough money to survive and keep out of trouble. However his boss has other ideas, and those involve looking for his missing daughter, Rita, with one requirement: no police.

Gritty and gripping, Zaq's assignment seems simple until he realises that a girl on the run from an arranged marriage isn't what it seems. Her brothers seem to be dealing drugs from a warehouse and they seem to be very keen on their sister being returned.

Zaq plants himself right in the middle of a family argument, full of deceit, jealousy and murder. He not only needs to keep himself alive but also keep Rita from the clutches of her brothers. He is pulled further and further into a world where he could end up back in prison. Fights, car chases, and stakeouts, Zaq turns detective to find out why this family are ripping each other and the local community apart.

Western Fringes is a tough Asian crime thriller full of sharp dialogue, enough punches to make you flinch and a plot that will having you gripping the edge of your seat. Anwar explores the things people will do to survive not only within their local community (not going to the police), within their own culture (running away from an arranged marriage) but also for themselves. Anwar looks at the way traditions and cultures impact people's lives and the way some generations will do their best to void their heritage.

Amer Anwar's debut novel is a fast paced thriller, and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page. This book will make you very tense so make sure you run yourself a relaxing bath after reaching the last page.

You can buy Western Fringes from your favourite bookshop.

Thank you to the author for sending me a copy.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

September's Reading

Not many books read in September...

But I finished redrafting my novel, and I've sent it to a few agents (cross your fingers and toes for me), and I've finally cracked the shell of short story that has been driving me around the bend for two years. Yes, two bloody years - the structure and the voice was wrong but I think I'm now on the right path.

I'm now having a crisis of 'what if I can never write another novel again' - it's really fun. The same thoughts go around in my head, one minute saying that I can still write and then there's the other side telling me that I'm done and I should stick to reading. Tell me you all have inner voices and that I haven't cracked? Please?

Anyway, books read in September....

Madame Bovary of the Suburbs - Sophie Divry (translated by Alison Anderson)
Sophie Divry, author of the fantastic The Library of Unrequited Love, tackles Madame Bovary with a modern retelling of a woman who moves through life, successful with a job, family, children and friends but is frustrated and bored told in the second-person narrative. Divry uses this narrative to pull the reader into the story, implicating them into the affairs of the narrator. This is a book full of dark humour and compelling.

Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson
On the surface this is a courtroom drama, telling the story of the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto who has been accused of the murder of Carl Heine on the small island of San Piedro, Puget Sound, Washington but this is more than a who done it. This is a book about a the conflicts in a small, close-knit island community, tenses between the Japan and America post WWII. This book is full of rich details and characterisation.

The Little Book of Hygge - Meik Wiking
I've been dipping in and out of this book for several months, and I've finally finished it and it turns out hygge was 'so last season' - must read faster. This stylish little book is full of ways to live a happy life just like the Danish. Blankets, cosy nights, candles, comfort food - all of the things I already enjoy. Turns out I've been 'hygge' for years and I think I'm going to celebrate this fact with buying yet another candle.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Book Review: The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

The Easy Way Out
By Steven Amsterdam
Published by Riverrun
Available in paperback & ebook

Steven Amsterdam's latest novel, The Easy Way Out, is in interesting novel looking at the end of life care and the right to die. Using his experiences as a palliative nurse, Amsterdam explores the choices people make to stop the suffering from horrendous diseases.

Evan is a suicide assistant, a legal job, where he provides support and care needed for someone ready to die on their own terms. He hands the patient their last drink, being supportive to the patient's family, offering advice, standing on the sidelines for the patient's final moments. He keeps his job a secret from his friends, mother and lovers to escape the people he loves from judging him.

Evan pushes at the limits of the law and his own morality for the patients he cares for. All he cares about are the patients rather than his boss's concerns on Evan's approaches. But more and more he starts to wonder who might be there for him, when the time comes... and life starts to unravel for Evan.

This is a bleak novel about the way people choose die if they had a choice, and the way these types of decisions can leave family and friends left behind wondering about this life choice. Amsterdam has written a sensitive novel about end of life care, and it will leave you wondering about your end of life choices (if you could have a choice). Yet, it isn't all bleak - this book has plenty of warmth and humour.

This book is full of compassion and sad but with dashes of dark humour. This is a sensitive topic for many people and won't be suitable for everybody. The Easy Way Out is available from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy via Bookbridgr.