#BlogTour #Review: A Modern Family by Helga Flatland #AModernFamily @OrendaBooks @AnneCarter #ContemporaryFiction

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I’ve yet to meet an Orenda Book that I didn’t love, so when A Modern Family came around I was only a little hesitant that it fell outside of my typical preferred genres. True to form, this baby quietly delivered a heavy punch that left me questioning why I insist on putting my reading preferences into tidy little boxes, because clearly that type of behavior benefits no one. Deeply emotional and undeniably complex A Modern Family explores the deceptive simplicity of navigating everyday life. While it may lack the action that I typically crave in my literary escapes it has a powerful impact and an emotional magnetism that will leave you shattered – an absolute must read!

A Modern Family CoverTitle: A Modern Family

Author: Helga Flatland

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication Date: June 21, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

Themes: Family, Relationships

Features: N/A

My Rating: 4.5/ 5


When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…

My Review

First, I must offer my apologies. As the vast majority of the tours I take part in are based out of the UK, I always schedule my posts well in advance in order to avoid the Canadian lull in online traffic. Yet, when I took a quick coffee at work to check the blog and do the media thing, I was horrified to discover that WordPress had failed to publish my scheduled post – and not just that, but that the publish feature was not cooperating with my phone either. Cue the panic! Especially since I adored this book and was so excited to share the book love. It may have had to wait until my lunch break, but I am none the less excited to share this review!

When what starts out as family vacation rapidly transforms into an announcement that parents Sverre and Torill are ending their nearly 40 years of marriage, their grown children Liv, Ellen, and Hakon are forced to reconsider their perceptions and relations from perspectives that were previously unfathomable. Told in split narrative between the children, this novel highlights how a singular event can affect disparate individuals so differently as a result of their long-held perceptions and lived experiences. It brings to the forefront the reality the stark contrast of personal assessment against outward appearances, and the reality that our carefully constructed facades rarely reflect our inner truths.

I was certainly more drawn to the experiences of Liv and Ellen, and found both of their emotions, memories, and shared experiences to be deeply touching and heartfelt. Everything from their sibling rivalries to Ellen’s envy of her older sister rang true, and the result was a deeply relatable and touching experience. You feel every ounce of love, jealousy, sadness, hope and despair as if the emotions were passed through a resonating chamber and I walked away feeling as though I had been shaken to my core. This feeling was only heightened by Liv’s painful internalization of her emotions and the ensuing frustration the result from her inability to understand that her process was one unto herself and therefore impossible for her loved ones to grapple with. Now add into the fact that Liv had been using her parents’ relationship as a barometer for her own success as a mother and wife, and you can’t help but sympathize as she struggles to make sense of her life.

Ellen on the other hand, is much less guarded in her emotions, and the depth of her response will leave you bereft. When combined with her persistent struggles to have a baby, her grief over the family breakdown is raw, and at times, insurmountable. Personally, I found her passages the most difficult to read as she struggled with her personal demons, constructed isolation, and desperate need for support from family entrenched in their own complicated processes.

And yet, the bonds that tie and the depth of the love shared between the siblings really shines through – and so too does the persistence of suspicion and long-held grudges that are inevitably carried over from our younger years. As a result, I felt that the characters were beautifully individual, well thought out, relatable and believable. This story is not full of action in the truest sense of the word but the impact is nonetheless profound. It focuses on individual experiences, emotions, and the psychology of the situation in a way that will leave you breathless and bereft. Add into the equation the beautiful poetic prose of Flatland’s and you have an absolute winner.

Read it my friends, your summer TBR will thank you.

About The Author

Helga Author PicHelga Flatland is already one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize. She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies.

Many thanks to Anne Carter at Orenda Books for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.



#BlogTour #Review: The Controller by Matt Brolly #CrimeFiction #TheController #LynchandRose @MattBrollyUK @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours


Toady I am honoured to be taking part in the blog tour for Matty Brolly’s latest psychological thriller The Controller. Buckle up your seat belts kids, and keep all hands and feet inside the vehicle, as Lynch and Rose are about to take you on one wild ride.

Controller_book_cover_6x9_v2Title: The Controller

Author: Matt Brolly

Publisher: Oblong Books

Publication Date: May 24, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Psychological Thriller


Features: N/A

My Rating: 5/ 5


From the bestselling author of the acclaimed DCI Lambert series comes The Controller, a gripping serial killer thriller introducing Sam Lynch and Special Agent Sandra Rose.

It is six years since special agent Samuel Lynch left the FBI following the disappearance of his son, Daniel. Lynch believes an underground organisation known as The Railroad is responsible and has never stopped searching.

When Special Agent Sandra Rose investigates a house invasion gone wrong, she discovers the assailant has the legendary, and infamous, Railroad tattoo carved onto his back and he claims to know Daniel’s whereabouts.

Rose draws Lynch in to her case, and together they become embroiled in an unparalleled world of violence and evil.

It seems that to see his son again, Lynch will have to confront his greatest fear and face the ultimate test: an encounter with the Railroad’s enigmatic and deadly leader, The Controller.

My Review

This baby is all action from the word go, starting with Lynch’s unceremonious removal from his apparent in the opening pages to a quadruple homicide, and then from a dark-ops compound invasion to parallel investigations into a clandestine criminal organization known as the Railroad, The Controller is all action and no filler – steak with a side of steak my friends, you can forget the veg. That’s not to say that it’s not loaded with strong and compelling characters, because it is, but rather that the details of Sandra Rose and Samuel Lynch are integrated into the thick of action adding some depth and feeling to the abundance of adrenaline.

And speaking of Rose and Lynch, there is nothing I love more in an investigative thriller than when the lead investigator is genuinely committed to their cause, so much so that their actions are basically criminal. So you can imagine my delight in the fact Lynch and Rose offer a double dose of dubious determination. Both are chasing down the same big bad with some very different motivations, and because their approaches are so different from one another there’s almost no overlap between their journeys or the challenges encountered.  The result is that their stories always run in tandem with one another and offer a carefully curated selection of sub-plots that complement rather than detract from the main action. My only real beef is that we didn’t get to see more of Sam’s ex, Sally, as they obviously shared a defining experience together. However, I have my fingers crossed that this is the first in a new series and they her character will some further development and resolution later down the line.

With Lynch’s broken family and unsealing grief or Rose’s ailing mother and lonely dedication to her job there was so much potential this to read like a sob story. And yet Brolly’s writing never strays into the woe-is-me territory. Instead both of our leads have taken their knocks, stood back up, and transformed into some serious badasses – maybe poor decision makers (who agrees to meet with a known serial killer without notifying ANYONE?!) but definitely badass.

I really appreciated Rose’s persistence to follow the investigation where it needed to go and not where her superiors thought that it could be neatly bundled up, and Lynch’s determination not to let his son’s disappearance be added to the ranks of unsolved abductions. It really highlights how pressure from above, limited resources, or even the denial of inconvenient truths can shape not only the outcome of events, but also how facts and occurrences are packaged and presented to the world. Granted, there are times where The Controller borders on full-on conspiracy theory and cover-up territory, but everything is so well put together that it leave you guessing whether or Miller is just a difficult boss or actually stuck in the thick of it.

I enjoyed the premise of all these disappearances being linked to railroad tracks and that a larger organization was responsible for coordinating the abductions. It’s a little extreme, but not so much so that your won’t be able to stop yourself from having a few ‘I wonder…” moments. And while I pitied the treatment Lynch received while he was working for the bureau, his persistence paid off in the way that only a true David vs. Goliath story can. It just goes to show that all it takes is one determined person who refuses to give up, and eventually event the toughest nut can be cracked.

They do not lie when they say The Controller is a psychological thriller, so be prepared to be taken on a wild ride. The mystery is deep, layered, and borderline conspiratorial and just the type of crazy that will keep the pages turning until the wee hours of the morning.  The Controller is a psychotic mastermind who think he’s above his own game and will stop at nothing when it comes to toying with his favourite prey. Be prepared to double guess everything… and trust no one.

Would I recommend this book? Without question! It’s fast-paced, riveting, and completely unpredictable. Read it crime lovers, it’ll be a better decision than any Lynch will ever make.

About The Author

matt brollyFollowing his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky and Dead Embers. The fourth in the series, Dead Time, was released by Canelo in May 2018 and a prequel, Dead Water, will be published in September 2019. In 2020 the first of a new crime series set in the West Country of the UK will be released by Thomas and Mercer (Amazon Publishing).

The Controller, released in May 2019, is the first of a new thriller series set in Texas. Matt also writes children’s books as M.J. Brolly. His first children’s book, The Sleeping Bug, was released by Oblong Books in December 2018. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children. You can find out more about Matt at his website MattBrolly.co.uk or by following him on twitter: @MattBrollyUK

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MattBrollyUK @MattBrollyUK

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mattbrollyauthor/

Website: https://www.mattbrolly.co.uk/

Many thanks to Emma Welton at Damppebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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