#BlogTour #BookReview I Am Dust by Louise Beech @OrendaBooks

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for I Am Dust by Louise Beech. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in the tour and to Orenda Books for my digital review copy. Do check out the post for my tour buddy, Jacob at Hooked From Page One.

I Am DustAbout the Book

When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast, in a bewitching, beguiling and terrifyingly dark psychological thriller…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?
Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life.

When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything. And Chloe has been watching…

Format: Paperback (300 pages)          Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication date: 16 April 2020 Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Thriller

Find I Am Dust on Goodreads

Pre-order/Purchase links*
Amazon.co.uk | Hive (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience not as part of an affiliate programme

My Review

“I’m still here; I am dust. I’m those fragments in the air, the gold light dancing there, the breeze from nowhere.”

The tagline on Louise Beech’s website is ‘Making Magic With Words’ and there’s more than a touch of magic, including of a dark kind, woven into I Am Dust.

With its numerous superstitions, the theatre naturally lends itself to being the setting for a story with a generous sprinkling of spooky goings-on, including radio messages that no-one else hears, writing on mirrors that no-one else sees, glimpses of shadowy figures in the auditorium or backstage, and doors that mysteriously open and close without warning. Those who have read her previous book, Call Me Star Girl, will appreciate the author’s ability to create a spine-chilling atmosphere from something as simple as an empty building late at night.

In Chloe, the author gives the reader an unflinching but always sensitively handled portrait of a troubled young woman. Chloe has always harboured ambitions to be an actress but, for the time being, has to make do with the role of usher at the now rather rundown Dean Wilson Theatre. Its glory has faded since the time the musical Dust premiered there, although the events of that night have given it a ghoulish notoriety. Now the shows it puts on are decidedly less iconic and more often than not play to sparse and not very appreciative audiences. (I suspect the author had a bit of fun inventing the shows. Please tell me the tribute act Pelvis Presley really exists.)

I did enjoy the depiction of the process of getting a show ready from initial read-throughs to set mock-ups and technical rehearsals, no doubt informed by the author’s own experience with the Hull Truck Theatre.

Alternating between the present day and fourteen years earlier, the reader sees a game involving Chloe and two teenage friends transform into something much darker. Although they do not know it then and will not fully realise it for many years, it will change the course of their lives forever. “We never forget. We choose not to remember.”

By the way, like those who stay at the end of a film to watch the credits roll in the hope of seeing a bonus scene or outtake, book bloggers who have taken part in tours for previous books by Louise will find a reward in her generous Acknowledgements section at the end of the book.

A skilfully crafted combination of crime mystery and ghost story, I Am Dust is an intensely atmospheric tale of ambition, obsession, desire and betrayal. 

In three words: Spooky, chilling, suspenseful

Try something similar: Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

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Louise Beech Author picAbout the Author

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books, Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost, were widely
reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019.

Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.

Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Connect with Louise
Website | Twitter

I Am Dust BT Poster

#BlogTour #Extract Second Sister by Chan Ho-Kei @HoZ_Books @midaspr


Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Second Sister by Chan Ho-Kei (translated from the Chinese by Jeremy Tiang) and published in hardcover on 18th February 2020 by Head of Zeus. It’s also available as an ebook and audio book. Described as perfect for fans of hacker thrillers such as Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, I’m delighted to bring you an extract from the book below.

Thanks to Bei at Midas PR for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my digital review copy.

image001About the Book

Set against a backdrop of Hong Kong’s Umbrella protests a young woman investigates her teenage sister’s suicide, in this evocative and zeitgeisty crime novel from the acclaimed author of The Borrowed.

Upon discovering her fifteen-year-old sister’s body sprawled in a pool of blood at the bottom of their apartment block, Nga-Yee vows to serve justice to the internet troll she blames for her sister’s suicide. Hiring an anti-establishment, maverick tech-savvy detective, Nga-Yee discovers the dark side of social media, the smokescreen of online privacy and the inner workings of the hacker’s mind.

Determined to find out the truth about why her sister Siu-Man killed herself, Nga-Yee cannot rest until she finds out whose inflammatory social media post went viral and pushed her sister to her death. Along the way, Nga-Yee makes unsavoury discoveries about her sister’s life and the dark underbelly of the digital world.

Part detective novel, part revenge thriller, Second Sister explores themes of sexual harassment, internet bullying and teenage suicide – and vividly captures the zeitgeist of Hong Kong today.

Format: Hardcover (496 pages)             Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 18th February 2020 Genre: Crime, Thriller

Purchase links*
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Hive (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Second Sister on Goodreads

Extract from Second Sister by Chan Ho-Kei

Chapter One

“Your sister killed herself.”

When Nga-Yee heard the policeman say these words in the mortuary, she couldn’t stop herself from blurting out, her speech slurred, “That’s impossible! You must have made a mistake, Siu-Man would never do such a thing.”

Sergeant Ching, a slim man of about fifty with a touch of gray at his temples, looked a littlelike a gangster, but something about his eyes told her she could trust him. Calm in the face of Nga-Yee’s near hysteria, he said something in his deep, steady voice that silenced her: “Miss Au, are you really certain your sister didn’t kill herself?”

Nga-Yee knew very well, even if she didn’t want to admit it to herself, that Siu-Man had ample reason to seek death. The pressure she’d been under for the last six months was much more than any fifteen-year-old girl should have to face.

But we should start with the Au family’s many years of misfortune.

Nga-Yee’s parents were born in the 1960s, second-generation immigrants. When war broke out between the Nationalists and Communists in 1946, large numbers of refugees began surging from the Mainland into Hong Kong. The Communists emerged victorious and brought in a new regime, cracking down on any opposition, and even more people started arriving in the safe haven of this British colony.

Nga-Yee’s grandparents were refugees from Guangzhou. Hong Kong needed a lot of cheap labor and rarely turned away people who entered the territory illegally, and her grandparents were able to put down roots, eventually getting their papers and becoming Hong Kongers. Even then, they led difficult existences, doing hard manual labor for long
hours and low wages. Their living conditions were terrible too. Still, Hong Kong was going through an economic boom, and as long as you were prepared to suffer a little, you could improve your circumstances. Some even rode the wave to real success.

Unfortunately, Nga-Yee’s grandparents never got the chance.

In February 1976 a fire in the Shau Kei Wan neighborhood on Aldrich Bay destroyed more than a thousand wooden houses, leaving more than three thousand people homeless. Nga-Yee’s grandparents died in this inferno, survived by a twelve-year-old child: Nga-Yee’s father, Au Fai. Not having any other family in Hong Kong, Au Fai was taken in by a neighbor who’d lost his wife in the fire. The neighbor had a seven-year-old daughter named Chau Yee-Chin. This was Nga-Yee’s mom.

Because they were so poor, Au Fai and Chau Yee-Chin didn’t have the chance for a real education. Both started work before coming of age, Au Fai as a warehouse laborer, Yee-Chin as a waitress at a dim sum restaurant. Although they had to toil for a living, they never complained, and they even managed to find a crumb of happiness when they fell in love. Soon they were talking of marriage. When Yee-Chin’s father fell ill in 1989,
they wed quickly so at least one of his wishes could be fulfilled before he died.

For a few years after that, the Au family seemed to have shaken themselves free of bad fortune.

Three years after their marriage, Au Fai and Chau Yee-Chin had a daughter. Yee-Chin’s father had been an educated youth in China. Before his death, he’d told them to call their child Chung-Long for a boy, Nga-Yee for a girl – “Nga” for elegance and beauty, “Yee” for joy.

The family of three moved into a small tenement flat in To Kwa Wan, where they lived a meager but contented existence. When Au Fai got back from work each day, the smiling faces of his wife and daughter made him feel that there was nothing more he could ask for in this world. Yee-Chin managed the household well. Nga-Yee was bookish and well-behaved, and all Au Fai wanted was to earn a little more money so she could go to university one day rather than having to get a job halfway through secondary school as he and his wife had had to do. Academic qualifications were now necessary to get ahead in Hong Kong. In the 1970s and ’80s you could get a job as long as you were willing to work hard, but times had changed.

When Nga-Yee was six, the god of fortune smiled on the Au family: after years on the waiting list, it was finally their turn to get a government flat. […]

Two years after moving into Wun Wah House, Chau Yee-Chin was pregnant again. Au Fai was delighted to be a father twice over, and Nga-Yee was old enough to understand that becoming an elder sister meant she’d have to work hard to help share her parents’ burden. Because his father-in-law had left only one name for each sex, Au Fai was stuck for a second girl’s name. He turned to their neighbor, a former schoolteacher, for help.

“How about calling her Siu-Man?” the old man suggested as they sat on a bench outside their building. “Sui as in ‘little’ and Man as in ‘clouds coloured by twilight.'”

Au Fai looked to where the old man was pointing and saw the setting sun turning the clouds a dazzling array of hues. “Au Siu-Man…that’s a nice-sounding name. Thanks for your help, Mr. Huang. I’m too ignorant to have ever come up with something so beautiful on my own.”

image003About the Author

Chan was born and raised in Hong Kong. He has worked as a software engineer, game designer, manga editor, and lecturer. Chan wrote made his debut as a writer in 2008 at the age of thirty-three, with the short story ‘The Case of Jack and the Beanstalk’ which was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of Taiwan Award. Chan re-entered the following year and won the award for his short story ‘The Locked Room of Bluebeard’.

Chan reached the first milestone of his writing career in 2011 with his novel The Man who Sold the World which won the biggest mystery award in the Chinese speaking world, the Soji Shimada Award. The book has been published in Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Thailand and Korea.

In 2014, Chan’s crime thriller The Borrowed was published in Taiwan. It has sold rights in thirteen countries, and the book will be adapted into a film by acclaimed Chinese art film director Wong Kar-Wai. Second Sister has acquired a six-figure film deal with Linmon Pictures in China. The book will be published in the US in 2020 and rights have been sold to China, Korea and Japan.

Connect with Chan
Website | Twitter

About the Translator

Jeremy Tiang’s writing has appeared in The Guardian, Esquire and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. He has written four plays and translated more than ten books from the Chinese. Tiang lives in New York.