BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Kilo – by Toby Muse #damppebblesblogtours @tobymuse @EburyPublishing @EmmaFinnigan @damppebbles

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Kilo damppebbles blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve always had a strange interest in anything related to drugs crime and the war on drugs, so there was just no way I could resist this non fiction account on the drugs world in Colombia. It turned out to be an absolutely fascinating read! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: Kilo
Author: Toby Muse
Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime
First published: March 24th 2020
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Finished reading: March 27th 2020
Pages: 320

“The drug war doesn’t move backward or forward; it simply turns in circles.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Some of you might already know about my strange interest in anything related to the drugs world and the war on drugs. I was actually already about to read a different drugs-related non fiction book when Emma’s email arrived with the question if I could join the blog tour for Kilo on a really short notice… I normally wouldn’t have been able to, but I decided to make an effort for Kilo as the blurb sounded right up my alley. A non fiction account focusing on different areas in the Colombian drugs world? Bring it on! I knew from the start I was going to be in for a treat and put my other reads on hold to be able to dive straight in.

And guess what? I definitely made the right decision! Anyone who is interested in the Colombian drugs world should add this newly published non fiction account to their wishlist, as it turned out to be an absolutely fascinating read. Definitely one of the best drugs-related non fiction reads I’ve had the pleasure to read so far! So, why did this book work so well for me? There are many aspects that contributed, but one of the main reasons is probably the format. Instead of a dry and maybe dull account of only part of the drugs world, Kilo offers you a diverse and complete picture of the different stages as well as areas in play in this world. This might seem a bit chaotic, but the different parts are cleverly combined by following the ‘journey’ of a one kilo brick of cocaine; from the beginning when the coca plants are harvested to its transport to the final destination, Kilo will show you each step along the way and gives abundant information about each ‘sub-world’.

Kilo travels all over Colombia as it shows us both sides of the cocaine business, giving this non fiction account a multidimentional feel. From the coca leave harvesters to the rebels, the combo leaders, sicarios, drugs smugglers and anti-drugs units, Kilo will help giving you insight in every single cog in the big cocaine business wheel… As a result, you will find a colorful and complete picture of how the cocaine production and distribution affects many lives both inside Colombia and in the rest of the world. Toby Muse uses a wide cast of different characters to introduce us to the various stages of the cocaine business, some characters returning later on while others only have a temporary spotlight on them. Each character serves its purpose, and shows us how brutal, dire and sometimes hopeless the whole situation is… There is no escaping the violence associated with cocaine, and the consequences for most are life-threatening to say the least.

The writing style is simply spot on, feels fluid and really made both the characters and different settings come alive for me. There is nothing dull and dry about this non fiction account! Instead, Kilo gives us a colorful and abundant image of the Colombian drugs world as a whole, showing us both sides instead of just focusing on either the cocaine business or the war on drugs. This fact alone already took this book to the next level for me, as it felt like as a reader you were getting two for the price of one! A real bargain for anyone who is interested in or wants to learn more about the Colombian drugs world. Highly recommended!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Toby Muse is a British-American writer, television reporter, documentary filmmaker and foreign correspondent. He has reported from the front lines of the conflicts in Colombia, Iraq and Syria. He has embedded with soldiers, rebels and drug cartels, producing exclusive reports from cocaine laboratories and guerrilla jungle camps. He lived in Bogota, Colombia for more than fifteen years, reporting across South America and the endless drug war.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter // Facebook // Website

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK // Waterstones // Foyles // Book Depository // Hive.co.uk


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ARC REVIEW: Colombiano – by Rusty Young

Title: Colombiano
Author: Rusty Young
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Crime
First published: August 1st 2017
Publisher: Havelock & Baker
Finished reading: February 16th 2019
Pages: 813

“Like an autumn tree stripping itself to grow strong again, I had to let the leaves of kindness and compassion fall. “

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Havelock & Baker in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I have a special interest in the war on drugs and Latin America related stories, so when I saw Colombiano I immediately knew I had to read it. Colombia has a special place in my heart as it gave me three wonderful months of memories during my time living in Cartagena as well as it being the place where I first met my hubby. Colombia has a complicated history though and Rusty Young does a fantastic job portraying the struggles and give insight in what it was like for innocent inhabitants and autodefensas members alike. Colombiano is a mix of facts and fiction as the author spent years working secretly for  the US government in Colombia and was able to hear a lot of testimonies of child soldiers during that time. If you want to learn more about the struggles between the guerrilla, army and autodefensas and its consequences for both country and inhabitants, this book is an excellent way to do so in an entertaining way. I know it’s a huge book with over 800 pages, but it’s worth every single minute of your time. Like I said before, facts and fiction are mixed in Pedro’s quest for justice for the death of his father. Both sides have been incorporated into the story in such a way that feels natural and Colombiano is informative without it slowing down the pace of the story. The driving force behind Colombiano are Pedro, Palillo and the other main characters. Together they help understand what it is like living in a small village in the middle of the fight between the guerrilla and the army, and also show why someone would join the autodefensas and how that organization works. This story is about violence, drugs, power struggles and revenge, but also a coming of age story about young people growing up in such a difficult situation. Colombiano is hands down one of the best books I’ve read so far this year and definitely worth your time if the topic interests you. Between the writing style, characters, descriptions and plot you will have no idea this story is that long as you will find yourself turning those pages with gusto.

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Fifteen year old Pedro Gutierrez is living a comfortable life in a small Colombian town with his parents and girlfriend Camila. Then his life changes forever as guerrilla soldiers execute his father in front of Pedro after false accusations. And not only that, but both he and his mother as banished from their farm and left without a future. Pedro is determined to revenge his father and hunt down the five men responsible. He only sees one way to complish that: join an illegal paramilitary group called the autodefensas with his best friend Palillo. They are sent to a remote location to be trained to fight, kill and obey until any sign of weakness is smothered. But how far is Pedro willing to go to reach his goal?

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Even though Colombiano is a big beast of a read with 800+ pages, the story by no means slows down or drags at any point. This is due to a combination of an engaging writing style, fascinating details and descriptions, characters that will win over your heart and a well developed and intricate plot. The story itself is partly a coming of age story, partly a crime thriller with a drugs and violence focus and partly a story of family and what we are willing do sacrifice to keep those dear to us safe. Facts and fiction are mixed in a way that will give you both a goldmine of intriguing information about the conflicts between guerrilla, army and autodefensa as well as offering you a fascinating story and main character to follow. Anyone interested in the topic will love this story.


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