Sunday, 3 June 2018

Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone #FaultLines @OrendaBooks

A little lie… a seismic secret… and the cracks are beginning to show…
In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, where a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery.
On a clandestine trip to new volcanic island The Inch, to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery, a secret. Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she'll be exposed, Surtsey's life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact - someone who claims to know what she's done...

Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 22 May 2018, my thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

The Inch, a volcanic island just off the coast of Edinburgh, and Surtsey McKenzie were born on the same day. As Surtsey's mother gave birth,  a tectonic fault opened up and a volcano erupted, leaving behind The Inch.

For Surtsey, the Inch has always been a magical place. Following in the footsteps of her own mother, she became a volcanologist and the Inch is the place that she has honed her studies. Just like the Inch, Surtsey's life has been full of shifts and changes. Always unpredictable, they both have an air of mystery, and defiance that defines them.

The novel opens as Surtsey lands on the Inch to meet her lover. Although it's something of a cliche, and Surtsey is well aware of that, her relationship with Tom, her professor on the PhD course at Edinburgh University is an exciting secret. Although she's betraying her boyfriend Brendon and Tom's wife Alice is in the dark, for Surtsey, this is fun and as far as she is concerned, nobody will get hurt.

But, Tom is dead. Laying on the beach with gulls pecking at his face. There's no sign of his boat moored nearby, and just his mobile phone laying beside him. Surtsey panics, takes the phone and rows back to the mainland. However when a text arrives on Tom's secret phone; the one that he used only to communicate with Surtsey, and it says 'I know you where there', it becomes clear to Surtsey that someone, somewhere has been watching her, and knows exactly what she's been doing.

So, that's the blurb, more or less, and what follows is an explosive, well structured and absolutely compelling story. Doug Johnstone's writing is both beautiful and searingly honest. Surtsey is a girl who, as an adult I guess I should dislike, but she creeps her way into the heart of the reader. She makes some dreadful decisions, she drinks like a fish and smokes far too much hash, but there's a vulnerability about her that is so endearing, and I had her back, all the way through.

This is not just a crime story, Tom's death, and that of another character later on, are a mystery to be solved. However, it's the intricate and detailed look at the nature of family relationships and the ever present tremors and aftershocks that ripple out from the Inch and echo what is happening in Surtsey's life that make Fault Lines so brilliant.

Just over 200 pages, but so beguiling, so original and so very gripping. Not a single word is wasted, it is wonderfully atmospheric, often unsettling and always thought provoking. The story and its characters have lingered in my head constantly since I turned the final page.  Absolutely exceptional and one of the best books of 2018 so far.

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His seventh novel, The Jump, was published by Faber & Faber in August 2015. Gone Again (2013) was an Amazon bestseller and Hit & Run (2012) and was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. Smokeheads (2011) was nominated for the Crimefest Last Laugh Award. Before that Doug published two novels with Penguin, Tombstoning (2006) and The Ossians (2008). His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.

In September 2014 Doug took up the position of Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. Doug was writer in residence at the University of Strathclyde 2010-2012 and before that worked as a lecturer in creative writing there. He’s had short stories appear in various publications and anthologies, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature. Doug is currently also working on a number of screenplays for film and television. He is also a mentor and manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy.

Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield. He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released two solo EPs, Keep it Afloat and I Did It Deliberately.

Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars.

He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.

For more info:

Twitter @doug_johnstone

All The Little Children by Jo Furniss #BlogTour @Jo_Furniss #MyLifeInBooks #RandomThingsTours #AllTheLittleChildren

When a family camping trip takes a dark turn, how far will one mother go to keep her family safe?
Struggling with working-mother guilt, Marlene Greene hopes a camping trip in the forest will provide quality time with her three young children—until they see fires in the distance, columns of smoke distorting the sweeping view. Overnight, all communication with the outside world is lost.
Knowing something terrible has happened, Marlene suspects that the isolation of the remote campsite is all that’s protecting her family. But the arrival of a lost boy reveals they are not alone in the woods, and as the unfolding disaster ravages the land, more youngsters seek refuge under her wing. The lives of her own children aren’t the only ones at stake.
When their sanctuary is threatened, Marlene faces the mother of all dilemmas: Should she save her own kids or try to save them all?

All The Little Children by Jo Furniss is published by Lake Union Publishing. As part of the Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books.

My Life in Books - Jo Furniss

As an only child, books played a vital role in my upbringing. Not only were fictional friends good company, but they also taught me social skills that might otherwise have come from siblings; conflict, jealousy, forgiveness: intriguing glimpses inside another person’s head.

Not surprisingly, many of my special books are from childhood.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh – Robert C. O’Brien   I credit this book with turning me into a life-long veggie. Mrs Frisby is one of the finest mothers in literature – a tiger mum in the body of a mouse – and she’s not unlike the main character of my novel, ALL THE LITTLE CHILDREN, in that she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to survive. Meanwhile, the rats of Nimh are an oppressed minority who simply want freedom. Feminism, tolerance, animal rights: it’s all wrapped up in a race for survival.

The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame    I love books that work on many levels, so Ratty and Mole’s anthropomorphised journey around the class structure of Edwardian England makes this as much fun to read as an adult as it was as a kid. But it is their deep connection to the land that sings to me. When I came to write my novel set in rural England, so many lines floated up from my subconscious that I even included some in the book.

Winnie the Pooh – A A Milne   I still think it’s funny how bears like honey, and sometimes I hum a little hum. These tales were a security blanket to me and I read them repeatedly, never seeming to tire of the simple but profound tales. I’m not surprised that modern philosophers share my passion for Pooh.

The Clan of the Cave Bear – Jean M. Auel    The Earth’s Children series sold 45m copies! It’s a phenomenon. I’m itching for my daughter to be old enough to read it and marvel. It’s got everything – romance, adventure, a family saga, cultural in/tolerance, stone age survival skills, a pet lion, a surprising amount of sex (no TV in the Ice Age, I suppose)… and a ton of research: my goodness, I learnt so much from these books. Read the series and you’re practically a trained archaeologist.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte    Is this novel on every female writer’s list? It should be because it’s fierce. Fierce at a time when women were supposed to be placid. Bonnets off to fierceness.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood     I could list a bunch of her novels, but this is the mamma of them all. I discovered Atwood at university alongside other feminists writing with intoxicating freedom in genres such as speculative, fantasy or sci-fi: Marge Piercy, Angela Carter, Joanna Russ. It marked the opening of my consciousness, and ever since I’ve embraced literary dystopias that offer space for women to tear down the walls.

The Singapore Grip – JG Farrell    I spent seven years living in Singapore and my next novel – THE TRAILING SPOUSE – is set there. The wartime history of the Fall of Singapore is extraordinary and Farrell captures it perfectly in his quintessential portrayal of the end of empire.

The Heart of the Matter – Graham Greene   Rain hammering on a corrugated iron roof. A moral crisis that leads a good man on a path to ruin. Years after reading Graham Greene’s masterpiece, set in Sierra Leone, I went to live in West Africa and found the landscape of his novel coming to life - it really does rain that hard.

The Time Machine – H G Wells   Another favourite dystopia, in which Wells sends his traveller into a future of brutally segregated people. A committed socialist, Wells’ thought experiment pushed class division to the extreme – or maybe what he thought was extreme, prior to the holocaust or apartheid. The light pace of the novel belies the heavyweight ideas to come.

Tales from the Forest – Sarah Maitland    While writing ALL THE LITTLE CHILDREN, I wanted to immerse myself in the sights, sounds and lore of the English forest – but, unfortunately, I didn’t live there! This book proved to be a gem. Maitland entwines the sensory details of personal woodland walks with reflections on fairy tales and folklore. When I felt far from my roots, this book took me home.

Jo Furniss - June 2018 

After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the UK, she lived in Switzerland and Cameroon, and currently resides with her family in Singapore.

As a journalist, Jo has worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle, The Economist, Business Traveller, Expat Living (Singapore) and Swiss News. Jo has also edited books for a Nobel Laureate and the Palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University. In 2015 she founded—an online literary magazine for writers in Singapore.

All the Little Children is Jo’s debut novel and she is working on a second domestic thriller to be released in 2018.

Connect with her via Facebook
(/JoFurnissAuthor) and Twitter (@Jo_Furniss) or through her website:

Saturday, 2 June 2018

We Other by Sue Bentley @suebentleywords #BlogTour @rararesources #MyLifeInBooks #WeOther

Family secrets, changelings, and fairies you never want to meet on a dark night. 
Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic. 
When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of Jess’s worries.

Welcome to my slot on the Blog Tour for We Other by Sue Bentley. My thanks to Rachel from Rachel's Random Resources who invited me to take part in this tour.

We Other begins in a gritty urban environment, where Jess Morgan is struggling with almost every aspect of her life. Her single parent mum is alcoholic, they have no money and her mum’s latest boyfriend is the worst in a long line of no-hopers.
Jess doesn’t fit in and never has. She vulnerable and scared but hides it behind a spiky, street-wise exterior. Her only friend is, Mike, a homeless guy who lives in the subway. But Mike is not who he seems and before long Jess’s fortunes change in ways she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams.
There’s an entire world of which she’s been unaware. It’s a hidden world of beauty and possibilities, but also untold dangers for the unwary. There she’ll discover her true destiny and how it’s linked to family secrets and tragedies in her past. She once thought her life on the run-down housing estate was bleak, empty and desolate, but pretty soon she’s desperate to get back to what she knows. The alternative is altogether too much in every way, for one girl in her late teens to encompass.
We Other is part love story, part thriller and is informed by Sue’s love of traditional fairy tales and folklore of the UK. Her fairies are pitch-dark and not the sort you’d want to meet alone, on a moonless night. We Other is her first novel for Young Adults, but has been equally enjoyed by many adults.

I'm really happy to welcome Sue Bentley here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life in Books.

My Life in Books - Sue Bentley

Like many writers it was discovering the public library at an early age that gave me a lifelong love of books. I’m British born of indeterminate roots, but my mother’s side of the family have been in Northamptonshire for at least two hundred years. The eldest of 5 girls, I was often in trouble for having my head ‘stuck in a book’. My harassed mum would call me to come and do something useful – washday was pretty intense in our house.

The library used to be a Methodist Chapel. It had a very shiny wooden floor, which creaked at each hollow-sounding footstep. The elderly librarian with glasses and a stern manner, had a twinkle in her eye. Probably because she recognised a fellow bookworm. I’d borrow four books on Saturday visits to my grandparents. I’d sit reading while grandad checked his football pools and grandma laid out a special meal of ham sandwiches, cream cakes and endless strong, sweet tea. I stopped reading long enough to eat and maybe run an errand for grandma. But by the time we left for home I’d want to exchange my library books. Which always caused a row as I took ages choosing them.

Enid Blyton was an early favourite - although I remember being perturbed when Goblins stripped off Noddy’s clothes and left him naked in a forest! Oh, his poor little bare wooden limbs. (Did that really happen – or is it something I dreamed up?) I loved the Magic Faraway Tree, Famous Five and Secret Seven books.

The antics of Richmal Crompton’s William Brown, and his gang of Outlaws, made me laugh out loud. They were echoes of the pranks I got up to playing with the family of boys in our road. Boys had more fun and weren’t expected to do housework.

After Swallows and Amazons, The Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island and many others, I made a bee-line for the adult section. By then I was about eleven or twelve, old enough to walk to my grandparents by myself and browse the library shelves for as long as I liked.

I read the Brontes, Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. Jean Plaidy and Anya Seton were also favourites. To my delight I recently discovered some copies of Jean Plaidy novels with the original dust covers I remembered from those days. In the same shop were some novels by the prolific Kathleen Lindsay and the unlikely-named Lozania Prole – pen-name of Ursula Bloom. I thought these romantic novels racy at the time, but then I chanced upon the series of Angelique books by novelist duo Serge and Ann Golon! True bodice-rippers and very steamy – I adored them.

I was by then working as a library assistant and family sagas were popular – or ‘rats and rickets’ as we nicknamed them. Josephine Cox, Iris Gower, Maeve Binchy and Susan Howatch were favourites. There’d be a huge waiting list for a new Catherine Cookson title. I’d have to wait my turn to get my hands on a copy.

I also enjoy historical crime. C J Sansom’s Shardlake series is wonderful, as are City of Shadows and Relics of the Dead, written by the late Dianna Norman under the pen name Ariana Franklin.

I like anything written by Michel Faber. The Crimson Petal and the White is a masterpiece. With its detailed Victorian setting and shades of gothic horror, it doesn’t shy away from the darkness in humanity. Michel Faber’s a difficult writer to get a handle on as each novel he writes is totally different in subject and tone. (Something with which I empathise) I loved Under the Skin; pure fantasy, disquieting with a gritty undertone.

A book I enjoyed recently was The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis. The heroine is dark and dangerous and full of surprises. A fabulous unique ‘voice’.

In a way historical novels led me to reading fantasy novels. They say ‘the past is another country’ and I think it’s this quality of an unfamiliar landscape that I enjoy so much in any well-crafted novel. Modern fairy tales are another favourite. Tithe by Holly Black was a revelation.

Currently in my to-read pile is Wild Beauty by Anne-Marie McLemore, bought unashamedly for its beautiful cover. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor and Ghost Hawk, the latest Susan Cooper, who’s writing I adore.

Reading is a complete sensual experience for me. I’m never without a book. I enjoy the physicality of them and the way they look. A room always looks better for a shelf or twenty of books. I’ve been a library user, a library worker and now I make my living writing the books people buy and borrow. It seems I have always lived my life in books.

Thank You so much for hosting me on the We Other Blog tour. And thank you readers for joining me on my journey through books.

Sue Bentley discovered a love of books at an early age. 
She worked for Northamptonshire Libraries for many years, while teaching herself the craft of writing. 
She is the author of the worldwide bestselling Magic Kitten, Magic Puppy, Magic Ponies, Magic Bunny series for age 5-9 years. 
She also writes for children and adults under various pen names. 
A lover of English Folklore, her books often contain elements of the otherworld and the darkness within the everyday. 
Her books have been translated into around 20 languages. 
We Other is her first book for Young Adults. 

Follow her on Twitter @subentleywords
Find her Author page on Facebook 
Follow her on Instagram @therealsuebentley 
Check out her website 

Friday, 1 June 2018

We Were The Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard @RBouchard72 @OrendaBooks Translated by David Warriner @givemeawave

Truth lingers in murky waters…
As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman's nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man's heart in knots. Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he's thrown into the deep end of the investigation. 
On Quebec's outlying Gaspé Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen's wharves. Interviews drift into idle chit-chat, evidence floats off with the tide and the truth lingers in murky waters. It's enough to make DS Morales reach straight for a large whisky…

Both a dark and consuming crime thriller and a lyrical, poetic ode to the sea, We Were the Salt of the Sea is a stunning, page-turning novel, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

We Were The Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 30 March 2018, and is translated by David Warriner.

Set in a small fishing village on Quebec's Gaspe Peninsula, this novel is an entrancing, beautifully written story filled with incredibly created characters and a plot that intrigues and haunts.

Catherine Day wants to find out about her birth mother. She's from Montreal and the tiny, close-knit community that she finds is like no other place that she's been to. The people who she meets are strange, but not strangers, for they tell her more about her history than she could ever imagine, and it becomes clear that Catherine's mother was not particularly liked.

When the body of Marie Garant; another well-known and often talked about local woman, is discovered in a fishing net, the story becomes faster and the crime thriller element of the novel is wholly apparent. However, the writing and imagery continues to stun the reader, becoming almost song-like at times, and there's humour too. I laughed, a lot. This author's delightful characters, and their dialogue is irresistible; I belly-laughed, more than once!

Atmospheric, but sometimes claustrophobic, We Were The Salt of the Sea is probably one of the most difficult stories that I've tried to write about. It's not one thing, it's a combination of many things, and that combination equals a book that truly is a joy to read. Bravo Roxanne Bouchard!

Roxanne Bouchard reads a lot, but she laughs even more. Her first novel, Whisky et Paraboles, garnered an array of prestigious awards in Quebec and caught the attention of British researcher, Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani, of the University of Westminster, who saw for herself how Roxanne weaves poetry and geography together to delve into her characters’ intimate worlds. This desire for intimacy permeates all of Roxanne’s novels, as well as her play, J’t’aime encore, and her published essays, which have focused on the human aspects and impacts of the military. In 2013, the publication of her private correspondence with Corporal Patrick Kègle, entitled En terrain miné, started quite the conversation.
This thought-provoking discussion about the need for weapons was a stepping-stone for Roxanne to undertake unprecedented research at Quebec’s largest military base. Meeting and speaking with dozens of women and men who served in Afghanistan in 2009 inspired her to write a collection of hard-hitting short stories, Cinq balles dans la tête, slated for publication in autumn 2017.
We Were the Salt of the Sea is Roxanne Bouchard’s fifth novel, and the first to be translated into English. As much a love story and a nostalgic tale as it is a crime novel, it was shortlisted for a number of crime fiction and maritime literature awards in Quebec and France. It haunts people’s memories, ties seafarers’ hearts in knots and seeps its way into every nook and cranny, but most importantly, the sea in this book is a calling for us all to set our sails to the wind. Roxanne Bouchard is currently writing an essay on literary creativity and plotting Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès’s next investigation. 

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @RBouchard72

David Warriner grew up in England and developed a passion for French at an early age. After graduating from Oxford University he moved to Quebec and soon started his career in translation. David freelanced for a year with the company he created, Britboy Translations. Next, he was hired as an in-house translator for a prominent Quebec-based insurance company.
A few years later David was headhunted by another financial group to build a translation service in Quebec City and Montreal. Here he developed valuable skills in recruiting and managing a team of in-house translators and freelancers. David helped to bridge the language gap between the Quebec and Toronto offices by liaising with people at all levels of the company.
David worked in-house in the insurance and financial services field for eight years. He translated documents of a corporate, legal and contractual nature as well as marketing and communications texts. David and his team were also responsible for creating English product names and slogans.
Next, David moved to the West Coast with his family to coordinate the French translation needs of a government ministry. A year later, he decided to launch his own business again, this time on the strength of a decade’s experience in the industry.
W Translation works with Canada’s official languages and primarily caters to your French-to-English translation needs. We can also edit and proofread your existing English documents.
Find out more at
Follow him on Twitter @givemeawave