Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The Dead Ex by Jane Corry @JaneCorryAuthor #BlogTour @PenguinUKBooks @HannahLudbrook #MyLifeInBooks

Vicki's husband David once promised to love her in sickness and in health. But after a brutal attack left her suffering with epilepsy, he ran away with his mistress.
So when Vicki gets a call one day to say that he's missing, her first thought is 'good riddance'. But then the police find evidence suggesting that David is dead. And they think Vicki had something to do with it.
What really happened on the night of David's disappearance?
And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she's not even sure of it herself?
For anyone who loved The Couple Next Door, Lisa Jewell's Then She Was Gone and Cara Hunter's Close To Home, this book has everything you need for the perfect summer read - gripping twists and turns, brilliant characters and a story you can't put down.

The Dead Ex by Jane Corry was published in paperback on 28 June 2018 by Penguin. 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 - Jane Corry

TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE by Mitch Albom. I read this at a particularly difficult period in life. It bowled me over. It’s based upon conversations between the author and his former professor who imparts his life wisdom. Wonderfully uplifting and life-affirming.

WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Graeme. My father used to read this to me as a child. I loved the idea of ‘messing about on boats’ as well as all the characters including the irascible Toad. Now my father is 94 with failing sight. So I read it to him.

LOOK OUT FOR SQUALLS by FRANK ROMER. The author was my great grandfather. I always knew he was a doctor but I only recently discovered that he was a novelist on the quiet with three novels published by Duckworth. This book (published in 1926) is a humorous cosy crime novel. I love the idea that maybe there’s a writing gene in the family. I’m also really proud of him for having made the time to write even though he had a full-time – and demanding - occupation. Frank was one of the first osteopaths in the UK and treated the Royal Family.

THE PALLISER NOVELS BY ANTHONY TROLLOPE. I devoured most of the classics when I was a teenager but only came across Trollope in my mid twenties. I got to the last in the series when I was pregnant with my eldest child. I kept willing myself not to go into labour until I reached the final page. I only just made it!My son is now a writer himself.

JANE EYRE BY CHARLOTTE BRONTE. I didn’t really enjoy school until I got to the sixth form and could concentrate on subjects I liked best, such as English. Jane Eyre was one of our set texts. I would sit on the upstairs classroom window sill (probably not allowed now) and dream myself into her character. I wanted to be her. I now know better.

POETRY BY KEATS. I’ve always loved poetry. As a teenager I wrote reams. Later when I left women’s magazine journalism and became a writer in residence of a high security male prison, I helped the men write poetry. Keats is possibly my favourite poet. He combines warmth of character with scenes you can step into. I know ‘Ode To Autumn’ by heart. ‘Close bosom friend of the maturing sun’ is a wonderful line.

THE ‘ALFIE AND ROSE’ BOOKS BY SHIRLEY HUGHES. I discovered these when my own children were little. I love the stories and charming illustrations. ‘Dogger’ is possibly my story. It’s about a toddler who loses his special ‘comfort toy’ - a situation which many of us can identify with – and then finds it. I now have two small grandchildren whom I look after twice a week. They love Alfie and Rose too.

DAILY STRENGTH FOR DAILY NEEDS SELECTED BY MARY TILESTON. When my mother died at the age of 56 from ovarian cancer, she left me a book which had always been at her bedside table. It contains a selection of sayings and prayers for each day of the year. She
wrote all our birthdays down on the relevant pages and it’s lovely to see her handwriting. It gives me inspiration for the day ahead. And it makes me feel she is close.

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE BY GAIL HONEYMAN. I resisted reading this for a bit because everyone was doing so and I don’t always like to go with the crowd. But then I gave in and was hooked from the start. I now recommend it to everyone. It’s quirky with some wonderful twists. But it’s also poignantly funny.

THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY BY RACHEL JOYCE. This is another quirky novel (you can tell my taste by now!) about a man who goes off to post a letter to a former dying work colleague and end ups by walking to Newcastle to deliver it in person. On the way, he reflects on his life. Thanks to the author’s skill, I walked with him, side by side.

MY GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER’S DIARY. I was given this by an elderly relative just before he died. I’m extremely grateful. It was written in 1871 and chronicles everyday life as a young mother. Most of it is, to be honest, fairly monotonous and deals with chores such as helping the children with their lessons. But there are hidden gems. Betty talks about being ‘tired’ but it isn’t until the end of the year that she refers to being ‘churched’. This was a ceremony which new mothers went through after giving birth. That meant she’d been pregnant all through the year but hadn’t actually said so because it wouldn’t have been considered good manners, even in a diary. There’s also a line about going ‘to tea with Dickens’ children’. So maybe they knew the author himself!

PUFFBALL BY FAY WELDON. I devoured Fay Weldon’s books as a teenager and young woman but this was the first I read. When I was a magazine journalist, I was sent to interview her. It was a dream come true! I confided in her my ambition to write novels and she encouraged me over the years. We still stay in touch. I’m lucky enough to be asked to her birthday party every year which is held in a huge marquee in her garden with all kinds of people – some famous and some not. She is an inspiration.

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist who has spent time working as the writer in residence of a high security prison for men - an experience that helped inspire her Sunday Times bestsellers 'My Husband's Wife' and 'Blood Sisters'. Jane runs regular writing workshops and speaks at literary festivals all over the world. Many of her ideas strike during morning dog-jogs along the beach followed by a dip in the sea - no matter how cold it is!

Jane's brand-new thriller 'The Dead Ex' is published June 2018 by Penguin Viking.

You can find Jane on Twitter at @JaneCorryAuthor and on 

Facebook at JaneCorryAuthor 

Monday, 16 July 2018

Overkill by Vanda Symon @vandasymon @OrendaBooks #Overkill #KiwiCrime

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.
Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.

A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.

Overkill by Vanda Symon was published in ebook form by Orenda Books on 30 June 2018, the paperback is published on 7 September 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Look! Look at that cover! Isn't it stunning? I love it so much, and it exactly depicts the contents of the pages inside. Honestly, that oppressive dark cloud is just the perfect visual depiction of this extraordinary story.

It's been a long time since a prologue hooked me in quite the way that this one does. The reader is thrust, smack bang, into the centre of the horrifying incident that forms the central plot in this novel.
It's unforgiving in its brutality, but the violence is almost unspoken, it's implied with a force that conjures up the desperation of a woman attacked in her her own home, in front of her own child. A woman who, finally, has to accept that she cannot get out of this situation.

That woman is Gaby Knowes and when her body is washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, and a suicide note is found in her kitchen, the small rural town in New Zealand is rocked to the core. Sam Shephard is the only police officer in the town and it doesn't take her long to realise that this is not a suicide, this is a murder. Calling in external help from the CIB plunges Sam into a nightmare and when the powers that be discover that Gaby Knowes was married to Sam's ex-lover Lockie, she's suspended from duty and becomes a prime suspect.

Sam Shephard is an absolute delight, she's a fabulously created character who I loved. She's determined and gritty and loyal. Despite her suspension from duty, there is absolutely no way that Sam is going to let this one go. Risking her job, and her future, she continues, in her own way to gather as much evidence as possible.

Overkill moves at break-neck speed, plunging the reader and Sam into a mystery that is cleverly thought out and impeccably told. The tense atmosphere and the multiple twists and false leads make this a breathtaking and compelling read. The sense of place is amazing, this author has created a community that is close, yet divided; there's a claustrophobic feeling about Mataura and its residents that adds such depth to the story.

Sam Shephard is my new hero. She's perfectly flawed and incredibly human. I can't wait to find out what she gets up to next.

Vanda Symon is the best-selling author of four Detective Sam Shephard crime fiction novels, published in New Zealand, including Overkill (Penguin, 2007), The Ringmaster (Penguin, 2008), Containment (Penguin, 2009), Bound (Penguin, 2011), and the stand-alone psychological thriller, The Faceless (Penguin, 2012). She is a three-time finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Fiction Novel. Her books have also been published in Germany.
Author Kate Mosse has said: ‘Vanda Symon’s fast paced crime novels are as good as anything the US has to offer – a sassy heroine, fabulous sense of place, and rip roaring stories with a twist. Perfect curl-up on the sofa reading.’ Crimewatch has described Vanda as ‘part of a new wave of Kiwi crime writers… Symon’s talent for creating well-rounded characters permeates throughout’.
Vanda is the producer and host of Write On, a monthly radio show on matters literary on Otago Access Radio, and she also reviews books for National Radio. She is very involved in the New Zealand writing community, having been chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors, and is currently the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand. Vanda also has participated in celebrity debates, acted as speaker, reader or chair in literary events and festivals in New Zealand and Australia, and toured with The New Zealand Book Council’s Words on Wheels.
Vanda has a professional background as a pharmacist and has recently completed a PhD in science communication, examining the communication of science through crime fiction.

Follow her on Twitter @vandasymon
Find out more at
Find her Author page on Facebook

The Madonna of Bolton by Matt Cain @MattCainWriter #BlogTour #MyLifeInBooks @unbounders

Charlie Matthews’ love story begins in a pebble-dashed house in suburban Bolton, at a time when most little boys want to grow up to be Michael Jackson, and girls want to be Princess Di. Remembering the Green Cross Code and getting out of football are the most important things in his life, until Auntie Jan gives him a gift that will last a lifetime: a seven-inch single called ‘Lucky Star’...

On his ninth birthday, Charlie discovers Madonna, and falls in love. His obsession sees him through some tough times in life: being persecuted at school, fitting in at a posh university, a glamorous career in London, finding boyfriends, getting rid of boyfriends, and family heartbreak. Madonna’s music and videos inspire him, and her fierce determination to succeed gives him the confidence to do the same. Ultimately, though, he must learn to let go of his idol and find his own voice.

Charlie’s story is Billy Elliot meets Beautiful Thing wearing a conical bra – a story for anyone who ever sang their heart out, looked for love and dreamed of more… The Madonna of Bolton will make you laugh, cry and Get Into the Groove. It’s a book to Cherish and a Ray of Light, and it even has a little Hanky Panky.

The Madonna of Bolton by Matt Cain was published on 12 July 2018 by Unbound and was the fastest crowdfunded novel in Unbound's history.

As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome Matt Cain to Random Things today, he's talking about the books that are special to him in My Life in Books.

My Life in Books - Matt Cain

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
My mum first read this to me, my brother and sister when we were little and I was completely blown away. Over the next few years I must have read it myself at least ten more times. Because I was a camp, girly boy living in a rough northern town I never really fit in and had a horrible time at school. There were times I was so unhappy I would have loved nothing better than being whisked away to a fantasy world like Narnia, where I was a king and everyone loved me. I think that’s why the book made such an impact on me.

La Gloire de Mon Père by Marcel Pagnol
When I was a teenager I fell in love with learning different languages; I think that again part of the appeal here was escaping reality and transforming myself into a slightly different person. The first novels I read in French were by Marcel Pagnol and I loved them all, although this, the story of a young boy who bonds with his dad on hunting trips around their holiday home in Provence, is the first one that really drew me in. The films are lovely too.

Sex by Madonna
I was at sixth-form college when Sex was released in 1992 and my obsession with Madonna was at its height; as an outspoken ally of the LGBT community and a sexually confident woman whose insistence on expressing her desires labelled her a fellow outsider, I elected her as my spirit guide. Sex was a coffee-table book of explicit images exploring Madonna’s sexual fantasies that was shot by photographer Steven Meisel. The project represented the most transgressive move of Madonna’s career and saw most mainstream media outlets align against her for the first time. But this didn’t stop the limited edition of 150,000 sealed, aluminium-backed copies from selling out on the first day. I was struck by Madonna’s bravery as a feminist and the defiantly queer tone of much of the book, as well as the beauty and power of some of the imagery.

Fortunata y Jacinta by Benito Pérez Galdós
When I went to Cambridge to study French and Spanish literature, I found myself forced to read countless novels that I found really hard going. But I did fall in love with the work of Flaubert, Balzac, Zola and Gide in French, and Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa and Manuel Puig in Spanish. One of my favourite novels on the reading list was Fortunata y Jacinta by Benito Pérez Galdós, which was written in 1887 and tells the interlinking stories of two women of different classes living in Madrid. The book is bitingly critical of the class snobbery and sexism of the time and I loved it. When I spent a year living in Madrid between 1996 and 1997, I re-read it and would often stroll around the streets where it’s set bringing the characters to life in my mind.

Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins
By the time I left Cambridge, being forced to read and analyse so many worthy, academic books had pretty much killed all the joy I used to find in reading. That summer I went on holiday with two girlfriends and we each read a Jackie Collins. I picked up Hollywood Wives and within minutes I was drooling, gasping and giggling out loud on the beach. After years of feeling like my batteries had run out, it was as if somebody had switched me back on again. I’ve since read several of Jackie’s books and love her colourful characters, energetic plotting, and the intoxicating cocktail of humour, glamour and sex that she serves up every time.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
When I started my career in TV arts programming, Jackie Collins was one of the writers I was lucky enough to interview – and over the years I’ve also had the opportunity to interview or work with David Mitchell, Alan Hollinghurst, Ian McEwan, Rose Tremain, Jonathan Harvey and Barbara Kingsolver. But one of the first authors I interviewed for TV was Sebastian Faulks, whose World War 1 epic Birdsong is one of my favourite books of all time and was the first to reduce me to tears. Meeting its author made me see writers as real people and writing itself as something that maybe I too could do one day.

Thomas Hardy: A Life by Claire Tomalin
During the eight years I spent making documentaries for The South Bank Show, I worked with several amazing artists, including Carol Ann Duffy, Ewan McGregor, Sam Taylor-Wood, Darcey Bussell and Ian McKellen, each of whom inspired me in different ways to draw on my own creativity. But my early attempts at writing fiction were rejected by countless agents and publishers, something which left me feeling devastated. Then, in 2006, I made a documentary with Claire Tomalin about her biography of Thomas Hardy. I’d always loved Claire Tomalin’s work; although her biographies are impeccably researched, they read like freely-imagined fiction. And I was hooked on her latest when I discovered that, like me, Hardy was devastated when his first novel had been rejected for publication – and even when he’d achieved success, his work was often derided by critics. I went on to devour all of Hardy’s novels before setting off to shoot the documentary on location in Dorset and Cornwall, where I spent a wonderful few weeks that inspired me to keep writing and not to give up on my dream.

One Day by David Nicholls
I love this book so much that I don’t think I could ever be friends with someone, and I certainly couldn’t fall in love with someone, if they didn’t feel the same way about it. If you’re one of the few people who hasn’t read it, it tells a twenty-year love story through a series of set-piece scenes taking place on the same day at yearly intervals. I read it when I was writing my first novel Shot Through the Heart, when I’d been single for ages and needed switching back on to romance so I could make my own fictional love story come alive. One Day delivered exactly what I was looking for – and a whole lot more besides. It’s a book that has been written with such sensitivity and humanity I think it has the power to make everyone who reads it a better person.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Between 2010 and 2013 I worked as Culture Editor on Channel 4 News, reporting on all areas of the arts. During my time in the role I was lucky enough to meet even more amazing artists working in various fields, such as Grayson Perry, Pedro Almodóvar and the Spice Girls, but I made sure I devoted a lot of attention to stories about writers and the publishing industry as I was trying to use my position to finally secure a book deal for my own fiction. While covering the Orange Prize (now the Women’s Prize) I interviewed the author Madeline Miller, who’d just re-worked the Greek mythology in Homer’s The Iliad to create the gay love story at the heart of that year’s winning novel, The Song of Achilles. I don’t think you’ll ever read a more beautiful account of romantic, lustful and intimate love – gay or straight. I felt stunned after I’d read it – and was relieved to find that its author wasn’t just clever and talented but adorable and friendly too.

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
This series of novels set in San Francisco burst into life in the mid-1970s and they’re a riotous romp through the interlinking stories of several ‘gay, straight and travelling’ characters from different backgrounds, many of them tenants of 28 Barbary Lane, a boarding house run by transgender landlady Mrs Madrigal. It was while working as Editor-in-Chief of Attitude, the UK’s biggest-selling magazine for gay men, that I went to San Francisco to shoot and interview author Armistead Maupin. The experience was one of the things that inspired me to dig out my manuscript for The Madonna of Bolton, a novel I’d written that had been rejected by over thirty publishers who considered its gay content and central character ‘uncommercial’. I wanted to prove them wrong – and that’s when I decided to crowdfund the novel through Unbound and attempt to raise the funds in record time. I succeeded in seven days and now my novel is about to hit shops around the UK. I couldn’t be more excited!

Matt Cain was born in Bury and brought up in Bolton. He spent ten years making arts and entertainment programmes for ITV before stepping in front of the camera in 2010 to become Channel 4 News’ first ever culture editor. His first novel, Shot Through the Heart, was published in 2014 and his second, Nothing But Trouble, followed in 2015. His latest release is The Madonna of Bolton, which will be published on 12th July 2018 and supported by a major publicity campaign.

As a journalist Matt has contributed articles to all the major UK newspapers and in 2017 was voted Diversity in Media's Journalist of the Year. In Spring 2018 he stepped down as Editor-in-Chief of Attitude, the UK's biggest-selling magazine for gay men. He lives in London.

For more information, please visit
Follow him on Twitter @MattCainWriter

Copyright ; Sunday Times

Friday, 13 July 2018

Canons: The Myths @canongatebooks #Canons #TheMyths #Giveaway #Win

I'm delighted to introduce the new Canons : The Myths collection on Random Things today. Published by Canongate in August 2018, this is a beautiful paperback collection, priced at £9.99 each

I have a complete collection of the books to give away to one reader. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post. UK entries only, the competition will run for one week.  GOOD LUCK!

Bold retellings of legendary tales, by the world’s greatest contemporary writers

At Canongate, when a book joins the Canon series, it’s because they believe it’s a book without boundaries: ambitious, exhilarating and finely crafted.

* The Myths have already sold over half a million copies in the UK.
* The Penelopiad is shortlisted for the Harper’s Bazaar Modern Classic in
Hearst Big Book Awards 2018.
* The six most popular myths have been beautifully packaged in a stunning series redesign.

The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood

Penelope's slyly brilliant side of the story, from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Handmaid's Tale.

‘As potent as a curse’ The Times

A Short History of Myth, Karen Armstrong

Surprising, powerful and profound, A Short History of Myth examines the world's most ancient art form - the making and telling of stories - and why we still need it.

‘Witty, informative and contemplative’ New York Times

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman

The number one Sunday Times bestseller, which sold over 180,000 copies. In Pullman's hands, this sacred tale is reborn as one of the most enchanting, thrilling and visionary stories of recent years.

‘A fierce and beautiful book which . . . will move even those who disagree with it’ Observer

Weight, Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson’s retelling of the myth of Atlas and Heracles asks difficult and eternal questions about the nature of choice and coercion. Visionary and inventive, Weight turns the familiar on its head to show us ourselves in a new light.

‘Profound and provocative’ Daily Mail

Girl Meets Boy, Ali Smith

A bold and joyous retelling of Ovid’s Metamorphoses by the award-winning, bestselling author of How to be Both.

‘Exuberant . . . Slender, sweet natured and lyrical’ Guardian

Lion’s Honey, David Grossman

A daring retelling of the story of Samson, from the author of the Man Booker International Prize-winning A Horse Walks Into a Bar.

‘A master of the emotionally accurate and significant. His characters don't so much lie on the page as rise before the reader's eyes’ Yann Martel

Publication date: August 2018 
Format: B Format Paperback 
Price: All £9.99

The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood / 978 1 78689 248 5 
A Short History of Myth, Karen Armstrong / 978 1 78211 890 9 
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman / 978 1 78689 195 2 
Weight, Jeanette Winterson / 978 1 78689 249 2 
Girl Meets Boy, Ali Smith / 978 1 78689 247 8 
Lion’s Honey, David Grossman / 978 1 78689 338 3

A Full Set of Canons : The Myths

Thursday, 12 July 2018

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson @millyjohnson @TeamBATC @simonschusterPR #Giveaway #Win

Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change.

Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks.

But soon Marnie finds that Wychwell has claimed her as its own and she is duty bound not to leave. Even if what she has to do makes her as unpopular as a force 12 gale in a confetti factory! But everyone has imperfections, as Marnie comes to realise, and that is not such a bad thing – after all, your flaws are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you.

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is the heart-warming and hilarious new novel from the queen of feel-good fiction – a novel of family, secrets, love and redemption … and broken hearts mended and made all the stronger for it. 

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson is published in paperback by Simon & Schuster today (12 July 2018). My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I have one hardback copy of The Perfectly Imperfect Woman to give away to one reader. Entry is simple; just fill out the competition entry form at the end of this post. UK entries only. The competition will stay open for seven days.

By the end of the first chapter of The Perfectly Imperfect Woman I was craving cheesecake! It was almost midnight and I had to go to bed with the image of a delicious buttery, crumbly based topped with creamy cheese and sharp, sweet fruit on the top and oozing down the sides. Torture, pure torture.

Milly Johnson returns with her trademark Northern wit and humour, her totally relatable characters, her divine settings and her wonderfully creative stories.

Lead character Marnie is a lovable, often vulnerable and naive, but always adorable. She suffers the anguish of failed relationships; a common theme in life. Beginning with a difficult young life with a cold and controlling mother and continuing through female friendships and boyfriends. When the reader meets Marnie she's grieving the end of yet another romance, the loss of her best friend and the instability of having to live in a rented property.

It's not long before Marnie begins to feel a little happier with life, but that doesn't last and it's Lillian, a much older, but feisty lady that Marnie met in an online baking forum who comes to the rescue. Offered the chance of a cottage in a beautiful Yorkshire village, Marnie jumps at the chance.

What follows is a heart warming and uplifting story that will delight fans of this author. Marnie discovers that whilst the village may appear perfect at first glance, there are plenty of residents who are not very sweet at all.

Packed with cheesecake and fun, yet dealing with more serious issues, The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is a joy to read. The author adds a little mystery here and there, with village legends, curses and magic. She will make you belly laugh and she will make you gulp back the sobs.

Delightful, seductive and pure Milly Johnson

One Hardback Copy of The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As well as being an author of 13 published novels, 2 short story books and 2 novellas, she is also a copywriter for the greetings card industry, a joke-writer, a columnist, after dinner speaker, poet, BBC newspaper reviewer, and a sometimes BBC radio presenter.

She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016 and the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015.

She writes about love, life, friendships and that little bit of the magic that sometimes crops up in real life. She likes owls, cats, meringues, handbags and literary gifts - but hates marzipan. She is very short.

Milly's website is

She is on Twitter @millyjohnson
Facebook Book Page

 She also has a monthly newsletter with exclusive, news, offers and competitions.

Milly will be on tour over the next few weeks. Check out the dates here:

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Sticks And Stones by Jo Jakeman @JoJakemanWrites #BlogTour @HarvillSecker @Mia_QS @DeadGoodBooks #SticksAndStones

Imogen’s husband is a bad man. His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son.

In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable: she locks her husband in the cellar. Now she’s in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?

Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman is published by Harvill Secker in hardback on 12 July 2018, and is the author's debut thriller. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and asked me to take part in the Blog Tour.

The story opens with a funeral. Phillip was a well-respected policeman, his death has come as a shock and there are lots of people there to pay their respects. There are also three women in attendance; Imogen, Phillip's wife and mother of his son; Naomi, Phillip's current girlfriend and Ruby, Phillips ex wife. The women are seated apart, but they have a secret that binds them tightly together.

So, the reader knows that Phillip is dead. The author then takes us back a couple of weeks, when Imogen is told by Phillip that she has to leave their house. He wants to sell it and marry Naomi.

Imogen is shattered. Not only has Phillip dumped her for a younger, more beautiful model, he now wants to take her home. Imogen has been Phillip's victim for years, she's not prepared to take anymore.

Sticks and Stone is a fast-paced story that kept me gripped, yet sometimes I wanted to laugh out loud. People may gasp, because this is a story that portrays some of the most vicious, violent and emotionally challenging domestic violence, it shouldn't be funny at all. However, Jo Jakeman has incorporated a dark wit into her writing, and even when a couple of scenes felt just a little too over-the-top, I still wanted to read on.

The author creates her characters extremely well, and I have to admit to having a soft spot for Naomi; she's the 'other woman' but she's suffered just as much as Imogen and she has a sparky, no-nonsense personality that really appealled to me. Ex-wife Ruby is more difficult to warm to, however, she really comes through in the end, despite her misgivings, and to be honest, my own misgivings.

The blackest of comedy, and the darkest of subjects; the author's ability to produce a story that is both funny yet devastating is incredibly clever. It's maybe just a tiny bit too dramatic at times but it's one of those books that hooks, grips and doesn't let go until the revelatory ending.

Jo was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition at the York Festival of Writing. 
Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. 
Sticks and Stones is her debut thriller. 

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @JoJakemanWrites
Find her Author Page on Facebook

Friday, 6 July 2018

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks Translated by Maxim Jakubowski #Keeper #FrenchNoir

Whitechapel, 1888:
 London is bowed under Jack the Ripper s reign of terror. 

London 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before. 

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose? Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down. Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 28 April 2018, it is the second in the Roy and Castells series, following on from Block 46, and was translated from the French by Maxim Jakubowski.

What an amazing, roller-coaster of a read! I settled down to read Keeper whilst I was on holiday in Corfu, and hardly left my seat by the pool for the entire book. It's a story that intrigues, that pulls the reader into its heart. It's grim, dark, and at times, incredibly oppressive, but it's also a novel that made me gasp out loud, and I was completely and utterly under this amazing author's spell throughout the whole story. 

I am a huge fan of dual time frame stories and Keeper is set in 1888 London and 2015 Sweden. This author seamlessly links together two very different places in two very different eras. There is evidence of her meticulous research running through the book as she describes the horror of one of the best-known unsolved murder cases in British history; Jack The Ripper,  and ties it into a very modern murder in Scandinavia

Johana Gustawsson pulls no punches, she doesn't protect her readers from anything. There are some horrific murders committed here, with some dark and twisted characters to boot. Despite this, Keeper is not always oppressive and dark; this author creates characters who are so fully formed that you begin to think that you actually know them, in real life.

Having worked at Rampton Hospital for many years; the 'sister' hospital of Broadmoor, I was intrigued to see how the author would deal with that setting. She did it well, in fact, she did it very well and her portrayal of Richard Hemfield; the convicted serial killer, held in Broadmoor was frighteningly real.

It's difficult to explain how such a grotesque plot line can be so beautifully written. The author has a delicate touch with words, and then, out of nowhere, her writing becomes darker and vicious as she brings the horrific scenes to the reader.

Once again,  Orenda Books have produced a book cover that is stunning and depicts the story within so well. Johana Gustawsson is a brave and talented author, her words are stunning. This is top-quality crime fiction that will delight and satisfy the most discerning reader. An absolute triumph.

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. 
She married a Swede and now lives in London. 
She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. 

Follow her on Twitter @JoGustawsson