Monday, 25 May 2015

We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman *** BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY ***

Do not miss me, because I will always be with you…I am the air, the moon, the stars. For we are all made of stars, my beloved... Wherever you look, I will be there.
Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan injured in body and mind, she leaves the house every evening as Vincent locks himself away, along with the secrets he brought home from the war.
During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones - some full of humour, love and practical advice, others steeped in regret or pain – and promises to post these messages after their deaths.
Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance at redemption, if she delivers it in time…

I was thrilled to be asked to host the Blog Tour for We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman, and especially delighted that the Blog Tour starts right here.  I reviewed We Are All Made of Stars  here on Random Things last month, the novel was published in hardback by Ebury on 21 May 2015.

The publishers have kindly offered a prize copy to one of my blog followers - to enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this article.

I'm so pleased to welcome Rowan to Random Things today. Rowan is going to tell us how she feels about hand-written letters and is also sharing a very special letter with us.

I mourn the passing of the hand written letter. There is something about a letter that is special, indelible. A letter can be tied in ribbon, or folded away into a wallet, between the pages of a book, in a way that a text or tweet never can. The paper, the envelope, the handwriting all means something unique. It puts a person, and their thoughts into one moment in time, and it keeps them there. It captures thoughts, and emotions in the same way that a photograph captures an expression. And that’s why I started to write letters again, and why letters became a very important part of my latest novel, ‘We Are All Made of Stars.’

 This letter is addressed to my Great Uncle.  Like many others, Aubrey enlisted too young, at the age of 16, and was killed two years later very close to his eighteenth birthday. I never really knew anything about him, until, by total coincidence, we decided to call our youngest son Aubrey, and my Mum told us everything she knew about it. It’s been wonderful to find out more, and to know that his name and his memory go on with us, and our children. 
Rowan's Great Uncle Aubrey 

I'm sure that you'll all agree that Rowan's letter to her Great Uncle is beautiful and heart-felt.

I hope that you will follow the Blog Tour this week, Rowan will be sharing more of her letters on each of the blogs that host the tour.  The tour will visit Rea's Book Reviews on Tuesday 26th May, One More Page on Wednesday 27th May, Chicklit Chloe on Thursday 28th May and finishes off at Miss Bookworm on Friday 29th May.

Rowan Coleman lives with her husband, and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family which includes a very lively set of toddler twins whose main hobby is going in the opposite directions. When she gets the chance, Rowan enjoys sleeping, sitting and loves watching films; she is also attempting to learn how to bake.Rowan would like to live every day as if she were starring in a musical, although her daughter no longer allows her to sing...

For more information, visit her website
Follow her on Twitter @rowancoleman

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Sunday, 24 May 2015

Flight by Isabel Ashdown

When Wren Irving's numbers come up in the first ever national lottery draw, she doesn't tell her husband, Rob. 
Instead she quietly packs her bags, kisses her six-month-old daughter Phoebe goodbye, and leaves. 
Two decades later, Rob has moved on and found happiness with their oldest friend, Laura. 
Phoebe, now a young woman, has never known any other life. But when Rob receives a mysterious letter, the past comes back to haunt them all. 
With their cosy world thrown into turmoil, Laura sets out to track Wren down and discover the truth about why she left all those years ago.

Flight by Isabel Ashdown was published in paperback on 21 May 2015 by Myriad Editions. Flight is Isabel Ashdown's fourth novel. I reviewed her last book, Summer of '76 here on Random Things in July 2013.

I really enjoy Isabel Ashdown's writing. Flight is an extremely thought-provoking story that explores the darkest corners of motherhood and friendship.

Told in the separate voices of the main characters, and narrated over many years, this is a book that hooked me in from page one and had me frantically turning the pages as the story unfolded with unexpected twists and discoveries that shocked me to the core.

Rob, Wren and Laura; three friends who love each other dearly. Laura is free-thinking and passionate, Wren is quieter and deeper and Rob is the man who they both adore. Despite Laura's life-long love for Rob, she is delighted when her two best friends become a couple. Laura is never excluded from their life, she seems to be the glue that keeps them all together. When Rob and Wren's daughter Phoebe is born, Laura is the obvious choice as Godmother and relishes her job.

Wren is slowly fading away. She feels empty inside, she feels that Phoebe should have been Laura's daughter. Wren feels trapped. Is this all there is?

When Wren strikes lucky on the Lottery, she leaves everything. Rob, Laura and Phoebe don't hear from her, or see her for twenty years.

Isabel Ashdown has created a complex web of relationships featuring these three characters. Rob, Laura and Wren don't need anyone else in their lives, everything they do is centred around them and their friendship. Parents, fellow students and colleagues are not needed.

When Wren leaves, their whole life explodes. Laura and Rob deal with their abandonment in their own personal ways and Wren creates a solitary, punishing existence for herself. When, twenty years later they meet again, the secrets that have been kept are laid bare, along with the pain and sorrow caused by Wren's disappearance.

Wren is a difficult character to empathise with throughout the story and when all the facts are revealed at the end of the book, it becomes even more difficult to find anything to like about her. Laura, on the other hand, is strong and selfless. She sacrificed such a lot so that her friends could be happy yet is still forgiving and loyal. Rob is a weak man who allowed the women to guide him, yet his vulnerability and sensitivity endears him to the reader.

Flight is exquisitely written, Isabel Ashdown is a very accomplished author and has created a complex, yet beautifully woven story of love and relationships that is both heart-breaking and though-provoking. Her characters are imperfect, somewhat flawed but oh so human. The story flows perfectly, and the ending is unexpected yet quite perfect.

My thanks to the publisher Myriad Editions, and the author who sent my copy for review.

Isabel Ashdown was born in London and grew up on the south coast of England. She is the author of four novels and winner of the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition. Her debut, Glasshopper, was named as one of the best books of 2009 by both the Observer and the London Evening Standard. In 2014 Isabel was Writer in Residence at the University of Brighton, where she now continues to teach on their Creative Writing MA. 

Isabel is represented by Kate Shaw of the Viney Literary Agency, London. Her fourth novel, Flight, was released in May 2015 (Myriad Editions).

You can find out more at or follow her on Twitter @IsabelAshdown  or Facebook.

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Yellow Room by Shelan Rodger

Haunted by a tragic accident from when she was young, Chala's whole life has been moulded by guilt and secrets. 
After the death of her stepfather, who took his own secrets to the grave, Chala re-evaluates her life and volunteers at a Kenyan orphanage. 
There, she gets caught in the turmoil of the country and takes action to help those suffering. 
Chala must eventually return home where she is forced to reveal a truth that may ruin her future, making her realise that maybe some words should be left unsaid ...

Yellow Room is published in paperback by Cutting Edge Press on 18 June 2015 and is Shelan Rodger's second novel.  I reviewed her first book; Twin Truths, on Random Things in May last year

The opening chapter of Yellow Room left me breathless. It is shocking and unexpected and underpins the whole of Shelan Rodger's immaculately written story of dark family secrets and how they can shape a future.

Chala's whole life has been overshadowed by the tragic incident of the first chapter of this story. What happened in the yellow room has haunted her dreams for years and years, she had never been able to escape it, even since she met and married Paul.

When Philip, Chala's beloved stepfather suddenly dies, she feels compelled to visit Kenya. To go back to the lake where she spent happy times with Philip, the lake that she was named after, and the lake that her long-dead mother loved.

Chala becomes embroiled in the problems of the Kenyan people, concentrating more on them than on her own failing relationship with her husband Paul. Volunteering in an orphanage exposes her to more secrets. Secrets kept hidden by the young boys who live there, but whose lives, like Chala's will be affected by what happens to them as children.

Shelan Rodger's writing has a haunting quality, her words flow effortlessly, her story is formed perfectly. Her characters are true to life, they are flawed, at times they are quite horrible, and it is that that makes them human, and real.

Chala struggles with her inner feelings about herself and about those who are closest to her. As the story evolves she discovers that things that she has believed for all of her life and that she has allowed to mould her may not have been what they seemed. She discovers that the people she loved and respected may not have deserved that commitment. She feels shattered, she feels as though she must do something and going to Kenya changes her whole perception of herself, and of others.

The author's depiction of life in Kenya during the turbulent times after the election of 2007 are shockingly realistic; the tensions and horror of what happened are stunningly portrayed.

The real beauty of Shelan Rodger's writing is her ability to connect with the reader so well, Yellow Room is gloriously detailed, beautifully written and extremely memorable.

My thanks, as always to the team at Cutting Edge Press who sent my copy for review.

Shelan's life is a patchwork of different cultures. 

Born in Nigeria, she grew up among the Tiwi, an aboriginal community in Australia, and moved to England at the age of eleven.

After graduating in Modern Languages from Oxford, she travelled to Argentina, where she spent nine years teaching and setting up a language school. 

Another chapter in England was followed by six years in Kenya, where she got involved in learning and development, with an emphasis on anti-discrimination. 

She now lives in Spain, working in international education - and writing.

For more information about Shelan Rodger, visit her website

Follow her on Twitter @ShelanRodger     Find her on Facebook

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Monday, 18 May 2015

Panther by David Owen *** BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY ***

Life isn't going terribly well for Derrick; he's become severely overweight, his only friend has turned on him, he's hopelessly in love with a girl way out of his league, and it's all because of his sister. 
Her depression, and its grip on his family, is tearing his life apart. When rumours start to circulate that a panther is roaming wild in his south London suburb, Derrick resolves to turn capture it. 
Surely if he can find a way to tame this beast, he'll be able to stop everything at home from spiraling towards disaster?
Panther is a bold and emotionally powerful novel that deals candidly with the effects of depression on those who suffer from it, and those who suffer alongside them.

Welcome to the BLOG TOUR for Panther by David Owen, I'm delighted to be the host here on Random Things today.

Panther was published by Corsair (Constable & Robinson) on 7 May 2015 in paperback and is David Owen's first novel.  Corsair have kindly offered a paperback copy to one reader, if you'd like to win a copy of Panther, fill out the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post.

Many of my blog followers don't read Young Adult novels. If you are one of those people, please, please, please put aside any preconceptions and read Panther. Although it probably is intended for a Young Adult audience, this is a perfect example of 'crossover' - anyone can and should sit down and read it. I loved it, it moved me, it made my heart hurt. It is beautiful, and real and quite wonderful.

David Owen is clever. His story is clever and his use of the Panther is very very clever.

There have been sighting in residential London streets of a Panther, and Derrick is determined that he will track it down and catch it. As far as Derrick is concerned, his family troubles began when the Panther was spotted. If he can get rid of it, he can make his family happy again.

Derrick also knows that when he has caught the Panther he won't feel the need to gorge himself on junk food any more. He won't have to make secret trips to the supermarket, or rummage around in dustbins to find his fix. He won't have to buy size XXXL t shirts from the charity shop and he will be able to find a pair of jeans that fit him.

When the Panther has been caught, Derrick's sister will stop crying. There won't be any more 'incidents'. The scars on her arms will fade and his Mum will be able to put the kitchen knives back into the drawers instead of hiding them in her bedroom.

Maybe, just maybe, when the Panther has been caught, Derrick's Mum and Dad will start getting on again, and maybe Dad will move back in.

There are scenes in this novel that so emotionally difficult, the words vividly show the anguish and despair of this teenage boy whose family has imploded. Using the Panther as a metaphor for the depressive illness that has torn the family apart is genius; the snarling, the ripping apart, the devastation and the fear caused by something that nobody can see, but everyone knows is there.

I haven't told you what the story is, I don't intend to. What I hope to have done is to make sure that you are so curious that you go out and buy a copy of this book immediately. I promise you that you won't be disappointed. You may feel a little emotionally battered by it it, but you will feel a sense of awe. It really is that good.

I am certain that Panther is going to be a huge success for David Owen. He is a very exciting new talent, certainly a name to watch out for.

My thanks to Grace from Constable & Robinson who arranged the Blog Tour and invited me to take part.

David Owen achieved a first class honours in BA Creative Writing and an MA Writing for Children at the University of Winchester, where he went on to teach on the BA Creative Writing course for three years. 

He is also an awards-shortlisted games journalist, with a particular interest in the applications for video games outside of entertainment, and he has written about games being used to treat depression, dyslexia and autism. 

David has been published as a poet in journals including Agenda and Seam. Panther is his first novel.

Find out more about David at
Follow him on Twitter @davidowenauthor

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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Hunted by Paul Finch **** BLOG TOUR ****

Get hooked on Heck: the maverick detective who knows no boundaries. A grisly whodunit you won’t be able to put down, perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride and TV series ‘Luther’.
Heck needs to watch his back. Because someone’s watching him…I
Across the south of England, a series of bizarre but fatal accidents are taking place. So when a local businessman survives a near-drowning but is found burnt alive in his car just weeks later, DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is brought in to investigate.
Soon it appears that other recent deaths might be linked: two thieves that were bitten to death by poisonous spiders, and a driver impaled through the chest with scaffolding.
Accidents do happen but as the body count rises it’s clear that something far more sinister is at play, and it’s coming for Heck too…

Welcome to the BLOG TOUR for Hunted by Paul Finch which   published by Avon in paperback on 7 May 2015.

I really wanted to be able to include my own review of Hunted in this post, but sadly, I became a victim of crime myself over the weekend. I was a bridesmaid for our friends. The wedding was beautiful and everything went as planned until bedtime when we went back to our hotel room to find that we had been burgled. So, things went a little 'off plan', and I've not had chance to finish Hunted yet.

Hunted is book five in Paul Finch's DS Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg series, and has many fans already. Do check out the other stops on the Blog Tour to read some reviews and thoughts from my fellow bloggers.

Keith at Books and Writers has an interview with the author.

Sonya at A Lover of Books is running a competition, she's giving away three copies of Hunted.

Shaun at Book Addict Shaun has a great interview with Paul Finch.

The PR for Hunted was fabulous, once again LightBrigade PR team excelled themselves. The first surprise parcel contained a couple of bizarre masks, the second was a gift of two spiders!  Very clever and very enticing - well done to them!

Paul Finch is a former cop and journalist, now turned full-time writer. He cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British crime drama, The Bill. He is also well known for his work in the thriller and horror fields and is a two-times winner of the British Fantasy Award, and a one-time winner of the International Horror Guild Award.

Paul lives in Lancashire, with his wife Catherine and his children, Eleanor and Harry. 

His website can be found at:

Follow him on Twitter @paulfinchauthor

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Friday, 8 May 2015

A Killing Moon by Steven Dunne

For the young woman kidnapped on her way home from the pub, the nightmare is about to begin....
Weeks after Caitlin Kinnear goes missing, the police are unable to break her case. Worse they are not even certain harm has come to her. But determined to pursue all leads, DI Damen Brook and his team begin to trawl through the murky world of cheap migrant labour. Convinced that the answers lie hidden within its depths, Brook soon begins to realise Caitlin is in terrible danger.
When the body of another young girl turns up it becomes clear that Caitlin's abduction might not be an isolated incident and the race is on to save her. But with time running out, can Brook put the pieces together and find Caitlin before it's too late?

A Killing Moon was published in hardback by Headline on 7 May and is the fifth in the DI Damon Brook series by Steven Dunne.  I'd like to say that I'm Brook's number one fan, but I know there are others out there who would claim that they are too!  I reviewed the last two in this series; The Unquiet Grave and Deity here on Random Things previously.

Brook hasn't really got  a choice; he can get involved in the latest initiative from Chief Super Charlton, and head up the scrap metal merchant project, or he can act on the suspicions of his colleague John Noble and use his skills as a cold-case investigator. Despite Charlton's initial objections, Brook gets his way, not realising that Noble really is onto something. Something that is going to turn into one of the most complex, difficult, violent and potentially lethal cases that Brook will get involved with.

Steven Dunne does not allow his readers to gently edge themselves into this story. Don't expect to gradually get to know the characters, oh no. Prepare to be shocked by the opening chapter, your mouth may hang open for the rest of the book too.

A Killing Moon touches on many issues and enters the underworld created by Polish immigrants in the seedy back streets of Derby. Also running through this story are themes of extremism and people who are so convinced by their die-hard beliefs that their actions become shocking and murderous. There are stomach-churning scenes of inhumanity and cruelty, the tension is high and the action moves quickly.

Brook and his police colleagues are believable and incredibly well created, from the almost stereotypical Chief Super, to the Constables. Brook has, over this series, begun to leave some of his past behind, and his colleagues are often surprised during A Killing Moon when he shows a more human side. Brook has always struggled to fit into the team, he has suffered a breakdown in the past, and also been off sick after being injured on duty. However, despite his more human side beginning to show, he still has a sharp tongue and does not tolerate idiots or 'Americanisms', his sarcasm can be cutting, but he is loyal to his colleagues ... and Steven Dunne elicits a form of loyalty from his readers towards Brook too.

Steven Dunne's writing is refined and sophisticated. He writes intelligent thrillers that challenge the reader. He teases the reader throughout, allowing them to have glimpses of what may be to come, but never giving away the full story. This only adds to the intensity of feelings evoked by the story and the anticipation of what is to come is spine-tingling.

A Killing Moon is, in my opinion, the best in the Damon Brook series so far, and that is high praise from me as this character is my favourite copper in literature today.

My thanks to Headline and Bookbridgr who sent my copy for review.

Steven Dunne was born in Bradford, Yorkshire but moved to London after attending Kent University and St Mary's College in Twickenham.

He became a freelance journalist writing for The Times and the Independent and, after co-writing a comedy pilot, wrote the book for The Latchmere Theatre's award-winning pantomime Hansel and Gretel.

Since moving to Derby he has written five highly acclaimed thrillers, including The Unquiet Grave and Deity, all featuring DI Damen Brook of Derby CID

Follow him on Twitter @ReaperSteven

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Thursday, 7 May 2015

No Place For A Lady by Gill Paul *** COVER REVEAL ***

No Place For A Lady by Gill Paul will be published in paperback by Avon Books on 2 July 2015.

To celebrate the anniversary of the Lusitania today, the publishers are revealing the beautiful cover of the book, and I'm delighted to share this with you.

No Place For a Lady will hook anyone who’s loving Poldark, weeps at Suite Fran├žaise, devours writers such as Victoria Hislop, and can’t believe their luck when they find Gone With the Wind is on the TV. 
Set against a backdrop of the Crimean War, packed with gripping drama, vivid historical detail and with a love story that will squeeze your heart tight – this is the perfect all-consuming summer read.

All’s fair in love and war …
1854. England is in the grip of a gruesome war.
Lucy Harvington, ill-educated beyond how to be a wife, has travelled to the Crimea with her handsome and impetuous officer husband Charlie.
As the day of battle dawns she can only pray her husband survives. If he doesn’t, what will become of her?
Dorothea Gray, volunteer nurse at the Westminster Hospital, is determined to follow her little sister Lucy to the front and to serve her country alongside her heroine Florence Nightingale and the pioneering nurses already risking their lives.
But neither sister could possibly have known the horrors they are about to witness – the courage, the cowardice, the danger – and the excitement – nor could they have guessed the risks they must take, the passion they will taste, and the simple fact that they may never see one another again …

Gill Paul's short story E-book We Sink Or Swim Together is out today.
The Weepy One: Part of the Love…Maybe ebook short story collection.

Gerda Nielsen is on her way from Brooklyn to Liverpool aboard the ill-fated Lusitania in 1915.
Jack Walsh is returning to England, ready to take up a post developing new types of portable field telephones to help the war effort. Unmarried, he’s keen to settle and as he and Gerda spend more and more time onboard together they realise that each has found someone very special.
But it’s the afternoon before they dock in Liverpool, and tragedy strikes. As the torpedoed ship lists to one side Jack and Gerda must make frightening decisions that become a matter of life or death …
A beautiful, romantic and moving tale based on a true story.

***This is a short story, which you can also buy as part of the Love…Maybe Eshort Collection***

Gill Paul is a writer of meticulously researched historical fiction. 
Her five novels include Women and Children First (set on the Titanic and published in 2012 for the centenary of the sinking) and The Affair (set in Rome in the early 1960s, and published in May 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the release of the Burton-Taylor Cleopatra movie). 
Gill has written several non-fiction books, including Royal Love Stories and World War I Love Stories.
For more information, visit her website
Follow her on Twitter @GillPaulAUTHOR

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