Thursday, 18 July 2019

Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly @mserinkelly @HodderBooks #StoneMothers #BookReview

The men who built the asylums called them 'stone mothers': places of safety to hold troubled women and nurse them back to health. But no one wants a mother made of stone...
Nazareth mental hospital has been converted to luxury flats, but it still has its secrets.
Three women live in its shadow:
Marianne, who fled her home, her boyfriend and the body they buried. Now a successful academic, a loving mother and a loyal wife, she fears her secret being revealed, her world being ripped apart.
Honor, her daughter, who she will do anything to protect.
And Helen, her worst enemy - and the only person she can trust.
Marianne can't tell the truth. She can't keep the secret. And none of them can escape the past...
Moving back through time to reveal twists you'll never see coming, Stone Mothers is the gripping new suspense novel from the bestselling author of He Said/She Said.

Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly was published by Hodder in hardback on 4 April 2019, the paperback is due to be published in May next year.

I am a huge huge fan of Erin Kelly's writing. Her prose is beautiful and her stories are unusual and so wonderfully developed. I'd been looking forward to reading Stone Mothers for a long time. I read it whilst on holiday in Corfu and was able to invest so much time, just losing myself in the pages. It's really the best way to read!

Nazareth; once a 'stone mother'; the name given to mental hospitals many years ago. It's now known as Park Royal Manor,  a development of luxury apartments and certainly not the place that Marianne would choose as a second home. When her husband surprises her by buying one of the apartments, she can do little else but burst into tears and invent a sudden phobia of old buildings. She can't show him how much she hates the place. She can't reveal that the walls hold secrets from her past that have haunted her since she left the area many years ago. Can Marianne deal with the ghosts from her past?

Erin Kelly has structured this novel so cleverly. The story is told over different periods and for me, it was the 1950s setting that really made an impact. Whilst at its core, this is a crime story, it is also so much more. It is a spotlight on how society viewed those women with mental health issues and the injustices of the class divide.

Marianne, her ex-boyfriend Jesse and Member of Parliament Helen Greenlaw are the central characters within this utterly compelling story. Three characters who are all quite difficult to like, yet there's something unsaid that link them together. The author slowly and surely reveals this back story which has formed and impacted on the lives of each of the characters. She writes with care and incredible insight and whilst her characters may not be the most likeable, they are certainly colourful and intensely compelling.

Once more, this author has produced a novel of the highest standard.  Ingenious, perfectly plotted with unexpected surprises thrown in for good measure. An amazing storyteller, an extraordinarily talented writer; I loved every page. Highly recommended.

Erin Kelly is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Poison TreeThe Sick RoseThe Burning Air, The Ties That Bind, He Said/She SaidStone Mothers andBroadchurch: The Novel, inspired by the mega-hit TV series. 
In 2013, The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama and was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011. 
He Said/She Said spent six weeks in the top ten in both hardback and paperback, was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier crime novel of the year award, and selected for both the Simon Mayo Radio 2 and Richard & Judy Book Clubs. 
She has worked as a freelance journalist since 1998 and written for the GuardianThe Sunday TimesDaily MailNew StatesmanRedElleCosmopolitan and The Pool
Born in London in 1976, she lives in north London with her husband and daughters. 

Website :
Twitter : @mserinkelly
Author Page on Facebook

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

The Girl I Used To Know by Faith Hogan BLOG TOUR @GerHogan @Aria_Fiction @VickyJoss1 #TheGirlIUsedToKnow

A beautiful, emotive and spell-binding story of two women who find friendship and second chances when they least expect it. Perfect for the fans of Patricia Scanlan.
Amanda King and Tess Cuffe are strangers who share the same Georgian house, but their lives couldn't be more different.
Amanda seems to have it all, absolute perfection. She projects all the accoutrements of a lady who lunches. Sadly, the reality is a soulless home, an unfaithful husband and a very lonely heart.
By comparison, in the basement flat, unwanted tenant Tess has spent a lifetime hiding and shutting her heart to love.
It takes a bossy doctor, a handsome gardener, a pushy teenager and an abandoned cat to show these two women that sometimes letting go is the first step to moving forward and new friendships can come from the most unlikely situations.

The Girl I Used To Know by Faith Hogan was published in paperback by Aria Fiction on 4 July 2019.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, and who invited me to take part on this Blog Tour

The Girl I Used To Know is one of those stories that you can totally lose yourself in. You know the type; you decide to read the first few chapters and before you know it, you look up and hours have passed and you are totally committed to the characters within the book.

I do love a dual time-line story and this author does it excellently. The reader knows enough about the back story of the two main characters to allow them to empathise, and to understand just why they behave as they do.
Amanda and Tess are beautifully created characters; they could be cliched and stereotypical, but the author makes them appear real and vibrant and I liked them both so much. I understood why Amanda thought that Tess was a moody, cantankerous old woman, and my heart bled for Amanda, with her perfect house and her perfect family .... or so it would appear, on the outside.

This really is a story of how friendship develops between the two most unlikely candidates. It's beautifully written and will resonate with women everywhere. Most of us will have experienced the joy and the warmth that only the friendship and guidance of another female can bring.

If you love Sheila O Flanagan, Marian Keyes and Patricia Scanlan, you will enjoy this warm and engaging story. Recommended by me.

Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of four novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown up women's fiction which is unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.

Faith's latest book, What Happened To Us? is published in October 2018.

She writes crime fiction as Geraldine Hogan - Silent Now is available to pre-order now!

Faith was born in Ireland. She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. 

She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She's a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger - except of course when it is raining!

You can find out more about Faith on her website
Twitter @gerhogan

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

The Chain by Adrian McKinty @adrianmckinty BLOG TOUR #DontBreakTheChain @orionbooks



The Chain by Adrian McKinty was published in hardback on 9 July 2019 by Orion. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and to Tracy from Compulsive Readers who invited me to take part on this Blog Tour

I first heard about The Chain when I was at the Noireland Festival in Belfast earlier this year. I was absolutely intrigued by the premise and by the fact that so many authors that I respected hugely were raving about this one.

I haven't read Adrian McKinty before, although many of my crime fiction loving friends have urged me to check out his earlier works, and I will. Whilst I had some idea of the concept of The Chain, I had no expectations regarding the writing.

There is no doubt that this author can write extremely well. He hooks the reader right in from the first page and his story is so compelling that there's nothing for it, you need to put other plans aside and concentrate on this one.

Those of us of a certain age will remember the 'chain letter'. Whilst we knew deep down that it was all nonsense, there was something that niggled us and made us copy out the letter ten times and send it on to another ten unsuspecting folk. Looking back, it's pretty horrendous. Sending a letter informing the recipient that if they don't send it on, something dreadful will happen to them, or their family.

That's the basis of McKinty's novel - it's pretty simple, but oh my goodness, this chain is so far away from those innocent scraps of lined paper. This Chain really can kill.

Lead character Rachel O'Neill hasn't had the easiest ride in life. She's recently divorced, with a teenage daughter Kylie. Her house is little more than a beach hut and she's just been recalled to her Consultant after thinking that she'd beaten breast cancer. However, all of those things pale into insignificance when she receives a phone call.
Kylie has been abducted the female voice tells her. Rachel must find $25,000 to free her, but that's not all; she also has to kidnap a child herself; and demand a ransom. If she doesn't, then Kylie is no more.

What the hell does an ordinary mother do in this situation? What would anyone do. It's clear that the police cannot be involved. Rachel is only concerned about Kylie. She wants her back, alive. The story that follows is a fast paced, sometimes a little far fetched, but always entertaining tale of just how far a mother will go for their child.

I don't have children, and I really think that makes a difference as a reader of this book. Whilst I understand that there's this unconditional, put your life on the line love that a parent has for a child, I did find it difficult at times to put myself into Rachels' position. Therefore there were times when I just wanted to shout 'oh, come on ....'
However, this takes nothing away from the sheer entertainment that McKinty has dished up for his readers. It's pretty unnerving in places and it's very clever in others.

The second half of the novel slows down a pace and the reader comes to realise that there's more to this story than the cat and mouse chase for Rachel and her brother in law Pete, in trying to get Kylie back. The author introduces other characters who've been involved in the Chain, and the final reveal was a surprise for me.  I like a surprise; whilst I'm sometimes pleased when I work out a plot for myself, I'm more pleased when an author shows that they are far far cleverer than I'll ever be.

No doubt, this book is going to be huge, and I'd recommend it to those who like a thriller that moves at break neck speed, with an unusual premise

Adrian McKinty is a crime novelist from Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

His books have won the Edgar Award, the Anthony Award, the Ned Kelly Award and the Barry Award. Adrian is also a two time Dagger nominee and shortlistee for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year. 

He studied law at Warwick University and philosophy at Oxford University before emigrating to New York City in the mid 90s.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Bakerton by Phil Clinker @pegasuspublish #Bakerton #PhilClinker MY LIFE IN BOOKS

Nothing ever happens in Bakerton... until one of the country's richest bankers is brutally murdered in his mansion, along with some of his associates.

When Sheriff John Withers begins his investigation, he is horrified to learn that a federal agent has also been assigned to the case. But Withers intends to proceed in his own, somewhat unconventional manner - and the agent is just going to have to accept it!

Withers soon discovers that he is seeking two separate killers - one of whom has apparently been dead for four years. Each of them has a different agenda, and both are set on course for a final showdown... with Withers and his deputies in the line of fire.

But when a young girl goes missing as well, the stakes become unbearably high.

Bakerton by Phil Clinker was published in May by Pegasus Publishing. I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. He's talking about the books that are special to him in My Life in Books.

My Life in Books - Phil Clinker

The idea for Bakerton (and the next two novels I’m working on!) started in my head and I couldn’t get rid of it! I had written very sporadically for years, without penning anything serious. However, retirement seemed to ignite my artistic streak. It had always been on my “retirement list” (no, not bucket list) to learn to paint, which I now do with varying degrees of success. But last year, out of the blue, I got the urge to return to my first love: writing. The book took about eight months to write, and my association with Pegasus Publishers as a freelance proof-reader meant that they were the obvious first port of call. I was astounded when they offered me an immediate contract, with first option on my next three books. A dream come true!

As a proof-reader of over fifty years’ standing, books are naturally very dear to me.

My first choice, though, might be somewhat of a surprise. “THE CRICKET MATCH”, by Hugh de Selincourt, was published in 1924, and my personal copy dates from 1949. In August 1921, the fictional villages of Tillingfold and Raveley play a match set against the beautiful backdrop of the Downs.
When young Horace Cairie wakes on the designated day, he has two burning desires – that the weather will hold for the match, and that the team captain will pick him to play. The atmosphere and the period are evoked perfectly, and I make a point of re-reading this book at the start of every summer. “Play up, Tillingfold!”

Each and every book by HARLAN COBEN must go on my list. I have eagerly devoured all of them (over 30), and they have given me great pleasure, although the ones featuring the ex-basketball star Myron Bolitar and his avoid-at-all-costs associate Windsor “Win” Horne Lockwood III are particularly special.

For Father’s Day this year, one of my daughters gave me “THE SOLDIER WHO CAME BACK”, by Steve Foster and Alan Clark. The book describes a real-life war story where Foster’s father, Fred, and fellow PoW Antony Coulthard escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp in Poland during the Second World War; but, instead of setting out for the nearest border, as most “normal” people might do, they decided to head for Berlin!
Their audacity was incredible, and the book highlights some of the truly remarkable escapades that these two were involved in, not least of which was them looking for prostitutes in Berlin! It’s not for me to explain that one: you’ll have to read the book yourself!

“EENY MEENY”, by M. J. Arlidge, has a plot which I would have loved to have come up with! Take two people, lock them up in an escape-proof room with a gun containing one bullet, and then leave them there to starve. Eventually, it is likely that one of them is going to use the gun. When that happens, you just let the survivor go free … and do it all over again. In this first book featuring DI Helen Grace, it comes as a real shock as to whom the perpetrator really is.

Regarding “classic” books, my firm favourite is “THE CORAL ISLAND”, by R. M. Ballantyne. I read it as a boy, and much preferred it to “Robinson Crusoe”. The story of three boys shipwrecked on a Polynesian island, it describes how they survived and learnt to cope by using only their own resources and intelligence. Later, they almost fall foul of cannibalistic natives and then a crew of cut-throat pirates. Real “Boy’s Own” stuff!

Finally, I have to give an honourable mention to P. G. Wodehouse. His Jeeves and Wooster stories are superb, but I particularly like his character Psmith, who appears in several books (for example, “LEAVE IT TO PSMITH”). Rupert Psmith (the ‘p’ is silent, he informs us, rather like the ‘p’ in ‘pshrimp’) is a dandy who was expelled from Eton and, as well as being a witty and wonderful speaker, also belongs to the Drones Club. He added the ’p’ to distinguish himself from other Smiths. The books recount how Psmith gaily goes through life totally unruffled, despite his amazing adventures. Comic genius.

Phil Clinker - July 2019 

After almost fifty years in the printing industry, twenty-seven of them running his own company, Phil embraced retirement by taking up painting and returning to his first love, writing. 

Bakerton is his first novel. 

He lives with his wife, Olive, beside the sea in Bognor Regis, West Sussex.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Second Life by Karl Tearney @KarlTearney BLOG TOUR @fly_press #SecondLife #RandomThingsTours

As a newcomer to poetry and writing Karl has made quite an impact with his succinct and thought-provoking style. Encouraged by Emma Willis MBE after he’d sent her a thank you poem, Karl’s work has been coveted by many. His work has included appearances at festivals and readings around the country. He is hugely passionate about encouraging other sufferers of mental issues to look toward the Arts as a means of therapy.

Second Life by Karl Tearney is published by Fly on the Wall Press on 26 July 2019

I'm delighted to be taking part in the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour today and am sharing a poem from the collection.

The Leaf

I’m a leaf without much colour
I look as if see-through
My contours start to dissipate
I’m not sure what to do
I’m in a world of colour
The vibrancy quite vast
The flash of colours everywhere
But mine have faded fast
I cover myself with paper
Use sticky bits of glue
Make myself look colourful
 It makes me look like you
But bits ‘n’ bobs will never last
They crumble, fall like dust
I’ve tried that option many times
To all my friends’ disgust
So what I need is nurturing
A nice safe place to stay
A place that I find comfortable
So I don’t fade away
Then I can grow my leaf again
To make it nice and strong
Give it a tint, a subtle hue
So then I will belong
It wont be quick nor easy
It’s going to take some time
With all of you supporting me
My leaf will be sublime

Karl Tearney enlisted into the British Army at 16 and dedicated 35 years of his life as a pilot in the Army Air Corps. 

He was medically retired in early 2016 and found great solace in writing and especially a new-found passion for poetry. he demand for his style of writing has led to National and local Television as well as Radio. In 2018, he was a panelist at the Hay literature festival, helped with a Poetry workshop at RADA and also exhibited some of his work at the ‘Art in the Aftermath’ Exhibition in Pall Mall.

Twitter @KarlTearney