Sunday, 16 December 2018

Christmas At The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry @veronica_henry @orionbooks #ChristmasBeachHut

Everyone adores Christmas . . .
Especially Lizzy Kingham. But this year, she is feeling unloved and under-appreciated by her family. The present-buying, decorating and food shopping have all been left to her. So she wonders ... what would happen if she ran away and left them to it?
Lizzy heads to her favourite place: a beach hut on the golden sands of Everdene. There she meets an unlikely collection of new friends, all running away from something. But the spirit of Christmas gets under Lizzy's skin: soon the fairy lights are twinkling and the scent of mulled wine mingles with the sea air.
Back at Pepperpot Cottage, her family are desperate to find her. For Christmas isn't Christmas without Lizzy. Can they track her down in time and convince her she means the world to them, every day of the year?

Christmas At The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry was published by Orion Books on 15 November 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

This review was originally published in the Daily Express early this month.

Lizzy Kingham’s husband and teenage children don’t arrive home for the family tradition of decorating the Christmas tree, she decides that she’s had enough.
She packs a bag, leaves a note and drives off to a beach hut in North Devon.
Lizzy is not the only person who is escaping Christmas at the beach. Young Harley is trying to avoid another run in with his mother’s abusive boyfriend and Jack and  toddler son Nate cannot face Christmas after the death of wife and mother Fran. 
It isn’t long before they are all having their own kind of Christmas. Barbecued turkey, smoked salmon and fairy lights create a different, but magical holiday.
However, Lizzy’s family are devastated by her disappearance and when they track her down and arrive at the beach hut on Christmas afternoon, she realises that despite everything, her family are the most important thing in her life.
This is a wonderfully warm, feel-good story, perfect for the time of year. With colourful characters and a delicious beach front setting, it’s an utter delight.

Veronica Henry has worked as a scriptwriter for THE ARCHERS, HEARTBEAT and HOLBY CITY amongst many others, before turning to fiction. 


Veronica lives with her family in a village in north Devon. 

Find out more at or follow her on Twitter @veronica_henry

Friday, 14 December 2018

A day in the life of Heide Goody and Iain Grant @HeideGoody @IainMGrant #ADayInTheLife #Author

A Day in the Life of authors Heide Goody and Iain Grant

Welcome to another edition of my occasional series; 'A Day in the Life of ..' 
I've invited authors to come and talk about what their average day looks like, we are trying to get rid of the myth that all authors laze around on a sofa bed all day, dictating their books and making millions of pounds! 

I'm delighted to welcome Heide Goody and Iain Grant to Random Things today. Here is their Day In A Life ...

We’ve written comedy novels together since 2011, and we’ve now written more than fifteen books. Our first book, Clovenhoof (where Satan is made redundant from Hell and sent to live in suburbia) was an experiment to see if we’d enjoy the process. We haven’t looked back since.
One thing that we never do is actually write when we’re physically in the same space. When we are working on a novel together, we have planning sessions. We often need a lot of space for these sessions, so we either work in one of our houses or a café where we know we can spread out on a big table. We both still work part time, so this tends to be at a weekend. Let’s look at a writing day for each of us. We do our writing on different weekdays, and we each organise our time quite differently.

Heide .....  I write mostly on Mondays and Fridays. I get more done if I’m alone in the house. It suits me very well to write in short intense sprints and intersperse with minor household tasks. I’ll work from a synopsis, which is part of our normal process. Iain and I normally work on two chapters at a time. One of us writes a synopsis, the other writes the chapter, and then we swap to do some editing. That means that when we write a book we’ve both had an opportunity to change all of the text. The synopsis for the chapter indicates at a high level what scenes I’m going to be writing. It’s good to spend some time thinking about what that will look like, and I’ll jot down thoughts on what might happen as they pop into my head. I tend to write more in the morning and perhaps I’ll use the afternoon to do some marketing. I have a day job on Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday, working for an energy company. Quite often I can squeeze twenty minutes’ writing into my lunch hour, which always makes me feel very pleased with myself, as I have to work quite hard to ignore everyone in our staff canteen. I’ve recently purchased Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which is dictation software. It’s extremely effective, and in the right set up (i.e. at home when the house is empty) it’s a brilliant way to get words down quickly. I’ve written this text using Dragon, and I can already see that it’s error-free.

Iain and I exchange a lot of emails about the work that we are doing. Sometimes there are so many things to talk about that we will put them into discussion documents. We have a lot of ideas, whether it’s what we might write for the next project, or a fun way to get our writing in front of new audiences. Dropbox is what we use to share documents. We’ve got hundreds of documents that we share to run our writing business.

Iain ......   Both Heide and I are early risers. We are often e-mailing each other by six a.m. I do most of my writing in the morning. Unlike Heide, I tend not to write at home. There are too many distractions there (namely, the television and the fridge) so I head out as early as possible to write. I’ll often go to a local café or a McDonalds, wherever’s open and has decent wi-fi, and write for around two hours. In recent months, I’ve taken to catching the bus first thing in the morning. The number 11 goes on a thirty mile circular route around Birmingham which takes about two hours. I can sit on the bus, with my netbook on my knee and write for two hours knowing that there’s no distractions and no way for me to simply quit early.

I aim to write about 1,500 words a day, every day. Some days it’s more and some days it’s less, but I usually produce about 10,000 words a week of some sort.

I work from planning documents and synopses that Heide has created for me. I then often convert these into drawn out story webs with little notes and big arrows looping all over the place showing that this has to happen before that and what bits of the plot rely on other elements.

I work as a teacher four days a week. On the other days, I try to get some other writing related work done in the afternoon. Heide is far better at the marketing and advertising than I am and I pay less attention to that stuff than I should. I spend quite a bit of time responding to crazy ideas that Heide sends to me. These might ideas for new publishing methods or promotional activities or just random stuff that she comes up with. Recent months have involved ideas such as a remote controlled trilobites, story planning with bits of interwoven coloured paper and a ‘virtual reality’ book trailer.

When I am supposed to be writing, I can often find myself stuck on a plot point or wondering how to approach a difficult task and I just stare at the screen. These problems are usually resolved when I least expect it. I can be on the treadmill at the gym, walking the dog or pushing a trolley around the supermarket when it suddenly comes to me in a unexpected flash. I then have to scrabble around for a bit of paper on which to write down that sudden revelation. More than once, when I’m in the car, I’ll ask my daughters to text me to remind me. The latest text from them says: ‘novella banjo pineapple thief.’ Now, I can’t for the life of me remember what that was supposed to mean.

The hardest part of the day is probably when my wife comes home from work – I’ll be cooking dinner, never following a recipe although my wife wishes I would - and my wife will ask me what I’ve done with my day. I can show her the ‘novella banjo pineapple thief’ text but that doesn’t really make things any clearer.

Find out more at
Facebook: Clovenhoof Books

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly @PaulaDalyAuthor @TransworldBooks @BeckyShort1 #OpenYourEyes

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she'd prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly was published in paperback by Transworld on 26 July 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I read this whilst sitting by the pool in Rhodes in the September sunshine and hardly lifted my head from the pages at all. I've read and enjoyed all of Paul Daly's previous books, she's one of those authors who seem to fly a little under the radar for some reason. But oh my goodness, she's good. She's very very good. I almost inhaled this story.

Jane and Leon are preparing to visit his mother with their two small children. Jane rushes back into the house and when she returns to the car, she finds Leon badly injured. He's been attacked, on their own driveway, whilst sitting in his car, in front of the children. With no clues as to what happened, or who did it, Jane's life begins to spiral out of control.

As Leon lays in a coma, Jane slowly discovers that their life has become something of a lie. Everyone knows Leon; he's a well-know, prize winning author of crime fiction. His books are popular, and sell well. Or so Jane believes. Gradually and slowly, she finds out truths that are both shocking and betraying. She doesn't know her husband at all.

As a avid reader who goes to lots of literary festivals and events, and has met lots of authors and publishers, I particularly enjoyed the setting of this novel. The publishing world is one of mystery and intrigue to those of us who look in from the outside and Paula Daly exposes little snippets along the way that may be imagined, but could be true ...

Open Your Eyes is an absorbing and chilling story which kept me guessing right up to the unexpected and startling ending. As the secrets are revealed, the tension increases and there were times that I found myself holding my breath in anticipation of just what Jane may come across next.

An absolutely gripping tale of betrayal, friendship and jealousy, packed with secrets and suspense.  I loved every page and look forward to reading more from this fabulous author.

Paula Daly is the acclaimed author of five novels. 

Her work has been sold in fifteen countries, shortlisted for CWA Gold Dagger Crime Novel of the Year award, and her books are currently being developed into the ITV drama - Deep Water - set to air in 2019. 

She was born in Lancashire and lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children, and whippet Skippy. 

Twitter @PaulaDalyAuthor 

Facebook Author Page

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh @SSCav @orion_crime #Thirteen #KillerOnTheJury



They were Hollywood's hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to Robert's guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the court room start to raise doubts in Eddie's mind.

What if there's more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn't on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh was published in paperback by Orion on 13 June 2018, and is the fourth book in the Eddie Flynn series. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I realise that I'm very late to the party with this review! I did actually read this whilst on holiday back in September but have only just got around to posting up my thoughts.
Please don't worry about the fact that this is number four of a series, I haven't read the previous books but had no problem at all reading this as a standalone.  The bloke read it after I did and he didn't struggle with the back story either.

So, where to begin??  What a clever story this is, it's so smart and so gripping, I was totally hooked from the compelling and intriguing opening, right through to the awesome finish.
Set in New York; Eddie Flynn is a something of an enigma in the legal world. He used to be a con-man, now he's a defence lawyer and uses his past experiences whilst in court. He's taken on a case that has been dropped by a rival hot-shot law firm. A popular young actor is accused of murdering his girlfriend, and whilst his studio originally stood by him, recent revelations have left him on his own .... with only Eddie to defend him.

However, we the readers know that the killer is on the jury!  Oh my goodness, what a fabulous hook for a book. I defy anyone to read that line and not be intrigued and just have to dive in and find out just how the hell that happened.

This is wonderfully done. Cavanagh has created two magnificent characters in Eddie, and in our killer jury member. We know the murderer as Kane, and he's perverse and genius and lacking in any feelings, both physically and mentally, and I just loved him. Odd, I know, but there you go ... I've always had a soft spot for a bad boy.

I'm no court room expert but Cavanagh's depiction of the American trial by jury appears to be very authentic, and certainly fits with things that I've read before, or seen on screen. This author knows just how to keep his readers on the edge of their seats. The tension cranks up page by page and becomes unrelenting in its intensity.

I absolutely devoured Thirteen, it's one of those books that keep you up way past bedtime. Excellent hook, fabulous characters and ingenious plotting. I can't wait to read more from this author.

Steve Cavanagh is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of the Eddie Flynn series and lawyer. 
His third novel, The Liar, won the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the year 2018. 
He is also one half of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. 
His latest novel, Thirteen, is out now. 

His first standalone book, Twisted, is released in the UK in April 2019. 

Find out more at or follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

Monday, 10 December 2018

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #LionTamerWhoLost


Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech was published by Orenda Books on 20 September 2018.
I read and reviewed this one for the Daily Express in September and am now delighted to share my full review here on Random Things.

“We all need to dance on feet bigger than ours sometimes.”

This is a line said by Andrew to Ben, around half way through The Lion Tamer Who Lost and for me, it sums up perfectly, just what this beautifully written story is about.

Louise Beech has written a book that will touch the most hard-hearted of readers, it is full of love and desire and deals with the most sensitive of issues, yet the author’s trademark Northern gritty humour shines through her writing. There was always a chance that this story could be sweeter than honey, but Louise Beech’s incredible way with words, and with characters ensures that it is always real.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is structured magnificently; beginning as Ben watches the sunrise in Zimbabwe, as he does most mornings. Ben has been a volunteer at the lion sanctuary for just five days and the beauty of the morning sun is one of his highlights.
It is clear that Ben has left tragedy behind in England, although the reader is never quite sure what has happened. We know that it concerns his father and his friend Andrew, but the finer details are not revealed until much later in the book.

The dual narrative of both Ben and Andrew works beautifully, as the reader learns more about each man and the circumstances that have led to Ben finally taking the trip to Africa that he’s thought about for many years.

The author takes her readers from Africa, to East Yorkshire in snapshots from Ben and Andrew’s lives before, during and after. Her ability to create such differing setting that are both atmospheric and totally believable is quite stunning. The reader feels equally at home in the searing heat of the lion reserve and also in the greyer and more solid English settings.

It is the characters in this novel who are the real stars though; the contrasting outlooks of Ben and Andrew; the age-old bias of Ben’s father and the yearning love and gradual realisation shown by Esther. Each one of them are perfectly created; flawed yet human, knowable and expertly balanced.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is an amazing study of love, and of grief. Louise Beech holds her readers firmly in her hand as she tells her story. Her ability to convey human emotion is precise and impassioned.

I’ve read all of this author’s books and can honestly say that this is her best yet. I was enthralled, moved to tears and totally lost when I turned the final page.

Louise Beech remembers sitting in her father's cross-legged lap while he tried to show her his guitar's chords. He's a musician. Her small fingers stumbled and gave up. She was three. His music sheets fascinated her - such strange language that translated into music. Her mother teaches languages, French and English, so her fluency with words fired Louise's interest. She knew from being small that she wanted to write, to create, to make magic. 

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism. Her debut novel was a Guardian Readers' pick for 2015. 

She is inspired by life, history, survival and love, and always has a story in her head. Her debut novel, How to be Brave, came from truth - when Louise's daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad's real life sea survival story. Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, will be released in September 2016 and was inspired by her time working with children in the care system.

When she was fifteen Louise bet her mother ten pounds she'd be published by the time she was thirty. She missed this self-set deadline by two months. Her mother is still waiting for the money.

Find out more at -

Follow on Twitter at @LouiseWriter

Orenda Books website -
Follow Orenda on Twitter @OrendaBooks