Monday, 5 December 2016

1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted #qifacts #BlogTour @FaberBooks #MyLifeInBooks @miller_anne @qikipedia

The sock-blasting, jaw-dropping, side-swiping phenomenon that is QI serves up a sparkling new selection of 1,342 facts to leave you flabbergasted.

Welcome to my spot on the BLOG TOUR for new latest QI book:

1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted published in Hardcover by Faber Books on 3 Nov 2016 by John LloydJohn MitchinsonJames Harkin and Anne Miller.

It is 10 years since the first QI book, The Book of General Ignorance, was published and topped the bestseller list. Since then, drum roll please, over 3.3 million QI books have been sold!

This latest addition to the series has been published to coincide with the new BBC 2 series of QI hosted by Sandi Toksvig.
I'm a huge fan of these books, and this latest one is packed full of interesting facts, that really will leave you flabbergasted.

I've chuckled and gasped my way through most of them, reading them out to my husband, and trying my best to remember them!

Perfect as a stocking filler, this book will give hours and hours of entertainment for all ages.

See and @qikipedia

1,342 QI Facts to leave you flabbergasted is available from Amazon and Waterstones at price £9.99!

About the Authors:  JOHN LLOYD CBE is the creator of QI and founding producer of  The News Quiz, Not the Nine O’Clock News, Spitting Image, Blackadder – and No Such Thing As The News, which made its BBC2 debut in May. He hosts BBC Radio 4’s The Museum of Curiosity – co-presenting the ninth series, broadcast in July 2016, with Noel Fielding. In 2013 he performed a sell-out solo show Liff of QI at the Edinburgh Fringe. He returned in 2015 with a brand-new show John Lloyd: Emperor of the Prawns.’

JOHN MITCHINSON, QI’s first researcher, once ran the marketing for Waterstones and co-founded the book crowdfunding platform Unbound. He has published The Beatles, Haruki Murakami and publishing phenomenon, Letters of Note. He is also a Vice-President of the Hay Festival, co-host of the book podcast Backlisted and keeps pigs, sheep and bees.

JAMES HARKIN, QI’s Head Elf, has in the course of his Quite Interesting duties sung karaoke with Bhutanese monks, danced with the world’s most advanced humanoid robot and learned how to tear a telephone directory in half. He presents the QI Elves’ podcast No Such Thing As A Fish as well as the BBC 2 spinoff No Such Thing As The News. He also produces QI’s BBC Radio 4 show The Museum of Curiosity.

You will have heard of the QI Elves which is the affectionate name Stephen Fry gave to the people who write and research the QI series.  Anne Miller is the most bookish QI Elf and is responsible for many of the literary facts in the book.  She’s also a columnist for the Standard Issue.

ANNE MILLER is a scriptwriter and researcher for QI who can usually be found buried beneath a
pile of books. The first QI episode she wrote was entitled ‘Literature’ and she writes a literary column for Standard Issue magazine. She is the Head Researcher of BBC Radio 4’s The Museum of Curiosity, reached the semi-finals of BBC 2’s fiendishly difficult quiz Only Connect, has two Blue Peter badges and really likes puffins.

I'm delighted to welcome Anne to Random Things today, she's talking about My Life In Books.

Five On A Treasure Island, Enid Blyton  Five On a Treasure Island is one of my favourite children’s books, striking the perfect balance of friendship and adventure. As a child I flew through as many Blytons as I could lay my hands on, from ones I begged for at the Post Office, to those borrowed from a kind neighbour and a few beautiful hardback editions from my parents’ own childhoods. I joined QI just in time for the J series in 2011 and one of the first questions I wrote was: ‘What did the Famous Five have lashings of?’ It’s not ginger beer, that comes from The Comic Strip Presents’ parody ‘Five Go Mad In Dorset’. The original books mention lots of ginger beer but it never comes in ‘lashings’. Things that do, however, include tomatoes, potatoes, peas and once, memorably, ‘lashings of poisonous snakes’.

The Ship, Antonia Honeywell  Antonia Honeywell’s debut novel is about a horrific ruined London where the poor have taken shelter in the British Museum and the rich are making plans to leave. I read The Ship at the start of 2015, loved it and was lucky enough to interview Honeywell in the British Museum’s cafĂ©, which became the first piece I filed for my books column for Sarah Millican’s online magazine Standard Issue.

A Murder is Announced, Agatha Christie  I came to Christie relatively late, picking up my first, The Moving Finger, when searching for more books to read while on holiday in France. Back in London I happily worked my way through the shelf of Christies in my local library. In 2013 the Christie Estate ran a competition called ‘Write Your Own Christie’ and one of my friends sent me the link with a note that I kept saying I wanted to write more fiction so here was a chance. I won Chapter Four and the prize was an incredible dinner at her house, Greenway, with her grandson Matthew Pritchard.

Little Beach Street Bakery, Jenny Colgan  This book contains all of my favourite things – Cornwall, puffins and a bakery. It’s the story of Polly who, after her relationship and business fail, moves to the tidal island of Mount Pelbourne, based on St Michael’s Mount, and opens a bakery. Colgan’s writing is so smart, funny and warm and is the perfect antidote to the rough parts of 2016. She also includes recipes at the end of the book so having spent the previous 300 pages reading about getting up early to bake bread as the sun rises you turn the page and there is the option to do exactly that.

The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller  The Song of Achilles won (what is now) the Baileys Prize for fiction in 2012 but I only read it this year and was completely captivated by the story told from Patroclus’s point of view. Miller spent 10 years researching and writing and you can definitely tell. The details are delightful, the scope epic and the book a perfect example of exactly why you should read those books that people keep telling you are excellent!

Anne Miller ~ December 2016 


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A Christmas Cornucopia by Mark Forsyth @Inkyfool @VikingBooksUK #ChristmasGifts

The unpredictable origins and etymologies of our cracking Christmas customs
For something that happens every year of our lives, we really don't know much about Christmas.
We don't know that the date we celebrate was chosen by a madman, or that Christmas, etymologically speaking, means 'Go away, Christ'. Nor do we know that Christmas was first celebrated in 243 AD on 28 March - and only moved to 25 December in 354 AD. We're oblivious to the fact that the advent calendar was actually invented by a Munich housewife to stop her children pestering her for a Christmas countdown. And we would never have guessed that the invention of crackers was merely a way of popularizing sweet wrappers.
Luckily, like a gift from Santa himself, Mark Forsyth is here to unwrap this fundamentally funny gallimaufry of traditions and oddities, making it all finally make sense - in his wonderfully entertaining wordy way.

A Christmas Cornucopia by Mark Forsyth was published in hardback and ebook by Viking on 10 November 2016, priced £9.99

‘Picture a man sitting beside a dead tree. He is indoors and wearing a crown.

From the ceiling hangs a parasitical shrub that legitimates sexual assault.

Earlier, he told his children that the house had been broken into during the night by an obese Turkish man.
That was a lie, but he wanted to make his children happy’
I absolutely love books like A Christmas Cornucopia, not only is it beautifully presented as a small hardback with an exquisite cover, it is jam packed with witty and fascinating facts and stories about Christmas.  This really would make the perfect stocking-filler, I've already bought two copies!

Mark Forsyth doesn't just churn out the stories that he has discovered, his writing is an absolute delight. From the biography of Santa Claus to why is it 25th December?  He is hilarious, and does actually make the reader realise just how crazy some of our Christmas traditions really are.

Who knew that Advent Calendars were invented by a German housewife who was fed up to the back teeth of hearing her children whinge during the run up to Christmas.

Amongst other Christmas nuggets, you will learn: 
* A ‘true’ Christmas tree should feature a snake as decoration (it’s actually a reference to Adam and Eve)  
* Good King Wenceslas was in fact Duke Vaclav of Bohemia, a man so at war with his mother that he exiled her 
* A truly traditional Christmas Day includes ‘wassailing’ i.e. knocking on your neighbours’ doors with a large bucket and demanding that they fill it with booze 
A fascinating and interesting collection of little known facts about one of our biggest traditions. Quiz players will love this book.

A real treasure of a book!

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Born in London in 1977, Mark Forsyth (a.k.a The Inky Fool) was given a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary as a christening present and has never looked back. 
His book The Etymologicon was a Sunday Times No. 1 Bestseller, and his TED Talk 'What's a snollygoster?' has had more than half a million views. 
He has also written a specially commissioned essay 'The Unknown Unknown: Bookshops and the Delight of Not Getting What You Wanted' for Independent Booksellers Week and the introduction for the new edition of the Collins English Dictionary. 
He was also the man behind the post about language/grammar that went viral last month.
He lives in London with his dictionaries, and blogs at
Follow him on Twitter @Inkyfool

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Escape by C L Taylor #CoverReveal @callytaylor @AvonBooksUK

I rarely feature Cover Reveals here on Random Things, but today I'm making an exception because I am ultra excited about this one!  I've been shouting about C L Taylor's psychological thrillers since the release of her first one, The Accident in 2014 which was followed by The Lie in April 2015 and The Missing in April this year.

So, here's the cover of Book Four from CL Taylor : The Escape.  I agree with the publisher that this new cover is stunning and I'm assured that it is perfect for this new, tension-filled read which might just be the best one yet!

PUBLISHES: 23RD March 2017

The Sunday Times bestseller and No.1 Kindle bestseller returns…

"Look after your daughter's things. And your daughter…"

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't.

The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

So, there you go!  Are you as excited as I am?  I know we have AN AGE to wait for this one, but it sounds amazing, and that cover really is startling.

C L Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle then moved to London to work in medical publishing as a sales administrator. After two years she moved to Brighton where she worked as a graphic designer, web developer and instructional designer over the course of 13 years. She now writes full time.

C L Taylor's first psychological thriller The Accident was one of the top ten bestselling debut novels of 2014 according to The Bookseller. Her second novel, The Lie, charted at number 5 in the Sunday Times Bestsellers List. Combined sales of both novels have now exceeded half a million copies in the UK alone. 

To find out more about the author and her writing, check out

Find her Author page on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter @callytaylor


What Remains of Me by A L Gaylin #BlogTour @alisongaylin @arrowpublishing

June 1980: 17-year-old Kelly Lund is jailed for killing Hollywood film director, John McFadden

Thirty years later, Kelly is a free woman. Yet speculation still swirls over what really happened that night.

And when her father-in law, and close friend of McFadden is found dead - shot through the head at point-blank range - there can only be one suspect.

But this time Kelly has some high-profile friends who believe she's innocent of both crimes.

But is she?

'You'll stay up late to read this' Laura Lippmann

'Full of crackling energy and heartache' Megan Abbott

'An exceptional book by an exceptional writer' Alex Marwood

Welcome to the BLOG TOUR for What Remains of Me by A L Gaylin, published in paperback by Arrow on 1 December 2016.

A murder mystery set in the heart of Hollywood, Gaylin exposes the dark and seedy side of Tinsel Town, nothing feels glamorous, nothing is glittery, but everything appears to be unreliable.

None more so than lead character Kelly Lund. Convicted of murder at the age of seventeen, Kelly
lived on the fringes of Hollywood. Even though her parents, now estranged, met on the set of a movie, Kelly was always warned to stay away from those 'Hollywood types'. Kelly's twin sister was a party girl, mixed up with the IT crowd. Catherine died when she was fifteen, throwing herself from a cliff after yet another ferocious argument with their mother.

Gaylin tells this story in two time-frames. In 1980, when Kelly has begun to rebel and has become close friends with Bellamy Marshall, daughter of one of Hollywood's most famous actors. It is this friendship that leads to Kelly's conviction for murder, after film director John McFadden is shot through the head at his own wrap party.

The second part of the story takes place thirty years later. Kelly has served her prison sentence and has been free for five years. She's married to Bellamy's younger brother Shane, although their relationship is not a traditional marriage in any way. When Shane's father is found dead in his study, with a gunshot through his head, Kelly becomes a suspect once again.

What Remains of Me is a complex and often challenging read. The story is multi-layered, like an onion, just as one layer is peeled away, the reader discovers another that will take the plot and twist it upside down. Kelly Lund is an incredibly deep character, she doesn't really like herself, so it can be difficult for the reader to like her too, although as the plot unfolds it becomes very easy to understand her behaviours, and how she has become the woman she is.

Full of unexpected, well-hidden secrets that slowly rise to the top, this is a well-written story that kept me on my toes. The reveals are unexpected and the sinister side of Hollywood is not a nice place to be in. Well formed and at times, utterly despicable, but realistic characters really make this story.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and who invited me to take part in this blog tour.

A L Gaylin's first job was as a reporter for a celebrity tabloid, which sparked a lifelong interest in writing about people committing despicable acts. More than a decade later, she wrote and published her Edgar-nominated first novel, Hide Your Eyes.
She's since published eight more books, including the USA Today and international bestselling Brenna Spector suspense series, which has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony and Thriller awards and won the Shamus awards.
She lives in upstate New York with her husband, daughter, cat and dog.

For more information visit her website 
Check out her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @alisongaylin


Monday, 28 November 2016

A Year And A Day by Isabelle Broom @Isabelle_Broom @MichaelJBooks #Prague #AYearAndADay

Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere
For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she's determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything - and she won't let that happen again . . .
For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she's struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it's all her fault . . .
For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can't stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .
Three different women.

Three intertwining love stories.

One unforgettable, timeless city.

A Year and a Day by Isabelle Broom was published by Penguin in paperback on 17 November 2016 and is the author's second novel.  I read and reviewed her first book, My Map of You, here on Random Things in May this year.

There is something very very special about Isabelle Broom. I absolutely loved her first book, My Map of You. It was set in Greece and for me, was pure book perfection.  In A Year and a Day she whisks her readers off to the city of Prague, alongside a cast of wonderfully created characters, and once more she's completely and totally stolen my heart.

The novel opens with a short, but heart-stopping prologue. An unnamed character, suffering, lonely and grief stricken. In just a few paragraphs, Isabelle Broom conveys such emotion and passion, this is the hook that draws in the reader, and she continues to wind you further and further into this truly magical story.

Three couples, well two and a half really, all in Prague for a short break. Three very different couples, there for different reasons, but all with their own problems and stories to tell.

Megan and Ollie are just good friends. They briefly toyed with the idea of a romantic relationship some time ago, but it didn't go anywhere. They are in Prague so that Ollie can learn more about the city before teaching his pupils, and Megan wants to take photographs for her upcoming exhibition. Hope and Charlie are older. Their relationship is new, and is filled with unease and sorrow. Hope's
daughter Annette is horrified by her Mother's betrayal of her Father, and has sworn never to speak to her again. Hope's happiness at finding Charlie after years of an unhappy marriage is tainted by her sorrow about Annette.  Finally, there's Sophie; young, gentle, frail and something of a mystery to the others. Sophie tells them all about her boyfriend Robin, who will join her in a few days time. Robin is the love of her life, her other half, she can't live without him.

Isabelle Broom explores the intricate details of these three relationships so very well. Her writing is astute, powerful and very emotionally charged. Yet, despite the emotion, this is not sentimental or sickly sweet. The characters are not perfect, they have their own flaws. At times their decisions can be frustrating to the reader, but this is what makes them so incredibly human, and believable.

When I read the author's first novel, I felt happily at home in the Greek setting, and whilst I have never visited the city of Prague, I feel now that I know it so well. The incredible detail in this story about his beautiful city is wonderful. The author clearly knows her way around the place, and takes her readers to every nook and cranny, not just the traditional tourist spots either. She has created a setting that has become another character, with the clocks, the snow, the strudel and the hot wine.

When I reviewed Isabelle Broom's first book, I tried not to gush. I'm trying not to gush now too, but oh my goodness, A Year and a Day really is so so special. This author can certainly take her place alongside well established authors such as Jojo Moyes and Rowan Coleman. It really is a triumph.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts at the University of West London before starting a career first in local newspapers, and then as a junior sub-editor at heat magazine.
She travelled through Europe during her gap year and went to live on the Greek island of Zakynthos for an unforgettable and life-shaping six months after completing her degree.
Since then, she has travelled to Canada, Sri Lanka, Sicily, New York, L.A, the Canary Islands, Spain and lots more of Greece, but her wanderlust was reined in when she met Max, a fluffy little Bolognese puppy desperate for a home.
When she's not writing novels set in far-flung locations, Isabelle spends her time being the Book Review Editor at heat magazine and walking her beloved dog round the parks of north London.

You can follow her on Twitter @Isabelle_Broom or find her on Facebook under Isabelle Broom Author.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Macmillan Collector's Library @panmacmillan #ChristmasGifts

Buying gifts for book lovers can be so difficult. With Christmas just around the corner, I thought I'd tell you about the wonderful Macmillan Collector's Library books, they really do make the perfect gift. Who wouldn't want these beautiful books on their shelves?
Small, practical and pocket-sized, real cloth hardcover binding, with beautiful colour illustrations, a ribbon marker and gilt edged pages. Titles that are familiar and well-loved and incredibly reasonably priced at just £9.99 each.
Just over a year ago Pan Macmillan acquired the independent publisher, Collector's Library, and re-launched in July this year as Macmillan Collector's Library
Pan Macmillan changed the jackets and came up with a stunning new design which makes the books more collectable than ever.  The cloth is a beautiful shade of blue and the gorgeous coloured end-papers are printed in a bespoke design.

The nature of the list remains the same - all the greats of world literature are available, and many titles feature their original illustrations. From Jane Austen to Charles Dickens, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to F Scott Fitzgerald, there is fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories and children's books, all beautifully produced and so competitively priced.
By the end of 2017, the whole collection will be available, in their stunning new livery.
A few of the titles published, and available now are: two novels by American great Ernest Hemingway, For Whom The Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms.  
Crime and mystery writing is a very important genre for Macmillan Collector's Libary, and there is an anthology - Classic Locked-Room Mysteries - featuring stories from the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilkie Collins and G K Chesterton. Drawing on Macmillan's own heritage, they have published the first two novels in Winston Graham's Poldark series - Ross Poldark and Demeiza. And for their rich history of children's books there is a beautiful illustrated edition of The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. Another children's classic on offer is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming, with charming illustration by Joe Berger.
I have a copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and my copy of Little Women is on order. These look beautiful on my shelf. They really are the perfect gift - and if you have to send gifts through the post, these are so compact and will cost very little to send.
To find out more about The Macmillan Collector's Library, do check out the Pan Macmillan website where you will find details of all the titles included.

Happy Book Shopping! 


Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Mine by Antti Tuomainen #FinnishInvasion @antti_tuomainen #BlogTour @OrendaBooks

A hitman. A journalist. A family torn apart. Can he uncover the truth before it's too late?

In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company's executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne's personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life.

A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results … The Mine is a gripping, beautifully written, terrifying and explosive thriller by the King of Helsinki Noir.

I'm delighted to welcome you to my second spot on the #FinnishInvasion BLOG TOUR. Today's post is all about The Mine by Antti Tuomainen, published by Orenda Books on 17 November 2016.

Antti Tuomainen begins The Mine with an intriguing and enticing prologue. The reader doesn't know who the character is, but these couple of pages are written with such care and clarity that you are captured straight away ..... and then left wondering ....

Janne Vuori is an investigative journalist, working on one of the last traditional newspapers in
Finland. When he receives an anonymous message regarding a nickel mine in Suomalahti, in the north of the country, he is determined to follow it up. And so, Janne and the reader travel through the bitter cold and biting winds, into raging gales and snowstorms to discover what really is going on at the Finn Mining Company.

The author's descriptive prose is vividly sharp, he creates a bitterly cold world that is both atmospheric and terrifying, adding a layer of fear and apprehension to what is a cleverly plotted story.

The Mine is a story of struggles. Janne's personal struggles, his inner battle between trying to be the best journalist he can, whilst also being a great husband and father. His wife is tired of Janne's work, she's tired of being the responsible one in their relationship and Janne feels bad, yet his determination to uncover the truth spur him on, and cause more grief and more unrest.

Janne uncovers far more than he expected, including links to his own past that have been buried for many years. The Mine has its fair share of murder and corruption and greed, with long hidden secrets that are clamouring to be discovered.

The Mine is an excellent thriller that deals with extremely topical issues. The setting is perfect and the translation is so well done. Oh, and that ending .......

My thanks to Orenda Books who sent my copy for review.

Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007. The critically aclaimed My Brother's Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen's third novel, The Healer, won 'Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011' and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award.  The Finnish press labelled The Healer - the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki - 'unputdownable'. 
Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen 'The King of Helsinki Noir' when Dark as My Heart was published.
With his piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and he is currently working on his seventh thriller.

Follow him on Twitter @antti_tuomainen
Visit his website :

About the translator:  David Hackston is a British translator of Finnish and Swedish literature and drama. Notable publications include The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy, Maria Peura's coming-of-age novel At the Edge of Light, Johanna Sinisalo's eco-thriller Birdbrain, two crime novels by Matti Joensuu, and Kati Hiekkapelto's Anna Fekete series (which currently includes The Hummingbird, The Defenceless and The Exiled).
In 2007 he was awarded the Finnish State Prize for Translation.
David is also a professional countertenor and a founding member of the English Vocal Consort of Helsinki.
Follow David on Twitter @Countertenorist