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


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Marrying Off Mother and Other Stories by Gerald Durrell @panmacmillan

'Which of these stories is true and which is semi-true I have, of course, not the slightest intention of telling you, but I hope this will not detract from your enjoyment . . .'
Gerald Durrell introduces an eccentric cast of characters in this entertaining collection of stories, first published in 1991.
In the title story, we join his family in Corfu, where Gerry joins forces with Larry and Margo in encouraging Mother to consider finding a new husband, only to rue the consequences. Highlights from the other tales in this collection are the acquisition of a strongly perfumed pig named Esmerelda, a foul-mouthed parrot called Moses, and a compulsive gambler who inspires a miracle.
Written with Durrell's usual sharp eye for observing humour in a situation, Marrying Off Mother will delight fans both old and new.

Marrying Off Mother and Other Stories by Gerald Durrell was published by Pan Macmillan on 30 June 2016 in a new paperback Pan Heritage Classics edition.

The publication of Gerald Durrell’s Marrying off Mother and other stories follows on from ITV’s brilliant drama The Durrells, celebrated as ‘tip top’ in a four star review from The Telegraph. The entertaining collection introduces an eccentric cast of characters and was first published in 1991.

It's been a long long time since I read My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, I really enjoyed it many years ago and the recent ITV drama, The Durrells resurrected my interest in his writing. I thought the TV adaptation was very well done, despite some of the changes to times and places. The Corfu setting was stunning - it's no secret that I adore Corfu, and anything that reminds me of that beautiful island is welcome!

This collection of short stories were written in Durrell's later years, and originally published in 1991. Whilst the beautiful cover shows a wonderful painting of Corfu, and the title story is set on the island, the majority of these stories are set elsewhere and are a very mixed, and at times, a little eccentric selection of Durrell's writing.

There is no doubt that the writing is dated and there were a couple of sharp intakes of breath at some of the language used. However, on the whole, I did enjoy revisiting Durrell's stories and the reader can certainly hear his voice throughout each of the tales in the book.

Marrying Off Mother and Other Stories is beautifully presented, the cover image is stunning. Fans of Durrell will appreciate these stories, but I'd urge new readers to start with his earlier works to experience the true beauty of his work.

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

Gerald Durrell was one of Britain's best loved authors and pioneering naturalists. 
His books, such as the bestselling My Family and Other Animals which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2016, continue to entertain generations of children and adults alike. 

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is an international conservation charity with headquarters in Jersey, UK. 

A renegade who was right . . . He was truly a man before his time' Sir David Attenborough


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Good Girls Don't Tell by Liselotte Roll #BlogTour @WorldEdBooks #Giveaway

When Erik Berggren, a man with learning disabilities is found mutilated and brutally murdered Inspector Magnus Kalo and his team are mystified. 
Other than being an alcoholic, the victim seems to have led a completely normal, if rather lonely, life. 
Then Erik’s mother is viciously attacked in a similar way. 
Investigating family secrets that stretch back decades and a trail that leads to to the Argentinian military Junta’s reign of terror Magnus realises that someone is stalking him and his own family. His wife, Linn, a therapist, offers her own insights into the case until she too is attacked. 
As the Swedish winter draws in clues seem to disappear under the falling snow. It’s clear that Magnus is on the trail of a master manipulator with a brutal mission…

Good Girls Don't Tell by Liselotte Roll was published by World Editions on 17 November 2016 and is translated from Swedish by Ian Giles.   I'm really happy to welcome you to my spot on the Blog Tour today.

I have one paperback copy of Good Girls Don't Tell to giveaway.  Entry is simple, just fill out the widget below.  UK ENTRIES ONLY PLEASE.      Good Luck!

"Tortured souls are dangerous .....", so goes the strapline for Good Girls Don't Tell, and oh, how true it is. This is a crime story that is packed with danger, and with torture. It is brutal, yet compelling. I rarely use the word 'perfect', but this really is a perfectly-formed thriller.

Magnus Kalo leads the investigation into the horrific murder of an alcoholic, his mutilated body was found in a shed on his mother's allotment. His injuries were terrible, and it is clear that the murderer is a very dangerous individual. Magnus doesn't realise quite how dangerous, or how clever just yet.

When the victim's elderly mother is attacked, and then Magnus' own family are targeted, the race is
on to find the killer, before he finds them .... again.

The exquisite descriptions of the bleak, harsh, frozen Swedish landscape adds volumes to this incredibly well thought out story. Magnus is a complex character, with flaws, but with determination and a love and loyalty to his family that will put in danger, more than once. His wife Linn is equally as determined; her protective instinct towards her toddler twins and her background in psychotherapy enables her to take a star role in this story too.

Liselotte Roll's gripping debut doesn't just deal with a straightforward murder case, she takes her readers to Argentina too, with references to the military Junta who reigned with brute force and terror, and whose crimes have had an impact that has lasted for many years.

Good Girls Don't Tell is expertly translated by Ian Giles, it grips the reader from page one and the suspense builds throughout each chapter, until the thrilling finale.

Thrilling and accomplished.  Highly recommended by me.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and the invitation to take part in this Blog Tour.

I have one paperback copy of Good Girls Don't Tell to giveaway.  Entry is simple, just fill out the widget below.  UK ENTRIES ONLY PLEASE.      Good Luck!

Good Girls Don't Tell by Liselotte Roll #Giveaway

Liselotte Roll is a freelance journalist and has previously worked for Sveriges Radio as a scriptwriter. She is a qualified Marine Archaeologist, and while working on a dig uncovering a pre-Incan settlement in La Rioja, Argentina, she discovered the story of the military junta's reign.
These memories eventually came to form this book.
Liselotte's books have been translated to half a dozen languages and have piqued the attention of crime fiction aficionados.
Critics have described her as one of the most exciting debut writers in recent years and the next Nordic queen of crime.

About the translator:   Ian Giles currently divides his time (often unequally) between translation and his doctoral research at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
He also sits on the managing committee of the Swedish-English Literary Translator's Association.
He has translated a wide range of Scandinavian works for publication or performance, including August Strindberg's Dance of Death.
In 2015, Ian was shortlisted for the Crime Writer's Association International Dagger for his translation of Andreas Norman's Into a Raging Blaze. This is his first book for World Editions.
Twitter @ioagiles


Monday, 21 November 2016

The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto #FinnishInvasion @HiekkapeltoKati @OrendaBooks #BlogTour

Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees. Can Anna solve a terrifying case that's become personal?

Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes?

Chilling, taut and relevant, The Exiled is an electrifying, unputdownable thriller from one of Finland s most celebrated crime writers.

Welcome to the #FinnishInvasion Blog Tour.  The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto was published by Orenda Books in paperback this month and is the author's third book in the Anna Fekete series. It was translated from the Finnish by David Hackston.

Anna Fekete is on holiday, she's a Detective in Finland and has been looking forward to her break in
her hometown in Serbia. She's only home for a short while before she is robbed, her handbag is stolen whilst at a festival. When the thief is murdered shortly after, Anna finds herself bang in the middle of the investigation.  An investigation that will disturb memories and long buried secrets and that will involve corruption and darkness.

Kati Hiekkapelto deals with the very current topic of refugees in Europe, she incorporates their issues into the story very well, and very sensitively. It is clear that this author has a great insight into the problems that immigrants face, and the social issues that are created in the countries that they flee to.

Regular readers of the Anna Fekete series may miss the wonderful Finnish setting that has become familiar as The Exiled is set in the Balkans; a very different location, yet still described incredibly well. The sense of place is expertly done and adds tension to the plot; there's an unease throughout the story that is exacerbated by the images conjured up as she describes the migrant camps and the associated issues experienced there.

The Exiled is an intense story, it is not a fast-paced action tale, it has a complex plot with intriguing twists and astutely created characters. Kati Hiekkapelto is an accomplished author, and Anna Fekete is a great character.

Gritty, topical and elegantly written, The Exiled is a very powerful crime fiction novel.

Kati Hiekkapelto was born in 1970 in Oulu, Finland. She wrote her first stories at the age of two and recorded them on cassette tapes. Kati has studied Fine Arts in Liminka Art School and Special Education at the University of Jyvaskyla. The subject of her final thesis/dissertation was racist bullying in Finnish schools. She went on to work as a special-needs teacher for immigrant children. 
Today Kati is an international crime writer, punk singer and performance artist. Her books, The Hummingbird and The Defenceless have been translated into 16 languages and both were shortlisted for the Petrona Award in the UK.
The Defenceless won Best Finnish Crime Novel of the Year, and has been shortlisted for the prestigious Glass Key.
She lives and writes in her 200-year-old farmhouse in Hailuoto, an island in the Gulf of Bothnia, North Finland. In her free time she rehearses with her band, runs, hunts, picks berries and mushrooms, and gardens. During long, dark winter months she chops wood to heat her house, shovels snow and skis.

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @HiekkapeltoKati


Friday, 18 November 2016

It's All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot @rubyetc @TrapezeBooks

IT'S ALL ABSOLUTELY FINE is a darkly comic, honest and unapologetic illustrated account of the daily struggles with mental health.

Ruby Elliot, aka Rubyetc, is the talent behind the hit tumblr account, 'Rubyetc', which has over 220k followers and growing. Taking readers on a journey through the ups and downs of life, the book will encompass everything from anxiety, bipolar disorder and body image to depression and identity, shining a light on very real problems - all framed with Ruby's trademark humour and originality.
Ruby balances mental health with humour, making serious issues accessible - and very funny. With the superb talent to capture the essence of human emotion (and to make you laugh out loud), this book is as important and necessary as it is entertaining. IT'S ALL ABSOLUTELY FINE will include mostly never-before-seen material, both written and illustrated, and will be an empowering book that will make you laugh, make you think, and make things ok.

It's All Absolutely Fine : Life Is Complicated So I've Drawn It Instead by Ruby Elliot was published by Trapeze Books on 17 November 2016.

I'd seen some of Ruby Elliot's drawings on various social media sites, she's known as @rubyetc on
Twitter, and have really admired her honesty, and her humour. There's a saying 'a picture tells a thousand words', and Ruby's art really does say so much. Her pictures are simple line drawn cartoons, but they are also incredibly telling. Her fear and frustration shouts out from them, she is incredibly talented.

Ruby expresses the things that she finds impossible to talk about through her drawings and whilst they tell a story of pain and sadness, they are also filled with a warmth and humour that made me want to take Ruby and give her a loving hug (which would probably be the last thing she wants ... sorry Ruby!).

The drawings are divided up into themed sections and Ruby writes a couple of pages about each theme, and then the drawings take over. In the first section; It's A Beautiful Day For Don't, Ruby gives some of her history "I am sitting on the floor next to the bed waiting for nothing to happen."  The other chapters are all creatively titled, such as: Lost: Sense of Self and the final chapter is It's All Absolutely Fine.

Ruby was just a child when she was diagnosed with anorexia, diagnosis of bulimia, bi-polar and depression all followed and she dropped out of school when she was 17. Drawing for her blog and social media accounts gave her a voice, and made her feel a little bit less lonely. Ruby has dealt with some incredibly painful times in her life by being funny, and I'm guessing that her drawing and her wit have often saved her from falling to the darkest depths .... those that some people never emerge from.

I'm positive that It's All Absolutely Fine is going to help so many people, especially those who haven't found their voice but can relate to what Ruby is saying, and drawing. Knowing that there are others out there that do understand, and are experiencing similar things can be the spur to keep someone going, and Ruby certainly does understand. Her drawings, and her words are heartfelt, raw, sometimes difficult to read, but so very moving and clever. This is a tremendous book and Ruby Elliot really is absolutely wonderful.

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

Ruby is a twenty-something person and illustrator from London. She likes dogs, jam and shouting. Four years ago she starting drawing cartoons and posting them online under the name Rubyetc.
She is currently learning how to write author bios.

Check out Ruby:

Twitter @rubyetc
Instagram @rubyetc_
Facebook   rubyetcdrawing



The Dress by Jane L Rosen #BlogTour @janelrosen1 @arrowpublishing

Legend has it that every season there is one dress. The dress that can make your career, ignite a spark with that special someone, or utterly transform your life.

For Felicia, who has been in love with her boss for 20 years; for Natalie who has sworn off men since her ex dumped her – for them and for others, life is about to change. 

And all because of their brush with the dress of the season, the perfect little black number that everyone wants to get their hands on…

Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Dress by Jane L Rosen, published in paperback by Arrow on 17 November, also available in ebook.

Nine women, one dress.  That is the central theme of this very enjoyable novel from Jane L Rosen. Can a dress really change your life? Can a dress transform your career?

The dress at the centre of this novel is THE dress of the season. A quite simple, but wonderfully
elegant gown from the Max Hammer showroom, every woman wants to wear it, and the lucky ones who do, find that it is the beginning of huge changes in their lives.

The Dress is very cleverly structured. The author tells the story in nine voices, from the young, wet-behind-the ears model Sally Ann Fennely to Morris Siegal the ninety-year-old pattern maker who has worked at Max Hammer since the day it opened.  In between their stories are others; a whole eclectic, diverse set of people, who each have a connection to THE dress.

This is not just an easy, charming read that is very satisfying. It is also a intricate examination of a set of relationship and how people tick. There's some absolutely wonderful characterisation, and the reader falls just a little bit in love with the inhabitants of this story, just as some of them fall for each other.  I particularly enjoyed the whole New York setting, the author skilfully re-creates this bustling city with the shops and glamour so very well.

Love and laughter, tears and insecurities, humour and laughs; The Dress has all of this and more. This really is the perfect Sunday afternoon read. Engaging and quirky, I enjoyed it very much.

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

Jane L Rosen is an author, screenwriter and Huffington Post contributor. She lives in New York City and Fire Island with her husband and three daughters.  She often takes inspiration from the city she lives in and the people she shares it with.  In addition to her writing she has spent time in television and event production and is the co-founder of a gifting app called

Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on  Twitter @janelrosen1


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey @EowynIvey Guest Review from Author Jo Worgan @mummyworgan


Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska's hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. The Wolverine is the key to opening up Alaska and its rich natural resources to the outside world, but previous attempts have ended in tragedy.
Forrester leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Adventurous in spirit, Sophie does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband carves a path through the wilderness. What she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage and fortitude of her that it does of her husband.

To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey was published in hardback by Tinder Press on 2 August 2016 and is the author's second novel.

I'm pleased to welcome Jo Worgan as a guest reviewer to Random Things today. Jo writes as Jo Hollywood, and her novel  An Unextraordinary Life is available in paperback and ebook, The ebook is currently on offer for just 99p.

Jo is a married mother of two boys, her youngest has Autistic Spectrum Disorder. In her spare time she writes for her local paper on the subject of autism and is currently writing her second romantic novel. Jo loves to read books of any genre. You can find Jo over on twitter at @mummyworgan and she also blogs at Brew and Books Review

Jo's review of To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

I quite literally jumped at the chance when I was given the opportunity to review this book. I had read The SnowChild by Eowyn Ivey back in 2013 and fell in love with all the magical characters in its tale of bittersweet love set in the harsh Alaska wintertime. Therefore I was hugely excited to read To the Bright Edge of theWorld, and wondered if it would enthrall me in the way in which TheSnow Child had. Well, it did. This book is so many things. It is an adventure story, a love story and a tale of magical happenings all rolled into one. I'll try to capture how much I adored this book that is a magical and breathtaking read.

So, to the bones of this book. The main story is that of a journey down the Wolverine River in Alaska during 1885. Previous attempts of this journey had failed, with many casualties and, so it was with great excitement and trepidation that Lieutenant Allen Forrester set off on his adventure with his small group of men. Their planned route is beautifully shown in the map that is at the beginning of the book, and this I found very helpful in following the progression their journey. Now, the descriptions of their journey, the unusual people that they meet and the stunning scenery are quite simply poetic. There is a gentleness to the writing, that is not rushed, but rather the reader is urged to savour the story that unfolds before them. We learn of the journey through the private journal that Allen keeps, as well as a few official reports. It is Allen's journal that fascinated me. Here we learn of his deepest thoughts and feelings. It is these journals that we learn of his love for his new wife, Sophie, and that there is something deeply touching and genuine about the love that they have for each other. 

It is Sophie that I most connected with while reading this beautiful novel. She is left behind at home, while Allen goes off on his adventures. She is not your typical lady of the time, as she is not content to sit around the house, entertaining the other ladies and behaving as an officer's wife should. Instead, she is far happier rambling around the forest of the Vancouver barracks where she lives alone while he is gone, finding the local wildfire, climbing trees and enjoying the fresh air. She is a strong-willed woman and when Allen is off on his wild adventure, she too has an adventure of her own, one that will change her life forever. Just as we read Allen's journal entries, we read Sophie's journal and letters to Allen, which are heartfelt and loaded with emotion and longing for her husband to return safely home. I loved Sophie, mainly I think because she reminded me very much of Jo from Little Women. She is rebellious, witty and utterly charming.

Although this novel is about an adventure into the unknown Alaska of its day, it also leads us onto an adventure of love, relationships and magical happenings that lie deeply within the mountains of the Wolverine River. I cannot praise this book highly enough. If you enjoyed The Snow Child, then you will enjoy this book just as much. If you are new to the writings of Eowyn Ivey, then you are in for a wonderful treat. Grab a warm drink, wrap yourself in a blanket and enjoy this tale of adventure, magic and long lasting love. 

My thanks to Jo for this terrific review, and to the publisher who sent the copy for review.

Eowyn Ivey's debut novel, The Snow Child was published in twenty-six languages, and sold over 350,000 copies in the UK alone.
A former bookseller and journalist, Eowyn lives in Palmer, Alaska, with her husband and two daughters.
To The Bright Edge of the World is her second novel, and once again set against the backdrop of Eowyn's home state.

For more information, visit
Follow her on Twitter @EowynIvey