Monday, 22 May 2017

He Said / She Said by Erin Kelly @mserinkelly @HodderBooks

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim's life that is changed forever. 
Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear, and while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something, and someone, is always in the dark.

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly was published in hardback by Hodder on 20 April 2017.

There is no doubt that Erin Kelly is one of the best authors of psychological, twisty, surprising stories out there. She is incredibly talented and He Said/She Said is, in my view, her best book to date.

This is not an easy read, but it is completely and utterly gripping. My weekend flew by whilst reading it, everything that I'd planned to do went out of the window, as I sat and read, and read, and read.

Told by two voices; Laura and Kit, over fifteen years, moving back and forth with ease, the structure is perfect. The reader meets a young couple, madly in love and just starting out on their life journey together. Free and easy, they are educated, bright and wholly believable. Kit has inherited a love of 'eclipse chasing' from his father, and in 1999 they travel to Cornwall, with Kit's twin brother and his partner to witness the eclipse.

It is this trip that changes everything that they'd planned. When they stumble upon a young woman face down in the mud and a man on top of her, Laura has to act. This is not an act of love, this is an act of violence, and Laura is determined that he will not go unpunished. Her choice of words whilst testifying in the witness box ... just a couple of words .... impact on so many, and for so long.

Fifteen years later, Kit and Laura are paranoid and scared. Their lives, their identity and their future is scarred by that act in Cornwall all those years ago. As Kit leaves for the Faroe Islands for yet another eclipse, heavily pregnant Laura is left at home, with her fears and her memories.

What follows is a clever, immersive and ambitious story that pulls the reader right into its heart, and doesn't let go. Characters that are created with such skill, a story that weaves around so quickly that you begin to feel dizzy. Plus an intelligent and well researched insight into the minds and feelings of those people who chase the eclipse all over the world.

I didn't expect the ending! It crept up on me and felt like a blinding punch between the eyes, turning everything that I'd believed in upside down. Clever clever writing, incredible plotting and faultless narrative.

Erin Kelly's writing is razor sharp. He Said/She Said is a story that preys on the mind and raises questions that are very difficult to answer. Shocking and tense, this is a stunner!

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

Erin Kelly is the author of the critically acclaimed psychological thrillers The Poison TreeThe Sick Rose and The Burning Air. In 2013, The PoisonTree became a major ITV drama starring MyAnna Buring, Matthew Goode and Ophelia Lovibond. It was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011, and was longlisted for the 2011 CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger Award. The novel has been translated into eleven languages. The Ties That Bind was her fourth novel, and was followed in August by Broadchurch: The Novel, inspired by the first season of 2013's mega-hit ITV series. 

She was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Essex, read English at Warwick University and has been working as a journalist since 1998, writing for newspapers including The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Express and The Mirror, and magazines including Red, Psychologies, Marie Claire and Elle. She lives in north London with my husband and daughters.

For more information about Erin Kelly and her books, see her website, : she also has a Facebook author page, and you can follow her on Twitter @mserinkelly

Hunting The Hangman by Howard Linskey #BlogTour @HowardLinskey @noexitpress #MyLifeInBooks

Bestselling author Howard Linskey's fifteen year fascination with the assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the holocaust, has produced a meticulously researched, historically accurate thriller with a plot that echoes The Day of the Jackal and The Eagle has Landed.

2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on a man so evil even fellow SS officers referred to him as the "Blond Beast". In Prague he was known as the "Hangman". Hitler, who called him "The Man with the Iron Heart", considered Heydrich to be his heir, and entrusted him with the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish question: the systematic murder of eleven million people.

In 1942 two men were trained by the British SOE to parachute back into their native Czech territory to kill the man ruling their homeland. Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik risked everything for their country. Their attempt on Reinhard Heydrich's life was one of the single most dramatic events of the Second World War, with horrific consequences for thousands of innocent people.

Hunting the Hangman is a tale of courage, resilience and betrayal with a devastating finale. Based on true events, the story reads like a classic World War Two thriller and is the subject of two big-budget Hollywood films that coincide with the anniversary of Operation Anthropoid.

Hunting The Hangman by Howard Linskey is published in paperback on 25 May 2017 by No Exit Press.

I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour. He's talking about the books that have inspired him and are special to him, in My Life In Books.

My Life in Books ~ Howard Linskey

My dad read this to me during a week-long, rain-filled caravan holiday when I was nine years old and I loved it. You’ve got to go a long way to find a scarier character than Blind Pew and Long John Silver was probably the first ‘baddie’ I found myself rooting for while hoping he would escape. The chapter where young Jim Hawkins and his group defend a stockade from pirate attack was the most exciting thing I’d encountered in a book at my young age.

Lesser known than Wyndham’s ‘The Day of The Triffids’ or ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’, ‘The Chrysalids’ had me hooked when I was about twelve. A post-apocalyptic story about a religious community that expels or kills anyone with a physical abnormality, not realising that some of their number, including young David Strorm and his sister, possess the power of telepathy. Keeping their secret from superstitious fellow villagers becomes harder as the children grow up and things begin to seriously unravel. This one had me turning the pages in double quick time so I could find out what happened to the special children.

I was a bit older for this one; fourteen or so and ‘A Kind of Loving’ was the first book I’d encountered about normal life in a northern town. It made me realise you could write about anywhere, as long as you do it well. Vic gets his girlfriend Ingrid pregnant and is forced to marry her, even though they are far from well-suited then they move in with his appalling mother in law. Vic feels trapped in his town, his job and his marriage and dreams of a way out. He’s not the nicest or most sympathetic of characters but Barstow makes him seem very real in his rebellion against provincial small-mindedness and longing for a more meaningful life.

“It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.” We know from the opening sentence that something is very wrong in Winston Smith’s world. Always relevant, it was originally written as a reaction to Stalin’s evil dictatorship but can serve equally well nowadays as a parable for Donald Trump’s post-truth, alternative-fact, lying-through-his teeth era.

I wanted my novel ‘Hunting the Hangman’ to appeal to readers of ‘The Day of the Jackal’ or ‘The Eagle Has Landed’.  In those stories it doesn’t matter that you already know the ending (spoiler alert - they didn’t kill Winston Churchill in this one!). It’s the characters we care about. Their involvement in a seemingly impossible mission and a desire to know their fates will keep you reading to the end.

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” From that wonderful opening line we are transported into Leo’s world. An old man looks back on his childhood and the catastrophic effect on his entire life of a tragedy he was embroiled in. The writing is so good I still love this novel despite being forced to write essays about it for A level; surely the sign of a great book. 

There were always books in our house and my dad had shelves full of Le Carre and Len Deighton novels that I picked up and got into during my late teens and early twenties. This would still be my desert Island book if I could take only one. It has everything. Le Carre writes beautifully and this is a complex, page turning story that deftly illustrates the devastating power of betrayal. I love the book and I probably know most of the lines. It’s worth a read for the character of George Smiley alone.

I was in the world of work by the time I read this one. A man spends the best part of his life in service to another, under the assumption that his employer means well and knows best, only to slowly realise he has been working for a Nazi appeaser. Stevens is a butler for Lord Darlington and his entire life is devoted to service. In later life he begins to question the wisdom of this. It’s a book about regret and missed opportunities, particularly where the former housekeeper is concerned. Stevens drives to meet Miss Kenton to persuade her to return to Darlington Hall after twenty years. As he travels, we jump back and forth from his present to a time when he was a younger man. What mattered most to Stevens then was his dignity, even at the cost of living a real life.

Howard Linskey ~ May 2017

Originally from Ferryhill in County Durham, he now lives in Herts with his wife Alison and daughter Erin.

His David Blake books have been optioned for TV by Harry Potter producer, David Barron. They are published in the UK by No Exit Press, in Germany by Droemer Knaur and in the US by Harper Collins. The Times newspaper voted 'The Drop' one of its Top Five Thrillers of the Year and 'The Damage' one of its Top Summer Reads. Both books broke into the top five Amazon Kindle chart. 

‘The Search' is the third book in a crime fiction series written by Howard Linskey for Penguin Random House, featuring journalists Tom Carney & Helen Norton with police detective Ian Bradshaw. The other titles in this series are 'No Name Lane' and ‘Behind Dead Eyes’. He is also the author of ‘Hunting the Hangman’ a historical thriller about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague during WW2.

Howard's web site is
Follow him on Twitter at @HowardLinskey

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Lies Within by Jane Isaac #BlogTour @JaneIsaacAuthor @LegendPress #TheLiesWithin

Be under no illusions by her kind face and eloquent manner… This woman is guilty of murder.
Grace Daniels is distraught after her daughter's body is found in a Leicestershire country lane. With her family falling apart and the investigation going nowhere, Grace's only solace is the re-emergence of Faye, an old friend who seems to understand her loss.
DI Will Jackman delves into the case, until a family tragedy and a figure from his past threaten to derail him.
When the police discover another victim, the spotlight falls on Grace. Can Jackman find the killer, before she is convicted of a crime she didn't commit?
A gripping thriller perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, S.J. Watson, B A Paris and Sophie Hannah

The Lies Within by Jane Isaac was published in paperback by Legend Press on 2 May 2017 and is the third in the DI Will Jackman series.  I read and reviewed the previous book, Beneath The Ashes, here on Random Things in November last year.

DI Will Jackman is one of my favourite fictional policemen and Jane Isaac is fast becoming a favourite author. Yet again she has delivered a story that is extremely well written, there is a real air or authenticity to it, the police procedural details, the courtroom and the intricacies of the human psyche are all dealt with so very well.

Just as in the last of the series, The Lies Within begins with a prologue that is tense and mysterious, and shapes the whole of the story. A courtroom, a woman accused of murder, is she guilty?

Will Jackman is away from his home base in Stratford, He's working in Leicester and has been tasked with investigating procedural matters relating to old cases. However, when a young girl is murdered and the case has so many similarities to one of the old cases, Jackman has to get involved. Despite his lingering injuries from a previous case, and the tragedy of his beloved wife, laying in hospital in a vegetative state after a serious accident, he is a committed and determined police officer.

Whilst Jackman is certainly the lead character in The Lies Within, Jane Isaac has also created some wonderful female characters to support him. Not least of these is Grace Daniels, the mother of the murdered girl, and the accused woman of the prologue. She's sparky and intelligent, and grieving and angry. She's vulnerable, gullible and hurting, and it is this combination of emotions that lead her to prison, on remand for murder.

I was gripped by The Lies Within, it's twisty, emotional with superb characterisation and excellent psychological insight. I'm looking forward to meeting DI Jackman again soon.

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

Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the 'eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.' 

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as 'Thriller of the Month - April 2014' by and winner of 'Noveltunity book club selection - May 2014'. 

In 2015 Jane embarked on a new series, featuring DI Will Jackman and set in Stratford upon Avon, with Before It's Too Late. The second in the series, Beneath The Ashes, will be published by Legend Press on 1st November 2016 with the 3rd, The Lies Within, to follow on 2nd May 2017.

Both DI Jackman and DCI Lavery will return again in the near future. Sign up to Jane's newsletter on her website at for details of new releases, events and giveaways.

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

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Forever House by Veronica Henry #BlogTour @Veronica_Henry @orionbooks #TheForeverHouse

Would you know your forever house if you found it?
Hunter's Moon is the ultimate 'forever' house. Nestled by a river in the Peasebrook valley, it has been the Willoughbys' home for over fifty years, and now estate agent Belinda Baxter is determined to find the perfect family to live there. But the sale of the house unlocks decades of family secrets - and brings Belinda face to face with her own troubled past.
A gorgeous escapist read for anyone needing a hug in a book - perfect for fans of Erica James, Lucy Diamond and Harriet Evans.

The Forever House by Veronica Henry is published by Orion Books in paperback on 18 May 2017 and is the author's fifteenth novel.

There are certain authors who never fail to disappoint me, and Veronica Henry is one of those. She's part of my 'go to' group of writers who I know will always deliver a story that will delight me, lift my mood and really warm the heart. The Forever House is an absolute joy to read, I fell head over heels in love with the characters, the setting and of course, with Hunter's Moon; the 'forever house' of the title.

Hunter's Moon is a family home, it is a beautiful house that is filled with love and memories and when local estate agent Belinda Baxter gets the call to ask her to visit and give a valuation, she is very excited. Belinda is far from the stereotypical estate agent; she really cares about her customers; going that extra length to ensure that the process of selling their home is as pain free as possible. Belinda loves property, but will only sell a house that she likes.

It soon becomes clear that there is much sadness behind the reason that the Willoughbys have to sell Hunter's Moon, and Veronica Henry very cleverly incorporates the story of their family's history into this compelling and delightful novel. The reader is transported back to the late 1960s, to a chaotic and unusual household that is crying out for order. When Sally arrives at Hunter's Moon she makes changes that reach much further than the dusty corners of rooms.

I have a real soft spot for stories told in dual time, and the 1960s is my favourite era to read about. I loved the glimpses into the glamour, and the seedy. The smoky Soho clubs; the literary parties; the fashions and the language. All perfectly done and a wonderful contrast to the modern-day story, which is equally as compelling and touches on some modern, up-to-the-minute subjects. Veronica Henry's characters are so skilfully created, they become like friends and the reader is swept up in all of their issues.

The Forever House is an absolute treat. It is engaging and heartfelt, a story of love, of loss, and of starting over, and new beginnings, and is, in my view, Veronica Henry's best novel to date.

Veronica Henry has worked as a scriptwriter for THE ARCHERS, HEARTBEAT and HOLBY CITY amongst many others, before turning to fiction. She won the 2014 RNA NOVEL OF THE YEAR AWARD for A NIGHT ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Veronica lives with her family in a village in north Devon. 

Find out more at or follow her on Twitter @veronica_henry

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman @GailHoneyman @HarperCollinsUK

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live
Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.
Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is published in the UK by Harper Collins in hardback on 18 May 2017 and is the author's debut novel.

This debut novel is beautifully written, Gail Honeyman has created a character in Eleanor who is difficult to dislike. She's also quite difficult to understand, but her innocent outlook and wry observations of some of the most mundane things really are magnificent.

Eleanor has worked in the same office as a finance clerk for many years. Her job is unexciting, she has no real relationships with her colleagues, it's just a place that she goes to every morning at the same time, Monday to Friday. On Wednesdays she speaks to her Mother. Eleanor has a weekend routine too. It involves a pizza from Tesco, a bottle of wine and two bottles of vodka. It rarely changes.

A very unexpected night out (she won the tickets in a charity raffle at work), to a band night changed Eleanor's routine, and her outlook. One glance at the lead singer on the stage and she knew that he was the ONE. Mother had always told her that there would be someone, one day.

The story that follows is an emotional, incredibly insightful and quite bewitching story of Eleanor's attempt to make herself shiny, to try to catch the attention of one man, to enter the real world. During the telling of Eleanor's story, the reader learns more about her past, and how that has shaped her present. This is a study in how one person can live in their own solitary. lonely existence, and how they can gradually draw themselves out of it. Eleanor is helped along the way by two characters who show her the most basic of things; kindness and friendship.

Eleanor is quirky, I have to be honest and admit that sometimes she was just a little too over-the-top for me. I wanted a little bit more of the inner Eleanor, not just her slanted views and observations, however, there is no doubt that Gail Honeyman has an incredible talent for crafting unusual characters, and yes, Eleanor Oliphant really is completely fine. A recommended read from me.

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

Gail Honeyman wrote her debut at same time as holding down a full-time job, fitting writing into early mornings, evenings, weekends and holidays. While it was still a work-in-progress, she won the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award, which included a writing retreat at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre - an opportunity to spend uninterrupted time working on the book. Gail was also shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, the Bridport Prize and longlisted for BBC Radio 4's Opening Lines. She lives in Glasgow. 
Follow her on Twitter @GailHoneyman

GAIL ON WRITING ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE: There were two main ideas behind Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: the first was sparked by a newspaper feature about loneliness. 
One of the interviewees was an ordinary woman in her late 20s, with a job and a flat in the city, who said that, unless she made a special effort to arrange something in advance, she’d often – and not by choice - spend entire weekends without seeing or speaking to another human being. 

I started to wonder about how such a situation could come about, and about how devastating the consequences of such loneliness and isolation could potentially be, particularly for a relatively young person living alone in a big city. 

When loneliness is discussed, it’s most often in the context of older people who have perhaps been widowed and/or whose families have moved away. 
Whilst this is undoubtedly a serious issue, I started to think about hidden loneliness amongst younger people in particular, and about how little attention this receives. 
The workplace can be a good place to find opportunities to socialize, but what if you don’t meet any like-minded people there, or don’t have anything in common with your colleagues? Is it, somewhat counterintuitively, easier to find yourself lonely in a city than in a small town or village? Is there still a stigma attached to admitting that you’re lonely, especially if you’re a younger person? 

The second idea, which eventually became entwined with the first, was the concept of social oddness; specifically, the kind of person we sometimes come across socially who just seems a little awkward. Their conversation and behaviour does not give cause for concern or alarm, but it sometimes makes other people feel mildly uncomfortable, perhaps prompting them to make their excuses and move away quickly to find somebody else to chat to. Superficially, such interactions are of very little consequence. 

However, I began to think about how, whenever I’d found myself in a similar situation, I had rarely (if ever) paused to consider whether there might a reason or an explanation behind the other person’s perceived oddness or social awkwardness, perhaps rooted in their childhood or in difficult life experiences. Together, these two ideas led me to the character and the story of Eleanor Oliphant.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Caller by M A Comley and Tara Lyons @Lorne_justice @taralyonsauthor #TheCaller


The first gripping book in The Organised Crime Team series by NY Times bestselling author of the Justice series, M A Comley and co-author Tara Lyons, author of In The Shadows. 
When The Caller rings... what would you do? The Organised Crime Team is a newly-formed unit with one of the toughest tasks in London. Led by DI Angie North, their first investigation is a cold case that has foxed several officers in the Met for months. After Angie holds a TV appeal regarding the case, a number of similar aggressive attacks are brought to her attention. The team call on their contacts on the street for help. Their interest is sparked when several local names surface. To bring the criminals to justice a member of the Organised Crime Team is asked to risk their life in a dangerous covert operation.

The Caller by M A Comley and Tara Lyons was published in paperback on 2 June 2016.

I haven't read anything by either of these two authors before, but have really enjoyed The Caller and will most certainly be checking out other books by both authors.

The Caller is the first in a series and the first case for the newly formed Organised Crime Team, headed up by Detective Inspector Angie North. The team have been pulled together to look at unsolved cases, but are soon heavily involved in the investigation of current cases that appear to be linked to the older crimes.

I really like the character of Angie North. She's a refreshing change to the stereotypical police officers that are found in many crime series. Empathic, understanding but not afraid to take risks, she soon pulls together this group of police officers, and the depiction of teamwork is very well done.

The authors have cleverly incorporated the back stories of the officers, allowing them to introduce themselves to each other, and to the reader.

Gang culture is explored throughout the story, along with the often dangerous and precarious interventions that police teams undertake in order to make sure that the criminals are brought to justice. The Caller is an entertaining story, action-packed and well written.

It's a quick read, with great characters and a well thought out plot. I look forward to reading more by these authors.

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

About M A Comley (from Amazon)
New York Times, USA Today, Amazon Top 20 bestselling author, iBooks top 5 bestselling and #2 bestselling author on Barnes and Noble. Over one million copies sold world wide. I am a British author who moved to France in 2002, and that's when I turned my hobby into a career. 

When I'm not writing crime novels I'm either reading them or going on long walks with my rescue Labrador, Dex.

If you'd like to keep up to date with new releases you can find me on facebook by following this link or sign up for my newsletter

You can find out more about me at the following blogs.

Twitter @Lorne_justice

About Tara Lyons (from Amazon)
Tara is a crime/psychological thriller author from London, UK. Turning 30 in 2015 propelled her to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. In the Shadows is Tara's debut solo novel published in March 2016. She co-wrote The Caller and Web of Deceit: A DI Sally Parker novella with New York Times bestselling author, M.A Comley.

In August 2016 Tara signed a two-book contract with Bloodhound Books. The second book in the DI Hamilton series, No Safe Home, was published in January 2017.

When she's not writing, Tara can be found at a local Wacky Warehouse stuck in the ball-pit with her young, energetic son. 

Sign up to Tara's monthly newsletter for exclusive news, previews and giveaways:

Find out more about the author and follow her writing journey:

Twitter @taralyonsauthor

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo @JillSantopolo @HQstories #TheLightWeLost

Every love story has a beginning… 

11th September 2001. Lucy and Gabe meet in New York on a day that will change their lives – and the world – forever. As the city burns behind them, they kiss for the very first time.

Over the next thirteen years they are torn apart, then brought back together, time and time again. It’s a journey of dreams, of desires, of jealousy, of forgiveness – and above all, love.

As Lucy is faced with a devastating choice, she wonders whether their love is a matter of destiny or chance.…what if this is how their story ends?

Me Before You meets One Day in this passionate debut novel, The Light We Lost, an epic love story about the heartrending decision that one woman must make…

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo is published in hardback by HQ at Harper Collins on 18 May 2017.

Most of us will remember where we were on September 11th, 2001, when the Twin Towers in New York were attacked by terrorists. It was a life-changing, world-altering day. The images are burned into our memories, it is a date that is etched into our brains.

Lucy and Gabe were students in 2001, living in New York. For them, September 11th evokes other memories alongside the horror of the crumbling skyscrapers and the sight of human bodies hurtling through the air, to their death. It was also the day that they met, that they kissed for the first time, and for the rest of their lives, that day will also mark new beginnings, as well as tragedy and pain.

The Light We Lost is a story of long, enduring love. It packs an emotional punch that will leave the reader reeling, gulping back the tears and turning the pages as quickly as possible.

Jill Santopolo has told her story in Lucy's voice. The narrative is a letter, written by Lucy, many years after their first meeting. It details their relationship from that first meeting as New York City trembled,  and continues for thirteen years as they age, further their careers, move across the world, but never, ever quite let go.

In real life, love rarely runs smoothly, and this author has captured both the beauty of a love affair, along with the devastation that can also be wrought by love. Lucy and Gabe are perfectly created, both have their flaws and their failings, but despite these, no reader can fail to fall for them, completely and utterly, echoing their own feelings for each other.

I have no doubt that The Light We Lost is going to be among my top reads of this year. It is a story that lingers in the mind, long after the final page is turned. It truly is quite beautiful.

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

Jill Santopolo received an MFA in fiction writing, is the author of three successful children's and young-adult series, and works as the editorial director of Philomel Books.
An adjunct professor in The New School's MFA programme, she travels the world to speak about writing and storytelling.

You can visit her online at or follow her on Twitter @jillsantopolo.

She lives in New York City

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite #BlogTour @BCopperthwait @bookoutre

A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness - until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite is published by Bookoutre on 12 May 2017. I'm really pleased to host the Blog Tour here on Random Things today.

One of the first things that attracted me to this story was the setting. The wild and sometimes quite desolate Lincolnshire Fens. I live in Lincolnshire and I like nothing better to be able to really see a setting when I read a book. Barbara Copperthwaite has based the village of Fenmere on Friskney, and her great knowledge of the place adds so much to the telling of the story. That damp, silent, mysterious fenland takes centre stage in this book, beautifully and authentically described.

The Darkest Lies is a story of family and community. When teenager Beth Oak is found terribly injured on the marshes, shockwaves reverberate throughout Fenmore. This is a tiny village, inhabited by people who have spent most of their lives there. Their families are there, their friends and their workmates. Nothing ever happens in Fenmore, until now.

Beth's mother Melanie is determined that she will find out who did this to her beloved daughter. As Beth lies unconscious in a Leeds hospital, Melanie's world breaks into tiny pieces. She gives up her job, she tries to numb the pain with alcohol. She suspects anyone and everyone and she confronts anyone who she thinks may know something.

As Melanie's quest continues, her relationship with her husband Jacob starts to crumble. She sees a side to him that confuses her and disappoints her and begins to spend more time with an old friend from childhood who has recently returned to the village.

Told in three voices, The Darkest Lies is certainly a page turner. Young Beth's narrative was particularly engaging, as she has some very dark secrets she keeps from everyone who is close to her. Nestled between Beth's voice and that of Melanie are snippets from an unknown voice, but one that is quite terrifying. I did sometimes struggle with Melanie's narrative. She speaks to Beth as she relates her part of the story, and it felt a little forced and disjointed, sometimes she'd refer to her husband as Jacob, and other times he became 'your Dad'. I found this a little bit disorientating and each time it happened, it took me away from the story. Annoying as a reader, and maybe something for the author and her editor to consider?

Despite this, I did enjoy The Darkest Lies. Barbara Copperthwaite can certainly create a gripping story, and she deals with some very relevant and up to date issues; touching on the difficulties that Eastern European immigrants can encounter in Lincolnshire, and also delving into some darker and quite serious subjects.

I certainly didn't guess how this was going to end! The finale was very well written, with shocks and gasps a plenty. The Darkest Lies is a riveting read, the characters are very well crafted, although I have to say that I really didn't like many of them. However, the setting and sense of place is brilliantly portrayed, and adds real depth to the story.

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

Barbara is the author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD. Both have been Amazon best sellers. Her latest book, THE DARKEST LIES, is out on 12 May.

Much of her success is thanks to her twenty-odd years' experience as a national newspaper and magazine journalist. She's interviewed the real victims of crime - and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with her, she knows a lot about the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That's why her novels are dark, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions.

When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs. 

To find out more about Barbara's novels, go to or follow @BCopperthwait on Twitter. To find out more about Barbara go to

Friday, 12 May 2017

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson #BlogTour @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks #Block46 #FrenchNoir

Evil remembers...
Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.
Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea's.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again.
Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?
Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea's friend, French truecrime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.
Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

Welcome to the BLOG TOUR for Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson, published in paperback by Orenda Books on 15 May 2017.

I'm delighted to bring you a guest post from the Book Magician herself today. Here's Karen Sullivan, publisher extraordinaire and founder of Orenda Books talking about how and why Violence serves a profound purpose in Block 46:

" We do not publish books that contain any gratuitous violence at Orenda Books; indeed, even translations that have erred in that direction have had disturbing scenes cut. I don’t like to read them; I don’t like to promote violence. Yet, there are some books, and Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson is a prime example, where the violence described is not just necessary but essential to the underlying messages of the book, the profoundly important points that it sets out to reveal. Sometimes we need to be shocked to understand.

Block 46 opens with the grisly discovery of a mutilated body, and yes, it’s a woman. It is only at the end of the book that we discover the reasons for this murder, which boasts the hallmark of a serial killer whose provenance is deeply troubling and possibly linked to the horrific events that took place in Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, during the Second World War. The horrors that were perpetrated at this camp, the first and the largest on German soil, fall so outside the realms of decency, fundamental humanity, that they are almost unbelievable. Johana Gustawsson’s grandfather was a prisoner here, the victim of some of the most heinous crimes perpetrated against mankind. For years, Johana wanted to tell this story, and in order to make it as impactful as possible, she chose the medium of crime fiction.

Johana is a journalist; her research is impeccable. She read through the transcripts of the Nuremberg trials in their entirety. In dispassionate, searingly brave and honest accounts, the victims of these camps tell their stories … the brutality endured, the inhumane conditions, the ‘medical experiments’ undertaken in the name of science and ethnic cleansing; the absolute horror that lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives in disgraceful circumstances. Johana movingly and freely admits that she did not include even 10 percent of what she learned, its nature so deeply troubling. But what Johana did do was transport us to Buchenwald, where we visit that small percentage of the travesties experienced. And it makes very grim, eye-opening and distressing reading.

Then Johana took this one step further. By setting just one example of the multitudinous evils perpetrated in a modern-day milieu, she sends a stark message. We are disgusted, sickened and outraged by what we read. From a contemporary perspective, these are unacceptable acts of violence and they provoke all sorts of emotions. And yet therein lies the point; acts like these were a daily occurrence in the Nazi concentration camps, and by revisiting them in our own time, in our own world, we are starkly reminded of horrors that should never be forgotten. As I said earlier, sometimes we need to be shocked to understand … in this case, very real atrocities from the past.

The violence described in Block 46 is not for the faint-hearted, but it serves a critical purpose, and it is, ultimately, a tribute to those victims, those who lost their lives, those who survived – and at what cost – at concentration camps like Buchenwald. And it goes further. Through the lens of a stunning plot, some exceptional writing, and an absolutely page-turning read, the very nature of evil is examined – what makes a man or a woman evil? What factors can push the bar of normal, decent behaviour so low that barbarity becomes acceptable? Can evil be inherited? How can ordinary, ostensibly decent people be encouraged not just to perpetrate sickening acts of violence but to embrace them and collectively push them to their limits? All of this and more underlies Block 46

And so when I hear murmurs (as publishers do) that Block46 contains gratuitous violence, I want to present a vehement argument in its defence. When I see a one-star review for this book on Goodreads, suggesting that it is ‘torture porn masquerading as crime fiction’, I know that this reviewer did not read the book in its entirety, because anyone who does will be stunned, moved and changed by doing so. Block 46 might be crime fiction, but it is much, much more than that, and it is a triumphant, if distressing, reminder of something in our not-so-distant past that we must not ever forget. Across the history of the genre, some of the very best crime fiction serves to highlight societal issues and wrongs, and through the medium of entertainment we learn; our thoughts are provoked and our eyes are opened. Block 46 does just that. So when the sickening acts are described – dispassionately, as they were by those who recounted their own experiences – remember that not so long ago what you are reading really happened."

Karen Sullivan, publisher of Orenda Books

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

Follow her on Twitter @JoGustawsson