Friday, 13 July 2018

Canons: The Myths @canongatebooks #Canons #TheMyths #Giveaway #Win

I'm delighted to introduce the new Canons : The Myths collection on Random Things today. Published by Canongate in August 2018, this is a beautiful paperback collection, priced at £9.99 each

I have a complete collection of the books to give away to one reader. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post. UK entries only, the competition will run for one week.  GOOD LUCK!

Bold retellings of legendary tales, by the world’s greatest contemporary writers

At Canongate, when a book joins the Canon series, it’s because they believe it’s a book without boundaries: ambitious, exhilarating and finely crafted.

* The Myths have already sold over half a million copies in the UK.
* The Penelopiad is shortlisted for the Harper’s Bazaar Modern Classic in
Hearst Big Book Awards 2018.
* The six most popular myths have been beautifully packaged in a stunning series redesign.

The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood

Penelope's slyly brilliant side of the story, from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Handmaid's Tale.

‘As potent as a curse’ The Times

A Short History of Myth, Karen Armstrong

Surprising, powerful and profound, A Short History of Myth examines the world's most ancient art form - the making and telling of stories - and why we still need it.

‘Witty, informative and contemplative’ New York Times

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman

The number one Sunday Times bestseller, which sold over 180,000 copies. In Pullman's hands, this sacred tale is reborn as one of the most enchanting, thrilling and visionary stories of recent years.

‘A fierce and beautiful book which . . . will move even those who disagree with it’ Observer

Weight, Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson’s retelling of the myth of Atlas and Heracles asks difficult and eternal questions about the nature of choice and coercion. Visionary and inventive, Weight turns the familiar on its head to show us ourselves in a new light.

‘Profound and provocative’ Daily Mail

Girl Meets Boy, Ali Smith

A bold and joyous retelling of Ovid’s Metamorphoses by the award-winning, bestselling author of How to be Both.

‘Exuberant . . . Slender, sweet natured and lyrical’ Guardian

Lion’s Honey, David Grossman

A daring retelling of the story of Samson, from the author of the Man Booker International Prize-winning A Horse Walks Into a Bar.

‘A master of the emotionally accurate and significant. His characters don't so much lie on the page as rise before the reader's eyes’ Yann Martel

Publication date: August 2018 
Format: B Format Paperback 
Price: All £9.99

The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood / 978 1 78689 248 5 
A Short History of Myth, Karen Armstrong / 978 1 78211 890 9 
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman / 978 1 78689 195 2 
Weight, Jeanette Winterson / 978 1 78689 249 2 
Girl Meets Boy, Ali Smith / 978 1 78689 247 8 
Lion’s Honey, David Grossman / 978 1 78689 338 3

A Full Set of Canons : The Myths

Thursday, 12 July 2018

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson @millyjohnson @TeamBATC @simonschusterPR #Giveaway #Win

Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change.

Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks.

But soon Marnie finds that Wychwell has claimed her as its own and she is duty bound not to leave. Even if what she has to do makes her as unpopular as a force 12 gale in a confetti factory! But everyone has imperfections, as Marnie comes to realise, and that is not such a bad thing – after all, your flaws are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you.

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is the heart-warming and hilarious new novel from the queen of feel-good fiction – a novel of family, secrets, love and redemption … and broken hearts mended and made all the stronger for it. 

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson is published in paperback by Simon & Schuster today (12 July 2018). My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I have one hardback copy of The Perfectly Imperfect Woman to give away to one reader. Entry is simple; just fill out the competition entry form at the end of this post. UK entries only. The competition will stay open for seven days.

By the end of the first chapter of The Perfectly Imperfect Woman I was craving cheesecake! It was almost midnight and I had to go to bed with the image of a delicious buttery, crumbly based topped with creamy cheese and sharp, sweet fruit on the top and oozing down the sides. Torture, pure torture.

Milly Johnson returns with her trademark Northern wit and humour, her totally relatable characters, her divine settings and her wonderfully creative stories.

Lead character Marnie is a lovable, often vulnerable and naive, but always adorable. She suffers the anguish of failed relationships; a common theme in life. Beginning with a difficult young life with a cold and controlling mother and continuing through female friendships and boyfriends. When the reader meets Marnie she's grieving the end of yet another romance, the loss of her best friend and the instability of having to live in a rented property.

It's not long before Marnie begins to feel a little happier with life, but that doesn't last and it's Lillian, a much older, but feisty lady that Marnie met in an online baking forum who comes to the rescue. Offered the chance of a cottage in a beautiful Yorkshire village, Marnie jumps at the chance.

What follows is a heart warming and uplifting story that will delight fans of this author. Marnie discovers that whilst the village may appear perfect at first glance, there are plenty of residents who are not very sweet at all.

Packed with cheesecake and fun, yet dealing with more serious issues, The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is a joy to read. The author adds a little mystery here and there, with village legends, curses and magic. She will make you belly laugh and she will make you gulp back the sobs.

Delightful, seductive and pure Milly Johnson

One Hardback Copy of The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As well as being an author of 13 published novels, 2 short story books and 2 novellas, she is also a copywriter for the greetings card industry, a joke-writer, a columnist, after dinner speaker, poet, BBC newspaper reviewer, and a sometimes BBC radio presenter.

She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016 and the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015.

She writes about love, life, friendships and that little bit of the magic that sometimes crops up in real life. She likes owls, cats, meringues, handbags and literary gifts - but hates marzipan. She is very short.

Milly's website is

She is on Twitter @millyjohnson
Facebook Book Page

 She also has a monthly newsletter with exclusive, news, offers and competitions.

Milly will be on tour over the next few weeks. Check out the dates here:

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Sticks And Stones by Jo Jakeman @JoJakemanWrites #BlogTour @HarvillSecker @Mia_QS @DeadGoodBooks #SticksAndStones

Imogen’s husband is a bad man. His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son.

In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable: she locks her husband in the cellar. Now she’s in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?

Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman is published by Harvill Secker in hardback on 12 July 2018, and is the author's debut thriller. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and asked me to take part in the Blog Tour.

The story opens with a funeral. Phillip was a well-respected policeman, his death has come as a shock and there are lots of people there to pay their respects. There are also three women in attendance; Imogen, Phillip's wife and mother of his son; Naomi, Phillip's current girlfriend and Ruby, Phillips ex wife. The women are seated apart, but they have a secret that binds them tightly together.

So, the reader knows that Phillip is dead. The author then takes us back a couple of weeks, when Imogen is told by Phillip that she has to leave their house. He wants to sell it and marry Naomi.

Imogen is shattered. Not only has Phillip dumped her for a younger, more beautiful model, he now wants to take her home. Imogen has been Phillip's victim for years, she's not prepared to take anymore.

Sticks and Stone is a fast-paced story that kept me gripped, yet sometimes I wanted to laugh out loud. People may gasp, because this is a story that portrays some of the most vicious, violent and emotionally challenging domestic violence, it shouldn't be funny at all. However, Jo Jakeman has incorporated a dark wit into her writing, and even when a couple of scenes felt just a little too over-the-top, I still wanted to read on.

The author creates her characters extremely well, and I have to admit to having a soft spot for Naomi; she's the 'other woman' but she's suffered just as much as Imogen and she has a sparky, no-nonsense personality that really appealled to me. Ex-wife Ruby is more difficult to warm to, however, she really comes through in the end, despite her misgivings, and to be honest, my own misgivings.

The blackest of comedy, and the darkest of subjects; the author's ability to produce a story that is both funny yet devastating is incredibly clever. It's maybe just a tiny bit too dramatic at times but it's one of those books that hooks, grips and doesn't let go until the revelatory ending.

Jo was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition at the York Festival of Writing. 
Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. 
Sticks and Stones is her debut thriller. 

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @JoJakemanWrites
Find her Author Page on Facebook

Friday, 6 July 2018

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks Translated by Maxim Jakubowski #Keeper #FrenchNoir

Whitechapel, 1888:
 London is bowed under Jack the Ripper s reign of terror. 

London 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before. 

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose? Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down. Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 28 April 2018, it is the second in the Roy and Castells series, following on from Block 46, and was translated from the French by Maxim Jakubowski.

What an amazing, roller-coaster of a read! I settled down to read Keeper whilst I was on holiday in Corfu, and hardly left my seat by the pool for the entire book. It's a story that intrigues, that pulls the reader into its heart. It's grim, dark, and at times, incredibly oppressive, but it's also a novel that made me gasp out loud, and I was completely and utterly under this amazing author's spell throughout the whole story. 

I am a huge fan of dual time frame stories and Keeper is set in 1888 London and 2015 Sweden. This author seamlessly links together two very different places in two very different eras. There is evidence of her meticulous research running through the book as she describes the horror of one of the best-known unsolved murder cases in British history; Jack The Ripper,  and ties it into a very modern murder in Scandinavia

Johana Gustawsson pulls no punches, she doesn't protect her readers from anything. There are some horrific murders committed here, with some dark and twisted characters to boot. Despite this, Keeper is not always oppressive and dark; this author creates characters who are so fully formed that you begin to think that you actually know them, in real life.

Having worked at Rampton Hospital for many years; the 'sister' hospital of Broadmoor, I was intrigued to see how the author would deal with that setting. She did it well, in fact, she did it very well and her portrayal of Richard Hemfield; the convicted serial killer, held in Broadmoor was frighteningly real.

It's difficult to explain how such a grotesque plot line can be so beautifully written. The author has a delicate touch with words, and then, out of nowhere, her writing becomes darker and vicious as she brings the horrific scenes to the reader.

Once again,  Orenda Books have produced a book cover that is stunning and depicts the story within so well. Johana Gustawsson is a brave and talented author, her words are stunning. This is top-quality crime fiction that will delight and satisfy the most discerning reader. An absolute triumph.

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. 

Follow her on Twitter @JoGustawsson

Janice Horton - My Life In Books @JaniceHorton #TheBackpackingHousewife @HarperImpulse

The Backpacking Housewife: 
One mum is leaving it all behind for the adventure of a lifetime… Lorraine Anderson was meant to be making a Sunday roast, not swanning off to Thailand, backpack in hand! But when she finds her husband and her best friend in bed together there’s only one thing to do – grab her passport and never look back! Now, with each mile travelled Lori sheds the woman she once was and finds the woman she was always meant to be. A woman of passion and spirit who deserves to explore the great unknown… and to indulge in the temptation she encounters along the way! 

The Backpacking Housewife by Janice Horton is published today (6 July 2018) by Harper Impulse. To celebrate publication day, I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life in Books.

My Life in Books - Janice Horton

I began reading at an early age and in particular I loved Enid Blyton books – I have a good memory and I can remember being delighted with Noddy books and The Magic Faraway Tree. This led to many hours in my impressionable youth reading Mallory Towers and Famous Five and Secret Seven books. All wonderful. This was in the 1960’s and books would all be borrowed from either the school library or local library. We didn’t have money at home for buying books, although, I would of course have books given to me as presents at Christmas time or for my birthday.

The first children’s novel that made a big impression on me was Heidi by Joanna Spyri. I loved Heidi so much I must have read it over and over. I so wanted to be her best friend. This was the first time I’d really identified with a fictional character as if they were a real person.

I then went on to discover Ruby Ferguson. Ruby Ferguson wrote a series of ‘Jill’ pony books and I devoured them. I didn’t just want Jill to be my friend – I wanted to be her – and told everyone I’d changed my name from Janice to Jill. My mother wasn’t impressed!

Many years later, I discovered that Ruby Ferguson also wrote romance novels and romantic suspense novels as R.C. Ashby (her maiden name). They were written many years before her ‘Jill’ pony books in the late 1930’s and 1940’s and 1950’s. Over the years, I made a point of sourcing and reading them. I now have a lovely collection of Ruby Ferguson first editions. Now that I’m travelling, they are some of the few and precious books that I have in storage.

Janice's collection of Jill books 

As a young woman, I read and loved both the classics like Wuthering Heights and Madame Bovary as well as the big epic bonkbuster novels of the day and they all opened my eyes to a very different world than my own. Books like The Thorn Birds by Collen McCullough (1977). A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford (1979). Mistral’s Daughter by Judith Krantz (1982). All and anything by Jackie Collins. I called my first dog Cleo (a little Yorkshire Terrier) after the heroine in the Jackie Collins book that I happen to be reading at the time. Several years ago, I had a little West Highland Terrier called Ruby and named after Ruby Ferguson.

Clearly, some books and authors and characters stay in my heart!

Then I discovered Jilly Cooper in 1985 when Riders came out and I’ve probably now read everything she’s ever written both before and after Riders. I have many of her books – mostly in first edition – in my precious book boxes in storage. I love her author voice, her wit, her characters that seem so real and the glamourous country settings and animals – especially horses – in her stories.

Janice's Jilly Cooper collection

These days I read widely. I enjoy many genres and many different authors. I adore women’s commercial fiction and chick-lit but I also love action packed adventure novels and historical fiction and biographies. I read both traditionally published books and I also read indie ‘self-published’ books in equal measure. It’s not how they are published that is important but how they are written.

What am I reading right now? Pharaoh by Wilbur Smith

Janice Horton writes contemporary romantic fiction with a dash of humour and a sense of adventure. 
In 2014, as empty-nesters, Janice and her husband set off to explore the Caribbean. 
In 2015, they returned to the UK only to sell their material possessions in favour of travelling around the world. 
To date they have explored over 50 countries and are still travelling. 
Janice's new and exciting 2018 summer release is from Harper Impulse ' The Backpacking Housewife'. 

Look out for her bestselling romantic adventure novels - 'Bagpipes and Bullshot' and 'Reaching for the Stars' and 'Castaway in the Caribbean' - a #1 Kindle Bestseller shortlisted for the prestigious Love Story Awards. 

Janice also writes under the author name of Janey Travis. Look out for her fun romantic comedy 'I Need a Doctor'. 

Janice blogs about travel and books from her website at and you'll also find her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds #BlogTour @Rod_WR @faberbooks #MyLifeInBooks

No one wanted to say it to me, that the girls were dead. But I knew.
Late 1946 and Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie have returned to Los Angeles, trying to stay anonymous in the city of angels.
But when Yates, back in his old job at the Pacific Journal, becomes obsessed by the disappearance of two aspiring Hollywood starlets, Nancy Hill and Julie Desjardins, he finds it leads him right back to his worst fear: legendary Mob boss Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel, a man he once crossed, and whose shadow he can't shake.
As events move from LA to the burgeoning Palace of Sin in the desert, Las Vegas - where Siegel is preparing to open his new Hotel Casino, The Flamingo - Rod Reynolds once again shows his skill at evoking time and place. With Charlie caught between the FBI and the mob, can he possibly see who is playing who, and find out what really happened to the two girls?

Last Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds is published today (5 July 2018), by Faber and is the third in the Charlie Yates series.
As part of the Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today, he's talking about the books that are special to him in My Life In Books

My Life In Books - Rod Reynolds

I've always been a big reader, and some of my earliest memories are the cliché-brought-to-life of hiding under my duvet trying to read one more chapter of whatever book I had on the go - probably a Famous Five or Secret Seven or similar.

I was so hooked on reading, in fact, that I almost set fire to my bedroom as a kid; I had a little desk lamp on the shelf next to my bed and I used to turn it around and press the bulb to the wall so my mum wouldn't see the light - not realising, of course, that it would burn right through the 1980s wallpaper. The big black scorch-mark was something of a giveaway, the next morning, of what I'd been up to...

The only period in my life when I wasn't reading as much was at university, but I realise now it's because I'd become terrible at choosing books I'd enjoy.
So when a friend gave me James Ellroy's The Cold Six Thousand shortly after I graduated, it was a revelation. This was like nothing I'd ever read before - so intense, so visceral, almost impenetrable and yet so rewarding - and it reignited my love for books. I devoured everything of his I could get my hands on, and was still hungry for more.

The trouble is that Ellroy is unique; so perhaps that's why David Peace became such an important author to me, when I discovered his Red Riding Quartet a while later. Here was a writer offering similar power, bleakness and cruelly beautiful prose, but showing it could be applied just as effectively to stories set in this country.

Discovering Ellroy also led me backwards in time, as I sought out the writers he cited as influences - particularly Hammett, Chandler, and Ross Macdonald. I became a fan of all three, but if I had to pick just one of their books that stayed with me, it would have to be Chandler's The Big Sleep, simply because of how it established so many of the 'rules' that came to characterise the genre.

From there I branched out again, looking for more contemporary writers, and that's when I stumbled across James Lee Burke's The Neon Rain. Burke has a very different style to those above, of course, but that was what made me appreciate his genius - he conveyed the same passion and intensity, but using description and setting to do so in a much more understated way.

The books I write are set in post-war USA, and one of the reasons I became interested in the period was Joseph Kanon's The Good German. Set in Berlin immediately after WW2, it's one of the most immersive and transporting books I've ever read - and with a satisfyingly complex, but credible, plot.

I studied for a Masters degree in creative writing and was introduced to a slew of new writers as part of my reading for the course. The one that stood out most of all was Kate Atkinson, and her novel Case Histories. The literary tone of the book made this the PI tale brought into the real world, and her hero Jackson Brodie embodies what an authentically flawed protagonist should look like.

One of the great privileges of being an author is that books regularly arrive on your doorstep from your own or other publishers, and that was how I came to read Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt & The Bohemian Highway. Gran takes incredible risks with her eponymous protagonist, and makes her all the more compelling for it. This was different to almost anything I'd ever read, and memorable for it; and with its hints at the supernatural sitting comfortably in a crime novel, a book that was maybe ahead of its time.

I'd been a fan of Don Winslow's for ages, so was eagerly waiting for The Cartel when it came out a couple of years ago - and it did not disappoint. It's surely the sign of a great writer that he can produce such an incredible follow-up to a book as iconic as The Power of the Dog. The Cartel is brutal, vivid, complex and epic, and all the more powerful a read because it is based on Winslow's meticulous research of the tragic history of The War on Drugs.

Rod Reynolds - July 2018 

Rod Reynolds was born in London and, after a successful career in advertising, working as a media buyer, he decided to get serious about writing. 

He recently completed City University's Crime Writing Masters course and his first novel, THE DARK INSIDE, was published by Faber in 2015. 
The sequel, BLACK NIGHT FALLING, followed in August 2016. 
Rod lives in London with his wife and two daughters. 
Contact him on Twitter: @Rod_WR

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Madeleine Editions - Tales in Music - The Little Baby Airplane

I'm delighted to feature The Little Baby Airplane here on Random Things today. This book is part of the Tales in Music series from Madeleine Editions; an indie children's publishing company based in Paris.

Madeleine Editions specialise in high quality, multilingual Tales In Music - magical ebooks where story, music and moving pictures come together. They are available in English, French and Chinese and one title is published each month. The Little Baby Airplane was published in June 2018.

You can find out more about Madeleine Editions, how they began, and their other titles at their website

There's also a great Facebook page - find it at
They also have some great pictures and illustrations on their Instagram account @madeleine_editions

Samples of all of the books can be downloaded at the iBooks store.