Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Don't Think A Single Thought by Diana Cambridge @DianaCambridge @LouiseWalters12 #DontThinkASingleThought

1960s New York, and Emma Bowden seems to have it all – a glamorous Manhattan apartment, a loving husband, and a successful writing career. But while Emma and her husband Jonathan are on vacation at the Hamptons, a child drowns in the sea, and suspicion falls on Emma. As her picture-perfect life spirals out of control, and old wounds resurface, a persistent and monotonous voice in Emma’s head threatens to destroy all that she has worked for... Taut, elegant and mesmerising, Don’t Think a Single Thought lays bare a marriage, and a woman, and examines the decisions – and mistakes – that shape all of our lives. Diana Cambridge is an award-winning journalist. She has written for many national newspapers and magazines, gives regular writing workshops, and is a Writer-in-Residence at Sherborne, Dorset. She is Agony Aunt to Writing Magazine. She lives in Bath. Don’t Think a Single Thought is her first novel.

Don't Think A Single Thought by Diana Cambridge was published by Louise Walters Books in August last year.

I set myself a goal a few months ago to buy at least one book per month from a small independent publisher. Don't Think A Single Thought was one of those purchases. It's not always easy to fit my purchased books into my reading schedule, but I will read them, and review them all.

Don't Think A Single Thought is a novella at just 190 pages and whilst it is a work of fiction, the author was inspired to write it by the life of Manhattan author Sue Kaufman, who died forty years ago. Sue Kaufman's 1967 novel Diary of a Mad Housewife was adapted for film in 1970.

Diana Cambridge is a fine and extremely talented author. This, her debut novel is remarkably assured, and despite the shortness in length, there is a strength to this story that is powerful.

Emma is married to a wealthy and successful surgeon, they live a life of glamour, with a flat in Manhattan and holidays in the Hamptons. However Emma struggles with life; her fragile mental state, including flashbacks to her troubled childhood overpowers everything that she does. She's not a failure herself; having written a much acclaimed novel, yet her self-doubt and insecurity stops her from enjoying any success and casts a shadow upon her marriage.

The reader is only privy to Emma's own thoughts as the story is told totally from her point of view. This could feel flat, but in fact, adds a dimension of tension and suspicion to the narrative. It becomes clear that Emma is far from a reliable narrator, and the reader must judge carefully when listening to her voice.

One of the author's greatest skills is that she's conveyed every single one of Emma's increasingly troubled emotions so well, yet she doesn't write in the first person. The reader begins to feel voyeuristic, as though we really shouldn't be there. Emma's rawest of moments are so beautifully detailed, yet somehow, there is also a distance ... Emma often appears cold and quite heartless, but peel away at her many layers and an often frightened, confused and incredibly complex woman appears.

Set during one of my favourite periods; the 1960s, through to the 70s, the author's sense of place is intense. The glamour and glitz of the upper classes; the food, fashion and conversations of the highly privileged and quite self-absorbed characters within the book are refreshing, despite their obvious show of superiority and certainty of their special rights. The reader also meets some of the less fortunate too, as Emma recounts her early years and then meets up with her estranged sister later in the story. The absolute contrast between the high-living Hamptons and the trailer parks of the disadvantaged is so very well described, and adds yet another layer to the story.

Beautifully and compassionately written, Don't Think A Single Thought is an excellent depiction of flawed character and someone hiding within plain sight. Exquiste and a joy to read.

"Strange and bewitching" The Lady magazine
"Immersive, gripping... A well-crafted, slow burn story of a talented woman haunted by the conflicts of emotion and ambition – and by her own imagination" Jay Merrick, author of Horse Latitudes
"A chilling page turner set in the playgrounds of the New York rich and famous, where a wealthy doctor's wife is driven to the brink of madness by a horrific childhood memory" Sharon Churcher, author of New York Confidential
"This slim, elegant novel is a delight" Gail Aldwin, author of  The String Games

Diana lives in Bath. She is a journalist, tutor, editor, radio presenter, and Agony Aunt to Writing Magazine.
Her debut novel Don't Think a Single Thought was published on 26th September 2019. 
Diana tweets @DianaCambridge

Diana's favourite novel is The Magus by John Fowles, and her favourite novella is The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark. Her top poet is Philip Larkin.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Beast by Matt Wesolowski BLOG TOUR @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks - guest review from @eksorsist #TheBloke #DeadFamous #SixStories

Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories…

In the wake of the 'Beast from the East' cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old Vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as 'The Vampire Tower', where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged 'cult', were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a 'prank gone wrong'
However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton's death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire…

Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society's desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…

Beast by Matt Wesolowski was published in paperback on 6 February 2020. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

#TheBloke - Martin - @esksorsist

Also, a huge thanks to my guest reviewer on Random Things today.

Welcoming back #TheBloke, otherwise known as Martin, my husband - he's a huge fan of Matt's writing and the Six Stories series.

I'm delighted to share his review here today.

So, here we are, just over a year on from my first - where has that time gone..??

Once again I will attempt to review the latest episode of ‘six stories’ by Matt Wesolowski - BEAST.
This is the fourth novel in the excellent and unique six stories series. Scott King, the elusive online journalist, once again peers beneath the surface of another bizarre case, where things are not necessarily all they appear. By interviewing six witnesses connected with the victim and killers, through six podcasts, we learn answers to questions raised regarding the grisly death of Elizabeth Barton, a successful vlogger on the rise to internet notoriety.

I’m sure most people can recount a story from their locale, of some old derelict building, or an eerie forest, that has some myth and folklore surrounding it - be it a haunting, sightings, strange noises etc. Look for it, and almost all towns & cities will have a ghost walk for visitors.

In Beast we have the Tankerville Tower, a crumbling scar on the landscape of the Northumbrian coast, close to the small town of Ergarth. Referred to locally as the ‘vampire tower’, it is synonymous with the legend of the ‘Ergarth vampire - Vladlena’ the beast from the East, dating back to the 1800’s. It was difficult for me not to visualise Whitby abbey, particularly with the whole vampire angle.

During our very own ‘beast from the east’ cold spell that crippled much of England during early 2018, the body of Lizzie B, aka Elizabeth Barton is found seemingly barricaded in the tower, frozen to death......

Three local youths are subsequently convicted of her gruesome murder, siting ‘a prank gone wrong’ as their only defence.

A year on, graffiti scrawled over the Barton family house peaks the interest of Scott King to dig a little deeper into the case, interviewing people associated with the victim & alleged killers. Over the course of these six interviews, he uncovers new and disturbing insights into the case, ultimately leading to an equally disturbing conclusion. In a society where popularity, validation and attention through numerous forms of social media, now seems the be all & end all for many, Beast gives a powerful insight to the possible consequences.

Matt has created another stunning addition to this very engaging series, again tackling some very thought provoking subjects on human behaviours and the long term impact they can have. Interweave some mystery and a touch of the occult / horror and it leads to another captivating read.

Want to know ‘who locked Lizzie in the tower?’...... buy, read and enjoy!

I have been Martin Cater, and this has been our second

Until next time....

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller. Changeling, book three in the series, was published in 2019 and was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and shortlisted for Capital Crime’s Amazon Publishing Reader Awards in two categories: Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.
Follow Matt on Twitter @ConcreteKraken

Orenda Books is a British-based publishing house that publishes literary and crime fiction. The London-based publisher was established in 2014 and publishes debut and existing authors

My Life in Books with Author Caroline England / Caro Land @CazEngland #Convictions #MyLifeInBooks

An occasional feature on Random Things
Talking to people from the book world about 'My Life in Books'

I am delighted to welcome author Caroline England, also know as Caro Land to Random Things today.

She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life in Books .

Convictions by Caro Land was published in January 2020

There are two sides to every crime…
Returning home to care for her ill mother, and approaching her fortieth birthday, Natalie Bach is devastated when she’s dumped without explanation by her long-term boyfriend. 
Struggling to pick herself up, she’s offered her old job at Goldman Law. Jack Goldman’s estranged son Julian has been arrested for attempted murder and he wants Natalie to find out why. 
With the help of fellow solicitor Gavin Savage, Natalie sets out to investigate, but with a series of red herrings ahead, will she ever discover the truth? 
And can Natalie avoid her personal problems interfering with the case? 
Convictions is the first book in a gripping new legal, crime suspense series written by bestselling author Caroline England, writing as Caro Land. It will appeal to fans of authors like Diane Jeffrey, Samantha Hayes and K.L. Slater.

My Life in Books - Caroline England / Caro Land

The Stud by Jackie Collins.  This might seem a surprising choice but it did have an impact at school. I lent my copy to a friend who had it confiscated when she was skiving the dreaded freezing swimming lesson. Reading about sex was akin to possessing Class A drugs. A SWAT team descended and lockers throughout the whole school were searched for similar shameful reading matter. Because I loved books so much, I always capitalised my name on the first page. Little did I know it would be officially printed one day! In this instance, however, it was a bad move. To ingratiate myself with the English teacher, Mrs Onac, I made more of an effort in the classroom and I discovered ‘the more one puts in, the more one gets out’ was actually very true. In addition to that, who doesn’t like a bit of romantic scandal? Though classed as ‘crime’, all my books have some, especially MY HUSBAND’S LIES…

Switch Bitch by Roald Dahl. See above. My copy was confiscated at the same time as The Stud. Oh no; sex again! But these dark tales with their delicious spiteful twists were just perfect, and they have undoubtedly influenced my writing, particularly my own short story collections WATCHING HORSEPATS FEED THE ROSES and HANGED BY THE NECK

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. This is the book we were studying when I tried to become teacher’s pet. I still find it astonishing that a book published in 1874 had such a feminist heroine. Bathsheba is ambitious, independent, headstrong, determined, and free-spirited. From the very beginning, she makes it known that she could never become any man’s property. I know things go somewhat awry, but go Bathsheba! My latest novel, CONVICTIONS, written under my pen name Caro Land, has feisty feminist but vulnerable solicitor protagonist too.

The Hawk in the Rain by Ted Hughes. One of my favourite poets, not lessened by the fact that I saw him perform ‘live’ when I was at school. I can clearly remembering him explaining the background to The Thought-Fox and then reading it in that deep, yet soft timbre. I was mesmerised and he was my first Yorkshireman crush. I don’t think I would have written short stories, then novels, had I not begun by writing poetry. As it happens, another handsome Yorkshireman is the love interest in BETRAY HER!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I studied this for A Level, as did my three daughters. My teacher, John Billington, was just brilliant. Not only was he a great tutor, he was a buddhist with charismatic mystique. We all wanted to listen to his peals of wisdom and learn. I was so honoured that he read my debut BENEATH THE SKIN and wrote: “I admired the sheer confidence of your style and the assurance of your dialogue -- very impressive -- as well as the dexterity of your complex
plotting. And your insight into character is both astute and alarming! It is decades since I heard my mother say to my father "I can read you like a book!" when she discovered some minor hidden and innocuous secret (smuggling in a second-hand book usually), and I remember how as a child the possibility that women might have some X-ray capacity to read the minds of mere two-dimensional males haunted me. What on earth was Caroline thinking as she sat in my A level class! Dread to think.”

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I found the novel both enthralling and terrifying on so many levels. My latest psychological thriller BETRAY HER is partially set in a boarding school. Whilst my protagonist Jo didn’t have to go through even a fraction of what Offred suffered, there are most definitely some parallels between a totalitarian state and the boarding school I went to. Not to mention the real life Aunt Lydias!

The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley. I love the fact Mary Wesley wasn’t published until she was seventy. This makes me feel very young after all! I devoured all these books when they were published. I loved the quirky characters and surprisingly risqué storylines and though my novels are classed as crime, I hope some of her influences have rubbed off in my CONVICTIONS cast.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. It’s wonderful that a lauded literary writer like Kate Atkinson was happy to turn to crime! I aspire to her blend of contemporary literary and crime fiction in these Jackson Brodie novels. One of the reviews of Case Histories said it was a ‘wonderfully tricky book’. I like that! The television adaptations were great and the casting of Jason Isaacs as the world weary but attractive Jackson was inspired.

Wolf Comes to Town by Denis Manton. This children’s picture book is about a wolf who dresses in human clothing to hoodwink his gullible victims. He steals guitars, saucepans, lamb chops, ice-cream and valuable art. Pet cats began to disappear, then dogs and ducks and finally an obnoxious little boy called Bernard. I must have read this book a million times to my daughters. They were thrilled that the wolf got away! I think it appeals to my dark humour which is always threatening to escape. You’ll definitely find some of it in my new legal drama CONVICTIONS…

Caroline England / Caro Land - February 2020 

Born in Sheffield, Caroline studied Law at the University of Manchester and stayed over the border. Caroline was a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer. She turned to writing when she deserted the law to bring up her three lovely daughters. Caroline has had short stories and poems published in a variety of literary publications and anthologies. 

Caroline writes domestic psychological thrillers. Her debut novel, BENEATH THE SKIN, known also as THE WIFE'S SECRET in eBook, was published by Avon HarperCollins in October 2017. Her second novel, MY HUSBAND'S LIES, followed in May 2018 and became a Kindle top ten bestseller. Her latest novel, BETRAY HER, published by Piatkus of Little, Brown Book Group, is now available as an eBook, audiobook and trade size paperback. The standard UK paperback will be published on the 9th July 2020.

Caroline has two dark, twisty short story collections available on Amazon, both in eBook and paperback, WATCHING HORSEPATS FEED THE ROSES and HANGED BY THE NECK.

Caroline also writes under the pen name Caro Land. Her first Natalie Bach legal suspense, CONVICTIONS, was published by Bloodhound Books in January 2020. The follow up, CONFESSIONS, will publish in June 2020

Twitter @CazEngland

Monday, 17 February 2020

The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd BLOG TOUR @samlloydwrites @TransworldBooks #Giveaway #RandomThingsTours #Competition #TheMemoryWood

Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.
Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.
When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.
Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.
As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .

The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd is published in hardback by Bantam Press / Transworld on 20 February 2020.

I am delighted to kick off the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour for the Memory Wood today and have one hardback copy to giveaway.
Entry is really simple; just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post. UK entries only.



‘Beautifully told, with two superbly drawn young protagonists, Lloyd is a rare new thriller talent’ Daily Mail
'An intense, atmospheric, and truly original thriller' Shari Lapena, author of The Couple Next Door
Brilliant writing, a terrifying story, and characters so real it feels like you know them. If you enjoy dark, twisty thrillers that stay with you, read this book’ Samantha Downing, author of My Lovely Wife
'Remarkable. Stunning prose and compulsive reading. It's undoubtedly the best thriller I've read in a long, long time' Lesley Kara, author of The Rumour
'I haven't read anything quite this exciting since Room. You think all the stories have been told, then something like this comes along' Emma Curtis, author of The Night You Left
'I was captivated by The Memory Wood – a beautifully told, dark and chilling tale’ Renee Knight, author of Disclaimer
'The Memory Wood is impossible to put down. It's so wonderfully written, creepily atmospheric and chilling' Karen Hamilton, author of The Perfect Girlfriend

One Hardback Copy of The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd

Note from the Author

I already had my crime scene. Pretty soon, I had my protagonist: thirteen-year-old chess prodigy Elissa Mirzoyan, a quietly precocious girl who wakes underground after being snatched on the most important day of her life. Her determination to survive the coming ordeal wouldn’t be driven by mere instinct. It would come from a flat-out refusal to leave her mum alone in the world, and would be tempered by a ferocious hunger for vengeance. Plotting a novel, for me, always feels more like
a process of investigation than invention – the slow reveal of a dirt-covered mosaic. And as I teased out more of this story’s individual tiles, I learned something even more compelling about Elissa’s plight. While engaging her abductor in increasingly dangerous mind games, she’ll face a separate threat even harder to navigate. It’ll come in the form of a frail young boy, Elijah North, who discovers her subterranean prison while playing in his local woods. Steadily, Elissa will gain Elijah’s trust. But when she persuades him to raise the alarm, he’ll return with a tale too outlandish to be credible. More of the mosaic revealed itself, at which point I learned something about the story that knocked me flat. And then I had to write the book, just to find out how it ended... 

Sam Lloyd grew up in Hampshire, making up stories and building secret hideaways in his local woods. 
These days he lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and a dog that likes to howl. He enjoys craft beer, strong coffee and (rarely) a little silence. 
The Memory Wood is his debut thriller.

Twitter @samlloydwrites