Tuesday, 14 July 2020

How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister @GillianMAuthor #HowToDisappear @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #BookReview

Lauren's daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara's identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back.
The only choice is to disappear.
To keep Zara safe, Lauren will give up everything and everyone she loves, even her husband.
There will be no goodbyes. Their pasts will be rewritten. New names, new home, new lives.
The rules are strict for a reason. They are being hunted. One mistake - a text, an Instagram like - could bring their old lives crashing into the new.
They can never assume someone isn't watching, waiting.
As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is harder . . .

How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister was published in paperback on 9 July 2020 by Michael Joseph /Penguin. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I've been a fan of this author since her very first book. Her crime thrillers are intelligently written, always suspenseful and have that added depth that comes from her legal background.

How To Disappear is no exception. In fact, I'd say that I think it's the best of her books so far. It's a hefty read at over 400 pages, but the reader is drawn in from the very first page, hurtled around as the pace intensifies throughout the story and left with a feeling of satisfaction at the end. This is just what I want from a thriller.

Imagine being told that you have to disappear. You can take two suitcases only. No phone, no laptop, no tablet. Nothing that may identify you. Not only do you have to leave your possessions, but you have to leave your family, your friends, your work. You have to leave your life. There's no going back either, this is not a jaunt, or a holiday, this IS your life, from now on.

Lauren and Zara find themselves in exactly that position. Zara's witness evidence during a murder trial has made her the subject of death threats. If she stays in her life, then it is very possible that she will die. She and her mother Lauren must leave the family home in London and put themselves at the mercy of the People Protection Service. They will have a new home, new identities and a new history. Lauren's husband Aiden is Zara's stepfather, he has a daughter of his own and has to make the heart wrenching decision to stay in London. He cannot abandon daughter Poppy who has issues of her own; caring for a terminally ill mother, along with all of the usual teenage angst.

The reader cannot help but think 'what would I do?' as they read. As Lauren, Zara and Aiden deal with their new situation, in their own ways, we think to ourselves 'why did they do that?', 'what on earth made them think that was a good decision?'. However, it's pretty easy to think those things, as we sit in our comfortable homes, passing judgement. None of us really know what we would do in this situation, and, if by any chance you do know, because you too have been on a Protection Scheme, well, you are not going to admit that .... are you?

The main theme of this story is that of trust and of secrets. All of the characters have their own secrets, and it's clear that none of them feel as though they can trust others. This author packs an emotional punch into her writing too. This is not just a run of the mill thriller, and although the murder case is at the core of the story, it's also a sensitive and well developed look at the ties of family relationships. The parent/sibling relationship is explored so well, in all of its many forms and I was especially impressed by Aiden's daughter Poppy and her feelings of love toward her mother that often battled with a feeling of duty.

How To Disappear delivers it all. Tension, suspense and an intricately woven crime story, accompanied by emotional drama that is totally compelling. I enjoyed this hugely and would highly recommend it.

Gillian McAllister is the Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling author of Everything But The Truth, Anything You Do Say, No Further Questions and The Evidence Against You.

How To Disappear is her latest release, a witness protection thriller.

All of her novels are standalone and can be read in any order. She is published in ten countries around the world. The Good Sister is her US debut, released by Penguin USA, and is the American title for No Further Questions. The Choice is her second American release which is the US title for Anything You Do Say.

You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @gillianmauthor. 

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds @Rod_WR BLOG TOUR @OrendaBooks #BloodRedCity #Giveaway #Competition #Win

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows. When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.
A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds was published digitally by Orenda Books in April this year, the paperback is published on 23 July 2020.

I have one digital copy of Blood Red City to give away today, as part of the Blog Tour.
Entry is simple; just fill out the competition widget in this post.


Praise for Rod Reynolds

‘Brutal, brilliant and razor sharp. Blood Red City is pure adrenaline rush from the first page to the last’ Chris Whitaker
‘A searing, white-hot journey through the dark underbelly of modern London. Bristling with tension, danger and seamed with the constant threat of violence … Blood Red City confirms Rod Reynolds status as one of the greatest crime talents of his generation’ Tim Baker

‘An outstanding page-turner that ratchets up the tension as it builds via a labyrinthine plot towards a satisfying and well-crafted climax … relevant and at times alarming, Blood Red City slaloms its way through the world of social media, geopolitics and hi-tech innovation with compelling conviction’ G.J. Minett
‘A well-researched, complex and fully realised story with three-dimensional lead characters. The creeping tension and mistrust is palpable and there’s an absolutely cracking end reveal’ Shots Magazine

One Digital copy of Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. 
His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); the Guardian have called the books 'Pitch-perfect American noir.' 
A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books published his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City. 
Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. 
Rod lives with his wife and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters. 

Twitter: @Rod_WR

Friday, 10 July 2020

Under A Starry Sky by Laura Kemp @Laurajanekemp BLOG TOUR @orionbooks @AlainnaGeorgiou #UnderAStarrySky

Wanda Williams has always dreamed of leaving her wellies behind her and travelling the world! Yet every time she comes close to following her heart, life always seems to get in the way.

So, when her mother ends up in hospital and her sister finds out she's pregnant with twins, Wanda knows that only she can save the crumbling campsite at the family farm.

Together with her friends in the village, she sets about sprucing up the site, mowing the fields, replanting the allotment and baking homemade goodies for the campers.

But when a long-lost face from her past turns up, Wanda's world is turned upside-down. And under a starry sky, anything can happen...

Under A Starry Sky by Laura Kemp is published by Orion on 9 July 2020. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and invited me to be part of this blog tour

Under A Starry Sky is Laura Kemp's third novel. She is a regular here on Random Things now, I read and reviewed both of her previous books; The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness and Bring Me Sunshine and absolutely loved both of them.

I was so looking forward to Under A Starry Sky and I have not been disappointed in the least. I sat down to begin to read it and didn't look up for over 80 pages. Once more, this extremely gifted author has created a story that readers can lose themselves in. Full of the most colourful and amazing characters who I instantly took to my heart. This is the ultimate in comfort reading; it's funny, it's sad, sometimes it's serious and touches upon some darker issues, but it is always, always heartfelt and uplifting. I felt a little bereft as I turned the final page, I really didn't want this one to end. 

Wanda Williams has always dreamt of travelling. She has a whole route planned, taking in far flung, exotic destinations and experiencing as much as she can whilst she is away. Wanda doesn't want the average sun-lounger holiday, she wants to learn and see and do.

Sadly, her dreams were dashed by a tragic event that affected not just Wanda but the whole community in the small Welsh town of Gobaith. Instead of travel, Wanda has had to make do with arranging exotic holidays for other people as she worked in the Get Lost travel agent. However, years have passed and at last Wanda can go away. Her flat has been rented out and her itinerary is complete, she is on her way.

Nothing ever goes quite right for Wanda though and more family problems mean that once again, her plans are scuppered and she must stay in town. Her mother has fallen and injured her hip and her sister is expecting twins, with no sign of the father on the horizon. It's up to Wanda to rescue the down-at-heel family campsite and make it financially viable. Added to that, she has to deal with faces from the past; Lew, her first love and Annie, her one time best friend. Both have been away, and both are back and there is a lot of lost ground to make up.

Once more, this wonderful author has sold Wales to me and once more I make plans in my head to visit. There is something so special about this story that I find difficult to put into words, I felt a real connection to the characters, I felt their joy and their pain. Their frustrations and difficulties became mine, I was totally absorbed and moved by the spectacular story telling. 

Laura Kemp's characterisation is utterly fabulous. This story is populated by a cast of unique and fascinating characters, on the whole, they are funny and wise and loving, but in the mix there's one or two dubious ones which add such depth to the story. Arthur, the teenage boy, uprooted from London after the death of his mother, and Teg the dog; loyal and loving and a splendid addition to the story.

At its heart, this is a story of community and friendship and love.  The author writes sensitively about darker issues and explores themes of regret and forgiveness. I loved every single word.

Laura Kemp deserves to be up there with the greatest writers of contemporary fiction, she can join Jill Mansell and Veronica Henry with ease.  This is a tenderly written novel, filled with warmth and laughter and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Laura Kemp writes tender but hilarious romantic comedies.

A former journalist, she lives near Cardiff and is ably assisted by her secretary, Ollie the family dog, who, to be honest, isn't the brightest. But we love him anyway.

Follow all her book news at facebook.com/Laurakempbooks or on Twitter @Laurajanekemp

Thursday, 9 July 2020

The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English BLOG TOUR @EnglishRachael @headlinepg #ThePaperBracelet @RandomTTours

For almost fifty years, Katie Carroll has kept a box tucked away inside her wardrobe. It dates from her time working as a nurse in a west of Ireland home for unwed mothers in the 1970s. The box contains a notebook holding the details of the babies and young women she met there. It also holds many of the babies' identity bracelets.
Following the death of her husband, Katie makes a decision. The information she possesses could help reunite adopted people with their birth mothers, and she decides to post a message on an internet forum. Soon the replies are rolling in, and Katie finds herself returning many of the bracelets to their original owners. She encounters success and failure, heartbreak and joy. But is she prepared for old secrets to be uncovered in her own life?

The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English is published in paperback today, 9 July 2020 by Headline. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour.

The Paper Bracelet is a fiction story inspired by true events. I don't think there are many people who are unaware of the terrible and horrifying things that happened to unmarried mothers in Ireland. There have been news reports, and films and books written about this subject, detailing the absolute cruelty dished out to these women.

Rachael English has written a story within The Paper Bracelet that looks at the events through different eyes.

Katie Carroll worked as a nurse for many years at a one of the homes for unwed mothers. During her time there she kept the paper bracelets that the babies born at the home wore, along with a notebook recording details of the women and their babies. Now retired and recently widowed, Katie feels that it's time to try to return these bracelets; to track down those babies.

The reader is also told the story of Patricia, one of the mothers in the home way back then, and it is through Patricia that the real horrors and cruelties are laid bare.

An especially interesting addition to the story is that of the stories of some of those babies; adopted and moved throughout the world, Racheal English gives them all a unique identity, each one of them dealing with life in different ways.

This is, at times, quite heartbreaking to read, it also evoked a lot of anger in me. My own mother was an Irish single mother in the 1960s, I was her baby, and she fought hard to keep me. Sadly, for the majority of unwed pregnant women in Ireland, they didn't get that opportunity and the effects have been long lasting and shameful for the country.

The Paper Bracelet is sensitively and respectfully written by this skilled author. It is a story that shouldn't be hidden away, ever. 

Rachael English is a bestselling novelist and presenter on Ireland's most popular radio show, Morning Ireland. 

During more than twenty years as a journalist, she has worked on most of RTÉ Radio's leading current affairs programmes, covering a huge range of national and international stories.

Author page on Facebook

*** COVER REVEAL ****. Buried Treasure by Gilli Allan #BuriedTreasure @gilliallan #CoverReveal @RandomTTours

I am really happy to be part of the COVER REVEAL for the new, updated cover of BURIED TREASURE by GILLI ALLAN

Jane thinks he sees her as shallow and ill-educated. Theo thinks she sees him as a snob, stuffy and out of touch.
Within the ancient precincts of the university the first encounter between the conference planner and the academic is accidental and unpromising. Just as well there’s no reason for them ever to meet again. But behind the armour they’ve each constructed from old scars, they’ve more in common than divides them. Both have an archaeological puzzle they are driven to solve. As their stories intertwine, their quest to uncover the past unearths more than expected.

Treasure is not always what it seems.

Gilli Allan began to write in childhood - a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. 
Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the imaginary kind.  
After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as an illustrator in advertising and only began writing again when she became a mother. 

Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.

All of her recent books TORN, LIFE CLASS, FLY or FALL and BURIED TREASURE have gained ‘Chill with a Book’ awards.

Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is now also a writer.

Twitter @gilliallan

Monday, 6 July 2020

A Knock On The Door by TW Ellis @twellisbooks @TheTomWood #AKnockOnTheDoor @BooksSphere @millieseaward #BookReview

Your husband isn't who he says he is, say the people at your door. Come with us.

Don't trust them, says a voice on the phone. Run.

Who would you believe?
In this terrifying first psychological thriller by bestselling author T.W. Ellis, one woman goes on the run and is forced to question everything she held dear . . .

A Knock on the Door by T W Ellis is published on 9 July by Sphere. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Jem and Leo Tamhoffer have been married for years. They live in their dream house which was always supposed to be big enough for kids. However, their longed-for family didn't arrive and as a result Jem has become a lonely, anxious figure. She isolates herself away from the community as much as she can, only really venturing out to run a small yoga class. Leo, on the other hand, travels often, worldwide for his wine importing company.

A Knock at the Door takes place over one day, it's a very long and action-filled day which started out pretty normally. Leo is due to leave for England on a business trip and Jem seems to be in a mood, whilst Leo appears to do everything that he can to reassure her, she's edgy.

Just a few minutes after waving goodbye to Leo, there's a knock on the door. This knock is just the beginning of a chain of events that will leave the reader reeling.

The two FBI officers on her doorstep tell Jem that Leo isn't really who she thinks he is. Whilst they are talking, the phone rings and another stranger tells her that those two FBI bods are also not quite who she believes them to be. In a split second, Jem decides to run and from here on the pace never lets up as she plays cat and mouse with people who are determined to track her down.

A Knock at the Door is a thrill a minute, breathtaking read that kept me totally absorbed and entertained throughout. I loved Jem's first person narration, it felt fresh and gave some insight into her personality. There were times when I wanted to scream at her, she makes some decisions that could be disastrous and this adds a layer of intrigue into her character.

The twists and turns along the way make for an absolutely gripping read, we are never quite sure just who is the hero and who are the bad guys.

An absolute killer of a plot with an ending that totally took me surprise, I really didn't see that coming but once you've read it, it all drops into place.

This is a clever, chilling and smart. A sophisticated and complex plot that just keeps giving.

Highly recommended from me.

T W Ellis is a pseudonym for Tom Wood, a full-time writer born in Burton-on-Trent who now lives in London.
After a stint as a freelance editor and film-maker, he completed his first novel, The Hunter, which was an instant bestseller and introduced readers to the antihero assassin Victor.

The Victor novels have sold more than half-a-million copies, and Better Off Dead was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.

A Knock at the Door is his first psychological thriller. 

Twitter @twellisbooks  @TheTomWood 

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Liar by Lesley Pearse BLOG TOUR @LesleyPearse #Liar @MichaelJBooks @ed_pr #MyLifeInBooks #LoveLesley

In a Shepherd's Bush bedsit, Amelia White dreams of being a reporter. The closest she's come is selling advertising in the local paper.
Until the fateful day she stumbles on a truly shocking scoop.
Round the corner from her home, she discovers the body of a murder victim, dumped among the rubbish. When the police and reporters descend, Amelia is horrified at the assumptions made and lies soon to be spread about this poor young woman.
Determined to protect the victim from these smears and help her grieving family, she convinces her paper's editor to allow her to take up her pen and tell the true story.
But when another body is found and the police investigation stalls, Amelia - uncovering new witnesses and suspects in her search for clues - discovers that she may be the only one with any chance of learning the truth and stopping more killings.
If only she can work out who the liar is . . .

Liar by Lesley Pearse was published by Michael Joseph on 25 June 2020.  I've read and loved this book, you can read what I thought when my review is published in the Express later this month.

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

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 - Lesley Pearse

The Prophet by Kahil Gibran
I have been dipping into this beautiful inspirational book all of my adult life. It makes me see what is important in life and gives my soul a massage.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella GibbonsA hilarious classic from the 30’s about country life. My stepmother introduced me to it when I was about fourteen. I’ve read and reread it loads of times. It never fails to make me laugh; in every stage of my life it’s had some new resonance.
Sun Signs by Linda Goodman.First read and loved in 1971 when I was passionate about Astrology, I believe that through reading it I learned to understand people better. I regularly look up the birth signs of new friends in it. Its written in a very entertaining way too. It’s never been out of print.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellFirst read at 13 this magnificent tale of life in the Deep South never palls. I adored Scarlett O’Hara as a girl, yet as a grown woman the selfless Melanie Wilkes was my idol. And Rhett Butler will forever be my ideal man. I feel very sad that people are now seeing it as racist. It tells a sad history of the South, certainly, but my sympathies were totally with the black servants and slaves.  

The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood by Rebecca WestI almost didn’t read it because of the cringe worthy title, but I’m so glad I did. It’s a story of enduring friendships and how grievances daughters have about their mothers should be looked at and overcome.  I have given it to many girlfriends who have issues about their childhood.
Freckles by Gene Stratton PorterI found this book written in 1904 in a junk shop when I was 12. It’s about an orphaned boy with a missing hand. He finds work at ~The Limberlost Forest in Georgia, making sure the fences haven’t been pulled down by robbers intending to steal timber. I cried buckets over it as a girl. The beauty of the forest and its wildlife, and how Freckles overcame his disability has stayed with me for a lifetime. It has a wonderful happy ending.
Girl by Edna O’Brien.This is a more recent read, a fictionalised account of one of 276 young girls who were abducted from their school in Nigeria, by the brutal Boko Harem as wives for the soldiers. The girls had to endure every kind of humiliation and hardship, and many had babies from the men who raped them.  Some eventually found their way home, only to be ostracized for becoming ‘Bush Wives’. It is a sad, hard to stomach story, but I believe it needed to be told by such a wonderful writer as O’Brien.  
Little Grey Rabbit and the Weasels by Alison UttleyThis is one of the first books I could read myself and I still love it now. The story is about Little Grey Rabbit, Hare and Squirrel who live together. Little Grey Rabbit is snatched by a family of wicked Weasels who want her to cook and clean for them. There is a marvellous scene when the Weasels insist she sings to them. She straightens her apron and sings Rule Britannia, accentuating the line ‘Britons Never Shall be Slaves.’ She is rescued by Wise Owl and he orders the Weasels to be gone by morning, or he will make a meal of them. I adore the story and the beautiful illustrations.

My fabulous Lockdown reads. Both in their own way stories of endurance, loneliness and fear. Emotions I think most of us felt at some time.  
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensA fabulously evocative tale of Kya a young girl left on her own in a ramshackle cabin in the swamps of North Carolina. It is as much a story of wildlife as the power of the human spirit to survive. It is about resilience, hope, love and loss. I was swept away entirely by it, almost smelling the marshes and hearing the cries of birds.  
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy LefferisNuri and Afra are Syrian refugees and this is their story of how they got to the UK and sought asylum. Afra lost her sight in a bomb blast, along with her seven-year-old son, and Nuri her husband, the beekeeper protects her as they go through so many nightmarish incidents. But the beauty of this story is in the writing, you can see how Aleppo was before the bombing, taste the food Nuri describes and feel you know his beloved bees. A truly gorgeous read which I think will stay with me forever.
Lesley Pearse - July 2020 

Lesley Pearse was told as a child that she had too much imagination for her own good. When she grew up she worked her way through a number of jobs, including nanny, bunny girl, dressmaker and full-time mother, before, at the age of forty-nine, settling upon a career that would allow her gifts to blossom: she became a published writer. 
Lesley lives in Devon and has three daughters and three grandchildren.

Find out more about Lesley and keep up to date with what she's been doing:

Follow her on Twitter @LesleyPearse

Follow her on Facebook @LesleyPearseAuthor

Sign up for her newsletter www.lesleypearse.com