Friday 23 September 2016

The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney @fionnualatweets

"The day I lost you Anna, was the day you tore our family apart."
The day that Jess's daughter, Anna, is reported lost in an avalanche is the day that changes everything.
Left to explain her absence to Anna's five-year-old daughter, Rose, Jess isn't yet ready to admit to herself that her daughter might not be coming back. But Anna's disappearance has opened a Pandora's Box of lies and Jess begins to discover that she never really knew her daughter at all.
And when she unearths a secret that could irrevocably change her world and her family, she has to decide whether a mother's love is unconditional - and she can forgive Anna anything. 

The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney was published by Harper in paperback on 22 September 2016 and is the author's second novel. I read and reviewed her first, You, Me and Other People on Random Things in June 2015.

The Day I Lost You is a story of relationships. How they begin, how they evolve and how they can change so quickly and so dramatically through the revelation of a hidden truth.

Jess and Anna; mother and daughter, but also house-mates and the best of friends. When Anna's father Doug left the family to start a new life, Jess and Anna became a solid unit. Even when, at nineteen, in her first year at university, Anna became pregnant with her daughter Rose, her relationship with Jess remained strong. The three of them; Jess, Anna and little Rose, lived happily together. Their extended family; Jess's sister Leah and her husband Guss, Jess's parents and close friends Theo and Harriet completed the unit.

The day that Jess receives the news that Anna is feared dead, buried under an avalanche whilst on a skiing trip in France with work colleagues is the beginning of the slow deterioration of some of these relationships, but also strengthens others.

Jess doesn't only have to deal with her painful grief, she also has to protect little Rose. When she begins to realise that Anna had kept important and painful secrets from her, she starts to question everything about their relationship.

Fionnuala Kearney is a mother, and it shows in her writing. She has captured that all-consuming parental love and expresses it so beautifully on the page. The reader is exposed to every emotion that Jess experiences as the story progesses. Disbelief, horror, anger and confusion; each emotional trauma is perfectly portrayed.

There are other strands to this story, and at its heart is a mystery that Jess never expected and that slowly unfurls before the author serves up the shocking conclusion.

Jess and Rose are supported throughout the novel by a cast of creatively drawn characters who each have their own story to add to the mix.

Fionnuala Kearney has written another complex story of relationships. Her writing is astute, warm and polished. The plot is compelling and the characters are magnificent.
Accomplished and powerful, this author really is very very talented.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy of The Day I Lost You for review.

Fionnuala Kearney lives in Ascot with her husband. They have two grown-up daughters (both with deliberately simple monosyllabic names).
One of seven children, Fionnuala likes to write about the nuances and subtle layers of human relationships, peeling them away to see what's really going on beneath.

For more information visit
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @fionnualatweets


Thursday 22 September 2016

The Place That Didn't Exist by Mark Watson @watsoncomedian

Junior creative Tim Callaghan can hardly believe his luck when he's flown out to Dubai to supervise the filming of an advert for an international charity. 
He is immediately entranced by the city - a futuristic environment unlike anywhere he's ever been before, with an almost uncanny level of customer service. 
Shimmering and seductive, it seems as though nothing bad could ever happen in Dubai. 
But when a crew member is found dead in in mysterious circumstances, Tim learns that if a place seems too good to be true, it probably is . . .

The Place That Didn't Exist by Mark Watson was published in hardback by Picador on 14 July 2016,

I have one hardback copy of The Place That Didn't Exist to give away. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post. UK ENTRIES ONLY PLEASE.  Good luck!

Mark Watson is a well-known comedian and writer. His dry wit and sharp sense of humour is apparent throughout The Place That Didn't Exist, although this isn't a comedy-novel. The plot revolves around a murder, but this isn't a crime novel, or a mystery story. It's a really compelling, quite refreshing story about an ordinary guy, in an extraordinary place, in the middle of some very strange goings on.

The lead character, Tim, is an advertising executive. He's creative, full of ideas, but a little bit reserved. He pitched for a big advertising campaign, highlighting the inequalities of poverty throughout the world, and his firm won the contract. Tim finds himself in Dubai, surrounded by high-profile charity campaigners, more than a little strange celebrities and a crew of film-makers.

Dubai is a crazy place. Tim is overwhelmed by the luxury and the wealth. He doesn't even have to turn down his own sheets, everything is provided, every last thing is done for him. This is like nowhere else he's ever been. Unfortunately, not everything is perfect in Dubai, and the ad shoot is rocked when one of the crew is found dead, in one of the perfect chalets, not far away from Tim's.

The Place That Didn't Exist is driven by the characters, who are well-drawn and believable. Alongside the human cast, is the location of Dubai, which is as much a character as Tim and the others. Mark Watson details a peculiar yet very atmospheric place. Starkly clean and clinical, yet teeming with darkness and hidden secrets.

Sharp, well written, astute and clever. The Place That Didn't Exist is a novel with bags of emotion and great shots of warmth. I enjoyed it.

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

One Hardback copy of The Place That Didn't Exist by Mark Watson

Mark Watson is the acclaimed author of several novels, most recently Hotel Alpha and the co-authored (with Oliver Harud) graphic novel, Dan and Sam.
He is also a stand-up comedian and has won numerous awards in Britain and Australia.
He regularly appears on TV, has had his own cult Radio 4 series and been named the Edinburgh Fringe Festival's highest achiever of the decade by The Times, having performed a series of legendery 24-hour shows.

He has a home in north London, but mostly lives in hotels.

Find out more at
Follow him on Twitter @watsoncomedian


Wednesday 21 September 2016

My Life in Books ~ talking to author Gill Paul @GillPaulAUTHOR

My Life in Books is an occasional feature on Random Things Through My Letterbox
I've asked authors to share with us a list of the books that are important to them and have made a lasting impression on their life.

I'm really pleased to welcome Gill Paul to Random Things today.  
Gill is the author of  nine novels as well as a collection of non-fiction books.  I recently read and reviewed her latest novel, The Secret Wife here on Random Things. I also reviewed her non-fiction book, World War I Love Stories back in June 2014

Gill Paul is a Scottish-born, London-based writer of historical fiction and non-fiction. Her novels include Women and Children First (2012), which was shortlisted for an RNA award, The Affair (2013), and No Place for a Lady (2015), which was shortlisted for a Love Stories Award.
Her non-fiction includes A History of Medicine in 50 Objects (2016), World War I Love Stories (2014) and Royal Love Stories (2015).
Gill has written about relationships for a number of newspapers and magazines, and has an occasionally successful sideline in matchmaking.
She swims year-round in an outdoor pond.

For more information about Gill Paul and her writing, visit
Follow her on Twitter @GillPaulAUTHOR

My Life in Books ~ Gill Paul

Heidi by JohannaSpyri This was a book I read and re-read as a child, sobbing every time little Heidi has to leave her grandfather’s cottage in the mountains. I remember vividly the descriptions of her homesickness as she is ill-treated at the house in town where she is employed as a lady’s maid. What completely passed me by at the time was the religious dimension to the story.

Charles II by AntoniaFraser I developed a Charles II obsession as a teenager and read all I could about him. In effect, he was my first proper crush. I particularly liked Antonia Fraser’s biography because she brought the personalities of the mistresses vividly to life: the high-maintenance Louise de Keroualle, whom naughty Nell Gwynne had such cruel nicknames for, and the bad-tempered Barbara Villiers. I had shockingly poor history teachers at school but Antonia Fraser and my mum gave me my love of history.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath As a morose teenager, I was drawn to this book like a moth to a candle and re-read it many times. What might make someone decide to take her own life? Where is the line between sanity and madness? The knowledge that the author did finally succumb to despair makes it all the more compelling and sparked an interest in mental health issues that I retain to this day.

The Women’s Room byMarilyn French I had very low self-esteem in my late teens and early twenties and fell hopelessly in love with a succession of boyfriends who treated me badly. This book marked the beginning of the turnaround, when I realised I didn’t have to put up with cruel behaviour any more. God bless you, Marilyn French.

The Revolution Withinby Gloria Steinem I suspect this might seem quite dated today, but Gloria Steinem’s explanation of how we can nurture our inner child was my first introduction to this key principle of therapy. It’s about developing self-esteem and not feeling we have to slot into predetermined women’s roles or lead conventional lives, and to me it was a revelation.

Birdsong by SebastianFaulks This still crops up on many people’s all-time favourite lists. It’s remarkable for the portrayal of the sheer trauma of war and I can’t remember any other book that has made me cry quite so much. But it is also very influential for the clever structure, dipping backwards and forwards in time to fill out the story. It was hugely influential when I was writing my first novel.

Poisonwood Bible byBarbara Kingsolver I love everything about this: the richness of the language, the growing sense of danger, but most of all for the way the author gives a completely different voice and character to each of her five narrators, the wife and daughters of Nathan Price, a Baptist minister who is trying to convert the people of the Congo in 1958. Barbara Kingsolver is a genius at creating unique, compelling characters. I wish I had a tenth of her talent.

Stet by Diana AthillThis is the memoir of a woman who spent most of her working life as an editor for André Deutsch. I bought it to read her portraits of publishing’s well-known figures and fell in love with her complete candour. She tells uncomfortable truths plainly and without excuse. Her other volumes of memoirs are equally compelling. I love her. I read everything she writes, and often go to her talks. Now 98 years old, she’s a wonderful role model and I’ll be delighted if I manage to be anything like her in my later years.

Gill Paul  ~ September 2016


Tuesday 20 September 2016

Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst @JennyBlackhurst

Karen is meant to be the one who fixes problems.
It's her job, as a psychiatrist - and it's always been her role as a friend.
But Jessica is different. She should be the patient, the one that Karen helps.
But she knows things about Karen. Her friends, her personal life. Things no patient should know.
And Karen is starting to wonder if she should have let her in . . .

Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst is published by Headline in paperback on 3 November 2016 and is the author's second novel. I read and reviewed her first book, How I Lost You in April 2015.

There are some incredibly talented authors being published at the moment. They are writing brilliant psychological thrillers, stories that twist and turn and lead the reader astray. Back in April last year, when I read and reviewed Jenny Blackhurst's debut novel, How I Lost You, I commented that she was a worthy entry to the stable of fine thriller authors. I thought her story was clever and compelling, not without a couple of niggles, but very well done. The story stayed with me, I looked forward to reading her next book.

Before I Let You In does not disappoint, not at all. It's totally compelling, with a fiendishly clever and complex plot and an unreliable narrator whose voice is superb.

Jenny Blackhurst gives us a story about female friendship, her lead characters are perfectly created. Karen, Bea and Eleanor have been close friends for years. They have shared everything; difficult childhoods, education, relationships, jobs. They know each other inside out. Or, so they think. As the reader gets to know each character more closely, we soon realise that each one of them have things to hide, things that hugely affect them, and their relationships.

Karen is the fixer of the trio. A psychiatrist, she spends her working life mending broken people, and this edges over to her private life. She's professional and knows her boundaries, but when a new patient, Jessica Hamilton enters her consulting room, things begin to get sinister.

Karen becomes convinced that Jessica is a danger to her, and to her friends. She knows things. She says things. Slowly and surely, these three women's lives begin to disintegrate. There's a dark, brooding feeling of unease throughout the story, with the reader beginning to distrust everyone.

Before I Let You In is oh so clever. It's unsettling and tense, yet perfectly paced. Chilling and very unsettling, Jenny Blackhurst has most certainly proved that she can write, this is so damn good. I stayed up until the early hours to finish this, and that ending ............. fabulous!

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy of Before I Let You In for review.

Jenny Blackhurst grew up in Shropshire, where she still lives with her husband and children.

Growing up she spent hours reading and talking about crime novels - writing her own seemed like a natural progression. 
Before I Let You In is her second novel.

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


Monday 19 September 2016

Shrill ; Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West @thelindywest

Guardian columnist Lindy West wasn't always loud. It's difficult to believe she was once a nerdy, terror-stricken teen who wanted nothing more than to be invisible. Fortunately for women everywhere, along the road she found her voice - and how she found it! That cripplingly shy girl, who refused to make a sound, grew up to be one of the loudest, shrillest, most fearless feminazis on the internet, making a living speaking up for what's right instead of what's 'cool'.
In Shrill, Lindy recounts how she went from being the butt of people's jokes, to telling her own brand of jokes - ones that come with a meaningful agenda and aren't at someone else's expense. She reveals the obstacles and misogyny she's had to overcome to make herself heard, in a society that doesn't believe women (especially fat women and feminists) can ever be funny.
A catalyst for conversation, West also addresses some of the most burning issues of popular culture today, taking a frank and provocative look at social injustice, racism, fat-shaming, twitter-trolling and even rape culture, unpicking the bullshit and calling out unpalatable truths with conviction, intelligence and a large dose of her trademark black humour.

I'm delighted to share a review of Shrill by Lindy West with Random Things readers today. My guest reviewer, Tracey Sinclair is an author and freelance editor and writer. Her books include the romcom The Bridesmaid Blues and the Dark Dates/Cassandra Bick series, the latest of which, Angel Falls, is out now.

Find out more about Tracey at
Follow her on Twitter @thriftygal   Find her on Facebook
Angel Falls:

I have a hardback copy of Shrill to giveaway to one blog reader. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this piece.  UK ENTRIES ONLY.   Good Luck! 

Shrill : Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West was published in hardback by Quercus on 19 May 2016.

Lindy West is a writer for publications including The Guardian, Jezebel and CQ, and though she remains better known in the US than in the UK, she is increasingly recognised here as a strong feminist voice, admired by writers on both side of the pond such as Caitlin Moran and Lena Durham.

Shrill is part biography, part social commentary, part manifesto. It covers some of the most hot button topics of the day: fat shaming and body acceptance, being a woman in male dominated areas such as comedy and journalism, free speech vs internet trolling (and the toll such abuse takes) and reproductive rights. 

She talks with refreshing frankness about her own life – her abortion, her experiences as a fat woman negotiating a world that expects women to look a certain way or be ashamed of it, her marriage (and other people’s assumptions about it), the loss of her father.

Although throughout West is humane, smart, articulate and funny, the first few chapters feel slightly pat, like a collection of loosely strung together and repurposed blog posts. But as the book goes on it becomes more compelling – I defy anyone to read the chapters about being trolled without being angry and horrified that any woman should have to undergo such an ordeal, let alone the hundreds who are left currently unprotected by the ‘turn a blind eye and take the money’ policies of social media platforms such as Twitter and Reddit.

But it’s also an optimistic book – about family, love and marriage, and above all about how things can get better. West catalogues several times when she herself managed to affect meaningful change, and despite the abuse that’s been thrown at her, remains convinced at the power of speaking up, that one person or small group really can make a difference. 

There are plenty of times you might not agree with her – she’s often reluctant to examine her own prejudices (for instance, she seems unwilling to entertain any discussion about the reasons behind fatness or the health aspects of obesity, which she dismisses brusquely by basically saying thin people aren’t necessarily healthy – which is of course true, but there’s surely a more nuanced discussion around weight to be had), and she sometimes goes for the glib, funny line over the more complicated analysis. But overall this is a thought-provoking, highly entertaining read that firmly establishes her as an important talent.

Huge thanks to Tracey for this great guest review, also thanks to the publisher who sent my copy of Shrill for review.
One Hardback Copy of Shrill ; Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Lindy West is a Seattle-based writer and performer whose work focuses on pop culture, feminism, social justice, humour and body image.
Currently a weekly columnist at the Guardian and culture writer for GQ magazine, she was previously one of the most popular and prolific writers at feminist blog
In January 2015 her exposure was magnified by a segment aired on US national radio in which she confronted an internet troll who'd impersonated her dead father. The podcast and ensuing article went viral and were shared more than 85,000 times worldwide, gaining Lindy countless new followers.
Follow her on Twitter @thelindywest     Find out more at


Sunday 18 September 2016

Nadiya's Bake Me A Story by Nadiya Hussain @BegumNadiya

Join Great British Bake Off sensation Nadiya Hussain for scrumptious stories and delicious bakes that all the family can enjoy.

A unique combination of storybook and cookbook, with all recipes and stories devised and written by Nadiya herself, Nadiya's Bake Me a Story brings families into the kitchen to spend time together sharing stories and cooking.
- Make yummy butter-bean patties and, while they are in the oven, enjoy the story of Jack and the Bean-Patty Stalk
- Meet Ruby-Red and the Three Bears, then bake your Very-Berry muffins
- Join Rapunzel on an adventure, then make her carrot and nutmeg cookies
- Bake some pumpkin and spice flapjacks, then curl up with the tale of Cinderella and her pumpkins
Combining playful photography of Nadiya and her children with vibrant illustrations by Clair Rossiter, this glorious celebration of the joy of sharing food and stories is the perfect addition to every family's kitchen!

Nadiya's Bake Me A Story by Nadiya Hussain and illustrated by Clair Rossiter was published in hardback by Hachette Children's Books on 8 September 2016.

Most people know who Nadiya Hussain is. She's probably the most popular and most successful winner of The Great British Bake Off.  Viewers of the show loved her, and her facial expressions, her highs and her lows during the Bake Off, and her moving winner's speech right at the end.

Nadiya has always credited her success to her husband and her children and Nadiya's Bake Me A Story is dedicated to her three children; Musa, Dawud and Maryann, she says that their love of reading and being to read to whilst she was elbow-deep in the kitchen inspired the book.

"Why can't we read and cook at the same time?" they asked. The rest, they say is history".
This is such a beautifully presented book. I'm a bit of a cookery book addict, it doesn't matter that I don't have children, I've absolutely loved reading this collection of stories and recipes. Yes, I've tried a couple of the recipes, they tasted fabulous .... I don't have photos .... mine did NOT look as wonderful as Nadiya's .... I am not a tidy baker!

There are fifteen lovely stories in this book, some are re-worked versions of well-loved tales, with Rapunzel and the Pied Piper featuring amongst them. Each one is fun and well-written and children will absolutely love them, whether they are being read to, or reading themselves. For each story, Nadiya has created a recipe to go alongside. There are Carrot & Nutmeg Cookies to go alongside Rapunzel's Enchanted Carrots and Zebra Cake is paired up with The Pied Piper and the Stripiest Cake in Town. (I can assure you, the cookies are delicious ... and very moreish!).

Nadiya and her children feature all the way through the book, and it's clear from the photographs that they've had the best fun creating this collection of recipes and stories. Added to the photographs are some stunning illustrations from Clair Rossiter that add a real touch of magic to the book.

This would make the perfect Christmas present for a young baker and especially for fans of The Great British Bake Off.

 Never again will she say she can't. Nadiya can and she will. 

Nadiya Hussain's delicious bakes and desserts, captivating smile and sparkling personality made her a hugely popular winner of 2015's Great British Bake Off.
Her first children's book, Nadiya's Bake Me a Story, will be published in the autumn of 2016, with her cookbook for adults, Nadiya's Kitchen, coming in June 2016. In addition to her books, Nadiya is a columnist for The Times and Essentials, and a regular reporter forThe One Show on BBC One.
Nadiya's family is originally from Bangladesh, where desserts aren't a feature of mealtimes. But, encouraged by a school home economics teacher, Nadiya honed her skills as a baker over ten years and produces fabulous bakes and desserts every day. She also loves to write, having won a National Poetry competition as a child.
Born in Luton, Nadiya lives with her husband, Abdal and is mum to three gorgeous children.
Follow her on Twitter at @BegumNadiya

Clair Rossiter is an artist from just outside London. She specialises in food illustration. Find out more on her website   Follow her on Twitter @ClairRossiter


Saturday 17 September 2016

Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop @VicHislop

Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.
With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.
On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man's odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A's tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.
Beloved, bestselling author Victoria Hislop's Cartes Postales from Greece is fiction illustrated with photographs that make this journey around Greece, already alive in the imagination, linger forever in the mind.

Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop is published by Headline Review in hardback, ebook and audiobook on 22 September 2016.

Check out my thoughts on some of her previous novels on Random Things: The Thread (October 2011); The Last Dance & Other Stories (July 2013) and The Sunrise (September 2014).

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of Greece. I fell in love with that beautiful country, and its people twenty years ago and have been lucky enough to visit twice a year ever since. I haven't really gone off the beaten track, sticking to the islands such as Corfu, Crete, Zakynthos, Kos, Rhodes, Ithaka, Kefalonia, Lefkada and Kos. We always travel early in the season, and then later on and as it's usually fairly quiet, we get to know the locals. Our friends in Arillas, in north-west Corfu are almost like family, we've been visiting them for ten years.

During our late-night discussions, usually over countless glasses of village red wine and shots of Metaxa, or Ouzo, but never, never Tsipouru (evil stuff!), we talk about the economy, politics, family, tradition and generally put the world to rights. In Cartes Postales From Greece, Victoria Hislop brings to life those people that I've come to love, with their incredible hospitality and their zest for life. Their anger at what is happening to their country, their despair about the past, are quite perfectly portrayed.

"Everywhere I stopped strangers talked to me, and many of them told me a story. Their voices poured into the void, filling the silence that you had left.
You will recognise some of the places in the stories, from the postcards.
Who knows if the tales people told me are true or false? I suspect that some of them are complete fabrications, others are exaggerations - but perhaps some of them are real. You can decide."

The story begins with Ellie, and the mysterious postcards that arrive through her letterbox. Addressed to S Ibbotson, and each signed with just an initial - A. Ellie realises that S Ibbotson was the previous occupant of her dreary flat in London, and wonder who A is, and what was their relationship, and why do the messages on the back of the cards sound so sad? The cards are all from Greece. Ellie pins them up in her kitchen, they bring a splash of sunshine into her otherwise dull life.

On the spur of the moment, Ellie decides that she will travel to Greece. She wants to experience the places on the front of the postcard, she's desperate for something more than her boring job, in wintry London. On the morning that she leaves, a notebook is delivered to her flat, she stuffs it into her bag and departs for Athens.

From there, Cartes Postales From Greece becomes the story of 'A', his stories of his travels through Greece, all detailed in the notebook. He recounts how he meets the locals, he re-tells the stories that they share with him. He opens his heart to S Ibbotsen, with honesty and quite painfully at times.

Cartes Postales From Greece is beautifully illustrated with scenes from the places that A visits. Victoria Hislop worked with Greek photographer, Alexandros Kakolyris to create beautiful photographs to go with her words, they are stunning and add so much to this gorgeous story.

The author has  brought together stories from Grecian history and modern-day tales and has created a novel that will delight her readers. Anyone who has been to Greece will recognise these characters, those sunsets, those smells. She does not shy away from the troubles that this country has suffered, now and throughout history, and her words go some way to explain why the Greek people are angry, but also why they continue to love their homeland so much.

Wonderful storytelling. Cartes Postales From Greece evokes such a brilliant sense of place. Rich, vivid and beautifully told.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy of Cartes Postales From Greece for review.

Victoria Hislop read English at Oxford, and worked in publishing, PR and as a journalist before becoming a novelist. She is married with two children.
Her first novel, The Island, held the number one slot in the Sunday Times paperback charts for eight consecutive weeks and has sold over two million copies worldwide. Victoria was the Newcomer of the Year at the Galaxy British Book Awards 2007 and won the Richard & Judy Summer Read competition.Victoria acted as script consultant on the 26-part adaptation of The Island in Greece, which achieved record ratings for Greek television.
Her second novel, The Return, set against the tempestuous backdrop of teh Spanish Civil war was also a Number One bestseller. She returned to Greece for her third novel, The Thread, taking as her backdrop the troubled history of the city of Thessaloniki in a story that spans almost a century, beginning with the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917. Her short story collection, The Last Dance and other Stories, was widely acclaimed.
In 2014, she published The Sunrise, a turbulent family saga set in Cyprus after the Turkish invasion of 1974 which would leave the glamourous resort town of Famagusta a ruin ringed by barbed wire for decades to come.
Her most recent book, Cartes Postales from Greece, an illustrated novel, is published in September 2016
Her books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

Visit her website at
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @VicHislop


Friday 16 September 2016

Blackout by Ragnar Jonasson #BlogTour @ragnarjo @OrendaBooks

On the shores of a tranquil fjord in Northern Iceland, a man is brutally beaten to death on a bright summer's night. 
As the 24-hour light of the arctic summer is transformed into darkness by an ash cloud from a recent volcanic eruption, a young reporter leaves Reykajvik to investigate on her own, unaware that an innocent person's life hangs in the balance. 
Ari Thor Arason and his colleagues on the tiny police force in Siglufjordur struggle with an increasingly perplexing case, while their own serious personal problems push them to the limit. 
What secrets does the dead man harbour, and what is the young reporter hiding? As silent, unspoken horrors from the past threaten them all, and the darkness deepens, it s a race against time to find the killer before someone else dies... Dark, terrifying and complex, Blackout is an exceptional, atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland s finest crime writers.

I'm really pleased to welcome you to my spot on the Blog Tour for Blackout by Ragnar Jonasson, published by Orenda Books on 15 July 2016.  Blackout is the third in the Dark Iceland series. The first, Snowblind was published in April 2015, followed by Nightblind in December 2015 - all published here in the UK by Orenda Books.

I was completely won over by Ragnar Jonasson's writing when I read Nightblind last year, and Blackout is another quite fantastic read, once again it's been very ably translated by Quentin Bates.

Ragnar Jonasson doesn't write long novels, at just under 250 pages, this is fairly short for a crime
story, but it is another absolute stunner. The author doesn't waste one single word, from page one, right through to the very end,

Whilst Blackout is the third in the Dark Iceland series, it is set between the happenings of Snowblind and Nightblind and once again, Ari Thor Arason takes centre stage in the twists and turns of this complex but so gracefully plotted story of murder and intrigue. The two strands of the story; the police investigation, and that of the young reporter Isrun who is determined to uncover the secrets that her grandmother took to her grave are tightly and elegantly woven together to create a seamless story that paves the way for the very satisfying ending.

The darkness of the various themes and issues that are tackled in Blackout are enhanced by the atmospheric portrayal of the small town of Siglufjordur. The story takes place during the summer of 2010 when the island was consumed by volcanic ash, thus making the usual long sunny days turn into dark, murky days, that add to the tension and general fabric of the story.

As always, Ragnar Jonasson excels in his characterisation, and even though Blackout is a short novel, his characters are fully formed, with entire back stories and insights into their lives and histories. For me, the characters and the setting are the stand-out brilliance in the writing. The plot is excellent, it's classic crime, with a twist, but the characters and Iceland itself are the stars of the show.

An excellent crime story. I'm so looking forward to number four in the series.

My thanks to the publisher Orenda Books who sent my copy of Blackout for review.

Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavik in 1976, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavik University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavik, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir, selected by the Guardian as one of the ‘best crime-writing festivals around the world’. Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, and he is currently working on his sixth. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two daughters
Visit his website at
Follow him on Twitter @ragnarjo

Quentin Bates was born in England and through a series of conincidences found himself working in Iceland for his gap year. One year turned into ten, plus a wife and children. After ten years writing on the sea and a move back to the UK, Quentin took to dry land and began work as a nautical journalist and editor of a commercial fishing magazine.
He divides his time between Iceland and England.
The Gunnhildur Gisladottir series was born through the author's own inside knowledge of Iceland, and its society, along with exploring the world of crime.

Find out more about the author and his writing at
Follow him on Twitter @graskeggur