Wednesday 27 September 2017

The White City by Karolina Ramqvist @Ramqvist @AtlanticBooks @atlanticbooks1

 Karin knew what she was getting herself into when she fell for John, the high-flying criminal and love of her life. But she never imagined things would turn out like this: John is now gone and the coke-filled parties, seemingly endless flow of money and high social status she previously enjoyed have been replaced by cut telephone lines, cut heat and cut cash. All that remains of Karin's former life is the big house he bought for her - and his daughter, the child Karin once swore she would never bring into their dangerous world.
Now Karin is alone with the baby, and the old promise of 'the family' has proved alarmingly empty. With the authorities zeroing in on organized crime, John's shady legacy is catching up with her, and the house is about to be seized. Over the course of a few nerve-wracking days, Karin is forced to take drastic measures in order to claim what she considers rightfully hers.
A slow-burning psychological thriller with a sophisticated, dreamlike atmosphere, The White City is both the portrayal of one woman's struggle to pull herself up from the paralyzing depths of despair, and an unflinching examination of what it means to lose control - over your body, your life and your fate.

The White City by Karolina Ramqvist was published in paperback by Grove Press / Atlantic Books on 10 August 2017.  My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

The White City is a short, but intense and strangely compelling story. This author tells nothing, but shows everything with lyrical prose that is both tense and sophisticated.

The reader is introduced to Karin and her small daughter and follows their every thought and every move over a couple of days. It is clear that Karin has, in the past, enjoyed a life of luxury and glamour in her expensive house with her wealthy husband John. However, John has left and the house that was once her palace has now become her prison. Cold and empty, she and her daughter are trapped. Faced with eviction and with no friends, Karin is compelled to take action, to save herself and her daughter.

The White City is a book that begs to be read, although there were times when I wondered just where this story was heading, there is something about the quality of the writing and the excellent descriptions that I found quite hypnotising. Karolina Ramqvist takes her reader into the depths of Karin's thoughts. We experience her every emotion; her despair, her anger and her utter bewilderment at her situation.

The author excels at creating atmosphere and suspense. The biting cold atmosphere of the setting and the iciness of the characters that Karin reaches out to are startling and brilliantly portrayed.

There is no doubt that The White City is very bleak, yet it is also so very beautifully told. I was very impressed by this one and would recommend it highly.

Karolina Ramqvist is one of the most influential feminists and writers of her generation in Sweden and she has published several novels, short stories, essays, and criticisms in leading political and literary publications.
She is the former editor-in-chief of Arena magazine and lives in Stockholm with her husband and children.
The White City is her English debut.

Follow her on Twitter @Ramqvist  

Cancer Free For 20 Years by Curly Martin @CurlyMartin @BookPublicistUK #cancersurvivors #BlogTour

A humorous how to book, full of tips, tools, techniques, and the secrets I used to overcome cancer which I share with you in the hope you will be inspired. 
I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and an aggressive form of lymphatic cancer in 1992 and I was given a maximum of nine months to live.
“Inspiring, uplifting and funny read.” Prue Gent.

This book is all about my fascinating and funny 20 year journey from cancer to coaching. Around the same times as my diagnosis I became homeless and I was unemployed. I now live a passionate, exciting, healthy, wealthy, happy life.

My story tells of my passage through the conventional medical approach consisting of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
This is then rapidly followed by funny tales of my experimenting with alternative therapies, sampling some weird concoctions and cultivating unusual remedies.
“Curly’s book is flush with guidance to have self-mastery in the face of adversity. These tricks of positivity are not just for the fearful and sick, but for all of us; I guides and tempts us to greater psychological wellbeing and well ‘being’.
Thinking well and taking care of our bodies, as Curly suggests, provides all of us with an easily applied set of life-changes that will not only make us feel better every day, but may help save our lives too.” Professor Angus McLeod, PhD
I believe that cancer can be the most powerful catalyst for change. I have deliberately written in a style which combines storytelling and facts with the hope to entertain you and educate you at the same time. “A very interesting, amusing, and thought provoking book.” Jackie Hammans.
Since the terminal diagnosis, I have become an international bestselling author of, The Coaching Handbook Series of books. I am a highly sought-after international speaker, a pioneer of life coach training and the founder of a very successful training company, Achievement Specialists Limited. I combine my personal experiences with accepted methodologies and cutting edge innovations, to create exciting, entertaining and effective approaches to living a healthy, happy and successful life.
“Her story is leagues away from being a ‘misery memoir’ and instead becomes a celebration of life, with hard earned insights which empower the reader to develop the resilience to tackle serious situations and overcome them to build a better life. In essence, this book is inspiring reading for anyone involved in any way with a terminal illness, as well a poignant reminder for all of us healthy creatures to fight the temptation to take the richness of life for granted.  Highly recommended”  Grant Willcox
Within the book I examine the need to be prepared for hospital visits, to expect to have some setbacks and what it is like living with early menopause. I plan a farewell party and raise money for cancer charities. I spend time on using humour as a healer, on drinking Ojibway Indian tea, visiting the neuro-linguistic programming museum of old beliefs, using lashings of fake tanning and removing mercury teeth fillings, to mention only a few of the topics. I cover a lot of alternative options all of which I have tried or explored. There is a lot of information in this book portrayed I hope, in a witty and laugh out loud style.

I'm delighted to host the Blog Tour for Cancer Free For 20 Years by Curly Martin, published in August last year.

Given 9 months to live, Curly found herself homeless, jobless and breaking up with a boyfriend who ‘couldn’t deal with her cancer’. She has an irrepressible spirit and energy – and her book is an unapologetic celebration of life. She shares the tips, tools and techniques she used to overcome cancer and turn her live around

Please join me in welcoming Curly to Random Things today, she's talking about the books that are import to her in My Life In Books:

My Life In Books ~ Curly Martin

Here’s my top five books – presented in no particular order. I’ve chosen these books out of my many favourites as they are the ones that still have an impact on me.

Lord of the Rings. JRR Tolkien.
I read this book during a summer break from College. I was serving coach loads of visitors in a road side café during the day and waiting tables at a restaurant at night to earn enough money to pay for my course and lodging fees. At every opportunity, I would read this book and since that first reading I have re-read this book nine times and watched the movie twice. I will not insult you by doing a description of the book. There is a parallel between Frodo’s carrying of a huge life or death burden and my journey of carrying cancer. Like Frodo I had moments of great despair and moments of love and joy. Both of us conquered our fears and faced down the challenge to survive and thrive.

Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Joseph O’Connor & John Seymour.
This book was required reading for my Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner and master practitioner courses. I have used so many of the techniques described in this book and from the study of NLP to heal my body and my mind.

Zero Limits: Joe Vitale & Ihaleakala Hew Len.
The simple message within Zero Limits has had a profound impact on my health and healing. Simply using the power of love to heal my body and my mind whilst maintaining good health was beyond transformational. The overriding message of this book is to love everything. Sounds simple but in practice is one of the hardest things to do. Try it for a day and see if you can maintain love for everything!

I have proved to myself time and again that when someone or something has the potential to be harmful to me, if I concentrate on loving the person or the thing the harmful outcome is diverted. Sounds baloney, you bet it does! Does it work, you bet it does!

Can you do it? Well that is the lifelong challenge. I spent a good amount of my time using the power of love on my body over the past 20+ years during which I have been cancer free.

The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity: Catherine Ponder.
I am an atheist and all of Catherin Ponder’s books are about God. Many people find it hard to understand how an atheist can find inspiration in God filled books. I simply take what I can use in my model of the world and replace God with Universe where necessary.

There are loads of really powerful sayings in Catherine’s books which are elevating and inspiring. Here is an example where I have edited the saying to support my beliefs, ‘I consciously, boldly and deliberately take hold of my thoughts and feelings and redirect them towards prosperity and success with the universe’s divine help.’

I can adapt this simple sentence to suit my needs. For example, sometimes I replace ‘prosperity’ with ‘happiness and joy’ or ‘good health and healing’ the options are boundless.

Importantly, it is about stopping endless negative internal chatter and taking back control to heal oneself. I often share my adapted Ponder quotes with my life coaching clients to enable them to move towards their goals by reducing the negative beliefs which have been holding them back from being the awesome person they are meant to be.

Making Money: Terry Pratchett.
I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett and have every single book he has written. What I love about this book and all of his disc world books is the clever parallel paradoxes he creates with disc world and our world. The books have the ability to completely relax my mind whilst also stimulating my curiosity. I love to laugh at myself and I love to laugh aloud when I read.

Finally, if you or your loved ones are suffering from cancer, I leave you with two thoughts, you control your thoughts, so make them work to heal you. And you can love your body back to health. Both these things require dedication and consistent application, you might not see immediate results but you will definitely be better for it.

I send you love and healing in equal measures.                           Curly Martin ~ September 2017

Curly Martin, is the author of Cancer Free for 20 Years. Given 9 months to live, Curly was homeless and dealing with a relationship break up. Twenty years on she has an exciting new career in coaching and is a best-selling author and International speaker. Her book gives guidance to others facing similar challenges.

Twitter @CurlyMartin  

Achievement: Cancer Free for 20 Years by Curly Martin is out now, available from Amazon, priced £13.48. 
For more information go to

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Double-Edged Sword ~ The Simonne Butler story @SimonneButler @ngaiomarshaward

Double-edged Sword is a survival story like no other. In 2003 Simonne Butler’s violent partner, Antoine Dixon, high on methamphetamine, cut off both her hands with a samurai sword. Her hands were reattached in a groundbreaking marathon surgery and she spent the next decade healing her mind, body and spirit.

Despite five years in an extremely physically and emotionally abusive relationship, Simonne always had an unbreakable spirit. Even when her self-confidence and sense of self-preservation was at rock bottom, she was able to source phenomenal strength that saw her survive horrendous blood loss and being left for dead for hours, holding her severed limbs in such a way that allowed revascularisation to be possible.

Facing obstacles from the very start, including a troubled childhood and an alcoholic and volatile mother, Simonne’s optimism and determination have always shone through. 

Every victim of domestic violence must read this book, and their friends and family. Even those who have never been the victim of violence will be inspired, moved and enlightened by this candid and brutal memoir. Double-edged Sword is so much more than just a story of survival, it is a guidebook for humanity – how to shrug off the oppressors and the obstacles and live your life with the greatest intensity you can muster. It’s about conquering the demons and rising like a phoenix from the ashes and learning how to live with passion, honesty and love.

Double-Edged Sword ~ The Simonne Butler Story, written by Simonne Butler with Andra Jenkin was published by Mary Egan Publishing and is available in the UK as an ebook.

I am delighted to host the Ngaio Marsh Awards Blog Tour today with my review of Double-Edged Sword which was kindly provided by the organisers via Craig Sisterton, the founder of the Ngaio Marsh Awards.

The Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, established in 2010, promotes and celebrates excellence in crime, mystery and thriller writing by New Zealand authors  
First awarded in 2010, the Ngaio Marsh Award promotes and celebrates excellence in crime, mystery and thriller writing by New Zealand authors. It is awarded each year in a ceremony held in Christchurch, the birthplace and hometown of Dame Ngaio Marsh, one of the four Queens of Crime of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

Double-Edged Sword is a finalist in the Best Non-Fiction (True Crime and Biography) category. Alos nominated in this category are:

In Dark Places by Michael Bennett: a brilliant narrative non-fiction work detailing the astonishing miscarriage of justice that befell Teina Pora, who spent 21 years in prison for rape and murder, and the group of people who teamed up to free him. 

Scene of the Crime by Steve BrauniasTwelve extraordinary tales of crime and punishment: a collection of true crime writing by New Zealand's award-winning master of non-fiction.

The Many Deaths of Mary Dobie by David Hastingsa whodunit turned whydunit in the 1880 hunt for a murderer in Taranaki, unravelling the murder, the social tensions in the coastal region, the hunt for the killer and the lessons both races learned.

Blockbuster!: Fergus Hume and the Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Lucy Sussexa fascinating book examining the bizarre tale of the bestselling crime novel of the 19th century, and its eccentric author. 

Double-Edged Sword is a brave, horrific and no-holds barred account of a terrible and terrifying incident that changed Simonne Butler's life in just a few minutes.

"On 21 January 2003 the man who I was once in love with, the man who said he loved me, attempted to decapitate me with a samurai sword."
This is the first line of Simonne's extraordinary story. It's a story of a woman who thought that she had finally found someone to love her and take care of her, and who gradually realised that this 'love affair' was actually toxic.

Whilst Simonne's story is well known in New Zealand, I had not heard of her, or what happened to her before. I read this book with no prior knowledge, I hadn't seen the TV reports, or read the news articles, all I had was Simonne's voice, telling her story, in her words.

It could have been easy for Simonne to gloss over her dysfunctional family life and her history of alcohol and drugs, but she doesn't. This is a brutally honest account of a life that was difficult from childhood. Simonne's mother was an alcoholic; a functioning alcoholic for most of the time but incredibly cruel and distant towards her daughter. When Simonne finally left home, aged twenty-one and her flat-mate's boyfriend Tony began to show an interest in her she found it very difficult. On one hand she knew that he was trouble, but on the other hand, she was attracted to him.

Tony and Simonne began a relationship and moved in together. What follows is a downward spiral of danger and terror and whilst Simonne knows that she should leave, and does try, she becomes so worn-down, that even when she finds out the truth about Tony's past, she stays.

The night that Tony tries to kill Simonne and her friend is described in graphic detail and makes for incredibly painful reading. God only knows how those two women survived such a determined and brutal attack on them, but they did, and Simonne relates her healing journey with both humour and incredible insight.

This is a book that is disturbingly compelling, it almost feels voyeuristic to continue to read of Simonne's struggle to be loved. Her incredible strength after such a devastating and life-changing attack is astonishing and she tells her story with such honesty and a touch of humour.

Double-Edged Sword is a book that should be read by everyone, it is raw, inspiring and enlightening.

Simonne Butler is a spiritual counsellor and naturopath. In her holistic therapy practice she guides her clients to optimum wellness, personal strength, mental clarity and emotional stability.

In 2014 she became a survivor spokesperson for The NZ Women's Refuge and is an activist, writer and speaker passionate about changing the culture of violence against women in New Zealand.

She holds a Diploma of Naturopathy from Wellpark College of Natural Therapies, has been studying with a master shaman since 2006, and in February 2013 began a formal shamanic apprenticeship at the Medicine Woman Centre for Shamanic Studies.

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @SimonneButler

Friday 22 September 2017

Snow Sisters by Carol Lovekin @carollovekin @honno #snowsisters #BlogTour

Two sisters, their grandmother's old house and Angharad... the girl who cannot leave

Meredith discovers a dusty sewing box in a disused attic. Once open the box releases the ghost of Angharad, a Victorian child-woman with a horrific secret she must share. Angharad slowly reveals her story to Meredith who fails to convince her sister of the visitations until Verity sees Angharad for herself on the eve of an April snowstorm.

Forced by her flighty mother to abandon Gull House for London, Meredith struggles to settle, still haunted by Angharad and her little red flannel hearts. This time, Verity is not sure she will be able to save her...

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Snow Sisters by Carol LovekinSnow Sisters was published in paperback and ebook by Honno on 21 September 2017.  Thanks to Honno for my review copy.

I have been thoroughly consumed by Snow Sisters for the past week or so. It's one of those books that pulls the reader in and never really lets go, even when you've put the book aside to do other things. The characters swirled around my brain, rather like the April snow storm that the author so cleverly creates as a backdrop for her incredibly beautiful story.

If like me, you are a fan of Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale, or more recently, A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall, then Snow Sisters will be your thing. There are ghosts, broken families, old secretive houses and characters who are so wonderfully imagined that you really believe in them.

Snow Sisters is an intimate and intricate portrait of one family of women.  At the heart and head of the family is Grandmother Mared, and living in Gull House is Mared's daughter Allegra and her two daughters; our Snow Sisters; Verity and Meredith. Carol Lovekin's eye for detail with her characterisation is outstanding, these woman are real and the reader will love them, hate them, sympathise with them - whatever emotion they evoke is a testament to her skill.

Nestled between Verity and Meredith's stories is the voice of Angharad. Angharad died in 1879 and her tragic and heartbreaking story is gently and carefully unwound during flashback snippets in her own voice.

So, not one, or two, but three threads of a story so deftly woven together. The present day as Verity returns to Gull House, and her memories and her sadnesses and her questions, and then the story of her and Meredith as children, battling their self-indulgent mother, and of course, Angharad; that poor young girl whose own personal story forms the backbone to this wonderfully imagined and gracefully executed tale.

Snow Sisters is complex and nuanced. There is tragedy yet there is so much love. This is a book to wallow in and linger over.  Highly highly recommended.

Author photograph ~ JaneyStevens
Carol Lovekin has Irish blood and a Welsh heart.
She was born in Warwickshire and has lived in Wales since 1979, settling in Lampeter eleven years ago.
A feminist, she finds fiction the perfect vehicle for telling women's collective stories.

Her books also reflect her love of the landscape and mythology of her adopted home.
Snow Sisters is her second novel. Her first, Ghostbird, is also published by Honno.

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @carollovekin  

Honno Welsh Women's Press was set up in 1986 by a group of women who felt strongly that women in Wales needed wider opportunities to see their writing in print and to become involved in the publishing process.
Their aim is to develop the writing talents of women in Wales, give them new and exciting opportunities to see their work published and often to give them their first 'break' as a writer.
Honno is registered as a community co-operative. Any profit that Honno makes is invested in the publishing programme.
Women from Wales and around the world have expressed their support for Honno. Each supporter has a vote at the Annual General Meeting.

For more information to buy Honno publications, visit the website
Follow them on Twitter @honno  

Wednesday 20 September 2017

The Faithful by Juliet West @JulietWest14 @MantleBooks @panmacmillan #TheFaithful

As Britain is pulled towards war, the secrets within two families threaten to tear them apart, in the new novel from Juliet West, The Faithful . . .
July 1935. In the village of Aldwick on the Sussex coast, sixteen-year-old Hazel faces a long, dull summer with just her self-centred mother Francine for company. But then Francine decamps to London with her lover Charles, Oswald Mosley's blackshirts arrive in Aldwick, and Hazel's summer suddenly becomes more interesting. She finds herself befriended by two very different people: Lucia, an upper-class blackshirt, passionate about the cause; and Tom, a young working-class boy, increasingly scornful of Mosley's rhetoric. In the end, though, it is Tom who wins Hazel's heart - and Hazel who breaks his.
Autumn 1936. Now living in London, Hazel has grown up fast over the past year. But an encounter with Tom sends her into freefall. He must never know why she cut off all contact last summer, betraying the promises they’d made. Yet Hazel isn't the only one with secrets. Nor is she the only one with reason to keep the two of them apart . . .
From the beaches of Sussex to the battlefields of civil war Spain, The Faithful is a rich and gripping tale of love, deception and desire.

The Faithful by Juliet West was published by Mantle / Pan Macmillan on 15 June 2017 and is the author's second novel.  I read and reviewed her first book, Before The Fall here on Random Things in May 2014.

Juliet West's first novel, Before The Fall is one of my favourite war-time novels, I loved it when I read it, I've recommended it to so many people and I've been looking forward to her next book for so long.

Beginning in the summer of 1935, The Faithful begins in Aldwick, Sussex as Oswald Mosley's blackshirt followers begin to gather for their annual camp. Tom and his family travel from London, he's doubtful about Mosley's beliefs but his mother is an avid believer and Tom is basically, a good kid who loves his parents and doesn't want to cause a scene.

Hazel lives in Aldwick and a long and lonely summer is ahead of her, until that is, she attends one of the blackshirt meetings and meets Tom, and is befriended by Lucia, one of the most faithful and avid followers of Mosley.

The British people haven't yet got over the Great War and many believe that Mosely's teachings are right for the country. Nobody wants another war. Nobody wants so much death and destruction again. However, not everyone believes in Mosely's methods and there's plenty of oppostion from the Reds who want to rid Britain of the fascists.

The Faithful is, at its heart, a love story. It's at times heart-breaking yet also heart warming. The characters are wonderfully created, strong and totally and utterly believable.

Juliet West's writing is flawless, her plotting and pace is perfectly composed. This is a thought-provoking and emotional look at both social history and family relationships. Loss, deceit, sorrow and enduring love are all central themes in this incredibly told story.

The Faithful is beautifully written, it's a story made up of so many layers yet is so cleverly and neatly woven together, the reader becomes totally engrossed in the lives of the characters. I felt as though these people were my own friends, and family. Their battles were my battles, I felt their sorrow and I shared their joy.

A clever, moving, page turner. Highly recommended from me.

Juliet West worked as a journalist before taking an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University, where she won the Kate Betts' Memorial Prize.
Before The Fall, her debut novel, was shortlisted for the Myriad Editions novel writing competition in 2012.
Juliet also writes short stories and poetry, and won the HE Bates short story prize in 2009.
The Faithful is her second novel.
She lives in West Sussex with her husband and three children.

Discover more at
Follow her on Twitter @JulietWest14

Tuesday 19 September 2017

The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet #BlogTour @noexitpress #FrozenWomanBook #Giveaway #Win

In the depths of the Norwegian winter, a woman s frozen corpse is discovered in the garden of a notorious ex-lawyer, Vilhelm Thygesen. She has been stabbed to death.
A young biker, a member of a gang once represented by the lawyer, is found dead in suspicious circumstances.
Thygesen starts receiving anonymous threats, and becomes ensnared in a web of violence, crime and blackmail that spreads across Northern Europe.
Does the frozen woman hold the key?

The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet is published by No Exit Press on 21 September 2017 and is translated by Don Bartlett.

I am delighted to host a giveaway today, courtesy of the publisher. I have one paperback copy of The Frozen Woman to giveaway.  Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post.              

'The best Norwegian crime novel'
'Jon Michelet hits back with interest ... Yes, this is Jon Michelet in sparkling linguistic and compositional form'
'The Frozen Woman kept me awake all night... a Nordic crime masterpiece'
The Daily Walk
'Lavish and thrilling... Michelet writes with dramatic momentum, leaving the reader on the edge of his seat'
'A Godfather of Norwegian crime'
Gunnar Staalesen, author of the Varg Veum series
'Entertainingly eccentric for a police procedural.'
Karen Robinson, Sunday Times Crime Club [read the full review]
'The translation is by the reigning monarch of the art, Don Bartlett.'
Barry Forshaw, The Guardian [read the full review]

A Paperback copy of The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet

© Hans Fredrik Asbjørnsen
Jon Michelet has been one of Norway's leading authors through five decades. He made his debut in 1975 with the crime novel He Who Is Born to Be Hanged, Shall Never Be Drowned. He has since published numerous novels, plays and non-fiction books, and co-authored five bestselling reportage books from the Football World Cup with Dag Solstad. Michelet has also worked as a sailor, a docker, a journalist, publisher and newspaper editor. He is renowned in Norway for his strong commitment to a number of political and cultural causes. 
Michelet has been awarded the Riverton Prize for Best Norwegian Crime Novel twice, for White as Snow and The Frozen Woman both part of his long running Vilhelm Thygesen series. He has also had phenomenal success with his epic series, A Hero of the Sea. Telling the story of the dramatic experiences of a Norwegian merchant navy sailor during WWII, the five novels published so far have been topping the charts since 2012, and have sold well over half a million copies, making Michelet a household name in Norway. 

Monday 18 September 2017

Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen @MaryTorjussen @headlinepg @millieseaward

No one ever disappears completely...
You leave for work one morning.
Another day in your normal life.
Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn't been at work for weeks.
It's as if he never existed.
But that's not possible, is it?
And there is worse still to come.
Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.

With thanks to the publisher and author who sent my copy for review.  Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen was published by Headline on 23 March 2017 and is the author's debut novel.

I read Gone Without A Trace whilst I was on holiday in Corfu and was absolutely gripped by it. It's one of those books that you want to talk about, and I almost chewed my husband's ear off about it; telling him what was happening .... and what on earth was it going to lead to?

Lead character Hannah is an accountant, she's had a really productive few days at work and is in line for promotion. Hannah is excited and knows that her live-in boyfriend Matt will be really pleased for her. They will celebrate.
Hannah returns home to an empty house. Matt is nowhere to be seen, and upon further investigation she realises that there really is no trace of him. Everything that belonged to Matt has gone. The house looks just as it did before he moved in with her, he's taken everything that he bought, or brought.

It's not just personal possessions that have vanished though. There's no trace of Matt in Hannah's phone; no messages, nothing in the call register. He's also disappeared from her email inbox. He's gone, almost as if he never existed.

At this point, I was open mouthed, wondering if Matt ever existed at all. As Hannah speaks with friends and work colleagues, it's clear that he did exist, but it's also clear that he doesn't want to be found.

Hannah doesn't deal with this very well at all. She's dramatic and hysterical. When she begins to see signs that someone has entered the house, and receives strange phone calls, she nears the edge of a complete breakdown.

Mary Torjussen has certainly written a story that kept me spellbound. Whilst I wasn't keen on any of the characters, that made no difference to my enjoyment of the story. It's intense and compelling and the scrutiny of relationships is excellently done. This author has explored the deceit and lies that can sometimes be the basis of both a friendship and a romantic relationship, Her characters are rounded and well crafted and her ability to keep her readers on their toes is excellent.

The final reveal was a shock to me. I certainly had no idea what to expect and whilst on reflection, I can see where the author hinted at things to come, I was totally oblivious to what was happening. That's a good thing by the way, I get frustrated when I've worked out a plot really early.

I must admit that I preferred the build-up in the first three quarters of the book to the final scenes, it felt grittier and more realistic. However, the ending is a good one and I closed the book with a sense of huge satisfaction and respect for this debut author.

Mary Torjussen grew up in Stoke-on-Trent.
There was no television in her family home so books have always been her escape - she spent hours reading and writing stories as a child.
Mary has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University, and worked as a teacher in Liverpool before becoming a full-time writer.
She has two adult children and lives on the Wirral, where her debut novel, Gone Without A Trace is set.

Follow her on Twitter @MaryTorjussen

Sunday 17 September 2017

Reality Rehab by Lisa Mary London #RealityRehab #BookReview

Faded TV star Gloria Grayson has hit rock bottom. Sacked from her starring role in a top soap, divorced from hell-raising actor 'Mad' Tommy Mack, and obese from binge eating, her days as Britain's sexiest blonde are well and truly over.

Gloria has gained 70 lbs when a paparazzi snaps unflattering photos, and a cruel tabloid article relaunches her career. Instantly, she and her fat, feisty dog Baby-Girl are booked for TV's Reality Rehab. Gloria is locked up with an American psychotherapist, a rabble of D-list celebrities and umpteen cameras, then put on a starvation diet. But worse is to come, with the shock arrival of her alcoholic ex-husband.

Tears and tantrums ensue, as the divorced couple's joint therapy sessions take over the show and ratings soar. The other celebrities are infuriated to be sidelined and Reality Rehab fast becomes The Tommy and Glo Show. But Gloria and Tommy are hiding explosive secrets from each other and 10 million viewers - Reality is stranger than fiction!

Reality Rehab is the debut novel of Lisa Mary London, a journalist and former reality TV producer. A cast of hilarious characters, cliffhangers galore and an authentic voice that could only come from a TV insider, Reality Rehab is this year's must-read!

Reality Rehab by Lisa Mary London was published in paperback on 13 July 2017. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

So, I rarely feature covers like this one on Random Things, and to be honest, when I first saw it, I wasn't keen. However, now I've read the book, I can tell you that the cover is perfect for the story!

Lisa Mary London has drawn from her own experiences when writing Reality Rehab, there's such an air of authenticity in this book, the reader can be really sure that this is not entirely fiction and some of these outrageous characters and incredible situations really can, and do happen. Reality is in the title and I suspect that reality plays a big part in this story.

I am a huge fan of reality TV. I've watched every single series of Big Brother, and Celebrity Big Brother and I'm a huge fan of I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. These programmes are my de-stressors in a busy, often crazy world. I can totally lose myself in a world that I know that I will never be part of. I can be an armchair critic, I can judge and yes, watching the antics of minor celebrities does make me feel better about myself!

So, to the story. Gloria Grayson and her pampered pooch Baby-Girl spend most of their days eating. Gloria was once an A-List Celeb, starring in a TV soap and married to well known actor Tommy. Inevitably, Gloria's shine faded and her marriage crumbled and her career vanished .... until her agent signed up for the newest celebrity reality show ... Reality Rehab.  And this is where the story really begins, as Gloria enters a house full of well-known, if almost forgotten, famous names. With assorted addiction and lots and lots of issues, this is bound to be an explosive experiment and one that Gloria really isn't prepared for.  When her ex husband Tommy also arrives at the house, things begin to get very interesting!

This is the perfect Sunday afternoon, curled up on the sofa read.  Grab a drink and a packet of chocolate biscuits and dive in. Expect lots of laughter and plenty of satire, but also read about some more serious issues. Experience the power of social media responses and just how far washed up celebrities will go to try to regain their lost success.

Lisa Mary London's Reality Rehab surprised me in so many ways. It was a real delight to read. I laughed and nodded and yes, I judged.  Super stuff and recommended from me.

Lisa Mary London went from chief reporter on a sleepy Cotswold newspaper to become celebrity producer on some of Britain's best-loved TV shows. 

Her TV credits include An Audience with Ken Dodd, A BAFTA Tribute to Julie Walters, The British Comedy Awards and I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! She's worked with stars from Kirk Douglas to Ant and Dec, and her debut novel Reality Rehab features around 200 famous names. 

'There's never a dull moment when you're working with the stars,' says Lisa. 'One minute you're sipping champagne with Pierce Brosnan, the next you're standing in the Ladies' minding Barbara Windsor's handbag.' 

Reality Rehab is based on her real life, behind-the-screen experiences as a celebrity producer. 'I've met many old school stars like my book's protagonist Gloria, who curse reality TV and think the cast of TOWIE should be stacking shelves at Tesco, not walking the red carpet. 'She's a cross between Diana Dors, Boadicea and Miss Piggy, a glorious, garrulous anti-heroine with bags of fattitude - Gloria puts the real in reality TV!' 

Gloria's petulant pooch Baby-Girl is closely based on the book's cover star, Lisa's beloved Maltese, Dolly-Dog (says Lisa - 'You couldn't make her up'). Dolly-Dog won fame on ITV's Loose Women when she married Sherrie Hewson's Westie Charlie, in a ceremony officiated by John Barrowman (available on YouTube). 
The couple split acrimoniously and are currently fighting for custody of a chew toy. 

A journalist by profession, Lisa has written for the Daily Mail and was briefly a News of the World reporter, but made her excuses and left before anyone was arrested for phone hacking.

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Follow her on Twitter @lisamarylondon