Friday 30 November 2018

The Thing About Clare by Imogen Clark @imogenclark BLOG TOUR @ed_pr #MyLifeInBooks #TheThingAboutClare

A dying wish. A devastating secret. Should the truth really stay buried?
The four Bliss siblings have a loving but complicated bond, but when their mother, Dorothy, dies seemingly without a will, this relationship is put to the test. As the mourning siblings try to make sense of the situation, one of them is caught with a secret: before she died, Dorothy entrusted her favourite daughter with her will and a letter—and told her to destroy them both.
Of course it was Anna their mother turned to for this mission. Miriam, the eldest, is far too sensible; Sebastian, the baby, too sensitive; and Clare, the middle child, has always been too rebellious to rely on, and long ago cut herself out of her siblings’ lives.
But what Anna finds in the documents could change everything. Do the other siblings not deserve to know what it is about them that their mother was so desperate to hide? And if it is revealed, will the Bliss family ever be the same again?

The Thing About Clare by Imogen Clark was published by Lake Union Publishing on 1 November 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I adored this book and am delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life in Books.
Do look out for my review of The Thing About Clare which will be published on the blog very soon.

My Life in Books - Imogen Clark

When We Were Very Young – AA Milne

I am a huge believer in reading out loud and one of my very earliest memories is of my mum reading me the delightful poems from this book. I can still recite lots of them although I don’t remember ever consciously learning them. We must have read them so often that they just stuck! I loved all the Winnie the Pooh books but if I had to choose one . . .

Mary Poppins – PL Travers

There are so many childhood books that stay with you through life but I settled on this one because there was something so enticing about an adult behaving in such a surprising way. I was reading these books in the 1970s when children were disciplined differently to today and didn’t question things as much as they do now so the idea of a grown up being both strict but also ignoring the rules appealed to me enormously.

Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

I have to confess that I saw the amazing ITV series and fell in love with Charles and Sebastian long before I read the book but when I did finally turn to the original I was entranced not only by the beautiful prose, which will forever be read in my head by Jeremy Irons, but also how very compelling complicated families can be. The relationship between the four loving but deeply damaged siblings are exquisitely drawn and I was fascinated by all of them.

Case Histories – Kate Atkinson

I adore Kate Atkinson but particularly her earlier work. I love the way we ramble around in her character’s heads seemingly without point and yet the plot still races along. Her characters are so lifelike too. I swear that if Jackson Brodie ever asked me out for dinner I might just faint from excitement! I saw Kate Atkinson speak about the series and she said she had no outline and just followed her characters to the end. This is the way I like to write too so it was very encouraging to hear.

Dark Matter – Michelle Paver

I don’t normally read scary books so I’m not quite sure what drew me to this one. Basically, once you get beyond the set-up there is one character on his own in one room in the dark. Not the most obvious ingredients for a gripping read and yet it drew me right in and kept me there (always with the lights on) until I was left as a gibbering wreck at the end. It was a few years ago and the memory of it still haunts me now.

This Charming Man – Marian Keyes

To the opposite end of the scale next. I listened to it rather than read this book which meant that I kept bursting into seemingly unprovoked laughter as I walked down the street. It tickled me so much. Marion Keyes’ characters are so well observed and her wonderful turn of phrase
just captures them perfectly but what I also like is how you stumble across heart-breakingly poignant moments in and amongst the humour.

We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver

Two things struck me about this book when I first read it. First, how could a man capture the essence of what it is to be a mother so accurately. I know now that Lionel Shriver is a woman but I didn’t when I read it. The other thing was how refreshing it was to read about someone who struggled with being a mother. It is such an honest portrayal. I felt that it captured the things that some mothers think but dare not say, such as how hard it can be sometimes to put your own needs on the back burner. I learned later that as well as not being a man, Lionel Shriver has no children. Maybe that’s why her picture of motherhood is so interesting?

The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith

I could have chosen any of the Cormoran Strike books but I picked this one because it’s about writers. I often wonder how long JK Rowling’s pseudonym would have gone undetected if it hadn’t been leaked. I like to think that we still wouldn’t know. There is so much to love about this series. The plots are rich and the clues carefully planted but just as in the Harry Potter books what I think she does brilliantly here is paint characters. I feel I know them all so well that if they walked into the pub I would recognise them at once.

Circling the Sun - Paula Mclain

I love fiction about real people. Put them in an interesting location and period of time and I’m hooked. Paula Mclain does this with all her books but I chose this one because it’s set in Africa and that means I get to learn and travel all at once. The lifestyle in the ‘Happy Valley’ seems so unlikely these days that it makes it all very intriguing. A bunch of rich, white people retreating out of the African heat to the hills, drinking themselves stupid and conducting inappropriate love affairs has been written about before but here we see it through the eyes of an outsider, Beryl Markham who went on to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Beryl is feisty and determined but with a vulnerability that appealed to me and I also enjoyed pretending, just for an hour or two, that I was drinking gin on a dappled lawn somewhere in the Rift Valley.

This Must be the Place – Maggie O’Farrell

I love all Maggie O’Farrell’s books but I picked this one because of the idea of just walking away from your life and starting again somewhere new. The fact that Claudette was famous in her previous existence just adds to the intrigue. Again the book is driven by its rich characters but the way in which it leaps around in time and location means that we slowly get to the bottom of what is driving Claudette through those around her. There are also chapters just listing items belonging to her to be sold at auction and in those few words of description, O’Farrell manages to convey so much about Claudette’s former life. It’s very clever.

Imogen Clark -November 2018 

Bestselling author Imogen Clark writes contemporary women’s fiction about the secrets that hide at the heart of the families that she creates. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband and children (who hopefully have no such secrets to tell!)

Imogen’s first book POSTCARDS FROM A STRANGER reached the top of the Amazon Kindle Charts in both the UK and Australia. Her second book THE THING ABOUT CLARE will be released on 1st December. Book 3 is currently under wraps but will hopefully appear next summer.

Imogen initially qualified as a lawyer but after leaving her legal career behind to care for her four children, she returned to her first love - books. She went back to University, studying part-time whilst the children were at school and graduated with a BA in English Literature with First Class Honours.

Imogen’s great love is travel and she is always planning her next adventure. 

If you’d like to connect then please visit her website at where you can also download a FREE heartwarming short story, The Bucket List, when you subscribe to her email list. 
Imogen can also be found on  Twitter @imogenclark 

Thursday 29 November 2018

A Death in Peking: Who Killed Pamela Werner by Graeme Sheppard @GDSheppardUK - My Life in Books - @GinaRozner @EarnshawBooks

The brutal murder of 19-year-old Pamela Werner in the city of Peking one night in January 1937 shocked the world, but the police never found or named the murderer. 
A best-selling book, Midnight in Peking, declared the murderer to be an American dentist, but English policeman Graeme Sheppard, 30 years with Scotland Yard, decided that conclusion was flawed, spent years investigating all aspects of the case and came up with an entirely different conclusion. So who did it? Who killed Pamela? 
This book provides never-revealed evidence and a different perpetrator.

A Death in Peking: Who Killed Pamela Werner by Graeme Sheppard was published by Earnshaw Books on 28 November 2018 in paperback.

I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today, he's talking about the books that are special to him in My Life In Books.

My Life in Books - Graeme Sheppard

The Go-between, by L.P. Hartley
Hartley possessed the rare skill of recalling how it was to experience the unfathomable world of adults through the eyes of a twelve-year-old child.

A Dance with the Dragon, by Julia Boyd
A vivid picture of the strange and eccentric lives of foreigners in early 20th century Peking, told through their memoirs, stories, and letters.

Hermit of Peking; The Hidden Life of Sir Edmund Backhouse, by Hugh Trevor-Roper
Trevor-Roper’s wonderfully composed 1970s expose of Britain’s bizarrest export to China: Backhouse the serial fraudster. It still stirs controversy today.

Caught in the Light, by Robert Goddard
Goddard is the master of the here and now mystery-thriller, of extraordinary happenings befalling ordinary people. I reckon this is one is his best.

Armistice 1918, by Harry R. Rudin
A 1940s scholarly study of events surrounding the end of WW1. Rudin’s research is meticulous: detail, detail, detail. I love that.

Stig of the Dump, by Clive King
This captured the eight-year-old me. By the light of my bedside lamp I was there exploring the chalk-pit with the author.

A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson
Bryson’s page-turning appeal is his ability to entertainingly twin the subject of his study with vignettes of the people connected, linking effortlessly all the way.

Shanghai Policeman, E.W. Peters
A different side to China altogether. A British sergeant’s take on 1930s policing in China’s wild-west of a city. A great read owing to the writer’s complete lack of modern political correctness. He tells it as it was. And you don’t have to be a police officer to read between the lines where he doesn’t.

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss
Fond memories of reading Dr. Suess stories to my children. Back in the Nineties It took me ages finding old copies, only for them all to be subsequently reprinted and on sale in bookshops everywhere. Great reads and great nostalgia.

Graeme Sheppard - November 2018 

Born and raised in London, Graeme Sheppard is a retired police officer with thirty years’ service with the Metropolitan Police and in the Northeast of England. 
With commendations for crime detection, his policing experience includes working in areas as wide-ranging as London’s West End, former coal-mining towns, rural villages and inner-city housing estates. 
He has been involved in the hunt for numerous murder suspects.

His enthusiasm for history and sharp eye for telling evidence has resulted in articles in History Today. 
He lives with his wife in Hampshire, UK.

Twitter : @GDSheppardUK


Wednesday 28 November 2018

Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson @LauraPAuthor #MissingPieces @AgoraBooksLDN

What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart?

All Linda wants to do is sleep. She won’t look at her husband. She can’t stand her daughter. And she doesn’t want to have this baby. Having this baby means moving on, and she just wants to go back to before. Before their family was torn apart, before the blame was placed.

Alienated by their own guilt and struggling to cope, the Sadler family unravels. They grow up, grow apart, never talking about their terrible secret.

That is until Linda’s daughter finds out she’s pregnant. Before she brings another Sadler into the world, Bea needs to know what happened twenty-five years ago. What did they keep from her? What happened that couldn’t be fixed?

A devastating mistake, a lifetime of consequences. How can you repair something broken if pieces are missing?

Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson was published by Agora Books in paperback on 21 June 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Part one of Missing Pieces begins on 5 August 1985, and the reader is told that this date is '21 days after'.

After what?, you may ask. Well, this author certainly knows how to draw in her readers and as soon as we learn about the devastating accident that has torn this previously happy family apart, your heart will begin to break.

Tom and Linda were incredibly happy, their two small daughters were the light of their lives and when they discover that another baby is on the way, things seem to be getting even better. However, their lives will never be the same again and Linda begins to dread the birth of the new baby. She distances herself from her small daughter, and her loving husband and can't even begin to think of becoming a mother again.

Part two of the story takes place when that new baby; Bea is an adult and expecting a baby herself. Her pregnancy has evoked a curiosity about what happened before she was born, and shows so clearly how the effects of her early life have impacted on her as an adult.

Laura Pearson writes incredibly well, it's really difficult at times to believe that this is her debut novel. Her ability to depict the utter heartbreak and after effects of a tragic accident is powerful and so very moving. Readers may not always understand Linda's behaviour, but it would be impossible not to empathise with her feelings.

Missing Pieces is a brave, yet heart-breaking book that is sensitively done with a narrative that is painfully intimate in places. The reader feels almost voyeuristic at times. This is a moving and harrowing, yet enlightening story of grief, family relationships and love.

Laura Pearson has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester. 

She lives in Leicestershire with her husband and their two children. 

Missing Pieces is her first novel.
Twitter: @LauraPAuthor
Facebook Author Page

Monday 26 November 2018

Gentleman Jack by Christina James @CAJamesWriter BLOG TOUR @EmmaDowson1 #GentlemanJack @saltpublishing

DI Tim Yates and DS Juliet Armstrong are investigating the widespread theft of expensive farm machinery and keep on drawing a blank. They don't know whether they're looking for a gang, an individual or an organised network; nor can they find any trace of the machinery once it's been stolen. Meanwhile, local property developer and philanthropist Jack Fovargue is assaulted in the street, and seems reluctant to help find his assailant. Visiting one of Fovargue's building sites to persuade him to make a statement, DI Yates sees a quad that he thinks may have been stolen from a nearby farm a few days before. Fovargue denies all knowledge of the vehicle, while his foreman says he picked it up cheaply from a traveller. Tim obtains a warrant to search the site and discovers something far more sinister than another missing machine.

Gentleman Jack by Christina James was published by Salt on 15 October 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent a copy for review and who invited me to take part on this blog tour.

I'm delighted to host a guest post from the author here on Random Things today. I always enjoy this author's guest posts as she writes about Lincolnshire; my adopted home county.

Scene of crimes: the Fossdyke Canal

My novels are set in Lincolnshire. Its fogs and fens, its vast, sparsely-populated agricultural acres and small ancient villages are a gift to a crime writer. 
I grew up in Spalding and, having enjoyed the freedoms of a sixties childhood, am extremely familiar with the district known as South Holland. I spent long summers and cold, sharp springs exploring it by bike. 
As many of my friends were farmers’ daughters, I also had opportunities to walk across remote fields and pastures not accessible to the public: anyone who knows this area will tell you that it’s a huge disappointment to anyone searching for public footpaths. 
This is not the haunt of ramblers; it is the land of the curlew, the plover and the heron – and, in my youth, of escaped coypu and mink. 
I am less familiar with Lincoln and its satellite villages, together forming a more populous region dominated by the ancient county city and its Gothic cathedral, the latter set at the pinnacle of a steep hill which seems to mock the flatness of everywhere adjacent. 
As a child, I of course visited Lincoln, but family trips always seemed to focus on the cathedral and its environs. My most vivid memories are of being shown, by various devout great uncles and aunts, the Lincoln imp, squatting high up in the stonework. I do remember seeing the Brayford Pool, then a place of waterside ruin and sunken barges, but not the Fossdyke Canal, though that, too, according to photographs of the day, had also fallen into disuse. The regeneration of the nation’s canals for leisure craft had not yet begun. 
I was reacquainted with Lincoln when kindly invited by Tina Muncaster, of Lincoln Public Library, to give a talk there in 2017. Arriving early, I was able, after a break of many years, to wander the city again, this time as mistress of my own exploration. I walked around the Brayford Pool, which had narrowly escaped being filled in and turned into a car park and was subsequently transformed into a sparkling marina with a vibrant waterfront. It now bustles with shops and restaurants and is overlooked by some of the buildings belonging to Lincoln University; luxury pleasure craft and immaculately-painted narrowboats cluster together at the pontoons; there’s a wonderful view up to the cathedral. A few steps beyond the marina, I found myself for the first time at the entrance to the ‘Fossdyke Navigation’. 
I like canals. I’ve spent many happy hours riding mediaeval canals in the Dutch and Belgian equivalents of bateaux mouches; I’ve enjoyed several narrowboat holidays in Britain – harder work than being a passenger, but more rewarding; and I’ve frequently cycled along the towpaths in Yorkshire, where I live now. As soon as I saw the Fossdyke, therefore, I recognised its literary possibilities: at the time, I was searching for a setting for three of the murders that take place in Gentleman Jack; the Fossdyke fitted the bill perfectly.
Delving further into the canal’s history made it even more intriguing. 
I discovered that it was almost certainly built by the Romans, probably around AD 120, to link the mighty River Trent, at Torksey, to Lincoln and thence to The Wash via the River Witham. Like many succeeding generations that followed them, the Romans knew that using water transport was easier, safer and more efficient than trying to move men and goods by road. (This was true up to and beyond the advent of the railways to Lincolnshire in the mid-nineteenth century: elderly citizens of Spalding interviewed by historians in the 1970s recalled that when they were children the journey between Crowland and Spalding was routinely made by river. The water taxi service now operated on the Welland during the summer months rekindles past history.) 
The Fossdyke has enjoyed many peaks of activity and weathered troughs of neglect during its nineteen decades. The Roman navigation was refurbished in 1121 during the reign of Henry I. Responsibility for its maintenance was transferred to the city of Lincoln by James I. Improvements were made in 1671, when the warehouses and wharves were built at Brayford Pool. 
The canal was active during the first years of the industrial revolution, but, by 1795, was beginning to silt up. The channel was made deeper, but the silting process continued. The engineer John Rennie drew up plans to demolish the ancient High Bridge in 1805 to enable the canal to be deepened again, but these were never carried out. The waterway continued to be used to transport grain, but commercial activity on it was a shadow of its former self – the railways had taken over all the wood and coal cargoes. The last commercial cargo of grain was transported along the canal in 1972.
The Brayford Mere Trust, set up in 1965, set out to rescue the then derelict Brayford Pool. Gradually the canal benefited from this restoration work. A footpath and cycleway were constructed on the stretch of canal between Saxilby and Lincoln – a very handy development for the plot of Gentleman Jack – and officially opened in 2011. 
There are plans to continue the development of the canal and its environs, but as a writer I’m more than happy with what’s been achieved so far. The Fossdyke Canal is a busy working waterway that yet gives the impression of guarding well its many sinister and mysterious memories of the past. It keeps its counsel, yet on occasion yields up its secrets. In Gentleman Jack it holds a cameo part – it is contained, yet indispensable… as it has always been, down the ages.

Praise for Christina James

 ‘Reminiscent of Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine’ – Eurocrime 

‘Riveting, thrilling and with that trademark Christina James shock at the end. Cracking crime writing at its best.’ The Bookbag 

Christina James was born in Spalding and sets her novels in the evocative Fenland countryside of South Lincolnshire. 

She works as a bookseller, researcher and teacher and lives in Yorkshire. 
She is also a well-established non-fiction writer under a separate name. 

Christina will be doing a series of workshops and events in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire this Winter/ Spring and is available for interview. 

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Pieces of Me by Natalie Hart @NatalieGHart @Legend_Press #PiecesOfMe

Emma did not go to war looking for love, but Adam is unlike any other.
Under the secret shadow of trauma, Emma decides to leave Iraq and joins Adam to settle in Colorado. But isolation and fear find her, once again, when Adam is re-deployed. Torn between a deep fear for Adam’s safety and a desire to be back there herself, Emma copes by throwing herself into a new role mentoring an Iraqi refugee family.
But when Adam comes home, he brings the conflict back with him. Emma had considered the possibility that her husband might not come home from war. She had not considered that he might return a stranger.

Pieces of Me by Natalie Hart was published in paperback by Legend Press on 4 October 2018, my thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

This is Emma and Adam's story; it's the story of how they met, and how they fell in love and how they came to be living in a small Colorado town. Emma is English and Adam is from the US, they met in Iraq; a place that become a character in its own right throughout this haunting story.

It is clear from Natalie Hart's evocative descriptions that she has spent time in Iraq. She paints a picture that is so very different to the scenes we see on the TV. Her lead character Emma has an enduring love for Iraq and this screams through in the writing.

Emma works in a civilian role in Iraq; processing applications for Iraqui people who want to move to the US. Adam is a medic in the army, when they meet for the first time, things don't go well. However, they find themselves drawn by events in Iraq. They marry and return to the US.

Emma struggles in Colorado. She doesn't really know who she is, or who she could be. Scarred by events in Iraq, yet desperately missing the place, and the friends she left behind she is soon drawn towards a refugee family in the town. As Emma and Adam prepare for his deployment back to Iraq, Emma becomes more and more distant from the people surrounding her.

The title, Pieces of Me, is so very clever. Emma collects pieces of broken pottery that she finds wherever she goes and it is from these that she tries to design a mosaic of her life. The 'pieces of me' can also depict the many strands to her life; wife, friend, mentor, grieving daughter, victim ... all of these pieces make up the whole of her being.

Emma's life, and that of her husband and their friends, shatters into even tinier pieces when Adam returns from Iraq. Gone is the loving husband who encouraged her and made her feel safe. Adam has been damaged whilst in Iraq and nothing that Emma can do or say seems to heal him.

Natalie Hart's writing is powerful and hard hitting. She doesn't gloss over any of the details of a war zone; this is not a sugary image of heroes and battles. This is terrifyingly real and so very topical and relevant to our times. She writes about an emotive subject with such precision. This story is thought provoking and unflinching.

This is a wonderfully written, incredibly moving and extremely powerful debut novel from an author who is a major talent.

I was so impressed by this novel and would recommend it highly. I'm excited to discover what Natalie Hart will produce next.

Natalie Hart is a writer and qualitative researcher, specialising in conflict and post-conflict environments. 
She has worked extensively across the Middle East and North Africa, including a year in Baghdad where Pieces of Me is set. Natalie has a BA in Combined Middle Eastern Studies (Arabic and Spanish) from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University.
Follow Natalie on Twitter @NatalieGHart

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent @lizzienugent PAPERBACK BLOG TOUR @GeorgiaKTaylor @PenguinUKBooks #SkinDeep

The deliciously sinister new novel from the No 1 bestselling author of Richard and Judy Book Club pick, Lying in Wait'
'I could probably have been an actress.
It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else.
Isn't that what I've been doing for most of my life?'
Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.
The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent was published in paperback in the UK by Penguin Books on 15 November 2018.

As part of the Blog Tour for the paperback publication, I'm delighted to re-share my review of this stunning novel:

"Once again, this incredibly talented author has created a character who is completely and utterly unlikeable. Cordelia Russell, or Delia as she was formerly known, is a monster, plain and simple; completely bad, evil and uncontrollable, but oh my God, I loved her.

Whilst Skin Deep is undoubtably Liz Nugent through and through, it's a little different to her previous novels. Those were dark, but this one is black as a starless night, with myths and folklore woven delicately through an utterly terrifying modern-day chiller.

The reader is introduced to Cordelia as she trawls the bars of the Cote d'Azur, looking for someone who will buy her a drink, or food. We know that there's a dead body in Cordelia's flat, but we don't know who it is, or why it is there. From here, the author takes us back to Cordelia's early life, when she was Delia, the apple of her father's eye, living on a remote Irish island.

I'm not going to go into detail about the plot, why on earth would I when Liz Nugent has done such an incredible job already? However, this is a dark and threatening coming of age story featuring a character who has a core of evil, and infects everyone around her.

The author creates such a magnificent sense of place, whether it's the isolated, insular community on the small island of Inishcrann, or the ultra glamour and decadence of the French Riveria; the reader is well and truly transported.

Skin Deep is captivating, but so bloody uncomfortable. This author's intricate plotting and tension building is second to none and those characters!

Completely and utterly brilliant. I literally couldn't put this down and consumed it within a day. Liz Nugent is at the very top of her game. Highly recommended from me."

Extract from Skin Deep

I wondered when rigor mortis would set in, or if it already had. Once I had cleared away the broken glass and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out. I inched my way past  it, past him,  and  locked  myself  into  the  bathroom.  I showered as quickly as I could. The cracked mirror above the sink reflected my bloodshot eyes and my puffy skin. I applied make‑up with shaking hands and dried my hair. I emerged from the bathroom but could not avoid looking at the huge corpse slumped on the floor. I forced myself to be calm. I grabbed the first thing in the wardrobe that came to hand. My silk cashmere dress had worn thin with use, but it was the best thing I had. I needed to leave my flat. I couldn’t think straight with him lying there, a blood‑soaked monster.
I negotiated my way down the narrow, cobbled streets to my favourite cafe on the promenade, stopping off to buy cigarettes. I bought a demitasse and drank it with trembling hands, watching the tourists absorbed by their phones and their maps, ignoring the beauty of the Mediterranean just across the road.
I had twenty‑five euro in my bag, all I had left until my next maintenance payment. It wasn’t enough to run away.
Something will happen, I told myself, someone will be able to help. I needed to be calm. To pretend. I was good at pretending. It was midday already, and the October sunlight was strong. Too bright for me. The world was too bright for me. I decided to walk the promenade. I’m bound to meet somebody I know, I though. Someone will turn up and keep me company. I don’t have to tell anybody. But a solution will reveal itself. It must. For the first time in decades, my thoughts turned to God. I wished that I believed. I needed some divine intervention.

Praise for Skin Deep, and Liz Nugent

'Perfect summer read for those who like their escapism on the darker side' Ian Rankin

'Unspools with many an unexpected shock ... sly humour and dazzling originality' The Times & Sunday Times Crime Club
'Bloody brilliant!' Denise Mina
'An extraordinary writer - Liz Nugent maps the human mind as a cartographer charts new worlds: She's boundlessly curious and totally unflinching' A.J. Finn
'While the likes of Paula (The Girl On The Train) Hawkins have been getting all the plaudits in the ill-named domestic suspense genre, Liz Nugent has been quietly beavering away, producing dark, mythical thrillers of Shakespearean proportions. There are unreliable heroines, and then there's Delia' The Pool
'It took me two sittings to gobble it up - a page turner. You'll just snap it up and you'll love it. A cracking read' Ryan Tubridy, RTÉ
'The finest psychological thriller writer currently at work - no one gets under the skin of monstrous characters like she does' Tammy Cohen
'A wonderful feat of imagination, totally gripping, with a fascinating character at its heart' Sabine Durrant
'Dark, brutal and brilliant' Colette McBeth
'A triumph, from first page to last!' Sarah Hilary
'Monumentally good. Liz Nugent is a beautiful writer and among the very best storytellers in the world' Donal Ryan
'I loved, loved, loved Skin Deep - the compassion of it, the beauty of the language, how glamour and horror intersect, how the tension twists tighter and tighter and is brilliantly done' Marian Keyes
'Beautifully written and completely gripping' Sunday Mirror
'Dazzling ... chilling, mesmerising and, ultimately, devastating. Pure storytelling genius' Mark Edwards
'Her darkest book yet - a compelling one-sitting read' Sinéad Crowley
'Utterly gripping, fast paced, and featuring my favourite sociopathic female character since Lady Macbeth' Louise O'Neill
'Incredibly dark, twisting and utterly mesmerising - you will not be able to put this down' Sinéad Moriarty
'Pitch dark and thrillingly original' Jane Casey
'Skin Deep will keep you completely gripped' Sunday People

Liz was born in Dublin in 1967, where she now lives. She has written successfully for soap opera, radio drama, television plays, short stories and animation for children.

Liz’s first novel Unravelling Oliver was published to critical and popular acclaim in March 2014. It quickly became a firm favourite with book clubs and reader’s groups. In November of that year, it went on to win the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year at the Bord Gais Energy Book Awards and was long listed for the International Dublin Literature Prize 2016. She was also the winner of the inaugural Jack Harte Bursary provided by the Irish Writers Centre and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Dec 2014. Her second novel, Lying in Wait, was published in July 2016 and went straight to number 1 where it remained for seven weeks. Liz won the Monaco Bursary from the Ireland Funds and was Writer in Residence at the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco in Sept/Oct 2016. In Nov 2016, Lying in Wait won the prestigious RTE Ryan Tubridy Listener's Choice prize at the Irish Book Awards.

Aside from writing, Liz has led workshops in writing drama for broadcast, she has produced and managed literary salons and curated literary strands of Arts Festivals. She regularly does public interviews and panel discussions on all aspects of her writing.

Find out more at

Twitter @lizzienugent

Monday 19 November 2018

And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott @RachelAbbott @Wildfirebks @Bookish_Becky #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour

Cleo knows she should be happy for her brother Mark. He's managed to find someone new after the sudden death of his first wife - but something about Evie just doesn't feel right...
When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.
Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As the accused stands trial, the jury is forced to consider - is there ever a proper defence for murder?

And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott was published by Wildfire Books on 15 November 2018 in hardback,  my thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. I am delighted to share my thoughts about the book as part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour today.

Wow! I uttered that three-letter word so many times as I was reading this book. It's one of those novels that you really really hate having to put down when something else needs your attention. There's been quite a few things been left by the wayside in this house lately whilst I've snatched another sneaky few chapters of this one instead!

Opening with a very short prologue; just six lines long, And So It Begins grabs the reader from that intriguing and mesmerising few lines and really doesn't let up until the explosive and totally unexpected ending.

Whilst this could be described as a police procedural story as Sergeant Stephanie Knight is the lead investigator and goes over the odds to ensure that the case is properly solved, it really is more of a psychological thriller, as this clever author delves deep into the minds of her characters. She exposes the depths that some people will go to in order to exact a revenge, in order to keep their family safe, and in order to ensure that their deeds go undiscovered.

At no point throughout this story did I have faintest idea where it would go. I tried to guess, and I was wrong, every single time. Rachel Abbott has constructed a story that weaves and twists so much that the reader almost gets travel sickness. Just when you think you are on top of everything, she throws a ball with such a curve that there is no way that you can catch it.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It ticks every single box for me; tension, twists, incredible characters and a plot that hooks, with an ending that explodes.

Rachel Abbott has played an absolute blinder here. And So It Begins is gripping and chilling. The characters are so well drawn; totally believable and appearing pretty straightforward at first but gradually exposing some horrific behaviours.

Highly recommended from me - absolutely top class

Rachel Abbott's debut thriller, Only the Innocent, was an international bestseller, reaching the number one position in the Amazon charts both in the UK and US. This was followed by the number one bestselling novels The Back Road, Sleep Tight, Stranger Child, Nowhere Child (a short novel based on the characters from Stranger Child), Kill Me Again and The Sixth Window. Her most recent novel, Come a Little Closer, is available from February 2018.

Rachel's novels have now been translated into over 20 languages and her books have sold over 3 million copies in the English language. 

In 2015 Amazon celebrated the first five years of the Kindle in the UK, and announced that Rachel was the #1 bestselling independent author over the five-year period. She was also placed #14 in the chart of all authors. Stranger Child was the most borrowed novel for the Kindle in the first half of 2015.

Rachel splits her time between Alderney - a beautiful island off the coast of France - and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction. For more information, see Rachel's website, or follow her on Twitter.

Rachel's website can be found at 

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