Thursday, 13 December 2018

Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly @PaulaDalyAuthor @TransworldBooks @BeckyShort1 #OpenYourEyes

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she'd prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly was published in paperback by Transworld on 26 July 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I read this whilst sitting by the pool in Rhodes in the September sunshine and hardly lifted my head from the pages at all. I've read and enjoyed all of Paul Daly's previous books, she's one of those authors who seem to fly a little under the radar for some reason. But oh my goodness, she's good. She's very very good. I almost inhaled this story.

Jane and Leon are preparing to visit his mother with their two small children. Jane rushes back into the house and when she returns to the car, she finds Leon badly injured. He's been attacked, on their own driveway, whilst sitting in his car, in front of the children. With no clues as to what happened, or who did it, Jane's life begins to spiral out of control.

As Leon lays in a coma, Jane slowly discovers that their life has become something of a lie. Everyone knows Leon; he's a well-know, prize winning author of crime fiction. His books are popular, and sell well. Or so Jane believes. Gradually and slowly, she finds out truths that are both shocking and betraying. She doesn't know her husband at all.

As a avid reader who goes to lots of literary festivals and events, and has met lots of authors and publishers, I particularly enjoyed the setting of this novel. The publishing world is one of mystery and intrigue to those of us who look in from the outside and Paula Daly exposes little snippets along the way that may be imagined, but could be true ...

Open Your Eyes is an absorbing and chilling story which kept me guessing right up to the unexpected and startling ending. As the secrets are revealed, the tension increases and there were times that I found myself holding my breath in anticipation of just what Jane may come across next.

An absolutely gripping tale of betrayal, friendship and jealousy, packed with secrets and suspense.  I loved every page and look forward to reading more from this fabulous author.

Paula Daly is the acclaimed author of five novels. 

Her work has been sold in fifteen countries, shortlisted for CWA Gold Dagger Crime Novel of the Year award, and her books are currently being developed into the ITV drama - Deep Water - set to air in 2019. 

She was born in Lancashire and lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children, and whippet Skippy. 

Twitter @PaulaDalyAuthor 

Facebook Author Page

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh @SSCav @orion_crime #Thirteen #KillerOnTheJury



They were Hollywood's hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to Robert's guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the court room start to raise doubts in Eddie's mind.

What if there's more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn't on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh was published in paperback by Orion on 13 June 2018, and is the fourth book in the Eddie Flynn series. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I realise that I'm very late to the party with this review! I did actually read this whilst on holiday back in September but have only just got around to posting up my thoughts.
Please don't worry about the fact that this is number four of a series, I haven't read the previous books but had no problem at all reading this as a standalone.  The bloke read it after I did and he didn't struggle with the back story either.

So, where to begin??  What a clever story this is, it's so smart and so gripping, I was totally hooked from the compelling and intriguing opening, right through to the awesome finish.
Set in New York; Eddie Flynn is a something of an enigma in the legal world. He used to be a con-man, now he's a defence lawyer and uses his past experiences whilst in court. He's taken on a case that has been dropped by a rival hot-shot law firm. A popular young actor is accused of murdering his girlfriend, and whilst his studio originally stood by him, recent revelations have left him on his own .... with only Eddie to defend him.

However, we the readers know that the killer is on the jury!  Oh my goodness, what a fabulous hook for a book. I defy anyone to read that line and not be intrigued and just have to dive in and find out just how the hell that happened.

This is wonderfully done. Cavanagh has created two magnificent characters in Eddie, and in our killer jury member. We know the murderer as Kane, and he's perverse and genius and lacking in any feelings, both physically and mentally, and I just loved him. Odd, I know, but there you go ... I've always had a soft spot for a bad boy.

I'm no court room expert but Cavanagh's depiction of the American trial by jury appears to be very authentic, and certainly fits with things that I've read before, or seen on screen. This author knows just how to keep his readers on the edge of their seats. The tension cranks up page by page and becomes unrelenting in its intensity.

I absolutely devoured Thirteen, it's one of those books that keep you up way past bedtime. Excellent hook, fabulous characters and ingenious plotting. I can't wait to read more from this author.

Steve Cavanagh is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of the Eddie Flynn series and lawyer. 
His third novel, The Liar, won the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the year 2018. 
He is also one half of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. 
His latest novel, Thirteen, is out now. 

His first standalone book, Twisted, is released in the UK in April 2019. 

Find out more at or follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

Monday, 10 December 2018

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #LionTamerWhoLost


Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech was published by Orenda Books on 20 September 2018.
I read and reviewed this one for the Daily Express in September and am now delighted to share my full review here on Random Things.

“We all need to dance on feet bigger than ours sometimes.”

This is a line said by Andrew to Ben, around half way through The Lion Tamer Who Lost and for me, it sums up perfectly, just what this beautifully written story is about.

Louise Beech has written a book that will touch the most hard-hearted of readers, it is full of love and desire and deals with the most sensitive of issues, yet the author’s trademark Northern gritty humour shines through her writing. There was always a chance that this story could be sweeter than honey, but Louise Beech’s incredible way with words, and with characters ensures that it is always real.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is structured magnificently; beginning as Ben watches the sunrise in Zimbabwe, as he does most mornings. Ben has been a volunteer at the lion sanctuary for just five days and the beauty of the morning sun is one of his highlights.
It is clear that Ben has left tragedy behind in England, although the reader is never quite sure what has happened. We know that it concerns his father and his friend Andrew, but the finer details are not revealed until much later in the book.

The dual narrative of both Ben and Andrew works beautifully, as the reader learns more about each man and the circumstances that have led to Ben finally taking the trip to Africa that he’s thought about for many years.

The author takes her readers from Africa, to East Yorkshire in snapshots from Ben and Andrew’s lives before, during and after. Her ability to create such differing setting that are both atmospheric and totally believable is quite stunning. The reader feels equally at home in the searing heat of the lion reserve and also in the greyer and more solid English settings.

It is the characters in this novel who are the real stars though; the contrasting outlooks of Ben and Andrew; the age-old bias of Ben’s father and the yearning love and gradual realisation shown by Esther. Each one of them are perfectly created; flawed yet human, knowable and expertly balanced.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is an amazing study of love, and of grief. Louise Beech holds her readers firmly in her hand as she tells her story. Her ability to convey human emotion is precise and impassioned.

I’ve read all of this author’s books and can honestly say that this is her best yet. I was enthralled, moved to tears and totally lost when I turned the final page.

Louise Beech remembers sitting in her father's cross-legged lap while he tried to show her his guitar's chords. He's a musician. Her small fingers stumbled and gave up. She was three. His music sheets fascinated her - such strange language that translated into music. Her mother teaches languages, French and English, so her fluency with words fired Louise's interest. She knew from being small that she wanted to write, to create, to make magic. 

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism. Her debut novel was a Guardian Readers' pick for 2015. 

She is inspired by life, history, survival and love, and always has a story in her head. Her debut novel, How to be Brave, came from truth - when Louise's daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad's real life sea survival story. Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, will be released in September 2016 and was inspired by her time working with children in the care system.

When she was fifteen Louise bet her mother ten pounds she'd be published by the time she was thirty. She missed this self-set deadline by two months. Her mother is still waiting for the money.

Find out more at -

Follow on Twitter at @LouiseWriter

Orenda Books website -
Follow Orenda on Twitter @OrendaBooks

Sunday, 9 December 2018

The Mother of all Christmases by Milly Johnson @millyjohnson @ed_pr @simonschusteruk @simonschusterpr #MotherOfAllChristmases

Eve Glace - co-owner of the theme park Winterworld - is having a baby and her due date is a perfectly timed 25th December. And she’s decided that she and her husband Jacques should renew their wedding vows with all the pomp that was missing the first time. But growing problems at Winterworld keep distracting them … 

Annie Pandoro and her husband Joe own a small Christmas cracker factory, and are well set up and happy together despite life never blessing them with a much-wanted child. But when Annie finds that the changes happening to her body aren’t typical of the menopause but pregnancy, her joy is uncontainable. 

Palma Collins has agreed to act as a surrogate, hoping the money will get her out of the gutter in which she finds herself. But when the couple she is helping split up, is she going to be left carrying a baby she never intended to keep?

Annie, Palma and Eve all meet at the ‘Christmas Pudding Club’, a new directive started by a forward-thinking young doctor to help mums-to-be mingle and share their pregnancy journeys. Will this group help each other to find love, contentment and peace as Christmas approaches?

The brand new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Perfectly Imperfect Woman; a gorgeous read full of love, life, laughter - and crackers! 

The Mother of all Christmases by Milly Johnson was published in paperback by Simon & Schuster on 15 November 2018.  I loved this book! It's such a heartwarming read, my review was recently published in the Daily Express - here's the full version:

The ‘Christmas Pudding Club’ is run by a new young GP in a small town near Barnsley, in Yorkshire. The members are all expecting a baby around Christmas time and the club is place for them to share their experiences and find some friendship.
Milly Johnson’s characters are always a joy to get to know and her three leads; Eve,  Annie and Palma are gloriously created; each one very individual, but when brought together they make a fabulous trio.
Eve and her French husband Jacques own the Christmas themed park Winterworld, her due day of 25 December couldn’t be more perfect. However the multitude of distractions at Winterworld are growing daily and taking away some of the sparkle from the imminent birth.
Annie and Joe own a luxury Christmas cracker factory and whilst they are incredibly happy and still very much in love, Annie’s  menopausal symptoms had drawn a thick line under their hopes of having a family.  Their shock and joy when they discover that they are going to be parents after all is so wonderfully written and very emotional.
Palma just wants to get off the run-down council estate that she lives on. She wants more for herself, she wants to get away from the undesirables that surround her. Becoming a surrogate mother seems like a pretty simple way to earn £5000. When she finally falls pregnant, she’s horrified to discover that the couple have split up, and it looks like Palma is going to be left holding the baby.
With her trademark gritty Nothern wit and humour, Milly Johnson once again makes her readers laugh out loud during one page before breaking into sobs by the next chapter. Whilst this is a light hearted, positive story, this clever author also touches on some more serious issues, with some completely heart breaking scenes.

As part of the Blog Tour, I'm delighted to share an exclusive extract from the book here on Random Things today.

Chapter 1

‘Crackers, that’s what this business is,’ cackled Gill Johnson.
A joke she had made every week since she had joined them; a joke she never tired of and which the others still laughed at because it had gone beyond corny to be reborn as ‘kitsch’.
The owners of The Crackers Yard, Joe and Annie Pandoro, groaned every time it was said, but they’d miss it when they didn’t hear it anymore. Gill was counting down the days to
her retirement, when she would be leaving them to live in sunny Spain.
‘Oh shut up and get stuffing,’ snapped Iris Caswell, the eldest of the workforce at eighty- five. She made a selection of ‘oof ’ and ‘eeh’ sounds whenever she rose from a chair, and
every joint she possessed creaked like an old ship, but if the rest of her were as fit and nimble as her fingers, she’d have been running the Grand National every April.
‘I’ve forgotten what I was saying,’ said Annie, eyebrows dipped in deliberation.
‘How the menopause is robbing you of your memory,’ Iris reminded her, tying a ribbon into an expert bow around the end of a cracker. ‘You just got on with it in our day. You didn’t go broadcasting you were sweating like a fat lad in a cake shop. You mopped your brow and carried on pegging out the washing.’
‘Someone was on the telly saying women should wear badges with the letter M on them to highlight to the known universe that you were going through the change.’ Gill’s wry burst of laughter made it plain what she thought of that idea. ‘What next? “I” badges for incontinence so you don’t have to wait in toilet queues?’
‘I’d have one of those,’ said Iris. ‘These days, when my bladder shouts, “Jump”, I have to shout back, “How high?”’
‘Well I’m not wearing a badge,’ decided Annie, packing all the crackers her ladies had completed into a box. ‘Even if I did, it would need to be P for perimenopausal.’
Her husband Joe poked his head out of his office. He was a man who loved to banter with women, but sometimes he felt the need to exit certain conversations and go and make some
tea. Women’s talk often terrified him and he was incredibly grateful to have been born a man.
‘What on earth is perimenopausal?’ he asked.
‘It’s when you’re so worried you’re menopausal, you have to open up a bottle of Babycham,’ chuckled Gill, queen of the terrible jokes. Joe’s head disappeared back into the sanctuary
of his office, not understanding the punchline at all. Some things didn’t translate properly into his native Italian.

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As well as being an author of 13 published novels, 2 short story books and 2 novellas, she is also a copywriter for the greetings card industry, a joke-writer, a columnist, after dinner speaker, poet, BBC newspaper reviewer, and a sometimes BBC radio presenter.

She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016 and the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015.

She writes about love, life, friendships and that little bit of the magic that sometimes crops up in real life. She likes owls, cats, meringues, handbags and literary gifts - but hates marzipan. She is very short.

Milly's website is
She is on Twitter @millyjohnson and has a Facebook page  
She also has a monthly newsletter with exclusive, news, offers and competitions.