Thursday 31 January 2019

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken - review by Martin @eksorsist @OrendaBooks #BlogTour #SixStories #Changeling



On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the dark Wentshire Forest Pass, when his father, Sorrel, stopped the car to investigate a mysterious knocking sound. 
No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995. 

Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. Journeying through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there, he talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know what happened to the little boy… 

Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought-provoking, Changeling is the latest in the critically acclaimed, international bestselling Six Stories series, written as six Serial-style podcasts, and which are being adapted for TV by a major US studio.






Changeling by Matt Wesolowski was published by Orenda Books in paperback on 24 January 2019.
As part of the Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome my guest reviewer to Random Things today.
Some of you will have met 'The Bloke', many of you will have heard of him. Martin is my husband and he's a Matt Wesolowski mega-fan. He Tweets (rarely) at @eksorsist and reads lots of books whilst he is on holiday, and not so many at home!

So, here you go; Changeling by Matt Wesolowski; reviewed by Martin Cater



Welcome to Random Things Tours 

I’m Martin Cater
In this episode we will be delving into the latest novel penned by Matt Wesolowski, the critically acclaimed, international bestselling author of the Six Stories series. In this third novel, Changeling, Matt continues the unique and clever serial format based around six podcasts. Over the next few paragraphs I will attempt to whet your appetite, after which, it’s up to you the reader to obtain a copy and draw your own conclusions. I don’t profess to being a literary critic, I’m simply going to offer you my thoughts.
Let’s start with an outline of the case.

‘Changeling’ focuses on the case of missing seven-year-old Alfie Marsden, who mysteriously vanishes from his father’s car late on Christmas Eve in 1988, when his father stops on a dark remote forest pass to investigate a strange knocking sound. The Wentshire Forest is synonymous with a whole host of folklore and tales of unexplained ‘sightings’, tapping noises & witches. Online journalist Scott King investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses in an attempt to shed new light on the unsolved mystery.

I was first inducted into Matt’s unique style of writing with his second novel ‘Hydra’, and whilst I am not generally a prolific reader, I found this format so refreshing and engaging, I read the whole novel in a day!.. Something that has never happened before. I have subsequently read the first book and now this latest one with similar relish. There is something about the ‘podcast’ format that keeps you wanting to read the next interview. That coupled with the dark suspense of the cases investigated and you have a winning formula that keeps the reader gripped.

With ‘Changeling’, Matt has once again created an equally chilling plot that blurs psychological thriller with a touch of the paranormal, suffice to say you will never look at a wood in the way same again! Through the different stories, he also paints a very thought-provoking insight into the effects of long term psychological abuse and manipulation.
I have always found Matt’s unique style of writing to be extremely engaging. In my opinion ‘Changeling’ builds on this. Like the very forest that features as a large and sinister part of the story, he lures you in and keeps the tension building. Several ‘I didn’t see that coming’ moments just serve to make you want to keep turning the page. The final reveal I guarantee will leave you open mouthed and speechless!

So what can we glean from this? The Six Stories format is undeniably fresh and current, and  Changeling’ is probably my favourite of the series so far, and something I hope will continue for as long as the author feels its relevant – they just get better & better.
Hopefully I have given enough insight to make you want to take a wander into the woods yourself, find out just what did happen to little Alfie Marsden on that fateful Christmas Eve. 
 Until next time      
I have been Martin Cater






Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for children in care and leads creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. 

Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at 'Bloody Scotland'; Crime Writing Festival 2015. His subsequent debut crime novel 'Six Stories' was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017.

‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio and the third book in the series, ‘Changeling’ is now available.


Twitter : @ConcreteKraken











Among The Ruins by Ausma Zehanat Khan #BlogTour @AusmaZehanat @noexitpress #AmongTheRuins






The murder of renowned political filmmaker, Zahra Sobhani, brings Esa Khattak's cultural holiday in Iran to a sudden halt. Dissidents are being silenced and Khattak's mere presence in Iran is a risk. Yet when asked to unofficially investigate the activist's death, he cannot resist. Soon, he finds himself embroiled in Iran's tumultuous politics and under surveillance by the government. When the trail leads back to Zahra's family in Canada, Khattak calls upon his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, for help. As Khattak gets caught up in the fate of Iran's political prisoners, Rachel sees through to the heart of the matter: Zahra's murder may not have been quite what it seemed. Steeped in suspense, Among the Ruins is a powerful, provocative mystery exploring the interplay of politics and religion, and the intensely personal ripple effects of one woman's murder.






Among The Ruins by Ausma Zehanat Khan was published in paperback on 24 January 2019 by No Exit Press and is book three in the Detective Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty mysteries.

As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour today, I'm delighted to share an extract from the book.



The small town of Varzaneh was a two-hour bus ride from the imperial capital of Esfahan. The bus wound through sand dunes along a rugged road, the early morning light describing the dunes in dust-pink whorls. Esa had been told to visit Varzaneh by Nasih, the proprietor of his guesthouse in Esfahan.
‘I see you in the teahouses or gardens all day,’ Nasih said. ‘You need a change of scene. There are places to visit nearby, but if you want to see something a little different, take the bus to Varzaneh, and visit the Salt Lake. You’ll like the pigeon towers, and you must walk along the Old Bridge. The people are friendly, though only a few may understand your Persian.’
Esa smiled. ‘Is my Farsi as unintelligible as that?’
‘You have an accent,’ Nasih said. ‘I can’t place it, but I like it. Go.’ And then surprising Khattak with his knowledge of the English proverb, ‘A change is as good as a rest.’
So Khattak had found himself on the first bus out of Esfahan, bumping along the eastern road to a town that seemed as if the desert had swallowed it up and spit it back out again, the dun-colored dwellings absorbed into the surrounding terrain. He had dutifully listened to the guide’s explanation of Varzaneh’s attractions: its history of Zoroastrianism, its faithful adherence to the middle Persian language, the craftsmanship of women skilled in weaving the traditional tablecloth of the sofreh.
‘You must go down to the river, you will see them laying the sofreh out.’
Khattak had visited the six-hundred-year-old Jame Masjid first, standing beneath the minaret the guide had boasted of, its sand colored brick rising to a height of sixty-five feet, over the old town and dunes. At its summit, the diamond-patterned brickwork was interrupted by a pair of loudspeakers, out of place in this desert setting. Some distance from the spire, the blue dome made a modest statement, patterns of desert and sky echoed in the old mosque’s architecture and in the inlaid tilework of the blue mihrab.
Khattak paused to read the inscription surrounding the mihrab. Shah Rukh, the son of Tamerlane the conqueror, had captured Esfahan in 1417, inscribing his plea for heirs on the mihrab’s blue kashani tiles. When Esa finished reading, he noticed a screen of tiny, symmetrical crosses reflecting a pattern on the floor, the crosses picked out against a wash of light. As he turned, two women in white chadors stepped over the pattern, the crosses mottling the fabric of their shawls. It was an arresting image – the blue mihrab, the sandy walls, the rose gold crosses on a field of white. It took him a moment to realize the women had turned from the screen to face him, the dials of their faces framed by their shawls.
The woman on the left stared back at him, her dark eyes huge in a clear, young face. She was indescribably lovely with high arched brows and softly flushed cheeks, but he was struck most by an impression of sorrow.
She’s damaged, he thought. And just as quickly, I haven’t come here to solve anyone’s problems but my own.
He didn’t know what prompted the thought. The woman didn’t speak to him, didn’t ask for anything, but neither did she look away, as if the space between them was weighted with intangible desires. She was looking at him, he couldn’t be sure she was seeing him.
He transferred his gaze to her companion. She might have been in her twenties, though it was difficult to tell with the enveloping chador that left her face half-hidden. She smiled at him, her glance bold and inquisitive, her eyes and lips tilted up at the corners, a cast to her features that
hinted at an impish nature. There was a beauty mark beside her left eyebrow, and underneath this a tiny sickle-shaped scar.
The call to the mid-day prayer sounded. He remembered his manners and glanced away, murmuring a greeting. The women murmured back, one reaching for the other’s hand. They disappeared down a narrow arcade, their figures diminishing under a succession of arches, elegant in their simplicity. He wasn’t thinking of the arches, or the light or the splendid mihrab.
He was left with the impression of dolorous eyes.



Ausma Zehanat Khan holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law with a specialisation in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. 
She has practised immigration law and taught human rights law at Northwestern University and York University. 
Formerly, she served as Editor in Chief of Muslim Girl magazine, the first magazine to reflect the lives of young Muslim women. 

Her debut novel, The Unquiet Dead, won the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel. 
She is a longtime community activist and writer. 
Born in Britain, Ausma lived in Canada for many years before recently becoming an American citizen. 
She lives in Colorado with her husband.

For more information, visit her Website
Follow her on Twitter @AusmaZehanat
Author page on Facebook




Tuesday 29 January 2019

The Plotters by Un-su Kim @mattclacher @4thEstateBooks #ThePlotters Translated by Sora Kim-Russell @spacenakji





Plotters are just pawns like us. A request comes in and they draw up the plans. There’s someone above them who tells them what to do. And above that person is another plotter telling them what to do. You think that if you go up there with a knife and stab the person at the very top, that’ll fix everything. But no-one’s there. It’s just an empty chair.
Reseng was raised by cantankerous Old Raccoon in the Library of Dogs. To anyone asking, it’s just an ordinary library. To anyone in the know, it’s a hub for Seoul’s organised crime, and a place where contract killings are plotted and planned. So it’s no surprise that Reseng has grown up to become one of the best hitmen in Seoul. He takes orders from the plotters, carries out his grim duties, and comforts himself afterwards with copious quantities of beer and his two cats, Desk and Lampshade.
But after he takes pity on a target and lets her die how she chooses, he finds his every move is being watched. Is he finally about to fall victim to his own game? And why does that new female librarian at the library act so strangely? Is he looking for his enemies in all the wrong places? Could he be at the centre of a plot bigger than anything he’s ever known?


The Plotters by Un-Su Kim is published by 4th Estate in February 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

When I was approached by Matt from 4th Estate about The Plotters, I must admit that I was hesitant. I'd heard that Korean Noir was going to be 'the thing', but this really did sound way out of my comfort zone. However, the premise intrigued me, and I love the cover, so I threw caution to the wind and said yes, bring it on.

So, I've read it and I've enjoyed the experience. The story opens with such a hook of a first chapter that I'd defy anyone not to read on!
It's a real punch in the guts sort of feeling and the writing is really engaging and excellently translated by Sora Kim-Russell.

The Plotters is way out of my comfort zone, I still think that, and I'm not sure that I'd be falling over myself to read more straight away, but I was pleasantly surprised by the whole thing.
The Plotters are assassins, they hire out people to kill people. It's really as simple as that, and as one would expect, this book has its gritty and quite violent moments. However, anyone who is a fan of the crime / thriller / noir genre will expect this I'd hope.

I love the main character! Whilst Resang is a hired killer, he's also a fan of reading and cats and beer, and who can argue with any of that? He was brought up in the Library of Dogs by a guy called Old Racoon after being left in a rubbish bin as a baby.

There's a fair amount of politics within this story, and we come across corruption and greed galore. I'll admit that some of this went a little over my head; I was far more interested in just what Resang would do next, and loved his supporting characters; especially Bear, who'd get rid of bodies for a fee!

So, my first foray into the world of Korean Noir, and I don't think it will be my last. For me, it was the characters who sold this to me; the plot was well thought out, but I did struggle to keep up with the politics at times. Witty and made me giggle out loud at times, as well as grimacing a few times along the way. I'd certainly recommend this if you fancy a change from your usual crime fiction!








UN-SU KIM was born in 1972 in Busan and is the author of several highly praised novels. He has won the Munhakdongne Novel Prize, Korea’s most prestigious literary prize, and was nominated for the 2016 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. 

The translator, Sora Kim-Russell, is a Korean American living in Seoul, where she teaches translation.











Monday 28 January 2019

The Wife - a film by BJÖRN RUNGE starring GLENN CLOSE & JONATHAN PRYCE #TheWife #Giveaway #Competition #Win



I'm delighted to be able to offer this amazing GIVEAWAY today!
I have a fabulous bundle of prizes to celebrate the release of The Wife

There's a copy of the book, with the new film cover; bookmark; signed cinema poster and a copy of the DVD
Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post.
UK Entries only please.
Good Luck! 





LIONSGATE UK and PICTUREHOUSE ENTERTAINMENT announce the release of acclaimed drama 
THE WIFE
a film by Bjorn Runge, starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, based on MEG WOLITZER'S acclaimed novel


ON DVD, BLU-RAY & DIGITAL 28 JANUARY 2019 


CAST ALSO INCLUDES MAX IRONS, ANNIE STARKE, HARRY LLOYD, ELIZABETH MCGOVERN AND CHRISTIAN SLATER 

“Close delivers an Oscar-worthy performance” Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood 

“Jonathan Pryce is excellent…unmissable” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian 

“Truly outstanding” Yasmin Omar, Harper’s Bazaar 




The Guardian, Mail on Sunday, Metro, The Sun, The Hollywood News, Express.co.uk, Film And TV Now 

 LIONSGATE UK and PICTUREHOUSE ENTERTAINMENT are delighted to announce that the critically acclaimed drama THE WIFE will be available to own on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital on 28 JANUARY 2019, and is available to order now on https://www.thewife.film/watch-at-home/



With a dazzling, career-defining performance from six-time Academy-Award nominee Glenn Close (Damages, Dangerous Liaisons, Fatal Attraction), the film also stars Jonathan Pryce (Brazil, Glengarry Glen Ross, Pirates Of The Caribbean Trilogy), is directed by Björn Runge (Happy End) and is based on the best-selling book by Meg Wolitzer who has recently released her 12th novel The Female Persuasion to much acclaim.  
Joan Castleman (Glenn Close) has spent forty years sacrificing her talent, dreams and ambitions to support her charismatic husband Joe (Jonathan Pryce) and his lauded literary career. 
Ignoring his infidelities and excuses for the sake of his art, she has tolerated his behaviour with acceptance and humour. 
After a lifetime of uneven compromises, Joan and Joe’s marriage has reached the moment of truth. 
On the eve of Joe’s Nobel Prize for Literature, Joan confronts the biggest sacrifice of her life and some long-buried secrets. 
THE WIFE is a poignant, funny and emotional journey; a celebration of womanhood, and selfdiscovery in later life. 
With a stunning cast including Max Irons (The Riot Club, Woman In Gold, Condor), Annie Starke (We Don’t Belong Here), Harry Lloyd (The Theory Of Everything, The Riot Club), Elizabeth McGovern (The Commuter, Downton Abbey) and Golden Globe winner Christian Slater (Mr Robot, True Romance and Heathers).


Image: Graeme Hunter Pictures / Meta Film London ltd


SPECIAL FEATURES: 
• THE WIFE - A LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES (28mins approx.) 
• THEATRICAL TRAILER 

Certificate: 15 
Run time: 100 mins approx. 

THE WIFE IS RELEASED ON DVD, BLU-RAY AND DIGITAL ON 28 JANUARY 2019 

www.thewife.film 
Facebook: /TheWifeFilm 
Twitter: #TheWifeFilm



Sounds wonderful doesn't it?
If you'd like to win this fabulous bundle of prizes, please enter via the Competition widget below.

GOOD LUCK! 



#Win a bundle of goodies to celebrate the release of the film The Wife









Thursday 24 January 2019

Watching You by Lisa Jewell @lisajewelluk #WatchingYou @najmafinlay @arrowpublishing






You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow.
You’re keen to find a place of your own but for now you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room.
That’s when you meet the man next door.

He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive. And you find yourself watching him. All the time.

But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession. Or that someone else is watching you.

Family secrets, illicit passion and an unexplained murder. It can only be the gripping new novel from Lisa Jewell, No. 1 bestselling author of Then She Was Gone.








Watching You by Lisa Jewell is published in paperback by Arrow Publishing today 24 January 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I actually read Watching You back in September, whilst on holiday in Rhodes but have only just managed to get my review posted. Luckily it coincides with paperback publication day.

I do love reading on holiday. There's no reason to stop reading, other than to pour another drink or adjust the sun cream and Watching You is certainly one of those books that are difficult to put down. I noticed a couple of people around the poolside eyeing up my copy (it was a pre-publication proof) and as soon as I finished it, it was snapped up by one of my sun bed neighbours!

Lisa Jewell does not lead her readers in gently. No, this story opens with a hard hitting and intriguing prologue. There's been a murder, there's a body. However, the reader has no idea how the victim is, or why they've been killed. The rest of the story unravels the story, with a large cast of characters and some creepy happenings.

I love the small community setting of Watching You. Melville, just outside Bristol is pitched perfectly with its row of painted houses and the twitching curtains of the neighbours.

Joey has returned to Melville after a stint working in Ibiza. She's returned with a husband; bronzed, beach bum, guitarist Alfie. They married on a beach not long after meeting and Joey is beginning to realise that maybe she jumped in too quickly. Alfie doesn't appear quite so glamorous back in England. They are living with her brother and his pregnant wife in one of the painted houses of Melville that Joey admired so much when she was younger. Also living on the street is Tom Fitzwilliam, headmaster and saviour of the local failing school.

Joey become obsessed with Tom, but hers is not the only obsession in the community. As the author gradually introduces more characters, we find that this is a village of infatuations and misconceptions.

I was absolutely gripped by Watching You. The characters are excellently portrayed, the setting of Melville is deliciously claustrophobic and the murder mystery is cleverly plotted.
This is a rollercoaster ride of a story, with shocks aplenty and twists that make your head swim. There are some dark issues dealt with that create a depth to the story that is incredibly fulfilling.

Watching You is intriguing, compelling and intricate. Highly recommended by me.











LISA JEWELL had always planned to write her first book when she was fifty. In fact she wrote it when she was twenty-seven and had just been made redundant from her job as a secretary. 

Inspired by Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, a book about young people just like her who lived in London, she wrote the first three chapters of what was to become her first novel, Ralph’s Party. It went on to become the bestselling debut novel of 1998. 


Fourteen bestselling novels later, she lives in London with her husband and their two daughters.


www.lisa-jewell.co.uk 


www.facebook.com/LisaJewellOfficial 


@lisajewelluk on Twitter






Wednesday 23 January 2019

How To Hold A Grudge by Sophie Hannah @sophiehannahCB1 @HodderBooks #HowToHoldAGrudge







What if grudges are not just good for us but great?
How often have you held a grudge and felt guilty about it? 'Forgive and move on' is the received wisdom, and that's what many of us try to do.
Positive thinking is essential for a happy life, but how we get to that positive is even more crucial.
What if grudges can ward off danger, and help us live better lives?
What if they can act as stepping stones, pointing us in the right direction?
This ultimate guide will give you all the tools you need to analyse, process and embrace your grudges in order to be your best possible self.
** How to Hold a Grudge - The Podcast now available for download! Check out Grudge of the Week, and discover the latest Grudge Music **








How To Hold a Grudge by Sophie Hannah was published by Hodder & Stoughton on 1 November 2018.

I was intrigued when I heard about this book. I met Sophie Hannah at the Harrogate Crime Festival last July, in the bar one evening and she told me about it then. I thought about it for a long time afterwards and was determined that I would read it once it was published.

I hold grudges.  I do, and I always have. I'm not bitter, or toxic, although I'm often grumpy and bad tempered. However, I'm usually quite pleasant and cheerful. I like to meet new people and I think I open up pretty quickly. However, if someone does something that hurts me, I'll remember. I may forgive, in a fashion, but I'll always remember. I will always be wary of it happening again.

Thank goodness for this book. Sophie Hannah has reassured me that it's OK to hold a grudge. In fact, it's perfectly healthy, as long as you have some processes in place. As long as you don't let your grudges eat you up and make you into a bitter person who never smiles and never trusts anyone again.

Sophie Hannah doesn't claim to be a psychologist. She doesn't claim that any of her strategies and teachings in this book are 'written in stone, and will work for everyone'. What she does do is explain how grudge-holding works for her.  She has worked with two experienced therapists whilst writing the book; Helen Acton is a BACP and UKCP-registered existential psychotherapist in private practice and Anne Grey is a practitioner of Emotional Freedom Therapy, a fellow of The Healer Foundation and a council member of the BCMA. Their ideas and thoughts are a great addition to this book, and go a long way to affirming what the author says.

How To Hold A Grudge is written with wit and humour. The author admits to her own grudges and explains them with various carat ratings, enabling the reader to get to know the author a little.

The author talks about a Grudge Cabinet, and for me, this was the most influential part of the book; I do have a 'fuck it bucket' and now I have a 'grudge cabinet', they sit nicely alongside each other.
Who knew that there were so many types of grudges?  There are, and when you read through the definitions, they really do make sense. We can grade our grudges, we can sift out the bad and invalid grudges and we can manage our very own 'grudget'.  Finally we are advised how to become a responsible grudge holder.

At the end of the book, the author has provided lots of examples of other people's grudges. She collected these after calling out on Twitter, and some of them are cringeworthy and many of them are sad.

I read this book over a few weeks. Picking it up every now and again. It's an interesting read and lots of it makes sense. You don't have to take any notice; you may not agree that anyone should hold a grudge, but it's certainly fascinating to read how the author deals with the subject.





Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling crime fiction writer. Her crime novels have been translated into 34 languages and published in 51 countries. Her psychological thriller The Carrier won the Specsavers National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year in 2013. In 2014 and 2016, Sophie published The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket, the first new Hercule Poirot mysteries since Agatha Christie's death, both of which were national and international bestsellers.

Sophie’s novels The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives have been adapted for television as Case Sensitive, starring Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd. Sophie is also a bestselling poet who has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE and A-level throughout the UK.  Sophie is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, two children and dog.

Sophie's website is www.sophiehannah.com, and you can follow her on Twitter at @sophiehannahcb1