Thursday 31 October 2019

A Window Breaks by C M Ewan @chrisewan @panmacmillan @rosiewilsreads #PublicationDay

If your family was targeted in the middle of the night, what would you do?
You are asleep. A noise wakes you.
You stir, unsure why, and turn to your wife.
Then you hear it.
Glass. Crunching underfoot.
Your worst fears are about to be realized.
Someone is inside your home.
Your choices are limited.
You can run. Or stay and fight.
What would you do?

A Window Breaks by CM Ewan is published as an ebook today; 31 October 2019. The paperback will be published in February next year. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

It has to be everyone's worst nightmare. That unexpected noise in the middle of the night. The one that wakes you and means that you lie there in your bed, frightened out of your wits, wondering what it was. Is someone in the house?  What do they want? Are they going to hurt me?
Usually, it's the cat, or just the house settling; totally explained and nothing to fear ... but what if it wasn't?

Tom, his wife Rachel and their teenage daughter Holly are a fractured family. Still trying to come to terms with the tragic death of their son Micheal, they've each gone their separate ways. When Tom's boss Lionel offers them the use of his luxury lodge in the remote highlands of Scotland they seize the chance. Surely time together can only heal them? They can work through their pain and try to repair themselves.

It doesn't work out like that. Oh no. This author doesn't let his readers off for even one second and the family have hardly settled into their holiday home before the nightmare begins. And, what a fast paced, unrelenting nightmare this is. The reader is swept up in this explosive and heart-stopping story right from the very beginning. There's no time to catch your breath, the author throws out more and more as each page is turned. It made my heart race so fast, and I was turning the pages like a woman possessed at one point, yet holding my breath at the same time.

This is a game of cat-and-mouse to end them all. As the family try to out-wit the intruders in the house, the tension increases and the terror is unrelenting. It's pretty clear that the men that have broken into the house mean business; they are not just here to scare anything; they are here to kill. There are scenes that made me screw up my face, and curl my toes; there's violence and it's often gruesome, but it's never gratuitous; it fits so well into the plot.

A Window Breaks is not just the story of a break-in; the author cleverly reveals the inner turmoil experienced by Tom and his family, and it becomes clear that their situation is not just a an unfortunate event. As the reader learns more about past events, and how young Michael's death could be connected, the story becomes complex, but oh so clever.

Over four hundred pages of pure pleasure for me. A book that is addictive, thrilling and utterly tense. If you like a heart-pounding thriller, this is the book for you.

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

My Life in Books -  CM Ewan

I was obsessed with this book as a child. So much so that my dad used to try and hide it from me so he wouldn’t have to read it AGAIN at bedtime. But, like all the best stories, I always had a knack for finding where the book was hidden. Recently, I got to read the book to my own children and I was shocked by how dark it is. Not just that Chicken Licken (and soon everyone else) believes the sky is falling down, but that (spoiler alert!) in my edition Foxy Loxy eats everyone at the end. I guess my love of noir came early. 

Every summer, my parents would take me to Taunton Library and I’d be told to take out some books to read during the school holidays. This is how I burned through a bunch of Famous Five and Secret Seven adventures that later got me on to The Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. I’m still pretty gutted I never got to hang out with my friends in a secret den so we could solve real-life mysteries together.

The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
I don’t think I’ve ever had such a visceral reaction to a book as I did reading The Silver Sword as a kid. The images of Jan and his three homeless friends escaping the horrors of World War Two stay with me even today – I can still picture them fleeing over war-torn rooftops. A wonder of a book.

I studied American and Canadian literature at university in the UK and Canada, and this slim novel amazed me. There is so much story wrapped up in 100 odd pages – a harrowing tale of a deeply dysfunctional family – but what got me most was that the author was only twenty when the book was published. It’s probably no coincidence I started writing my first (still very unpublished) novel the same year.

Another university read, and the one that made me really dream of being a writer. And not just because Kerouac bummed around America leading a totally hedonistic lifestyle. Well … Actually, that was pretty much why. 

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
In my early twenties, I travelled around the US (see Kerouac above …) and wound up in New Orleans in the height of August. It was too hot and humid to do much except read, so one day I went into a second hand book shop and asked the guy behind the counter for a recommendation. He sold me The Long Goodbye for $3.50 and by the time I’d read the opening paragraphs on a shady bench in Jackson Square, I’d found my writing hero. I turned to crime because of Chandler and I reread The Long Goodbye most years.

I’ve always loved books about books and writing, and this is one is terrific. Sidney Orr buys a magical blue notebook from a stationery shop in Brooklyn and finds
himself drawn into a strange, parallel world. It’s a short, beautifully told novel that has an odd kind of hypnotic pull.

Since stumbling across Chandler, I’ve read a lot of crime, mystery and thriller fiction. I have loads of favourite authors. But in the past couple of years, I’ve been blown away by Jane Harper’s novels. I find it hard to think of a modern crime author who has started off with three such brilliant books as The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man, so honestly, I could have picked any one of them, but I think my favourite – because of its nimble structural conceit – is Force of Nature. Besides, what’s not to love about a mystery about a team-building exercise gone horribly wrong?

Dr David Beck receives a message that may or may not be from his wife Elizabeth – eight years after her death. Tell No One combines a killer hook with heartfelt romance, endless twists and reveals, and a huge emotional pay-off. This is probably my favourite thriller.

I thought I’d finish by mentioning how special a book can be as a physical object. Twenty years or so ago, when I was bingeing on James Lee Burke’s brilliant and evocative Dave Robicheaux novels, I saw mention somewhere of a non-Robicheaux novel that was out of print. Or so it seemed. My wife tracked down a copy of The Lost Get-Back Boogie for me from the Louisiana State University Press and it’s one of my most prized possessions.

 C M Ewan  - October 2019

CM Ewan is a pseudonym for Chris Ewan, the critically acclaimed and bestselling author of many mystery and thriller novels.
Chris's first standalone thriller, Safe House, was a number one bestseller in the UK and was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.
He is also the author of the thrillers Dead Line and Dark Tides and the Kindle short story, Scarlett Point.
He is the author of the Good Thief's Guide series of mystery novels.  The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam won the Long Barn Books First Novel Award and is published in thirteen countries.

Website :
Twitter : @chrisewan

Wednesday 30 October 2019

SHADOW JUDGE ANNOUNCEMENT! The Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award @YoungWriterYear

It's a real thrill and such an honour to announce that I've asked to be a Shadow Judge for the 2019 The Sunday Times / University of Warwick  Young Writer of the Year Award

Along with four other amazing bloggers I will be reading the shortlisted books, at the same time as the official judging panel.  We will then vote to decide our winner, and see if we pick the same book!

The shortlisted books will be announced in the Sunday Times this week - 3 November and we are really excited about taking part.

The Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award is awarded for a full-length published or self-published (in book or ebook formats) work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, by an author aged 18 - 35 years.

The winner receives £5,000, and there are three prizes of £500 each for runners-up.

The winning book will be a work of outstanding literary merit.

The award is an annual prize administered by the Society of Authors.

The Shadow Panel

As well as myself, the other shadow panelists include:

Linda Hill of Linda's Book Bag

David Harris of Blue Book Balloon

Clare Reynolds of Years Of Reading Selfishly

Phoebe Williams of The Brixton Bookworm

You can follow everything about the award on Twitter @youngwriteryear, or by using #YoungWriterAwardShadow to see what the shadow panel is up to!

The Official Judging Panel

The award-winning poet, writer and teacher Kate Clanchy and the best-selling author Victoria Hislop will join Andrew Holgate to judge The Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award this year. Submissions for the 2019 prize will close on Saturday, 15th June 2019.
Kate Clanchy’s new book, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, which looks over her 30-year career in teaching, is garnering huge critical acclaim. Her poetry collection Slattern received a Forward Prize, her short story ‘The Not-Dead and the Saved’ won both the 2009 BBC National Short Story Award and the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize. Meeting the English, a novel, was shortlisted for the Costa Prize. In 2018, she was awarded an MBE for services to literature.
Victoria Hislop’s new novel, Those Who Are Loved, is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece. Her books have been translated into more than 35 languages and have been bestsellers in China, Greece, France, Israel, Norway and the UK. She has won several literary awards in France and recently received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Sheffield. She worked as a journalist and in publishing before writing her first novel, The Island, inspired by her love of Greece. Widely considered a modern classic, it sold over 5 million copies worldwide, and was turned into a 26 -part Greek TV series.
Andrew Holgate has been the Literary Editor of The Sunday Times for ten years, and before that was the Deputy Literary Editor for nine. He has worked in bookselling, publishing and literary journalism, and has judged many other prizes, including the Samuel Johnson Award and the Somerset Maugham.

Keep a look out for my Young Writer of the Year blog posts over the next few weeks. I'll be telling you all about the shortlisted books, and what I thought about them! 

Haverscroft by SA Harris BLOG TOUR @salharris1 @saltpublishing #HaverscroftHalloween @EmmaDowson1

Kate Keeling leaves all she knows and moves to Haverscroft House in an attempt to salvage her marriage.  
Little does she realise, Haverscroft's dark secrets will drive her to question her sanity, her husband and fatally engulf her family unless she can stop the past repeating itself. Can Kate keep her children safe and escape Haverscroft in time, even if it will end her marriage? 
Haverscroft is a gripping and chilling dark tale, a modern ghost story that will keep you turning its pages late into the night.

Haverscroft by SA Harris was published in paperback by Salt on 15 May 2019. My thanks to Emma from Salt who sent my copy for review and who also invited me to take part in this Halloween Blog Tour.

Haverscroft is probably my perfect Halloween read. I'm not a huge fan of traditional horror stories, and rarely read ghostly tales; this contemporary telling of the age-old haunted house tale is superbly done and I enjoyed every single spine-tingling page.

The story opens as Kate, her husband Mark and their nine-year-old twins are moving into Haverscroft House. It's clear from the narrative that the move has been pushed through by Mark; he's taken control of the situation and organised their departure from her London home. Kate's voice is shaky and unsure and it soon becomes clear that she's been very ill recently, and that there's some kind of incident in their past that isn't being spoken about. Kate feels that in order to keep her family together, she has to agree to the upheaval.

Haverscroft House is old, and dirty and full of unexpected surprises; most of them are unwelcome and feel threatening and quite frightening. As doors lock, or open, and floorboards creak for no reason, and the cold seeps into the house; the atmosphere within the story becomes more tense

As Mark continues to work from London for most of the week, it is Kate and the children who experience the fear and sheer terror, but Kate is never sure if she should tell Mark just how difficult they are finding things. He may not believe her, he may think that she's becoming ill again.
Can the reader believe Kate though? She doesn't appear to be the most reliable of narrators, and this just adds to the tension in the story; I was second-guessing all the way through.

Atmospheric, creative and often disturbing; Haverscroft is a splendid read. I enjoyed it tremendously and would recommend it highly

S.A.Harris is an award-winning author and family law solicitor born in Suffolk and now living and working in Norwich, Norfolk.

She won the Retreat West Crime Writer Competition in 2017. She was shortlisted for The Fresher Prize First 500 Words of a Novel Competition in 2018 and published in their anthology, Monsters, in November 2018.

Her debut novel, Haverscroft, was published on the 15th May 2019 and Longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize 2019.

She is a member of the Society of Authors. 

Twitter @salharris1 or author website:

Monday 28 October 2019

Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen @antti_tuomainen BLOG TOUR @OrendaBooks #LittleSiberia

A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland, when there is flash in the sky and something crashes into the car. That something turns about to be a highly valuable meteorite. With euro signs lighting up the eyes of the locals, the unexpected treasure is temporarily placed in a neighbourhood museum, under the watchful eye of a priest named Joel.

But Joel has a lot more on his mind than simply protecting the riches that have apparently rained down from heaven. His wife has just revealed that she is pregnant. Unfortunately Joel has strong reason to think the baby isn’t his. As Joel tries to fend off repeated and bungled attempts to steal the meteorite, he must also come to terms with his own situation, and discover who the father of the baby really is.

Transporting the reader to the culture, landscape and mores of northern Finland Little Siberia is both a crime novel and a hilarious, blacker-than-black comedy about faith and disbelief, love and death, and what to do when bolts from the blue – both literal and figurative – turn your life upside down.

Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 17 October 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour

Nobody quite owns the literary land of Finland quite like Antti Tuomainen. Readers who have read his previous novels will come to expect that unexpected and deathly funny humour, alongside writing that is confident, energetic and totally on point.

Little Siberia does not disappoint. A meteorite crashing down to earth; an ex-military officer-turned-priest tasked with guarding what could be a very precious commodity for this small community. Questions of parentage; washed out and angry ex-rally drivers, all placed in an exquisitely described setting that makes the reader want to jump onto a plane and visit straight away.

Whilst the opening of Little Siberia, with the description of the meteorite hit may seem improbable, it's absolutely intriguing. The opening hits you with a blast, making you wobble a bit and wonder where the story is going. And then, you realise; this is Antti Tuomainen; it's going to be a crazy ride, so you may as well just buckle down and enjoy it! 

This is not just a humour laced thriller though, it's also a poignant and intense look at self belief and faith. 
Faith in ourselves, in others and in more spiritual terms. The author poses questions about ethics and morality, creating a depth to the novel that only increases the enjoyment. 

Once more, this astute, clever and incredibly funny author has produced a story that is unique and difficult to put down. You will laugh, squirm and becoming emotionally involved with these characters.
Nordic noir at its very best, and expertly translated from Finnish by David Hackston.

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. The recently published Palm Beach, Finland has been a massive critical success, with Marcel Berlins of The Times calling him ‘the funniest writer in Europe’, and making it one of his books of the year.

Saturday 26 October 2019

Cage by Lilja Sigurðardóttir @lilja1972 BLOG TOUR @OrendaBooks #Cage Translated by @graskeggur

The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her.

As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis, María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed.
Ruthless drug baron Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home.
At the same time, a deadly threat to Sonya and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive.

Cage by Lilja  Sigurðardóttir was published as an ebook by Orenda Books on 17 August 2019, the paperback edition was released on 17 October 2019. I'm delighted to share my review as part of the Blog Tour today

Cage is the third and final instalment in the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy; the previous books are Snare and Trap; both of which I've reviewed here on Random Things, and both of which I adored.

It was with a hint of sadness that I picked up Cage; I really didn't want this to be the last that I'd read about Sonya and Agla; however, I was soon absolutely transfixed and as I turned the final page, I had a feeling of satisfaction. Lilja Sigurðardóttir has done her characters such justice; this is a tough, unsettling and quite emotional ending to what has been a fabulous series.

My heart was in my mouth as I read the opening chapter where we find Agla in prison. She's had a very bad time, and whilst she's always been a strong, determined woman, she's really suffering. The loss of the greatest love of her life; Sonja, has had a huge impact on her outlook.

However, it's not that long before Agla finds herself entwined in scandal once more. Her one-time enemy Maria needs her help; she'd determined to expose the corruption in Icelandic industry, and there's danger ahead.

Whilst I did miss Sonja in this story (she makes an appearance later on in the book), I was intrigued and impressed by the author's development of the other characters from the series.

Once more, this clever author has produced a story that masters the art of combining suspense with literary depth. The reader gains an insight into the terrifying criminal underworld of Iceland and sees just how an ordinary person can be sucked into it and how difficult it is to escape.

This is a smart, chilling and suspenseful novel that doesn't let go until the very last page.

Bravo Lilja Sigurðardóttir, I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. 
An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in the Reykjavik Noir series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Trap was published in 2018, and a Book of the Year in Guardian. 
The film rights for the series have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. 

Lilja lives in Reykjavík with her partner. 

Follow Lilja on Twitter @lilja1972 and on her website

Sparky The Dragon Bus by Sue Wickstead @JayJayBus COVER REVEAL @rararesources

Sparky The Dragon Bus by Sue Wickstead is published on 27 September 2019. I'm delighted to take part in the cover reveal for this new book today; thanks to Rachel from Rachel's Random Resources who asked me to be part of it.

Sparky isn't your typical double-decker bus. Behind the dragon aand magical paintings, she's exciting and full of funand adventures for all children.Jump aboard to find out what makes Sparky so special.A children's picture story book about a Playbus. The real bus worked in Glasgow, Scotland and helped promote inclusion and support for many children who were less mobile.

Pre-Order Link:

About the Author 
I am an author and a teacher and have written six children’s picture books, all with a bus included somewhere.
Having been able to share my first book, 'Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus', it was time to think about writing a book for younger readers.
While visiting a local school the children were writing stories about a journey, we read Jay-Jay’s book and then I remembered a book that I had written some years before and I read this to the class too, and they loved it.
The original story was based on a walk with my class around the neighbourhood of Bewbush, Crawley. The walk had led to map work and sequencing. Then together with the class I wrote an imaginative adventure.
The events we imagined were put into a class book. The book was shared with many classes and it was always a favourite.
Now years later I decided it was time to update, improve and look at publishing the book.
There is indeed a walk around the district of Bewbush. and following the publication of the book I went back to see if and how the neighbourhood had changed.
‘Oh, I see you have written a book without a bus!’ commented a friend.
But, look through the pages and you will see there always has to be a bus!
The neighbourhood of Bewbush was a new estate built in Crawley town in the 1970's. The area was built without any shops, school or safe places for children to play. It was an area of high need and was supported by a special playbus which offered a much-needed playgroup venue.
I also undertake events and author bookings and love to share my stories. There are also a few more stories in the writing process, with links to real events and buses.

Facebook: - Author Page
Playbus page
Web site :

Friday 25 October 2019

My Best Mistake by Carole Wolfe BLOG TOUR @CaroleW30064418 @BOTBSPublicity #MyBestMistake #MyLifeInBooks

A lawsuit, an ex-husband, and a hotel full of men. Just another crazy day in the life of a single mom…
Tasha Gerome tries to find the funny side of her everyday disasters. It’s just about the only thing that gets the single mother of twins through her chaotic life. Well, that and a comfy pair of piggy slippers. But not everyone appreciates her brand of humor…
Her deadbeat ex-husband certainly doesn’t get her jokes as he returns to town to bother her and the twins. A well-known doctor threatens her with legal action over a misunderstanding. And her mother is more concerned with Tasha’s single status than her humor, dragging her kicking and screaming back into the dating game…
One thing is for certain. Fixing her legal troubles, getting rid of her ex, and finding a new man will take a whole lot of laughter… and a little help from her family…
My Best Mistake is a down-to-earth women’s fiction novel that celebrates a single mother’s courage and comedy. If you like sweet romance, snarky humor, and characters who tell it like it is, then you’ll love Carole Wolfe’s hilarious tale. 
Buy My Best Mistake for a funny look into the madness of motherhood today!

My Best Mistake by Carole Wolfe was published in June this year. As part of the Blog Tour organised by Sarah from Book On The Bright Side Publicity, I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her, in My Life In Books.

My Life In Books - Carole Wolfe

Oh, the Places You’ll Go – Dr.Seuss – I received several copies of this book for my high school andcollege graduations. I grew up with Dr. Seuss so it was fun to have a relevant children’s book to see me into adulthood. There is a line in the book “Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot,” that really speaks to me as a writer. Writing is something you have to do alone and sometimes it is hard. But I give it my all and keep moving forward as the story says.

The Outsiders – SE Hinton – I read this book in middle school and it has stuck with me ever since. Obviously, life isn’t fair. There are haves and have nots. What really gets me now though is that SE Hinton wrote this when she was 16 years old. That’s amazing for someone so young to understand and articulate what some adults still don’t recognize.

The Raven - Edgar Allen Poe – I know it isn’t a book, but I had to include this poem. My 8th grade English teacher loved all things Poe and we spent weeks and weeks reading and discussing the meaning in Poe’s poems. This was the one that stood out the most to me, that I re-read when the mood strikes.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling – I’m sure everyone probably has a Harry Potter book on their list, but probably not for this reason. After my twins were born, they woke up every morning at 2 for a feeding. I multitasked and read this book while they ate their middle of the night snack. Being able to read something that everyone else was talking about helped me keep connected and sane during those first few crazy months of parenthood.  

Brides on the Run Series (4books – Book 1 Running from a Rock Star is my favorite.) - Jami Albright – Not only are these romantic comedies a fun read, the author Jami Albright is the first independently-published author I met who helped me on my own journey. To be able to get to know the person behind the author is something I value, and I admire Jami for what she has accomplished in a short period of time.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry– Gabrielle Zevin – This is a book about books and what they mean to people. From the beginning of the story, the reader knows how things will end, but the story in between is so powerful. It is a bit quirky and may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.

Little Fires Everywhere -Celeste Ng – I love this story’s twisting, intertwined plot lines. It examines the dynamics of the Richardson family and how members of the same family can be so different. Not only did I enjoy this as a reader, I also appreciate how the author connected the many story lines between characters and showed how there is no black and white in life. It’s all shades of gray.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine– Gail Honeyman – I enjoy reading books set in other countries (I am based in the United States). I like learning about other cultures. Not only did the book give me a glimpse into the UK, it also provided a wonderful characterization of how people deal with tragedy. I was surprised by the turn of events, which is why I think I appreciated this book so much.

Carole Wolfe started telling stories in the third grade and hasn’t stopped since. While she no longer illustrates her stories with crayon, Carole still uses her words to help readers escape the daily hiccups of life. Her debut novel, The Best Mistake, follows a single mom as she stumbles through one mishap after another.
When Carole isn’t writing, she is a stay-at-home mom to three busy kiddos, a traveling husband and a dog that thinks she is a cat. Carole enjoys running at a leisurely pace, crocheting baby blankets for others and drinking wine when she can find the time. She and her family live in Texas.
Twitter: @CaroleW30064418