Friday 28 February 2020

An Almost Perfect Holiday by Lucy Diamond @LDiamondAuthor @panmacmillan #AnAlmostPerfectHoliday #BookReview

The holidays are here, and down in Cornwall Lorna’s cottages are fully booked. The sun loungers are lined up beside the swimming pool, the sky is blue and a new set of arrivals are on their way . . .
Em’s planned the perfect break with her teenagers plus her new boyfriend, George . . . but now his difficult six-year-old is coming too. Will their romance survive the realities of parenthood?
Maggie’s hoping a seaside holiday will bring her and her daughter closer together, but when her ex makes a surprise reappearance, it changes everything. Can she trust the man who broke her heart?
Olivia has escaped the domestic grind, only for the past to catch up with her. Maybe the time has come to confess all – if she can find the courage . . .
Meanwhile, the teenagers are running wild and love is in the air. With friendship, heartache and secrets in the mix, will this holiday turn out to be a scorcher – or simply too hot to handle?

An Almost Perfect Holiday by Lucy Diamond was published by Pan Macmillan on 6 February 2020.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

What could be better than a fortnight in a beautifully converted holiday cottage in Cornwall?  Two whole weeks of relaxing around the pool, getting away from the stresses of everyday life.

Emma, Maggie and Olivia all imagine that this break will do them the world of good, and Lorna, the owner of the holiday cottages is delighted that that summer is here and visitors are returning.

Emma is excited because five years after her divorce, she is in love again. She's invited her new boyfriend George to join her and her teenagers on their holiday. At the last minute, George's seven year old daughter has to join them as her mother, George's ex-wife is called away for work.

Maggie and her daughter Amelia have always been close. More like friends than mother and daughter, especially as Maggie has raised Amelia her on her own since she was a baby, after her husband left them.

For Olivia, this really is an escape. The mother of three-year-old twin boys, she's finding it increasingly difficult to cope. Her mental health is suffering and she begins to imagine that she's going to be a bad mother, just like her own.

Lorna puts everything into ensuring that her guests have the best holiday possible. It's a home from home, without the housework or worry. Lorna has to keep busy, because if she didn't, the grief that has accompanied her for the past eighteen years would overwhelm her.

Can a holiday ever be perfect? Whilst all three women, and Lorna, do their very best to relax and enjoy themselves, nothing is ever perfect.

There are a few skeletons in dusty cupboards that will make appearances throughout this holiday. Maggie's ex-husband, and Olivia's darkest and most guilty secrets have a huge impact on their stay, and as the three women get closer, they find that each of them have their own issues to deal with.

The theme of friendship runs throughout this story; the four women see something of themselves in each other and by the end of the fortnight, they are revealing their innermost thoughts.
The author deals with some serious and current issues; mental health and the impact of social media on young people is particularly well done and the intense feelings of guilt and the heartfelt sadness of losing a loved one is another theme that is woven throughout the novel.

Lucy Diamond is a skilled author whose characters are far from perfect. However, they are so realistic; women with a past and baggage. Often tired by what life throws at them, but always determined to get through.

This is a compelling and emotionally intelligent book, set in glorious surroundings. A truly touching story from a wonderfully talented author

Lucy Diamond grew up in Nottingham and went to university in Leeds where she studied English Literature. After graduating, she worked in publishing and at the BBC, and in her spare time she began writing children's books under a number of different pen names.

Two small children later, an evening class in creative writing motivated her to try a longer piece of fiction and explore some of her own feelings about motherhood. This eventually became a novel, Any Way You Want Me, and she was thrilled when Pan Macmillan made her an offer of publication.

Now the author of fourteen novels and a Sunday Times bestselling author, Lucy writes with warmth and honesty about the joy and surprises, as well as the complications, that love, family and friendships can bring.

Lucy now lives in Bath with her husband and three children and writes full-time.

Her website is 

She is on Twitter @LDiamondAuthor
and has a Facebook page at 

Thursday 27 February 2020

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin @carollovekin BLOG TOUR @honno #RandomThingsTours #WildSpinningGirls #BookReview

Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets off to Wales to the house her father has left her. But Heather, the young woman still in her teens whose home it was, keeps the house as a shrine to her late mother and is determined to scare Ida away. The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time, and that any ghosts Ty'r Cwmwl harbours are of their own making. Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin was published in paperback on 20 February 2020 by Honno, Welsh Women's Press. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour

Those people who know me well will confirm that I am rarely lost for words! I can usually spin a tale, especially when I'm pushing a book upon my audience.  I'm really struggling to write about The Wild Spinning Girls. It is so beautifully written, with such soul and emotion that I feel such a fraud to even attempt to describe it.

Not only is the book filled with beautiful words, it is also packaged most wonderfully. The cover is stark, yet stunning and fits the story perfectly. This really is the complete package.

This is a story of women, and of losses and relationships, of community and long held secrets.
Ida Llewellyn is 'a bit Welsh'; her father is Welsh, but she hasn't lived there for many years. The year now is 2017 and Ida has a job that she loves; working in a bookshop.
Her original dream was to be a ballet dancer, just like her mother. However, the reader has already discovered, during the Prelude, that Ida had a careless accident some years ago that put paid to her ambition. She knows that her mother has always been bitterly disappointed by this, and Ida herself feels responsible for her own laziness that led to the accident.

Ida loses her job in the bookshop and is bereft, just a few weeks later her beloved parents are killed in accident and she is devastated. Her life has changed forever.
When she discovers that her father owned a house in Wales, she decides she must visit, with a view to selling.

Ty'r Cwmwl (or, Cloud House as Ida calls it) becomes a character within its own right. The author's skill in creating such an atmospheric, almost living and breathing place is outstanding. The house is eerie, and dark and cold and just reading about it sent shivers down my spine.
It is here in Ty'r Cwmwl that the story really begins. Ida expects an empty, down at heel property, and whilst it is indeed, not lived in, it is certainly inhabited. 
Heather; the daughter of the last tenant considers the house to be hers. She has a key and treats the place as something of a shrine to her late mother. She's abrasive and curt and the contrast between these two women; both grieving the recent loss of their beloved parent is so very well done.

What follows is a tightly woven story that absolutely consumed me, it is magical, both in content and in its creation. We follow the shaky and tumultuous relationship between Ida and Heather and learn so much more about their families and their lives.

Secrets and unexpected surprises are carefully unwrapped by the author, creating a dark and deep tension throughout. 

I think, at its heart, this is a story about heritage, about women, about relationships and about connections. Interwoven with magic, and dark birds and the creaking interior of a house that was the keeper of the secrets.

Creepy, atmospheric, absorbing and utterly magnificent. Recommended by me.

Carol Lovekin is the author of three novels published by Honno, the Welsh Women's Press. 
She writes about mother/daughter relationships, family dynamics & her stories are rooted in the Welsh landscape. 
They touch on the Welsh Gothic & its most powerful motif: the ghost. 
Her first novel, GHOSTBIRD (2016) was a Waterstones Wales and Welsh Independent Bookshops Book of the Month; a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2016 & in the same year was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize.
SNOW SISTERS (2017) her second novel was chosen by the Welsh Books Council as their October Book of the Month (for independent shops.)
Her third novel, WILD SPINNING GIRLS was published on the 20th of February 2020.

Twitter @carollovekin
Author Page on Facebook
Instagram @carollovekin

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Fateful Coincidence by Lasairiona E McMaster BLOG TOUR @QueenofFireLas @rararesources #FatefulCoincidence #BlogTour

Five thousand miles from her ex, Lisa is living with her decision to call it quits and leave both AJ and Alabama behind. She believes she’s finally ready to put her broken heart back together and move forward with her life as a single woman.But when she meets a seemingly too-good-to-be-true doctor, she feels both unsure of herself and guilty for moving on so quickly from her engagement to AJ.Lisa finds herself at a cross roads, does she give up all hope of ever reconciling with AJ and take a chance on love again with someone new? Or is her heart destined to be forever entwined with the married man she met on the internet?

Fateful Coincidence by Lasairiona E McMaster was published in paperback in October last year.

As part of the Blog Tour organised by Rachel from Rachel's Random Resources, I'm delighted to feature the book on Random Things today.

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did - with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself 'home', with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

Social Media Links –

Tuesday 25 February 2020

The Guest List by Lucy Foley BLOG TOUR @lucyfoleytweets @HarperCollinsUK #RandomThingsTours #TheGuestList #BookReview

On an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year - the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. 
Old friends. Past grudges. Happy families. Hidden jealousies. Thirteen guests. One body. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped. 
All have a secret. All have a motive. One guest won't leave this wedding alive . . .

The Guest List by Lucy Foley was published on 20 February 2020 in hardback by Harper Collins. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour.

I've been a fan of Lucy Foley's writing for quite a few years now. I love her historical fiction and really enjoyed her debut thriller The Hunting Party last year. The Guest List is a book that I've been looking forward to for a long time.

I haven't been disappointed. I read this as the storms raged outside; a very fitting environment, as the novel is full of wild winds and rain too. This author really knows how to transport her readers to the wildest of location. Whilst The Hunting Party was set in the highlands of Scotland, The Guest List takes place on an remote island off the coast of Ireland. The perfect setting for murder and intrigue.

The wedding of online journalist Jules Keegan and TV celebrity Will Slater is an intimate, if showy affair. Just thirteen guests will actually stay on the island with them, along with the staff of the newly renovated wedding venue. Other guests will arrive, and depart, but these chosen few are the entitled, special guests.

The author tells the story in various voices; the bride, groom, bridesmaid, best man, plus one, and the wedding planner. Each one of these voices are distinctive, and each one could be a murderer ... or could they be the victim?

The reader is unaware, until almost the end of the story who dies, but we know, right from the beginning that there's a body. We are taken on a bumpy journey that takes us back many years, and brings us right up to the present day. We learn more than we could ever have imagined about the characters and we are thrown red herring after red herring as the plot thickens and the pace increases.

Lucy Foley doesn't paint a great picture of a bunch of ex-public schoolboys. It could be a tad stereotypical; there's a lot of braying, and puffing out of chests. There's drugs and lots of drinking games, there's also a lot of secrets and repressed anger. There's frustration and jealousy and there's revenge plotted. They may not be nice characters, in fact I think they are awful, but they are fascinating and compelling and I was totally engrossed by their behaviours.

I enjoyed every single page of The Guest List; there are a couple of coincidences that neaten the plot, and the motive, but I really didn't mind. As the chapters towards the end get shorter and snappier, I turned the pages so quickly that I almost gave myself whiplash. 

I loved it; great (awful) characters with some mind-bending twists and reveals. A real treat. 

Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

Say hello at and follow Lucy on Twitter @LucyFoleyTweets and Instagram @LucyFoleyAuthor

Monday 24 February 2020

Inborn by Thomas Enger @EngerThomas @OrendaBooks #AudioBook @audibleuk #Inborn #NordicNoir ~ narrator @DavidShawParker

When two teenagers - Johannes and Mari - are found murdered inside their school, in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim, the finger is soon is pointed at 18-year-old Even, whose relationship with Mari ended just before she died. 
Mari was writing a story for the school newspaper about Even and his dad, who died in a car accident 10 years earlier. But was it really an accident? And had Mari uncovered information that someone was willing to commit murder to protect? 
Charged and facing trial, Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the murders, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously. And as Even recounts his side of the story, it seems that there may be no one he can trust. 
But can we trust him? 
A taut, moving and chilling thriller, Inborn examines the very nature of evil, and asks the questions: how well do we really know our families? How well do we know ourselves?

Inborn by Thomas Enger was published by Orenda Books, for Kindle in January 2019, paperback 15 February 2019. I listened to the unabridged audio book, on Audible, narrated by David Shaw-Parker.
The book was translated by Kari Dickson.

Thomas Enger says that his wife gave him a 'lightning bolt idea' and this led to him writing two books about the same story. Killerinstinkt was the first book and Inborn is the adult crossover, dealing with the same story.

The small Norwegian town of Fredheim appears quite ordinary; populated by families who've lived there for years, who all know each other well.
However, there's been a terrible tragedy at the High School and two pupils have been found murdered after a concert held at the school.
Thomas Enger tells this story over two time periods. The main voice of the narrative is that of Even Tollefsen who is in the courtroom at the court case dealing with the murders. One of the victims was Mari, until recently, she and Even had been a couple. Mari had broken off their relationship just a couple of weeks before she died. Even was distraught. Mari refused to speak with him, and he had no idea why she had decided to stop seeing him. Everyone in Fredheim knew how upset Even was, everyone knew that he was desperate to win her back. Now everyone suspects him of murdering her.

That's the present time, and the author flicks back to the recent past as Even recounts what happened that night and over the following days.  We meet Chief Inspector Yngve Mork; another long-term resident of the town, who knows everyone, and knows their history. Yngve is a wonderfully created character. He's kind and compassionate and also grieving the recent loss of his beloved wife. He takes comfort in her memory, often imagining that she's guiding him through the case.

Inborn is one of those stories that really capture the imagination. It is filled with secrets that are very slowly revealed, casting doubt upon the characters, and changing any motive that the reader has imagined.  The small-town, close knit community is described so well, with characters who are perfectly crafted and feel so realistic.

The tension throughout is brilliantly sustained as Even recalls the events and the numerous bombshell secrets that have been revealed over the past weeks. The depiction of Even's grief is tenderly and realistically handled; along with his growing anger, and then his total disbelief at what he discovers. Some of the things that have been hidden from him, and from others, are utterly life changing for him, and his family, and as he struggles to deal with the revelations, his sorrow becomes palpable.

Inborn is constructed with style and precision. The tension mounts as the case unfolds and leads to a dramatic and very clever finale.
Wonderfully addictive. Crime fiction of the highest quality from one of the finest Nordic Noir authors.

Thomas Enger is a former journalist. 
He made his debut with the crime novel Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication, and marked the first in the bestselling Henning Juul series. 
Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. 
In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). 
Killer Instinct, upon which Inborn is based, and another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017 and won the same prestigious prize. 
Most recently, Thomas has co-written a thriller with Jørn Lier Horst. 
Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo. 

Follow him on Twitter @EngerThomas 
or visit his website

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Firewatching by Russ Thomas @thevoiceofruss #Giveaway #Win #Competition @simonschusteruk

A body is found bricked into the walls of a house. From the state of the hands, it’s clear the dead man was buried alive. Soon, the victim is linked to an old missing person’s case and DS Adam Tyler is called.
As the sole representative of South Yorkshire's Cold Case Review Unit, Tyler recognises his role for what it is – a means of keeping him out of the way following an ‘incident’. When this case falls in his lap, he grabs the opportunity to fix his stagnating career.
And then Tyler discovers he has a connection to the case that hopelessly compromises him. He makes the snap decision not to tell his superiors, certain that he and only he can solve the crime. But now Tyler must move carefully to find out the truth, without destroying the case or himself.

Meanwhile, someone in the city knows exactly what happened to the body. Someone who is watching Adam closely. Someone with an unhealthy affinity with fire. . .

A taut investigative thriller bursting with character and tension, introducing an enigmatic, fresh lead detective unlike any you have met before – Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler - for fans of Adrian McKinty, Tana French, Steve Cavanagh and Sharon Bolton. 

Firewatching by Russ Thomas is published in hardback by Simon & Schuster TOMORROW - 20 February 2020

You can catch up with my Random Things review on this link: Firewatching by Russ Thomas

I've been shouting about this book for months. It really is amazing, and I'm delighted to celebrate publication day by offering one person a hardback copy in my blog giveaway today.

Entry is simple; just fill out the widget at the end of this blog post. UK entries only.



'In the clever and compulsive Firewatching, DS Adam Tyler navigates a complex cast of villains and victims in a cold case that suddenly turns very, very hot' LOUISE CANDLISH  

'A pitch-perfect blend of the best of the old and the best of the new . . . I loved itLEE CHILD

Devoured in three days. A cracking read with a terrific new detective lead. Red hot debut for 2020’ SARAH HILARY

‘I loved Firewatching. Russ Thomas is a bold and brilliant new voice in crime fiction, his talent blazes as fiercely as the flames that rage through his book. Really wonderful, imaginative writing’ KATE RHODES

'A fantastic read with a plot that left me guessing and a cast of very real and well imagined characters.' JAMES DELARGY 

'A great read. Totally absorbed me’ CASS GREEN

'Intelligentpacy and compelling, it's everything you could want from a crime novel' SARAH WARD, author of the DC Childs mysteries 

Win one Hardback copy of Firewatching by Russ Thomas

Russ Thomas was born in Essex, raised in Berkshire and now lives in Sheffield. He grew up in the
80s reading anything he could get from the library, writing stories, watching large amounts of television, playing videogames, and largely avoiding the great outdoors. He spent five years trying to master playing the electronic organ and another five trying to learn Spanish. It didn’t take him too long to realise that he’d be better off sticking to the writing.

After a few ‘proper’ jobs (among them: pot-washer, optician’s receptionist, supermarket warehouse operative, call-centre telephonist and storage salesman) he discovered the joys of bookselling, where he could talk to people about books all day.

His debut novel Firewatching is the first book in the D/S Adam Tyler series.

Twitter : @thevoiceofruss
Author Page on Facebook

Don't Think A Single Thought by Diana Cambridge @DianaCambridge @LouiseWalters12 #DontThinkASingleThought

1960s New York, and Emma Bowden seems to have it all – a glamorous Manhattan apartment, a loving husband, and a successful writing career. But while Emma and her husband Jonathan are on vacation at the Hamptons, a child drowns in the sea, and suspicion falls on Emma. As her picture-perfect life spirals out of control, and old wounds resurface, a persistent and monotonous voice in Emma’s head threatens to destroy all that she has worked for... Taut, elegant and mesmerising, Don’t Think a Single Thought lays bare a marriage, and a woman, and examines the decisions – and mistakes – that shape all of our lives. Diana Cambridge is an award-winning journalist. She has written for many national newspapers and magazines, gives regular writing workshops, and is a Writer-in-Residence at Sherborne, Dorset. She is Agony Aunt to Writing Magazine. She lives in Bath. Don’t Think a Single Thought is her first novel.

Don't Think A Single Thought by Diana Cambridge was published by Louise Walters Books in August last year.

I set myself a goal a few months ago to buy at least one book per month from a small independent publisher. Don't Think A Single Thought was one of those purchases. It's not always easy to fit my purchased books into my reading schedule, but I will read them, and review them all.

Don't Think A Single Thought is a novella at just 190 pages and whilst it is a work of fiction, the author was inspired to write it by the life of Manhattan author Sue Kaufman, who died forty years ago. Sue Kaufman's 1967 novel Diary of a Mad Housewife was adapted for film in 1970.

Diana Cambridge is a fine and extremely talented author. This, her debut novel is remarkably assured, and despite the shortness in length, there is a strength to this story that is powerful.

Emma is married to a wealthy and successful surgeon, they live a life of glamour, with a flat in Manhattan and holidays in the Hamptons. However Emma struggles with life; her fragile mental state, including flashbacks to her troubled childhood overpowers everything that she does. She's not a failure herself; having written a much acclaimed novel, yet her self-doubt and insecurity stops her from enjoying any success and casts a shadow upon her marriage.

The reader is only privy to Emma's own thoughts as the story is told totally from her point of view. This could feel flat, but in fact, adds a dimension of tension and suspicion to the narrative. It becomes clear that Emma is far from a reliable narrator, and the reader must judge carefully when listening to her voice.

One of the author's greatest skills is that she's conveyed every single one of Emma's increasingly troubled emotions so well, yet she doesn't write in the first person. The reader begins to feel voyeuristic, as though we really shouldn't be there. Emma's rawest of moments are so beautifully detailed, yet somehow, there is also a distance ... Emma often appears cold and quite heartless, but peel away at her many layers and an often frightened, confused and incredibly complex woman appears.

Set during one of my favourite periods; the 1960s, through to the 70s, the author's sense of place is intense. The glamour and glitz of the upper classes; the food, fashion and conversations of the highly privileged and quite self-absorbed characters within the book are refreshing, despite their obvious show of superiority and certainty of their special rights. The reader also meets some of the less fortunate too, as Emma recounts her early years and then meets up with her estranged sister later in the story. The absolute contrast between the high-living Hamptons and the trailer parks of the disadvantaged is so very well described, and adds yet another layer to the story.

Beautifully and compassionately written, Don't Think A Single Thought is an excellent depiction of flawed character and someone hiding within plain sight. Exquiste and a joy to read.

"Strange and bewitching" The Lady magazine
"Immersive, gripping... A well-crafted, slow burn story of a talented woman haunted by the conflicts of emotion and ambition – and by her own imagination" Jay Merrick, author of Horse Latitudes
"A chilling page turner set in the playgrounds of the New York rich and famous, where a wealthy doctor's wife is driven to the brink of madness by a horrific childhood memory" Sharon Churcher, author of New York Confidential
"This slim, elegant novel is a delight" Gail Aldwin, author of  The String Games

Diana lives in Bath. She is a journalist, tutor, editor, radio presenter, and Agony Aunt to Writing Magazine.
Her debut novel Don't Think a Single Thought was published on 26th September 2019. 
Diana tweets @DianaCambridge

Diana's favourite novel is The Magus by John Fowles, and her favourite novella is The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark. Her top poet is Philip Larkin.