Friday 29 July 2022

*** COVER REVEAL *** The Fascination by Essie Fox #TheFascination @essiefox @OrendaBooks #CoverReveal @DHHliteraryagency


I cannot tell you how excited and thrilled I am to host this cover reveal today.
I have been a fan of Essie Fox for many many years and am delighted that she has now signed with Orenda Books.

THE FASCINATION will be published by Orenda in hardback in June 2023

Karen Sullivan, publisher of Orenda Books, is delighted to announce the acquisition of World English Language rights for Essie Fox’s The Fascination, in a deal negotiated with David Headley at DHH Literary Agency.

Set in a Victorian world of human phenomena, and encompassing rural fairgrounds, the glamour of London theatres, and an Oxford Street Museum of morbid curiosities, The Fascination tells the story of twin sisters, Keziah and Tilly Lovell, identical in every way, except that Tilly hasn’t grown a single inch since she was five. Coerced into promoting their father’s quack elixir, the girls are eventually sold to a mysterious Italian, known only as ‘Captain’. 

In a second strand we meet Theo, an orphan raised by his wealthy – and resentful – grandfather in an opulent country home. When his grandfather remarries, Theo is forced to leave his home without a penny to his name and takes on work as an assistant in Dr Summerwell’s Museum of Anatomy. 

 And it is here that the lives of the two sisters and Theo collide, with devastating effect.

Karen says, ‘The Fascination is a glorious, glittering evocation of Victorian London and its obsession with ‘deformo-mania’; it’s sumptuous, visceral and exquisitely written, populated by superbly drawn, often unscrupulous characters, and powered by an unexpected, brooding tension … and multiple layers of intrigue and deception. 

At its heart are universal themes of love and loss, and, perhaps most powerfully, an examination of what it means to be unique, to fall outside the physical norm, to be excluded and exploited, and yet retain a fierce and independent spirit. 

Essie Fox is renowned for her atmospheric, bewitching explorations of Victoriana, and this extraordinary, evocative novel showcases a writer at the height of her powers.

‘This is masterclass historical fiction, with themes and writing that embrace everything we want to do at Orenda Books. We are elated to welcome Essie to our team, and cannot wait for readers to enter the spellbinding world of The Fascination.’

Essie says, ‘The Fascination has been my passion for the last few years. It’s a story that was forming, even while I was writing other novels; something bursting to get out. So, it was an absolute delight for me when Karen at Orenda shared my enthusiasm, and had such vision for the project. I hope that readers will now take as much pleasure from the story as I felt when writing it.’

David Headley says, ‘Well-known to the publishing industry, Orenda Books is an absolute powerhouse, so when Karen said she wanted to work with Essie on her new book, it just made perfect sense. It is a privilege to represent Essie and her writing, which only goes from strength to strength. I know that The Fascination has found its perfect home, and I can’t wait to see it in readers’ hands.’

Thursday 28 July 2022

Good Husbands by Cate Ray BLOG TOUR #GoodHusbands @CateRayWriter @septemberbooks @RandomTTours #BookReview


Jess, Priyanka and Stephanie are all happily married to men they think they know inside out.

Then each woman receives a letter accusing her husband of involvement in a sexual assault that took place 20 years ago.

Who do they believe, what should they do and can they come together as their lives are upended?

Good Husbands by Cate Ray was published on 14 July 2022 by September Publishing. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

Good Husbands is a book that would keep a reading group talking for hours. It's a domestic noir type story, filled with suspense and incredibly well created characters who are all flawed, yet all so realistic. 

The premise is intriguing and it was the blurb that enticed me to read this one. Three women, all strangers to one another, receive a letter from a woman who they've never heard of before. That letter opens a very very wriggly can of worms, casting doubt on their marriages, on their husbands and their own morals and ethics. It's a letter than no woman would want to receive.

The three women who are central to the story are Jess, Priyanka and Stephanie. They live in and around Bath and each of them seem quite content with their own lives. When the letter arrives that accuses their husbands of raping a woman many years ago, none of them quite know how to react. The writer of the letter claims to be the child of the rape victim, and the daughter of one of the husbands. Each man is named and it is Jess who decides to track down the other two women.

This is a study in relationships, and each marriage is examined carefully, exposing the cracks and the flaws that they've all so expertly covered up in the past. The three women couldn't be more different, and each of them reacts in a different way, but they form a bond, they become a team, even if somewhat reluctantly, and that bond and that team gets stronger as the story progresses. 

Cate Ray does not not hold back. There are parts of this story that are incredibly painful for the characters involved and emotionally draining to read at times. She looks at loyalty and she examines the spousal relationship, she also concentrates on the the power of female friendship, along with the long held masculine beliefs about power. 

Good Husbands is a story that will shock. It's written with empathy and knowledge, and is utterly compelling throughout. I have to say that I finished this book with a sense of 'what???', the ending is another talking point that will divide readers for sure. 

An insightful and emotional book that raises questions that can be very difficult to answer. 

Cate Ray writes suspense novels with compelling moral dilemmas, shining a light on the issues
affecting women today. 

Her stories are created for readers to treasure and share with booklovers everywhere. 

She is the author of four previous novels of suspense published under the name Cath Weeks. 

She was named an ‘Author to Watch’ by ELLE. 

Cate lives in Bath with her family.

Wednesday 27 July 2022

A Normal Family by Chrysta Bilton BLOG TOUR #ANormalFamily @chrystabilton @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours #Prize #Win #Competition #Giveaway


For most of her life, Chrysta Bilton was one member of a small, if dysfunctional, family of four. There was her sister, Kaitlyn, her hedonistic, glamorous, gay mum Debra, and Jeffrey, who Debra hand-picked, in an LA hairdressers, to be the father of her children. During Chrysta's unstable childhood, Debra struggled to keep the family afloat and Jeffrey wandered in and out of their lives.

Then, in her twenties, Chrysta discovered that her father had secretly donated his sperm over 500 times - and that she had at least 35 other siblings.

A Normal Family is a captivating coming-of-age memoir about Chrysta's reckoning with the secrets both parents had carefully kept from her. Heartfelt, warm and funny, it's a story of embracing the family we have, in all the forms we find it.

A Normal Family : The Surprising Truth About My Crazy Childhood (And How I Discovered 35 New Siblings) by Chrysta Bilton was published on 14 July 2022 by Monoray / Octopus Books. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to have one hard back copy to giveaway.

Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget in the blog post. UK entries only please.


One copy of A Normal Family by Chrysta Bilton

Monday 25 July 2022

Night Shadows by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir (t. Victoria Cribb) BLOG TOUR #NighShadows @evaaegisdottir @OrendaBooks #ForbiddenIceland

The small community of Akranes is devastated when a young man dies in a mysterious house fire, and when Detective Elma and her colleagues from West Iceland CID discover the fire was arson, they become embroiled in an increasingly perplexing case involving multiple suspects. What’s more, the dead man’s final online search raises fears that they could be investigating not one murder, but two.

A few months before the fire, a young Dutch woman takes a job as an au pair in Iceland, desperate to make a new life for herself after the death of her father. But the seemingly perfect family who employs her turns out to have problems of its own and she soon discovers she is running out of people to turn to.

As the police begin to home in on the truth, Elma, already struggling to come to terms with a life-changing event, finds herself in mortal danger as it becomes clear that someone has secrets they’ll do anything to hide…

Night Shadows by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir is number three in the Forbidden Iceland series and was published on 21 July 2022 by Orenda Books. It is translated by Victoria Cribb. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour 

Night Shadows is the third instalment in Eva Bjórg Ægisdóttir's critically acclaimed Forbidden Iceland series. I am a huge fan of this extraordinarily gifted author, and her detective Elma has become one of my favourite police characters of all time. 

Whilst it's not essential to have read the previous two books in the series, as the author cleverly details past events, without getting bogged down in detail, I would encourage anyone who hasn't yet read them to give them a go. I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. 

The plot of Night Shadows centres around a house fire in the small town of Akranes, the body of a young man is discovered inside and there are shockwaves throughout the community when it becomes clear that this was no accident, it was arson. 

And so, Elma and her team take on the investigation to find out why this seemingly happy and popular young man was killed. As with most cases, nothing is clear cut and internet searches reveal truths that are worrying and close-knit friendship groups are fairly hard to connect with. 

This author excels in delving deep into the human psyche, and ensuring that nothing is quite as it seems. Coupled with some beautifully developed prose, and the evocative background of a small Icelandic town, this really is the perfect read for fans of Nordic Noir. The story is paced so well, with reveals that take the reader by surprise, and some dark and important issues dealt with with a sure and expert hand. 

This series gets better with every instalment, Elma's personal life is expanded upon, along with others from her team, and the reader cannot help but become more and more involved in the whole setting.

Dark, chilling and tense. Another fabulous read from one of the best crime authors out there. 

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study her MSc in Globalisation when she was 25. 
After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. 
Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland. 
Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel, The Creak on the Stairs. 
The book went on to win the CWA Debut Dagger, the Blackbird Award, was shortlisted (twice) for the Capital Crime Readers' Awards, and became a number one bestseller in Iceland. 
The critically acclaimed Girls Who Lie (book two in the Forbidden Iceland series) soon followed, with Night Shadows (book three) following suit in July 2022. 
Eva lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík.

Remember Me? by Shobna Gulati BLOG TOUR #RememberMe @ShobnaGulati @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours #Win #Prize #Giveaway #Competition


Remember Me? is a memoir about caring for a parent with dementia and the memories that resurface in the process.

In her first book, Shobna Gulati sets out to reclaim her mother's past after her death, and in turn, discovers a huge amount about herself and their relationship.

Remember Me? captures the powerful emotions that these memories hold to both Shobna and her mother; secrets they had collectively buried and also the concealment of her mother's condition. What ensues is a story of cultural assimilation, identity and familial shame.

Remember Me? Discovering My Mother as she Lost Her Memory by Shobna Gulati is published on 17 September by Cassell / Octopus.
As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to have one copy to giveaway
Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget in the blog post. UK entries only please.


One copy of Remember Me? by Shobna Gulati

Shobna became a household name for her role as Anita in Victoria Wood's Dinnerladies and as Sunita, in Coronation Street. She also appeared as a presenter on Loose Women (ITV), and most starred in Series 1 of the BBC One television show River Walks. On radio, Shobna hosted her own late night show on BBC Radio Manchester, and has appeared in many plays for BBC Radio 4, most recently in the sitcom 'The Break'.

She trained at Manchester University, Trinity Laban Conservatorie of Music and Dance, Goldsmith's College, London, Darpana Academy for Performing Arts, India, and has also completed a post graduate diploma in teaching dance from Middlesex University. 

Shobna has just finished filming the role of Ray in the upcoming feature film Everybody's Talking About Jamie.

Instagram @shobnagulati

Friday 22 July 2022

Daisy and the Dazzling Dachshunds by Janey Clarke BLOG TOUR #DaisyandtheDazzlingDachshunds #JaneyClarke @RandomTTours #BookExtract

The discovery of a murdered woman with a rescued dog and her puppies on Bodmin Moor, hurtles Daisy, a shy retired librarian and her oddball friends, into another dangerous, yet comical escapade.
Daisy is on a mission to find the murdered woman’s killer, linking events to the puppy farm, and is suddenly thrust into a world of explosions, shootings and kidnappings!

Furthermore, family secrets come to light and Daisy discovers an unexpected revelation that will change her life forever. This newfound knowledge is difficult for Daisy to cope with and somewhat hinders the situation that befalls herself and her friends. And if that isn’t enough, the return of her ex-husband poses even more problems.

Daisy enlists the help of Cleo her cat, and Flora her puppy, both rescue animals, in her search for the puppy farm. However, the question remains, even with all the help she has, can Daisy manage to outwit the villains and save herself and the puppies from harm?

Daisy and the Dazzling Dachshunds by Janey Clarke was published on 19 April 2022 by Blossom Spring Publishing. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from Daisy and the Dazzling Dachshunds by Janey Clarke

“Daisy! Daisy! We need a pet basket now! Help us Daisy! Hurry!”

My doorbell rang again and again. Loud knocking, accompanied by the shouts had made me jump. My paintbrush fell onto my paper, landing with a splosh onto my sunflower painting. I jumped to my feet and raced downstairs from my study. As fast as my elderly legs could go! I’d been living in my converted stable cottage for some weeks. The Priory House, dominated a central courtyard, having stable wings either side of the courtyard in the shape of a U. One side of the stables had been converted into cottages, in one of which I lived. The opposite side was still in disrepair. My study, a small upstairs bedroom, had fantastic views over Bodmin Moor. Since my move to the Priory, I’d resumed my botanical painting.

“What is it? What’s all the noise?” I asked as I flung open my front door.

“Daisy! Help us! We need a pet basket for these. They need a vet at once!” Sheila, an octogenarian who lived in one of the two refurbished apartments in Priory House, stood on my doorstep, with her grandchildren, eight year old Rosie, and ten year old Ben.

“We found them on our walk and they are going to die,” wailed Rosie.

“I bet they’re from that puppy farm,” said ten-year-old Ben. He clutched a tiny scrap of fluff, his anxious freckled face peering down at it.

“She’s escaped with her babies,” said Rosie, cuddling another tiny pup.

“Hurry Daisy, we must get them to the vet,” insisted Sheila. Her white helmet of curly hair bent over the small King Charles Cavalier dog in her arms. Brown liquid eyes stared up me through dirty matted fur. Anxious and sad, the eyes were pleading. I felt such a rise of fury at the cruelty of the puppy farmer that it overwhelmed me.

“Come in, I’ll get the basket.” Listless, without any flicker of emotion, the dog and her pups were placed on a soft, clean fleece, in the basket. The dog sniffed at it, as if unused to such cleanliness or luxury. The dog basket was used for Flora, on outings and puppy training classes. Another cottage resident, Inspector Tenby, our local police Inspector had taken over his daughter’s puppy when she went to Dubai. A boisterous fluffy little mongrel who was adorable. Flora and my cat Cleo had bonded and become best friends. They decided between them that Flora would come to live with me!

“I’ll come with you,” began Sheila, rising awkwardly from her chair. Sheila was disabled with arthritis. I realised that her morning walk had been her day’s limit.

“No, Sheila. I’ll take the dogs to the vet. Can you look after Cleo and Flora, and take them into the garden? And text the others,” I added. Ben helped me carry the cage. “Take Ben with you, he can help,” called Sheila from my

“Okay Ben, you’re coming with me to the

vets.” I smiled at him and waved to Sheila and Rosie.

“Daisy, I love your van, and the words ‘BURT’S BEEFY BANGERS’ on the side of it. That huge smiling face of Burt holding a large sausage on a fork is great! Everyone at my school knows your van. I tell everyone you’re my friend.” Ben helped put the cage in the back of my van. He patted Burt’s large smiling face, and the large sausage on its fork on the side of my van, as he walked round.

“Wow!” was all he said. 

About Janey Clarke

Scottish born, I now live on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset with my husband, and Monty our enormous cavalier spaniel. 

As a lifelong sufferer from EDS, I cope with my restricted mobility by dictating all my novels. 

Changing primary schools, meant that I was unable to read until given special lessons. 

This gave me a deep love of reading and I devoured books. 

After extra training I specialised in teaching children with reading difficulties. 

Still an avid reader, I love cozy mysteries, where the murder doesn't scare me to death!

Thursday 21 July 2022

The Wilderness by Sarah Duguid BLOG TOUR #TheWilderness @SarahDuguid4 @TinderPress @RandomTTours #BookReview


When Anna and David receive a phone call late one evening, their lives are upturned. Within minutes, they are travelling to the west coast of Scotland, preparing to care for two young sisters, tragically and suddenly orphaned.

It's a beautiful place, the heather is in bloom, the birds wheel above the waves, the deer graze peacefully in the distance. But the large granite house is no longer a home for the girls, and Anna knows she can never take the place of their mother. Then David invites his friend to stay, to 'ease them through' and Anna finds herself increasingly isolated, with everything she - and the girls - once knew of life discarded and overruled by a man of whom she is deeply suspicious.

The Wilderness by Sarah Duguid is published today (21 July 2022) by Tinder Press. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

It is almost seven years ago since I read Sarah Duguid's debut novel; Look At MeI absolutely loved that book and the author's sparse but magical prose. I've been looking forward to The Wilderness for a long time.

Anna and David live a conventional life in London. With two adult sons, David has been contemplating retirement whilst Anna continues to keep house, just as she's done throughout their relationship. Her family make fun of her hostess trolley and her neat and tidy house, but she's happy, in her own way. 

One phone call turns that life upside down. David's brother and his wife have been killed and he and Anna are named legal guardians to their two teenage daughters. Making the long journey up to a remote Scottish island gives Anna time to im
agine what lies ahead, whilst David barely deals with his grief.

Whilst Anna does remember signing the papers many years ago, agreeing to take care of Isabella and Sasha, she'd never imagined that it would actually happen.

The large, cold, stone house on the isolated island is so far away from Anna's home comforts and when David announces that they cannot uproot the girls, and in fact, they will move themselves to Scotland, she is horrified

David and Anna's long-term friend, Brandon is invited to stay with them. With teaching experience, it is thought that he can help with dealing with the distraught girls who are suddenly orphans, have always been home schooled and in comparison to city teenagers are somewhat naive and introverted. 

Sarah Duguid has such a skill in weaving together a story that is both evocative and dark. There's a sense of tension that rises throughout the narrative, as the reader, and Anna realise that Brandon's behaviour is strange with dubious intent. The house, and the island become characters in themselves as this talented author beautifully incorporates the beauty and desolation of both into the haunting and dramatic story. 

This is a study in grief and relationships, it is beautifully evocative with a darkness that lurks and eventually floods the story. Highly recommended by me. 

Sarah Duguid grew up on a farm in North Lincolnshire and now lives in London. 

The Wilderness is her second novel.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

The Eye of the Beholder by Margie Orford BLOG TOUR #TheEyeoftheBeholder @MargieOrford @canongatebooks @RandomTTours #BookExtract


Cora carries secrets her daughter can't know.

Freya is frightened by what her mother leaves unsaid.

Angel will only bury the past if it means putting her abusers into the ground.

One act of violence sets the three women on a collision course, each desperate to find the truth. In a nail-biting thriller set between the scorched red soil of South Africa, the pitiless snowfields of Canada and the chilly lochsides of western Scotland, each woman must contend with the spectres of male violence, sexual abuse and the choices we each make to keep our souls.

The Eye of the Beholder by Margie Orford was published by Canongate Books on 7 July 2022. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from The Eye of the Beholder by Margie Orford

Cora. Maybe he shouted after her. Cora, a command. Cora, a plea. Maybe it was just an echo in her head, but this time Cora wasn’t listening. This time she wasn’t stopping. This time she was running. The cold air rasped in her chest as she zigzagged through the pines down to the lake with his panicked dog at her heels. She glanced towards the distant houses hunched against the winter. They were shuttered and lightless. No sanctuary there, no witnesses either. She slipped on the icy footbridge, caught hold of the wooden railing and stopped herself just before she went over. She saw where the branches, submerged in the ice, had snagged a rodent’s small corpse.

The dog whimpered – a forepaw cut deep. Cora’s wounds were hidden: the still-felt pressure of his hand, a vice on her arm, his other hand around her throat. The roar of her fury when he told her that she was delusional; she just did not see things right.

That was when she remembered that she knew how to fight, how to bring a booted heel down hard so that his hold on her loosened for the fraction of a second she needed to get through the door, lock it, get out, get away.

A series of harsh cries made her look back: crows flying up from the trees behind the cabin, but no other movement. He was not following, he couldn’t follow – not yet, at least – but she had seen what he was capable of and she was taking no chances. She scrambled to her feet and sprinted to her car hidden in the fir trees and tore the door open. She was in, but before she could shut the door, the dog leapt in after her and pressed herself to the floor. Cora did not have the strength to fight her. She did not have the time either and, looking at the injured animal, decided maybe it was for the best if she took the dog with her, so she steadied her hands enough to get the car key into the ignition. The engine caught despite the cold. The wheels spun for a sickening moment, but there was traction. She sobbed with relief when the car jolted forwards.

Snow-laden branches lashed the windshield as she drove down the narrow track. Half a mile later and she was on a back road where the snowploughs had passed through recently. It was easier to navigate. She drove with her eyes fixed on the rear-view mirror, on the road and the trees vanishing behind her, but he had not followed her. Her mind knew he couldn’t – but her thudding heart, which had a different measure of things, did not.

Cora stopped a mile short of the highway. On a clear day it was possible to see the lake where the cabin was, but the weather had closed in and nothing was visible. She got out and opened the passenger door. ‘I’ve got to leave you here, Trotsky,’ she said, her voice ragged. The dog shrank back but because she had no choice, Cora reached in and grabbed her collar. Trotsky twisted her head this way and that in an attempt to escape. Cora held firm. Desperation gave her strength and she twisted the collar until the dog choked.

She had Trotsky half out of the car when fangs sliced into her wrist, but she could not let go: she could not risk being seen with his dog, so she yanked her out and, in the moment the animal was off-balance, jumped back in the vehicle and slammed the door shut. The dog threw her head back and howled and she heard it for the accusation of betrayal that it was. Cora swallowed the lump in her throat and drove off. The dog ran alongside the car, but the distance between them grew steadily until she could no longer see her.

She could only save one of them and, part wolf, part husky, Trotsky knew better than she did how to survive in this waste- land of ice. That was what she told herself as she drove through whirling snow, hers the only vehicle on the road. Half an hour later, she saw the sign for Dizzy’s Diner & Gas, its forlorn neon flashing weakly. She turned in and pulled up behind the rest rooms. There was no sign of anyone except a lone waiter bent over his phone in the diner. He did not look up when she got out of the car. 

Margie Orford is an award-winning journalist who has been dubbed the Queen of South African Crime Fiction. 
Her Clare Hart crime novels have been translated into ten languages and are being developed into a television series. 
She was born in London and spent her formative years in Namibia and South Africa. 
A Fulbright Scholar, she was educated in South Africa and the United States, has a doctorate in creative writing from the University of East Anglia and is an honorary fellow of St Hugh’s College, Oxford. 
She is President Emerita of PEN South Africa and was the patron of Rape Crisis Cape Town. 
She now lives in London.