Monday 31 October 2022

**** COVER REVEAL **** Death of a Bookseller by Alice Slater #DeathOfABookseller @alicemjslater @HodderBooks @Stevie_Coops **** COVER REVEAL ***


I am so THRILLED to share this cover reveal with you today! 

Death of a Bookseller 


Alice Slater 

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 

Published Thursday 27th April 2023. hardback, ebook, audio, priced £14.99




Meet Laura and Roach: two young woman thrown together as booksellers in a Walthamstow chain bookshop. 

Roach is drawn to the darkness: antisocial and addicted to true crime podcasts, she loves the sanctuary of the bookshop but is less fond of the customers. Laura, conversely, loves to talk about books with customers and is passionate about her favourite authors, though behind her cheery façade fears her life is falling apart.

When Roach discovers a crime in Laura's past a dangerous obsession takes hold, leading the pair down the darkest of paths…

Dark, creepy, thrilling and addictive, Death of a Bookseller is a totally new kind of book, seamlessly transcending genres and exploring the many complexities of female friendship and rivalry. 

With shades of Ottessa Moshfegh, this is going to be an unmissable publication next spring, and your favourite authors are already obsessed:

'Tense, addictive and sticky underfoot' JULIA ARMFIELD

'Your new obsession' ERIN KELLY

'Impossible to put down' ELIZA CLARK

'A dark masterpiece. It will work its way under your skin like a splinter and stay there' CATRIONA WARD

'Utterly unforgettable' CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD

'Engrossing, atmospheric and deliciously dark. Add this to your list' WILL DEAN

Alice Slater spent six years working as a bookseller with Waterstones. 

She started as a Christmas temp in Manchester Deansgate and worked her way up to bookshop manager of Romford, then Gower Street's fiction section, and eventually Notting Hill Gate, lending a hand in 20 different branches across the UK on the way. 

Now a London-based writer, she is a co-host of literary podcast "What Page Are You On?" and writes for Mslexia.

Twitter @alicemjslater

Regrets of the Dying by Georgina Scull #RegretsoftheDying @georginascull @welbeckpublish #StoriesofWisdome #BookReview


A powerful, moving and hopeful book exploring what people regret most when they are dying and how this can help us lead a better life.

If you were told you were going to die tomorrow, what would you regret?

Ten years ago, without time to think or prepare, Georgina Scull ruptured internally. The doctors told her she could have died and, as Georgina recovered, she began to consider the life she had led and what she would have left behind.

Paralysed by a fear of wasting what seemed like precious time but also fully ready to learn how to spend her second chance, Georgina set out to meet others who had faced their own mortality or had the end in sight.

Regrets of the Dying by Georgina Scull was published in hardback on 14 April 2022 by Welbeck.

I bought this book quite some time ago and have been dipping in and out of it for the past few months. My Mum died in March this year, and her two longest friends have both died in the past four weeks, it's been a time of loss for me, and sadness. Sometimes I found this book quite difficult to read, but on the whole, I thought it was a book that is actually life-affirming. Whilst there are some really sad recollections, it's also a book that makes the reader think about their own life, and their own decisions. 

The author was told that she could die after suffering an internal rupture. This terrified her, not surprisingly, and although she is now well again, she was determined to talk to people at the end of their lives, to ask them about any regrets that they may have. 

The stories that she recounts are wise and enlightening. There are some that resonated with me more than others; the people who are still young, but know that they will not see old age are particularly poignant, and such bravery and honesty is portrayed too. There are desperately sad stories, from people who have spent so many years looking back at decisions they made when they were younger, decisions that have impacted their lives so much. 

The author deals with each person so sensitively, relaying their thoughts just as they were spoken and giving a reader much to think about. 

An important book, a book that will make most people take stock, and look around and think hard about what we do now and how that may affect the rest of our lives. 

Georgina Scull is a writer and developer of original radio drama, film and podcasts. Georgina has been a finalist for various awards, including the Orange Prize for screenwriting.

In 2017, Georgina released the Regrets of the Dying podcast with Acast, which explored 8 stories of life, death and regrets. Georgina is currently developing a range of documentary and drama for BBC Radio, as well as a new podcast, Love Is..., which will tell extraordinary tales of friendship, family and love.

Twitter @georginascull

Friday 28 October 2022

Raising Raffi by Keith Gessen BLOG TOUR #RaisingRaffi #ABookAboutFatherhood @keithgessen @iconbooks @RandomTTours #BookExtract


Keith Gessen had always assumed that he would have kids, but couldn't imagine what parenthood would be like, nor what kind of parent he would be. Then, one Tuesday night in early June, Raffi was born, a child as real and complex and demanding of his parents' energy as he was singularly magical.

Fatherhood is another country: a place where the old concerns are swept away, where the ordering of time is reconstituted, where days unfold according to a child's needs. Like all parents, Gessen wants to do what is best for his child. But he has no idea what that is.

Written over the first five years of Raffi's life, Raising Raffi examines the profound, overwhelming, often maddening experience of being a dad. How do you instil in your child a sense of his heritage without passing on that history's darker sides? Is parental anger normal, possibly useful, or is it inevitably destructive? And what do you do, in a pandemic, when the whole world seems to fall apart? By turns hilarious and poignant, Raising Raffi is a story of what it means to invent the world anew.

Raising Raffi by Keith Gessen was published by Icon Books on 27 October 2022. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from Raising Raffi by Keith Gessen

I was not prepared to be a father—this much I knew. I didn’t have a job and I lived in one of the most expensive cities on the planet. I had always assumed that I’d have kids, but I had
spent zero minutes thinking about them. In short, though not young, I was stupid.

Emily told me she was pregnant when we were walking down Thirty-Fourth Street in Manhattan, on the way to Macy’s to shop for wedding rings. Our wedding was a few weeks away, and I had, as usual, put off preparing until the last minute. I had a fellowship at the time at the New York Public Library in mid- town, and I must have googled “wedding rings near me.” Macy’s it was. All around us on Thirty-Fourth Street people were shop- ping and hurrying and driving and honking. Emily told me, and I thought, “OK. Here we go. We are going to have a kid.”
Then I thought: We need to get some very cheap wedding rings at Macy’s.

I was born in Moscow and came to the United States with my parents and older sibling when I was six. I grew up in a suburb outside of Boston and found it boring and dreamed of leaving to become a writer. After college, I moved to New York and worked odd jobs and wrote short stories, which I sent to literary maga- zines, which never wrote me back. To see my name in print, I started doing journalism. I found I really liked it. I also started translating things—stories, an oral history, poems—from Rus- sian. Traveling to Russia and seeing its version of capitalism up close converted me to democratic socialism. Eventually I started a left-wing literary magazine, n+1, with some friends, published a novel, and traveled as much as possible to Russia to write about it. This was a decent literary career, truly more than I ever could have hoped for, but it did not bring in a lot of income; when Emily and I met I was living with two roommates in a grand but ancient and cockroach-infested apartment on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn.

At the time, Emily was a writer for Gawker, a media gossip website. She was brilliant, beautiful, and very funny; she could also be very mean. She had grown up in an upper-middle-class household in suburban Maryland, but she had a chip on her shoulder. She was also a very good cook. We dated for a while, broke up (she dumped me at a Starbucks in Cobble Hill that later closed during the pandemic), and then started dating again. Eventually we moved in together, to an apartment above a bar in Bedford-Stuyvesant. By this point Emily had quit working for Gawker and published a well-received book of essays. With her best friend, Ruth, she started a small feminist publishing house, Emily Books; she worked for a while at a publishing start-up, then got sick of it. The year she got pregnant, she published her first novel, Friendship, about two best friends whose relationship is disrupted when one of them gets . . . pregnant. I was working on my second novel, about Russia, and had received a yearlong fellowship at the New York Public Library to research and write it. The fellowship was the bulk of our in- come that year. Strictly speaking, we still didn’t have much money, but that was OK, because we also didn’t have any kids.

Now, at Macy’s, we couldn’t get the attention of the sales- woman in the giant ring section. I would have hung around until she got to us, but Emily looked disappointed—the mother of my child! I couldn’t make her wait. We got on the subway to Brooklyn and bought rings above our budget at a cute little store in Williamsburg.

I suppose it isn’t exactly true that I hadn’t thought about kids. I hadn’t thought about actual birth, or what sort of clothes a baby wears, or about the practicalities of early infancy. “As a child, from the moment I gained some understanding of what it entailed, I worried about childbirth,” writes Rachel Cusk in A Life’s Work, her dark, brilliant memoir of motherhood. She feared its pain and its violence and what would happen on the other side. To this, truly, I had given zero thought. 

Keith Gessen was born in Moscow in 1975 and came to the United States with his family when he
was six years old. 

He is a co-founder of the literary magazine n+1 and the author of the novels All the Sad Young Literary Men and A Terrible Country. 

He has translated or co-translated several books from Russian, including Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich. 

He lives in New York with his wife, the author and publisher Emily Gould, and their two sons.

Twitter @keithgessen

Thursday 27 October 2022

The Sanctuary by Emma Haughton #TheSanctuary @Emma_Haughton @HodderBooks @JennyPlatt90 #BookReview


Zoey doesn't remember anything about last night. But she knows something went badly wrong. For she is no longer in New York. She's woken up in the desert, in a white building she doesn't recognise, and she's alone.

When she discovers she's been admitted to The Sanctuary, a discreet, mysterious, isolated refuge from normal life, to avoid jail, she is stunned. She knows she has secrets, troubles, but she thought she had everything under control. But as she spends more time with other residents, she begins to open up about what she's running from. Until she realises that not everyone in The Sanctuary has her best interests at heart, and someone might even be a killer . . 

The Sanctuary by Emma Haughton is published by Hodder on 24 November 2022. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

The Sanctuary has one of the most compelling opening chapters that I've read in a long time, it's perfectly pitched and just makes the reader want more. And you get more, lots more. It's a locked-room mystery with a difference, with characters who are often difficult to empathise with and a plot that snakes around and comes back and bites you! 

The reader is introduced to lead character Zoey as she wakes with a splitting headache, wondering just what happened during her night out the previous evening with her two best friends. Gradually, she realises that she's very hot, and it's awfully quiet. Zoey is currently house sitting for her uncle Dan, in New York and it's usually noisy; cars, people, shops, the buzz of the city. This morning is silent, and blistering hot ..... and then Zoey realises that she's not in her uncle's apartment at all. She has no idea where she is, or how she got there.

Eventually both the reader, and Zoey, discover that she's at The Sanctuary, a rehab facility, in the middle of a Mexican desert and is expected to stay there for at least ten weeks. Zoey is not rich, she doesn't know anyone who is rich but it seems that a mysterious benefactor has paid for her stay. Zoey cannot leave, if she does, she will be expected to re-pay the costs of getting her to the Sanctuary, by private plane and then helicopter. 

Nothing makes sense to Zoey. She doesn't believe that she needs rehab, she admits that her life is a bit dead-end, constant moving about and low-paid, unskilled jobs, a lot of alcohol, the odd bit of hash, but nothing she cannot handle ... she believes.

As Zoey meets the other patients at The Sanctuary she realises that she's the odd one out. These are rich people, people who've done many stints in rehab. People with serious issues, yet the therapists indicate that Zoey has things to hide too, if only she could remember. 

There's a sense of dread within this story, it's clear that The Sanctuary is not all that it claims to be. Zoey cannot help herself but try to find out more about a recent patient who left suddenly, and then people begin to die .... and this is where it all gets a little bit crazy. 

Emma Haughton has created a cast of characters who are often perplexing, sometimes very shallow, but all with hidden secrets. Her desert setting is wonderfully created, with the constant heat and the miles and miles of red, arid landscape adding such an atmosphere to what is a cracking story. 

The Sanctuary kept me entertained, I never quite knew what to expect, although I had my suspicions about most of the cast at some point.  Intriguing and tense. Recommended by me. 

Emma Haughton grew up in Sussex; after a stint au pairing in Paris and a couple of half-hearted
attempts to backpack across Europe, she studied English at Oxford University then trained in journalism. During her career as a journalist, she wrote many articles for national newspapers, including regular pieces for the Times Travel section.

Following publication of her picture book, Rainy Day, Emma wrote three YA novels. Her first, Now You See Me, was an Amazon bestseller and nominated for the Carnegie and Amazing Book Awards. Better Left Buried, her second, was one of the best YA reads for 2015 in the Sunday Express. Her third YA novel, Cruel Heart Broken, was picked by The Bookseller as a top YA read for July 2016.

Find out more at or Or get in touch via Twitter: @Emma_Haughton

Wednesday 26 October 2022

The Beaten Track by Louise Mangos #TheBeatenTrack @LouiseMangos @RedDogTweets #BookReview


She thinks she is safe now that she's home from her travels... but her nightmare has only just begun.

After her stalker takes his life and she's jilted by a holiday lover, Sandrine comes home from her round-the-world backpacking trip perturbed, penniless and pregnant. She meets handsome Scott who offers her love, security and all she and her new baby could ever wish for.

But their dream is about to turn into a nightmare...

The Beaten Track by Louise Mangos was published on 12 April 2022 by Red Dog Press. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review. 

I read The Beaten Track on my flight home from Cyprus earlier this month and it kept me entertained throughout the journey. It's a tense story of how a stalker operates which gave me goosebumps in places. 

The prologue is dark and a bit creepy, we never quite know what's happening, or who to, but it's a gripping introduction that will guarantee that you continue and read more. 

The reader is then taken to January 1988, as Sandrine and her new baby wait to meet a friend for coffee. Sandrine appears to be fairly happy, she's recently started a new relationship and is settled. 

We  then go back in time as we accompany Sandrine as she is on her travels through Europe. She's backpacking, it's certainly not a glamour holiday and can be very rough and ready at times but Sandrine's narrative is great, the author really brings these places to life.

Whilst travelling, Sandrine meets Jake who narrates some of the story, and what a tense and creepy narration it is. Jake is obsessed with her, Sandrine is not so bothered about him. It's an almost voyeuristic experience to read his thoughts, and certainly made my heart beat a little faster at times. 

Without going into detail, the trip doesn't end so well for Sandrine, so it's something of a relief for the reader to realise that she's home safe. But is she? That's the big question and the author cleverly and skilfully answers it, eventually! 

Sinister and dark, this is a story that takes you on a journey that you don't expect. I really enjoyed this one and look forward to more from the author. 

Louise Mangos grew up in the UK but has spent more than half her life in Switzerland.

Her debut psychological thriller Strangers on a Bridge was a finalist in the Exeter Novel Prize and long listed for the Bath Novel Award. 

Her second novel Her Husband's Secrets (previously titled The Art of Deception) was published in June 2019.

She lives on an Alp with her Kiwi husband and two sons, and when she's not writing you can find her on the cross-country ski trails or wild swimming in the lake, depending on the season.

She also writes short stories and flash fiction which have won prizes and been published in various anthologies. 

She has recently completed her MA in crime writing at UEA.

The Titanic Tunnel by Glen Blackwell BLOG TOUR #TheTitanicTunnel @gblackwellbooks @RandomTTours #ChildrensFiction #BookExtract


'It's Titanic - aren't you curious? No one alive today has seen it like that.'

Emmie & Jack are on a school trip with a difference.
Visiting Belfast to see where Titanic was built, they step back to 1912 and discover the great ship itself.
All too soon, they find out that the way home is blocked, and Jack gets dragged off to work by one of the crew.
Who is the mysterious stranger lurking in the shadows, and can they solve his time riddle to escape from the doomed ship before it is too late...?

The Titanic Tunnel by Glen Blackwell was published on 5 May 2022 by Zoetrope Books. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from The Titanic Tunnel by Glen Blackwell

The coach slowly moved forward, clanking over the ramp which led off the ferry and onto the worn concrete of the terminal. As the driver carefully negotiated the route to the exit, the noise level from the children on board increased with their excitement. It was late afternoon, and the school party were on the final leg of their journey from London. They were in their first year at high school and had come on a trip to Belfast to see where Titanic had been built, and to visit the museum dedicated to it.

‘Wow - look at that!’ Jack said, nudging Emmie. They were now driving through the city centre on the way to their hotel and were grateful that it was only a short ride from the port.

‘Cool!’ replied Emmie, looking up and noticing the large yellow shipyard cranes for the first time. ‘Are they the cranes which were used to build Titanic?’

‘No, I think they might be more modern than that,’ Jack answered, running a hand through his short orange hair. ‘Whenever I’ve seen pictures of Titanic being built, it was always covered in scaffolding.’

The pair sat back in their seats, heads turned to the side and eyes fixed on the developing views through the window. They had travelled by road to Liverpool, then taken a ferry across the Irish Sea to Belfast. The sea had been quite calm, but Emmie had still felt seasick on the short voyage. She hadn’t been on the open sea before, and the gut-wrenching sensation wasn’t something she was looking forward to repeating on their way home.

Jack idly traced out the shape of the big cranes on the window alongside him and then stared with interest as a large metal and glass structure came into view.

‘That’s the Titanic museum,’ explained Emmie, ‘look, there’s a huge metal sculpture of the name outside.’ They both stared in awe at the sharply angled building which, with its four-pointed corners, looked a bit like a star.

‘It’s been a fairly normal journey,’ joked Jack, ‘not the most adventurous bus trip we’ve ever had...’

The previous autumn, Jack and Emmie had been on their usual bus journey home from school and had somehow stumbled back in time to 1940. Experiencing the London Blitz first-hand had given them a unique insight into what life was like for people at the time, but how it had happened, and why to them, was still a mystery. They’d talked endlessly about it to each other but couldn’t come up with any plausible reason.

Glen Blackwell lives in Suffolk, England. 

He has a career in finance and The Titanic Tunnel is his third book. 

Inspired by bedtime reading with his 3 daughters, Glen loves to bring stories to life for young readers.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

The Soho Killer by Biba Pearce BLOG TOUR #TheSohoKiller #BibaPearce @BibaPearce @RandomTTours #BookExtract


The body of a middle-aged man is discovered in Soho. DCI Rob Miller, who’d thought he’d seen it all, is shocked by the violent death. The victim, dressed in a leather bondage outfit, has whip marks on his back and a ball-gag in his mouth. It looks like he's been raped and strangled, but whether it was autoerotic or murder, that remains to be seen.

Just when Rob's team is making headway with the investigation, another man is found dead, killed in the same fashion as the first victim. This turns their theory on its head and they are forced to release their suspect and go back to the drawing board. When a third man is murdered, it's clear someone is sending a message. Criminal profiler Tony Sanderson, a long-standing friend of Rob's, is called in to consult on the case. Together, they must unravel the killings that have left the local community reeling and bring an increasingly depraved serial killer to justice.

The Soho Killer by Biba Pearce is published in October by Joffe Books. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour,  I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you.

Extract from The Soho Killer by Biba Pearce

“Where’s your partner tonight?” the killer asked, even though he knew. Mind games. He was better at them than the shrink.

A flicker of an eyelid. A sore point. “He’s away on business.”

“That’s a shame. You didn’t want to go with him?”

“It’s not that kind of trip. He’s in sales. This is a big conference somewhere up north. Partners aren’t welcome.”

“Well, his loss is my gain.” He flashed a naughty grin.

The man’s gaze lingered on his face. “You know, I didn’t realise you were . . .”

“Appearances can be deceiving. I don’t broadcast it.”

“Why not? Haven’t you come out?”

“It's not that.” He didn’t need his head read. “It’s just with my work—” He shrugged. “I think it's better if people don't know. None of their business anyway, right?”

“Right.” The man hesitated, as if unsure whether to continue. Finally, he said, “If you ever want to talk . . .”

The killer was getting bored with this conversation. Time to move on to the next step in his plan. “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.”

A shared smile. Eye contact, more than was appropriate.

“Hey, do you want to dance?” the killer asked.


They finished their drinks and moved to the dance floor. The killer had only so many practised moves, but it wouldn’t take long. Any minute now . . .

The man stumbled, clutching his arm.

“You okay?” the killer asked.

He frowned. “I don’t feel so good. Everything’s spinning.”

“God, I didn't realise you’d drunk that much.”

“I didn’t. I—”

He stopped, closing his eyes and teetering to the side.

The killer put an arm around his waist. “Okay, mate. Enough for you. Let’s get you home.” He shot an apologetic smile at the other revellers, most of whom nodded sympathetically. They’d all been there.

The killer led the man out of the club. “My car’s nearby. I’ll give you a lift home.”

“Thanks. I don’t know . . . I can’t . . . Oh, God . . .” His words ran into one another.

The killer kept his head down on the way out, just in case of security cameras. Half lugging, half dragging the seemingly inebriated man down the street, he rounded a corner and came to his car. With some effort, he heaved the legless man inside and closed the door.

The man lived a few streets away — within walking distance, but not within stumbling distance. Too many cameras, too many potential eyewitnesses. The grey GTi was far less conspicuous as it slunk down the street, keeping well below the speed limit.

Less than five minutes later, the killer pulled up outside the man’s house. He glanced over his shoulder. The man was out cold in the back, drooling all over the seat.

Charming. Still, it was exactly as he’d planned. So far, everything was working out perfectly.

The killer pulled a black hoodie over his white shirt, so he’d blend into the shadows. Then he took a pair of latex gloves out of the glove compartment and put them on. Finally, he wrapped two plastic bags around his shoes and tied them at the ankle, to prevent any prints or other trace evidence. You couldn’t be too careful these days.

Making sure there were no dark heads watching from lit windows, he heaved the drugged man into the house. It was easy enough to rummage through the man’s pockets for his keys, and as he already knew from his previous reconnaissance, there was no burglar alarm.

It was a split-level apartment with the living room and kitchen downstairs, and a double bedroom and bathroom upstairs. Brown carpets, paisley wallpaper, dark wood furniture. The place was stuck in the seventies.

The killer laid the man down on the carpet. At least the stains wouldn’t show.

He returned to his car, opened the boot and took out a length of rope and a rucksack containing an outfit he’d bought months ago from a fetish shop in Amsterdam, some cleaning products and a few other bits and pieces. The police would never think to look that far afield. He smiled to himself as he stripped the man and dressed him in the bondage gear. Poor fool wouldn’t know what had hit him.

Dressing a semi-conscious man was hard work and the killer was lathered in sweat by the time he’d finished.

“Let’s get on with it,” he muttered to himself. The longer he stayed here, the more chance there was of leaving evidence behind.

He tied the rope around the man’s neck and secured it at the back with a slipknot. He gave it a firm pull. That wasn’t going to budge. Then, taking the other end of the rope, he climbed up the stairs to the top level.

Now for the hard part.

Like a sailor at the mast, the killer hauled the rope until the man began to move. He must weigh at least seventy kilograms, so it was hard work, but eventually he had him upright. The noose had tightened but it wasn’t strangling him yet. That would come.

He hoisted the man up, using the banister as leverage, until the man’s feet were off the ground. Another few inches would do it.

Christ, he was heavy.

The man suddenly woke up. Lack of air, most probably. He grunted, then began flailing his arms around, trying to clutch on to something, anything, to stop the noose from tightening further.

“It’s futile,” whispered the killer, watching from above.

There was a disgusting gurgling sound as the man’s air supply was cut off. His legs kicked back and forth, making him sway. The noose would just get tighter the more he struggled.

Eventually, the man grew still. The gurgling stopped and his limbs ceased flailing about.

Was he dead?

The killer secured the rope around the banister, keeping it taut. To be believable, the man’s feet should be a good few inches off the ground. If he wasn’t dead, he would be soon.

Job done. For there could only be one winner.

All that was left for the killer to do was pack up his rucksack and get out of there. He left via the front door, closing it gently behind him. Not once did he turn back to look at the victim’s face.

Biba Pearce is a British crime writer and author of the DCI Rob Miller series. 

Biba grew up in post-apartheid Southern Africa. 

As a child, she lived on the wild eastern coast and explored the sub-tropical forests and surfed in shark-infested waters. 

Now a full-time writer with more than twenty-five novels under her belt, Biba lives in leafy Surrey and when she isn't writing, can be found walking through the countryside or kayaking on the river Thames. 

Twitter @BibaPearce


Shirk, Rest and Play by Andrew Grumbridge & Vincent Raison BLOG TOUR #ShirkRestandPlay #UltimateSlackersBible @deserterblog @unbounders @RandomTTours #BookExtract


Have you forgotten how to relax and enjoy yourself? Do you run around in circles mistaking dizziness for happiness? Your troubles are over, for you hold in your hands the means to take control of your destiny, to turn your back on obligation and conformity, or at least hide from them in the toilets for a bit.

Shirk, Rest and Play is a comprehensive illustrated handbook for wannabe drop-outs, dreamers, drifters and gadabouts. Authors Andrew Grumbridge and Vincent Raison – along with their panoply of wastrel acquaintances – offer ruminations about finding beauty in the ordinary, lessons in tactical slacking and detailed advice on how to get more out of life by doing less.

They cover all aspects of modern existence, moving smartly through Childhood, Work, Leisure, Home, Money, Health and Beauty and, of course, Death, where even amid the tears and sadness, you can still find plates of mini-burgers.

This book is the call to arms you’ve been waiting for, giving you all the tips, shortcuts and (de)motivation you need to duck out of the system and live life on your own terms.

Shirk, Rest and Play : The Ultimate Slacker's Bible by Andrew Grumbridge and Vince Raison was published by Unbound on 1 September 2022.

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from Shirk, Rest and Play

We come into this world not an entirely blank slate. We have certain predispositions: some inherited, some unique to us. We are not, however, born with an inclination for form filling, housework or business attire. Such things are foisted upon us by a society that has forgotten how to have fun, that has mislaid the meaning of existence: to mess about. One minute we’re eating crayons or digging up worms without a care in the world, the next we’re setting alarm clocks, comparing insurance premiums and calculating square footage. It not only sounds wrong, it is wrong.

How does it happen? Why does it happen? We blame a society with its focus not on happiness, but on such mundanities as productivity, career and material acquisition, all presented, ironically, as the means to happiness. Do you mind? we need to be ready to assert, when we feel under pressure to conform, I am trying to look for some worms here.

As a reminder to cling to as much of it as possible, let’s consider what happens to us in childhood and hear about the early days of some of our esteemed influencers.


None of us ask to be born. Our first act is usually a cry of protest at having been forced to do so. We were quite happy where we were, thank you very much. In the warm, in the dark, nutrients on tap. There’s no one to tell you to tidy your womb and for giggles you can always give the old placenta a kick. But out we come, into the cold and the light, and if we don’t wail at that, we get a smack on our tiny, newly exposed rear.

‘Speak for yourself,’ said Half-life. ‘I gave the doctor a right-hander straight away. Didn’t like the look of him.’ Pre-emptive action has been a hallmark of the big man ever since.

Early Years

Early childhood is a bit like being rolling drunk: everyone remembers what you did except you. We may remember little, but we take on board an incredible amount of vital information, including how to get around, how to communicate and which parent is the softest touch for biscuits. We eat, we sleep and – if we’re lucky – get doted on by spellbound parents.

It is truly a golden era for slackers. We have no respon- sibility and we also get to be as demanding and annoying as we want. It’s no coincidence that when we are at our most helpless, we are also at our most adorable. No one in their right mind would deliver the level of care babies and toddlers need – not to mention put up with Teletubbies – without a profound love to see them through.

In addition, little ones are able to take great pleasure in small or everyday things: pebbles, leaves, dead birds, etc. And it is to this childlike state we should aspire when, for instance, we find a discarded armchair overlooking the A205. Should we tut and bemoan the fact that the correct procedures for outsized waste disposal have been ignored? Or should our eyes light up at the prospect of a good sit-down by a busy road? The choice is ours.

Aside from imitating parents and siblings, children learn through play, a method we tend to lose sight of by the time we’re perfecting our CVs. By all means give up the dummy, nappies and teddy bears, but don’t give up curiosity, playfulness or poking your brother with a stick. How else will you learn? How else will he learn?

‘Play is the work of childhood,’ said the eminent psychologist Jean Piaget. It is our contention that it should be the work of adulthood, too. As the great American cartoonist Berkeley Breathed put it, ‘It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.’

Andrew Grumbidge and Vincent Raison founded the lifestyle blog Deserter in 2014 to pass on their
learnings so that future generations could avoid the evils of hard work, ambition and sobriety. Nevertheless, the blog led to the acclaimed alt-travel book Today South London, Tomorrow South London (Unbound, 2018), an Evening Standard comedy book of the year.

Their Deserter Pubcast has been lauded as an ‘essential’ listen by both the Sunday Times and Esquire. 

Both authors live in south London. / @deserterblog