Wednesday 31 May 2023

Sorry For Your Loss by Kate Marshall with Linda Watson-Brown #SorryForYourLoss @ kate_smarshall @lwatsonbrown @MardleBooks


Following Kate Marshall’s first year in the mortuary at a north of England NHS hospital, with each month exploring the people she meets, in life and death, as well as her own growing awareness of life behind the veil. 

Meet Mr X Found in his apartment months after his death, Mr X has no relatives that can be traced. He is the longest-serving resident of the mortuary, having been there for almost a year while the search for his elusive family continues. The staff talk to him like an old friend, but Mr X is disintegrating and a decision has to be made soon.

Meet Mary Her baby girl has been lost in the 15th week of pregnancy, Mary’s last chance to have a child. Mary won’t allow Abigail to leave the mortuary until she has finished reading a book to her. She visits twice each day, sitting with her baby, reading to her, speaking to no one, until she finally opens up to Kate.

Meet Joe A loving husband and father who has died suddenly of a heart attack. Joe is visited by his wife, his children – and his mistress. On the day that all his worlds collide, Kate witnesses how death can finally reveal the truth of years of lies.

Sorry for Your Loss is haunting, uplifting and informative, with many moments of laughter, and shows us that the way we approach death can make life all the more precious.

Sorry For Your Loss by Kate Marshall with Linda Watson-Brown was published in July 2022 by Mardle Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Just like most people, I have never thought about what happens in a mortuary. I've never been in a mortuary and I don't know anyone who works in one. I absolutely love to discover new things through non-fiction, and Sorry For Your Loss is an eye-opening, tender, sometimes funny account of how bodies are cared for, after death and before a funeral. 

Kate Marshall previously worked with people who hoard. She cleaned up for them, and talked to them, but she knew that what she was doing was not making any difference at all. These people needed professional help to stop the cycle.

She found her true calling when she took the job in the mortuary. Her recollections of events, and people are so well written (ably done by ghostwriter Linda Watson-Brown), it's a joy to read this book. I feel as though I know Kate personally, and I'd certainly be more than happy for her to be in charge of looking after a deceased loved one, or myself! 

There are some eye-opening encounters for Kate and the rest of the team. There is no correct way to grieve and every single person will deal with things differently. What Kate does, and does so very well, is to allow people to be individuals, whilst ensuring that the deceased is given the respect and dignity that they deserve. Some families are incredibly difficult; wanting to FaceTime and take photographs, or look more closely at the body. Some families are just so so terribly upset that they don't take in what is happening, but Kate has time for all of these people. She comes across as such a caring and empathic person, she is full of humour too, but totally appropriate when in a professional situation.

Kate deals with the early days of COVID and there is no doubt that it was horrendous. It was like nothing ever seen before and the determination and dedication of the team in the mortuary is outstanding, I was exhausted just reading about it, and I really hope that they had support from above. 

A fascinating book, so well written and so informative. Highly recommended. 

Kate Marshall has worked in mental health, special needs and in the field of bereavement for many years with roles incorporating the coroner’s office, mortuary and Bereavement Services. 

She lives in Cheshire.

Twitter @kate_smarshall

Linda Watson-Brown is a ghostwriter and author based in Scotland. 

She has written more than 20 titles, and is currently working on three more ghosted projects as well as her own first novel. 

She can be contacted through her website at

Tuesday 30 May 2023

Kill For It by Lizzie Fry BLOG TOUR #KillForIt #LizzieFry @LucyVHayAuthor @BooksSphere @RandomTTours #BookReview

How far would you go for the thing you want most?

Would you... kill for it?

Cat Crawford is not especially good at her job.

Erin Goodman is the woman Cat wants to be when she's older - smart, successful, and the best part? She's earned it - nothing was ever handed to Erin on a plate, or to Cat.

But Erin doesn't notice Cat. Not until something awful happens and Cat, finding herself in the right place at the right time, writes the article that goes viral. Now she's got Erin's attention.

The difference is, Cat knows Erin is onto her. And Cat is more than happy to toy with her colleague, especially if it gets her an even bigger story to report on.

In the game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.

Kill For It by Lizzie Fry was published by Sphere in November 2022. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

Kill For It is a novel of intrigue and suspense that kept me gripped throughout. Whilst there are plenty of unexpected deaths, and it is most certainly a thriller, the main theme here is the struggles that women have in the workplace. Lizzie Fry incorporates the frustrations of sexism and misogyny into a nail-biting story, and it really works.

Erin and Cat come from similar working class backgrounds. They both work for the same large news organisation. Cat sits in a tiny cubicle, re-writing press releases and dreaming of becoming an investigative journalist, whilst Erin is a deputy editor, with her own office and tipped for the top. 

When Erin discovers Cat crying in the staff toilets one day, she takes her under her wing. Listening to her, offering her friendship and sharing her experiences. Cat is delighted to have finally been noticed, however, she wants more, and after writing a piece that goes viral, she is determined to stay above the radar.

Cat will do anything to make sure that she continues to be noticed, and slowly Erin realises that quiet, mousy Cat is not quite all that she seems. 

As the body count soars, and Cat slowly eases her way into the more influential circles, Erin realises that her own star is fading, and only she can do something about it. 

This is a fast-paced, tense and sometimes very dark story that details just how far someone will go to ensure that they are noticed. Both Cat and Erin are fabulous characters, well rounded and cleverly drawn. The toxicity of the workplace shines through the story, with numerous male characters who are either weak, but hold powerful positions, or downright sexist, with one saving grace in the shape of Erin's neighbour Asif.

Lizzie Fry is a debut author of high concept thriller The Coven (published by Sphere
books), but you might know her better as LV Hay.

LV’s books previous books were crime fiction: The Other Twin, Do No Harm (Orenda Books) and Never Have I Ever (Hodder).

The Other Twin is currently being adapted for the screen by Agatha Raisin producers Free@Last TV.

Twitter @LucyVHayAuthor

Instagram @lucyvhayauthor

Friday 26 May 2023

The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop BLOG TOUR #TheGirlsOfSummer @WhatKatieBWrote @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #BookReview


Rachel has loved Alistair since she was seventeen.

Even though she hasn't seen him for sixteen years and she's now married to someone else.

Even though she was a teenager when they met.

Even though he is almost twenty years older than her.

Now in her thirties, Rachel has never been able to forget their golden summer together on a remote, sun-trapped Greek island. But as dark and deeply suppressed memories rise to the surface, Rachel begins to understand that Alistair - and the enigmatic, wealthy man he worked for - controlled much more than she ever realized.

Rachel has never once considered herself a victim - until now.

The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop was published in hardback on 25 May 2023 by Bantam / Transworld.  My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

The Girls of Summer had me hooked from the opening pages, I was totally consumed by Rachel's character. She's a woman who is totally relatable, a woman with a past that she looks back on often. A past that she yearns for, a time in her life when she was happy. As the story evolves, the reader becomes aware that Rachel's recollections of that time may be skewed, and very slowly, she realises too. 

The story opens as thirty-something Rachel and her husband Tom are holidaying on the small Greek island where Rachel spent a summer back when she was just seventeen. When Rachel bumps into a familiar face from the past, she grasps the opportunity to re-connect with the love of her life; Alistair. 

Alistair was much older than Rachel and unlike most people, he noticed her, and made her feel special. Despite the age-gap, and Alistair's mysterious job working for a well-known wealthy property magnate, Rachel falls deeply in love. She stays on the island when her travelling companion returns home. She works in a bar, she drinks, takes drugs and attends many parties. There are a lot of wealthy, older men at these parties, and the girls of summer become the entertainment. 

Told in Rachel's voice, in two time lines; the then and the now, this is a darkly chilling story that will resonate with most women. As the rise of the #MeToo movement steadily increases, we have so much more understanding these days of what happened back then, and how men used women, especially young impressionable women, girls really, for their sordid pleasures. 

Slowly and steadily, with the help of some of the other women who were on the island with her, Rachel begins to realise that her memories of that long hot summer, and how she was in love are not the real truth. She has told herself for years that Alistair was the love of her life, she has imagined how life would have been for them as a couple. Her rose-tinted spectacles become blurred, until eventually, she has to remove them and face up to the reality of what her life has been. 

The Girls of Summer is a very impressive debut from an author who writes with authority and sensitivity. Rachel and her friends are never blamed by this author, they are depicted exactly as they were; young, naive and looking for fun. 

The sense of place is astonishing. The heat, the sea, the busy bar, are all described perfectly. There's a definite hint of Sabine Durrant's writing here too; another author that I admire. 

An eye-opening and very clever novel about perception and realisation. About manipulation and fear. This is a fabulous novel and one that I highly recommend. 

KATIE BISHOP is a writer and journalist based in Birmingham, UK. 

She grew up in the Midlands before moving to Oxford to work in publishing in her early twenties. 
Whilst working as an assistant editor she started writing articles in her spare time, going on to be published in the New York Times, Guardian, Independent and Vogue.

Katie started writing The Girls of Summer during the first UK COVID lockdown, after becoming increasingly interested in stories emerging from the #MeToo movement. 
The novel is inspired by her own experiences of backpacking, and by her interest in how personal narratives can be reshaped and understood in light of cultural and social changes.

In 2020, Katie moved back to the Midlands, and now lives in Birmingham with her partner. She is a full-time writer. 

Thursday 25 May 2023

Sidle Creek by Jolene McIlwain BLOG TOUR #SidleCreek @jolene_mcilwain @melvillehouse @NikkiTGriffiths #BookReview


Set in the bruised, mined, and timbered hills of Appalachia in western Pennsylvania, Sidle Creek is a tender, truthful exploration of a small town and the people who live there, told by a brilliant new voice in fiction.

In Sidle Creek, McIlwain skillfully interrogates the myths and stereotypes of the mining, mill, and farming towns where she grew up. With stories that take place in diners and dive bars, town halls and bait shops, McIlwain's writing explores themes of class, work, health, and trauma, and the unexpected human connections of small, close-knit communities. All the while, the wild beauty of the natural world weaves its way in, a source of the town's livelihood - and vulnerable to natural resource exploitation.

With an alchemic blend of taut prose, gorgeous imagery, and deep sensitivity for all of the living beings within its pages, Sidle Creek will sit snugly on bookshelves between Annie Proulx, Joy Williams, and Louise Erdrich.

Sidle Creek by Jolene McIlwain was published on 18 May 2023 by Melville House. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy as part of this Blog Tour.

Sidle Creek is a collection of twenty-two short stories, all set around Sidle Creek, a river than runs through a small town in the hills of Appalachia, western Pennsylvania.

I don't read a lot of short stories, but can recommend this beautifully written collection from an author who writes with such confidence and truth. The stories range from very very short, at just over a page long, to those that take up many pages, and each and every one of them is masterfully created. 

There are some very very dark themes within these stories, reflecting the diversity of the community that they capture. There are a couple of tales in this book that will stay with me forever, they are extremely emotionally challenging at times, with writing that conjures up the most precise images. 

The flowing Sidle Creek runs throughout these stories, it's not a large piece of water but it is surrounded by myth and local folk lore. It is claimed that is has healing properties and these feature in at least three of the stories. 

At its heart though, this is a story of people and community and how they survive. Whilst there are many tales of how the local folk look out for each other, how they care and how they band together, there are also touches of violence and how sometimes, the local people cannot help, no matter how much they try to. 

At times startling, at other times heart breaking, Sidle Creek is a collection of stories that will evoke a range of emotions from the reader. I am so glad to have discovered this author's writing. 

Jolene McIlwain's fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and appears in West Branch, Florida Review, Cincinnati Review, New Orleans Review, Northern Appalachia Review, and 2019's Best Small Fictions Anthology. 

Her work was named finalist for 2018's Best of the Net, Glimmer Train's and River Styx's contests, and semifinalist in Nimrod's Katherine Anne Porter Prize and two American Short Fiction's contests. 

She's received a Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council grant, the Georgia Court Chautauqua faculty scholarship, and Tinker Mountain's merit scholarship. 

She's taught literary theory/analysis at Duquesne and Chatham Universities and she worked as a radiologic technologist before attending college (BS English, minor in sculpture, MA Literature). 

She was born, raised, and currently lives in a small town in the Appalachian plateau of Western Pennsylvania.

Instagram @jolenemcilwain

Wednesday 24 May 2023

**** COVER REVEAL **** Arrietty by Abby Davies @Abby13Richards #Arietty @RandomTTours *** COVER REVEAL ****


I am delighted to host this cover reveal on Random Things today. What an eye-catching, vibrant cover this is. The blurb sounds amazing too, I'm really looking forward to reading this one 

Arrietty by Abby Davies

Publishes on 18 July 2023 

Available to pre-order from Amazon NOW 


Arrietty wakes one morning to find her mother gone. Turning to her father for reassurance, she gets the terrifying sense that he - and others - are hiding a crime too dreadful to name.


Confined to the house on the cliff, Arrietty worries for the safety of her brother as her father becomes increasingly unstable and unpredictable.


Arrietty’s hunt for answers plunges her into a nightmarish fight for survival that leads her to the most awful secret of all.

Abby Davies was born in Macclesfield in 1984. 

She grew up in Bedfordshire in a seventeenth century cottage near Flitton Moor and started writing ‘thrillers’ when she was seven years old.
After reading English Literature at Sheffield University and training to be an English teacher, she wrote novels in her free time.

She was shortlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition in 2018 and longlisted for the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award in 2019. 

Her debut Mother Loves Me was published by HarperCollins in 2020. The Cult came out in 2021. Arrietty is her third novel. 

She lives in Wiltshire with her husband, daughter and two crazy cocker spaniels

Monday 22 May 2023

The Last Passenger by Will Dean #TheLastPassenger @willrdean #Giveaway #Prize #Win #Competition


Caz Ripley, a cafe owner from a small, ordinary town, boards the RMS Atlantica with her boyfriend Pete and a thousand fellow passengers destined for New York.
The next morning, she wakes to discover that everyone else on board has disappeared.
And that's just the beginning. Caz must prepare for a crossing that will be anything but plain sailing ...

With the drama of The Woman in Cabin 10 and the tension of And Then There Were None , The Last Passenger is a psychological thriller set aboard a cruise ship about a woman whose seemingly ordinary life is suddenly thrown dramatically off course. Will Dean is The Master of Intense Suspense and this novel is full of his trademark twists and turns.

The Last Passenger by Will Dean was published in hardback on 11 May 2023 by Hodder. 

I was lucky to get to see Will Dean talk about the book at the first event of his book tour, held at The Collection in Lincoln.

Whilst there, I bought a copy of the book and Will has kindly signed it. I'm now really excited to offer this hardback, signed copy of The Passenger as a prize in this giveaway.

Entry is simple. Just fill out the competition widget in the blog tour. UK entries only please. 


One hardback SIGNED copy of The Last Passenger by Will Dean

A luxury cruise liner, abandoned with no crew, steaming into the mid-Atlantic.
And you are the only passenger left on board.


'The premise is excellent... [a] mile-a-minute, bite-your-nails-to-the-quick ride of a novel, but I will tell you to trust this writer because I guarantee you'll enjoy where he takes you. Extra kudos for the final twist, which brought me great pleasure' 

'Oh my goodness, what a rollercoaster of a read!'

'The apex of suspense writing' STEVE CAVANAGH

'Thrilling and terrifying in equal measure with a brilliantly heart-stopping ending. So good!' B.A. PARIS
'Expect not just the unexpected but strokes of genius' 

'Brilliant, twisted and oh so clever. The Last Passenger is Will Dean at the top of his game. And just wait for that killer last line' CHRIS WHITAKER

'A fast-paced, snakily plotted treat for fans of the modern psychological thriller' VASEEM KHAN

'Will Dean is a master storyteller - this book is real edge of the seat stuff! I loved it. And what an ending!' 

'I *guarantee* you will never read another thriller like this one. Sharp, unique, terrifying, page-turning and glorious. Clearly Stephen King and James Herbert had a baby and his name is Will Dean. It's bloody brilliant' JOANNA CANNON

Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands and had lived in nine different villages before the age of

 After studying Law at the LSE and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden where he built a house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it's from this base that he compulsively reads and writes. 

His debut novel, Dark Pines, was selected for Zoe Ball's Book Club, shortlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker prize and named a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year. 
Red Snow was published in January 2019 and won Best Independent Voice at the Amazon Publishing Readers' Awards, 2019. 
Black River was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Award in 2021. 
The Last Thing to Burn was released to widespread acclaim in January 2021. 
First Born was published in 2022.

Friday 19 May 2023

The Crinkle Crankle Wall by Sabina Ostrowska BLOG TOUR #TheCrinkleCrankleWar #SabinaOstrowska @RandomTTours #BookExtract

After years of dreaming of living close to nature, free from a daily commute and noisy neighbours, Sabina and Robert decide to travel from Abu Dhabi to Spain in search of their dream home. As soon as they drive across Andalusia, they fall in love with its rugged beauty, whitewashed villages, red geraniums, giant aloes, and endless olive trees. Enchanted with the place, they buy a little stone cottage in a mountain valley in the middle of nowhere and decide to reform it into a guest house. With little foresight or planning, they exchange cushy expat lives for a life in the sun.

Quite quickly, however, they find themselves battling cowboy builders, no electricity, a dry well, torrential rain storms, and freezing cold winters. Through all these adventures, they develop relations with their neighbours who have lived in the valley for many generations. As they begin to settle in, financial problems confront our somewhat naïve couple, and their idea of the good life starts to fall apart. Written with a wry sense of honest humour, this story is filled with twists and turns that take the reader on a journey from a life where every day was monotonously repetitive to a place where every day presents a new challenge.

The Crinkle Crankle Wall : Our First Year in Andalusia by Sabina Ostrowska was published in December 2020.

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

Extract from The Crinkle Crankle Wall by Sabina Ostrowska 

The first house was not far from our meeting point. It was a tiny stone cottage on a steep hill. It was pretty, but it was so small that we would not have been able to fit just our clothes in one of the two teeny bedrooms. The thing about looking for a dream home is that you often start convincing yourself that this could be it. You imagine how you might fit your life and your possessions into the house you are viewing at the moment. It's a tiring exercise and one that has never ended in a happy purchase. 

Robert and I examined this miniature house that had no place for a vegetable garden and boasted one of the smallest patios ever built on top of a cliff. No matter how hard we tried to rationalise our interest in the house, we realised that we could never compress our lives to a size that would fit inside it. And so, we proceeded, onwards and upwards. The next house was much closer to our dream. It truly was a charming Spanish cottage, with giant cacti and aloes growing by its walls, surrounded by olives on flat land. Inside there was an old Andalusian-style fireplace and weathered dark wooden beams. There were even handcrafted tiles on some of the floors. The only downside was that it was a complete ruin with no water supply and no electricity. This shortcoming did not stop us from dreaming and imagining how beautiful it could be and where we could have our bedroom and the kitchen, and how wonderful our life would be there. 

Our entourage seemed to encourage this mad thinking. The house owner, who came to meet us, said that the electricity could be connected from his current house, which was just a mere two kilometres down the road. 

Amy stopped snuggling up to her boyfriend for a minute and suggested that her dad renovate the whole thing for us. 

'You'd be better off knocking it down and starting over,' she recommended. Even a seventeen-year-old could see that this house was a complete wreck. It was nothing like the photos that advertised it. The internet listing featured only a few interior details, which fooled us to believe that the cottage was ready to move in. The listing mentioned that some renovation may be necessary depending on the buyers' tastes. As we were in Spain in August 2012 during the terrible financial crisis, the owner was willing to sell us the house at a very low price. His very low price was, in fact, close to our whole budget. We realised that if we bought the house and then knocked its ruined walls down, we would be left with nothing but a pile of rocks surrounded by giant cacti and aloes. 

Sabina Ostrowska is a non-fiction writer. 

Her memoir series depicts her and her husband’s adventures of starting a new life in rural Andalusia. 

Sabina is a textbook writer and an EFL teacher. She has taught English in Poland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UAE, and Spain and currently runs a language school in the friendly town of Alcalá la Real.  She lives in the middle of the olive groves outside the picturesque village of Montefrio.

Sabina’s debut book, The Crinkle Crankle Wall: Our First Year in Andalusia, has been very well-received by readers worldwide. Since its publication in 2020, it has remained a bestseller in the Travel in Spain and Andalusia categories on Amazon. Following this success, she released A Hoopoe on the Nispero Tree, Book 2 in New Life in Andalusia series, in July 2022. Book 3 in the series, Olive Leaf Tea, will be released in the summer 2023. 

To read free chapters from this series and extracts from her upcoming books, you can visit her blog:, or follow her on Facebook or Instagram

Thursday 18 May 2023

The Woman on the Bridge by Sheila O'Flanagan BLOG TOUR #TheWomanontheBridge @sheilaoflanagan @headlinepg @RandomTTours #BookReview


In her first historical novel, Sheila O'Flanagan tells the dramatic and poignant story of a young woman caught up in Ireland's fight for freedom. An unputdownable novel inspired by the true story of Sheila's grandmother

Dublin. The 1920s. As war tears Ireland apart, two young people are caught up in events that will bring love, tragedy - and the hardest of choices.

In a country fighting for freedom, it's hard to live a normal life. Winnie O'Leary supports the cause, but she doesn't go looking for trouble. Then rebel Joseph Burke steps into her workplace. Winnie is furious with him about a broken window. She's not interested in romance, but love comes when you least expect it.

Joseph's family shelter fugitives and transport weapons. Joseph would never ask Winnie to join the fight; but his mother and sisters demand commitment. Will Winnie choose Joseph, and put her own loved ones in deadly danger? Or wait for a time of peace that may never come?

Ireland's tumultuous independence struggle is the backdrop for an unforgettable story of courage and heartbreak, where heroes are made of ordinary people.

The Woman on the Bridge by Sheila O'Flanagan was published on 27 April 2023 by Headline. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

I have been reading Sheila O'Flanagan's novels for almost half of my life. I have read every one of her books and always enjoy beginning a new story from her. Her novels are usually contemporary fiction, always based around Irish characters and there's more than a bit of romance and domestic strife built into her books. 

When I heard that her latest book was going to be her first venture into historical fiction, and that she had based the story on her own grandparents, I was intrigued. My own Mum was Irish, and I was brought up in England. In school we were never taught about the history of Ireland, and the relationship with England, but my Mum made sure that I was fully versed on it! 

Set in Dublin in the 1920s, a time of great unrest and trouble in the city, and in the whole of the country, the story centres around Winnie and Joseph. Winnie is nineteen, the only one of her sisters still living at home, and working in a drapers shop. Left alone one day, whilst the owner goes off to visit her in laws, Winnie is shocked when a stone flies through the shop window. She's slightly hurt and the silk fabric, and the window is ruined. Cowering in fear, she hears a man enter the shop.

This is Winnie and Joseph's first meeting. Two young people, both feeling the same way about Irish independence, but coming from very different backgrounds. Winnie and her family tend to steer clear of trouble, whilst Joseph's family and in the middle of everything. Not only is Joseph a Volunteer for the cause, but his family harbour wanted men and women, along with weapons.

As they become closer, Winnie has to make hard decisions. Will her heart win? Will she sacrifice a quiet life? All will be revealed. 

Whilst this is a love story in the truest sense, it is also a sensitively portrayed look at Ireland's history and how the country was torn apart by the different beliefs of its people. O' Flanagan has taken her grandparents stories and woven a magical, fascinating novel from them. 

The reader watches as Winnie grows in character, and accompanies her as the fighting rages on around her. 

I really enjoyed this book and hope that the author will continue to write historical fiction, although I do also hope that she doesn't abandon her contemporary stories completely! 

Sheila O'Flanagan is the author of 30 bestselling novels including What Eden Did Next, Three Weddings and a Proposal, The Women Who Ran Away, Her Husband's Mistake, The Hideaway and The Missing Wife. 

She lives in Dublin with her husband.