Thursday, 19 April 2018

The Old You by Louise Voss @Louise Voss1 @OrendaBooks #TheOldYou

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface... and Lynn's perfect world begins to crumble.
But is it Ed s mind playing tricks, or hers...?

The Old You by Louise Voss is published  by Orenda Books, my thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

The Old You begins as Ed Naismith is diagnosed with a form of dementia known as Pick's Disease. His father was a sufferer too and he and his wife Lynn know exactly what may be in store for Ed as the disease progresses. Lyn, younger than her husband by quite a few years, and just about to change her career feels helpless about what is to come. However, it does explain some of Ed's recent bizarre behaviour.

So, sounds pretty straightforward, yes? Oh no, no, no. Louise Voss is a conjuror, she weaves her words around the most magnificent of plot lines and leads her readers a very merry dance throughout. This is an exceptionally clever, intriguing and mysterious novel that is not only study in how the psychological crime thriller should be written, but a fascinating and insightful look into relationships and mental health.

There are so many secrets and lies hidden within these pages; just as the reader thinks that they've worked it out, the author throws another curveball at us. Throwing us off balance, making us hold our breath in anticipation.

Louise Voss has a real eye for characterisation. I'll admit that whilst I didn't particularly like any of the lead characters, I was totally and utterly invested in them, they are magnificent creations dropping their secrets here and there. I was gripped, to the point of obsession.

The Old You is a fresh and new, the author explores the dark psychology that makes up human relationships, she looks at the impact that lies and hidden truths can have, and best of all, she does with such an ease. This is a story with a genius premise; a combination of dark, psychological thriller and a hard-hitting, tough-loving relationship drama.

A tantalising, irresistible and extremely satisfying novel. I loved it and will be shouting about it for a long long time!

Louise Voss has been writing for the past eighteen years, with many twists and turns in her career. She started her publishing life with four novels for Transworld/Black Swan, the first of which, To Be Someone, was published in 2001 with its own CD soundtrack. This was followed by three more contemporary women's fiction novels, Are You My Mother? Lifesaver, and Games People Play, until she switched to publishing thrillers with Mark Edwards.

She and Mark were the first British indie authors to reach No.1 on the Amazon charts with Catch Your Death, where they stayed for the month of June 2011, with their novel Killing Cupid also at No. 2. This led to a four-book deal with Harper Collins; then two books in the DI Lennon series, From the Cradle and The Blissfully Dead (Thomas & Mercer).

Her first solo thriller was The Venus Trap in 2015 and her second, a twisty tale of domestic noir, is out in May 2018: The Old You, published by @OrendaBooks.
Follow her on Twitter @LouiseVoss1
Find out more at

An Italian Summer by Fanny Blake **Exclusive Cover Reveal** @FannyBlake1 @orionbooks #AnItalianSummer

I am absolutely delighted and honoured to bring you an EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL for one of my favourite authors today on Random Things
An Italian Summer by Fanny Blake will be published by Orion in paperback on July 26th. 

An uplifting story about second chances, perfect for fans of Hillary Boyd, Maeve Haran, Joanna Trollope and Celia Imrie.

A compelling novel about friendship, family secrets and second chances, set against the backdrop of southern Italy. Sandy is in her fifties, and at a crossroads in her life: she's a teacher and respected by her pupils, but she feels she is being sidelined in favour of younger colleagues. So when her mother dies, leaving her a sealed envelope addressed to an unknown woman living in Naples, Sandy decides to head to Italy to resolve the mystery by delivering the letter herself. She books herself on to a small sightseeing trip from Rome to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, hoping to meet some like-minded people along the way. Who is the mysterious woman she is searching for? And will Sandy find friendship, or even love, along the way...?

Praise for Fanny Blake: 
'Fanny Blake has the gift of creating wonderful page turners from very domestic situations; and then making them warm and funny as well' Penny Vincenzi ' 
I love the way Fanny Blake proves that women just become more and more fascinating' Adele Parks 
'I love that she writes about women our age, and the painful and wise truths we know' Marian Keyes 
'Move over Joanna Trollope, Fanny Blake has arrived' Veronica Henry

Fanny Blake was a publisher for many years, editing both fiction and non-fiction before becoming a freelance journalist and writer. 
She has written a number of novels, including With a Friend Like You and Women of a Dangerous Age, and various non-fiction titles, as well as acting as ghost writer for a number of celebrities. 
She is also Books Editor of Woman & Home magazine. 

Find out more at www.  
follow her on Twitter @fannyblake1

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Tapestry of War by Jane MacKenzie @JaneFMacKenzie @AllisonandBusby Blog Tour @AilsaCF

From the deserts of North Africa, to the waters of Scotland, the Second World War touches the lives of two women from two very different worlds. In Alexandria, Fran finds her world turned upside down as Rommel's forces advance on the idyllic shores of Egypt. The life of luxury and stability that she is used to is taken away as she finds herself having to deal with loss, heartache and political uncertainty. Meanwhile, in the Firth of Clyde, Catriona struggles between her quiet rural life and her dreams of nursing injured servicemen on the front lines. As the war rages on, the two women's lives become intertwined - bringing love and friendship to both.

The Tapestry of War by Jane MacKenzie is published by Allison and Busby in paperback on 19 April 2018.  My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and invited me to take part on this Blog Tour. I read and reviewed a couple of this author's books on Random Things in the past; The Daughter of Catalonia (April 2014) and Autumn in Catalonia (December 2015). I really enjoy her writing.

This author's previous books were set in Spanish and French Catalonia, before the war.  Tapestry of War is a new setting for Jane MacKenzie; and the story takes place in Egypt and Scotland during the years of World War II and follows the story of two women, both affected by the war.

Fran is a journalist living in Egypt and Catriona is a Scottish nurse. They have very different lives but the implications of living through a fierce war will impact them both heavily.

Jane MacKenzie has clearly put such a lot of research into this story. She brings the customs and cultures of two such different places to life so very well. Both Fran and Catriona have tragedy and despair to deal with and both of these characters are beautifully created; appearing incredibly real and I for one was completely swept up by both of their stories.

Wonderfully atmospheric and highlighting the perils and consequences of war, for everyone, despite where they lived, or who they were. The Tapestry of War is an evocative and tender story, perfectly executed and will delight fans of this genre.

Jane MacKenzie has spent much of her adult life travelling the world, teaching English and French everywhere from the Gambia to Papua New Guinea to Bahrain, and recently working for two years at CERN in Geneva. 
She now splits her time between her self-built house in Collioure, France, and the Highlands of Scotland, where she has made her family home. 
She is the author of the best-selling Daughters of Catalonia. 

Twitter:  @JaneFMackenzie
Facebook : Author Page

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Unbroken by Madeleine Black @madblack65 @jblakebooks #Unbroken #MeToo #TimesUp

For many years after that night, my memories of what happened after he held the blade to my throat and threatened my life were fragmented... difficult to piece together. It was too extreme, too violent for me to understand.
Violently gang-raped when she was thirteen years old, and raped three more times before the age of eighteen, Madeleine has experienced more trauma in her life than most ever will.
Living in a state of shock and self-loathing, it took her years of struggle to confront the buried memories of that first attack and begin to undo the damage it wrought, as men continued to take advantage of her fragility in the worst possible way.
Yet, after growing up with a burden no teenager should ever have to shoulder, she found the heart to carry out the best revenge plan of all: leading a fulfilling and happy life. But the road to piecing her life back together was long and painful. For Madeleine, forgiveness was the key. True forgiveness takes genuine effort. It takes a real desire to understand those who have done us so much harm. It is the ultimate act of courage.
In Unbroken, Madeleine tells her deeply moving and empowering story, as she discovers that life is about how a person chooses to recover from adversity. We are not defined by what knocks us down - we are defined by how we get back up.

Unbroken by Madeleine Black was published in paperback by John Blake Publishing on 4 April 2017.  My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

2018 is a particularly relevant year in which to read Madeleine Black's searingly honest and quite heartbreaking story. Despite the fact that at last, women feel able to speak out about historic sexual abuse and harassment, I still see so many people pointing the finger of blame at the victim. I've seen it in the reviews of Unbroken, and it angers me and makes my heart break a little.

None of us should judge another, even when they put themselves out there and tell their story. Every individual will react to a situation in a different way, and even if, God forbid, someone has experienced what Madeleine has, and dealt with it in a different manner, they have no right to say that her way of surviving is wrong.

There, I've got that off my chest a bit!  I'm not going to go into detail about what happened to Madeleine Black when she was thirteen as blurb makes it clear what happened, however I do want to talk about the brutal honesty that are her words. Madeleine dealt with this life-changing and horrific event in her own way, and on her own. She told nobody what had happened to her, she was just thirteen years old; still a child. She wasn't even quite sure what exactly had happened that night.

Unbroken is Madeleine's story of how she healed herself. It wasn't a quick process by any means and she harmed herself so many times through her behaviour after the attack. Sleeping around, drinking, taking drugs, distancing herself from her family; she did all of these things as she struggled to discover a way forward, and how to survive on a daily basis.

This truly is a story of hope and of triumph. As slowly, step by step, the author discovers her own medicine; she runs, she lifts weights, she investigates alternative healing, she is ready to embrace anything that may be of help to her. The fact that she overcome her terror of the dark, of being alone with unknown males, of walking alone at night, in order to find peace is just one indication of her inner strength. There were times as I was reading where I thought to myself that I would probably just crawl under the bedcovers and hide, yet Madeleine overcomes all of her demons and battles through to find peace.

Absolutely inspirational and told in a friendly, matter of fact style. Unbroken can be uncomfortable to read at times, the author warns the reader that the attack will be described in detail and it is testament to her strength and resilience that she was able to do this.

The sharing of her story on The Forgiveness Project's website in September 2014, opened many doors for Madeleine in ways she never imagined and the invitations started to pour in. 
She has taken part in both TV and radio interviews and has been invited to share her story at conferences, events and schools.
She recognises that she was a victim of a crime that left her silent for many years, but has now found her voice and intends to use it. Not just for her, but for so many who can’t find theirs yet. 
She is married and lives in Glasgow with her husband, three daughters, her cat, Suki, and dog, Alfie.

For more info please see her website or follow her on Twitter @madblack65

Monday, 16 April 2018

Evanthia's Gift by Effie Kammenou BlogTour Review @EffieKammenou @LoveBooksGroup #TheGiftSaga

This Greek American family saga follows a multigenerational story of love, loyalty, and culture. An emotional novel about family bonds and the difficult pull between home and heritage. In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets - ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family. The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean, who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for. EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.

Evanthia's Gift by Effie Kammenou is the first book in The Gift Saga and was published in August 2015. I'm happy to be hosting the Blog Tour today, organised by Love Books Group.

I'd been aware of this series for some time as I'm a huge fan of all things Greece, even the cover conjures up wonderful memories of holiday spent on sunny Greek islands. I jumped at the chance to take part in the Blog Tour for Evanthia's Gift, and have spent a happy few days immersed in the story.

This is a huge, multi-layered, multi-generational story that follows Anastacia (known as Ana) from her early years as a Greek immigrant in New York in the 1950s, right through to Evanthia (Ana's granddaughter) story.

What I loved most about this story was the Greek influence; and whilst the majority of the story is set in the US, the whole Greek family thing shines through, and I really recognise that from my time in Greece and spending time with my Greek friends. Family is everything in this culture, and whilst sometimes it can feel a little overpowering for family members, everything usually revolves around food!  The addition of recipes throughout the story is welcome and quite wonderful, I recognised many of my favourites amongst them.

This is a vast story, and I'll admit that I thought that it was a little too long, there were times at the beginning where I felt that there was a little too much description. Overly long passages that didn't really add a lot to the story, and then later, there are lots of skipped years.  However, the author writes well, with authenticity and warmth and despite some of my minor criticism, I did enjoy the story very much. 

I have the next in the saga on my shelf waiting to be read, and I'm looking forward to it.

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she'd thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women. 

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category. Waiting for Aegina: Book Two in The Gift Saga is Kammenou’s latest release.

Follow her on Twitter @EffieKammenou

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Hetty's Farmhouse Bakery by Cathy Bramley @CathyBramley @PenguinUKBooks @hannahlbright29

Thirty-two-year-old Hetty Greengrass is the star around which the rest of her family orbits. Marriage, motherhood and helping Dan run Sunnybank Farm have certainlykept her hands full for the last twelve years. But when her daughter Poppy has to choose her inspiration for a school project and picks her aunt, not her mum, Hetty is left full of self-doubt. 

Hetty's Farmhouse Bakery by Cathy Bramley was published in paperback by Penguin on 22 March 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Cathy Bramley excels in creating characters that the reader can really relate to, and who are loveable and realistic and Hetty's Farmhouse Bakery is packed full of them.

Hetty and her husband Dan have been together since they were teenagers. Their dreams included going to university and seeing more of the world than the small village in which they grew up. However, when Dan's father died unexpectedly, their dreams were dashed and they stayed in the Eskdale valley at Sunnybrook Farm to carry on the family business.

Life has not been bad to them. Whilst they may not have a lot of money, they are still in love and have a bright and lively daughter, Poppy. Hetty's best friend Anna lives nearby with her teenage son Bart and they live in the beautiful countryside.

It's an off-hand remark made by Poppy that makes Hetty begin to question her existence. Hetty makes excellent pies, everyone agrees on that and when one of her pies is the winner in a competition, this is the start of new things for her.

Travelling to London to take part in a larger competition affects the family. Dan is not as supportive as she'd have hoped and when she's there, she meets up with faces from her past. Old memories are rekindled and temptation is dangled in front of her.

Hetty is called back to the farm after a serious accident where Dan and Anna's son Bart are injured. Not only is this a frightening and terrifying time, but it also is the trigger for some old and well hidden secrets to be exposed.

Hetty's Farmhouse Bakery is a really scrumptious read. It's the sort of story that totally consumes the reader, with a little bit of humour, lots of emotion and some serious issues for the reader to ponder too. Not only does this author bring fabulous characters to life, she is adept at creating community and sense of place. The writing seems effortless and the story is total escapism - a perfect read.

Cathy Bramley is the Sunday Times Top Ten best-selling author of THE LEMON TREE CAFE. Her other romantic comedies include Ivy Lane, Appleby Farm, Wickham Hall, Conditional Love, The Plumberry School of Comfort Food and White Lies and Wishes. She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her family and a dog.

Cathy turned to writing after spending eighteen years running her own marketing agency. She has been always an avid reader, never without a book on the go and now thinks she may have found her dream job!

Cathy loves to hear from her readers. 

You can get in touch via her website 
Facebook page  

Friday, 13 April 2018

The Memory Shop by Ella Griffin @EllaGriffin1 @orionbooks #TheMemoryShop

Will every treasured possession find its perfect home?
Nora's world has been turned upside-down. Escaping heart-break in London, she returns to her childhood home in Dublin where her grandmother's beloved house is being sold. Nora has been left with an inheritance of treasured belongings, but no home of her own in which to keep them.
Unable to bear auctioning them off, Nora resolves to stay in Dublin and open The Memory Shop, a very special business which matches each gorgeous object with a perfect new owner. It's not long before these objects begin to transform the lives of those they touch, creating new stories and new chances at happiness.
As Nora lets go of a lifetime of treasures, she unlocks tantalising clues to her grandmother's mysterious past. But can she finally let go of her own...?

The Memory Shop by Ella Griffin was published by Orion Books in paperback on 22 March 2018.

I've read and enjoyed all of Ella Griffin's previous novels and was really excited when I heard about The Memory Shop. I haven't been disappointed, it's such a warm and vibrant; filled with characters to love and exploring the intricate and delicate relationships of families and communities.

Nora has returned to her childhood home in Dublin. Her beloved grandmother has died and her home has to be emptied and sold. Nora is not relishing the job, there are so many memories, and unresolved secrets within those walls. Her trip becomes something of an escape when she makes a shocking discovery on the morning of her departure. Life for Nora really is at a crossroads, with the pain of both grief and betrayal eating away at her.

Nora's grandparents owned a house full of beautiful things. Antiques and treasures discovered whilst travelling. All of these items were used and loved, not kept 'for best' or display only. Each one has its own story, and each one sparks a memory for Nora.
Nora discovers notes, written by her Grandmother; notes that detail where the items came from. Her Grandmother had been something of an enigma when she was alive, and she and her daughter; Norah's mother, did not speak for many years.

Whilst Nora would love to keep everything, she can't. She's unsure of where she will be living, or working in the future. She doesn't have the room to store everything. The idea for 'The Memory Shop' comes to her and before long, she's spruced up the empty shop nearby and set up a beautiful pop-up shop, hoping to sell her inherited treasures.

Each chapter of The Memory Shop details one item, and one person; there's Alanna and the nine-carat yellow gold locket; Lia and the freshwater pearl earrings, and others, as well as some of Nora's own personal stories. Each story is interwoven, with characters appearing throughout the novel.

Ella Griffin has put this story together so beautifully well. Her characters are captivating and the individual story chapters are fascinating; exploring the most intimate of relationships with a warmth and feeling that really draws in the reader. The author's insight into her human characters is wonderful and she does not shy away from the more serious issues that can affect anyone, which only adds to the depth of this story.

Highly recommended from me.

Ella Griffin was born in Dublin. She was an award-winning advertising copywriter before she took the leap into fiction. She has written three novels since 2011. She writes about love and loss and loves making readers laugh and cry (sometimes on the same page.) Ella lives with her husband in County Wicklow in Ireland.
You can find Ella at
Twitter: @EllaGriffin1