Friday, 9 December 2016

Rattle by Fiona Cummins @FionaAnnCummins @FrancescaPear @panmacmillan

A serial killer to chill your bones
A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.
He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he's just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family's macabre museum.
Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.
Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.
What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey's father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.
Set in London's Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.
It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it's also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

Rattle by Fiona Cummins is published by Pan Macmillan in hardback on 26 January 2017 and is the author's debut novel.

Rattle is terrifying! Pan Macmillan took a huge risk when they included the line "A psychopath more sinister than Hannibal Lecter" on the marketing material for this book. The Silence of the Lambs is the ONLY book that has ever given me nightmares, I was dubious if any character could be more sinister than Lecter.  Oh my goodness, there is now!  Fiona Cummins has created an incredible character, the Bone Collector is evil to the core. Put him up against Hannibal Lecter and I really think he'd win the fight.

Not only is Rattle a chilling, gripping and heart-pounding story, it's exquisitely written too. There are some of the most beautiful descriptions in this story, and some of the most rounded and creatively drawn characters that I've come across for a very long time.

Lead character, Etta Fitzroy has been an absolute joy to discover. Worn-down, sometimes irrational, always emotionally involved in the case she is working on and with a crumbling personal life, she's the star of the story. Etta was on a missing-child case a year ago, the little girl was never found and Etta continues to think about her every day. When another small girl disappears, Etta is determined that this time she will be successful.

Fiona Cummins is an incredibly talented author, she takes her readers by the hand and pushes them forcefully, right into the middle of her story. We are allowed into the mind of not just the police who are investigating, but the children who are missing and their parents, and last, but really really not least, we are privy to the thoughts of the Bone Collector himself. This structuring of the novel works wonderfully well and adds layers to what is already an excellently thought out plot.
Not only does this author present an intriguing, quite horrific story-line that is dark and chilling, she also draws characters who leap from the page. The descriptive prose is exquisite and the use of such beautiful, lyrical words to describe such horrific acts is both clever and startling.

Running through the story are themes of revenge and redemption, but it's also about fear and how it can change lives. Fiona Cummins explores how a chronic illness can impact on everyone who is in contact with the sufferer and how that fear can alter other emotions such as the ability to love, or to grieve, or to forgive.

I could go on and on and on about Rattle, in fact I've been telling everyone that I meet that they have to buy this just as soon as it is published.
I have no doubt that Rattle is going to be a massive best seller for Fiona Cummins, and thoroughly deserves to be.
An absolutely top-class thriller. It's polished, confident and very very clever. I loved it!

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy course.
She lives in Essex with her family.
Rattle is her first novel.

Follow her on Twitter @FionaAnnCummins


Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan @ruthmariehogan @TwoRoadsBooks

MEET THE 'KEEPER OF LOST THINGS'... Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before. 
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters...
With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft once you've finished reading.  

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan is published in hardback by Two Roads Books on 26 January 2017, and is the author's debut novel.

Every now and again, a book comes along that can make the reader laugh out loud and then cry within just a couple of pages. The Keeper of Lost Things is one of those books. I have been absolutely entranced by it for the past few days.

Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. He has spent most of his life picking up the items that others have lost, taking them home and treasuring them. He began to collect things after losing something of his own, something that was so precious. His aim is that one day he may be able to reunite the lost items with their owners, and heal some broken hearts.

Not only does Anthony lovingly store them, and label them, he also writes stories about them. His imagined tales of how the item came to be lost.

When Anthony dies, he leaves instructions for his housekeeper and companion, Laura. She must do her best to find the owners, and give back the missing pieces of people's lives.

Running parallel with Anthony and Laura's story, the reader learns about Eunice and Bomber - from a different era, but living in similar circumstances with Eunice keeping house for Bomber. These two stories are so cleverly interwoven, and gently overlap towards the end of the book.

Ruth Hogan has created a wonderful, beautiful, touching and funny story with some incredibly crafted characters. Each one of them has a distinctive voice, from Portia, the cruel, vindictive sister of Anthony, to Sunshine the lovable neighbour of Anthony and Laura.

I adored the stories that Anthony wrote about the missing items, I howled with laughter whilst reading about the blue jigsaw piece and sniffled quite a bit when it came to the white umbrella. The imagination and creativity that has gone into each short story, alongside the expertly written main plot is amazing.

This story is multi-layered, with a range of themes. It's a love story, it has a bit of magic, there are ghosts and story-telling. The author explores family dynamics, relationships, illness and loss, and all are dealt with beautifully and with feeling.

The Keeper of Lost Things is an absolute delight. It is gentle and charming and full of wisdom. I loved every page.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Hello dear readers, please allow me to introduce myself...
I was born in the house where my parents still live in Bedford. My sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at me.
As a child I read everything I could lay my hands on. Luckily, my mum worked in a bookshop. My favourite reads were THE MOOMINTROLLS, A HUNDRED MILLION FRANCS, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, and the back of cereal packets, and gravestones.
I passed enough A levels to get a place at Goldsmiths College, University of London, to study English and Drama. It was brilliant and I loved it.
And then I got a proper job.
I worked for ten years in a senior local government position: a square peg in round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage. In my early thirties I had a car accident which left me unable to work full-time and convinced me to start writing seriously.
It was all going well, but then in 2012 I got Cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept me up all night I passed the time writing and the eventual result was THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS, my first novel.
I live in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering partner. I am a magpie; always collecting treasures (or 'junk' depending on your point of view) and a huge John Betjeman fan.
My favourite word is' antimacassar' and I still like reading gravestones.

Follow her on Twitter @ruthmariehogan
Find her Author page on Facebook 
Find her on Instagram @ruthmariehogan


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

My Dream Author Panel @sarah_hilary @peterjamesuk @helencadbury @sarahrward1

I'm sure that most of you will have come across Eventbrite if you've attended conferences or events over the past few years. Lots of the author events that I've been have used Eventbrite as a way for attendees to book tickets really easily.  If you are organising your own event, their Conference Management Page is a fabulous tool to create a custom, branded event page, register and track your attendees, and boost sales with their built-in social tools.

So, I thought I'd have a go at planning my 'Dream Author Panel'.  I hope you enjoy it, and wouldn't it be fabulous if it really happened?

Sarah Ward
I wanted to create a Crime Author Panel, talking to authors who have created a police series, and picked out four of my current favourite writers, and their fictional detectives. I decided that another crime author should be the Chair of the panel, I picked Sarah Ward, author of In Bitter Chill and A Deadly Thaw (Faber) as I've attended a few of her panels in the past, and she's great!

Sarah Hilary: creator of The Marnie Rome series, published by Headline. Someone Else's Skin won the 2015 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and was a Silver Falchion and Macavity Award finalist in the US. No Other Darkness was a Barry Award finalist. Tastes Like Fear is out now, and Quieter Than Killing is out on 9 March 2017

Top:  Peter James & Sarah Hilary     Bottom:  Helen Cadbury & Peter Robinson
Peter James: creator of the Inspector Roy Grace series, set in Brighton and published by Pan Macmillan. 11 consecutive Sunday Times No Ones, published in 37 languages, as well as being a New York Times bestseller. His DS Roy Grace crime novels have sold 18 million copies worldwide. Prior to becoming a full-time author, he was responsible for 25 movies. In 1994 Penguin published his novel, Host, on two floppy discs as the world’s first electronic novel. His novels have won numerous awards, most recently the coveted 2016 CWA Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence, and he was publicly voted by WHSmith readers The Best Crime Author Of All Time.

Peter Robinson: creator of the DCI Banks series, set in Yorkshire and published by Hodder. Peter Robinson grew up in Yorkshire, and now divides his time between Richmond and Canada. Peter has written twenty-two books in the bestselling DCI Banks series as well as two collections of short stories and three standalone novels, the most recent of which is Number One bestseller BEFORE THE POISON. The critically acclaimed crime novels have won numerous awards in Britain, the United States, Canada and Europe, and are published in translation all over the world. 

Helen Cadbury: creator of the Sean Denton series, set in Doncaster and published by Allison and Busby. Helen Cadbury is a British crime fiction author, poet and playwright, whose debut novel, To Catch a Rabbit, won the Northern Crime Award, was an Amazon Rising Star, and was chosen as one of the Yorkshire Post’s top novels, since the millennium, to reflect the region.

There's the line-up, now where should we hold this dream panel?  I'm going to drag the authors all the way over here to Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, because we have the perfect venue! The Old Nick in the town centre, as the name suggests, this building is the old police station. It's now the home of the Gainsborough Theatre Company, but it has kept much of the original features, with a courtroom and a cell ..... perfect!

And, so, to the questions to ask this fine collection of very talented authors ....  The panel discussions that I've enjoyed the most, have always been fairly organic. Beginning with a question and then rolling into a general conversation ... I love that, it's like a group of friends, sitting together and having a chat. Sarah Ward is especially good at chairing these sorts of discussions, but she still keeps the panelists in check!   Here's a few of things that I'd love to find out, and for these authors to chat about:

Do you ever regret starting a series?  Do you get fed up of your lead character, and ever feel like killing them off?
How many characters have you murdered over the course of your series?
Did you ever consider joining the police force yourself?
What scares you?
Has a book (written by someone else) ever given you nightmares?
Is writing crime fiction just a cover for your own psychopathic tendencies??? 

I really really want to know the answers to those questions .... especially the last one!

I hope you've enjoyed my Dream Author Panel - who would you choose?


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Mark Hill @markhillwriter

My Life in Books is an occasional feature on Random Things Through My Letterbox
I've asked authors to share with us a list of the books that are important to them and have made a lasting impression on their life.

Please join me in welcoming crime author Mark Hill to Random Things today.  I read and reviewed Mark's debut novel, The Two O Clock Boy back in October. I loved it, it really is superb.  Here's a little taster from my review:

"Mark Hill has written an explosive and carefully constructed crime story with a lead character who is flawed but intriguing. This is top-class, intelligent writing that makes the reader do some work too. Reading this story constantly throws up questions for the reader, it is impeccably timed and I certainly had no inkling of what was to be revealed during the final chapters."

Check out Mark on Facebook  and follow him on Twitter @markhillwriter

My Life in Books ~ Mark Hill

If you’re reading this right now then you don’t need me to tell you there are just too many damned fine books - just too many - and I don’t think I could manage to fit them all in here. I’d be writing this blog post all week, all month. I just wouldn’t know where to stop, and it would take you forever to read it. We’d both get tired and irritable and probably fall out. So instead I thought I’d reminisce about some of the books I read many years ago - this was when I was a young man, sometime in the mid-1870s – and my reading was picking up steam. Some of those books had a powerful effect on me. I learned an awful lot about writing and narrative from them, I think, even if I didn’t know it at the time. So here’s a bit of my life in books. Let’s get this thing done - and get the hell out of here.

There was a movie of The Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham back in the day – before my time, I may add - with Howard ‘Seven Brides’ Keel. It was ridiculous. The plants were big, shambling creatures who, I think, could be killed with seawater. But I remember subsequently reading the novel by John Wyndham and I loved it. The plants are bioengineered creatures who – when an asteroid shower makes humans blind and the world goes to hell in a handcart –  seize their chance to jump a few places up the food-chain. Most science-fiction books I read were set on other worlds, or in exotic places, but this was set in locations I knew, and I was mesmerized. Even today I get a bit anxious when the bushes rustle when I’m walking through Russell Square.

Everyone’s got a favourite Stephen King, right? I mean, there should be a law. He has written so many wonderful books. But I remember loving The Dead Zone, perhaps because it combined King’s usual horror sensibilities with a storyline which is also very crimey and psychological. It’s the story of everyman Johnny Smith who, following a terrible accident, acquires a precognitive ability. Johnny helps nail a serial killer in small town and then –  oh, heck! – touches a presidential candidate and is plagued by visions of World War III. I remember how thrilled I was reading it. This wasn’t about vampires or killer clowns, it was about a sweet guy with an extraordinary gift who bore - almost literally - the weight of the world on his shoulders. Of course it’s all make believe. The idea that a narcissistic maniac could get his finger anywhere near the nuclear codes is totally preposterous.

I will, with your kind permission, take a few moments to mention a much-maligned subgenre of book: the movie novelization. These days, if you go to see a film you can pretty much guarantee there’ll be other ways to enjoy it. There’s probably a TV spin-off in the works, or a computer game or graphic novel; you can buy the DVD and get more content, if you wish; the script is probably available online somewhere. Back when I was a teenager, there wasn’t so much of this stuff. Sometimes, if it was a movie like Alien, I was even too young to even go see the movie. So I would read the novelization instead. I burned through loads of them: movies like Star Wars and The Black Hole, and TV-shows like Battlestar Galactica, and Doctor Who, too. An author would be commissioned to write the book of a TV show or a movie directly from the script, maybe before it had even gone into production, so the detail was often scant and the writing consequently went like the clappers. As an added bonus they would often contain scenes that didn’t even make the final edited movie. Sometimes these adaptations were pretty ropey but sometimes they were incredibly well-written. They taught me loads about pacing and plotting and character – but mostly about pacing - and I have very fond memories of them still.

Now here’s a curious one, because it’s a little-known novel written by Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman, who wrote Butch and Sundance and All The President’s Men and loads of other amazing movies. Some of those, like Magic and The Princess Bride and Marathon Man, were based on his own books. Control is one of his lesser known novels, and when I picked it up I couldn’t believe what I was reading. There’s a scene towards the beginning where a rich Manhattanite lady goes into Bloomingdales one day and… well, what happens next is totally nuts. Control brings a lot of disparate characters together in the most-unexpected fashion. It manipulated my expectations in ways that nothing I’d ever read before ever had. I bought a copy on ebay recently to read it again – it looks exactly like the copy I read when I was a kid; maybe it is, nothing is beyond the realms of possibility – and all these years later it strikes me as a ludicrous novel. Part conspiracy thriller, part psychological potboiler and part science-fiction opus - it’s all the things that my teenage self loved so much. But the big twist at the heart of the book still, all these years later, took my breath away.

James Ellroy fans all admire LAConfidential and hipsters wax lyrical about his later highly-stylized books such as The Cold Six Thousand, but it was The Big Nowhere that was a revelation to me when I was a young man. Angry and visceral, its labyrinthine plot was told from the point-of-view of three very different and damaged characters on both sides of the law in a sinister 1950s Los Angeles, and the story hurtled forward like a runaway train. It’s a big, atmospheric novel – in which the LA sprawl is a corrupt, fetid landscape - and this kid from a small town was totally astonished by it.

Let’s mention Alan Moore’s graphic novel V For Vendetta, which is as nuanced and sophisticated as any novel. I remember the comic strip first appeared in a short-lived British comic called Warrior. V is set in a dystopian future – looking very much like the grim 1970s - where a mysterious masked anarchist in a Guy Fawkes mask fights an unrelenting war against a fascist government. It’s beautifully written by Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd, and full of playful references, and its reputation has grown down the years. V’s iconic Guy Fawkes mask has been adopted by the Anonymous group. V For Vendetta is a hell of a thing – Lloyd’s Orwellian visuals are a treat - and it’s as relevant now as when I first breathlessly turned its pages in the early 1980s. It occurs to me that this whole post has turned out kind of apocalyptic - I don’t know, it must be the zeitgeist tapping me on the shoulder.

Everyone’s got to have a classic novel they love, right? Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is that book for me. Back when I was a teenager and even more anxious than I am now, it was my Big And Important Book, and helped me see the world forever more through a gauze of pitch black comedy. It’s a dazzling comic masterpiece and, of course, it’s been Big And Important for generations of brain-addled teenagers. I read it every few years and never fail to find something new to enjoy or admire in it. Deadpan and gripping, full of wonderful characters and very, very dark. And the writing – my god, Mother, the writing.

I’m done. You can go now.

Mark Hill ~ December 2016


Monday, 5 December 2016

1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted #qifacts #BlogTour @FaberBooks #MyLifeInBooks @miller_anne @qikipedia

The sock-blasting, jaw-dropping, side-swiping phenomenon that is QI serves up a sparkling new selection of 1,342 facts to leave you flabbergasted.

Welcome to my spot on the BLOG TOUR for new latest QI book:

1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted published in Hardcover by Faber Books on 3 Nov 2016 by John LloydJohn MitchinsonJames Harkin and Anne Miller.

It is 10 years since the first QI book, The Book of General Ignorance, was published and topped the bestseller list. Since then, drum roll please, over 3.3 million QI books have been sold!

This latest addition to the series has been published to coincide with the new BBC 2 series of QI hosted by Sandi Toksvig.
I'm a huge fan of these books, and this latest one is packed full of interesting facts, that really will leave you flabbergasted.

I've chuckled and gasped my way through most of them, reading them out to my husband, and trying my best to remember them!

Perfect as a stocking filler, this book will give hours and hours of entertainment for all ages.

See and @qikipedia

1,342 QI Facts to leave you flabbergasted is available from Amazon and Waterstones at price £9.99!

About the Authors:  JOHN LLOYD CBE is the creator of QI and founding producer of  The News Quiz, Not the Nine O’Clock News, Spitting Image, Blackadder – and No Such Thing As The News, which made its BBC2 debut in May. He hosts BBC Radio 4’s The Museum of Curiosity – co-presenting the ninth series, broadcast in July 2016, with Noel Fielding. In 2013 he performed a sell-out solo show Liff of QI at the Edinburgh Fringe. He returned in 2015 with a brand-new show John Lloyd: Emperor of the Prawns.’

JOHN MITCHINSON, QI’s first researcher, once ran the marketing for Waterstones and co-founded the book crowdfunding platform Unbound. He has published The Beatles, Haruki Murakami and publishing phenomenon, Letters of Note. He is also a Vice-President of the Hay Festival, co-host of the book podcast Backlisted and keeps pigs, sheep and bees.

JAMES HARKIN, QI’s Head Elf, has in the course of his Quite Interesting duties sung karaoke with Bhutanese monks, danced with the world’s most advanced humanoid robot and learned how to tear a telephone directory in half. He presents the QI Elves’ podcast No Such Thing As A Fish as well as the BBC 2 spinoff No Such Thing As The News. He also produces QI’s BBC Radio 4 show The Museum of Curiosity.

You will have heard of the QI Elves which is the affectionate name Stephen Fry gave to the people who write and research the QI series.  Anne Miller is the most bookish QI Elf and is responsible for many of the literary facts in the book.  She’s also a columnist for the Standard Issue.

ANNE MILLER is a scriptwriter and researcher for QI who can usually be found buried beneath a
pile of books. The first QI episode she wrote was entitled ‘Literature’ and she writes a literary column for Standard Issue magazine. She is the Head Researcher of BBC Radio 4’s The Museum of Curiosity, reached the semi-finals of BBC 2’s fiendishly difficult quiz Only Connect, has two Blue Peter badges and really likes puffins.

I'm delighted to welcome Anne to Random Things today, she's talking about My Life In Books.

Five On A Treasure Island, Enid Blyton  Five On a Treasure Island is one of my favourite children’s books, striking the perfect balance of friendship and adventure. As a child I flew through as many Blytons as I could lay my hands on, from ones I begged for at the Post Office, to those borrowed from a kind neighbour and a few beautiful hardback editions from my parents’ own childhoods. I joined QI just in time for the J series in 2011 and one of the first questions I wrote was: ‘What did the Famous Five have lashings of?’ It’s not ginger beer, that comes from The Comic Strip Presents’ parody ‘Five Go Mad In Dorset’. The original books mention lots of ginger beer but it never comes in ‘lashings’. Things that do, however, include tomatoes, potatoes, peas and once, memorably, ‘lashings of poisonous snakes’.

The Ship, Antonia Honeywell  Antonia Honeywell’s debut novel is about a horrific ruined London where the poor have taken shelter in the British Museum and the rich are making plans to leave. I read The Ship at the start of 2015, loved it and was lucky enough to interview Honeywell in the British Museum’s cafĂ©, which became the first piece I filed for my books column for Sarah Millican’s online magazine Standard Issue.

A Murder is Announced, Agatha Christie  I came to Christie relatively late, picking up my first, The Moving Finger, when searching for more books to read while on holiday in France. Back in London I happily worked my way through the shelf of Christies in my local library. In 2013 the Christie Estate ran a competition called ‘Write Your Own Christie’ and one of my friends sent me the link with a note that I kept saying I wanted to write more fiction so here was a chance. I won Chapter Four and the prize was an incredible dinner at her house, Greenway, with her grandson Matthew Pritchard.

Little Beach Street Bakery, Jenny Colgan  This book contains all of my favourite things – Cornwall, puffins and a bakery. It’s the story of Polly who, after her relationship and business fail, moves to the tidal island of Mount Pelbourne, based on St Michael’s Mount, and opens a bakery. Colgan’s writing is so smart, funny and warm and is the perfect antidote to the rough parts of 2016. She also includes recipes at the end of the book so having spent the previous 300 pages reading about getting up early to bake bread as the sun rises you turn the page and there is the option to do exactly that.

The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller  The Song of Achilles won (what is now) the Baileys Prize for fiction in 2012 but I only read it this year and was completely captivated by the story told from Patroclus’s point of view. Miller spent 10 years researching and writing and you can definitely tell. The details are delightful, the scope epic and the book a perfect example of exactly why you should read those books that people keep telling you are excellent!

Anne Miller ~ December 2016 


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A Christmas Cornucopia by Mark Forsyth @Inkyfool @VikingBooksUK #ChristmasGifts

The unpredictable origins and etymologies of our cracking Christmas customs
For something that happens every year of our lives, we really don't know much about Christmas.
We don't know that the date we celebrate was chosen by a madman, or that Christmas, etymologically speaking, means 'Go away, Christ'. Nor do we know that Christmas was first celebrated in 243 AD on 28 March - and only moved to 25 December in 354 AD. We're oblivious to the fact that the advent calendar was actually invented by a Munich housewife to stop her children pestering her for a Christmas countdown. And we would never have guessed that the invention of crackers was merely a way of popularizing sweet wrappers.
Luckily, like a gift from Santa himself, Mark Forsyth is here to unwrap this fundamentally funny gallimaufry of traditions and oddities, making it all finally make sense - in his wonderfully entertaining wordy way.

A Christmas Cornucopia by Mark Forsyth was published in hardback and ebook by Viking on 10 November 2016, priced £9.99

‘Picture a man sitting beside a dead tree. He is indoors and wearing a crown.

From the ceiling hangs a parasitical shrub that legitimates sexual assault.

Earlier, he told his children that the house had been broken into during the night by an obese Turkish man.
That was a lie, but he wanted to make his children happy’
I absolutely love books like A Christmas Cornucopia, not only is it beautifully presented as a small hardback with an exquisite cover, it is jam packed with witty and fascinating facts and stories about Christmas.  This really would make the perfect stocking-filler, I've already bought two copies!

Mark Forsyth doesn't just churn out the stories that he has discovered, his writing is an absolute delight. From the biography of Santa Claus to why is it 25th December?  He is hilarious, and does actually make the reader realise just how crazy some of our Christmas traditions really are.

Who knew that Advent Calendars were invented by a German housewife who was fed up to the back teeth of hearing her children whinge during the run up to Christmas.

Amongst other Christmas nuggets, you will learn: 
* A ‘true’ Christmas tree should feature a snake as decoration (it’s actually a reference to Adam and Eve)  
* Good King Wenceslas was in fact Duke Vaclav of Bohemia, a man so at war with his mother that he exiled her 
* A truly traditional Christmas Day includes ‘wassailing’ i.e. knocking on your neighbours’ doors with a large bucket and demanding that they fill it with booze 
A fascinating and interesting collection of little known facts about one of our biggest traditions. Quiz players will love this book.

A real treasure of a book!

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Born in London in 1977, Mark Forsyth (a.k.a The Inky Fool) was given a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary as a christening present and has never looked back. 
His book The Etymologicon was a Sunday Times No. 1 Bestseller, and his TED Talk 'What's a snollygoster?' has had more than half a million views. 
He has also written a specially commissioned essay 'The Unknown Unknown: Bookshops and the Delight of Not Getting What You Wanted' for Independent Booksellers Week and the introduction for the new edition of the Collins English Dictionary. 
He was also the man behind the post about language/grammar that went viral last month.
He lives in London with his dictionaries, and blogs at
Follow him on Twitter @Inkyfool

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Escape by C L Taylor #CoverReveal @callytaylor @AvonBooksUK

I rarely feature Cover Reveals here on Random Things, but today I'm making an exception because I am ultra excited about this one!  I've been shouting about C L Taylor's psychological thrillers since the release of her first one, The Accident in 2014 which was followed by The Lie in April 2015 and The Missing in April this year.

So, here's the cover of Book Four from CL Taylor : The Escape.  I agree with the publisher that this new cover is stunning and I'm assured that it is perfect for this new, tension-filled read which might just be the best one yet!

PUBLISHES: 23RD March 2017

The Sunday Times bestseller and No.1 Kindle bestseller returns…

"Look after your daughter's things. And your daughter…"

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't.

The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

So, there you go!  Are you as excited as I am?  I know we have AN AGE to wait for this one, but it sounds amazing, and that cover really is startling.

C L Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle then moved to London to work in medical publishing as a sales administrator. After two years she moved to Brighton where she worked as a graphic designer, web developer and instructional designer over the course of 13 years. She now writes full time.

C L Taylor's first psychological thriller The Accident was one of the top ten bestselling debut novels of 2014 according to The Bookseller. Her second novel, The Lie, charted at number 5 in the Sunday Times Bestsellers List. Combined sales of both novels have now exceeded half a million copies in the UK alone. 

To find out more about the author and her writing, check out

Find her Author page on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter @callytaylor