Friday, 22 September 2017

Snow Sisters by Carol Lovekin @carollovekin @honno #snowsisters #BlogTour

Two sisters, their grandmother's old house and Angharad... the girl who cannot leave

Meredith discovers a dusty sewing box in a disused attic. Once open the box releases the ghost of Angharad, a Victorian child-woman with a horrific secret she must share. Angharad slowly reveals her story to Meredith who fails to convince her sister of the visitations until Verity sees Angharad for herself on the eve of an April snowstorm.

Forced by her flighty mother to abandon Gull House for London, Meredith struggles to settle, still haunted by Angharad and her little red flannel hearts. This time, Verity is not sure she will be able to save her...

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Snow Sisters by Carol LovekinSnow Sisters was published in paperback and ebook by Honno on 21 September 2017.  Thanks to Honno for my review copy.

I have been thoroughly consumed by Snow Sisters for the past week or so. It's one of those books that pulls the reader in and never really lets go, even when you've put the book aside to do other things. The characters swirled around my brain, rather like the April snow storm that the author so cleverly creates as a backdrop for her incredibly beautiful story.

If like me, you are a fan of Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale, or more recently, A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall, then Snow Sisters will be your thing. There are ghosts, broken families, old secretive houses and characters who are so wonderfully imagined that you really believe in them.

Snow Sisters is an intimate and intricate portrait of one family of women.  At the heart and head of the family is Grandmother Mared, and living in Gull House is Mared's daughter Allegra and her two daughters; our Snow Sisters; Verity and Meredith. Carol Lovekin's eye for detail with her characterisation is outstanding, these woman are real and the reader will love them, hate them, sympathise with them - whatever emotion they evoke is a testament to her skill.

Nestled between Verity and Meredith's stories is the voice of Angharad. Angharad died in 1879 and her tragic and heartbreaking story is gently and carefully unwound during flashback snippets in her own voice.

So, not one, or two, but three threads of a story so deftly woven together. The present day as Verity returns to Gull House, and her memories and her sadnesses and her questions, and then the story of her and Meredith as children, battling their self-indulgent mother, and of course, Angharad; that poor young girl whose own personal story forms the backbone to this wonderfully imagined and gracefully executed tale.

Snow Sisters is complex and nuanced. There is tragedy yet there is so much love. This is a book to wallow in and linger over.  Highly highly recommended.

Author photograph ~ JaneyStevens
Carol Lovekin has Irish blood and a Welsh heart.
She was born in Warwickshire and has lived in Wales since 1979, settling in Lampeter eleven years ago.
A feminist, she finds fiction the perfect vehicle for telling women's collective stories.

Her books also reflect her love of the landscape and mythology of her adopted home.
Snow Sisters is her second novel. Her first, Ghostbird, is also published by Honno.

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @carollovekin  

Honno Welsh Women's Press was set up in 1986 by a group of women who felt strongly that women in Wales needed wider opportunities to see their writing in print and to become involved in the publishing process.
Their aim is to develop the writing talents of women in Wales, give them new and exciting opportunities to see their work published and often to give them their first 'break' as a writer.
Honno is registered as a community co-operative. Any profit that Honno makes is invested in the publishing programme.
Women from Wales and around the world have expressed their support for Honno. Each supporter has a vote at the Annual General Meeting.

For more information to buy Honno publications, visit the website
Follow them on Twitter @honno  

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Faithful by Juliet West @JulietWest14 @MantleBooks @panmacmillan #TheFaithful

As Britain is pulled towards war, the secrets within two families threaten to tear them apart, in the new novel from Juliet West, The Faithful . . .
July 1935. In the village of Aldwick on the Sussex coast, sixteen-year-old Hazel faces a long, dull summer with just her self-centred mother Francine for company. But then Francine decamps to London with her lover Charles, Oswald Mosley's blackshirts arrive in Aldwick, and Hazel's summer suddenly becomes more interesting. She finds herself befriended by two very different people: Lucia, an upper-class blackshirt, passionate about the cause; and Tom, a young working-class boy, increasingly scornful of Mosley's rhetoric. In the end, though, it is Tom who wins Hazel's heart - and Hazel who breaks his.
Autumn 1936. Now living in London, Hazel has grown up fast over the past year. But an encounter with Tom sends her into freefall. He must never know why she cut off all contact last summer, betraying the promises they’d made. Yet Hazel isn't the only one with secrets. Nor is she the only one with reason to keep the two of them apart . . .
From the beaches of Sussex to the battlefields of civil war Spain, The Faithful is a rich and gripping tale of love, deception and desire.

The Faithful by Juliet West was published by Mantle / Pan Macmillan on 15 June 2017 and is the author's second novel.  I read and reviewed her first book, Before The Fall here on Random Things in May 2014.

Juliet West's first novel, Before The Fall is one of my favourite war-time novels, I loved it when I read it, I've recommended it to so many people and I've been looking forward to her next book for so long.

Beginning in the summer of 1935, The Faithful begins in Aldwick, Sussex as Oswald Mosley's blackshirt followers begin to gather for their annual camp. Tom and his family travel from London, he's doubtful about Mosley's beliefs but his mother is an avid believer and Tom is basically, a good kid who loves his parents and doesn't want to cause a scene.

Hazel lives in Aldwick and a long and lonely summer is ahead of her, until that is, she attends one of the blackshirt meetings and meets Tom, and is befriended by Lucia, one of the most faithful and avid followers of Mosley.

The British people haven't yet got over the Great War and many believe that Mosely's teachings are right for the country. Nobody wants another war. Nobody wants so much death and destruction again. However, not everyone believes in Mosely's methods and there's plenty of oppostion from the Reds who want to rid Britain of the fascists.

The Faithful is, at its heart, a love story. It's at times heart-breaking yet also heart warming. The characters are wonderfully created, strong and totally and utterly believable.

Juliet West's writing is flawless, her plotting and pace is perfectly composed. This is a thought-provoking and emotional look at both social history and family relationships. Loss, deceit, sorrow and enduring love are all central themes in this incredibly told story.

The Faithful is beautifully written, it's a story made up of so many layers yet is so cleverly and neatly woven together, the reader becomes totally engrossed in the lives of the characters. I felt as though these people were my own friends, and family. Their battles were my battles, I felt their sorrow and I shared their joy.

A clever, moving, page turner. Highly recommended from me.

Juliet West worked as a journalist before taking an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University, where she won the Kate Betts' Memorial Prize.
Before The Fall, her debut novel, was shortlisted for the Myriad Editions novel writing competition in 2012.
Juliet also writes short stories and poetry, and won the HE Bates short story prize in 2009.
The Faithful is her second novel.
She lives in West Sussex with her husband and three children.

Discover more at
Follow her on Twitter @JulietWest14

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet #BlogTour @noexitpress #FrozenWomanBook #Giveaway #Win

In the depths of the Norwegian winter, a woman s frozen corpse is discovered in the garden of a notorious ex-lawyer, Vilhelm Thygesen. She has been stabbed to death.
A young biker, a member of a gang once represented by the lawyer, is found dead in suspicious circumstances.
Thygesen starts receiving anonymous threats, and becomes ensnared in a web of violence, crime and blackmail that spreads across Northern Europe.
Does the frozen woman hold the key?

The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet is published by No Exit Press on 21 September 2017 and is translated by Don Bartlett.

I am delighted to host a giveaway today, courtesy of the publisher. I have one paperback copy of The Frozen Woman to giveaway.  Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post.              

'The best Norwegian crime novel'
'Jon Michelet hits back with interest ... Yes, this is Jon Michelet in sparkling linguistic and compositional form'
'The Frozen Woman kept me awake all night... a Nordic crime masterpiece'
The Daily Walk
'Lavish and thrilling... Michelet writes with dramatic momentum, leaving the reader on the edge of his seat'
'A Godfather of Norwegian crime'
Gunnar Staalesen, author of the Varg Veum series
'Entertainingly eccentric for a police procedural.'
Karen Robinson, Sunday Times Crime Club [read the full review]
'The translation is by the reigning monarch of the art, Don Bartlett.'
Barry Forshaw, The Guardian [read the full review]

A Paperback copy of The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet

© Hans Fredrik Asbjørnsen
Jon Michelet has been one of Norway's leading authors through five decades. He made his debut in 1975 with the crime novel He Who Is Born to Be Hanged, Shall Never Be Drowned. He has since published numerous novels, plays and non-fiction books, and co-authored five bestselling reportage books from the Football World Cup with Dag Solstad. Michelet has also worked as a sailor, a docker, a journalist, publisher and newspaper editor. He is renowned in Norway for his strong commitment to a number of political and cultural causes. 
Michelet has been awarded the Riverton Prize for Best Norwegian Crime Novel twice, for White as Snow and The Frozen Woman both part of his long running Vilhelm Thygesen series. He has also had phenomenal success with his epic series, A Hero of the Sea. Telling the story of the dramatic experiences of a Norwegian merchant navy sailor during WWII, the five novels published so far have been topping the charts since 2012, and have sold well over half a million copies, making Michelet a household name in Norway. 

Monday, 18 September 2017

Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen @MaryTorjussen @headlinepg @millieseaward

No one ever disappears completely...
You leave for work one morning.
Another day in your normal life.
Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn't been at work for weeks.
It's as if he never existed.
But that's not possible, is it?
And there is worse still to come.
Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.

With thanks to the publisher and author who sent my copy for review.  Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen was published by Headline on 23 March 2017 and is the author's debut novel.

I read Gone Without A Trace whilst I was on holiday in Corfu and was absolutely gripped by it. It's one of those books that you want to talk about, and I almost chewed my husband's ear off about it; telling him what was happening .... and what on earth was it going to lead to?

Lead character Hannah is an accountant, she's had a really productive few days at work and is in line for promotion. Hannah is excited and knows that her live-in boyfriend Matt will be really pleased for her. They will celebrate.
Hannah returns home to an empty house. Matt is nowhere to be seen, and upon further investigation she realises that there really is no trace of him. Everything that belonged to Matt has gone. The house looks just as it did before he moved in with her, he's taken everything that he bought, or brought.

It's not just personal possessions that have vanished though. There's no trace of Matt in Hannah's phone; no messages, nothing in the call register. He's also disappeared from her email inbox. He's gone, almost as if he never existed.

At this point, I was open mouthed, wondering if Matt ever existed at all. As Hannah speaks with friends and work colleagues, it's clear that he did exist, but it's also clear that he doesn't want to be found.

Hannah doesn't deal with this very well at all. She's dramatic and hysterical. When she begins to see signs that someone has entered the house, and receives strange phone calls, she nears the edge of a complete breakdown.

Mary Torjussen has certainly written a story that kept me spellbound. Whilst I wasn't keen on any of the characters, that made no difference to my enjoyment of the story. It's intense and compelling and the scrutiny of relationships is excellently done. This author has explored the deceit and lies that can sometimes be the basis of both a friendship and a romantic relationship, Her characters are rounded and well crafted and her ability to keep her readers on their toes is excellent.

The final reveal was a shock to me. I certainly had no idea what to expect and whilst on reflection, I can see where the author hinted at things to come, I was totally oblivious to what was happening. That's a good thing by the way, I get frustrated when I've worked out a plot really early.

I must admit that I preferred the build-up in the first three quarters of the book to the final scenes, it felt grittier and more realistic. However, the ending is a good one and I closed the book with a sense of huge satisfaction and respect for this debut author.

Mary Torjussen grew up in Stoke-on-Trent.
There was no television in her family home so books have always been her escape - she spent hours reading and writing stories as a child.
Mary has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University, and worked as a teacher in Liverpool before becoming a full-time writer.
She has two adult children and lives on the Wirral, where her debut novel, Gone Without A Trace is set.

Follow her on Twitter @MaryTorjussen

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Reality Rehab by Lisa Mary London #RealityRehab #BookReview

Faded TV star Gloria Grayson has hit rock bottom. Sacked from her starring role in a top soap, divorced from hell-raising actor 'Mad' Tommy Mack, and obese from binge eating, her days as Britain's sexiest blonde are well and truly over.

Gloria has gained 70 lbs when a paparazzi snaps unflattering photos, and a cruel tabloid article relaunches her career. Instantly, she and her fat, feisty dog Baby-Girl are booked for TV's Reality Rehab. Gloria is locked up with an American psychotherapist, a rabble of D-list celebrities and umpteen cameras, then put on a starvation diet. But worse is to come, with the shock arrival of her alcoholic ex-husband.

Tears and tantrums ensue, as the divorced couple's joint therapy sessions take over the show and ratings soar. The other celebrities are infuriated to be sidelined and Reality Rehab fast becomes The Tommy and Glo Show. But Gloria and Tommy are hiding explosive secrets from each other and 10 million viewers - Reality is stranger than fiction!

Reality Rehab is the debut novel of Lisa Mary London, a journalist and former reality TV producer. A cast of hilarious characters, cliffhangers galore and an authentic voice that could only come from a TV insider, Reality Rehab is this year's must-read!

Reality Rehab by Lisa Mary London was published in paperback on 13 July 2017. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

So, I rarely feature covers like this one on Random Things, and to be honest, when I first saw it, I wasn't keen. However, now I've read the book, I can tell you that the cover is perfect for the story!

Lisa Mary London has drawn from her own experiences when writing Reality Rehab, there's such an air of authenticity in this book, the reader can be really sure that this is not entirely fiction and some of these outrageous characters and incredible situations really can, and do happen. Reality is in the title and I suspect that reality plays a big part in this story.

I am a huge fan of reality TV. I've watched every single series of Big Brother, and Celebrity Big Brother and I'm a huge fan of I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. These programmes are my de-stressors in a busy, often crazy world. I can totally lose myself in a world that I know that I will never be part of. I can be an armchair critic, I can judge and yes, watching the antics of minor celebrities does make me feel better about myself!

So, to the story. Gloria Grayson and her pampered pooch Baby-Girl spend most of their days eating. Gloria was once an A-List Celeb, starring in a TV soap and married to well known actor Tommy. Inevitably, Gloria's shine faded and her marriage crumbled and her career vanished .... until her agent signed up for the newest celebrity reality show ... Reality Rehab.  And this is where the story really begins, as Gloria enters a house full of well-known, if almost forgotten, famous names. With assorted addiction and lots and lots of issues, this is bound to be an explosive experiment and one that Gloria really isn't prepared for.  When her ex husband Tommy also arrives at the house, things begin to get very interesting!

This is the perfect Sunday afternoon, curled up on the sofa read.  Grab a drink and a packet of chocolate biscuits and dive in. Expect lots of laughter and plenty of satire, but also read about some more serious issues. Experience the power of social media responses and just how far washed up celebrities will go to try to regain their lost success.

Lisa Mary London's Reality Rehab surprised me in so many ways. It was a real delight to read. I laughed and nodded and yes, I judged.  Super stuff and recommended from me.

Lisa Mary London went from chief reporter on a sleepy Cotswold newspaper to become celebrity producer on some of Britain's best-loved TV shows. 

Her TV credits include An Audience with Ken Dodd, A BAFTA Tribute to Julie Walters, The British Comedy Awards and I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! She's worked with stars from Kirk Douglas to Ant and Dec, and her debut novel Reality Rehab features around 200 famous names. 

'There's never a dull moment when you're working with the stars,' says Lisa. 'One minute you're sipping champagne with Pierce Brosnan, the next you're standing in the Ladies' minding Barbara Windsor's handbag.' 

Reality Rehab is based on her real life, behind-the-screen experiences as a celebrity producer. 'I've met many old school stars like my book's protagonist Gloria, who curse reality TV and think the cast of TOWIE should be stacking shelves at Tesco, not walking the red carpet. 'She's a cross between Diana Dors, Boadicea and Miss Piggy, a glorious, garrulous anti-heroine with bags of fattitude - Gloria puts the real in reality TV!' 

Gloria's petulant pooch Baby-Girl is closely based on the book's cover star, Lisa's beloved Maltese, Dolly-Dog (says Lisa - 'You couldn't make her up'). Dolly-Dog won fame on ITV's Loose Women when she married Sherrie Hewson's Westie Charlie, in a ceremony officiated by John Barrowman (available on YouTube). 
The couple split acrimoniously and are currently fighting for custody of a chew toy. 

A journalist by profession, Lisa has written for the Daily Mail and was briefly a News of the World reporter, but made her excuses and left before anyone was arrested for phone hacking.

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @lisamarylondon 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Sweaty and Pals by Mac Black #Review #ChildrensBook

Anyone who likes Mac Black’s “Please call me Derek” (and the rest in the series covering his grown-up adventures) will enjoy introducing younger friends and family to his new series, “Sweaty and Pals”. Derek hated his nickname and now we find out how he came by it. Filled with stories about Derek’s exploits with his gang in the eighties, with quirky illustrations (by Mac Black), the stories build on Derek’s ability to find disasters and get himself into one mess after another.
Sweaty’s tales are about little kids enjoying life, before smartphones and computer games came along. Of course, it is just possible – if you are older than five – that you did all these things yourself…
Mac has embraced writing for younger readers with the same quirky clean humour that permeates his YA series. From Sweaty’s first day at school, we meet some of the wonderful characters who pepper the adult books, subtly dealing with issues around prejudice, being different, living with the elderly, losing parents – but in a gentle, no-nonsense way that exposes the social discrimination  and values that we took for granted, in those days, but we would not accept, today. This makes these stories a perfect springboard for class discussions about daily life for children thirty years ago compared with now

My thanks to the author, Mac Black who sent my copy for review.  Sweaty and Pals was published in paperback on 5 July 2017.

I don't read a great deal of children's fiction and rarely feature it here on Random Things, but was tempted by the description and colourful colour of Sweaty and Pals. The fact that it is set in the 1980s also appealed to me.

Mac Black has already published a series of books for young adults about Derek Toozlethwaite (what an awesome name!), and Sweaty and Pals is the prequel to the series; aimed at children aged around eight to eleven years old.

Derek's nickname in the series is Sweaty and Mac Black decided to explain to his readers how that nickname came about. In Sweaty and Pals the reader learns all about Derek and his pals; Wee Spotty, Wally, Tomtom, Jacko and Curly, and how each of them came about their nicknames.

Sweaty and Pals is a fun and interesting read. Young readers will love this as each chapter is a story in itself, and it's really easy to pick up, read a couple of chapters and then set aside until the next day. The 1980s setting will be familiar to older readers, and intriguing to those aged under ten. This book is about boys having fun, using their imagination and not relying on electronic gadgets, or checking their phones every few minutes. There's no live streaming of mischief here, or photographs of everything that happened, this is good old-fashioned fun and games.

The writing is engaging and the characters are recognisable, and lovable. Mac Black himself has illustrated the book beautifully with colour pictures that bring the story to life.

Recommended for kids, and big kids alike!

Mac Black has had fun performing daft roles in amateur theatre and has written and presented silly poetry - he enjoys writing quirky fiction in the hope of gaining wry smiles. 

Mac's principle hero, Derek is never alone when it comes to looking for misfortune - there are always others in the stories to help him find it! 
Following the successful publication of his five-volume young adult Derek series enjoying Sweaty's exploits as a young man, Mac has now turned back thirty years to the eighties and has started a series for younger readers, exploring Sweaty's childhood.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Robert B. Parker's Debt to Pay by Reed Farrel Coleman @ReedFColman @noexitpress #Giveaway

All is quiet in Paradise, except for a spate of innocuous vandalism. Good thing, too, because Jesse Stone is preoccupied with the women in his life, both past and present. As his ex-wife, Jenn, is about to marry a Dallas real-estate tycoon, Jesse isn't too sure his relationship with former FBI agent Diana Evans is built to last. But those concerns get put on the back burner when a major Boston crime boss is brutally murdered. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Jesse suspects it's the work of Mr. Peepers, a psychotic assassin who has caused trouble for Jesse in the past.

Peepers has long promised revenge against the Mob, Jesse, and Suit for their roles in foiling one of his hits - and against Jenn as well. And though Jesse and Jenn have long parted ways, Jesse still feels responsible for her safety. Jesse and Diana head to Dallas for the wedding and, along with the tycoon's security team, try to stop Peepers before the bill comes due. With Peepers toying with the authorities as to when and where he'll strike, Jesse is up against the wall. Still, there's a debt to pay and blood to be spilled to satisfy it. But whose blood, and just how much?

Robert B Parker's Debt To Pay by Reed Farrel Coleman is published by No Exit Press on 21 September 2017.

Robert Parker, considered by many to have been the dean of American crime fiction, was the author of seventy books, including the series featuring Chief Jesse Stone.
After Parker’s death in 2010, Reed Farrel Coleman was chosen to keep this immensely popular series alive.

To celebrate the publication of Debt To Pay, I'm delighted to offer one person the chance to win all nine of the Jesse Stone ebooks, courtesy of the publisher, No Exit Press.

Entry is simple: just leave a comment at the end of this blog post
Competition open for seven days and will close at midnight on Friday 22 September

Please visit the other stops on the Blog Tour

Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the “noir poet laureate” in the Huffington Post, Reed Farrel Coleman is the author of novels, including the acclaimed Moe Prager series, short stories, and poetry.

He is a three-time Edgar Award nominee in three different categories—Best Novel, Best Paperback Original, Best Short Story—and a three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of the Year. He has also won the Audie, Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards.

A former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America, Reed Farrel Coleman is an adjunct instructor of English at Hofstra University and a founding member of MWA University. Brooklyn born and raised, he now lives with his family in Suffolk County on Long Island.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Race To The Kill by Helen Cadbury @AllisonandBusby #RacetotheKill #BlogTour

It is the middle of a long night shift for PC Sean Denton and his partner PC Gavin Wentworth when they are approached by a dishevelled-looking woman desperate that they follow her. 
She leads them to the old Chasebridge High School where they find the dead body of a Syrian refugee. 
The investigation which points to the neighbouring greyhound stadium finds Denton caught up in a world of immigration, drugs and sexual abuse, and one in which his private life becomes increasingly entwined.
Genre: Crime, Mystery & Thriller
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780749022464
Rights: World English
Pub. Date: 21st September 2017
Publisher: Allison and Busby

Race To The Kill by Helen Cadbury is published by Allison and Busby on 21 September 2017 and is the third in the Sean Denton series.

I am honoured to begin the Blog Tour for Race To The Kill here on Random Things.

The world of crime fiction was shocked and saddened to learn of Helen Cadbury's death in June of this year. Helen was one of  the most popular and friendliest authors around, she always had a big welcoming smile, she supported other authors, and bloggers with great advice and funny stories.

It was an honour to count Helen as one of my friends and although we didn't meet up in person very often, we had many online conversations. I miss her smile, her wit and her wisdom.

It's my pleasure to welcome crime author Nick Quantrill here to Random Things today; he's written a piece about Helen, and their friendship.

My friend Helen…

The first time I met Helen was in a tent at a small arts festival on the outskirts of Leeds. In some respects it was standard procedure, quickly bonding and finding some common ground before going on stage as part of a panel of writers. But as the sun started to set, we realised there was no lighting available, so Helen set about politely demanding audience members with bicycle lights handed them over so we could continue. I knew at that point I was going to like her. With our homes in Hull and York being such a short distance apart, and both of us writing very Northern crime novels, it was maybe inevitable that we’d team up for more events.

And so it proved. We shared numerous events in our own cities and further afield and would regularly meet on the road at various festivals. It would always end up with food and drink and talk of family, friends and the latest goings on in the crime writing world. I’m fortunate to have so many good memories, but when I started to arrange a launch party for my latest novel in Hull, it was natural it would be Helen who chaired the night. Generous to a fault, she not only gave up her time to do it, but recognising it was a special night for me, would only accept a drink in exchange for her time. It’s testament to her skill as an interviewer that she also sold out of books on the night, the audience eating out of her hand. I also learned that Helen’s sons knew the York band, Bull, who I’d asked to play a set to open the night. Missing their transport connection, Helen simply threw them and their mountain of equipment into the back of her small car and headed for home.

At that point, Helen was nearing the end of her first treatment cycle and we’d continue to meet in various places and talk about 2017; her hopes for future work, what events we could do together, the ways she could help with Hull Noir, a festival I’m working on, and our children – hers at university, mine just starting school - and everything else in between. The news earlier this year that the cancer had returned was just devastating, the further news it was terminal hard to make any sense of. Yet I was fortunate. Helen lined me up as a replacement for her writer in residence gig at ‘Mystery on the Rails’, a National Railway Museum exhibition in York, so we managed to meet up between treatments. The last time we did that was in Helen’s back garden, a fortnight before she died. We both knew what was coming, but sitting in the sun for a couple of hours talking about everything and nothing and putting the world to rights, was a privilege and something to be thankful for.

One thing we spoke about excitedly was the launch of the “Big City Read” programme, which centres on her first Sean Denton novel, “To Catch a Rabbit”. Helen being Helen, it wasn’t just about her moment in the spotlight, more that she knew how much readers would enjoy hearing from the line-up which includes so many of her friends. Reading “Race to the Kill”, the third Sean Denton novel, is going to be tough knowing there won’t be anymore, the forthcoming poetry collection tougher still. Regardless of genre, though, Helen’s work is packed full of heart and hope and that’s what I intend to remember and celebrate as I read them.
Nick Quantrill - September 2017

My thanks to Nick for sharing his memories of Helen, please do follow the Blog Tour over the next couple of weeks 

Nick Quantrill was born and raised in Hull, an isolated industrial city in East Yorkshire. His latest crime novel, The Dead Can't Talk is published in May 2016 by Caffeine Nights. The Joe Geraghty trilogy, Broken Dreams (2010), The Late Greats (2012), and The Crooked Beat (2013) are also published by Caffeine Nights. His standalone novella, Bang Bang You're Dead (2012) is published by Byker Books.

A prolific short story writer, Nick's work has appeared in Volumes Eight, Nine and Ten of The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime alongside the genre's most respected names. In 2011, Nick became the first person to hold the role of Writer in Residence at Hull Kingston Rovers, contributing sports-based fiction to the match day programme and assisting with the club's literacy programme. His first story for children is included in the Toad Tales anthology published by Wrecking Ball.

When not writing fiction, Nick pens reviews and essays for a variety of football and music websites. He lives in Hull with his wife, daughter and the constant fear that Hull City will let him down.

Find out more about Nick and his work at
Follow him on Twitter @NickQuantrill

Helen Cadbury, Martin and myself - Harrogate Crime Festival July 2016

Helen Cadbury was a York based writer whose debut novel, To Catch a Rabbit, was joint winner of the Northern Crime Award. 

Helen was born in the Midlands and brought up in Birmingham and Oldham, Lancashire. 

Helen died in June 2017.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter @LibbyCPT @AvonBooksUK #99RedBalloons

Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?
When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.
What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?
Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…
This is a gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist that will take your breath away.

99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter was published in paperback by Avon Books on 24 August 2017 and is the author's debut novel.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and invited me to take part in this blog tour.

I'd heard lots of things about 99 Red Balloons and met the author at a book event way back in January, her enthusiasm for her story was infectious and I've been really keen to read it ever since.

It's a brave author, and publisher, who writes and publishes yet another psychological thriller at the moment. I've heard whisperings about how people are tired of them, and want something else. I have to disagree; if an author has a great story to tell, and can write it well, then I say, bring it on.

99 Red Balloons certainly deserved to be published; it's excellently written with a tight, tense plot and some amazing characterisation. I was hooked from the opening paragraph and at times was turning the pages like a woman possessed!

I was convinced that I'd worked it out by page twenty, I even told my friend, who was also reading it, that I'd done that. I was proved completely wrong! This author is a master at surprise and twisty turns and I like that. I want to be out-witted, I don't want predictable or unexpected and Elisabeth Carpenter delivered gasp creating moments, time after time.

99 Red Balloons is the story of two missing girls. One now and one many years ago, seemingly unrelated, but similar in the way that they disappeared and as the story progresses, the reader gets an inkling that there is far more to the present day case than first imagined.

The author's strength lies in her creation of wonderfully realistic characters whose emotions and feelings are expertly portrayed. The effect on a family when a child disappears is convincingly portrayed and each character is vital to the plot. There's no padding or superfluous bit players here, each conversation and each scene makes up a piece of this intricate and tightly woven puzzle.

99 Red Balloons is an impressive debut. The writing is assured and intense. I'm really excited by this author's work and can't wait to read more from her. Highly recommended.

Elisabeth Carpenter lives in Preston with her family. She completed a BA in English Literature and Language with the Open University in 2008. 

Elisabeth was awarded a Northern Writers’ New Fiction award, and was longlisted for Yeovil Literary Prize (2015 and 2016) and the MsLexia Women’s Novel award (2015). She loves living in the north of England and sets most of her stories in the area, including the novel she is writing at the moment. She currently works as a book keeper.

Follow her on Twitter @LibbyCPT