Tuesday, 22 May 2018

May 2018 My Chronicle Book Box @MyChronicleBB #BookBox #CrimeFiction #MyChronicleBookBox *SP

I was so thrilled when Louise from My Chronicle Book Box said that she wanted to send me her May 2018 collection.

These book boxes are so well put together, of the highest quality and so exciting to unpack

So, let's have a look at what delights were inside the box this month.

Of course, the most important things are the books! Three amazing crime novels were nestled inside the box; The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson; as Louise says, it's a fabulous example of Scandi noir (although technically of course it's Icelandic noir!); The Lost by Mari Hannah, the first in a new series for this great writer of police procedurals; and Class Murder by Leigh Russell. Class Murder is the 10th in the Geraldine Steel series but stands alone quite easily. 

Each of the books is accompanied by a book plate signed by the author, exclusive interviews with Leigh and Mari, plus a lovely letter from Mari.

But it's not only books that are in this box of treasures. Oh no. There's some really gorgeous extras too. I was delighted to find such a selection of delights for a book lover;

A very useful pen pot which will be a great addition to my (rather untidy) desk. The pot was designed and made by Bespoke Verse, an independent maker of all things literary who you may have seen on Dragon's Den. 

A lovely Iceland themed bookmark made from vintage maps by Laura at MadeWithMaps on Etsy.
This bookmark is unique to me as every single bookmark is different as it was made with a different map!

A great fun Harry Potter charm. These are designed and made here in the UK by independent jeweller The Carat Shop on licence from Warner Brothers.

And finally, a wonderful print inspired by Sherlock Holmes designed by the very talented Maria at ArtsAndTravelPrints on Etsy

My Chronicle Book Boxes made a wonderful gift, for someone special or as a treat for yourself.

My Chronicle Book Box is a unique reading box curated for you every three months containing the latest literary releases and a selection of beautifully crafted associated items, exclusive to My Chronicle whenever possible.

Boxes will be shipped 4 times a year during the first week of:
  • February,
  • May,
  • August and
  • November
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Friday, 18 May 2018

The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings #Giveaway @MandaJJennings #TheCliffHouse #Competition

Some friendships are made to be broken
Cornwall, summer of 1986.
The Davenports, with their fast cars and glamorous clothes, living the dream in a breathtaking house overlooking the sea.
If only… thinks sixteen-year-old Tamsyn, her binoculars trained on the perfect family in their perfect home.
If only her life was as perfect as theirs.
If only Edie Davenport would be her friend.
If only she lived at The Cliff House…

Amanda Jennings weaves a haunting tale of obsession, loss and longing, set against the brooding North Cornish coastline, destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.

HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY for yesterday to Amanda Jennings! The Cliff House is published in hardback by HQ, and I'm delighted to offer one SIGNED HARDBACK copy to one lucky reader of Random Things today

Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this blog post. The competition will stay open for seven days and is UK ENTRIES ONLY.


I read and reviewed The Cliff House back in April, here's what I thought:

"Once more, Amanda Jennings has set her story in Cornwall, and whilst her characters are perfectly formed, it is the house itself that steals the limelight. The Cliff House is a dark, alluring magnet to lead character Tamsyn. It's the place that she went to with her beloved Dad, just before he died.
Tamsyn is drawn back to the house, time and again. It's not only the building that entrances her, it's the occupants too; the Davenport family, up from London and exuding glamour and wealth; a million miles away from Tamsyn's quiet and lonely life in the small Cornish town that she's never left.

Although The Cliff House is set in the 1980s, it has a distinct feel of the 50s, despite the modern references; there's an air about this story, and the setting that feels beautifully nostalgic, almost as though the real world has crept on and left the occupants of The Cliff House behind.

Tamsyn yearns to be part of the Davenport's life. She doesn't see the danger, or the darkness and unhappiness that is evident to the reader; she sees champagne, and steak, and glittery parties. There's an innocent vulnerability to Tamsyn that is exploited, in different ways, by each member of the Davenport family. Young Edie Davenport is a victim, although she appears confident and brash on the outside. Her heart is heavy with sadness and feelings of abandonment and betrayal.

With a dangerous obsession at its heart, The Cliff House is a coming-of-age story with a haunting and dark difference. This author excels at creating atmosphere, and mystery and the reader is always just one step behind her clever plotting. There are shocks and unexpected twists galore, but this is not a fast-paced drama, it's a gentle untangling of lives and secrets. 

The reader becomes totally immersed in this story, it's an impressive and captivating tale, oozing with beautiful words. A fabulous read, I loved it."

One Signed Hardback copy of The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings

Amanda Jennings lives in Oxfordshire with her husband, three daughters, and a menagerie of animals. She studied History of Art at Cambridge and before writing her first book, was a researcher at the BBC. With a deep fascination on the far-reaching effects of trauma, her books focus on the different ways people find to cope with loss, as well as the moral struggles her protagonists face. When she isn't writing she can usually be found walking the dog. Her favourite place to be is up a mountain or beside the sea.

Find out more at www.amandajennings.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter @MandaJJennings

Thursday, 17 May 2018

A Family Recipe by Veronica Henry @veronica_henry #BlogTour @orionbooks @Lauren_BooksPR #AFamilyRecipe

What's the secret ingredient to your happiness?
Laura Griffin is preparing for an empty nest. The thought of Number 11 Lark Hill falling silent - a home usually bustling with noise, people and the fragrant smells of something cooking on the Aga - seems impossible. Laura hopes it will mean more time for herself, and more time with her husband, Dom.
But when an exposed secret shakes their marriage, Laura suddenly feels as though her family is shrinking around her. Feeling lost, she turns to her greatest comfort: her grandmother's recipe box, a treasured collection dating back to the Second World War. Everyone has always adored Laura's jams and chutneys, piled their sandwiches high with her pickles . . . Inspired by a bit of the old Blitz spirit, Laura has an idea that gives her a fresh sense of purpose.
Full of fierce determination, Laura starts carving her own path. But even the bravest woman needs the people who love her. And now, they need her in return . . .

A Family Recipe by Veronica Henry is published today (17 May 2018) by Orion. I think it's safe to say that I am a huge huge fan of Veronica Henry's writing, and this is one of her best. My review will be published in the media during May, and I'll be featuring my thoughts about the book here on my blog too.

As part of the Blog Tour today, I'm delighted to share with you a very special recipe for Soda Bread and a guest post from Veronica. I do hope that you enjoy it, I certainly did and it reminded me of my own Irish grandmother, and sitting down to warm slices of soda bread with salty butter, in front of the range in her cottage in Donegal.


On my kitchen shelf is a tiny metal box full of index cards, stuffed with recipes from my grandmothers, my parents and me, that I now have in my care. I’ve used many of them throughout my life, as well as adding to the collection. Many of the recipes are reminiscent of important family occasions.

And that was where the idea for A FAMILY RECIPE came from: a little box that holds recipes that relate to the life-changing events of the residents of 11 Lark Hill in Bath, from the war to the present day. Laura finds the box at a difficult time in her life, and uses it to help her move forward.

For this blog tour I am sharing some of my favourite recipes from my own box.


The parcel arrives from Killorglin, the weight of a family bible, damp and cold. I place it on the kitchen table and tear away the wrapping.

There’s no fancy packaging or logos here, just plain grey cardboard with prosaic black capitals: WILD IRISH SMOKED SALMON. It’s the ‘wild’ that pleases me most. You don’t want your salmon biddable.

I can already picture the water it came from: the swollen river charging with abandon through the purple hills, the fish tumbling in their haste to get away from the fisherman’s net.

I tear back the plastic. It’s much paler than I expected – a dainty rose, and I worry it won’t taste of anything. I stick in my fork to lift off a slice. It peels away somewhat reluctantly and hangs from the tines, plump and heavy.

I lift the fork to my mouth. The salmon lies oily and meaty on my tongue. It tastes of Ireland. The drift of peat from a tiny white cottage; the damp rain coming in from the Atlantic; the plume from an aged aunt’s cup of Lapsang Souchong.

It’s a ballerina with balls: delicate but powerful. I lay it on a white plate. 
There is no need for fancy presentation: no fiddling with prissy rosettes, just slice upon slice of coral on porcelain. 
A plate of memories, of childhood, of a long-forgotten summer. 
It is the perfect present for my father’s birthday. 
His 80th, although at the time I was not to know it was his last.
All it needs to go with it is a slice of cakey soda bread, some good butter, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of black pepper. 
My Irish grandmother used to make this every day, and it is always best fresh, though it’s wonderful toasted as well. It is especially good with home-made raspberry jam.


4 teacups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ teacup buttermilk

Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl making sure it gets plenty of air. 
Pour in the buttermilk gradually, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until you can draw it all together in a lump – don’t manhandle it too much. 
Coax it into a round and put a cross in the top. 
Or you can put it in a loaf tin if you prefer a more structured shape.
Bake in the oven at 220 C for about 45 mins or until it sounds hollow when you tap the bottom – but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t catch.

Veronica Henry has worked as a scriptwriter for THE ARCHERS, HEARTBEAT and HOLBY CITY amongst many others, before turning to fiction. She won the 2014 RNA NOVEL OF THE YEAR AWARD for A NIGHT ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Veronica lives with her family in a village in north Devon.
Find out more at www.veronicahenry.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @veronica_henry

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Write Your Own Love Story with @eHarmonyUK and @TrapezeBooks #YourLoveStories @KatieVEBrown

Write your own Love Story with Eharmony

As part of eharmony’s 10th anniversary celebrations, Trapeze Books and eharmony are launching a creative writing competition to find the next great love story.

The competition will tie-in with eharmony’s anniversary Love Stories campaign, which aims to highlight real couples’ diverse love stories.

Entrants are asked to submit the first 5,000 words of a love story accompanied by a synopsis and a short biography, with the winner being offered a publishing contract with Trapeze worth £10,000, as well as mentoring from Trapeze author Anna Stuart. 

The shortlisted entries will be judged by agents and editors from C+W Agency and Trapeze Books, representatives from eharmony, as well as journalist and editor, Sarah Shaffi.

Submissions are open from 16th May 2018 with a deadline of 30th July 2018. The shortlist will be announced on the 1st October 2018 and the winner announced in November 2018.

Sue Armstrong, agent at C+W says: “I’m delighted to be a part of this competition and very much hope we find not just a powerful love story but an exceptional new voice in fiction. I’ll be looking for great storytelling, vivid characters and emotional impact whether it’s gothic, contemporary, speculative, grounded, romantic or dark. All love stories are welcome.”

Sam Eades, editor at Trapeze Books says: “I can’t wait to find the next great love story, and cannot think of better partners than C+W and eharmony. From high-concept contemporary romances like The Time Traveller’s Wife through to darker tales of obsessive love in Wuthering Heights, I’m looking for a timeless tale that will appeal to the widest possible audience.”

Rachael Lloyd, Senior PR & Communications Manager at eharmony says: “We’re thrilled to have played a role in creating thousands of new love stories for couples who have met on eharmony over the last 10 years. We’re also committed to bringing more lasting love to the world and welcome the opportunity to team up with C+W and Trapeze Books to find the next great love story.”

Sarah Shaffi says: “I love sinking into a good romance novel; there's nothing better if you want to lose yourself in another world for a few hours. I'm looking for great characters and a story that drives me to carry on reading, and I'm after warmth and happiness, even if a few tears have to be shed along the way. I'm really keen to see stories that are often ignored or left untold, and can't wait to see what writers come up with.”

Anna Stuart, author says: “Romance is, surely, at the heart of life as without human connections we are lost. I’m fascinated by love in all its wonderful guises and am delighted at the way our modern world can explore so many varied and unique human relationships. I will be looking for a novel that really gets to the heart of what it is to love and be loved, however that comes about, and cannot wait to join eharmony and Trapeze in finding a great new romance novel.”

Katie Brown, editor at Trapeze Books added: “I am particularly eager to find stories that honestly represent all different kinds of love and relationships, so eharmony’s campaign to celebrate real couples’ diverse love stories felt like the perfect match.”

Writers must submit the first 5,000 words of a novel, a 500-word synopsis plus a short bio to lovestories@orionbooks.co.uk by midnight on Monday 30 July 2018. We can only accept entries sent to this email address by the deadline.

Trapeze is a new imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, publishing books that start conversations.

Their authors include Sharon Bolton, Cara Delevingne, Jem Lester, Sarah Millican and Madeleine Shaw.

eharmony launched in the UK in 2008 with a clear vision: to create more lasting love in the world. The experts behind eharmony are committed to helping singles find the best possible partner, using scientific research and psychology to determine key personality traits. Prior to launch, the brand invested in further extensive research into love and relationships, conducted in partnership with Oxford University’s Internet Institute to develop UK relationship-compatibility models. Today eharmony, fondly known as ‘the brains behind the butterflies’, proudly serves almost 70 million members globally, and has amassed 5m registered users since launching in Britain. Find out more at http://www.eharmony.co.uk/tour.

C+W is one of London’s leading literary agencies representing a variety of prize-winning and bestselling writers. Committed to uncovering new voices and developing and supporting their authors’ long-term careers with dedication, verve and dynamism. C+W Agency

Sarah Shaffi is a freelance books journalist. She is editor-at-large for Little Tiger Group, reviews for Stylist, is co-founder of BAME in Publishing and is books editor for PHOENIX. She was previously online editor and producer for The Bookseller. Sarah can be found tweeting @sarahshaffi.


Katie Brown, editor at Trapeze books, recommends some of her favourite contemporary love stories.

HIS DARK MATERIALS by Philip Pullman: this is not what you expect when you think about a love story, but I wanted to include it as testament to the fact that love stories can exist in so many different guises. There is so much love in this book: Lyra and Iorek Byrnison, Lyra and Pantalaimon, Will and his father, and Lyra and Will to name but a few examples. And that ending… *heart breaks*

WHY BE HAPPY WHEN YOU COULD BE NORMAL by Jeanette Winterson: this searing memoir is etched in my psyche, and again, not necessarily a book you would describe as being a love story. However, Jeanette’s love for reading, learning and life and the battles she overcame with her family and her social circumstances, are inspirational, and show what love for something can drive.

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sarah J. Maas: something a bit raunchier, the Court of Thorns and Roses series is incredibly satisfying for both SFF and romance fans. My favourite in the series is A Court of Mist and Fury, and the sexual tension will leave you ready to burst.

TIN MAN by Sarah Winman: a great in the making, this novel captures the complexities of relationships, depicts the many layers of love and breaks the reader’s heart with its portrayal of loss and grief. This quote is one of my favourites:
“And I wonder what the sound of a heart breaking might be. And I think it might be quiet, unperceptively so, and not dramatic at all. Like the sound of an exhausted swallow falling gently to earth.”

SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL by Giovanna Fletcher: an unusual choice for a list like this, as the book opens with a break-up. For me though, it was all about the love Lizzie re-discovered for herself and for the things in life that truly brought her joy.

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern: one of my favourite novels of all time. The dark magic at play, a love doomed to fail and the beautifully executed imagery and world-building. The lure of the circus reaches beyond the page meaning I have to keep going back to this.

SEVEN DAYS OF US by Francesca Hornak: I devoured this over the Christmas break and was sobbing my heart out by the end of it! Ultimately, it was the love of family that helped each of them to heal and to overcome their differences.

SORCERER TO THE CROWN by Zen Cho: again, a little different to what you might expect, but what I loved about this historical fantasy is that the love story never overwhelmed the narrative or became the focus for our heroine; her journey existed outside of the romantic relationship. Plus it was feminist and bad-ass.

SOMEWHERE CLOSE TO HAPPY by Lia Louis: full disclosure, this is one of mine, but I just love it so much I wanted to include it! It’s about a young woman, Lizzie, who receives a letter from her first love, dated the day he went missing, 12 years before. It is such a satisfying read about friendship and self-discovery, as well as moving forward with your life. It’s not out until next year but it’s definitely one to watch!

And a bonus ‘classic’ book recommendation from Sam Eades, Editorial Director at Trapeze:

GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell: a sweeping and epic love story with an irresistible hero in Scarlett O’Hara. Gone with the Wind shows that the course of love doesn’t always run smoothly, and that your main characters can be difficult and yet still loveable!

Stranger In My Heart by Mary Monro @monro_m276 #BlogTour @unbounders #MyLifeInBooks #StrangerInMyHeart

John Monro MC never mentioned his Second World War experiences, leaving his daughter Mary with unresolved mysteries when he died in 1981. He fought at the Battle of Hong Kong, made a daring escape across Japanese-occupied China and became Assistant Military Attaché in Chongqing. Caught up in Far East war strategy, he proposed a bold plan to liberate the PoWs he’d left behind before fighting in Burma in 1944. But by the time Mary was born he’d become a Shropshire farmer, revealing nothing of his heroic past. 

Thirty years after his death and prompted by hearing him described as a ‘20th Century great’, Mary began her quest to explore this stranger she’d called ‘Dad’. Stranger In My Heart skilfully weaves poignant memoir with action-packed biography and travels in modern China in a reflective journey that answers the question we all eventually ask ourselves: ‘Who am I?’

Stranger In My Heart by Mary Monro is published by Unbound in June 2018. As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books.

My Life In Books - Mary Monro

West With The Night by Beryl Markham   Beryl Markham was a British-born Kenyan aviator, adventurer, racehorse trainer and author. She was the first woman to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic from east to west. Apart from the adventure aspect of this astonishing memoir, it is heartbreakingly well written and a work of great beauty.

An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan    Brian Keenan’s memoir of his four and a half years of captivity in Beirut. I bought this and then couldn’t bear to read it for several years. When I eventually did I was truly uplifted by his response to his captivity and the poetic beauty of his prose.

The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan    This semi-autobiographical novel by a Chinese-American author gave me my first introduction to China in the second world war and the attitudes of the American people to the Chinese. It is written from a female perspective and is thoughtful and thought provoking.

Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton   Written at the beginning of the apartheid era, this is a classic portrayal of the effect of racial prejudice on people of all colours. I read it when I was a teenager and it contributed to my developing sense of justice, fairness and freedom.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams    This is my ‘go to’ series if I need a pick me up or just a really good laugh. So inventive, so clever, so funny. I don’t know how many times I’ve read them all but they survive on my shelf when most books get turfed out to make space for the new ones.

The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan    This book is a life changing, well written, deeply researched history of the world, with Persia at the centre. It has entirely uprooted my understanding of world history, from the deep past to the present. If you read one book the rest of your life, read this one.

The Bell by Iris Murdoch   Every now and then I like to read an Iris Murdoch. They are like a rich meal, full of delights, a huge vocabulary and interesting philosophy. I can’t read them too often or I get indigestion, but this is my favourite. Playing a game of tennis with someone much better than you is supposed to improve your game and I hope this is true of writing too!

Why Can’t I Meditate by Nigel Wellings   This is a fantastic resource for mindfulness meditation. Last year I seriously injured my back and it was mindfulness meditation that made the biggest difference to coping with the pain and the damage to my self-image (I’m a fit, healthy person, youthful and vigorous, invincible…). This book coaxes you along, gives great practical advice and picks you up when you fail for the umpteenth time.

The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts by Louis de Bernieres     I love LdB’s Latin American trilogy. Such a brilliant mix of the real and the absurd, it was my written introduction to magical realism and connected to my visual liking for it in paintings by Marc Chagall. LdB is the master of the great opening line and I have tried to learn from him.

Where The Indus Is Young by Dervla Murphy   The ultimate intrepid traveller, this is my favourite Dervla Murphy, where she takes her small daughter through the Karakoram mountains in winter. Bonkers. Brave. Beautiful. I also love Eric Newby’s travel writing and Wilfred Thesiger’s. I have a thing for wild places, I guess.

H Is For Hawk by Helen MacDonald    I read this when I was writing Stranger In My Heart. I loved the three different and superficially unconnected themes and it was a joy to read, even though I have no knowledge of or interest in hawking or TH White. It encouraged me to think that a book with three themes could work and could even win awards.

Life in Motion by Rollin Becker     I’m an osteopath and this book is by an American osteopath and philosopher who has probably contributed more to the way that I work than anyone else. It is in bite-sized chunks, often transcripts from lectures, and it bears several readings and much pondering in between.

Mary Monro - May 2018 

Mary has written numerous technical and academic articles and is an experienced lecturer and presenter, but this is her first book. 
She lives in Bath with her husband, Julian Caldecott, and dog, Gobi. 
She practises as an osteopath in the picturesque Wiltshire town of Bradford on Avon. 
She treats people three days a week (see www.mmost.co.uk) and treats horses and dogs one day a week (www.hippokampos.co.uk and www.facebook.com/the2marys). 
She is a Trustee of the Sutherland Cranial College of Osteopathy (SCCO) and Member of the Royal Society of Medicine
She was formerly a marketing consultant, with five years experience at what is now Price Waterhouse Coopers, and three years with strategy consultancy, P.Four (now part of WPP). 
She began her marketing career with Cadbury’s confectionery and retains a lifelong love of chocolate.
Mary was born and raised at a farm on the edge of the south Shropshire hills, the youngest of four children. 
She attended Shrewsbury High School from age four to eighteen. 
She spent much of her childhood on horseback, which left her with permanent damage to her right eye, a broken nose, broken knee-cap and broken coccyx. 
She has been bitten, kicked, rolled on, dragged, and has fallen off too many times to recall, but she still rides racehorses for fun.
Twitter: @monro_m276