Wednesday, 18 October 2017

A Small Dark Quiet by Miranda Gold @mirandagold999 @unbounders

Way back in January of this, my first book review of the year was Starlings by Miranda Gold, published by Karnac Books, and is the author's debut novel.

In my review, I said:

 "Starlings is a challenging novel. It is intense and sometimes seems almost something of a battle. It is, however, a beautifully written battle, with poetic prose that is expertly paced. Brave and poignant, I'd certainly recommend it."

Mirana's new novel with Unbound, A Small Dark Quiet is now 75% funded, It's had a wonderful early endorsement from Meike Ziervogel and other critically acclaimed writers are reading it at the moment.

Miranda says:  'A Small Dark Quiet' opens shortly before the end of the Second World War and is a story of loss, migration and the search for belonging.
Viewed through the eyes of a mother soon after one of her twins is still born and then through the eyes of the phrase she adopts from a displaced persons camp two years later, this novel explores how the need to fill the devastating void can make our sense of loss more acute. 
Revealing small acts of kindness in the most unlikely places, this novel explores what happens after that moment of crisis, how they rebuild their lives and the ways in which we find ourselves caught between the need to feel safe and the will to be free. 
As with 'Starlings', my hope is that the subject of the continued legacy of trauma, with the resonances it has in our own time, will contribute to the ways in with which readers engage with past and the way it lives on in the present.

For more information about the book, and to make a pledge, please click on the link

The deadline for the book to reach the target is looming.  I'm pleased to be able to share an exclusive extract from the book

>September 1947
The boy’s face had started to open – but it twitched with every movement Sylvie made.   

‘It’s not normal,’ Gerald said, looking up from his paper. Sylvie wrung out the milk from the cloth and took in a breath. So the boy had knocked his milk over. So what. 
‘It was an accident,’ she said, thankful the constriction in her throat kept her voice from transgressing the careful volume she tried to preserve since the boy had arrived. 
‘Funny how we keep having the same accident every morning,’ Gerald went on, flicking another page without reading it. ‘We’ll have to do something about it – and the way his eyes keep following you –’ 
‘No they don’t –’ 
‘Because that certainly isn’t normal.’ 
‘Oh for goodness sake,’ Sylvie said, dropping the cloth as her voice breached the limit she’d set. She turned round and felt the glassy black tremor catch her. ‘Go and sit with Harry,’ she said – but only his eyes moved, their sudden light tracking Sylvie’s face, hands, steps. 
‘Arthur,’ Gerald began, maintaining an even tone. ‘Arthur, look at me when I’m talking to you.’ The boy had been with them for almost three months but he still wouldn’t answer to the name he’d been given – according to Gerald he never answered to anything at all. He smacked his hands over his ears and ducked behind the sofa. 
Sylvie’s eyes flicked at Gerald, clamping his mouth over a livid What! Gerald pushed the paper aside and wrenched Arthur upright. This was not the way for
a proper little Englishman to behave. The rigid body looked tiny in Gerald’s grip and it was a moment before it jerked like a caught fish. 
‘Please Gerald,’ Sylvie sent her whisper through hesitant lips, saving what quiet she could. 
The boy seemed to hear gunshots going off in his head at the slightest sound, shrivelling him just as Sylvie felt sure he was at last becoming life-size. Gerald had been saying he had to wonder if the boy they’d taken in wasn’t the runt of an abandoned litter, couldn’t tell if it would yelp or flee. 
Runt or not, he was Arthur – or would be – Sylvie couldn’t look at the eyes flashing out of the crushed bundle she took out of Gerald’s hands into her own. They weren’t the boy’s eyes, they were the eyes of his dead mother: she looked out of them, asking how Sylvie could have stolen her child – she hadn’t – the boy’s mother had to understand – it was Sylvie’s child who had been stolen – but for a twig-baby and a scattering of buds, she hadn’t even been able to touch his death. 
Arthur, Sylvie mouthed. 
So small, so dark, so quiet. But there was the defiant pulse of survival in that quietness, a vigilance that had held its breath. 
Twice hidden – was that what she had been told? Told or imagined? The voice that would have spoken to her had faded, perhaps no one had spoken at all – at least no more than to explain the child would be sent on what amounted to a ‘sale or return’ basis. Always fresh horror on the wireless and in the paper, muddled too soon with her Thursday nightmare: a twig baby, the token gesture of buds; buds white bled red by all the mind had to keep finding new ways to shield itself from. 
No one could confirm what little information she’d been given about the child she was learning to hold in her arms: mother presumed shot…nationality: doubtful… or was it uncertain, she’d slowly erased the those few
details along with the name printed on the document, inserting Arthur in its place. 
The one voice that had stayed clear was one on the home service, so clear still – she was holding Harry and she’d turned it on just to hear something beyond them and their tiny airless world – it was a soldier’s, his accent northern, yes, and his voice was barely holding, saying how he’d uncovered the blackened face of a baby and a woman had begged him for milk and he’d given her milk and she’d run, staggered, fallen. 
Sylvie folded the boy in towards her, taking in the warmth she meant to give. Mother presumed shot…Sylvie watched the woman who would never hold her child, but there was no face – only two blind voids puncturing a mask of skin fitted to a skull. Her own Arthur’s eyes were the only ones to flash – seeing Sylvie holding this strange small darkness, seeing himself replaced. Mrs Cohen would never do that. She would go on waiting for the post that would never come. 
‘Well now, who’s this smart young man?’ Mrs Cohen had asked, coming to the end of her lawn as Sylvie came back with the boys from their first Thursday at the park. 
They hadn’t really spoken these past couple of years, not since London lit up and Sylvie’s world went dark. Mrs Cohen wouldn’t let her world go dark though. Sylvie had asked Arthur to tell the nice lady his name but he dropped to the ground and tied his arms round her legs. Harry shouted his name across. 
Mrs Cohen laughed, ‘Well how do you do Mr Harry?’ 
‘Sorry,’ Sylvie had said, ‘Arthur’s a bit of a shy one.’ It took a moment for Mrs Cohen to connect the name with the boy. 
Mrs Cohen came towards them but stopped at the curb, ‘I think that’s a marvellous name!’ she said. Her voice was too loud, her intonation too buoyant. ‘I think that’s just…as it should be. Do come in for a little something.’ 
‘Thank you but we can’t stop,’ Sylvie had said, prizing Arthur from her leg so she could get Harry before he trundled to Mrs Cohen’s gate. 
Harry shouted his name again. 
‘Goodbye for now Mr Harry.’
Mrs Cohen stepped back and went on waiting.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Fox Hunter by Zoe Sharp #BlogTour @authorzoesharp @wwnortonUK #MyLifeInBooks

 Now she doesn't have a choice Her boss Sean Meyer is missing in Iraq, where one of those men was working as a private security contractor.

When the man's butchered body is discovered, Charlie fears that Sean may be pursuing a twisted vendetta on her behalf Charlie's "close protection" agency in New York needs this dealt with--fast and quiet--before everything they've worked for goes to ruins.

They send Charlie to the Middle East with very specific instructions: Find Sean Meyer and stop him--by whatever means necessary At one time Charlie thought she knew Sean better than she knew herself, but it seems he's turned into a violent stranger. Always ruthless, is he really capable of such savage acts of slaughter

As the trail grows ever more bloody, Charlie realizes that she is not the only one after Sean and, unless she can get to him first, the hunter may soon become the hunted.

Fox Hunter by Zoe Sharp was published on 11 October 2017 by WW Norton & Co. I am really pleased to welcome the author here to Random Things today, as part of the Blog Tour for Fox Hunter. She's talking about the books that have inspired her in My Life In Books.

My Life In Books ~ Zoe Sharp

The first books I can remember clearly were the small, beautifully illustrated hardbacks of Beatrix Potter stories, which my grandmother used to read to me when I was very small. She read them so often I knew them by heart, and could even turn the pages in the correct places. It was thanks to The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies that I first came across the word soporific. I have been a logophile ever since.

Once I was reading on my own account, the book that stands out for me is Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, the eponymous story of a horse from foal to being put out to grass at the end of his working life. Written in 1899, and published only a few months before the author’s death, the book had a profound effect on the attitude towards working horses in England, even bringing about a change in the laws concerned with their welfare.

The next author who really sticks in my mind is Laurie Lee and Cider With Rosie, but also his book of short stories, I Can’t Stay Long. Both contain some of the most descriptive and lyrical writing I’ve ever encountered.
It wasn’t long before the crime genre grabbed me, in the form of  The Misfortunes of Mr Teal by Leslie Charteris. In 1979, my grandmother passed onto me the faded pink hardcover copy which she herself had been given in 1941. It remains one of my most treasured possessions. I loved the debonair attitude of the lead character, Simon Templar, the Saint, who flouted the law with gay abandon (in the 1920s sense of the phrase) and the fact that his girlfriend, Patricia Holm, played a full role in proceedings.

Of the classic Golden Age crime novels, I devoured all the Sherlock Holmes tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for the pure intricate puzzles contained in the stories. And I particularly liked the partnership of Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey with his faithful manservant, Bunter. Have His Carcase remains one of my favourites, as does Murder Must Advertise.
I read most of the PD James novels featuring both the private detective, Cordelia Gray, and police commander and poet, Adam Dalgliesh, but as is so often the case, it’s the ones I read first that I remember best—An Unsuitable JobFor A Woman and Cover Her Face. Her writing always came across as very literate and unsentimental, and the depth of her characterisation still lingers.

I first met Val McDermid at one of her early writing events in Lancaster, when she was reading from her Kate Brannigan private detective novel Crack Down. I still like the robust character of Brannigan, and followed Val quite happily into the darker territory of the clinical psychologist, Tony Hill novels such as The Mermaids Singing.

Then of course, there is the inimitable Lee Child and the Jack Reacher novels. I think Tripwire and Persuader are among my favourites, but every book has something to recommend it. His style is brief but filled with those compulsive facts that you squirrel away for some future use. Addictive reading.

I think I own just about every Spenser novel by Robert B Parker and have read most of them more than once. His narrative is a masterclass in spare, descriptive prose, and his dialogue speaks for itself.

When it comes to intricate characterisation and a depth of historical knowledge effortlessly expressed, I reach for the novels of John Lawton. He writes two series, one featuring Inspector Frederick Troy, and the other, spy Joe Wilderness—a working-class ex-thief plucked from National Service because of a facility with languages and a willingness to do Her Majesty’s dirty work. Each series has endless appeal, and a joyous clutch of side characters making memorable cameo appearances.

Of the books and authors I’ve read recently, I’ve been very impressed by Harry Bingham’s Talking To The Dead, featuring Cardiff Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, who takes the flawed protagonist to a whole new level. And I loved the premise and the style of Susan Wolfe’s Escape Velocity, which has the daughter of a convicted conman, Georgia Griffin, utilising the skills she learned from her father to resolve the problems she encounters trying to go straight in corrupt corporate America.

Zoë Sharp has been a voracious reader since she could hold a book. 
She wrote her first (unpublished) full-length novel at fifteen. 
Her award-winning writing has inspired death-threats, been used in Danish school textbooks, and been the subject of an original song and music video. 

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @authorzoesharp

Monday, 16 October 2017

Yellow Room by Shelan Rodger @ShelanRodger @DomePress #BlogTour #YellowRoom

Haunted by a tragic childhood accident, Chala's whole life has been moulded by guilt and secrets. 
After the death of the stepfather she adored, Chala is thrown into turmoil once again. 
Volunteering in Kenya seems to offer an escape, and a way of re-evaluating her adult relationships, although violence and hardship simmer alongside its richness and beauty. 
The secrets of the Yellow Room are still with her and she can't run away forever...

Yellow Room by Shelan Rodger was published in paperback by Dome Press on 5 October 2017. I'm a huge fan of this author and originally read Yellow Room a few years ago.

Here's a snippet from my review;

"The opening chapter of Yellow Room left me breathless. It is shocking and unexpected and underpins the whole of Shelan Rodger's immaculately written story of dark family secrets and how they can shape a future.
The opening chapter of Yellow Room left me breathless. It is shocking and unexpected and underpins the whole of Shelan Rodger's immaculately written story of dark family secrets and how they can shape a future."

I'm really happy to welcome the author, Shelan Rodger here to Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour for Dome Press.  She's talking about the books that have inspired her in My Life In Books.

My Life In Books ~ Shelan Rodger

If my life were a library, you would wander in the childhood section past various titles by Dr Seuss and Lewis Carroll, past Arthur Ransome’s Swallow and Amazon series, C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, Gerald Durrell’s Rosy is My Relative, Richard Adam’s Watership Down.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird would mark the transition from childhood into adolescence and young adulthood: here you would find shelves stacked with titles, among others, by Jane Austen, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, Federico Garcia Lorca, Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, Aldous Huxley, Franz Kafka, John Fowles, Laurens Van Der Post, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, P.G Wodehouse – and poetry, lots of poetry!

Charles Baudelaire and Pablo Neruda were university soulmates, who are with me still. And your journey through the last 30 years of my library would be rambling, eclectic, chaotic – but joyful!

All of which makes the challenge of selecting just a handful of books that somehow say something about my life a little daunting. But fascinating too – it feels a bit like Desert Island Discs with books instead of tunes. I decided to give myself about one minute and just jot down the first books that came into my head without thinking. I invite you to try it! This was the list I scribbled:

The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell
The Magus, John Fowles
Uncle Fred in the Spring Time, PG Wodehoouse
Walkabout Thought, Cruden Rodger
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
West with the Night, Beryl Markham
The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Mark Haddon
Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki
The Zanzibar Chest, Aidan Hartley

I stopped myself from scribbling any more, and then drew a censorial line half way through the list, which left me with 8 books to say something about here.

The Alexandria Quartet, which I read in my early twenties, was quite simply the book I would love to
have written. I grew up with a fascination around different perspectives and interpretations – no doubt partly as a result of living in different cultures (born in Africa, childhood in an aboriginal community on an Australian island, adolescence in the UK), so the whole notion of the same story told in different books from the perspective of the different characters absolutely blew me away.

Changing perspective was at the heart of what fascinated me too about The Magus, which I also read very young. I loved the play between fact and fiction and the idea that nothing is ever what it seems. I loved the eroticism too!

Uncle Fred in the Spring Time – well this could have been any number of the P.G. Wodehouse novels of course, but there was something deliciously quirky about this one which just had me in stitches the first time I read it and still does. I would definitely take this one with me to a desert island to help me keep laughing.
Just now I opened and the quote of the day is: “She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and forgotten to say ‘when’.” That says it all I think!

Walkabout Thought – this one is very personal and you won’t find it in print any more. It was a work of non-fiction by my father, which basically sums up a lifetime of unconventional thought. The title plays on the aboriginal tradition of going walkabout – a ritual act of
reconnecting and self-discovery alone in the wilderness of the Australian bush. I was very close to my father and my wanders through the holistic maze of his worldview simply make me feel grounded.

Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones is a book that lingered with me long after I finished it. I loved the starkness and simplicity of its language and the almost transcendent way she enables you to engage with an appalling subject matter (the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl); how she manages to convey the horror but also a sense of redemption, something beautiful and uplifting from the very ashes of what happened. I am aware of something in my own writing that aspires to use language in a similar way. And I am also very sensitive to the attempt to create something transformative out of such negative subject matter, having been sexually abused as a child myself.

One of the things that fascinates me about The Unbearable Lightness of Being is that the first time I read it in my twenties I just didn’t get what all the fuss was about, but the second time I read it, in my forties, I responded completely differently. The search for identity and the way a sense of belonging can be bound up with place and culture, the serendipitous irrevocability of the choices we make, which end up creating our notion of who we are – these are all elements that haunt me and my writing. I even once designed a leadership workshop with the title borrowed from this book!

West with the Night, by Beryl Markham, is a significant book for me for a number of reasons. It is the memoir of a woman who grew up in Kenya, a country with which I have a strong emotional connection. (My father grew up and is buried there, my mother still lives there, and I have also lived there for some years.) Beryl Markham first succeeded as a horse trainer in a man’s world and then became the first woman in Kenya to get a commercial pilot’s licence. The title refers to the mind-boggling solo trip she did, piloting her tiny plane across the Atlantic from England and crash landing in Nova Scotia twenty-one and a half hours later. The writing is raw, evocative and lyrical, her love of Africa and passion for adventure shine, her achievements are fierce and brave, she broke boundaries in a man’s world without any pretense to feminism… and yet the woman, the real personality behind the words remain a mystery and rumours still abound that the book was actually ghost written by her third husband. I love the ambiguity of this extra layer that hangs around the writing – but regardless of who really wrote it, I admire both the ‘balls’ of the woman who flew solo across the Atlantic in 1936 and the power of the language that evokes her journey.

So, the last book in my censored list is a work of non-fiction called The Happiness Hypothesis, written by a psychologist who looks at ancient wisdom and philosophy through the lens of modern science and draws some fascinating conclusions about the human condition. It is a book I love to go back to. Every one of us is a rider on an elephant. You need to read the book to get under the skin of that relationship but it is certainly one that I identify with!

And it was the elephant in me, at the end of the day, who singled out those titles to talk about among the myriad of books that have been written or are yet to be written, which would all be in my library ‘had I but world enough, and time…

Shelan Rodger ~ October 2017

In the author's own words - taken from
Born in Nigeria, I grew up among an aboriginal community on the Tiwi Islands north of Australia, and moved to England at the age of eleven. After graduating in Modern Languages from Oxford, I spent nine years in Argentina, followed by a chapter in the UK and then six years on flower farms in Kenya, before moving to Spain, where I live in an Andalucían village that was once a gold mine.
My professional career has revolved around international education and learning & development. My unprofessional career began at the age of nine with the unsolicited launch of ‘The Family Magazine’-  and has continued as quirkily ever since.
I care about tolerance, wilderness, and open doors.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley @panmacmillan #TheSevenSisters

CeCe D’Aplièse has never felt she fitted in anywhere. Following the death of her father, the elusive billionaire Pa Salt – so-called by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe and named after the Seven Sisters star cluster – she finds herself at breaking point. Dropping out of art college, CeCe watches as Star, her beloved sister, distances herself to follow her new love, leaving her completely alone.
In desperation, she decides to flee England and discover her past; the only clues she has are a black-and-white photograph and the name of a woman pioneer who lived in Australia over one hundred years ago. En-route to Sydney, CeCe heads to the one place she has ever felt close to being herself: the stunning beaches of Krabi, Thailand. There amongst the backpackers, she meets the mysterious Ace, a man as lonely as she is and whom she subsequently realizes has a secret to hide . . .
A hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, daughter of an Edinburgh clergyman, is given the opportunity to travel to Australia as the companion of the wealthy Mrs McCrombie. In Adelaide, her fate becomes entwined with Mrs McCrombie’s family, including the identical, yet very different, twin brothers: impetuous Drummond, and ambitious Andrew, the heir to a pearling fortune.
When CeCe finally reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, she begins the search for her past. As something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, her creativity reawakens once more. With help from those she meets on her journey, CeCe begins to believe that this wild, vast continent could offer her something she never thought possible: a sense of belonging, and a home . . .

The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley is published in hardback by Pan Macmillan on 2 November 2017 and is the fourth book in the number one international bestselling Seven Sisters series. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I've been reading and blogging about Lucinda Riley's books ever since I started Random Things. I am a huge fan of her books and her Seven Sisters series absolutely wonderful.  I am completely in awe of her, she has produced one book per year for the past four years and each one is detailed, so well researched and totally gripping. I've been looking forward to reading CeCe's story, and I wasn't disappointed. It's fabulous, it's a huge book, just like the others, but I tore through it and really could hardly bear to put it down.

The Pearl Sister accompanied me on my recent holiday to Croatia, and was the perfect travelling companion. The flight passed in a jiffy as I was totally immersed in the story of CeCe.

CeCe D'Apliese and her sisters were all adopted as tiny babies. Their adoptive father; Pa Salt, was an extremely wealthy businessman, and they were brought up in luxury at his home in Switzerland. Pa Salt was unmarried and his housekeeper; Ma, became the mother figure in their lives.

When Pa Salt died suddenly, his daughters were all distraught, but he left them their own personal legacy. Each of them were given a set of co-ordinates which told them where they were born, and each of them had an individual letter with clues to their past.

CeCe's letter led her to Australia, a place that she'd always avoided visiting before, mainly due to her fear of bugs and insects. CeCe and her sister Star were always very close, but since Star discovered her own heritage and fell in love, CeCe has felt abandoned. Her decision to fly to Australia will change her life. Whilst there, she meets the mysterious Ace; a man who clearly has secrets, but makes her feel so very special. When Ace presents her with a book that details the life of Kitty McBride from a century ago, and is somehow connected to her, the story really begins to take off.

Once more, Lucinda Riley has written a story that both entralls and mesmerises the reader. Her incredible eye for detail and her wonderfully well researched characters are a joy to read. She has the ability to weave the modern and the historical settings together so finely, there's not a crack to be found in either the plot or the pacing.

The Pearl Sister is absolutely wonderful, I really do think that the series gets better and better with each book and my only sorrow is that I have to wait another year for the next instalment!

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, has now sold more than 10 million copies of her books worldwide in 30 languages and is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.

Lucinda wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her novel Hothouse Flowers (also called The Orchid House) was selected by the UK's Richard and Judy Book Club in 2011.
The Seven Sisters, a seven-book series, tells the story of adopted sisters and based allegorically on the mythology of the famous star constellation. Book 1, The Seven Sisters, and Book 2, The Storm Sister, have been No. 1 bestsellers in Europe. The Storm Sister has been nominated for the prestigious Premio Bancarella literary prize in Italy. 

To read about Lucinda's inspiration behind The Seven Sisters, please visit

Lucinda is also rewriting and releasing a number of books originally published when writing under her maiden name of Lucinda Edmonds, including The Olive Tree, The Italian Girl, The Angel Tree and in 2017, The Love Letter.

Lucinda lives with her husband and four children in England and West Cork, Ireland.

For more information visit
Follow her on Twitter @lucindariley  


When buying ‘The Seven Sisters’ charm bracelet, you will not only be the proud owner of a beautiful, sterling silver item of jewellery, but you will also be buying a child a meal every day for a year whilst they attend school.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks #BlogTour #Snare #ReykjavikNoir

A stunning thriller the first in the Reykjavik Noir series - by bestselling Icelandic crime writer, with an unforgettable lesbian protagonist. 

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavik still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir was published by Orenda Books in paperback on 1 October 2017, and is translated by Quentin Bates.

Join me in welcoming author Lilja Sigurdardottir to Random Things today, she's talking about the books that have inspired her in My Life In Books:

My Life In Books ~ Lilja Sigurdardottir

Being told a story is one of the best things in the world. 

Most children seem to think so and I was no different. Before I could read myself I made really good use of the family´s blue gramophone that came in a portable box, so it looked like a suitcase when we travelled with it. 
My ambition for self-sufficiency regarding consumption of stories at that time was being able to turn the record around when one side finished. But my mother would not let me, as she said that there was danger that the needle could scratch the record, so I didn´t dare attempt it as I did not want these precious records scratched. 

I listened to all of Norwegian playwright Thorbjörn Egner’s plays for children, which have since become classic and belong to the best of Nordic children´s literature. 

Swedish Astrid Lindgren also kicked in through the gramophone, as I was given a record with a musical version of one of her books for Christmas.

Astrid Lindgren´s Icelandic counterpart Guðrún Helgadóttir became a favourite as soon as I started to read myself. The tale of the mischievous twins Jón Oddur and Jón Bjarni had everything a good story has to have, drama, humour and thrill.

On to Enid Blyton. My mother had the whole collection and I ate up the Adventure Series, as well as the Adventurous Four. Even if those books were already old fashioned at the time, I enjoyed the stories of children solving mysteries and catching bad guys.

My father made me reading lists from the age of ten and those lists consisted of the world’s major writers. Steinbeck, Faulkner, Hemingway and Graham Greene were on those lists, along with Kafka and Marx, of course … my father being himself. 

I remember a collection of short stories (Fourteen Stories) I got for Christmas by Pearl S. Buck that impacted me deeply. The exoticism of China she wrote about and the way you could see into the characters´ heads seemed almost magical to me.

South American literature was a big part of my adolescence and Isabel Allende has always been a favourite author of mine. Her House of the Spirits is a wonderful book, which I love to this day. It´s one of those books that become a part of you, almost like the story is engraved in your own life memories.

Icelandic Halldór Laxness, Iceland´s only Nobel laureate, had had a strong influence on me. I read his Independent People for the first time when I was fifteen and living in Spain, and it filled me with love for Iceland and its people. I would recommend The Fish Can Sing for anyone who wants to get to know him. It is pretty close to a perfectly built novel.

The Codex Regius of the Elder Edda is Iceland´s old religion, equivalent to the Bible. It is a constant source of inspiration and guidance to me and one of those books that warms my heart when I think of it.

Now I read almost only crime fiction, as it is my main passion, and unfortunately, like many authors, I find it difficult to read much while I´m writing, so I don´t read as much anymore as I would like to. The last crime novel I read that really blew me away was The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker. If you haven´t read it, you must.

Lilja Sigurdardottir ~ October 2017

Please check out the rest of the Blog Tour, for reviews, interviews and guest posts

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide.   The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @lilja1972

Quentin Bates was born in England and through a series of conincidences found himself working in Iceland for his gap year. One year turned into ten, plus a wife and children. After ten years writing on the sea and a move back to the UK, Quentin took to dry land and began work as a nautical journalist and editor of a commercial fishing magazine.
He divides his time between Iceland and England.
The Gunnhildur Gisladottir series was born through the author's own inside knowledge of Iceland, and its society, along with exploring the world of crime.

Find out more about the author and his writing at
Follow him on Twitter @graskeggur

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler @Peculiar @QuercusBooks @riverrunbooks

Absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you're dead.So begins Christopher Fowler's foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from our shelves.   Whether male or female, domestic or international, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega-seller or prize-winner - no author, it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. And Fowler, as well as remembering their careers, lifts the lid on their lives, and why they often stopped writing or disappeared from the public eye.
These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favourites: including the now-vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, and the women who introduced us to psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world.
This is a book about books and their authors. It is for book lovers, and is written by one who could not be a more enthusiastic, enlightening and entertaining guide.

Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler, published by Quercus / Riverrun Books in hardback on 5 October 2017.   My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Praise for The Book of Forgotten Authors

'A real gem, filled with old favourites and new discoveries, and written in a light, snappy, erudite tone, as satisfying as a full English breakfast at your local art-house cafe.'  JOANNE HARRIS

'A joyous saunter through the lives and words of yesterday's big names. Readers will love this fascinating book. Writers, too, though it reminds us of our likely fate.' CATHY RENTZENBRINK

'Christopher Fowler's cherisable book is as quirky and mesmerising as one of his novels; his detailed, loving excavation of a slew of unjustly neglected writers will have the inevitable effect of sending readers in search of these intriguimg lost names.'  BARRY FORSHAW

I'm delighted to welcome Christopher Fowler here to Random Things today, he's talking about the books that are special to him and have made a lasting impression on his life in My Life In Books.

My Life In Books ~ Christopher Fowler

A list of my favourite unforgotten authors would be frighteningly long, starting with Dickens moving through Mervyn Peake and JG Ballard, up to many living ones, so here are some lesser known writers whose works I've enjoyed.

For several years I’ve been running a column called ‘Invisible Ink’ in the Independent about authors who wrote the popular books which have vanished from bookshelves. Here are ten of my favourites.

Margaret Forrest
She wrote three novels, including the terrifying ‘Here: Away From It All’, then vanished. Her real name, it transpired, was Polly Hope, and she gave up because she was busy designing the Globe Theatre with her husband.

Nicholas Monsarrat
He wrote The Cruel Sea and many other excellent naval dramas, but controversy followed with ‘The Story Of Esther Costello’ about TV evangelism and fundraising; it upset the teaching staff surrounding the blind Helen Keller, who felt that its criticisms were levelled at them.

R Austin Freeman
He should have become as famous as Conan Doyle. His detective, Dr Thorndyke, a barrister and man of medicine who, armed with his little green case of detection aids, sets out to solve impossible puzzles, is as good as Sherlock Holmes, although he tends more toward the scientific.

Alexander Baron
His epic novel of Edwardian Jewish gangs, ‘King Dido’, remains a personal favourite; here is a tale that outlines, with infinite care, the causal link between poverty and crime. Its final pages are utterly heartbreaking. It’s one of the greatest and least read novels about London ever written.

JB Priestley
Surprisingly unread these days, ‘Angel Pavement’ is a detailed portrait of London seen by the employees of a veneer company, when the genteel firm is wrecked by a tough new employee. It's moving, funny, and weirdly modern.

James Hadley Chase
No Orchids For Miss Blandish’ was a tale of kidnap and rape that caused controversy and became a smashing success. A genuine one-sitting page-turner, it was unlike anything that had been published by an English author before, packed with surprises, non-explicit sex and violence.

Rachel Ingalls
She wrote novellas, a format which has fallen from fashion, but tales like Mrs Caliban pack a real punch. She’s been named one of the 20th century’s greatest writers but no-one I know has heard of her.

Hans Fallada
His life was even more disastrous and extraordinary than his books. 'Wolf Among Wolves' is considered his masterwork, but as an entry point try ‘Alone In Berlin’, a true story about an apartment building during WWII.

Dennis Wheatley
He went from crime and historical novels to tales of the supernatural before The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult’ was hugely popular in its time, and Hammer adapted his work, their best being The Devil Rides Out.
Churchill asked him to work out what the Germans were up to…another author whose real life you couldn’t make up. ‘

Gladys Mitchell
Gladys Mitchell’s detective Mrs Bradley was a wizened crone who tested the constraints of the murder genre by pushing them to breaking point. Like the more successful Miss Marple she provided insights into the cases the police overlooked. Unlike Miss Marple she could be a real bitch

Christopher Fowler ~ October 2017 

100. A typical example of the late 20th century midlist author, Christopher Fowler wa born in the less attractive part of Greenwich in 1953, the son of a scientist and a legal secretary. He went to a London Guild school, Colfe's, where, avoiding rugby by hiding the school library, he was able to begin plagiarising in earnest.
He published his first novel, Roofworld, described as 'unclassifiable', while working as an advertising copywriter. 
He left to form The Creative Partnership, a company that changed the face of film marketing, and spent many years working in film, creating movie posters, tag lines, trailers and documentaries, using his friendship with Jude Law to get into nightclubs.

During this time Fowler achieved several pathetic schoolboy fantasies, releasing an appalling Christmas pop single, becoming a male model, posing as the villain in a Batman comic, creating a stage show, writing rubbish in Hollywood, running a night club, appearing in the Pan Books of Horror and standing in for James Bond.

Now the author of over forty novels and short story collections, including his award winning memoir Paperboy and its sequel Film Freak, he writes the Bryant & May mystery novels, recording the adventures of two Golden Age detectives in modern-day London.

In 2015 he won the CWA Dagger In The Library award for his detective series, once described by his former publisher as 'unsaleable'.

Fowler is still alive and one day plans to realise his ambition to become a Forgotten Author himself.


"Books have the power to calm, enlighten and energise, but it seems to me that of all the arts hey are at the most risk. The easiest way to make reading effortless is to make books a habit, so that they become a retreat, a sanctuary, a call to arms. The works of even the most obscure authors are still out there somewhere, and thanks to the dedication of publishers, collectors, sellers and readers, they are once more being found and enjoyed again.

Follow Christopher on Twitter @Peculiar
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