Published by Doubleday/Transworld

ebook & hardback : 23 March 2017     |   paperback :  10 August 2017

 

 

Sparkling cocktails, poisonous secrets … 1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day. But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own. By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

 

Set on a cruise liner, the ‘Orontes’ in 1939, just before the outbreak of WW2, A Dangerous Crossing follows young Lily Shepherd as she travels on her own (albeit under the guidance of a chaperone) to a new life in Australia. She is on an assisted passage scheme, paid for by the Government to encourage people to settle in Australia. She is expecting to find domestic work there but also hopes to leave tragedy and heartbreak behind her, the details of which become clear.

There are a myriad of fellow passengers that she encounters – some pleasant, others hateful but many of them seem to be running away from secrets or scandal and in some cases themselves – brother and sister Helena and Edward Fletcher; wealthy couple Max and Eliza Campbell. A Jewish woman, Maria who was anxiously waiting for news of her family left behind in Poland and facing possible incarceration in the concentration camps; the bitter and mean minded Ida, who unfortunately Lily has to share a cabin with.

Although we know from the very beginning that someone has been arrested and led from the ship in handcuffs once it has docked in Sydney, this is not a fast paced read. Just like the 5 weeks it takes to get from Tilbury to Australia, this story is more of a journey. A character study of people with different backgrounds all thrown together and living in their own bubble whilst in the confines of the claustrophobic atmosphere of the ship. People whose social status was such that they would not normally mix with the likes of Lily.

As soon as I saw the cover of this book I wanted to read it. It has a wonderful Art Deco/Agatha Christie look about it. Also I love cruise ships and stories set on cruise ships so for me this was a win win! The author, Rachel Rhys, is the pseudonym of a thriller writer that I am a huge fan of so that I knew I that I would be in safe hands. (It’s now no secret that the thriller writer is the respected Tammy Cohen). It’s a complete departure from her usual novels but I loved it and completely immersed myself in the time spent on board and on land with Lily and her fellow passengers.  The long days of life onboard and the descriptive prose of time spent ashore makes for a captivating read. You really get a feel for the decadence and glamour enjoyed by the first class passengers, and a comparison with that of the facilities available for the less wealthy passengers.

Lily is still young enough to have her head turned by attention from those in the upper social classes and doesn’t always have the foresight to see that she is being used. Not completely sure of her place, she often comes across as naive and gullible but she mostly has a good heart, although there was one part of the story when I was really disappointed with her although to be fair, I think Lily was just as disappointed in herself.

“It’s not that I don’t like them. I just think they’re damaged. And damaged people are dangerous people”.

Reading A Dangerous Crossing is rather like watching an accident in slow motion. You are just waiting for the impact and the feeling of foreboding intensifies as the story proceeds but you are powerless to intervene and can only watch and gasp at the events unfolding before you.

As a fan of historical fiction, A Dangerous Crossing really hit the spot for me – the clearly well researched and authentic detail, the sense of unease emanating from the behaviour of the characters, wondering what secrets some of them were hiding and, towards the end, the tension of watching people implode and show their true colours. All this is set against the backdrop of the threat of war.

I do so hope there is another historical fiction book from the pen of Rachel Rhys. This is clearly a change of direction that has absolutely worked. The author has revealed that although this is fiction, the story was inspired by a real life account of a 1930’s ocean voyage – further details of which can be seen in a blog post from the author here.

 

I received an ARC via the Amazon Vine review programme. However, I couldn’t resist buying the hardback copy, it really is a book of beauty – both with the dust jacket on and off.

 

and the forthcoming paperback cover is something rather special too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author:

RACHEL RHYS is the pen-name of a successful psychological suspense author. A Dangerous Crossing is her debut under this name and is inspired by a real life account of a 1930s ocean voyage. A Dangerous Crossing is due to be published around the world. Rachel Rhys lives in North London with her family.

Author Links:  Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon UK   | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Maze, a digital first imprint of Avon/Harper Collins and described as “Midsomer Murders meets The Great British Bake-Off in this foodie delight with murder at its heart” this book really appeals to this Midsomer Murder fan and I’m delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal.  I have already pre-ordered the download of this one and if you want to do likewise then its available to pre-order from Amazon UK for 99p, with a release date of 24 July for the ebook.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

The first murder happened while I was making meringues…

When Ben Hunter moves to become head chef at the Old Forge Café in the quiet village of Hampden Green, a tricky recipe for egg-based desserts isn’t the only thing he gets embroiled in. As he struggles with a whisk in his first week , he gets an unexpected visit from DI Slattery – there’s been a murder and he’s a suspect. Ben resolves to get to the bottom of the mystery, and he soon discovers that this sleepy Chilterns village is covering up a whole lot more than an appetite for sweet treats…

 

and now for the cover………

 

 

 

Published by Penguin/Viking

ebook & paperback : 29 June 2017

464 pages

 

 

Three little girls set off to school one sunny May morning.
Within an hour, one of them is dead.

Fifteen years later, Alison and Kitty are living separate lives. Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here, or her life before it.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that day.
And only another life will do…

 

I enjoyed Jane Corry’s previous book, My Husband’s Wife, but really feel that the bar has been raised with this latest release.

Told between two timelines, 2001 and from 2016 onwards, this is the story of Alison and Kitty, half-sisters but so very different in personality that they hardly seemed related at all. “Maybe it would be different if my sister was…..well, more sisterly.  But instead, Kitty was constantly scratchy or downright hostile.  It was like living with the school bully but never being able to swap classes”.  The cover shows the line “Three Little Girls. One good. One bad. One dead.” With a hook like that, how can you not be tempted.

Blood Sisters drew me in straight away. With the narrative told from the perspective of both sisters, you get a fully fleshed story and can empathise (or not) with the characters. I didn’t particularly like either sister although I didn’t have to to enjoy the story.  I felt that Alison was always holding something back – not being honest, and because of that I couldn’t really get on her side, whilst Kitty was still a little madam despite her disability. She may not have been able to articulate her thoughts out loud but she was very forthright and at times it was quite amusing knowing what she was actually thinking and watching others misinterpret.

This story focuses heavily on disability but it is done sensitively and with compassion. This aspect was so well written that it opened my eyes to how difficult communication and life in general can be, particularly for someone like Kitty. You also see how difficult it is for the families trying to cope both physically and emotionally.

Elder sister Alison is struggling to live on her wages from her art job at a local college so takes a second job at an open prison teaching art to the prisoners. Now this is where the author’s experience as a ‘writer in residence’ at a prison really shines through, both in the authentic detail of prison procedure and the actual dangers facing not only staff but inmates too, this may have been a lower category prison but it could still be dangerous. I always thought that open prisons housed prisoners convicted of white collar crime rather than murderers so this was a learning curve too.

Initially this is rather a slow burner of a book whilst you get to know the characters and their current circumstances but once the narrative starts to switch between the two timelines, the piecemeal reveal of what really happened all those years before will keep you gripped. There was one person that I had my doubts about and I almost did an air punch of satisfaction when I was proved (partly) right.

You may think you have worked out what happened but the author will throw in a little twist or curveball to create those doubts.  There was one part later on that I thought was a little too convenient and I was a bit sceptical but having said that, generally there is a superb sense of unease and anticipation running throughout the story.

Blood Sisters kept my attention from beginning to end and was a truly engrossing read. Definitely one to be recommended.

My thanks to Penguin for the paperback copy to review.

 

 

About the author:

credit Justine Stoddart

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist who has written regularly for numerous newspapers and magazines including The Daily Telegraph Weekend section, the Mail on Sunday and Woman. She has spent time working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men – an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her début thriller. ‘I love twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end! My husband says I’m a nightmare to watch dramas with as I love to work out who did it before the final revelation!’

Jane runs regular writing workshops and speaks at literary festivals all over the world, including The Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. Until her recent move to Devon, she was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University. She is also an associate member of the Royal Literary Fund.

 

Author Links:    Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads

Publication Date: 6th June 2017

 

Sophie Whittaker shared a terrifying secret. Hours later, she was dead.
Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked by the vicious murder of a teenage girl at a private party in the Kentish countryside.
A tangled web of dark secrets is exposed as twisted motives point to a history of greed and corruption within the tight-knit community.
Confronted by a growing number of suspects and her own enemies who are waging a vendetta against her, Kay makes a shocking discovery that will make her question her trust in everyone she knows.
One to Watch is a gripping murder mystery thriller, and the third in the Detective Kay Hunter series:

 

It’s a pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour launch celebrations for One to Watch, the third book in the Kay Hunter series.  For my turn today, I have a guest post from author Rachel Amphlett.

 

Years ago

I struggled to learn to write – I could read before I started school, but writing was a whole other matter. One of my early school reports, from about age 6 I think, stated “Rachel’s writing resembles a spider walking across a page” – I just couldn’t get the letters to stay on the lines! My excuse is that it was all enthusiasm, no finesse and I still have that enthusiasm when I write today – although I’m happy to confirm my handwriting has improved!

Family

It’s hard being so far away from family – they’ve all be so incredibly supportive of my writing journey. I had a brilliant childhood – I grew up in a small market town on the Berkshire/Wiltshire border and summer holidays were spent disappearing for hours on our bikes exploring the countryside around us, or hanging around with friends canoeing and mucking about on narrow boats on the canal that ran through our town. I know now that Mum and Dad struggled to make ends meet sometimes, but we never knew at the time – we were expected to pull our weight when it came to housework and the vegetable patch and things, but it really was a special time. I still write to my Grandad every month, who will be 97 in April – it’s through him and my parents that I got my love of reading at such an early age.

Work

My “normal” work pays the mortgage, but my passion is writing. I’m lucky enough that my writing has enabled me to drop to part-time now, and I do love the balance I have. My “normal” job enables me to come up for fresh air when I’ve been writing for three days straight, and I meet all sorts of interesting people that might spark an idea, so it’s not bad. I love that writing has become my main work – I’ve worked really hard over the past two years to get to where I am, and I continue to do so. I treat my writing like a business – right down to having quarterly business and marketing plans (with a production schedule I adhere to). Being a full-time writer is my ultimate goal and every year, I feel like I’m getting that much closer.

Hobbies

Apart from writing? I used to play lead guitar in rock/blues bands in my 20s and I’d like to get back into that sooner rather than later. If I can get my “normal” job down to three days a week, I’ve worked out that’ll give me time to pick up the guitar again – if I play, I want to be playing live, not in rehearsals. I miss the buzz of being in a band, although sometimes it used to be like herding cats!

Future

More writing, more books, more travel! I’d love to be in a position where my writing enables me to roam the world and have a nomadic lifestyle.

 

About the author:

Author bio: Rachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.
Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.
She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag in 2017

Other books in the Kay Hunter series:

1. SCARED TO DEATH
2. WILL TO LIVE
3. ONE TO WATCH
4. HELL TO PAY (out 2017)

Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon UK   | Goodreads

 

 

 

Published by Zaffre

ebook & Paperback: 20 April 2017

368 pages

 

THIS BOOKSHOP KEEPS MANY SECRETS . . .

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you.

Into her refuge – the York book emporium where she works – come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories.

Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can’t hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heartbreaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story?

It’s time to turn the pages of her past . . .

 

Having loved Stephanie’s last book, The Other Half of My Heart (reviewed here) I just knew I was in for a treat with this one – and the story is set around a book shop. What’s not to like!

Loveday Cardew hasn’t had the happiest of lives.  Until she met Archie, the owner of a second hand bookshop ‘Lost for Words’,  she had had a troubled life but she was a survivor and such an intriguing character.  Sometimes I felt so much sympathy for her, and at others she frustrated me with her stubborn and unmoving attitude.  I was however very fond of her and was desperately hoping that she would a find a happy ever after – in whatever form that would be.

Loveday’s story is told by way of different titled chapters – ‘History’ slowly reveals details of her childhood; ‘Crime’ tells of more recent events and ‘Poetry’ is in the present time and her experiences at a local poetry group.  All the differing strands come together to form a superbly rounded story which may tug at your heart strings – it certainly did mine.

The story hints at events in her past and I’m not going to reveal any of them here.  All I will say is that because of what has happened to her, Loveday has become a self-sufficient character, she doesn’t want to be beholden to anyone and can be rather prickly.  She keeps her secrets close and doesn’t trust easily, preferring to spend her time with books rather than people (I can understand that!).  Can Nathan, a local poet, be the one who can break down her self-imposed wall of self-protection– or is Loveday determined to avoid any emotional attachment at all costs?

There wouldn’t be a story without the characters but the bookshop is at the heart of it.  The irrepressible and eccentric Archie, who, underneath a gruff exterior has a heart of gold, some of my favourite scenes were with Archie and Loveday.  The quirky Melody, Loveday’s colleague at the bookshop, the very thoughtful Nathan.  There are other characters who didn’t bring out the best in me and the least said about them, the better!

Stephanie Butland always writes so beautifully, and her characters are so well rounded with distinct personalities and emotions.  The story moves back and forth in time, slowly revealing details of Loveday’s past whilst the reader follows Loveday through the present.  Between the pages you will find sadness, humour and even a little bit of mystery as Loveday tries to discover who is leaving books for her at the shop.

As soon as I started reading Lost for Words I knew I was going to love it, and I wasn’t disappointed.  If Loveday doesn’t steal  your heart, then I’m sure that Archie and his bookshop will!

My thanks to the publisher for the paperback copy to review.

 

About the author:

Stephanie Butland lives in Northumberland, close to the place where she grew up. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and loves being close to the sea. She’s thriving after cancer.

Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads