Published in ebook: 6 March 2017

106 pages

Source:  My own purchased copy

 

A letter. A photograph. A devastating truth.

When Gina Vincent receives a letter of condolence from a stranger following her mother’s death, a photograph slipped inside reveals a disturbing truth – everything she’s ever known is based on a lie. Shocked and disorientated, she engages genealogy detective Esme Quentin to help search for answers.

The trail leads to an isolated and abandoned property on the edge of Exmoor, once the home of a strict Victorian institution called The House of Mercy and its enigmatic founder, whose influence seems to linger still in the fabric of the derelict building.

As they dig deeper, Esme realises that the house itself hides a dark and chilling secret, one which must be exposed to unravel the mystery behind Gina’s past.

But someone is intent on keeping the secret hidden. Whatever it takes.

 

Having read (and very much enjoyed) the previous two full length Esme Quentin stories Blood-Tied and The Indelible Stain (both reviewed here on the blog), I just had to purchase this Esme short story. However, if you are new to this series, then this could quite easily be read as a standalone.

The main character in this story is not Esme, but Gina Vincent. Following the death of her mother, Gina has received some disturbing news which makes her question everything about her life and for her own piece of mind, she engages the help of Esme in trying to find the truth.

The author has combined her own interest and knowledge of genealogy to full effect in this series; this comes across so well in the character of Esme who makes the process of searching for one’s history sound so fascinating – and also useful for those wishing to do the same. Without being bogged down by detail, but with enough information to make the story interesting, Esme guides Gina towards possible avenues for information and helps her look for a resolution.

This is not just a story of family history but there is also an intriguing tale of historic shady dealings and possibly even murder. Although it didn’t take long to work out what the initial ‘secret’ was, the way the story unfolded and the twists that followed did make for an interesting read.

With moments of danger and suspense, this novella was a very enjoyable addition to the series, my only disappointment was that it wasn’t longer; the conclusion felt a little rushed but that’s only a minor point. I believe that there is a third full length Esme book in the pipeline which I am very much looking forward to reading.

At the time of writing this post, Death of a Cuckoo can be downloaded from Amazon UK for 99p

 

About the author:

Wendy Percival was born in the West Midlands and grew up in rural Worcestershire. She moved to North Devon in the 1980s to start her teaching career.

An impulse buy of Writing Magazine prompted her to start writing seriously and after winning a short story competition and having another story published she turned to full length fiction.

The time-honoured ‘box of old documents in the attic’ stirred her interest in genealogy and it was while researching her Shropshire roots that she was inspired to write the first Esme Quentin mystery, Blood-Tied.

Genealogy continues to intrigue her and its mysteries provide fodder for her family history blog (http://familyhistorysecrets.blogspot.com) as well as ideas for further novels.

 

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

 

 

Published by Century

ebook & Hardcover : 1 June 2017

 

What secrets would you kill to keep?

After her husband’s big promotion, Cece Solarin arrives in Brighton with their three children, ready to start afresh. But their new neighbourhood has a deadly secret.

Three weeks earlier, Yvonne, a very popular parent, was almost murdered in the grounds of the local school – the same school where Cece has unwittingly enrolled her children.

Already anxious about making friends when the parents seem so cliquey, Cece is now also worried about her children’s safety. By chance she meets Maxie, Anaya and Hazel, three very different school mothers who make her feel welcome and reassure her about her new life.

That is until Cece discovers the police believe one of her new friends tried to kill Yvonne. Reluctant to spy on her friends but determined to discover the truth, Cece must uncover the potential murderer before they strike again . . .

From the bestselling author of That Girl from Nowhere and When I Was Invisible comes a thrilling new novel that will have you questioning the line between right and wrong.

 

It’s been a while since I last read a Dorothy Koomson book – not because I don’t enjoy them, I do very much, but I guess there are just so many other books on the reading pile. When I saw this one on my Lovereading review list, I was sold on the synopsis and jumped at the chance to request a copy.

The Friend begins with Cece and her three children joining her husband Sol in Brighton. Sol had been living in Brighton on his own for the previous three months following his promotion and Cece is becoming increasingly concerned about their relationship so agrees to make the move from London. The children find adjusting to their new life a lot easier than Cece – she struggles to make new friends and feels rather isolated but when fellow school mums, Maxie, Hazel and Anaya take her under their wing, she is delighted. However the story takes a darker turn when she discovers that these three women were all friends with Yvonne, a mother who was recently attacked at the school and left in a coma. All three women are clearly hiding something – but do they have any connection to the attack on Yvonne.

A face from the past brings trouble for Cece and reluctantly she is forced to turn detective however what she discovers could end even the most longstanding of friendships, let alone fledging ones. It seemed that everyone is this story has secrets which if discovered could be devastating.

There are a lot of characters introduced all at once at the beginning and it did take me a little while to remember the parent/wife/husband relationship between them all. The story is told mainly in the present time but also with narratives from the past giving a more detailed picture of each of the main characters. Nobody comes out of this story that well, the men especially it seems – they generally range from the deceitful to the downright cruel. With each new revelation, my sympathies and alliances kept changing. None of our main characters are all that they seem which makes the story so intriguing.

It may have taken me a while to get to grips with the characters, but I have to say that it soon turned into one of those reads that I couldn’t put down. The characterisation is superb with Cece being a firm favourite of mine; she was probably one of the strongest characters, both in presence and personality and didn’t take any nonsense from anyone.  Sol often found himself facing her wrath (and in my opinion quite deservedly so).

You may think you know your friends but do you really? Do you know everything about their background? Unless you were lifelong friends, you would only know what they chose to tell you.

When I first started reading this, the book that immediately sprang to mind was ‘Little Lies’ by Liane Moriarty (reviewed here on the blog). Obviously the detail of the stories are not the same but the overall premise – the school setting, the cliquey mothers at the school gate, the drama and suspense element; if you enjoyed that book then I would recommend this one – and, even if you haven’t, I would still recommend The Friend just because it’s such a good read.

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

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I wrote my first (unpublished) novel when I was 13 – and I’ve been making up stories ever since.

After finishing my masters degree, I had several temping jobs before getting my big break in journalism working on small newspaper. In the evenings I continued to write fiction and in 2001 I had the idea for The Cupid Effect. Two years later it hit the shelves and my career as a published novelist began.

In 2006 my third novel, My Best Friend’s Girl, was published and was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads Book Club – going on to sell over 500,000 copies. To date I’ve written six bestseller list books, and they have been translated into 28 languages across the world.

I live near Brighton and am currently working on another book and a screenplay.

 

 

Author website  |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |  Amazon UK   |   Goodreads

 

 

 

The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting – perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

 

Just For the Holidays was published by Avon in both ebook and paperback on 18 May 2017.  You may have seen my guest post recently for the Just For the Holidays blog tour, where Sue Moorcroft wrote about her  *ahem* challenging start to a holiday in France. (If you missed it, you can read it here).

A month long holiday in a gite in an idyllic part of France might be anyone’s idea of a perfect break. But not for our heroine Leah. Reluctantly persuaded to join a family holiday with her sister Michelle and her husband – whose marriage is in its death throes, plus their two young children, Leah goes along however its not quite the relaxing time that she envisaged.

Unexpected events mean that Leah goes from being ‘Cool Auntie’ to ‘Deputy Mum’ and for a thirty something singleton by choice who cherishes her independence, this is not what Leah signed up for. I did feel for her, I really did. The thought of being responsible for two quarrelsome teenagers would send me running for the hills, however Leah steps up to the mark admirably. Her cooking skills do help and win her some brownie points; her job as a chef/chocolatier enables her to rustle up a meal in a heartbeat and her chocolate distraction techniques save the day more than once. (Just a word of warning, with the amount of chocolate tasting and baking going on, you could find yourself raiding the kitchen cupboards!).  She has some unexpected distraction in the form of Ronan, the rather handsome next door neighbour and a helicopter pilot no less, who is recuperating following an accident. Ronan has his teenage son Curtis with him and whilst all three teenagers hang out together, they seem to be on a mission to stop Leah and Ronan doing the same!

Don’t get the impression that this is a fluffy rom com; although it is humorous, it has much more depth than that, covering more serious subjects as infidelity, pregnancy, bankruptcy but it also has just a little raunchiness to add to the romantic interest.

Sue Moorcroft has a talent for making her characters engaging or unlikeable (in this case, for me, there were both), but whichever, they are always completely believable and with storylines that reflect issues that could face any family. The family dynamics here are very well written as is the emotional turmoil and consequences that our characters have to deal with, particularly those affecting the children.

I liked Leah and full credit to her for just getting on with the job and for not bailing out but my favourite character was Ronan – mostly for the obvious reasons! To add to his apparent gorgeousness, he’s intelligent, fun, considerate but also very responsible. He has plenty of problems of his own to deal with and it transpires that a moody teenager turns out to be the least of his worries!

I always enjoy this author’s books and Just for the Holidays is no exception. It’s a perfect read to get you in the mood for a holiday, or just a perfect read at any time really. Sue Moorcroft takes her research very seriously and at the end of the book she describes her helicopter flight that includes a pretend crash. Now that’s dedication for you!

My thanks to the publisher Avon for the paperback copy to review together with a ‘grow your own sunflower’ box.  Not being a natural gardener, I’ve surprised myself with how well these have done over the last 3 weeks and I guess the time is soon coming when I will have to do something with them!

 

About the author:

Best-selling author Sue Moorcroft writes women’s contemporary fiction with sometimes unexpected themes. Her last book, The Christmas Promise, was published by Avon Books UK. It reached #1 in the UK Kindle chart and did well in mass market paperback both in the UK and in Germany (WinterZauberKüsse). Her next book, Just for the Holidays, will be published on 18 May 2017.

Sue has won the Best Romantic Read Award, been nominated for a RoNA and is a Katie Fforde Bursary winner. She also writes short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing ‘how to’.

An army child, Sue was born in Germany then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK. She’s worked in a bank, as a bookkeeper (probably a mistake), as a copytaker for Motor Cycle News and for a typesetter, but is pleased to have wriggled out of all ‘proper jobs’.

 

Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   | Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Newsletter Sign Up

 

Published by Sandstone Press

ebook & paperback: 20 April 2017

320 pages

Category: Literary Fiction

 

It’s a pleasure to be starting off the blog tour for Making Space.  I really wish I was able to fit this book into my reading schedule as I really do need to make space – for everything!  As I haven’t had time to read and review, I have a guest post on a subject which is almost too painful to mention – a book cull!

The Book Purge

by Sarah Tierney

Erik, one of the central characters in Making Space, is a book hoarder. And although I have never owned as many books as he does, I used to have far more than was sensible for someone living in a small room in a shared house.

At that time, I was working as a book reviewer and my favourite part of the job was opening the post: those padded A5 envelopes containing the latest novels and a press release. Shiny new books, all for me. The longer I had this job, the more I accumulated. I was in my twenties and moved house a lot, but I lugged them all, and all the magazines containing my reviews, from one place to the next, for years.

Boxes and boxes of them, up and down narrow stairways, cramming them into any space I could find in one rented room after another.

I didn’t read the books more than once. In time, I didn’t even want them. And I definitely didn’t want to be carrying them around for the rest of my life. But still, I didn’t get rid of them. They were mine, but more than that, they were me. They were what I did and who I was.

Until, one day, they weren’t. That day I took all the magazines to the Council tip and almost all the books to a second-hand bookshop, where I swapped them for credit which I spent on greetings cards. (If there was one thing I didn’t need in my life right then, it was more books.)

So what brought about that change? That sudden ability to look at the hundreds of books and magazines and say: No more. Be gone. Stop following me around every place I go.

It came with the end of a relationship which had also gone on too long. It had dominated my life for years, wearing me out emotionally, playing havoc with friendships and work, eventually leading me to move back in with my mum while I found somewhere to live.

‘You’ll leave when you leave,’ a friend had said to me when I was in that relationship, foreseeing that it was a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

I think you hold on to stuff until keeping it becomes harder than letting it go. And you don’t know when you’re going to reach that tipping point until it happens.

Leaving the relationship was hard but getting rid of the books and magazines wasn’t. Without even noticing it happen, I’d grown into a different person to the one who’d seen them as a part of who she was.

Now I can barely remember what books they were. I just know that they were heavy and burdensome and too much to keep carrying around.

I sometimes go into that shop and see books that used to be mine. I pick them up, put them down, then buy something else, usually just a postcard. Something small and light, and designed to be given away.

 

About the book:

‘Why do we hold onto things we don’t need?’

Miriam is twenty-nine: temping, living with a flatmate who is no longer a friend, and still trying to find her place in life. She falls in love with Erik after he employs her to clear out his paper-packed home. They are worlds apart: he is forty-five, a successful photographer and artist and an obsessive hoarder still haunted by the end of his marriage. Miriam has an unsuccessful love life and has just got rid of most of her belongings. Somehow, they must find a way to reach each other.

Follow the blog tour:

What others are saying:

‘A beautifully assured debut that is part love story, part psychological slow-burner. Tierney’s characters sing with a dark, sharp, tender realness. Combining exquisite descriptions with scalpel-sharp human insights, this is a book to languish in, and emerge from deeply moved. It marks the arrival of an elegant and thrilling new voice in literary fiction.’
-Emma Jane Unsworth

For a limited time only, Making Space is available to download from Amazon UK for £1.00

 

About the author:

Sarah Tierney is a graduate of the MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University. Her short story, ‘Five Miles Out’, was made into a short film by the acclaimed director Andrew Haigh. Sarah has worked as a journalist, editor and copywriter. She lives in Derbyshire with her husband and daughter.

Author Links:   Website   |   Twitter     |  Amazon UK   |  Goodreads

Thanks to those lovely folk at Harper Collins, I have two paper proof (advance reading copies) of a new psychological thriller to give away. Entry is by Rafflecopter below and two winners will be selected when the giveaway ends at midnight on 25 May.

Here’s a little about the book.  It’s the author’s debut novel and will be published in paperback on 15 June.  It is available to buy in ebook format already.

 

 

 

 

…But what if that’s the only thing you can remember?

Komméno Island, Greece: I don’t know where I am, who I am. Help me.

A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there.

Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloïse Shelley is officially missing.

Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie…

Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Eloïse missing? Why did she forget?

The truth is found in these pages…

 

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sorry but as Harper Collins are sending out the books, entrants are restricted to the UK.  Winners will be notified by email and/or Twitter after the closing date and will have 72 hours to confirm their details to me so that I can pass on to the publisher.  If no reply is received, then alternative winners will be selected.

Good luck!