Published by No Exit Press

e-book and Hardcover : 23 March 2017

My thanks to Anne Cater and No Exit Press for the invite to take part in the Boundary blog tour.  For my turn today, I have an extract to tempt you with.

 

 

EXTRACT

Bondrée is a place where shadows defeat the harshest light, an enclave whose lush vegetation recalls the virgin forests that covered the North American continent three or four centuries ago. Its name derives from a deformation of the word “boundary,” or frontier. No borderline, however, is there to suggest that this place belongs to any country other than the temperate forests stretching from Maine, in the United States, to the southwest of the Beauce, in Québec. Boundary is a stateless domain, a no-man’s land harbouring a lake, Boundary Pond, and a mountain the hunters came to call Moose Trap, after observing that the moose venturing onto the lake’s western shore were swiftly trapped up on the steep slope of this rocky mass that with the same dispassion engulfs the setting suns.

Bondrée also includes several hectares of forest called Peter’s Woods, named after Pierre Landry, a Canuck trapper who settled in the region in the early 1940s to evade the war, to flee death while himself inflicting it. It’s in this Eden that ten or so years later a few city-dwellers seeking peace and quiet chose to build cottages, forcing Landry to take refuge deep in the woods, until the beauty of a woman called Maggie Harrison drove him to return and roam around the lake, setting in motion the gears that would transform his paradise into hell.

The children had long been in bed when Zaza Mulligan, on Friday 21 July, stepped onto the path leading to her parents’ cottage, humming A Whiter Shade of Pale, flung out, in the bedazzlement of that summer of ’67, by Procol Harum, along with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. She’d drunk too much, but she didn’t care. She loved seeing objects dancing about her and trees swaying in the night. She loved the languor of alcohol, the odd gradients of the unstable ground, forcing her to lift her arms as a bird nfolds its wings to ride the ascending winds.  Bird, bird, sweet bird, she sang to a senseless melody, a drunken young girl’s air, her long arms miming the albatross and those birds of foreign skies that wheel over rolling seas. Everything around her was in motion, all charged with indolent life, right up to the lock on the front door into which she couldn’t quite manage to insert her key. Never mind, because she didn’t really want to go in. The night was too lovely, the stars so luminous.  And so she retraced her steps, crossed back over the cedarlined path, and walked with no other goal than to revel in her own giddiness.

A few dozen feet from the campground she entered Otter Trail, the path where she’d kissed Mark Meyer at the start of summer before going to tell Sissy Morgan, her friend since always and for evermore, for life and ’til death do us part, for now and forever, that Meyer frenched like a snail. The slack memory of that limp tongue wriggling around and seeking her own brought a taste of acid bile to her throat, which she fought off by spitting, barely missing the toes of her new sandals.  Venturing a few awkward steps that made her burst out laughing, she moved deeper into the woods. They were calm, with no sound to disturb the peace in that place, not even that of her footsteps on the spongy earth. Then a light breath of wind brushed past her knees, and she heard something crack behind her. The wind, she said to herself, wind on my knees, wind in the trees, paying no heed to the source of this noise in the midst of silence. Her heart jumped all the same when a fox bolted in front of her, and she started laughing again, a bit nervously, thinking that the night gave rise to fear because the night loves to see fear in the eyes of children. Doesn’t it, Sis, she murmured, remembering the distant days when she tried with Sissy to rouse the ghosts peopling the forest, that of Pete Landry, that of Tanager, the woman whose red dresses had bewitched Landry, and that of Sugar Baby, whose yapping you could hear from the top of Moose Trap. All those ghosts had now vanished from Zaza’s mind, but the sky’s moonless darkness revived the memory of the red dress flitting through the trees.

She was starting to turn off onto a path that intersected with Otter Trail when there was another crack behind her, louder than the first. The fox, she said to herself, fox in the trees, refusing to let the darkness spoil her pleasure by unearthing stupid childhood terrors. She was alive, she was drunk, and the forest could crumble around her if it wished, she would not shrink from the night nor the barking of a dog that had been dead and buried for ages. She began to hum A Whiter Shade of Pale among the swaying trees, imagining herself in the strong arms of someone unknown, their dance slow and amorous, when she stopped short, almost tripping over a twisted root.

The cracking came closer, and fear, this time, began to steal across her damp skin. Who’s there, she asked, but silence had fallen upon the forest. Who’s there, she cried, then a shadow crossed the path and Zaza Mulligan began to retreat.

 

About the Author/Translator:

Andrée A. Michaud is the multi award-winning author of ten novels. Her latest work, Boundary (Bondrée) was awarded Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel. As she has done since her very first book, Michaud fashions an eminently personal work that never ceases to garner praise from critics and avid mystery readers alike. She lives in Canada.

Donald Winkler is a Canadian documentary maker and French-to-English literary translator. He won the Canada’s Governor General’s Award for French to English translation in 1994, 2011 and 2013.

Book Purchase Links:  No Exit Press   |   Amazon UK    |  Amazon.com

 

Published by Corvus

ebook & Paperback : 6 April 2017

approx 336 pages

 

Zoe and Ollie Morley tried for years to have a baby and couldn't. They turned to adoption and their dreams came true when they were approved to adopt a little girl from birth. They named her Evie.

Seven years later, the family has moved to Yorkshire and grown in number: a wonderful surprise in the form of baby Ben. As a working mum it's not easy for Zoe, but life is good.

But then Evie begins to receive letters and gifts.
 The sender claims to be her birth father.
 He has been looking for his daughter.
 And now he is coming to take her back...

 

The story starts in London with parents-to-be Ollie and Zoe rushing to a hospital for the birth of a baby, we then jump to 7 years later and to their son Ben’s second birthday party where the family are living in Yorkshire. Zoe is frazzled, having to cope on her own without Ollie’s support and Evie, their oldest child is behaving strangely, is she just jealous of Ben getting all the attention or is there another reason for her bad behaviour?

The first thing that I really noted during the early part of this story was the difference in Ollie’s behaviour. Whilst seven years previously he and Zoe were excitedly getting ready for the hospital and looking forward to bringing home a baby, he was a devoted and caring husband but just five short years later, he seems to be spending as much time away from the family as possible, pleading work commitments. It’s no wonder that Zoe feels as though she is a single mother and sometimes drops one or two of the balls she is juggling.

The Stolen Child is a really enjoyable suspense story that kept me intrigued all the way through and the setting of the Ilkley moors was so descriptive and atmospheric.  The chapters are easy to follow as there is a timeline introducing each one.  As well as seeing the main drama unfolding, we occasionally hear the voice of another unknown person; whoever it is clearly believes that their daughter has been stolen and wants her back. I have to admit there were times when I felt so frustrated with some of Zoe’s decisions that I wanted to shake some sense into her and on several occasions I was silently shouting ‘no don’t do that’. I do have to commend her though for following through with her intuition and gut feeling – she could sense some things were wrong even when others, for example the police, thought they knew better.

The plot is well structured and as you would expect from this genre, nothing is quite as it seems.  I was feeling a bit smug as I thought I had worked out who was responsible however a clever writer always has a trick or two up her sleeve and the twists and turns in this story meant that by the time the big reveal came I had suspected everyone in turn.  As well as the suspense element, the story focuses on the increasingly fractured relationship between Zoe and Ollie and also that of Evie and her adopted family.  What does Evie really think – does she feel loved enough?  Does she feel that Ben is their favourite because he is their biological child?

A recommended read – and such a lovely cover too! I had already bought the author’s first book, Bone By Bone, which I have yet to read – if that is as good as this one then I’m definitely missing out and need to bump it up the TBR mountain.

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

 

 

About the author:

Bone by Bone‘, published by Corvus Books, is my first psychological thriller. It was longlisted for a CWA Steel Dagger Award, and was nominated as one of the best crime and thriller books of the year by the Guardian and the Sunday Express. It’s recently been published as an audio book by Audible.

My second thriller, ‘The Stolen Child’, is out in April. It’s set in Ilkley, where I grew up. I spent a large proportion of my childhood rambling over the moor, as you’ll probably be able to tell!

I live in Bristol, with my husband and daughter.

 

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

 

My thanks to Kim Nash for including me in the blog tour for Don’t Stop Me Now. For my turn today, I have an extract of Chapter One. Published by Bookouture, both e-book and paperback were available to buy on 22 March 2017

 

 

Chapter One

‘Poppy, have you got a moment?’ Dr Burley taps me on the shoulder as I wait outside his office. You better believe I have. I’ve been waiting for this moment for… ooh, let me see. The last decade? Two decades even. Perhaps it’s closer to forever. From my first spelling test in reception class to handing in my PhD thesis four weeks ago, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for; the moment I find out if I’m good enough, if it’s been worth it, if I’ve been accepted into the highest echelons of academic life. It’s a big moment. The moment.
‘I’m ready, Doc.’
He invites me in and closes the heavy mahogany door behind us.
‘It is with the greatest pleasure – and a healthy sprinkling of personal pride – that I inform you that you, Poppy Bloom…’ he shakes his chubby fists up and down like meaty little maracas, ‘are this year’s doctoral valedictorian of the psychology faculty of Banbridge University!’
Omfg.
He grabs me by the shoulders with his cocktail-sausage fingers and laughs with delight. Valedictorian: even more than I’d hoped for. WAY more than I’d hoped for. I knew I’d put in the hours, grafted hard, but the competition at this level is fierce. Half of my class is addicted to uppers, the other half to downers. Even in my very small circle, the stress, the pressure and the sheer volume of work took its toll. At least twice a week my boyfriend Gregory would have to be talked out of quitting at the final hurdle. Sometimes it would take hours to talk him down, sometimes whole days. And with deadlines and exam dates looming, whole days spent pressed up against a locked door were hard won. There were times he’d threaten to set his thesis alight or pack everything in and flee to a remote lighthouse off the Scottish coast so he’d never have to face a research paper, a professor or an exam ever again.
But we’ve made it.
In the end, we have all made it.
Here I am, relatively unscathed. And more than that, proud. Really bloody proud. Valedictorian. Holy shit.
‘I couldn’t have done this without you, Doc. Thank you so, so much.’ I give him a great big bear hug and see that he is beaming from ear to ear. Good ole Dr B, he really stuck with me. This achievement belongs to him as much as it does to me.
‘Poppy dear, I have loved every moment of it. You know that for me your thesis is a thing of great beauty; a work of hope and ambition; a real force for good in the world.’ He blinks back a little tear. ‘Forgive me, I must compose myself! We’ve got a big day ahead and I have more to tell you.’ He skips over to the small coffee table and whips off a tea cloth to reveal a bottle of port and a cheeseboard. ‘But first, indulge me, one last toast.’
I laugh. This is so fitting. My entire thesis was fuelled by cheese – lengthy discussions, debates, questions posed and solved over chunks of Cheddar and gallons of port in Dr Burley’s snug little book-lined den.
He pours us two fingers each and I pop a creamy yellow wedge in my mouth.
‘A girl’s Gouda do what a girl’s Gouda do,’ he chuckles.
‘Oh Doc, I Camembert bad cheese puns,’ I laugh back as we throw down our ports like they’re Jägerbombs.
He pours us another. ‘Now, this time a proper toast. In vino veritas.’
I bow my head in mock solemnity.
‘As the great father of psychology Carl Jung said, let us be loved for who we are, not just what we do. And what you choose to do next, Poppy, well, that’s the million-dollar question. Whatever it is, I hope it brings you not just what you want, but everything you need too.’
‘In that case, what I need is the fellowship,’ I tell him.
Dr Burley crosses his fingers. ‘Obviously there are no guarantees in this world, and the final decision lies with Dr Winters, as Dean, but let’s just say…’ he gives me a wry smile and drops his tone to a hush, ‘I am quietly confident.’
Quietly confident? That’ll do me.
We raise our glasses one last time as tutor and student and knock back our port.
Traditionally, the ‘first among firsts’ is offered a fellowship at the university –lodgings in Ivy Court, an office on the original grounds beside the Old Library and the chapel, not to mention the most amazing research, teaching and travel opportunities. A Banbridge fellowship; a prickle of heat travels up the back of my neck. Charlie Bucket, you know how I feel.
Dr Burley pours himself a third glass; I decline. Another would go to my head, and I’m a lightweight at the best of times. Burley holds his finger in front of his face.
‘One final matter I need to discuss with you, Poppy.’
I lean on the edge of the solid oak desk to steady myself. I can tell by the twitch of his lips that it’s something big. He leans in towards me. ‘Ninety-six per cent, Poppy. Ninety… six… per cent: you know what that means?’
I shake my head.
‘It’s a new record! You have smashed Dr Winters’ record.’ His purple tongue glides over his hairy upper lip. ‘Your mark is the highest we have ever awarded to a woman under thirty years old.’ Meaty maracas pump at his sides again. ‘Highest EVER.’
I pour myself that third port. It’s not even midday yet, but as far as days go, this one is playing an absolute blinder.
‘So the fellowship? You really think it’s a possibility?’ I ask.
‘I know what it means to you, my little prodigy; I kid you not when I say that I’m confident. How could they pass you up with this result? I think they’d be crazy, even for a bunch of psychologists, and that’s saying something.’ Smiling, he nods to the heavy wooden door. ‘If I was a gambling man, Poppy, I’d put my money on you calling the office across that corridor home, and slipping into a bright future as part of our Banbridge family.’
Home, family, Banbridge, bright, future. I hold my face; this is a like a haiku of everything I have ever wanted.
‘I so look forward to working alongside you as a colleague and as a friend – may you have many, many happy years surrounded by the sweet scent of leather, mahogany, fresh coffee, stinky Danish Blue and the occasional whiff of an undergraduate.’
This is actually happening. I’m going to live in Ivy Court. I’m going to share my thesis with the world. Dr Poppy Bloom will be engraved into the small brass plaque on the door beside Dr Burley’s. My mother will explode with pride. Frank will cry. My best friend Harriet will party and Gregory will be utterly blown away. My ex-dad may nod and turn up one corner of his mouth and claim that he knew best all along; that I belong tucked away in the safe, cosy enclave of academia and out of harm’s way. I steady my velvet graduation cap squarely on my head and blow the red tassel away from my nose. I hear the bells of the chapel chime the hour. This is actually happening. And it’s happening now.

 

About the author:

Colleen Coleman is an Irish-Canadian novelist. She is the winner of the much-coveted Novelicious Undiscovered People’s Choice Award launched to find the next ‘chick-lit star’. She spent over ten years working as a teacher of English and Philosophy before finally taking a deep breath, scrunching her eyes shut, putting her pen to paper and vowing not to lift it again until she wrote the words The End. As a result, her first novel was born. Colleen lives between London, Ireland and Cyprus with her very patient husband and very, very chatty twin daughters. Don’t Stop Me Now is her first book and will be released in March.

 

Author Links:  Twitter   |   Facebook   |  Amazon UK   |  Amazon.com   |   Goodreads

 

 

 

Published by Headline

ebook: 3 November 2016   |  Paperback: 23 March 2017

approx 352 pages

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the paperback publication of Gone Without a Trace.  I purchased the Kindle edition a couple of months ago and it’s gradually bumping its way to the top of my TBR mountain.

For my turn on the blog tour, Mary kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the blog Mary, would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

I’m from a big family (fourth of nine children) and grew up in Stoke-on-Trent. I moved up to Merseyside to study as a mature student at Liverpool University after working in London for several years. It took a while for me to feel settled here, but now it’s home to me. I love the area and the people up here.

I understand that you were a teacher for several years. Was it always an ambition to become a published writer?

Yes, this is something I’ve wanted all of my life. I was always a voracious reader and used to start to write novels all the time, but would give up after a few chapters. I realise now that this was because I didn’t plan the novel out beforehand and could only wing it for so long. Also, I was trying to write romance; once I started to write psychological suspense I realised that this was the genre that really suited me. I took an MA in Writing at Liverpool John Moores University and then wrote a couple of novels that didn’t get anywhere. When I had the chance to take voluntary redundancy from teaching, I decided to take a year off and try to write a book that would be published. Luckily, that happened!

Without giving away any spoilers, can you please tell us a little about Gone Without a Trace? Where did the inspiration for the story come from and what attracts you to the psychological thriller genre as opposed to any other? 

The idea for Gone Without a Trace came from a thread on an online forum. A woman described coming home to find her boyfriend had left home, taking absolutely everything he owned with him. When she said he’d even taken a half-eaten jar of pickle with him, I thought it sounded as though he was trying to destroy all evidence of himself from her house and I started to wonder why someone would leave like that.

I love psychological thrillers as they concern dramas that I think could happen to me; I get totally engrossed in the problem someone is facing. I particularly like the sort of problems that you couldn’t take to the police because they sound so minor.

How did you plan/research your book? Do you plot in detail or just see where the story takes you?

I do plot out my novels, having learned from my earlier mistakes. I usually have one page per chapter and I make notes on the scenes, where they take place, anything we learn about the characters or their situations, anything I want to reveal or hide and any cliff-hangers. It makes it so much easier when I’m writing the novel if I have this plan to hand, though of course it often goes off course.

What is the best writing advice that you have received? And what advice would you give to anyone trying to get their novel published? Is there anything that you wished you had done differently?

This was advice given to another writer, Jane Hill, who passed it on to me a few years ago when I heard her talk at a literary event. Her agent had told her “Just finish the book” and “When in doubt, go darker.” They were such useful pieces of advice. Often writers face a problem and stall, when really they should just carry on writing and go back to the problem afterwards. Sometimes the problem doesn’t even exist by then. It’s hard to do but sometimes you just need to keep going and have faith it’ll be alright in the end. “Go darker” is a great piece of advice when you need to increase the tension rather than relieve it.

Is there any part of the writing process which you enjoy (or dislike) the most – i.e. researching, writing, editing?

There is nothing worse than the blank page! I find that really scary. That’s why I like to plan out a novel fully before writing it, so that I always know what is going to happen next. Of course the novel does change as it’s being written, but those notes really do help me from freezing up at the start.

I really love editing. As I’m writing the first draft I feel it’s really painful at first, until you get to know the characters well, but later it becomes easier. Going back to edit it, I know the characters well and the writing has started to flow, so it becomes really interesting to go back and knock it into shape!

How do you feel about social media, do you find it helpful or a distraction?

I’m not a huge fan of Facebook really, though I’m trying to get involved in it more now. I’m very private and can’t understand people revealing their lives to anyone and everyone. I enjoy using Twitter, though, and love to see what my fellow writers are up to. I’ve never experienced the bad side of Twitter because I’m really careful about who I follow. There are so many funny and kind people out there and there’s always something on there to motivate me if I’m stuck.

Do you have any favourite books or authors which may have inspired you? What type of book do you enjoy reading for pleasure, and what are you reading now?

Obviously I love reading psychological suspense but now I tend to try to figure out what the writer’s doing right from the start – it’s a really bad habit! My favourite writer is probably Daphne du Maurier; she has fantastic plots but writes beautifully, too. I have a huge TBR list at the moment. As I’m finishing my second book, I’m trying to avoid other novels in that genre, but am looking forward to reading Gillian McAllister’s Everything But the Truth and Amanda Reynolds’ Close to Me. Oh and I have Cuckoo by Julia Crouch lined up, too!

When you’re not working or writing, what do you do to relax?

I like to go swimming – every day works best. I’m looking forward to getting back to that once I reach my second book’s deadline. I live by the river and love going for long walks down there, too – the skyline is amazing. I’ve friends and family all over the UK so love going to visit them and going out for meals and drinks. I love to watch dramas on television and particularly loved the Scandi dramas such as The Killing and The Bridge – I thought they were the best dramas I’d seen on television.

What’s next for your writing career? Are you working on a book at the moment? 

I’m working on another psychological suspense called The Girl I Used to Be. It’s hard to describe a novel in this genre without giving the game away, so I can’t say much about it, sorry!

Thank you Mary.

 

About the book:

No one ever disappears completely...

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
 His belongings have disappeared.
 He hasn't been at work for weeks.
 It's as if he never existed.

But that's not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him someone is also watching you.

 

About the author:

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

 

Author Links:

Twitter    |     Facebook     |     Amazon UK    |    Amazon.com     |   Goodreads

 

 

Time has passed so quickly it only seems like yesterday that I was taking part in the cover reveal for The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft and now here we are with another book to be published in a couple of months.  To be published by Avon, Just For The Holidays will be available on 18 May in both ebook and paperback.

 

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.

 

As a member of Sue’s street team, we know that Sue takes her research very seriously! – I was so jealous of her helicopter flight that she did especially for this book. I can’t wait to find out how this storyline develops!

 

 

Just For the Holidays is available for pre-order from Amazon UK, Waterstones and other book retailers in both ebook and/or paperback format