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

 

Published by Orenda Books

ebook: 20 February 2017   | Paperback 30 March 2017

 

Deadly Game is the second book in the Robert Finlay crime series, Wicked Game being the first and published in 2015, also by Orenda. It’s a pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour alongside the lovely Emma from damppebbles and I’d like to welcome Matt to the blog with a guest post.

Modern slavery, closer than you think

by Matt Johnson

To many, the word ‘slavery’ conjures up a picture of people in chains, abducted and forcibly transported against their will to work on plantations across the world. Today, in a town, a street or a home near you, modern slavery is taking place under our very noses.

Just recently in the news, we heard about the Oxford and Rochdale cases which involved British girls trafficked within the UK for sexual exploitation.But although sex trafficking makes the headlines, modern slavery is just as prominent in forced labour and domestic servitude.

During my research for Deadly Game, I travelled to Romania to learn about the routes used to move young women from their villages to work in places where they think they are heading for a better life. This is one thing I learned that all victims share. They think they are heading to a better job, for a more interesting life or for an education. Whatever the reason, they all share one thing – they are travelling to something they believe is better than they are leaving behind.

In the UK, the slave trade was outlawed and abolished in the 19th Century. After that, a person holding slaves could be prosecuted for offences such as false imprisonment, assault and – in more modern times – under Health and Safety legislation.

 

It was only in 2004 that an offence was created of trafficking people into the UK for the purpose of forced labour, and it wasn’t until 2009, when the Coroners and Justice Act came into being, that an offence of holding a person in slavery or servitude was created. A similar offence also covers requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour and, for each offence, our prosecuting authorities have to prove that the accused knew, or ought to have known, that the victim was being held or forced to work against their will.

Deadly Game starts in Romania, and is based on a gang who move young women from their homes to work in the sex-trade. Although fiction, the story has a sound basis in fact.

Sex slavery isn’t a new concept to Europe. In World War II, the Nazis set up ‘Joy Divisions’ in concentration camps that were filled with young Jewish women. These brothels were frequented by both the soldiers and the co-operative non-Jewish inmates. Across Europe, the German Army also set up many ‘Soldattenbordell’ where local women were forced into providing unpaid sexual services in return for avoiding the camps. Mass kidnapping raids were carried out in countries such as Poland, where young women were rounded up and then transported to become entertainment for the troops.

As the war ended, many Romanian soldiers who had been serving in the German Army returned to their homeland with an understanding of the money to be made by forcing women into the sex trade. As the forces of law got to grips with the criminal gangs, the method of providing girls simply changed from one of coercion to one of deception. In times of economic depression, hungry and desperate for paid work, it became easy to trick girls into applying for waitress, cleaning and other menial jobs in the cities. Once on the journey, the girls were doomed.

It is no coincidence that most of the victims of trafficking are from economically deprived areas.

Deadly Game follows the journey of once such girl. I’m aware it is fiction, and will be read for entertainment, but I also hope that, by telling her story, I may be able to raise awareness in people’s minds that slavery hasn’t gone away, and the chains on the victims, although less easily seen, are still very much in use.

 

 

About the book:

Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed.

Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all …

Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate. Deadly Game is a stunning, terrifying and eye-opening thriller from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

About the author:

Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. His bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result. Deadly Game once again draws on Matt’s experiences and drips with the same raw authenticity of its predecessor.

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

 

Deadly Game is currently available from Amazon UK for download for 99p