Published by Avon

ebook and paperback: 23 March 2017

432 pages

 

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

The Sunday Times bestseller returns with her biggest and best book yet. The perfect read for fans of Paula Hawkins and Clare Mackintosh.

 

C L Taylor creates the most realistic of unreliable narrators and, with The Escape, I think we have the best one yet in Jo Blackmore.

When at the beginning of the story, Jo is approached by a stranger who clearly knew private details about her family and, before walking away issues a threat, you just know that this sinister encounter will lead to something even more gripping and it was this hook that made me want to read on.

This experience quite understandably sent Jo over the edge. Jo appears to suffer from extreme anxiety; battling her own personal issues and the feeling of being watched and not knowing who to trust forms the basis of the story.

It’s difficult to talk about the story without revealing too much detail and I would hate to spoil the anticipation and enjoyment for anyone else so I will zip it!  Suffice to say, this is an exciting and suspenseful story that will surely make you doubt each character in turn. My allegiances were constantly shifting – from feeling sorry for Jo, and then to being irritated by her constant paranoia; at times thinking that that some of her reactions were to say the least, unwise and rather OTT. Then my sympathies would shift to her husband Max in having to deal with such an unpredictable and apparently unstable wife when it seemed that his main priority was to protect his young daughter. Adding to the suspense is an unknown voice interrupting the narrative with their own sinister observations – this alone will give you the shivers.

Running alongside the ‘Jo’ part of the story, there are other strands and characters involved, however all these threads are pulled together to form a suitably dramatic conclusion. There was one part of this that I thought I had worked out; however the author got the better of me again and after feeling so sure that I was on the right path, I reluctantly had to admit defeat! I have read and reviewed all three of the author’s previous thrillers here on the blog and The Escape is probably one of my favourites so far. It has the excellent characterization that Taylor is so good at, a fast paced, thrilling and dramatic plot and will definitely keep you engrossed. Oh and did I mention the twists. Well there are – of course there would be – this is a psychological thriller! Do put this on your reading pile, you won’t regret it

My thanks to Avon for the paperback ARC to review.

 

About the author:

CL Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. She studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle and has worked as a sales administrator, web developer, instructional designer and as the manager of a distance learning team at a London university. She now writes full time.

CL Taylor’s first psychological thriller THE ACCIDENT was one of the top ten bestselling debut novels of 2014 according to The Bookseller. Her second and third novels, THE LIE and THE MISSING, were Sunday Times Bestsellers and #1 Amazon Kindle chart bestsellers. Her fourth pysychological thriller, THE ESCAPE, was published in March 2017. She is currently writing her first young adult thriller, THE TREATMENT, which will be published in September 2017.

Sign up to join the CL Taylor Book Club for access to news, updates and information that isn’t available on the web, as well as exclusive newsletter-only competitions and giveaways and the books that CL Taylor thinks will be the next big thing:

 

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

For previous reviews, please click these links:

The Accident (2014)

The Lie (2015)

The Missing (2016)

 

 

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these monthly posts and that’s been purely down to a lack of time on my part but I do enjoy doing them so I’m going to have another go – and hopefully keep it a regular feature *fingers firmly crossed*!

May saw many new books arriving in the house, a lot of Kindle and paper book buys but also the ever fabulous #bookpost for review.  I’ve been trying to stay away from Netgalley as my percentage is currently woeful – because I’ve now completely run of out of shelf space for paper books, I’ve been concentrating on reading them to make some space and as a consequence the Kindle books get neglected.  I do have a long holiday coming up in the summer though and I’m hoping to make a big(ish) dent in my Netgalley, and my own Kindle reads then.

These are the Kindle purchases this month:

Books received for review:

Paper books purchased:

 

May has been a great month for events, as you can see from these photos.

In the first week of May I went to 3 events, all at Waterstones Piccadilly, in London

The first one was the #Bad Girls in Crime panel – chaired by Alex Clark, discussing historical fiction with Sarah Schmidt (See What I Have Done), Anna Mazzola (The Unseeing),  Jake Arnott (The Fatal Tree) and Emma Flint (Little Deaths). (I had already bought copies of Little Deaths and The Unseeing so that was 2 less books to come home with!).  This was a really interesting event and if you’re able to get to London its well worth keeping an eye on the Waterstones events page for further details.

From the BATC team at Simon & Schuster, an invite to the launch party for The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton. I do have a copy of this on my ‘next to be read’ pile and its one that I am looking forward to getting to.

 

And next, on the Saturday, an invite to the launch celebrations of The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull. Author Louisa Treger did the honours with the interview and Rebecca talked about her book and introduced the pilot of the small aircraft who after many attempts finally persuaded her to take a flight – the things authors have to do for research!!

On 17th May, it was back to Waterstones Piccadilly for the Orenda Roadshow.  Karen Sullivan had 15 of her authors all talking about their books and taking questions from the audience. This is the second Orenda London roadshow I’ve been too and they are always great fun. They do travel around the country at times so keep an eye out.  If you follow Karen Sullivan – Orenda Books on Twitter, all venues and dates will be given.

Finally later on in May, I was at the Soho Hotel in London, courtesy of an invite from Harper Collins to their Harper Fiction Showcase. It was great to meet some of the HC publicists who are normally only a name on a email and to see some book blogger friends.  HC were very generous with their books and had goody bags available for us to select whichever ones we wanted.  I did try to show some restraint! I had already read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and reviewed it here on the blog but I loved that book so much I couldn’t resist picking up a finished copy for my keepers shelf.

So that was May and a very good month it was too.  We’re only a few days into June but I’m already collating a list of new books that have come into the house – I might have bought ‘one or two’ Kindle books! 🙂  Have you read any of these, or were you at the same events? I would love to hear your comments.

 

Published by Orenda Books

ebook 15 May 2017  |  paperback 15 June 2017

250 pages

 

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops … Or does it? Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

 

My Review:

I’ve been looking forward to reading this ever since I first saw the cover (which still gives me goosebumps) and oh my this didn’t disappoint.

The prologue did its job well – its intriguing and teasing premise made me desperate to read on. When I came to the end I had to go back and read this part again, with the knowledge that I now had putting it into context.

Bo Luxton, a successful author with a happy’ish family life meets younger Alice Dark whilst teaching on a writing retreat. Having been impressed by Alice’s writing, Bo is mesmerised by Alice and the two stay in touch afterwards with Bo wanting to be a supportive mentor. However the professional interest turns personal and what follows is a story of overpowering obsession and manipulation on such a huge scale that you will be left gasping and wondering just who the hell is telling the truth.

Their two lives couldn’t be more different. Bo lives in the Lake District with her husband and two girls and has a successful career and Alice, having given up her job to write lives/exists in much reduced circumstances between her own bedsit and living with her lazy artist boyfriend Jake. Bo and Alice are both flawed and damaged people with dysfunctional backgrounds and it’s not surprising that they would be drawn to each other. Bo’s history is slowly revealed and we know from the outset that Alice has been estranged from her mother for some time. Does what happens to us in our younger years shape us for the future as adults or can we change who we become?

With the narrative from either Bo or Alice’s perspective, but sometimes overlapping so that you see the same situation from both, Sarah Stovell has written a dark and powerful psychological thriller which will send your brain into a tailspin.  Long after I finished the book I’m still thinking about it and trying to process what I’ve read. If your preference is for a fast ‘thrills every minute’ read then you should be aware that this has a much slower, almost claustrophobic pace – which suits this story very well. The writing is just wonderful and the characterisation is superb – my allegiances shifting with each chapter reveal. It would be unforgiveable of me to give away any of the plot but this is one book that you will not forget in a hurry.

At the recent Orenda Roadshow in London, I bought an additional copy of the book which the author has kindly signed, to give away as part of my turn on the blog tour.  If I have managed to tempt you to add this to your reading piles, then the entry details are at the end of this post.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for the paperback copy to review and to Anne Cater for the blog tour invitation.

Follow the blog tour

 

About the author:

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.

 

Author Links:    Twitter   |   Amazon UK  |   Goodreads

 

GIVEAWAY

 

If you would like to win a new signed paperback, then please enter via the Rafflecopter box below.  I want to share the book love for Exquisite and so the giveaway is open to entrants in the UK and Europe; ending at midnight on 5 June.  The winner will be contacted by email and/or Twitter and asked to provide their contact details so that I can post the book to them. If no response is received within 72 hours, then an alternative winner will be selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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