Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia @MejiaWrites @QuercusBooks @ellakroftpatel #blogtour #LeaveNoTrace

Good morning from glorious and scorching hot Tuscany! Today, I’m delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia! My thanks to Ella Patel at Quercus for the invitation to join and for the wonderful review copy!

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Author : Mindy Mejia
Title : Leave No Trace
Pages : 336
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : September 4, 2018

aboutthebook

Ten years ago Josiah Blackthorn and his son trekked into the wilderness of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters and vanished. Now one of them has returned.

Lucas Blackthorn, the boy who came back from the dead, is nineteen, semi-feral and violent. He is now incarcerated in Congdon Psychiatric Institute and the police are desperate to hear his story. All Lucas wants is to return to his home and his father.

Therapist Maya Stark has her own unfinished business with the Boundary Waters, and as she and Lucas grow closer she sees a chance for them to help each other.

She is prepared to risk everything to get answers to the questions that have haunted her for all her adult life. But sometimes finding out the truth is the worst thing you can do …

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I absolutely loved Mindy Mejia’s previous novel, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman, so I was incredibly excited at being given the opportunity to join the blog tour for her latest release, Leave No Trace. I’ll tell you right now though, this is nothing like her previous novel! I love it when an author takes me by surprise.

Ten years ago, Josiah Blackthorn and his son trekked into the wilderness, only to vanish. But now, Josiah’s son Lucas has returned.  Lucas is now nineteen years old and finds himself incarcerated in a psychiatric institute. He doesn’t talk and all he really wants is to return to his father.

Maya Stark is a speech therapist at the psychiatric institute and it’s her job to get Lucas to talk. Is he keeping quiet because he doesn’t know how to talk?  Or is he just being stubborn? Maya is haunted by past events herself. Will meeting Lucas bring her the answers she has so desperately been searching for?

Leave No Trace is very different from Mindy Mejia’s previous novel but as ever, it’s immensely beautifully written. The vivid descriptions of the Boundary Waters in Minnesota really bring the place to life and almost made me want to go out on a hike or grab a canoe. I say almost, because you know, water and creepy-crawlies. But there’s also the peace and tranquility, not another person in sight, just gorgeous Mother Nature all around you. Bliss. Living off the grid obviously isn’t for everyone but Mindy Mejia took inspiration from people who’ve actually done so, for various reasons, and I do so enjoy it when an author makes me want to google things.

Despite it’s relatively slow pace, I was captivated by the exquisite storytelling. There is some fascinating character development to sink your teeth into and even a few twists and surprises. Some I may have figured out but that did nothing to ruin my reading experience, nor did the fact that maybe a few things might have required me to suspend belief just a tad.  Leave No Trace is a compelling mystery and I was swept away by this tale of love, family and loss from start to finish.

I must say, I’m fast becoming a fan of Mindy Mejia’s work and remain impressed with her excellent storytelling skills. I’m incredibly curious to see what she comes up with next.

Leave No Trace is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

My name is Mindy Mejia and I’m a writer. I write because, ever since I was six years old, my favorite game has been pretend. My life doesn’t have symmetry, theme, symbolism, or meditated beauty and I gravitate toward these things like a houseplant to the sun. I love the perfect words; I love how “fierce” and “confounded” and “swagger” look on the page and how my chest expands when I read them. I write because I believe in the reality of my fantasies, the truth in my fabrications. I’ve always had stories sneaking around my head, thrillers like THE DRAGON KEEPER and EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, and sometimes I inhabit those stories more than my own life. (Best not to mention that last part to my husband, kids, or boss.)

Author links : Twitter

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Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers @MarilynCohendeV @annecater #blogtour #extract #excerpt #SilvermanSaga #RandomThingsTours

Today, it is my pleasure to close down the blog tour for Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers. My thanks to Anne Cater for the invite and for the extract I’ll be sharing with you, right after I tell you more about this third instalment in the Silverman Saga series.

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Author : Marilyn Cohen de Villiers
Title : Deceive and Defend
Series : Silverman Saga #3
Pages : 338
Publisher : Mapolaje Publishers
Publication date : June 13, 2018

aboutthebook

Like a pebble dropped in a pond, the effects of two deaths—one in the Johannesburg home of the wealthy Silverman family; the second, hundreds of kilometres away on a Free State farm—ripple across South Africa and the world, irrevocably changing the lives of four people:

Tracy Jacobs who desperately wants journalism’s highest laurels… and also yearns for love. Now she must choose between saving her career or defending her chance of happiness;

Aviva Silverman who wants nothing more than to live happily ever after with her adored new family. Now she must place it all at risk to defend the family she left behind;

Carol Aronowitz, dedicated social worker who prides herself on her professionalism . Now she must find a way to defend herself against clear evidence of incompetence that has had disasterous consequences; and

Yair Silverman, Aviva’s twin brother, who stands to lose everything as he takes a drastic decision to deceive everyone.

Set against the backdrop of South Africa’s post-Mandela decline, Deceive and Defend is as current and thought provoking as today’s headlines.

extract

Tracy ignored her mother’s barrage and hurtled into the bathroom. She tore off her pyjamas, turned the shower on full blast, and stepped into the still icy torrent. The water would warm up eventually but her heart, her body would remain frozen. She just knew it. She had died inside. She stood motionless as her tears washed down the drain.

It was all too much. First Yair. Then this. It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fucking fair. She had worked so damn hard on that story. Lepalake had promised her… he had promised that he would phone her the next time he was in Johannesburg and… and he had! That phone call that Duduzile had so kindly offered to take just as she was leaving the office yesterday – that had to have been Peter Lepalake. And instead of Duduzile calling her back, the bitch had kept the story for herself – and Mafuta had obviously helped her, filling in some of the blanks from the things Tracy had told him over the weeks she had spent working on the story. Damn him. At least she hadn’t filed her story about Yair and Tiffany. It would have seemed so petty, such a nothing story, in comparison to Peter Lepalake. Mafuta and Duduzile would have made her life a misery—more of a misery—if she had given in to her spiteful temptation. They’d be saying she was only capable of stupid gossip, not real news.

Hammering on the bathroom door startled her.

‘Your news editor’s on the phone. Can you speak to him or will you call him back?’ Maxine shouted.

‘Tell him I’ll phone him,’ Tracy said and poured some shampoo into her hand to lather into her hair. Mafuta could wait. He probably just wanted to explain why he had given her story to his mistress. Maybe. Mafuta never explained anything to anyone. Ever. Too bad. He’d just have to wait until she was ready to speak to him about whatever he wanted. She wasn’t supposed to be on duty until 9am… he could fucking wait. 

Tracy rinsed her hair, massaged in a liberal amount of conditioner, shaved her legs, rinsed off the conditioner, switched off the water, stepped out of the shower, wrapped herself in her threadbare towel and padded down the passage to her bedroom.

Her cellphone was ringing as she stepped through the door. She picked it up. Mafuta. 

Her finger hovered over the red icon – but she couldn’t bring herself to cut her news editor off.

‘Hello Prince.’

‘TT, what the fuck has taken you so long. I told your mother to tell you to call me back urgently. And when I say urgently, I mean immediately. Not a fucking half hour later.’

‘Sorry. I was washing my hair. I supposed you wanted to tell me about Peter Lepalake. Don’t worry. I’ve read Duduzile’s story. It’s full of mistakes. Why didn’t you call me when he phoned? I was still in the building.’

‘And let you screw it up again? You couldn’t get the story, Duduzile did – end of story. Anyway, I’m giving you a new story and I hope you don’t fuck this up too. Mpho’s police contacts called him this morning, early. Something has happened at Alan Silverman’s house. Police and ambulances are on their way. Or are probably there already, as you should have been if you hadn’t been fucking washing your fucking hair.’

Tracy sat down heavily on the bed, her hand shaking.

‘What’s happened?’

‘It may be nothing more serious than a house robbery or a hijacking. But Mpho says there could be some fatalities so it may be something worthwhile – more death in the cursed Silverman mansion type of thing. Just get over there. I’d send Mpho but you know the family so, for once in your useless little life, get me a fucking story I can use.’ 

Tracy stared at her phone, willing it to ring, willing it to be Yair telling her that he was okay, that everything was okay. But the phone stayed stubbornly, ominously silent. 

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Has this wee teaser left you wanting more? Then why not grab yourself a copy as Deceive and Defend is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | KoboGoodreads

abouttheauthor

I was born and raised in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, the youngest daughter of an extraordinarily ordinary, happy, stable, traditional (rather than observant) Jewish family. After matriculating at Northview High School, I went to Rhodes University in Grahamstown where I served on the SRC, competed (badly) in synchronised swimming and completed a B. Journalism degree. This was followed by a “totally useless” – according to my parents – English Honours (first class), also at Rhodes.

With the dawning of the turbulent 1980s, I started my career as a reporter on a daily newspaper, working first in the news and later, the finance departments. During this period, I interviewed, among others, Frank Sinatra, Jeffrey Archer, Eugene Terre’blanche and Desmond Tutu. I caught crocodiles; avoided rocks and tear smoke canisters in various South African townships; stayed awake through interminable city council meetings and criminal and civil court cases – and learned to interpret balance sheets.

I also married my news editor, Poen de Villiers and, despite all the odds against us coming as we did from totally different backgrounds, we remained happily married for 32 years and three days. Poen passed away as a result of diabetes complications on 15 March, 2015.

After the birth of our two daughters, I ‘crossed over’ into Public Relations with its regular hours and predictability.  My writing – articles, media releases, opinion and thought leadership pieces and so on – was published regularly in newspapers and other media, usually under someone else’s by-line. But after more than 20 years, I decided the time had come to go it alone. I now work as a freelance wordsmith which (theoretically) gives me more time to focus on what I love best – writing fiction.

So why, after a lifetime of writing non-fiction, did I decide to try my hand at fiction? The catalyst was the unexpected death of a childhood friend and colleague in 2012. This spurred me to take stock of my life, to think about what I had achieved.  A few months later, I decided to try and write a novel. This turned out to be A Beautiful Family which was published in July 2014.  The fiction bug had bitten, and my second novel, When Time Fails, was launched in September 2015. Now, the third and final novel in the Silverman Saga Trilogy, Deceive and Defend, is launching in June 2018… and novel number 4 is percolating in my head.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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A Different Kind of Evil by Andrew Wilson #20BooksofSummer

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Author : Andrew Wilson
Title : A Different Kind of Evil
Pages : 375
Publisher : Simon & Schuster
Publication date : May 31, 2018

aboutthebook

Two months after the events of A Talent for Murder, during which Agatha Christie “disappeared,” the famed mystery writer’s remarkable talent for detection has captured the attention of British Special Agent Davison.

Now, at his behest, she is traveling to the beautiful Canary Islands to investigate the strange and gruesome death of Douglas Green, an agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service. As she embarks on a glamorous cruise ship to her destination, she suddenly hears a scream. Rushing over to the stern of the liner, she witnesses a woman fling herself over the side of the ship to her death.

After this shocking experience, she makes it to the Grand Hotel in a lush valley on the islands. There, she meets a diverse and fascinating cast of characters, including two men who are suspected to be involved in the murder of Douglas Green: an occultist similar to Aleister Crowley; and the secretary to a prominent scholar, who may also be a Communist spy. But Agatha soon realizes that nothing is what it seems here and she is surprised to learn that the apparent suicide of the young woman on the ocean liner is related to the murder of Douglas Green. Now she has to unmask a different kind of evil in this sinister and thrilling mystery.

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After thoroughly enjoying the previous book, A Talent for Murder, I couldn’t wait to pick up this next one.

A Different Kind of Evil picks up quite shortly after events from the first book. Agatha Christie has caught the eye of the British Secret Intelligence Service and for her first mission, she is sent to Tenerife to help solve the murder of an agent whose body has been found mummified and drained of blood in a remote cave.

Events already kick off on board the ship that will take Agatha to Tenerife, when she witnesses a young woman jump overboard in what looks to be a tragic suicide. This is only the start though as Agatha finds herself deeply involved in the odd occult world of one of the island’s residents. Will Agatha be able to stop another murder from happening?

Being a crime fiction writer obviously doesn’t mean you have a knack at solving murders, although that is what’s expected from Agatha here. And so the whole story has that delightful Murder, She Wrote feeling to it, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Just as in the previous book, Agatha comes across as an intelligent and perceptive woman. On top of trying to solve this gruesome murder, she’s also struggling to finish her latest book and doubting her abilities as a mother.

Once again, Andrew Wilson takes a few facts from Agatha Christie’s life and turns them into the most delicious murder mystery. While I had some inkling as to what was going on, I couldn’t quite put the various pieces of the puzzle together and there were a few surprises left for me to discover.

Agatha Christie makes a formidable main character and even though I feel I enjoyed the previous book just that little bit more, A Different Kind of Evil was hugely entertaining and I very much look forward to the next one in the series.

A Different Kind of Evil is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | WorderyGoodreads

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Book 17 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

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The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths #20BooksofSummer

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Author : Elly Griffiths
Title : The Zig Zag Girl
Series : A Stephens & Mephisto Mystery #1
Pages : 352
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : July 16, 2015

aboutthebook

Brighton, 1950.

When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl.

The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar’s. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men.

Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, sword-swallowers and dancing girls. Changing times mean that variety is not what it once was, yet Max is reluctant to leave this world to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind.

Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another ‘trick’, the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in danger…

mythoughts

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Elly Griffiths’ other series featuring Ruth Galloway (So behind on that one as well. I’ve only read four 🙈) but this one is very different. I’d heard quite a lot about The Vanishing Box, the fourth book in this Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series but as always, I was compelled to start at the beginning.

When the body of a young girl is found, DI Stephens is immediately reminded of a magic trick gone wrong.  The girl’s body has been cut up into three pieces, just like the Zig Zag Girl trick. DI Stephens calls in the help of his old friend, Max Mephisto, with whom he served in the war. Max is a good old-fashioned magician who is still touring around the country from venue to venue in a world that’s constantly changing and where variety show entertainers may just be a dying breed.

Max is reluctant to help until it turns out the dead girl was known to him. When another body turns up, Stephens and Mephisto become convinced that the answer is to be found in their army days. But can they stop the killer before they strike again?

Set in 1950’s Brighton, The Zig Zag Girl is an incredibly original combination of police work with the intriguing world of magic and variety shows. Now, I did figure it out but that didn’t bother me at all. The atmosphere, the fantastic setting and the fabulously colourful and sometimes quirky characters had me completely enthralled.

This cleverly plotted and addictive story had me utterly captivated and it’s such a delight to step away from the more modern crime fiction. DI Stephens doesn’t have access to all the fancy gadgets and resources that are around these days. No smartphones, no computers, no databases. All he has is his wit and his gut instinct and nobody bats an eyelid when he pulls in an amateur to help out with his investigation.

I’m glad I have this in-built urge to start a series at the beginning, no matter how many books there are already. Granted, I don’t know how the other books progress but I feel I may not have connected to these characters the way I did if I had jumped right into book four. As it is, I’m left wanting more from both of them as I’m sure there is a lot more background to discover about Stephens and Mephisto.

Elly Griffiths’ decision to tackle something completely different sure paid off. I enjoyed this historical mystery immensely and I can’t wait to find the time to get caught up on the rest of the series.

The Zig Zag Girl is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

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Book 15 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

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Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys #20BooksofSummer

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Author : Rachel Rhys
Title : Fatal Inheritance
Pages : 400
Publisher : Doubleday
Publication date : June 26, 2018

aboutthebook

1948: Eve Forrester is trapped in a loveless marriage, in a gloomy house, in a grey London suburb.

Then, out of the blue, she receives a solicitor’s letter. A wealthy stranger has left her a mystery inheritance. And to find out more, she must to travel to the glittering French Riviera.

There Eve discovers that her legacy is an enchanting pale pink villa overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Suddenly her life could not be more glamorous. But while she rubs shoulders with film-stars and famous writers, under the heat of the golden sun, rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge. Rivals who want her out of the way.

Alone in this beguiling paradise, Eve must unlock the story behind her surprise bequest – before events turn deadly.

mythoughts

One word : LOVE!!!! There. Now go and buy it.

I adored Rachel Rhys’ previous book, A Dangerous Crossing, and couldn’t wait to read more by her. I had super high expectations for Fatal Inheritance and needing to wait for the stunning hardcover to finally land on my doorstep was excruciating! However, within the first few pages I already knew it had most definitely been worth the wait.

There is something immensely captivating about the way Rachel Rhys writes and it only took minutes for me to find myself completely transported to 1948, where we are introduced to the character of Eve Forrester. To say Eve is a wee miserable might be a slight understatement. Caught up in loveless marriage and living in a grey London suburb in a gloomy house where nothing is to her taste, she often wonders if this is it. Is this the best it’ll ever be?

But then she receives a letter, telling her of an inheritance left to her by a wealthy stranger. To find out more, Eve needs to travel all the way to the south of France. But with a family resentful of her status as an heir, all is not fierce sunshine and lovely smelling flowers.

Set right after the second world war, there was no hardship at all in sympathising with Eve’s circumstances. After all, women had been doing their bit during the war, finding their own feet and surviving, doing jobs intended for men as they were off fighting. Yet now, they are expected to go back to being submissive. Eve’s husband, in particular, is incredibly domineering and highly unlikeable. Her trip to France, where she gets to mingle with celebrities and get a taste of how things could be, will change her life.

I’ve never been to the south of France but the gloriously vivid descriptions made it incredibly easy to imagine the sights, the scents and the feeling of the sun on my skin. Although considering I read this in the middle of a heatwave, the latter wasn’t too hard to do. The mystery as to who has left Eve this inheritance is slowly revealed throughout the story and while I did figure bits out quite early on, it didn’t bother me at all.

Fatal Inheritance is historical fiction from the top shelf. It’s mysterious and exquisitely written. One to savour and enjoy and be utterly immersed in. Did I mention I loved it? I absolutely can’t wait for more by Rachel Rhys!

Fatal Inheritance is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

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Book 14 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

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The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware #20BooksofSummer

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Author : Ruth Ware
Title : The Death of Mrs Westaway
Pages : 384
Publisher : Harvill Secker
Publication date : June 28, 2018

aboutthebook

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

mythoughts

Oh boy, I have absolutely no idea how to tackle this review and get across how much I loved The Death of Mrs Westaway. 

Hal receives a letter telling her she’s inherited something. She’s convinced names were mixed up and this inheritance isn’t meant for her. But debts and threats spur her on to rely on the cold-reading skills she’s picked up as a tarot card reader to convince everyone she is a rightful heir and maybe get herself out of trouble.

Despite the fact Hal is about to commit fraud, I couldn’t help but warm to her. She’s a very likeable and complicated character who has fallen on hard times and I was rooting for her all the way, wishing she could get some sort of happy ending.

The Death of Mrs Westaway is not packed full of action, nor would I call it a thriller. It has quite a slow pace but it’s nevertheless incredibly engrossing and as the tension gradually builds up throughout the story, I felt I just couldn’t put it down. It’s an intensely gripping mystery that held my attention, kept me guessing and I devoured it in one day. The Westaway family has secrets like no other and I enjoyed trying to unravel them.

I found this to be quite the dark and haunting story, set against the glorious and slightly creepy feeling of a neglected mansion. It oozes atmosphere and has that delightful gothic vibe to it. The immensely mysterious and character-driven plot full of intrigue had me completely enthralled from start to finish and Ruth Ware’s brilliant writing totally won me over.

This is the first book I’ve read by Ruth Ware and it left me feeling like I’d seriously been missing out. So much so that it prompted me to buy her other books and I can’t wait to find the time to get caught up. For now though, this one shoots right up my list of top books of the year and I highly recommend it!

The Death of Mrs Westaway is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

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Book 11 from my 20 Books of Summer list

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The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis @EmilyGunnis @headlinepg @annecater #blogtour #RandomThingsTours

Delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my review copy.

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Author : Emily Gunnis
Title : The Girl in the Letter
Pages : 384
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : August 1, 2018

aboutthebook

In the winter of 1956 pregnant young Ivy is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a home for unmarried mothers in the south of England, run by nuns, to have her child. Her baby daughter is adopted. Ivy will never leave.

Sixty years later, journalist Samantha stumbles upon a series of letters from Ivy to her lover, pleading with him to rescue her from St Margaret’s before it is too late. As Sam pieces together Ivy’s tragic story, terrible secrets about St Margaret’s dark past begin to emerge. What happened to Ivy, to her baby, and to the hundreds of children born in the home? What links a number of mysterious, sudden deaths in the area? And why are those who once worked at St Margaret’s so keen that the truth should never be told? As Sam unpicks the sinister web of lies surrounding St Margaret’s, she also looks deep within – to confront some unwelcome truths of her own…

mythoughts

Wow! The Girl in the Letter has left me rather speechless and let me tell you that doesn’t happen very often. I feel quite lost for words and slightly incapable of forming any kind of coherent sentence, nor do I have a clue as to how to do this novel justice.

In her debut novel, Emily Gunnis tackles one of the most disturbing topics in history. That of the mother and baby homes, where single expecting mothers were sent to give birth away from the disapproving eyes of relatives and neighbours. They were often forced to give their babies up for adoption with no hope of ever seeing them again.

The story starts in 1956 when young Ivy is sent to St. Margaret’s. Abandoned by her family and the boy who got her pregnant, the circumstances in which she finds herself are utterly devastating.  Sixty years later, reporter Samantha stumbles upon letters written by Ivy while at the mother and baby home. Samantha senses there’s a story here that needs to be told. What happened to Ivy? Where is Ivy’s baby? What secrets and lies hide behind the walls of the home?

I don’t want to give too much away about the plot. Yes, there are a few mysteries to be solved and questions to be answered but to be honest, they all kind of melted into the background for me. This was all so realistic and believable, as history has proven it to be, that it near had me in bits. Ivy’s letters are immensely harrowing and the events she describes are incredibly disturbing. I can’t even begin to imagine the hardship of daily life at the home, the loss of a child. Not just at the home but also in later life. It’s devastating to realise that so many people got away with these atrocities.

The Girl in the Letter is a thought-provoking, moving and utterly heartbreaking novel that nearly had me in tears. It made me sad, it made me angry and it’s a novel I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. I’m not entirely sure I’ve managed to get across the impact this novel had on me but I do so hope I’ve said enough to make you want to pick this one up. This is an absolutely incredible debut novel by Emily Gunnis and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

The Girl in the Letter is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

I’ve wanted to be an author since my mum, Penny Vincenzi, got her first book deal when I was 13. We’d spend hours walking and talking about the worlds her characters inhabited and unpicking any plot dead ends she’d found herself in. I absolutely loved it – this is what I wanted to do!

Fast forward 30 years and I’ve discovered it’s a great deal harder than my mother made it look! But still, here I am.

After graduating I wrote scripts and had two episodes of BBC Doctors commissioned but didn’t like all the input from Script Editors and Producers. So, while I worked in various PA jobs I decided to go for it and just kept learning as much as I could until I sold my debut novel, The Girl in the Letter, which is published on eBook on 1st August 2018 and paperback in April 2019. I really hope you enjoy it, and my follow-up novel which I’m busy researching now!

I live in Sussex with my husband Steve and our two beautiful girls, Grace and Eleanor.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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The Lost Letters by Sarah Mitchell @bookouture #blogtour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Lost Letters by Sarah Mitchell. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for the invitation to join and the review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

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Author : Sarah Mitchell
Title : The Lost Letters
Pages : 322
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : August 2, 2018

aboutthebook

Canada, present day

When Martha’s beloved father dies, he leaves her two things: a mysterious stash of letters to an English woman called ‘Catkins’ and directions to a beach hut in the English seaside town of Wells-Next-The-Sea. Martha is at a painful crossroads in her own life, and seizes this chance for a trip to England – to discover more about her family’s past, and the identity of her father’s secret correspondent.

Norfolk, 1940

Sylvia’s husband Howard has gone off to war, and she is struggling to raise her two children alone. Her only solace is her beach hut in Wells, and her friendship with Connie, a woman she meets on the beach. The two women form a bond that will last a lifetime, and Sylvia tells Connie something that no-one else knows: about a secret lover… and a child.

But the tragedy of war brings heartbreaking choices. And a promise made between the two women will echo down the years, and could change everything for Martha…

mythoughts

Dual timeline historical fiction set in World War II? Don’t mind if I do!

The story starts with Martha whose father recently passed away. He was in the middle of writing his memoirs but the first twenty years of his life are missing. Amongst his effects, Martha and her sister find letters to someone called Catkins and a reservation for a hotel and beach hut in Norfolk. Martha seizes this opportunity to cross the Atlantic to look for answers.

In the chapters dealing with the past, we meet Sylvie. Her husband is away fighting in the war and she’s left to raise her two children on her own. When her aunt dies, Sylvie suddenly finds herself in possession of a beach hut. One day, she meets Connie and their friendship will change lives forever.

What started out a bit on the slow side, soon had me enthralled. It provided the perfect opportunity for me to get to know Martha and she quite often made me smile. With chapters switching between Martha in the present and Sylvie in the past, there is quite a lot to enjoy. Sylvie’s story provides the perfect background, whereas Martha’s is mostly where the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. Just when I thought I had figured it all out, the author led me in a different direction. There are plenty of twists in this story but they all felt quite natural.

Part of the story deals with the topic of the evacuation of children. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that must have been for everyone involved. For a parent to decide that they need to let their children go in order to keep them safe is not a choice any parent is willing to make. Will they ever see their children again? For the children who are sent away, to end up in a foreign country with people they don’t know … doesn’t bear thinking about. And we all know from history that not all the children were lucky enough to be treated well.

The Lost Letters is a thought-provoking and moving story about identity, family and friendship. With realistic and believable characters, clues to find and a mystery to solve, this will keep you entertained for hours. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and if a historical fiction mystery set in WWII is your thing, I have no doubt you will too.

The Lost Letters is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

After graduating from Cambridge University, Sarah Mitchell practised as a barrister in London for 20 years, working in the field of human rights and European Law. She was tempted to write fiction for a long while and finally signed up for an introductory creative writing course with the Open University. Two years later she took a sabbatical from the bar to do an MA in Creative Writing at the UEA and has never looked back. THE LOST LETTERS is her first novel, inspired by a walk on the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea to calm her nerves before starting the MA, and the decision her grandparents almost made to evacuate her mother to Canada at the start of the Second World War. Sarah now lives back in Norfolk – where she grew up – with her husband and three almost-grown-up children, and combines writing with some legal work.

Author links : Twitter

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Murder on the Marshes by Clare Chase @bookouture #blogtour

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Murder on the Marshes by Clare Chase! My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for the invitation to join and for the review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

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Author : Clare Chase
Title : Murder on the Marshes
Series : Tara Thorpe Mystery #1
Pages : 346
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : July 31, 2018

aboutthebook

As the sun rises, a young woman – Samantha Seabrook – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a deserted Cambridge courtyard, the only clue – an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat.

It’s Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving death threats… rather like the one that landed on Tara’s doorstep the night the woman died.

Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara tracks the killer to the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they live… or die.

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Welcome to Cambridge and its elite university colleges, whose foundations will be rocked by the murder of one of their own. Samantha Seabrook is found drowned in the fountain of a courtyard. The only clue is a silver chain. How did Samantha get access to this courtyard? Who would want to harm her and why?

The investigation into Samantha’s murder falls into the hands of DI Blake, but he isn’t the only one tracking a killer. Tara Thorpe is a journalist, whose boss wants her to write an article about the life and death of Samantha Seabrook. But when Tara receives a warning and realises this same warning was sent to Samantha before she was killed, things become personal. Can DI Blake and Tara Thorpe find the culprit before it’s too late?

The gorgeous Cambridge setting is in stark contrast with the backstabbing, rivalry and competitiveness of the professors at the college. Bar maybe one or two, nobody comes across as especially likeable and everyone seems to have something to hide. Throughout, there is the fascinating angle of the privileged versus the ones who come from nothing and had to work extraordinary hard to get where they are now.

The prologue sets the tone for things to come but its relevance isn’t revealed until the end. I do so enjoy that as I keep going over things like that in my head, trying to figure out how that little teaser fits into the story. For the record, I didn’t have a clue. Nor did I have the tiniest inkling about who the murderer was.

One investigation but two different ways of tackling it and both really held my interest. As a journalist, Tara has other resources available to her than DI Blake has, and vice versa. In their own ways they do the same thing with the same goal in mind. Talk to people, find the clues, put together the pieces of the puzzle and ultimately find the truth. And in Tara’s case, stay alive, as that first warning won’t be the last.

This first instalment in the Tara Thorpe Mystery series does exactly what it needs to. It’s gripping and compelling, has a wonderful setting and introduces us to fantastic characters both professionally and personally. There are plenty more things to discover about both DI Blake and Tara Thorpe and the conclusion of this first book sets things up perfectly for the follow-up. A brilliant start that will leave you wanting more!

Murder on the Marshes is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Clare Chase writes women sleuth mysteries and recently signed a three-book deal with Bookouture for a new crime series set in Cambridge. The opening book, Murder on the Marshes, is available for pre-order and will publish in July 2018. The mystery follows investigative journalist Tara Thorpe as she teams up with Detective Garstin Blake to solve the murder of a young female professor at Cambridge University. The case takes them through the dark underbelly of Cambridge and in to the murky fens that surround the centuries-old city. The second and third books in the series are scheduled for publication in late 2018/early 2019.

After graduating from London University with a degree in English Literature, Clare moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She’s fascinated by the city’s contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies, with her husband and teenage children, presents a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.

Clare’s debut novel, You Think You Know Me, was shortlisted for the Novelicious Undiscovered Award 2012, and an EPIC award in 2015. It was also chosen as a debut of the month by Lovereading.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena @sharilapena @ThomasssHill @TransworldBooks #20BooksofSummer

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Author : Shari Lapena
Title : An Unwanted Guest
Pages : 304
Publisher : Bantam Press / Transworld
Publication date : July 26, 2018

aboutthebook

We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

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Bless the insane heatwave and a nice bout of insomnia which allowed me to read this one in one sitting until the wee hours of the morning. I found myself so incredibly captivated from the first page that I didn’t even notice how late/early it was.

This Agatha Christie-esque scenario of a bunch of strangers trapped in a remote location will never get old, if you ask me. While the Inn sounds absolutely delightful when the guests arrive, things soon become a bit more creepy when the power goes out and you realise how many nooks and crannies this place has. Most of the time, I felt like was stumbling around in the dark just as much as the characters were.

After being introduced to the visitors to the Inn, I almost felt like a witness myself. Lounging on a sofa near the fireplace, checking out the people sitting around me, trying to figure them out and wondering what they were about. I had the urge to make a little spreadsheet, filling in what little information I was offered, adding tiny clues along the way. This is one of those stories, where I take a breather after each chapter, letting the new information I’ve gained sink in and try to figure things out before they are revealed to me.

I had a suspect in mind from the start, for reasons I obviously can’t divulge. There was a point where I briefly changed my mind but ultimately I went back to my original idea. To my surprise, it turned out I was right and I felt rather smug. Although, I couldn’t quite guess as to the motive behind it all.

An Unwanted Guest had me utterly engrossed from the very first page. With intriguing characters and no idea if there’d be another victim and who that would be, the nail-biting tension had me in its clutches until the end. Brilliantly written and intensely absorbing, I can see this murder mystery being in my list of top books of the year come December. And now I should really go check out some of Shari Lapena’s other books!

My thanks to Thomas Hill at Transworld for my review copy!

An Unwanted Guest is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

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Book 9 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

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