Art advisor Kate Carpenter has an off-the-books sideline in art recovery, dealing with thieves and gangsters to reunite valuable artworks with their owners. But this time she’s taking it up a notch. Only a day after her ex-boyfriend was convicted of assaulting her, she’s off to Belarus on the trail of a priceless van Gogh with a posse of ex-soldiers riding shotgun. Right now, the buzz of securing the return of that painting is just what she needs.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
As an introduction to the intrigues of the art world and Kate Carpenter, art recovery expert, this novella works well. The detailed story draws you into Kate’s world. It’s a fascinating place to be. The story has a steady build-up of suspense, pacy with a touch of gentle romance.
Kate is a complex character. Past events have left their emotional scars, and there’s an undercurrent of danger in her life. I’m looking forward to the first full-length novel after this insight into her world.
Midlander by birth, Scot by choice, Vanessa Robertson won Pitch Perfect at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. Death Will Find Me, a crime novel set in 1920s Edinburgh featuring former spy, Tessa Kilpatrick is her first novel. Later in 2019, Vanessa will be launching a series of thrillers set in the world of high stakes art crime, and the second Tessa Kilpatrick book will be published in early 2020.
Vanessa lives in a cottage in the middle of a Scottish wood with her family and an unfeasibly large dog. She enjoys wild beaches, Venetian cafes and wandering around art galleries. She dislikes celery, cheap notebooks and writing about herself in the third person.
The Princess of Felling was published in April 2019 by Northumbrian publisher Limelight Classics. The book describes my childhood and adolescence growing up on Tyneside in the 1970s and 1980s.
The book features a Foreword by TV, radio and book author Michael Chaplin, photographs of Felling taken in summer 2018 by Bulgarian photographer Rossena Petcova and unique maps inspired by my memories by poet and artist Steve Lancaster.
It also features appearances from David Almond, the Rev Richard Coles, Tracey Thorn, Sir Kingsley Amis, Bloodaxe Books, Nick Heyward and Gyles Brandreth.
The Princess of Felling resonates with readers of all ages in the North East and beyond.
As actor and Felling lass Jill Halfpenny says in the book, “Reading Elaine’s stories and poetry takes me back to my childhood in Felling and all of the smells, sounds and tastes of that time. Her words allow me to remember things that I didn’t know I’d forgotten.”
Buy your copy in person from selected outlets including Hexham’s Cogito Books, Felling Volunteer Library, Newcastle Central Library, Happy Planet Studio and Gallery in Whitley Bay.
The author says “The Felling I describe belongs to me” and that personal connection dominates the writing and makes it immersive. The introduction describes how The Princess of Felling got its name and the years of memories, scrapbook items, notes written from conversations with her family and old poems and writing that the author kept for several years before this book’s creation.
The writing uses the dialect and words used by those who lived in The Felling, for those who are unfamiliar with it, there is a helpful glossary at the back of commonly used colloquial words. How she learnt to say familiar words like street names is the subject of an early chapter, and it makes me think back to my childhood, and what it was like in the 1970s, when I was growing up.
The Princess of Felling is a beautifully produced bright and glossy book that contains engaging writing and lovely photographs.
The book has been promoted by differing events every month including a gig in a pie and mash shop in Tynemouth and a London book launch in a Bloomsbury pub.
The Princess has ruled my life since 2017 when my Mam died after living with dementia for almost four years. The 2,000 word essay I was working on morphed into a 22,000 word manuscript.
The Princess project includes a prequel, The Princess and the Goose plus a “mini musical” called The Princess and the Piano. I’ve written with musician Mike Waller. The vibe is Gilbert and Sullivan meets Rogers and Hammerstein. We’ve performed it about five times this year and at the weekend we recorded the songs. I will be releasing them on digital platforms and possibly as a limited edition CD in the spring.
“It’s perfect! I picture it like the Hundred Acre Wood…only in Felling. Just as magic, though.”
“Was so tempted to gobble this down in one sitting but forced myself to savour small delightful morsels. Just beautiful. And I’d forgotten all about skinshees!”
“In parts it’s educational, nostalgic, humorous, sometimes evoking sad memories for me and lovely memories too. The story telling is seamless and impressive; I summed it up as being a delight!”
“It isn’t long enough! You get to the end and you want more! I love that it’s full of nostalgia and gentle pathos, but shot through with such a delightful, whimsical humour. It’s made me do what I never imagined I’d do: roam around the streets of Felling on Google Earth, looking for the places where these magic events occurred.”
Renee Clarke is perfectly happy just the way she is…
Renee may be thrilled to be planning her sister’s wedding, but after witnessing her mother’s two failed marriages, she has always vowed that she is better off on her own.
But when Renee discovers that Luc Hardy has moved next door, her world is knocked off kilter. Luc was her whirlwind summer romance as a teen and, more importantly, her first love. Now he’s back in West Cove, looking more handsome than ever.
There is no escaping the romance in the air this summer. With the wedding planning in full swing, Renee begins to believe that she might be able to put her childhood reservations about marriage aside.
Yet when her mother arrives, she stirs a torrent of emotions in Renee’s heart. She’s up to her old tricks again–boasting about her latest conquests–reaffirming Renee’s lack of faith in love.
As Renee’s happily-ever-after hangs in the balance, will Luc be able to convince her that true love can last forever?
I received a copy of this book from HQ and the author in return for an honest review.
Barefoot on the Beach is a second chance romance with family drama. The multilayered plot delves into dysfunctional family dynamics. It explores how children may be affected by the success or failure of their parent’s relationship. Renee is anti-marriage because of her mother’s influence, even when she meets Luc again, she is wary of falling in love.
As she plans her sister’s wedding, she reacquaints with Luc. Their chances of happy ever are remote in the face of their internal conflicts and past nurturing. The setting is well described and immersive, the perfect wedding location.
A gently paced story because of Renee’s internal analysis of her family relationships and her view of marriage, but the romance is lovely and eventually finds a way to win. Believable, strong characters and simple but effective plotting tell an engaging story of family relationships and love in an iconic New England setting.
Coming from a small town in Western Massachusetts, Katlyn Duncan always had her head in the clouds. Working as a scientist for most of her adult life, she enjoyed breaking down the hows and whys of life. This translated into her love of stories and getting into the minds of her characters.
Currently, she’s a full-time author and freelance writer. When she’s not writing, she’s obsessing over many (many) television series’.
She currently resides in Southern New England with her family. Check out more about her writing and current TV addiction in her newsletter, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
Jess’s life was turned upside down when her blog went viral. Now, with hundreds of thousands of followers, Jess is now navigating the trials and tribulations of a world online.
Being a mummy blogger was original an escape, but now it seems to be turning into a career. And after one wrong post on her social media channels, Jess discovers that life in the spotlight isn’t always peachy.
With a new baby on the way, the possibility of starring in a reality TV show and a husband who’s struggling with his wife’s new-found fame, Jess has a lot going on.
Jess needs to decide whether this is everything she wanted it to be or whether this is all a bit too much for her? Can Jess persevere against the haters, rise up above the pettiness and find the perfect balance of life in the real world and life online?
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus- Aria in return for an honest review.
Mum’s Big Break is another enjoyable chapter about Jess, her family and her life as a successful mummy blogger. Now a ‘celebrity’ social influencer Jess finds that blogging isn’t the escape it was. Amusing anecdotes and an insiders insight into the world of mummy blogging and social influencers make this a delightful read.
Mum’s Big Break is a contemporary, engaging, and humorous story about life as a mummy blogger.
Excerpt From Mum’s Big Break – Louise Emma Clark
Truthfully, she’d been a bit surprised by how much time had been demanded by the staff at the hotel, but it was too late now. She’d accepted the holiday and she had to do the work – even if that meant being dragged away from her sunbed to listen to a monologue about the interior design decisions behind an overwhelmingly brown conference hall.
It was a few hours before she was able to say her goodbyes and scurry back to the pool, but when she arrived, Chris and Bella were nowhere to be seen. Looking down at her phone and realising it was now midday and Bella had probably been tired and grouchy, she made her way up to their room.
She’d never set eyes on a hotel suite before this holiday, let alone stayed in one, and when they first arrived and were shown to their room, it had taken them a good five minutes to explore, eyes wide with shock. There were two bedrooms, joined together by a large lounge. Wardrobes opened up to reveal storage space the size of small rooms just for their clothes and shoes. Everything inside the suite was perfectly matched in hues of dark wood and warm tones of caramel-brown, and vast, floor to ceiling windows showed off the view to its absolute best.
From their balcony, they could see the whole of Jumeirah Beach stretched to the left and right of them. The white sand, the colour of the sea a perfect reflection of the cornflower-blue sky above, hotels dotted along the coast, the impressive Burj Al Arab hotel shaped like the sail of a boat to their right, and a big wheel that seemed to be sat on its very own island to their left.
Looking directly down from their balcony to the hotel grounds, a series of pools stretched invitingly in front of their hotel.
‘Seven pools, to be exact,’ their concierge had informed them on that first night. ‘Three general pools that everyone can use, one saltwater pool, one shallow pool for children, one adult-only pool, one pool for swimming laps, and a swimmable canal that connects them all.’
The biggest pool was directly below them, with the words ‘THE MERRYGOLD’ stamped on the bottom in large, black letters. And as swimmers disturbed the surface of the water, the letters shimmered and danced in the sunlight.
It was, without doubt, the most impressive hotel that Jessica had set foot in.
In fact, the room alone was so inviting that Jessica was quite tempted to spend the full week inside it, relying on room service and gawping at the views, but with a nearly-two-year-old in tow, that was never going to happen.
Jessica made it back to the room and stood in front of the heavy mahogany door with 3008 monogrammed in gold letters, pulling her key card from the pocket of her bag to unlock it. As the light flickered green, she pushed the door as gently as possible.
‘Sssshhh,’ Chris hissed, turning towards the door from his armchair. ‘F**k’s sake, Jess, please don’t wake her!’
‘Seriously?’ Jessica whispered. ‘What was I supposed to do? Beam myself through the door?’
Chris rolled his eyes.
‘You know,’ Jessica continued. ‘This hotel room is nearly as big as our house. She’s got her own room, Chris! You’re sat out here lording it up with your iPad and she’s fast asleep in her own room, with the door closed. How was I ever going to wake her?’
‘Lording it up with my iPad?’ Chris repeated slowly. ‘Good one. That’s obviously what I’ve been doing while you’ve been swanning around conference rooms for the last couple of hours…’
‘Oh whatever,’ Jessica said, shaking her head. ‘Anyway, what have you been doing while I’ve been gone? Has she been OK?’
‘No,’ Chris said. ‘She’s been a bit of a bloody nightmare actually. She was tired and hungry, and she wanted Mummy as soon as you disappeared. We waited for as long as we could, as I thought it would be nice to have lunch together, but I needed to give her something to eat in the end. Not that she enjoyed the chips I ordered her… Most of them ended up on the bloody floor, so she’s probably gone to bed hungry.’
Louise’s blog, Mum of Boys and Mabel has over 100k followers. Having moved to Dubai with her family she’s now back in the UK and is enjoying writing. From Mum with Love was her debut novel.
1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape – one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…
Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.
Moving between the Tudor era and the present day,The Forgotten Sister draws on one of history’s most compelling mysteries.
I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.
This story rooted in historical fact weaves a tale of ambition, deceit, love and the paranormal, which engages and informs. The ultimate betrayal in the Tudor times, echoes over the centuries, with a series of tragic consequences.
Based on the mystery surrounding the death of Amy Robsart, the circumstances of her marriage, are explored, amid the intrigue of the Tudor court. In the present day, there is a suspicious death of another Amy, whose marriage was in tatters. Lizzie running away from a media scandal reconnects with Johnny, who is sure she has a historical link to the present tragedy.
Intricately woven contemporary and historical storylines enlivened with complex characters and authentic settings, make this an addictive story.
Every cloud has a silver lining… doesn’t it? Anna is thirteen years old, lives in London with her father, and has Asperger’s syndrome. When her father dies, she moves to Scotland to live with her estranged, reclusive mother. With little support to help her fit in, she must use every coping strategy her father taught her—especially her ‘Happy Game’—as she tries to connect with her mother, discover her past, and deal with the challenges of being thrown into a brand new life along the way.
Laura Guthrie grew up in the rural Scottish Highlands (“I come from where the planes don’t fly”). Her creative influences include Nessie and the elusive ‘Caiplich Beast’, as well as some choice authors and their works.
She has an honours degree in biological sciences from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Glasgow.
Willow has been living with marriage-shy Charlie for more years than she cares to remember and is old-fashioned enough to want a wedding band and a loads-of-sex honeymoon before stretchmarks and nipple shields.
So when the once-wary Charlie surprisingly goes down on one knee, Willow doesn’t question why her boyfriend is suddenly so keen to rush her into saying “I do”.
The first clue comes as Willow is zipped into her Cinderella dress, the second as she bobs into the wedding car, and the third as the Roller swings towards its fairy-tale destination… leaving a shell-shocked Willow desperately trying to figure out what to do next.
A bride can do anything she wants on her wedding day, but nobody expected her to do this…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Willow is a lovely woman, loyal, naive and much too good for her live-in lover Charlie. Charlie is self-absorbed, deceitful and narcissistic. So not a couple destined for happiness, nevertheless Willow wants to marry him.
It’s hard to find redeeming features in most of this story’s main characters, except Willow and Emma. Yet, this story works, following Charlie’s numerous infidelities and the payback he gradually receives is darkly amusing. The plot has many twists, which I guessed, but despite this, the ending is dramatic and satisfying.
Prior to turning her attention to writing, Debbie Viggiano was, for more years than she cares to remember, a legal secretary. She lives with her Italian husband, a rescued pooch from Crete, and a very grumpy cat. Occasionally her adult children return home bringing her much joy… apart from when they want to raid the fridge or eat her secret stash of chocolate.
This is the first book in the Falling for You series and ends with a ‘happy for now’ conclusion.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Ella is eighteen and naive. Life’s not been easy for her, bullied at school, losing her father and uncle, and then emigrating with her sisters to Kansas to live on her deceased uncles farm, has left her hurting and vulnerable.
Being teased by some local young men reminds her of past bullying and makes her shy and withdrawn. An instant connection with one of group unsettles her. Told entirely from Ella point of view in the first person, the reader feels everything she does, and it makes the story immersive and intense. From a slow start, the story soon becomes addictive reading. Ella is an engaging character, easy to empathise and like.
Her emotions and motivations are well described and portray a young woman on the brink of falling in love perfectly. The precarious financial situation Ella and her sisters are in, draws them into a world they are both unfamiliar with and unprepared for.
The explosive chemistry between Adam and Ella make the love scenes, hot and passionate. Adam’s secrets lead to conflict and danger for Ella. Ella’s vulnerability is an underlying theme, and some of the situations she faces, are disturbing. Her character development is notable and makes her character believable and relatable.
The plot is intriguing and makes reading the next book in the series a must.
Julia is an avid reader of all things romance, and she has read hundreds of books across a variety of sub-genres and began writing her own novels in 2018. Four books are currently in various stages of editing and completion, the first of which is finished and will be on sale in spring 2020.
Julia has always been passionate about languages and fiction and has a degree in Languages And Trade and an A-Level in English Literature. When Julia is not writing or editing her own novels, she usually has her nose in books by other authors and is otherwise kept busy caring for her family, going to the gym and carrying out her day job. Julia lives on the South Coast of England with her two children, husband and cats.
The stunning new thriller from the authors of Serial Damage. In a sleepy country village, Detective Inspector Robin Marshal – now in retirement – is nearly killed by a stranger. His friend Alice, a police psychiatrist, discovers that the murder attempt was almost certainly ordered by a terrifying criminal, ‘Big Mack’, currently incarcerated in a notoriously violent prison. There his criminal kingdom controls not only the inmates but many of the guards, through the power of money and the threat of extreme violence.
When Alice goes to work in the prison to find out more, she too becomes a target, her car machine-gunned on a country road, and Robin is attacked again while recovering in Spain.
Under pressure from an outraged public and with political concern rising, the authorities try to put a stop to Big Mack’s activities. But everyone is under threat when he is suddenly at large following a murderous escape. How can this evil kingpin be stopped?
I received a copy of this book from Urbane Publications in return for an honest review.
Suspenseful and sinister this story starts with an unexpected and near-fatal attack. The action keeps the adrenaline pumping throughout the book’s twists and turns. Ex-policeman Robin and psychologist Alice have been in the line of fire before. They have history and are firm friends. Some of the characters previously featured in the first novel, Serial Damage.
The insight into prison life and problems is well-researched. The characters are realistically flawed and don’t shy away from moral dilemmas. The character development focuses on the protagonists, but a little more insight into the antagonists would have increased impact on the reader.
I like the pacy, short-headed chapters and the gradual suspense building, which rises and falls believably. The ending is clever and unexpected.
Liz Cowley, whose family comes from Connemara, is a long-time fan of poetry, she enjoyed success with her first collection, A Red Dress, published in 2008 and her second, What am I Doing Here? (2010), which were then made into a theatrical show. Her next book ‘And guess who he was with?’ published in 2013, and two poetry books for gardeners, Outside in my Dressing Gown, and Gardening in Slippers, are bestsellers. Serial Damage was her first novel.
Her latest thriller, Locked in Fear, written with Donough O’Brien publishes in March 2020.
Donough enjoyed a successful marketing career in Britain, Ireland and the US. His previous books include Fame by Chance, Banana Skins, Numeroid, and In the Heat of Battle: a study of those who rose to the occasion in warfare and those who didn’t. His latest historical book was WHO? The most remarkable people you’ve never heard of. He has co-authored thrillers Peace Breaks Out with Robin Hardy and Serial Damage with his wife Liz Cowley.
His latest book Locked in Fear will be published in March 2020.
I received a copy of this book from Urbane Books in return for an honest review.
Having read Dancers in the Wind the first book, in the Hannah Weybridge series, I eagerly anticipated reading this fourth book and it is an addictive read. Hannah, an investigative journalist, is a dedicated investigator. She believes justice for the victim is worth the personal danger. As a single mother, Hannah is a realistic character, with contemporary relatability. The 1990s setting means less advanced forensic science and technology, making deduction and intuition skills vital, for crime investigation.
The plot is original and cleverly written, full of menace and twists, to keep you reading. There are connections to previously known characters, but the story is standalone.
For most of her working life in publishing, Anne has had a foot in both camps as a writer and an editor, moving from book publishing to magazines and then freelancing in both. Having edited both fiction and narrative non-fiction, she has also had short stories published in a variety of magazines including Bella and Candis and is the author of seven non-fiction books. Telling stories is Anne’s first love and nearly all her short fiction as well as Dancers in The Wind and Death’s Silent Judgement began with a real event followed by a ‘what if …’. That is also the case with the two prize-winning 99Fiction.net stories: Codewords and Eternal Love.