Time’s running out for DCI Hunter.
His wife and child are missing, perhaps even dead. Unable to pursue those
responsible he’s transferred to the wild landscape of Cornwall where another
child has disappeared.
Alice Trevelyan’s father has his
own agenda and wants retribution for the loss of his little girl and metes out
his own violent justice.
Will Trevelyan help or hinder?
Hunter has to make his move if he
wants to save Starlight.
But can anyone in this remote location be trusted?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This story begins with a dead child on the beach, as many police procedurals do, but this story is dark, focusing on organised child abuse. There are two main protagonists, one is a war veteran, whose daughter is missing, he seeks and achieves a level of vigilante justice, which is graphically described. Hunter the Detective Chief Inspector, is a mysterious man. Who he is working for in not clear until the conclusion.
The story portrays the depravity and scope of organised child abuse well, and the ending reflects this. It is not an easy book to read. The graphic descriptions make this story slip into the horror fiction genre. The ethos of conspiracy and evil is clear from the outset.
The plot is good, but the frenetic pacing and execution make the characters hard to identify and keep track of. Clearly, this is purposeful, the author wants you to be confused, who is guilty? Who can you trust? Is the protection and safety of the children the primary aim of the protagonists?
The ending is well thought out and realistic.
A dramatic interpretation of contemporary evil, which leaves you with little hope for a society that doesn’t protect the innocent and vulnerable.
David Pipe was born in 1949 in a small Essex village. He attended a local grammar school, then the University of Hull where he took a B.Sc in chemistry. He worked in the pharmaceutical industry in England and South Africa before studying for a PhD in organic chemistry at Imperial College. After spells at universities in Geneva and Mulhouse he joined the oil industry in Germany where, aged 53, he gratefully took a redundancy package. Following a period of self-employment he wound down his business, eventually giving it up to scratch the writing itch which has produced Sacrificing Starlight, a timely reminder of the risks our children face and Henry’s Tale, where ghostwriting for his furry friend he describes the emotional growth of a puppy on the rollercoaster of life, compressed into a few weeks because puppies learn faster than their staff.
When he’s not writing David spends his time travelling, reading, swimming and jogging. He is married and lives in Hamburg with his wife and their Border terrier Henry. TwitterFacebook
When the boy was four, he asked his father why people needed sleep. His father said, ‘So God could unfuck all the things people fuck up.’
As America recovers from the Second World War, two families’ journeys begin. James Vincent, born in 1942 to an Irish-American family, escapes his parents’ turbulent marriage and attends law school in New York, where he moves up the social ladder as a prosperous and bright attorney. Meanwhile, Agnes Miller, a beautiful black woman on a date with a handsome suitor, is pulled over by the police on a rural road in Georgia. The terrible moments that follow make her question her future and pivot her into a hasty marriage and new life in the Bronx.
Illuminating more than six decades of sweeping change – from the struggle for civil rights and the chaos of Vietnam to Obama’s first year as President – James and Agnes’s families will come together in unexpected, intimate and profoundly human ways.
Romantic and defiant, humorous and intellectually daring, Regina Porter brilliantly explores how race, gender and class collide in modern-day America – and charts the mishaps and adventures we often take to get closer to ourselves and to home.
I received a copy of this book from Random House UK- Vintage Publishing -Jonathan Cape via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This book has sat on my virtual to be read pile all Summer, maybe I subconsciously knew that it would be a challenging read, and this weekend I found out I was right, it was. Though, not the way I thought.
It is an epic story, a family saga spanning an iconic period in USA history. It focuses on family, racism, sexuality, sex discrimination, as well as a myriad of other politically and socially significant themes, but it explores them through two families. One black, one white, and the ways they interconnect, sometimes intimately, other times just for a moment in time. This is an intensely personal way of exploring the modern-day history of the USA. It brings it to life, recalling memories for some, and making it real for the younger generation, who didn’t live through it.
Six decades are covered and the cast of character is plentiful, but it is the way the story is written that I find challenging. It is best described as a series of short stories, each featuring members, of the two families, often at a notable historical time point. Many of the scenes are retold more than once, being seen from another point of view. Whilst, this reinforces the effect of the historic event, it does make the reader feel they are experiencing a groundhog day.
If you can accept the unusual structure, which would work seamlessly in visual media, not surprisingly, the author is a playwright. The story is enlightening, humourous, poignant and romantic, illuminated with rich historical detail. Full of vivid imagery, the reader can visualise what is happening, how it affects the participants, and the story as a whole, very easily.
So, if you enjoy historical literary fiction, and are prepared to let it absorb you without worrying about who did what, and why do you have to see it, from so many perspectives. This is a story that will sweep you away, in time and place, whilst also illuminating the political and social struggles of the USA’s citizens in an influential sixty-year period.
In the sleepy town of Lost Maidens Loch, people sometimes disappear…
Down a quiet lane in town sits a little shop full of oddities you’d probably miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is Love’s Curiosities Inc., and its owner, Temerity Love, is sought by experts all over the world for her rare and magical gift: the ability to find lost things and learn their stories.
When Lost Maidens’ pretty local school teacher is found murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, a strange antique hand mirror is discovered nearby. Temerity – with the help of witchy sister Tilda, their cats Scylla and Charybdis and the lovingly eccentric local townspeople – is determined to divine the story behind the mirror and its part in Miss Molly Bayliss’ untimely death.
If only grumpy out-of-towner Angus Harley of Lost Maidens Police wasn’t on the scene. Temerity can’t solve the crime without him, but he’s distracting, and in more ways than one. Can this unconventional duo solve the most mysterious murder ever to blight Lost Maidens Loch before the killer strikes again?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story has all the ingredients for a perfect escape. Cozy mystery, with a touch of magic, and vividly created characters and setting. Set in a small town in the Scottish Highlands, the loch has a mystical significance, well understood by psychic Temerity, and her herbalist sister Tilda. Temerity’s gift manifested when her first love died tragically at the Loch, something she feels inherently guilty for. Both women feel tied to the small town and they are intrinsic to its wellbeing.
The villagers accept the women, although gossip has it that they are witches, with their two seemingly lazy cats and an opinionated parrot. Temerity’s give for psychometry, has proved useful to the police in the past, but the new officer in the town isn’t convinced. Maybe he’s worried about his secrets?
There is so much in this first book to absorb the reader and capture their interest. The setting is authentic and described so well that you can visualise it. The mystical ethos, and legend that surrounds it add to its appeal. The protagonists are complex characters full of flaws and hidden layers. Some of which, are revealed in this book. Some are hinted at, to be revealed later in the series? The small-town dynamic works, the sense of community and gossip is evident. The cast of characters colourful and mostly easy to like.
The magical, witchy element is the icing on the cake, not too far-fetched, but outer-worldly enough to appeal. The cozy mystery is cleverly plotted, with lots of suspects, a dastardly murder, and plenty of clues and misinformation, to engage those who enjoy this.
A brilliant start to what promises to be an enchanting series, with wide appeal because we all need a little magic in our lives.
In the darkest days of the Blitz, family is more important than ever.
With her family struggling amidst the nightly bombing raids in London’s East End, Ida Brogan is doing her very best to keep their spirits up. The Blitz has hit the Brogans hard, and rationing is more challenging than ever, but they are doing all they can to help the war effort.
When Ida’s oldest friend Ellen returns to town, sick and in dire need of help, it is to Ida that she turns. But Ellen carries a secret, one that threatens not only Ida’s marriage but the entire foundation of the Brogan family. Can Ida let go of the past and see a way to forgive her friend? And can she overcome her sadness to find a place in her heart for a little boy, one who will need a mother more than ever in these dark times?
I received a copy of this book from Atlantic Books – Corvus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The sense of community, family and the austerity of wartime London is conveyed well in this historical family saga. Part of the ‘Ration Book’ series, none of, which I have read, it works well as a standalone. However, the engaging characters, historical detail and sense of place, make me want to read the earlier books.
1941, London has suffered two long years of war, rationing makes living difficult, and the ever-present threat of nightly bombing means that living each day to the full, and appreciating your family is vital. Ida Brogan is a character who does this, she values her family and still loves her husband, but the return of an old friend in need makes her question everything that has gone before. The main plot focuses on her struggle to come to terms with this unwanted knowledge, and how it affects the family she holds so dearly.
There are many subplots interwoven into the story that gives it authenticity, depth and variety, which keeps the reader turning the pages. Outstanding characters are Ida, Jeremiah and Queenie. They are complex and believably flawed. The plot is well-paced and gives enough detail for you to appreciate the ambience of London’s EastEnd in WW2, without slowing the pace. The relationships, rationing and sense of community are beautifully conveyed and relatable. They made me recall my grandparents’ and parents’ wartime experiences, retold on numerous occasions during my childhood.
A lovely blend of family drama and history, with a realistic balance of humour and poignancy.
Jean Fullerton is the author of twelve novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer. She won the Harry Bowling Prize in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is halfway through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story begins so quietly, but the subtle suspense builds very quickly. A dramatic twist leaves the reader reeling. Totally addicted, you have to find out what happens next.
There is a psychological element to this story, but not in the traditionalsense., as there is no clear, unreliable protagonist. Rather, this is a fast-paced crime thriller, with a well-thought-out police procedural, and a disturbing, menacing ethos. Thecrimes are not graphically depicted, but are harrowing and resonate.
Jenna Morgan is a likeable detective, who engages with the reader. This crime is personal, you see her flaws and vulnerability seeping through her professional exterior. She’s easy to empathise you want her to have the outcome she seeks.
With an interesting team of detectives, that all have their own stories, this promises to be an absorbing series. The detective team is male-dominated, which may be authentic, but it would be good to see more women on the team in future stories.
The clues to finding the killer are hidden in plain sight, but knowing who increases the intensity. The ending is a pure adrenaline rush.
Diane Saxon previously wrote romantic fiction for the US market but has now turned to write psychological crime. The Keeper is her first novel in this genre and introduces series character DS Jemma Morgan. It will be published by Boldwood in October 2019. She is married to a retired policeman and lives in Shropshire.
extract from The Keeper – Diane saxon
Friday 26 October, 15:45 hrs
Felicity Morgan jammed her car into third gear and took the tight bend
down the hill to Coalbrookdale with fierce relish. ‘It’s not right! It’s just
not right. I’m twenty-four years old, for God’s sake, and still being told what
to do!’ She pounded the palm of her hand on the steering wheel and whipped
around another curve. ‘
‘Not even told.’ She glanced in the mirror, her gaze clashing with
Domino’s. ‘Nope, she didn’t even have the decency to speak to me.’ She floored
the accelerator and snapped out a feral grin as the car skimmed over the humps
in the narrow road.
‘She texted me. A freakin’ text!’ She shot Domino another quick glance
and took her foot from the accelerator as the car flew under the disused
railway bridge, past the entrance to Enginuity, one of the Ironbridge Gorge
Guilt nudged at her. ‘I know. I know, Domino. We’ve barely seen each
other since I moved in because of her shifts and my workday, but for God’s
sake. A text? Really? She must have been so peed off to send me a text. It’s her
version of not talking to me. She’s done it all our lives.’ Fliss blew out a
disgusted snort. ‘What the hell did you eat this time? Her bloody precious
steak? One of her fluffy pink slippers? Hah!’
She appealed in the mirror to her silent companion. ‘She said, “Don’t
forget to walk the dog.”’ She pressed her foot on the brake and came to a halt,
sliding the gears into neutral as the traffic lights halfway down the hill
changed to red. They always did for her. Every bloody time. With a rebellious
kick on the accelerator, Fliss revved the engine.
‘She called you a dog, Domino. She couldn’t even be bothered to write
your name.’ She stared at the big, gorgeous and demanding Dalmatian in her rear
view mirror. Her lips kicked up as a smile softened her voice. ‘How could I
possibly forget to walk you?’
An ancient Austin Allegro puttered through the narrow track towards her
just as the traffic lights turned to green on her side. ‘Bloody typical.’
Domino raised his head to stare with aloof disdain at the passing Allegro
and Fliss sighed as the driver’s wrinkled face, as ancient as the car, barely
emerged above the steering wheel. ‘There was only once, a few weeks ago, I
forgot to walk you. You’d have thought Jenna would have understood. I was
hung-over from my break-up drinking bout. You, my darling, were suffering the
consequences of a broken home.’ She let out a derisive snort as she put the car
into first gear and glided through the lights, back in control of both her
temper and her vehicle.
‘Not that you ever really liked Ed. You were just being empathetic. You
sensed my…’ she drew in a long breath through her nose, ‘… devastation. You
sympathised with me. How was I to know you’d eat your Aunty Jenna’s kitchen
cupboard doors off while I was sleeping?’ They still bore the deep gouged teeth
marks. ‘We didn’t have any choice but to move in with Jenna. We couldn’t stay
with him. He was too mean. He wanted me to get rid of you. Said it was him or
She flopped her head back on the headrest. Ed. The perfect gentleman,
tender, gentle, an absolute charmer. To the outside world. Insidious,
controlling arse to her. It had taken so long to realise his subtle intention
to separate her from her mother, her sister, eventually Domino. The slick
manoeuvres to keep her to himself. Unnoticed until her mother fell ill, when,
in a flash, it all became clear.
‘Poor Domino.’ She glanced in her mirror to share
the sympathy between herself and her dog as she slowed down to pass the
stunning Edwardian building she worked in on her right. Coalbrookdale and
Ironbridge School dated back more than two hundred years and had firmly
entrenched roots at the centre of the Industrial Revolution. With the imposing
cooling towers of the Ironbridge power station behind, they shared domination
of the skyline from that angle.
‘Writing Fiction is a little
pot of gold… Screenplay by Syd
Field for film, Writing Fiction
by James Essinger for fiction. It’s that simple.’
novelist and screenwriter
Fiction – a user-friendly guide is a must-read if you want to write stories to a professional standard.
It draws on the author’s more
than thirty years of experience as a professional writer, and on the work and
ideas of writers including:
Martin Cruz Smith
The twenty-four chapters cover every important matter you need to know about, including devising a compelling story, creating and developing characters, plotting, ‘plants’, backstory, suspense, dialogue, ‘show’ and ‘tell’, and how to make your novel more real than reality.
Also featuring special guest advice from legendary screenwriter Bob Gale, who wrote the three immortal Back to the Future movies (1985, 1989 and 1990), and novelist and screenwriter William Osborne, whose many screen credits include the co-writing of the blockbuster Twins (1988), this highly entertaining book gives you all the advice and practical guidance you need to make your dream of becoming a published fiction writer come true.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
What I like about this non-fiction guide, to writing fiction is that is presented in a logical easy to use way. Beginning, with what the author considers fiction to be. Moving through a chapter by chapter guide to the fundamentals of fiction writing, with examples of why they are important, with input from industry professionals.
It covers a wide spectrum of fiction, and includes interesting analogies with screenwriting. This isn’t a workbook. There are examples, but no specific exercises for new writers to judge their content by. However, as an overall guide, and a useful reference book, for fiction writers, learning, or perfecting their craft it works.
The tone of the book is motivational, and the author’s experience and knowledge of the publishing industry are evident.
James Essinger has been a professional writer since 1988. His non-fiction books include Jacquard’s Web (2004), Ada’s Algorithm (2013), which is to be filmed by Monumental Pictures, and Charles and Ada: the computer’s most passionate partnership (2019). His novels include The Mating Game (2016) and The Ada Lovelace Project (2019).
Emily Parker is set to have
the worst Christmas ever!
Her flatmate’s moved out, she’s closed her heart to love and
she’s been put in charge of the school original Christmas show – with zero
Disgraced superstar, Ray Stone is in desperate need of a quick
PR turnaround. Waking up from a drunken stupor to a class of ten-year-olds
snapping pics and Emily looking at him was not what he had in mind.
Ray needs Emily’s help to delete the photos, and she needs his with the show. As they learn to work together they may just open their hearts to more than a second chance…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Children at Christmas are what make it special, and this lovely feelgood, festive romance has thirty-three children in its cast of characters. Don’t panic you haven’t got to remember all their names, only a few are introduced in-depth, but their enthusiasm, sense of wonder, and innocence as they embark on their festive show gives this story authenticity and a lovely Christmassy ethos.
Another positive theme in this story is its diversity. Many cultures and family groupings and beliefs are in evidence, reflecting contemporary life well.
Then, there’s the romance, which starts to grow between school teacher Emily and famous musician Ray, they meet serendipitously, at a low point in both their lives. They find something in each other that helps them to accept, heal, and move on from their emotional baggage, some of which is severe.
This is gently paced and detailed. You find out a lot about the characters, main and subsidiary. Whilst this doesn’t necessarily move the story forward, it does build the world, and make the reader believe in the characters, their stories and their motivations.
Music is an important element in this story and this celebrated throughout.
If you enjoy a book that absorbs you, and takes you on a journey, with a positive hopeful conclusion, this one is perfect.
Guest Post- Mandy Baggot – One Christmas Star
Never work with
children or animals…
Animals will poop everywhere! Children will say the most embarrassing things! In One Christmas Star, I have children and animals, all being brought together in one festive extravaganza!
So, how do you go about writing children in novels? How do you make your ten-year-olds authentic and leap off the page? Well, I have to say, it does help if you have children yourself.
I am the mum of two daughters (12 and 14 now) and they absolutely provide me with inspiration for my books every single day. We can be talking randomly on the school run and then when I’m sat at my desk ready to start writing, this conversation will come back to me and end up slap-bang in the middle of my novel. And those chapters are always much richer for it.
One Christmas Star stars thirty-three Year Six’s under the care of teacher, Emily Parker. Here’s how I handled them as a writer and some top tips for making your characters authentic: –
The first thing I would say is, if you’re writing about a group of children, you are not going to make characters out of all thirty-three of them and nor should you. A) The reader is never going to remember all their names, B) neither are you and C) you aren’t going to be able to make thirty-three characters stand out. If you have children yourself, listen up! Take in what they talk about, what’s important to them and how they express this. What are their quirks and their individualism? If you don’t have children yourself, talk to people who do. Facebook is a great place to ask questions like this and you will find you will get loads of interaction and friends eager to give you their thoughts on this kind of topic.
Mix it up. You need girls and boys and you need to reflect society as it is today. Emily works at a Church of England funded school, but she has pupils from all faiths, of all colours and with many different home-life situations – working parents, unemployed parents, two dads, guardians, step-parents. Not just with children, make all your characters real, bring modern-day living to life. We don’t all speak the same. We don’t all look the same. Embrace all those qualities in your writing. Diversity is so exciting!
Keep it real. Make sure your child characters are absolutely true to their age range. Make their dialogue fit. They are not always going to talk in full, grammatically correct sentences. For me, dialogue always has to be true to the character, not to the grammar. I’ve altered many things after a proofreader has said it isn’t grammatically correct. It has to read the way your character would actually say it if he/she was standing in front of you. Read it aloud! How does it sound then? Like the child, it’s supposed to reflect? Or not?
I hope these tips have been useful and I really hope you love meeting the children from Stretton Park Primary School because they are ready to give you a Christmas to remember!
Mandy Baggot is an internationally bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.