No longer content to
just be Snappigram sensations, folk hop singers Zeke and Angelique are ready to
move up from coffee house performances to the big stage. With songs like “Uh
Huh, Future Baby Mama” and “Don’t Worry About the Bills, Little Missus” there’s
pretty much no way they can fail.
But if their musical career takes off, will it leave their love behind?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review
This book fits its title perfectly, Angelique and Zeke are irritating and credible stereotypes of some of today’s celebrity media stars. The idea for this story is good, and it is amusing and satirical. However, the two main characters and their entourage are difficult to empathise and connect with. The reality doesn’t live up to the expectation, rather like Angelique and Zeke.
If you embrace the current obsession with celebrity and publicising life for all to see, this is a fun read. However, if you find it all shallow and not worth your time, this story is likely to reinforce your perceptions.
Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of over twenty books ranging from serious women’s fiction to romantic comedies, domestic thrillers, humour, and cozy mysteries. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The rape scene in this story is brutal, the violation and loss of control implicit in every word. This description is harrowing. Given the inspiration for this story, the attack is realistic and sets the scene for what follows. This an adult story. One that will upset most people, but it doesn’t detract from it, or the message it is sending.
Eve’s attack and subsequent action is the main storyline, but running alongside her need for retribution is the need for closure to heal, and the need to stop this happening to anyone else. Eve is complex, but she is easy to empathise. You want her to have justice.
Including the friend and lodger characters, may seem incidental to the story, but they are important. Eve’s reaction to them shows how emotionally scarred and traumatised she is, and why she does what she does. They are an important focus for her mental state.
The plot is chilling and suspenseful, and whether or not you agree with the outcome, or what happens before, the ending is well thought out and believable. A fusion of the psychological thriller and crime genres, with authentic emotion and a menacing antagonist, and an ending that leaves you with a moral dilemma. Perfect.
Author Interview – Gemma Rogers – Stalker
What are the inspirations behind your book – Stalker? Is it a standalone or part of a series?
The inspiration for Stalker came from an indecent assault that happened to me back in 2001. I found writing about it extremely cathartic. In terms of the story, I wanted to explore the feelings that can be left behind as a result of such a traumatic event. How far someone would go for justice? It’s a standalone novel that follows Eve from the incident to her resolution.
How did you create your main protagonist Eve? Is she based on someone you know, an imaginative creation, or a little of both?
Eve isn’t based on anyone I know, she’s a creation, although very much a part of me. How she feels after her attack, mirrors how I felt almost twenty years ago. She’s a complex character, struggling to understand the emotions she’s forced to deal with; the anger, self-loathing and guilt.
How do you make your characters believable?
I people watch and try to absorb as much as I can when I’m out and about. It’s great to watch and see how people react in certain situations. I also draw from my own experiences too, use those to try and flesh my characters out, make them three dimensional. I hope I’ve managed that with Stalker.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
For me, generally, it’s the plot. I’ll come up with an idea first and it will grow from there. I’m not sure why the idea will plant itself and get bigger until I can’t think of anything else. That’s when I know it’s a good one. However, with Stalker, the setting was equally as important. Where the assault takes place in the novel, is where I grew up. Close to where it actually happened.
What made you decide to become a writer, and why does this genre appeal to you?
I’ve always written, from a very young age. I’d create stories with my brother, and turn them into little illustrated books, the pages tied together with string. I wrote some fan fiction in my teens but it’s only the past five years I’ve pushed myself to write a book, and actually finish it! I like this genre very much, I’m a lover of horror films and books, dark thrillers seemed right for me. I think the genre chose me rather than the other way around.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I mostly read thrillers; psychological, gritty thrillers, the darker the better. I fell in love with The Birdman by Mo Hayder and was hooked from there. My favourite authors are Alex Marwood, John Marrs, Mark Edwards, and CJ Tudor. However, when I fancy something a bit lighter I always head to Jane Fallon. I’m a massive fan of her writing.
What are you currently writing?
I’m currently in the process of writing Book 3 which I believe will be out at some point in 2020, so that is keeping me busy. Book 2 is due for release in January, so not long to wait.
Gemma Rogers was inspired to write gritty thrillers by a traumatic event in her own life nearly twenty years ago. Stalker is her debut novel which Boldwood will publish in September 2019 and marks the beginning of a new writing career. Gemma lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and bulldog Buster.
Chapter One Saturday 27 January 2018 I’ve never been in trouble before. Not the sort of trouble that brought me here. Freshly painted, stark white walls surround me; their toxic scent lingers in the air. A fluorescent glow from strip lights so dazzling they must be there to desensitise the occupants. Everything is white or chrome-like I’m on the set of a futuristic movie. I swing my legs, which dangle over the edge of the bed, not quite reaching the floor. I do this for a minute to keep warm. Despite the blanket around my shoulders, I can’t help but shiver. It’s late and they didn’t bring my jacket. I guess it’s been taken away as evidence. The woman in front of me is standing too close, hot breath on my arm. It makes me squirm and I fight the urge to yank my hand away from her grip. She’s holding it like I’m a china doll, fragile and easily broken. I dislike the invasion of my personal space. It’s something I’ve learnt to tolerate over the years. I was never a big fan of being touched, shrinking away if someone brushed past me or stood too close on public transport. I’m not a hugger either – no one was in the house where I grew up. After tonight, I can’t imagine I’ll let anyone touch me again. Her name is Doctor Joyce Hargreaves, she told me as we entered the victim examination room. Her job, she said, was to collect evidence from me, which is why she was wearing a paper suit, so there wouldn’t be any cross-contamination. She hasn’t picked up on my anxiety, the tremor in my fingers; she’s too busy. Brows furrowed, eyes focused as she peels the plastic bag away from my bloodied hand to collect scrapings from my skin and beneath my fingernails. The tool she uses makes me nervous. ‘Is that a scalpel?’ my voice barely a whisper. ‘No, it’s a scraper. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt. This is just so I can make sure we collect any skin cells that may be buried underneath the tips of your nails. I’m afraid I’ll have to give them a trim in a minute too.’ She wields the scraper with care and it’s true, it doesn’t hurt. Physically I’m okay, except my throat is on fire and the ringing in my ears is deafening, timed perfectly with the throbbing of my face. I have a feeling I might feel worse once the adrenaline leaves my system. When she finishes with my hands, she pulls the fallen blanket back over my shoulders and offers a kind smile as she pushes her glasses up her nose. I can see strands of greying hair trying to escape by her ear, exposed beneath the coverall hat. She wears no jewellery and her face is free of make-up. Was she on duty or has she been called out of her bed to attend to me? Would we recognise each other in different circumstances? Probably not, I must be one of many people that pass through this room every day. Joyce delicately inserts each of the specimens into small tubes before labelling them to be sent for analysis. I don’t know why? I’ve told them what happened. Soon she’ll want to examine me thoroughly. Internally. Until there are no more swabs left to be taken. She glances at me, knowing what is coming, what she must ask me to do. Her eyes are full of pity. I must look a mess. Dried blood on my face and chest is beginning to flake away, like charred skin falling into my lap. My cheek is puffy and the vision poor on my left side. I wish I could stop shivering. They said it’s shock and provided me with a mug of hot, sweet tea after the ambulance checked me over. They wanted to make sure the blood I am doused in isn’t mine. It isn’t.
A family day out at Briar’s Hall ends in tragedy when a young boy goes missing – and his body is found at the bottom of a disused well in the orchard.
It looks like a simple case of an eleven-year-old exploring where he shouldn’t: a tragic accident. But Coroner Clement Ryder and Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday aren’t convinced. If Eddie had been climbing and fallen, why were there no cuts or dirt on his hands? Why would a boy terrified of heights be around a well at all?
Clement and Trudy are determined to get to the truth, but the more they dig into Briar’s Hall and the mysterious de Lacey family who live there, the murkier things become.
Could it be that poor Eddie’s death was murder? There are rumours of blackmail in the village, and Clement and Trudy have a horrible feeling that Eddie stumbled on a secret that someone was willing to kill for…
I received a copy of this book from HQ DigitalUK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is the second Ryder and Loveday historical crime mystery I’ve read. Although the mysteries are standalone, the relationship between the two unusual detectives develops with each book. So, if you get the opportunity, start with book one.
Clement Ryder, former surgeon, now coroner, and Trudy Loveday, a probationary policewoman in the Oxford constabulary, in the early 1960s investigate cases referred to Ryder by various powerful sources. After their first meeting, Ryder sees the intelligence and potential detecting skill in Loveday, and always requests her assistance, despite the resistance of her misogynous bosses in the police force.
Loveday, is ambitious, intuitive and hard-working, the perfect police officer, yet in the 1960’s she is thwarted every time she seeks practical experience in police work, by jealous and bigoted colleagues and bosses. Their attitude to a working woman reflects the societal view of women in the workplace, and society. The idea of the 1950’s woman as a homemaker was challenged in the 1960s by women like Loveday and forward-thinking intelligent men like Ryder. The book showcases 1960s’ society and attitude well. I was a child in the 1960s, and recognise many of the attitudes and societal norms portrayed in this series, which is well- researched.
The plot is in the murder mystery style, nothing too graphic, although serious crime and issues are explored throughout the investigation. There are many suspects and numerous clues, many of which lead nowhere. The pacing is good, even though you follow Ryder and Loveday’s investigative pace. This is detective work in the 1960s, so forensics and technological help are minimal. Deduction and observation are key skills used here, and it makes interesting reading.
Perfect if you’re a fan of ‘Inspector Gently’, ‘Morse’ and ‘Prime Suspect. This series explores policing in the 1960s, with a unique partnership, astute observations of 1960’s society, and a well-plotted murder mystery.
I received a copy of this book from Crumps Barn Studio in return for an honest review.
This book of verse is in part, autobiographical, and the emotion shines through in every poem. There is a preface to this book of verse, sharing the personal inspiration behind ‘Moments’. Read this first. It gives important insight into the author’s motivations and helps you to understand the book’s ethos.
I am no expert on poetry schematics, but I do enjoy reading it, so the thoughts I share are my emotional responses to the verse.
The first poem ‘Sweet Dreams’, about a mother watching her sleeping child, is charming and will resonate with every parent.
‘Precious Time’, is poignant and thought-provoking. When something bad happens, or you realise how many years have passed, it makes you think, and want to make the most of now, and what is yet to come.
Many of the poems explore contemporary issues, such as bullying and why people bully, emotional abuse, stress, addiction, facing life-changing news. There are elements in the verse that I can relate to, and it’s this personal connection that makes them relevant, something to look back on.
The poems about the inevitability of death, and facing the illness of a loved one, are beautifully written, honest, raw, simple, they leave their mark.The poems about friendship are heartwarming and relatable, as are the verses about self-awareness, learning to love who you are, and letting that person see the sunlight.
There is something for everyone in this book, it’s a realistic observation of life as a woman, mother, wife, and of those around us, some we know, some we only know by sight. Poetry like this can be read many times, and that’s what I shall do with this.
Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Keen to give the bus a new lease of life, Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start. Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the sexy but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel. Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley
I love this story.
I read it as a four-part serial, and it’s something special. Full of cakes, courage, fun and romance, with laugh out loud moments, and a few tears, it captures the good and bad in the Cornish coastal village of Porthgolow.
Charlie had a special connection with her uncle when he dies and leaves her, his bus, she knows she has to keep it, but can she do something with it? Her first attempt is gutsy but fraught with difficulty, but with the help of some positive comments from her mysterious stranger, she tries again in Cornwall.
The characters are warm and real, and even though baking, tea shops and coastal Cornish settings are well used in literature, the bus adds a different dimension that gives the story, the promise of originality. There is a conflict with the upmarket spa and a delicate balancing act to win the approval of the locals. This has humour, romance and a lovely holiday setting.
Charlie soon settles into her Cornish life, The cream tea bus proves to be a popular attraction, and Charlie wants the village to realise its full potential Her latest foody idea is received with mixed emotions, but does introduce the prospect of romance into her life, but is she ready for it?
The characters are complex and realistic, the possibility of a love triangle is suggested, and Charlie meets another of Porthgolow’s residents, who has a surprising if reticent insight into Daniel’s motivations. There is also the hint of someone messing with Charlie’s plans, but who, and the motivation behind this, are still a mystery.
Halfway through and this story is addictive. Charlie is embroiled in a tentative love triangle with her two admirers, one seems open and honest, just what she needs, but the chemistry is lacking. Her other admirer is not so easy to read, but the air crackles between them, whenever they are together. Can she take a chance, or will he let her down, and destroy her fledgeling business?
Charlie’s is still recovering from her boyfriend’s duplicity and has trust issues. Her head says one thing, her heart something different, who if either of them will she choose?
The Cornish Cream Tea Bus venture expands and seems to be going from strength to strength, as the community finally seems to accept her and her bus.
The final part of this lovely, coastal series, ties up all the loose ends, and just when you think everything is going to work out for Charlie, because of her hard work and willingness to learn to trust again, there is a final breathtaking twist.
Will ‘The Cornish Cream Tea Bus’, survive, and who wants it to fail? At the start of the story, there are lots of people who might want Charlie to fail, but at this point, the perpetrators are much fewer in number, thanks to Charlie’s kindness and tenacity. When the guilty party is revealed it isn’t a surprise, but it’s good to have your suspicions confirmed.
Charlie’ s romantic future seems brighter, but what happens after the Summer? The final twist is heartstopping and the resolution is perfect.
I enjoyed my time in Porthgolow and I hope the author may take us back there again? A lovely coastal romantic story, with some good unique elements, and complex, relatable characters, the perfect beach read.
The sequel to the bestselling phenomenon The Note – based on the true story of one girl and her ‘Train Man’…
year after the kiss that brought them together in a snowy train-station
doorway, Maya and James are embarking on another journey – this time around the
The trip starts promisingly, with an opulent and romantic Indian wedding. But as their travels continue, Maya fears that ‘love at first sight’ might not survive trains, planes and tuk-tuks, especially when she realises that what she really wants is a baby, and James doesn’t feel the same.
Can Maya and James navigate their different hopes and dreams to stay together? Or is love at first sight just a myth after all…
I received a copy of this book from Aria – Head of Zeus Books in return for an honest review.
I must be the only person in the UK who didn’t read ‘The Note’, but fortunately ‘The Postcard’ whilst being a sequel, is also a separate adventure for Maya and James and reads well as a standalone.
There is a curious diversion from Maya’s story as she prepares to go on around the world trip with #TheTrainMan. A different character, confused, lost and vulnerable, is introduced, the menace and mystery of this encounter are on your mind as Maya and James start their journey, and then the person’s identity and the situation is revealed, and you wonder if, where and when, Maya will meet her?
The characters and relationships you explore in this story are complex and realistic, whether they be from Maya’s past, present or on the trip of a lifetime. Her best friend’s story is so far removed from Maya’s at this time, and yet both think they want what the other is experiencing.
There is a lovely balance of humour and poignancy in this, the romance is still there, but tempered with reality and therefore authentic.Maya and Jamesfind out who they are as a couple as a series of conflicts, try to break them.
The final conflict is adrenaline-fueled, suspenseful and unexpectedly poignant. These scenes are full of vivid imagery that really lets you experience the tension, terror and tumultuousness of the events. Romance and love prevail, and the final scenes provide a heartwarming and believable ending.
Guest Post – Zoe Folbigg – The Postcard
Welcome back, Maya and James! –
If you enjoyed my debut book The Note then I hope you love the sequel, The Postcard, even more. At first, I was nervy about revisiting Maya and James and writing about what happens after the happy ever after. The Note was based on my own story of how I fell for a stranger on a train on my daily commute and then married him. It was a story I had told a thousand times even before I’d fictionalised it; before Aria offered me a book deal; before it became a bestseller.
When I wrote my second novel, The Distance, a story about long-distance love, based (almost) entirely on characters plucked from my imagination and nothing to do with me or my husband, I enjoyed the liberating feeling of writing about something totally different, telling a new story.
So when Aria suggested a sequel, I was worried. How could I move Maya and James’ story on? In reality, Train Man and I got married and had kids. We settled down to school runs, sports clubs and Friday-night fajitas. Nowadays the most drama in our lives tends to be Sainsbury’s selling out of coriander (those fajitas matter), or me falling over in the mums’ race on Sports Day. Embarrassing, yes, but none of my current life felt like novel material.
Then I remembered the “in-between”. Those years in a relationship when you’re out of the early throes of glorious newness, when you’re still self-conscious about morning breath and think each other’s bad outfit choices are adorable, but you’re not quite ready for his ‘n’ hers Mahabis or actually saying, “This is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with!”, even if you think it. A period when family and friends ask about marriage and babies in hushed tones and want to move your relationship on to the next stage, even if you haven’t discussed it yet.
Our “in-between” coincided with some amazing travels: a holiday to Argentina with friends, Costa Rica for my 30th (double income no kids = nice holidays) and then a year-long round-the-world trip (redundancy = a “sod-it, it’s now or never” attitude).
Before these trips, friends would gush about the proposal opportunities, how we would definitely come back engaged, that surely Train Man had something up his sleeve, and I felt a mixture of hope and pressure, excitement and resentment.
So while pondering a sequel I remembered that phase. The round-the-world trip was chock full of vibrant places, crazy characters, beautiful scenery, and weirdly that in-between issue that I realised would be as pertinent to Maya and James as it is to many people.
Once I started writing The Postcard and I took Maya and James on their own travels, I fell in love with their new chapter: I could almost smell the coriander and coconut of dinner on the Mekong; hear the beat of a drum at a Hindu wedding; see the mossy limestone karsts looking down on them at a beach in Thailand. And I could hear the ring of that lingering question: “Do you think he’ll ask you to marry him?!” “Do you think you’d ask him?” All from my kitchen table.
So welcome back Maya and James! It’s been an honour to pick up their story and revisit all these amazing places for The Postcard – and I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with ‘Train Man’ – a man she had met on her daily commute. She since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons. Twitter FacebookInstagram Website