Friday, 15 December 2017

Book review - The Perfect Neighbours by Rachel Sargeant

Book review of The Perfect Neighbours by Rachel Sargeant

The perfect neighbours tell the perfect lies…

A dark and twisty psychological thriller from a rising star in the genre. When Helen moves into an exciting new neighbourhood, she finds herself in a web of evil with no escape.

Behind the shutters lies a devastating secret…

When Helen moves abroad with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to meet her fellow expat teachers from the local International School. But her new start is about to become her worst nightmare…
As soon as the charming family across the way welcome Helen into their home, she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Then Gary starts to behave strangely and a child goes missing, vanished without a trace.
When violence and tragedy strike, cracks appear in the community, and Helen realises her perfect neighbours are capable of almost anything…

Buy the book here: http://amzn.eu/iHSnNOe 

My review  

 This book had me gripped from the outset. I loved the idea of an expat community. Moving abroad has always been appealing to me, though hopefully I wouldn't end up with the same neighbours Helen did! The intense community was stifling from the moment Helen arrived into their community and I felt her pain at trying, but not really wanting to, fit in. Everything seems a little odd from the moment she arrives and the dream of living and working abroad cracks pretty soon when things begin to happen one after the other. Helen is strong but yet is unable to know who she can trust out of the group of neighbours. This story delightfully pulls you in and I couldn't put it down until I found out what happened. With twists and turns and truths emerging until the very last pages, this is a thriller to keep you on your toes. I really enjoyed this read and would love to read more from this author.

More about the author:
See my guest post from Rachel!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Blog Tour - Rachel Sargeant

Blog Tour
15th December

Welcome to my blog Rachel, thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today to talk about your exciting new novel. I have been very lucky to have read and thoroughly enjoyed the novel already and will be posting the review on my blog today.





Guest Blog by Rachel Sargeant with an Extract from The Perfect Neighbours. Over to Rachel...


Hello, everyone. I’d like to thank Emily for agreeing to provide the first stop on my blog tour for my psychological thriller, The Perfect Neighbours, published today.

I took up writing as a hobby about seventeen years ago. I’m the author of two published novels and am thrilled to have joined the HarperCollins Killer Reads list with my third.
Advice often given is “write what you know” and to some extent that’s what I’ve done with The Perfect Neighbours. My setting is a cul-de-sac in a British expatriate community in Germany. I lived in a similar street for ten yearsThankfully my neighbours were nothing like the sinister inhabitants of my fictional location, but I’ve tried to convey the sense of a world within a world and how central character Helen, unable to speak German, feels trapped and bored. 

When I’m not at work or writing, my other main pastime is swimming and I go three times a week. I’m hardly Olympic standard but my character Helen is a lot better than me and makes frequent visits to an outdoor pool as her one escape from the claustrophobic atmosphere of the expat enclave. 

I’m delighted to bring you an extract from The Perfect Neighbours in which Helen goes to the pool for the first time but encounters someone that one day she’ll come to wish she’d never met.

7: Monday 3 May 

Cold pinched Helen’s arms and thighs as she stepped out of the changing room into the open air. It turned to tingling, comforting heat as she slid into the water. She dropped under the surface and set off at a gentle crawl.
It felt like home. 
She quickened her stroke, her hands cutting deep through the water. Of course, Gary had been right to insist she came to this pool, but he’d called her silly and stubborn. He’d never said that to her before, not even when she wanted to stay in England. Their marriage, so serene during the weekends they spent in Shrewsbury, was changing. She looked up at the clock by the exit. The last 200 metres were not far off her personal best. 
The exertions of the early lengths caught up with her and she slowed her pace. There was no sign of Louisa’s 400 petition signatories and they couldn’t all be at the wives’ breakfast; even Louisa’s catering had its limits. On the far side of the pool was an elderly couple, floating from one end to the other, the full fifty metres, at a rate too slow to be classed as swimming. The woman was on her front with her flowery swimming cap so high out of the water she was almost standing up. Her husband was on his back, also head high, as if sitting in a favourite armchair.
The only other swimmer was a man who, with the whole pool to swim in, chose to carve out lengths a mere three feet away. He was constantly in her field of vision, keeping pace. Just like Louisa - wherever she turned, she found her. Louisa must have sent her envoy to the pool to stalk her. Helen smiled to herself, knowing how ridiculous she was being. She upped her speed to shake him off but was surprised he didn’t stay with her for a second length. She slowed down, despite all her competitive training telling her not to, and finished the length at a leisurely rate. 
When she looked back, he set off from the far end swimming butterfly. His technique was good: arms sweeping wide and low, allowing his shoulders to clear the water, conserving energy. He was veering to the left, towards Helen, as his stronger arm pushed deeper. She should move out of his way but she was annoyed at the invasion of her space and stayed put. His left arm reached the wall about six inches from her shoulder.
Entschuldigung,” he said, lifting his goggles. “Mein Fehler.”
“I don’t speak German,” she replied although she was pretty sure his unfamiliar words were an apology.
His shoulders stiffened. “You are from the international school.” It sounded like an accusation. He climbed out of the water and slipped on the flip-flops he’d left on the poolside.
He walked towards the shower on the grass area behind the pool. Tall and rangy. In swimming trunks his arms and chest were sleek with good muscle definition. In clothes he would appear skinny. How old was he - twenty one, twenty two? He’d fill out with age. He turned around in the shower and saw her looking. She blushed. He came back and squatted on the poolside behind her. “You are from the school,” he said again.
“I’ve just arrived from England,” she conceded.
His shoulders relaxed.  “So you are new. Do you like it?”
“I’m looking forward to getting to know Germany.”
“Germany. But not the school?” He shook his head. “It’s okay you mustn’t explain. I work there also, IT support, but I live here in the village. My name is Sascha Jakobsen.” He had an accent, although he pronounced “village” with a v rather than the favoured by most Germans trying out the English word. 
He pushed the wet fringe out of his eyes. A tiny wave of something unexpected rippled through Helen’s body. He was waiting for her to introduce herself but to talk for longer would stop them being strangers and she sensed danger in that.
“Bye then,” she said, preparing to glide away.
Tschüs,” Sascha said. He walked towards the changing room.
Helen launched both arms over the water and dolphin-kicked her legs. He wasn’t the only one who could swim butterfly. She wondered whether he was watching but told herself to stop wondering.

About the book
Published: 15th December 2017 (HarperCollins Killer Reads)
‘Builds from a creeping sense of unease to a jaw-dropping climax and a denouement I defy anyone to see coming.’ Chris Curran, author of Her Deadly Secret
The perfect neighbours tell the perfect lies… When Helen moves to Germany with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to join the expat community of teachers from the local International School. But her new start is about to become her worst nightmare.
Behind the shutters lies a devastating secret… As soon as the charming family across the way welcome Helen into their home, she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Then Gary starts to behave strangely and a child goes missing, vanished without a trace.
When violence and tragedy strike, cracks appear in the neighbourhood, and Helen realises her perfect neighbours are capable of almost anything.
Available from Amazon:
Or HarperCollins website:

About the author
Rachel Sargeant grew up in Lincolnshire. The Perfect Neighbours is her third novel. She is a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. Rachel has a degree in German and Librarianship from Aberystwyth University and a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She spent several years living in Germany where she taught English and she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.
To find out more about Rachel and her writing, please visit her website: www.rachelsargeant.co.uk


Monday, 11 December 2017

Letters to Eloise is 99p all this week on Kindle!


Grab yourself a book bargain today and download Letters to Eloise now for 99p! My debut novel is on discount for Christmas.


‘Receiving a hand written letter is something that always puts a smile on my face, no matter who the sender is.’ Flora Tierney.

When post-graduate student Flora falls unexpectedly pregnant during her final year studies she hits a huge predicament; continue a recent affair with her handsome but mysterious lecturer who dazzles her with love letters taken from the ancient tale of ‘Abelard and Heloise’, or chase after the past with her estranged first love?
But will either man be there to support her during the turmoil ahead?

‘Banish me, therefore, for ever from your heart’, Abelard to Heloise.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Book Review - My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel

 Book review of 'My Sweet Friend' by H.A. Leuschel


Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

Buy the book here:
http://amzn.eu/7HMBlio

My review 

I loved this novella. I have become quite a fan of the shorter story since the author first introduced me to the concept with her novel 'Manipulated Lives'. H.A. Leuschel has definitely won me over with her engaging and powerful novella, 'My Sweet Friend'. I have found the author to be a great storyteller, using her words wisely and strongly in the shortened book, but coming across with a fulfilling story regardless. I love the mystery surrounding Alexa as she starts afresh with her job and friendships. She is a strong character and the author is great at portraying human emotions and complexities with ease. It is great to see things from her point of view and how she sees the world. Rosie and Jack add a great dimension to the story and you try to unpiece the puzzle as to the real truth, and who is telling it. I loved the idea of this novella, and even though it was over far too quickly (a sign of a good read!), I was left satisfied of a story well told.

Great, thought provoking story from the author. She is definitely one to watch for.



More about the author:

Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Book review - Suzanne Sussex

Book review of The Greater Good by Suzanne Sussex
 

The news reports spoke of a virus sweeping across South America. Entire villages were wiped out, yet events soon turned the media attention elsewhere.

Then a video hit the Internet and quickly went viral. A video showing a woman, attacked, bitten and dying.
Then she rose again.

Experts confirmed the video as a fake and prank. It was widely condemned as fear-mongering.

But all the expert denials counted for nothing when the virus reached the UK.

Chloe finds herself left behind, abandoned by Steve who rejoins the army to fight the new enemy. She does not know if she can survive without him.

Sam, arrogant and selfish in his immaturity, is miles from home, alone and scared. He knows he must change, must become a man, to endure this strange new world.

They must all make sacrifices to do what is right.

To do what is right for the greater good.

Buy the book here: http://amzn.eu/cZfJYdt 


My review

I love a good virus/disaster story! I find the plot exciting and its one of those things where you put yourself into the situation and wonder what you'd do. I found the storyline gripping and the characters had more depth believability than I was expecting. The sacrifices that the characters had to make were thought-provoking and engaging to the reader. It definitely made me want to read the other books in the trilogy. Would make a great movie, I always think of these books in terms of how they'd be portrayed on the big screen. Most zombie books don't have the depth and character development that this book achieves. Also it was nice to read a UK based virus plot. 

Great job to the author! Can't wait to read the next one...


Authors and their animals - Author Bella Osborne and Lily

 Welcome to my author and animals feature. Today we meet Bella Osborne - the fabulous author of the new release available in December, Ottercombe Bay - and we learn more about her beautiful cat Lily. 

Over to Bella...



Hi, I’m Bella Osborne and when I was a child I really, really, really, wanted to be a vet but soon discovered that having an allergy to most things furry was a distinct disadvantage. It may have affected my career decisions but thankfully it’s never stopped me owning a pet. 


Right now I have a tabby cat named Lily who was a year old when we got her from a local rescue three years ago. She is the most chilled out cat I’ve ever had, in fact, we’re fairly sure she thinks she’s a dog. She doesn’t sit down with the precise manner of a cat she flops down as if someone has knocked her legs away. She likes to be with you almost all the time and lies at my feet while I write and sometimes on my keyboard, which is less helpful.


Lily enjoys to be cuddled - don’t we all. She loves her tummy tickled and meows until you do it and she doesn’t grab and scratch like cats usually do when you stroke them, she’s happy for you to tickle her tummy until she falls asleep. She likes to play fetch with a small sponge ball and a game we call ‘Chase’, where she runs up to you meows and runs off expecting you to chase her. If you don’t play she just keeps coming back until you do. 


Lily’s quite cheeky because if she’s not getting the attention she wants she will pull the pins out of my cork board which is where I keep the latest plan of my book. She knows that usually gets her noticed (she’s just done it while I was writing this post!).

I write romantic comedies and always have an animal as part of the story. I map out their character just as I do my main characters and try to bring out their personalities, sometimes they even have a backstory. I was a big fan of author Zoe Barnes who did this very well and as she is sadly no longer with us I felt it was something I would like to build into my stories. So far there’s been four dogs, two cats, two horses and two hamsters in my books and my next one continues the tradition as it features a small black pug with a big attitude.

The idea of having a black pug came to me early in my writing process and with the help of my daughter, I named him Bugsy Malone. I loved writing about Bugsy as my heroine isn’t used to dogs and becomes convinced that he’s an evil genius hell-bent on bumping her off which was lots of fun to write and hopefully adds a balance to other more serious elements in the story.

Book blurb:


Pre-order the novel here: http://amzn.eu/2as4MIp
     
My fourth novel ‘A Year in Ottercombe Bay’ is set in a fictional Devon seaside town. It’s the story of Daisy who is forced to return to Ottercombe Bay when a relative leaves her something unusual in their will. As the place where her mother died the town holds sad memories as well as a number of questions for Daisy so she must come to terms with her past before she can make something of her future. With a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with lots of attitude, there’s more to the sleepy town than Daisy remembers.

Ottercombe Bay is being released as a four part e-book serial. Part one is out 28th December with the others following at six week intervals and the paperback of the whole story will be published July 2018.

Thank you so much, Bella for joining us today to talk more about yourself and lovely Lily. I am really looking forward to reading your new release in December.


Find out more about Bella:



Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. In 2016, her debut novel, 'It Started At Sunset Cottage', was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award. Her novel ‘A Family Holiday’ was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year 2017. Bella's stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays.

She lives in The Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).
For more about Bella, visit her website at www.bellaosborne.com or follow her on Twitter - @osborne_bella Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BellaOsborneAuthor/


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Heart Note blog blitz - 10 things you didn't know about author Cassandra O'Leary

Heart Note blog blitz - 26th November

I'm delighted to have the author of Heart Note, Cassandra O'Leary on my blog today for her blog blitz. Cassandra shares with us 10 things we didn't know about herself. 

Welcome Cassandra and over to you...


10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me
By Cassandra O’Leary

The first thing this topic reminds me of, is the fantastic teen romcom movie, 10 Things I Hate About You. Did you know I was a massive film and TV fangirl? Well, that’s the first thing to add to this list.

1. I’m a massive film and TV fangirl
I probably know quite a few movies line-for-line, off by heart (The Breakfast Club, anyone?) and absorbed films by osmosis growing up. These included some of my Mum’s favs like James Bond, classic Hollywood musicals and Hitchcock films. Later I fell in love with romantic comedies such as When Harry Met Sally and Working Girl. But I also have a soft spot for sci fi and horror/paranormal movies like Star Trek (every variation), Star Wars, The Omen and The X-Files. I minored in film studies at university so I could write essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

2. I worked as a ‘spritzer chick’ and shop girl for a few years
That’s the inspiration for my new release Christmas novella, Heart Note. I was a perfume promotions girl or spritzer chick, spraying perfumes on customers and little sample cards. Later I worked on a cosmetics counter and learned all about applying makeup. I worked in some of Australia’s biggest department stores and no doubt served tens of thousands of customers.

3. I’ve travelled the world
My debut novel, Girl on a Plane, was partly inspired by my love of travel. I first went overseas in the final year of my uni degree on an International Marketing study tour. This was fantastic, not just for learning, obviously. We visited companies like L’Oreal in Paris and Heineken in Amsterdam. Later I travelled with hubby and we’ve been to Europe, Asia, New Zealand, the US (some states)…still more to see.

4. I have Coeliac/Celiac disease
This is a not-so-fun fact. I actually became quite ill in my late twenties and was diagnosed with Coeliac disease at age 31. Otherwise known as gluten intolerance, it’s an autoimmune disease that can have serious complications if I don’t follow a strict gluten free diet. This can be easier said than done, as even if I’m super careful, I can get ‘glutened’ when I eat out. Many hours of throwing up and/or sitting on the loo and weeks of exhaustion usually follow. Ick.

5. I can sing!
I have a pretty good singing voice and was in choir and had the lead roles in musicals when I was at school. But I won’t be singing on YouTube in a hurry…these days I’m more of a typing behind-the-keyboard person.

6. I have pet chickens
My husband is a mad keen gardener and even though we only have a standard sized suburban house and land, we have a veggie patch, fruit trees and our very own little chickens. They are tiny, because we have smaller varieties. The Silkies are the kids’ favourites. They have such soft fluffy feathers and look like they have Mohawk hairstyles. We love them.

7. I don’t always read romance and chick lit
It’s true. I read all sorts of things and that might make me weird, but who cares? I tend to go on binges with certain authors or genres though. If you quiz me, I might not remember every book I’ve read even if I liked it. I have shelves full of hundreds of books and an e-reader full of titles I haven’t got to yet.

8. One day I’d like to try sailing
I haven’t done this yet but it’s on the bucket list. I met up with some old work mates recently and one of the women quit her job a few years ago to go sailing up the coast of Australia with her partner. This sounds amazing to me.

9. I studied Interior Design at university for 2 years
I’m pretty good at drawing and design and I got into a highly competitive Interior Design course straight out of high school. I liked parts of it, like learning about famous architects and designers, but the rest was a bit dull. There is only so much I want to know about structural concrete!

10. I’m going to write another full length book…I promise
I just have to write another novella or two first. I can’t help it I’m afraid. I get easily distracted by the shiny new ideas. But I do have two draft novels sitting there, waiting for me to get to them. Next year sounds good. Promise.

 A funny, romantic comedy Christmas novella, perfect for fans of Love Actually . . . from the award-winning author of Girl on a Plane.

Love is like a fine perfume. The top note draws you in, an instant attraction, but the Heart Note is the true essence. Like true love – a great perfume should be a woman’s perfect match.

At least, that’s what perfume counter manager, Lily Lucas, tells her customers in one of Australia’s largest department stores.

It’s almost Christmas, the store is bedecked with baubles and Lily has about eleventy billion gifts to wrap and sell. She and her team of spritzer chicks are glamorous, professional and hoping they don’t have to wear the hideous red onesies and reindeer antlers the store manager has in mind.

The high point of Lily’s work life is Christos Cyriakos, ex-cop, security guard, possible Greek god. He's a mystery box she’d love to unwrap. But can she trust him?

All Lily wants for Christmas is to kiss Christos (and more), catch a band of thieves running amok in the store, and live happily ever after. Is that too much to wish for?

Buy Heart Note here:  http://amzn.eu/fcd9IPq