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: 

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:

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:

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.