Book Review: Closing in by Sue Fortin

closing-in-by-sue-fortin

Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn?

Helen has had to leave everything she’s ever known behind; her home, her family, even her own name.

Now, returning to the UK as Ellen Newman, she moves to a small coastal village, working as a nanny for Donovan, a criminal psychologist. Attractive, caring and protective, this single father and his sweet daughter are a world away from Ellen’s past. She thinks she’s escaped. She thinks she’s safe.

But something is wrong. Strange incidents begin to plague her new family, and their house of calm is about to become one of suspicion and fear. Who can be trusted? Who is the target? Who is closing in?

For fans of Emily Barr & Rosamund Lupton

 

Harper Impulse

Harper Impulse/ Publication 15 May 2014

Digital first £2.99 (Paperback to follow)

My thoughts

This is the first Sue Fortin book that I’ve read and I’m delighted to be the final stop on the blog tour for her latest novel, Closing In.

In the prologue a new identity is revealed so we know that she’s planning to run but we don’t why, this is all revealed later but certainly grabbed my attention from the first couple of pages.

Helen / Ellen is on the run from someone and it’s quite easy to assume from the beginning who that is but it’s the chase that makes this novel. By becoming Ellen, Helen hopes to escape her violent past but she’s still constantly looking over her shoulder and so moves to a fairly remote seaside town for a new job with the hopes of remaining inconspicuous. Her new employer ‘Donovan’ is only known by Donovan (his surname), that was all a bit Inspector Morse and a bit odd really!

Things don’t get off to a great start with the prickly Carla but she soon builds an easy friendly relationship with the little girl in her care, Izzy and then an even more personal relationship with her employer. I did feel that there was a very quick development of a relationship between Donovan and Ellen, must have been a matter of days, a week maybe, but then when you know!

There is a good balance between the tense, psychological, and romantic events which culiminates in a climatic ending which was a tadge far-fetched but it worked and would probably work as a TV drama.

I thought that the plot moved at quite a good pace, there weren’t any scenes that I felt were superfluous; although I did weary slightly at Donovan’s possessiveness of Ellen, not letting her out etc but I can see why this was needed to add to the suspense. And when she does go off on her own, it’s like watching a horror movie…you’re thinking to yourself don’t go in there, why are you going on your own, you feel all those clichéd feelings the same as those you shout out at the TV because you just know something bad is going to happen.

There’s an interesting turn of events with Toby meeting Donovan that I thought was going to go a totally different way – I did actually think Ellen might actually be imagining the strange events which would have been a really good twist but I think I may have read something else like that or seen it on tv recently.

There were some minor typos and inconsistencies in the proof copy which I would expect to have been resolved for publication.

Overall I really enjoyed this novel and actually read it in a couple of sittings in one day. If you liked The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish and enjoyed the movie Sleeping with the Enemy then I think you’ll like this!

Get the book Kindle

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Excerpt

Prologue

The bag had been hidden at the back of the loft for several weeks now. Packed and ready to go. Helen checked the contents. The all-importantpapers were there. Deed poll, change of name. New bank account. New bank card. New passport. She ran her finger over the gold embossed coat of arms of the little red book before flicking through the green pages, pausing at the photograph. The face that had stared back at her all these years was the same; shoulder length blonde hair, hazel eyes and fair complexion but the name betrayed the picture. Helen Matthews was no more.

‘Hello, EllenNewman.’ It was a whisper. Helen barely dared to say her new name out loud. The past twelve months had taught her caution at all times. She had been waiting for this opportunity for what seemed like forever; like a sleeper cell, her escape plan could finally be activated. Her hand shook at the thought of what lay ahead. A mixture of anticipation and fear. She took a moment to calm her breathing and bring the rush of adrenalin under control. She needed to keep a clear head and not panic. She had rehearsed this over and over again in her mind for several months. The anxiety passed, allowing the control to take its place. She closed the passport and stuffed it back into the holdall. ‘Come on, Ellen, let’s get you out of here.’

‘What do you mean, you don’t know where she is, Kate?’ He squeezed his mobile phone tightly, feeling the frustration rise but fought to keep it in check. ‘You’re her best friend. Surely she told you where she was going?’

‘Look, Toby, I honestly don’t know where she is.’

Toby didn’t miss the guarded note in Kate’s voice. She wasn’t going to tell him anything. He took a deep breath and forced a conciliatory tone. ‘I don’t even know why she took off. I got back from a weekend away clay pigeon shooting and found a note. I’m worried about her. That’s all. Please, Kate?’ Jesus, was he going to have to beg?

‘Okay,’ Kate relented. ‘If I hear from her, I’ll tell her to ring you or something.’

‘Thanks. I really appreciate it. I feel lost without her.’ Finishing the call he dropped his phone on to the sofa and picked up the note Helen had left.

Toby, by the time you read this, I will be gone. I am leaving you for good and not coming back. Things between us have become too bad. Please don’t try to find me. It’s over between us. Helen

P.S. Please remember to feed Scruffs. I’ve stocked the cupboard up with cat food so you don’t need to buy any more for at least a week.

He looked at Scruffs stretched out on the sofa next to him. Toby reached over and ran his fingers up and down the cat’s neck. He could feel all the tiny bones of its skeleton beneath the fur and skin. Scrawny little thing. Helen adored that cat and, yet, she had left it. This was all so out of character for her. Running out on him, on the cat, on their life together. It was the last thing he thought she would do. How had he not seen this coming and where in God’s name could she have gone? He was sure Kate knew. In fact, he’d stake his Square Mile bankers’ salary on it. Scooping the cat up, Toby continued to stroke the tortoiseshell fur as he walked over to the full length window. He stood looking out over the Islington skyline.

His finger and thumb massaged the back of the cat’s neck, before sliding all the way around, meeting under its chin.

‘You’re out there somewhere, Helen.’ He dropped Scruffs to the floor, ignoring the squeak of protest at the rather unceremonious dismissal. Toby pressed his forehead against the glass, the palms of his hands following suit. ‘I’m not letting you go without a fight, that’s for sure, sweetheart.’

About the author, Sue Fortin

Lover of cake, Dragonflies and France. Hater of calories, maths and snakes. Sue was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex.

Sue is married with four children, all of whom patiently give her time to write but, when not behind the keyboard, she likes to spend her time with them, enjoying both the coast and the South Downs, between which they are nestled.

Connect with Sue via Sue Fortin, via Twitter @suefortin1 or Facebook

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1 x ecopy of Closing In

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Book Review: Take Me Home by Daniela Sacerdoti

I’m delighted to be one of the first stops on this Fiction Addiction blog tour for Daniela Sacerdoti’s Take Me Home. Do read on to the bottom and enter the giveaway for a paperback copy. Here’s the review:

Take Me HomeWhat’s it about?

Inary Monteith’s life is at a crossroads. After a stolen night with her close friend Alex, she’s just broken his heart by telling him it was all a terrible mistake. Then she has to rush home from London to the Scottish Highlands when her little sister’s illness suddenly worsens – and in returning she must confront the painful memories she has been trying so hard to escape.

Back home, things become more complicated than she could ever have imagined. There’s her sister’s illness, her hostile brother, a smug ex she never wants to see again and her conflicted feelings about Alex in London and a handsome American she meets in Glen Avich. On top of that, she mysteriously loses her voice but regains a strange gift from her childhood – a sixth sense that runs in her family. And when a voice from the past keeps repeating, ‘Take me home’, she discovers a mystery that she knows she must unlock to set herself free.

Take Me Home is a beautiful story of love, loss, discovering one’s true abilities and, above all, never forgetting who you really are.

Publisher: Black & White Publishing

Paperback publishing 10th April 2014

My thoughts

So not having previously read any of Daniela Sacerdoti’s books before I was keen to read as part of the book tour as I do like a good mystery. I’ve had Watch Over Me on my Kindle for ages which I now know is the first of Daniela’s Glen Avich set novels – you don’t need to have read it though to follow this story.

The prologue introduces us to Inary as a child and her Sight or gift when she ‘sees’ her recently passed neighbour in her garden so we know there is going to be a supernatural kind of theme.

We then move on to Inary as an adult and living her dream in London but who is then forced to return to her childhood home in order to spend time with her sister in her final weeks. She’s also using this as an opportunity to avoid Alex, one of her closest friends with whom things have now become a little more complicated. With the story being told in turn by Inary, Logan and Alex they each give us a different perspective of the events and their feelings which I quite liked and thought that the author had managed to give them their own voice.

Without trying to give too much away the plot moves on and Inary’s visions or Sight returns and present her with a mystery that haunted her as a child. This underlying story of what happened to Inary isn’t revealed till the last third of the novel and I was eager to find out what was going to happen and so it did hold my interest throughout.

Unfortunately for Inary grief manifests itself in many ways and for Inary it’s the loss of her voice leaving her forced to write down all her conversations. I’m not sure I felt this added anything really….and I actually felt Inary to be somewhat selfish in her treatment of Alex with her constant shut downs and pick ups, a little whimsical!

Once the mystery is revealed, I thought more could have been developed from this. I thought Inary would have had more of a physical involvement of Rose’s discovery and would have been at the actual site.

I loved this quote from the book from one of the supporting characters – I just hope it bears some truth!

“What’s for you, won’t go past you”

I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads because I really enjoyed it, got totally swept along with the story, the characters and that’s good enough for me.  Whilst reading I felt it was reminiscent of that Scottish soap Take The High Road :), in its descriptions of the area, the people and the local dialect used. Overall, a suspensful read about grief, loss and coming out the other side.

Buy the book Kindle | Paperback

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About the author Daniela Sacerdoti

Daniela SacertdotiDaniela Sacerdoti is a mother and a writer. Born in Naples, but brought up in a small village in the Italian Alps, she lives near Glasgow with her husband and sons. She calls herself a thief of time – she steals time to write when everyone has gone to bed, or before they wake up. She’s a Primary teacher, but she chose to be at home with her children. She loves being with her boys, doing art with them, reading anything she can get her hands on and chatting with her girlfriends. But she also adores being on her own, free to daydream and make up stories.

Connect with Daniela via Twitter | Website| Facebook

**Giveaway**

The giveaway is for a paperback copy of Take Me Home which is open internationally.

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Murder in the Afternoon mystery blitz

Having enjoyed Frances’ first Kate Shackleton novel Dying in the Wool and taking part in a previous cover reveal, I’m only too delighted to be part in the promotion for her next novel Murder in the Afternoon. Be sure to read to the bottom of the post to enter the giveaway to win a copy!

Ta dah! Here’s the book cover:

Murder in the Afternoon

Publisher Minotaur Books

Here’s the blurb:

Dead one minute –

Young Harriet and her brother Austin have always been scared of the quarry where their stone mason father works. So when they find him dead on the cold ground, they scarper quick smart and look for some help.

Alive the next –

When help arrives, however, the quarry is deserted and there is no sign of the body. Were the children mistaken? Is their father not dead? Did he simply get up and run away?

A sinister disappearing act –

It seems like another unusual case requiring the expertise of Kate Shackleton. But for Kate this is one case where surprising family ties makes it her most dangerous – and delicate – yet.

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Reviews for Murder in the Afternoon

“The bucolic setting of the village of Great Applewick and the period atmosphere add authentic touches to this finely drawn traditional mystery with multiple storylines.”

Publishers Weekly

“Brody’s third in the series (…) is a perfect fit for lovers of classic British mysteries who’d like to watch a clever, introspective, delightful heroine solve a tricky puzzle.”

Kirkus Reviews, January 2014

“Much of the appeal of the novel is in the details of the period. To hold our interest the author has to make us feel part of the landscape. In doing this, Frances Brody succeeds brilliantly.

“Her post-war world in which making any sort of living is hard grind and where an independent career woman is viewed with hostility is entirely convincing. Kate is a heroine to like and admire. Her further adventures are eagerly awaited.”

Daily Mail

“A good mystery that had me perplexed, but also a moving episode in the life of Kate Shackleton … Highly recommended.”

Promoting Crime

“..characters we really care for and an authentic feel for the West Riding. There are enough red-herrings to keep us guessing and the plot twists and turns throughout every chapter. These gentle crime novels are simply first-class and if you haven’t read any I urge you to do so.”

Ryedale Gazette & Herald

Buy the book 

US Edition available for pre order – Murder in the Afternoon

Ask your favourite bookstore to order it for you – ISBN is 978-1-2500-3702-2

About the author Frances Brody

Frances Brody

Frances Brody writes the highly acclaimed mystery series set in 1920s Yorkshire, featuring First World War widow turned sleuth, Kate Shackleton; twice nominated for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library. As Frances McNeil, she has written for radio, theatre and television and published sagas, winning the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin Award for the most regionally evocative debut saga of the millennium.

Visit Frances online at

Website Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway

The giveaway is for one e-copy of Murder in the Afternoon

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Book Review & Giveaway: Finding Mother by Anne Allen

Finding MotherWhat’s it about?

Three women. Three generations. Sacrifices for love…

Who is she really? Nicole is about to find out as she searches for her real mother; the woman who gave her away at birth.  With her marriage in tatters, she sets out from England: travelling to Spain, Jersey and Guernsey before the extraordinary story of her real family is finally revealed.

Nicole becomes an unwitting catalyst for change in the family. Two women are forced to reveal long-buried secrets.  One going back as far as the Second World War.  Lives are transformed as choices have to be made and the past laid to rest…

This contemporary romantic drama is the second of The Guernsey Novels, a series of stand-alone books by the award-winning author Anne Allen. It is likely to appeal to lovers of the works of Joanna Trollope and Maeve Binchy.

My thoughts

Somebody once said to me that when writing a review or critiquing someones work you should give 3 positive and 3 negative comments. I really struggled with this review because although I liked it, I didn’t love it. For want of a better word I found it a bit meh!

So the 3 things I liked were believable characters, the stunning scenes and a happy ending.

3 things I didn’t like were its predictability, the main issues were far too easily solved and was a little bland.

So I’ll elaborate a little….

There are some beautiful descriptions of Jersey and Guernsey from someone who has an obvious love of the islands. It sounds like somewhere I’d like to visit!

The plot does move along quite quickly and therefore I found it to be a fast read. I didn’t really identify with Nicole’s character; in places I found her to be a little irritating, selfish and some of the things she said didn’t come across to me how a young professional woman would speak and I felt really sorry for her adoptive parents. She was quite swept up in her new life I thought they got a little left behind.  On the whole, I actually preferred the grandmother’s story and thought she actually had a better tale to tell.

From the blurb I was expecting a story that would pack a punch with lots of drama but I actually found it a bit wishy-washy and found Nicole’s search for her mother to be a little easy. I honestly don’t know how long it takes but it came across too quick and easy I would have preferred a more detailed search.

There are some deep involved issues in this novel, such as adoption, divorce, adultery and bereavement but each are dealt with a cup of tea and not much else. Things happen very easily for Nicole, new job, man, money all falls into her lap at the drop a hat.

You can’t win them all and unfortunately this one didn’t float my boat but as I said it’s an easy light read that fans of chick lit will devour!

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About the Author

Anne AllenI’m a late-comer to writing, having only started in my, ahem, middle years. (I’m assuming we’ll all be living to 100 from now on, won’t we?) I’d often had an ‘itch’ to write but was focussed on my career as a psychotherapist and bringing up three children on my own. Writing was a luxury I simply could not afford! Then a few years ago I was a reluctant entrant (pushed by my mother!) into a writing competition  run by Prima magazine. They wanted a True- Life story and I won the first prize of £500 J So I decided that writing wasn’t such a bad idea and wrote my first novel, Dangerous Waters, shortly after; eventually  publishing it in 2012. As I’m now more or less retired as a therapist I’ve devoted a lot more time to writing and published my second novel, Finding Mother, in October 2013.

A restless soul, I have moved around the country quite a bit, as far north as Scotland and south to Guernsey in the Channel Islands. I’ve learnt that the sea must be part of my soul and am happiest when living near it. I now live in Devon to be near my daughter and grandchildren so I have the best of both worlds. As a family we lived in Guernsey for many happy years and I left one son behind as a valid excuse for frequent return visits. My other son’s based in London so great for when I need some culture J

Am happiest in warmer climes, however, and lived in Spain for a few years.  My ideal would be to spend part of the English winter somewhere warm, possibly Spain, so that I can recharge my body and soul. So, if and when I write that bestseller…!

Connect with Anne via

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

Giveaway

The giveaway on this tour is overall of two paperback copies of Dangerous Waters OR 2 ecopies for International entrants. Enter below

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Welcome to the Lynda Renham Showcase

blog tour
I’m really excited to welcome Lynda Renham to the blog today for a showcase promo blitz and to promote her new book The Dog’s Bollocks and highlight her other rom com novels. Oh and when you get to the bottom of the post there’s a lovely giveaway to enter for a paperback – yippee I hear you say! 🙂

Here’s the new book – The Dog’s Bollocks:

dogbsOn arriving home after a friend’s posh wedding, launderette worker Harriet finds her life irrevocably changed as she discovers her flat ransacked and her boyfriend missing. In a matter of hours she is harassed by East End gangsters and upper crust aristocrats. Accepting an offer she can’t refuse, Harriet, against her better judgement becomes the fiancée of the wealthy Hamilton Lancaster, with dire consequences. What she had not bargained on was meeting Doctor Brice Edmunds.

The Dog’s Bollocks is Lynda Renham’s funniest novel so far. A cocktail of misunderstandings, three unlikely gangsters, a monkey and a demented cat make this novel a hysterical read. Follow Harriet’s adventure where every attempt to get out of trouble puts her deeper in it.

| Amazon UK  | Amazon US  |

Have a wander through Lynda’s earlier novels:

Pink Wellies & Flat CapsAlice Lane has everything; a wonderful fiancé, a responsible job and a lovely flat in Chelsea, but after she has a bra fitting her life goes tits up. Homeless, and with just a sparkling engagement ring as a memory of her previous life Alice accepts a live-in farm manager s job and discovers that things actually can get worse. Come with Alice as she makes her hilarious career change and struggles to cope with her moody employer, Edward. But can Alice turn her back on romance and resist the dashing Dominic or will the past come back to surprise her?

| Amazon UK  | Amazon US  |

Croissants and JamAnnabel Lewis (Bels) has two days to get to her wedding in Rome but her journey is beset with one disaster after another as fate takes its turn. Will the stranger she meets on the way get her to her wedding on time or will he change her life forever? Come with Bels on her humorous romantic journey to see if she marries Mr Right or if destiny takes her in different direction. 

| Amazon UK  | Amazon US  |

Coconuts and WonderbrasLiterary agent Libby Holmes is desperate for her boyfriend, Toby, to propose to her and will do anything for him and if that means dieting for England over Christmas then she ll have a go. However, when Libby’s boss introduces her to her new client, Alex Bryant, her life is turned upside down. Alex Bryant, ex-SAS officer and British hero, insists Libby accompany him abroad for a book fair. Libby finds herself in the middle of an uprising with only Alex Bryant to protect her, that is, until Toby flies out to win back her affections. Come with Libby on her romantic comedy adventure to see if love blossoms in the warm Cambodian sunshine or if, in the heat of the day, emotions get just too hot to handle. 

| Amazon UK  | Amazon US  |

About the Author

Lynda RenhamLynda Renham writes romantic comedy novels and has a growing fan base. She has been likened in style to Sophie Kinsella but writes with a down-to earth humour. Lynda’s novels are popular, refreshingly witty, fast paced, and with a strong romantic theme. Lynda lives in Oxford, UK. She has appeared on BBC radio discussion programs and when not writing Lynda can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

“Lynda Renham is right up there with chick-lit royalty! I’m not talking princess either, for me, the Queen of Chick-lit”. – Booketta Book Blog’

Connect with Lynda via

Facebook | Website | Twitter | Amazon

Giveaway

2 x paperbacks are up for grabs, be sure to enter!

Click here

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