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A Christmas Gift: Book review


Book blurb

Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?

Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

My review

Sue Moorscroft is one of my favourite writers so it was a sure fire bet that when I heard she had a Christmas book out I’d snaffle up a copy. Obviously it goes without saying that this is a competent writer with well-crafted plots and sublime characterisations but it’s her extensive research and divergence from theme that shines through in this book. Two characters. Georgine, now down on her luck and Joe, from the wrong side of the track both thrown together to help plan a Christmas show. She doesn’t recognise him at first and herein lies the problem. Both have secrets from their past that they have to overcome before the inevitable HEA. 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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The Governess Game: Book review 

Book blurb

The accidental governess…After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart . . . without risking her own.
The infamous rake…
Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling . . . and he’s in danger of falling, hard.
Available here

My review

This is my first Tessa Dare novel but not my last. I loved the start. Alexandra falling in love with a stranger following a chance meeting in a bookshop, a stranger who turns out to be a scoundrel on all levels. A year later, following an unfortunate accident Alexandra finds herself governess to his unruly wards. Both Chase and his wards need work and who better to instil some discipline?

 Beautifully crafted, I raced through this in a couple of sittings. If there is one criticism there were a couple too many bedroom scenes than I’m used to but that’s all a matter of personal choice. 

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New book alert: The Step-sister


THE STEP-SISTER, an emotional psychological thriller will be published shortly. A story that originated from a school trip to Holland when I was sixteen. It’s available to pre-order  for 99p.

Cover reveal – the 17th September. 

Book launch – the 29th October. 

The first line

I died yesterday, or so I’ve been told. 

The blurb 

The Step-Sister, an emotional psychological thriller with a wicked twist.​

When a stranger leaves step-sisters, Victoria and Ness, a half-share in a house in Holland, they think it must be a mistake. But there’s no mistake when Ness goes missing. 

Desperate for the truth, Victoria travels from Guernsey to Holland to find out what’s happened to her. Has she, as her texts show, embarked on a whirlwind romance? Has someone abducted her or even worse?

What she doesn’t know is there’s someone watching, and that person wants her dead. 

Can Victoria find out the truth before it’s too late? 
Amazon link here

More later 

Jenny x

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Cover reveal: Valerie Keogh

Check this out. A very special book by my good mate, Valerie. I couldn’t be happier that her debut psychological thriller is being published by Bookouture. I’ve read every one of her books and each one is better than the last. SECRETS BETWEEN US is available to pre-order from Amazon for only 99p here

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Murder on the Marshes, Book Review


As the sun rises, a wealthy young woman – Samantha Seabrook – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a deserted Cambridge courtyard, the only clue – an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat. It’s Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving death threats… rather like the one that landed on Tara’s doorstep the night the woman died.

Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara tracks the killer to the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they live… or die. Available here 

My review


This is the third book I have read by Clare Chase and they keep getting better and better. There’s a feel of Morse here despite that fact that we’re in the other ‘Bridge’, university town. Chase has a knack of dragging the reader, kicking and screaming from the comfort of their lounge and into a different place, a place that’s not always comfortable but glamorous all the same. Most of the characters are drawn from the higher echelons and who amongst us doesn’t enjoy a tale about the privileged?  Think Downton meeting Agatha and you’ll get the gist.  

The main character, journalist Tara, is well drawn as we follow her steps as she tries to puzzle just how someone managed to murder visiting professor, Samantha Seabrook. The side kick, Blake, the lead detective is an enticing introduction, a character I’m sure we’ll be hearing from again. 

If you liked Midsomer Murders you’ll like this 

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Samantha Tonge: The writer that roared… (Book review)

Book Blurb 

How far would you go to make amends?

When Emma fled her home at Foxglove Farm, she’d let down and hurt those who cared for her most. But now, two years later, she’s ready to face up to her past; she’s ready to go back.

But Emma’s unannounced return causes more problems than she could have foreseen. The people she knew and loved aren’t ready to forget, let alone forgive. And the one person she wants to reconnect with the most, her mother, can’t remember who she is.

Just as Emma starts to rebuild trust, an uncovered family secret and a shocking past crime threaten her newly forged future…

Sometimes simply saying sorry isn’t enough. 

Available from Amazon here 

My review

Emma returns to Foxglove farm, with more baggage than Heathrow airport in an effort to try and redeem her life after a period of homelessness. But life on the farm throws up a new set of difficulties and sometimes going back is the hardest option of all.

I have long rated Sam as a writer to watch and have enjoyed everything she’s ever written. Her last two books showed signs of a divergence from the cookie-cutter style of romance she’s famed for. But with Forgive Me Not this is a step up again. I didn’t just read this in one sitting, I devoured it. 

I’ve heard many writers describing writing as a journey but as an analogy I place it in my own personal Room 101 alongside phrases such as Blue-sky-thinking and In the Back of the Net. I view writing in the same way I do nursing in that it’s a progression from From Novice to Expert, a five stage progression towards Competence, as coined by Benner in 1984. Each person progresses through the stages at their own pace and not everyone can ever reach that final accolade. With this book Sam has aced writing. I wonder what she’ll turn her hand to next? 

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A chat with Jersey author, Anthony Le Moignan

Jersey and Guernsey have a long history of friendly rivalry that usually sorts itself out twice a year, during the annual footie and rugby matches. For such close neighbours there are plenty of similarities but also many important differences. But both Islands do boast a long literary history going back centuries and many artists have travelled across the Channel to be inspired by our wild coastlines.

Today I’m delighted to welcome debut author, Anthony Le Moignan, who’s book, A LONG GOODBYE has recently been launched. 

Anthony, can you tell me a little about your book and what inspired you to write it? 


Although A LONG GOODBYE is my public debut novel, I wrote Point of Death first. However, this seemingly illogical publishing decision has come about for very strong emotional reasons. I was inspired to write A Long Goodbye after spending over two years visiting my father, Des, as he slowly succumbed to that most sickening of diseases, Alzheimer’s. As I watched Dad on a near-daily basis, turning from the father I loved, to a man who sometimes didn’t know who I was, I knew I was going through the most profound moments of my life.

In the middle of this period, I read about an attractive woman in her early 30s, recently married and an ex-ski instructor. She’d been diagnosed with something I’d never heard of at the time; early onset Alzheimer’s. ALG was born from my gradual understanding of care homes and my father’s condition, and the almost unimaginable horrors of early onset Alzheimer’s. A share of the sale of every book is being donated to Alzheimer’s Society in the UK and Jersey Alzheimer’s Association.

The book revolves around three main characters. Simon is 40, a successful partner in an accountancy firm in London. His doctor confirms the worst – Simon has early onset Alzheimer’s. With this knowledge, he closes his social and business life, applying to move to a care home just outside Cambridge. He hopes nobody will ever find him.

Emma, 42, is the manager of Orchard care home. Hard working, conscientious and admired by all. She’s a petite, attractive woman, married to Michael, a former manager of the same care home. Happily married for many years, their relationship has become more and more strained as Emma fails to fall pregnant. The situation isn’t helped when Michael rises within the care home group and travels away regularly to grow the business empire.

The attraction is instant and reciprocal, but how can Emma and Simon ever have a future? Emma is a completely faithful wife, and Simon is living on borrowed time.

Thanks, Anthony. A LONG GOODBYE is available now in paperback and eBook via Amazon, Anthony’s website, and Waterstones.

I always enjoy asking the next question the best. You never know what will come up! Tell us 10 things many people won’t know about you, Anthony 😂

(In no particular order):

 1) I’m not an accountant

2) My youngest son is my full-time publicist and manager

3) I was called ‘Toto’ or ‘Totie’ until 5-years-old, ‘Moggy’ at school, and ‘Tony’ for the last few decades

4) Throughout the Second World War my father was known as ‘Lemon Onion’ – phonetically the nearest anyone could get to his surname.

5) In March 1912, my great uncle famously said, ‘I’m just going outside and may be some time.’

6) I won the European Croquet Singles Championship

7) Twice (*see 6)

8) I have an incredibly irritating memory for numbers

9) I’m directionally dyslexic

10) I’m a huge fan of car sat-nav and google maps

OMG, I’m so pleased I asked that. Captain Oates, (Terra Nova Expedition) was your Great Uncle – Gobsmacked. Such a tragedy and a great loss… 

I can see from your answers you have a great sense of humour. Toto, I’m directionally dyslexic too, or so I’m told.

 Finally can you tell me about your next book…?

My next book (Point of Death) is liable to be published before the new year, but it’s a very VERY different story to A Long Goodbye. It’s best described as a dark and graphic thriller but with hints of Lassie – a novel for the extremist … For now, there’s a teaser front cover on the website, but that’s it; my lips are sealed.

Thanks, Anthony, for popping along for a virtual coffee. I wish you every success with your writing.

Jenny 

Biography


It was both a shock and a delight when Anthony Le Moignan received The English Prize at end-of-term assembly. He was 11 and in the 6th form, his final year at Prep.

The celebrations carried on for years – five in fact, at which point he was expelled from senior school (‘asked to leave’ was the official jargon). However, a lifelong lesson was learnt (even if an avoidance of alliteration wasn’t) – he was clearly unemployable.
So through a series of almost absurd luck which he cannot begin to over-emphasise, he seems to have successfully ploughed himself to this current moment in time.
He won’t excuse his love of Cambridge. Having travelled around the world playing croquet for a couple of decades, this little city is just about his favourite place on the planet. He’s not entirely sure why, but he seems to love being surrounded by people far brighter than himself, and buildings older than God (welllll, sort of…).
So, a lot of his novels are going to be set in or around Cambridge and London, all of which he hopes will be glanced at in the fullness of time. For now, he’d like to mention that all of the characters in his books, every single one of them, human and otherwise, are based on actual persons; fragments maybe, but they all truly exist. Quite how any author can claim otherwise is a complete mystery to him.

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Around the World with My Ex… Maxine Morrey

 

Book blurb

Aspiring travel writer Mia Walker dreams of covering dream destinations for a living. So when she’s offered the chance to write a romantic travel piece, taking in turquoise oceans, tropical beaches, and a fairy-tale Scottish wedding, she knows it’s the opportunity she’s been waiting for.

It’s the trip of a lifetime… but it comes with a catch. The photographer who’ll be travelling with her is Hunter Scott, who Mia last saw five years ago – when she ended their engagement!
Mia knows she’d be mad to say no – even if it does mean traveling the world with the one man she never wanted to see again! But, whether it’s the stunning locations or the wedding on the horizon, Mia soon finds herself wishing she hadn’t cancelled her own engagement after all…

Available here 

My review

Mia has an Ex, but in her case he’s the kind of man every woman follows with her eyes. Just great when you find out you’re going to have to spend the next two months working with him on a trip of a lifetime and in the company of a pair of love birds too… 

I raced through this in one day. The sun was out and, as usual I was in procrastination mood. I flipped open my trusty Kindle and of all the books I’ve bought recently (don’t tell my husband) I fancied this one. The one thing about reading so much is I get a feel for what a good writer is. With 26 letters it’s amazing the difference in what a writer can throw at the page and Maxine Morrey is a very talented young woman. Her writing flows from her fingertips in an effortless style that draws the reader in. Yesterday I was like one of those sloths clinging to my lounger with a tea on the side. I was not moving until I knew what was going to happen. The sense of place was stellar too. I’ve never been to India but I was soon amongst the hustle and bustle learning more about the country than a lifetime of learning. I’ll certainly be back for more from the writer… 

Sublime writing, enticing characters, thought-provoking sense of place. A fabulous read 

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Oh Crumbs… Kathryn Freeman

Book Blurb

Sometimes life just takes the biscuit …

Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag. 

Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her. 
But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is. 

My review

Okay, so I downloaded this book under false pretences. Yup. That’s right. You know that feeling when you buy something, expecting one thing and you’re dragged, kicking and screaming, into something else? I was expecting fluff, of the pink, sugar-coated kind. I’d just come out of reading a killer thriller (see previous review) and wanted to dilute the book hangover. In biscuit terms you could say I thought I was getting an Iced Gem and I ended up with a dark chocolate digestive. But the thing is I love digestives, they’re my favourite biscuits after all. What I expected demolished on page one, the prologue, when I was plonked Into the middle of a funeral. You can’t get less fluffy than grief to help set the tone of a book. 

Abigail (Abby) has had a tough childhood, if you can even call it that because from twelve-years she’s been both older sister and surrogate mother to her siblings. But that aside now at twenty-four she has a degree under her belt in addition to a fine repertoire of PC swears (Oh Crumbs). She manages to snag the attention of her new boss, Doug. 

Doug hasn’t had such an easy childhood. If his parents bought biscuits they’d be shipped over from Fortnum’s before being layered onto a silver platter. I think you get the gist. But he likes Abby. Abby despite, or maybe because of, her upbringing is a breath of fresh air in his routine, pressure filled life. But Doug can’t take this golden opportunity to change his life… 

This  is the second book I’ve read by this author but it won’t be the last. Turning the opening pages was like finding an unexpected fiver in the zip of my purse, a surprise but not an unpleasant one. The writing is strong and the humour always present but more the quiet giggle than the LOL variety. I read this in one sitting when I really shouldn’t have but hey, that’s what a good book is meant to do. Superb ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Out on 12th June here 

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Lara Dearman, Dark Sky Island

Book blurb 

DCI Michael Gilbert is called out to Sark – the world’s first dark sky island – after bones are found on Derrible Bay. He is followed by journalist Jennifer Dorey, driven by a secret in her own past. The remains are decades old, but after a body is discovered Jennifer and Michael fear there may be a killer on the island. Together they follow a dark trail of bad blood and a conspiracy of silence.
Everyone on the island is under suspicion. No one is what they seem. And the murderer could strike again at any time… 

My review

I liked Lara Dearman’s The Devil’s Claw but I loved Dark Sky Island.

This evocative novel brought so many happy memories in its wake that I couldn’t but be enthralled from page one. I knuckled down pretty quickly and read in one sitting, sitting in the warm sunshine of my Guernsey backyard. So what’s to love? Dearman has a knack of setting the scene. She draws the reader in, kicking and screaming and makes them put their life on hold. Dishes. What dishes? Ironing. Well, the crumpled look is in, isn’t it? 

In a way I feel envy for the people that will read this who have never experienced the delights of such a special place. We try to visit Sark at least once a year. I’m a bit past the hike up the hill these days so the toast rack is a welcome relief. In the old days I too would have stuck to my guns and reached The Bel Air gasping for a cold one. 

It’s lovely to read a book with so many personal experiences running parallel in my minds eye. We’ve never been to Brecqhou Island but we have fished those waters with the towering backdrop of the ‘castle’ in the distance. The Venus Pool, around the corner from the Silver Mines holds one of my darkest secrets. I’m scared of heights and if you’re not a mountain goat, born with cloven feet I wouldn’t suggest a visit. God, I still have nightmares remembering the frantic rock climb. I seriously thought I was going to die. The swim. Was it worth it? I honestly can’t remember.

And back to the book…

Following on from The Devil’s Claw, Local journalist, Jenny Dorey, is still reeling from the death of her father, despite a two year hiatus. She’s in a new relationship, with fellow reporter but life seems to be getting in the way. When the historical remains of a body is found in a dark, dank cave off Sark and closely followed by a second, newer murder, she hops on the next ferry to run a parallel investigation with Michael from the Guernsey police force. This is a twisty turns thriller with beautiful descriptive scenes interspersed with fast-paced plotting  and intrigue that will keep the most exacting of readers enthralled until the end. I loved it. I’ve read quite a few thrillers this year and this sits alongside Emma Rowley’s ‘Where the Missing Go’ and David Jackson’s ‘Don’t Make a Sound’. I predict a hit. At least the traffic won’t suffer – cars aren’t allowed in Sark, thank God!