Authors in the Spotlight Emma Vestrheim & Sarah Surgey @OdenseSeries

Today I have not one but two authors answering my spotlight questions. Emma Vestrheim & Sarah Surgey have co-authored A Presence of Absence, the first in The Odense Series, a new Nordic Noir/Brit Crime series that blends humanist stories and family drama with gritty crime in the central Danish city Odense. You’ll find buying links at the bottom of the page

Thanks for joining me ladies. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourselves?

Emma: I’m an Australian expat living in Norway where I own a journal called Cinema Scandinavia, which publishes information about Nordic film and television in English. I’ve been working on that publication for the last three years, and get to travel to film festivals, interview famous Scandinavians and watch lots of movies!

Sarah: I am Sarah Surgey, a British freelance writer, specialising in Nordic culture who has taken the leap into the literary world as an author. I am married and we have 4 daughters. I love to write and travel, alongside my daughters, these are my greatest pleasures.

What inspired you to start writing?

Emma: I have been writing short stories since I was a kid, but have spent much of my adult life writing scripts as I have always been into filmmaking. I’ve always been more interested in creating worlds on the screen, so it’s been a huge learning experience adapting my film background for the literary world.

Sarah: I’ve always written, always, so I can’t remember what inspired me but, becoming an author is a different thing! Interviewing lots of famous authors inspired me to finally pen a novel!

Tell me about your journey to publication

Emma: Sarah and I were in the same circle of those writing about Nordic talent; I was focused on film and she wrote about literature. She approached me with this idea to write a novel, and after we discussed it the book felt like it was writing itself. We spent eight months writing the book, which included me flying from Australia to Denmark and the UK to meet Sarah and visit Odense, and then after writing the book we’ve spent a year finding its voice. We started by looking for a publisher, but have since decided to be self publishers. It’s crazy that it’s been two years since we started writing!

Sarah: We knew going into publishing that it is a hard circle to break. You need a literary agent to even approach publishing houses and literary agents on take on around 2% I think of submissions. We wanted to test the waters and although we had very positive feedback, we just weren’t lucky enough, it wasn’t our time. But, we are hard working and have broad shoulders so we decided to self-publish, work hard, get it out there, write the best we could, not sleep and continue, until we published it ourselves or were eventually picked up! We’ve only just begun and already the reviews we are getting are amazing so we are confident we may eventually be an attractive writing duo to an agent.

In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?

A Presence of Absence High Res

Emma: It’s about a British detective called Simon Weller who ups and moves to Odense, the childhood home of his wife, Vibeke, who has recently committed suicide. There he finds work at the Funen Police Station and is immediately thrown into the most gruesome crime the small city has ever seen. Simon soon discovers that the case is closely associated with his late wife.

Sarah: A Presence of Absence is the first in The Odense Series, it has been described as a softer crime novel which is woven in between strong character development, the issues of dealing with grief and cultural differences. It’s a humanic story which goes back and fourth in time and stretches from the gritty streets of London to the cobbled stones of Odense, Denmark. We really wanted to have the first book for the characters, so the reader knows them inside out and WANTS to read more about them and have a general interest but the crime is just as important because for some of the characters, it will define them.

The second book The Enlightened will be very gritty and dark.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Emma: Throughout the whole process, we had a completely different title for the novel. As we were finishing it up, Sarah was watching television and heard the phrase ‘A Presence of Absence’. We knew we wanted a large part of our book to be about grief and family relationships, so it just made sense.

Sarah: I heard a man speaking about the death of his son, he was in his 80’s but said for the last 50 years he had lived with a very real presence of absence of where his son should have been.

How do you plan to celebrate publication day?

Sarah: Not sure to be honest, how do you celebrate? I guess with having all the people around me who have put up with my manic writing over the past year!

Emma: I imagine wine will be involved! I may be heading over to the UK soon, so we’ll go out for drinks. And then start chatting about book two.

Do you have a work in progress just now?

Sarah: Yes, the second book. Same character and still in Odense and London but, also venturing up to Norway!

Emma: I’m very excited about book two. England and Denmark are like Sarah’s two homes, and in the second book we feature bits of Australia and Norway, which are my two homes! I’m glad we are including Norway, which is often the forgotten/lesser known Scandinavian country. We are heading north and incorporating elements of Sami culture, Norse mythology and the Northern Lights. Also, the book cover looks amazing! It’s based off a series of crimes in the 90’s where Norwegian heavy metal bands burnt down churches around the country.

What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!

Sarah: I’ve said this before but I personally am a huge Agatha Christie fan and just can’t fault her or move away from them but, I do read others in between, I love Anne Holt and Jussi Adler-Olsen

Emma: I’ve just finished Hannah Kent’s new book, but my favourite one of hers is Burial Rites. I couldn’t put down The Girl on the Train and my favourite books of all time are the Harry Potter series. I own one of the first edition copies of The Philosophers Stone that I got when I was nine. I was a huge Harry Potter nerd growing up.

Burial Rites by [Kent, Hannah]

What are you reading just now? 

Emma: Lion by Saroo Brierley (as of March 2017).

Lion: A Long Way Home by [Brierley, Saroo]

If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?

Emma: Oooh that’s a good question. Probably something huge so I don’t get bored, or The Snowman by Jo Nesbø if I want to be entertained.

The Snowman: Harry Hole 7 by [Nesbo, Jo]

Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film? Who would be in your dream cast?

Emma: Well they are about to release my dream choice, The Snowman, as a film. They have Michael Fassbender as Harry Hole but I really wish they’d gone with a Norwegian actor. Perhaps Trond Espen Siem.

How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?

Emma: I’m pretty terrible on social media, but use Instagram (if you love photos of cats) at @emmavestrheim169 and then there’s my film journal Twitter at @CineScandinavia.

And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

Emma: That’s tough. I was always told as a kid that I could be Hermione – frizzy brown hair and all. I was the exact age for it but I can’t imagine them hiring an Australian to play a Brit, though it would be funny to hear Hermione tell everyone off with a thick Australian accent.  At least there’s another Emma in the part!

Buying Links

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Also available from our website:

The Little Teashop of Horrors by @JaneLovering #review @ChocLitUK #LittleTeashop

Visual 1 - Teashop

I have read quite a few Jane Lovering books now and was really looking forward to this latest. I’m very pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed! As I’m getting older (just a little older!) I’m finding that I enjoy reading about characters closer to my own age and often get irritated with younger characters. Not so with this book. Even though the characters were probably only in their late twenties, I felt I could really identify with them.

ChocLit books always say they have an irresistible hero and Josh was certainly that. He’s not your typical hero, mind you. He is certainly good looking, although tries his best to hide it with unkempt hair and grubby clothes. He lives in a very, very basic caravan and seems to prefer spending time with his birds of prey rather than with the rest of the staff at Monkpark Hall. Throughout the book we discover he has had a difficult childhood which explains the way he is. Amy can see beneath the surface to “that beautiful, scared man with whom I shared a friendship that felt as though it teetered on the edge of being something else.”

Amy is the other main character and she runs the teashop at Monkpark Hall. She really doesn’t have much self-confidence, thinking of herself as plain and overweight. It was really quite sad to read about how her childhood had led to this lack of self-belief. The story is told through the alternating voices of Amy and Josh and we learn that they are both very attracted to each other but both afraid, for different reasons, to acknowledge this attraction.  Can they learn to trust each other and find happiness?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt I really got to know Amy and Josh so well and understand their insecurities and doubts and well as their dreams and hopes. I loved how they very gradually came to believe in themselves and each other as they worked together to try find out what new Property Manager Edmund Evershot was up to. I had to smile at Josh’s many nicknames for Edmund. In fact, in common with all Jane Lovering’s books, this book was full of humour and had me laughing out loud many times. 

Josh’s birds of prey played an important role too. Through them he was able to show love and be loved (if birds can love) in return. He had a special fondness for Skrillex, an owl who had been injured and couldn’t fly. I had a bit of a soft spot for Skrillex myself. I was really willing at least one of the birds to take a chunk out of Edmund, he certainly deserved it. I don’t think there can be many women who would think that being compared with an owl would be a compliment, but when you read how much Josh thinks of his birds you know he means well when he tells Amy, “You’ve not got a face like a goblin. You look like Skrillex, all eyes and your face is kind. Dunno why women want to look all think and sharp, makes them look like they don’t want a bloke to love, they want one to disembowel.”

The Little Teashop of Horrors is another winner from Jane Lovering. It’s quirky and funny, explores some dark issues and has a  proper romantic story at its heart.  Jane Lovering really knows how to write a story that will have you wrapped up in the lives of her characters, following them through their problems and cheering on their triumphs. A perfect read to leave you smiling.

Thanks to Liz at publishers ChocLit for sending me a copy of this book. Little Teashop of Horrors is published today (28th March 2017) as an e-book and you can order a copy online by clicking here. On publication day, though I’m not sure how long for, it is only 99p!

From the back of the book

Secrets, lies, carrot cake  and an owl called Skrillex!

Amy Knowles has always been the plain sidekick to her pretty best friend Jules. And whilst the tearoom they both work in on the Monkpark Hall estate in Yorkshire is not exactly awash with eligible bachelors, it’s obvious where the male attention is concentrated – and it’s not just on the cakes!

There is one man who notices Amy. Joshua Wilson also works at Monkpark, where he flies his birds of prey for visitor entertainment. He lives a lonely existence but he has reasons for choosing isolation – and, in Amy, he may have found somebody who understands.

Then a management change brings slick and well-spoken Edmund Evershott to Monkpark. He’s interested in Amy too, but for what reason? Josh suspects the new manager is up to no good – but will Amy? Because Edmund could leave her with much worse than a broken heart …

Creative Fire: a guest post from Matt Wesolowski @concretekraken @orendabooks

I’m pleased to welcome Matt Wesolowski, author of Six Stories. It’s another I haven’t quite got around to yet but it’s on my to be read list! He has written a fantastic guest post about the burning desire to write and how, as a teacher, he has seen this even in the most challenging of pupils.

Creative Fire

 When someone wants to write fiction, you can feel it; the desire to tell stories emanates from them like heat. I recognise that same fire within myself, burning bright and long when inspiration strikes.

Now I’m in my mid 30s, I am in control of that fire; it has a brass grate, a poker hanging from a wrought iron hook, a neat stack of logs. When I was a teenager, I was most certainly not; I cared about little but fiction, sat at the back of lessons, ignoring the teacher, vomiting stories all over lined A4 paper. Think a sort of literary Regan from the Exorcist – Pazuzu was my muse and that burning desire to write never wavered.

In my 20s, I trained as an English teacher in Lancaster (and ended up teaching Food technology – long story!) and worked for a while in mainstream education before becoming somewhat disillusioned (this was the peak of Michael Gove’s tenure as ‘Education secretary’ after all!).

What I found during my teaching was that I preferred working with the naughty kids. I would accrue pupils who were regularly kicked out of their lessons and do a little bit of rudimentary mentoring with them. I enjoyed this so much that after leaving my first mainstream job, I decided to move back to my home town of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and start working in the PRU system. A PRU, for those who don’t know, is a Pupil Referral Unit – a local authority maintained ‘alternative provision’ unit for pupils who, for whatever reason cannot attend regular school. Most of these reasons, in my experience, are emotional and behavioural. The PRUs I worked in were 99% attended by pupils who had been permanently excluded from mainstream schools for their behaviour.

I loved working in the PRUs. It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but the occasional perception of PRUs having  a zoo-like atmosphere with chairs flying, were far from what I experienced. Of course, challenging pupils in alternative provision displayed challenging behaviour but for the vast majority of them, if you treated them with respect, you got it back. In my time in the PRUs, I was never sworn at, never had anything thrown at me and was never threatened. I’m not self aggrandising here, this was no ‘Freedom Writers’. Plenty of pupils refused to work, refused to attend, ignored me or did the opposite of what I asked them.

There was a year 11 girl in one of the PRUs I worked in (let me qualify here, tough girls are tougher than tough boys, at least the Geordie ones are!) who I’m going to call Alice [not her real name] and Alice was every mainstream teacher’s nightmare, possessed with a bad attitude and high intelligence (I’d taught a great number of Alices in mainstream education). She, in fact, reminded me of me when I was her age. Alice told me she only liked English and that I ‘had better’ get her through her coursework!

Alice worked hard at her ‘Frankenstein’ coursework and when she told me she wrote stories, I said I’d enter her into a regional competition open to all mainstream schools and PRUs in the local authority. This competition was open to staff and pupils alike.

Alice rose to the occasion, stayed behind after school hours and worked until her story was the best it could be. She threw everything into the story, I entered it and we crossed our fingers.

She only went and won first prize.

That fire Alice had inside her, that desire to write burned brighter than all the other entries. She had a vociferous appetite to write and I remember how fiction was such an escape for me, at Alice’s age. This, combined with her natural talent, is what had won first prize.

 I will never forget the wonderful moment, sat at the awards ceremony with Alice and her parents and watched this child whose behaviour had put her in an awkward position, realise that she had a strength and a talent.

I don’t know what became of Alice, I do know she passed her English GCSE though and whatever path she takes in life, I hope writing will always be a part of it. She deserves it.

It doesn’t matter where life takes you and what your circumstance is; fiction doesn’t discriminate and that if you feel that fire burning, you should indulge it.

About Six Stories: from the back of the book

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure.

In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame… As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

About the author (source Amazon)


Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for children in care and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North.

Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous magazines and US anthologies.

Wesolowski was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at ‘Bloody Scotland’; Crime Writing Festival 2015 and his short crime story ‘Tulpa’ was subsequently published in the Northern Crime One’ anthology (Moth Publishing 2015). His debut crime novel ‘Six Stories’ will be available through Orenda Books in the spring of 2017

You can follow Matt on twitter @concretekraken and his blog can be found at


Kimberly Livingston #AuthorInTheSpotlight @KLNovels

Kimberly Livingston

I’m pleased to welcome American author Kimberly Livingston to the blog today. Her novel In The Eyes of an Angel was published in 2013 and you can order it online here.

Welcome Kimberly and thanks for joining me. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?

I’m an American living in Colorado, (which for my UK followers is the middle to western half of the United States right next to the Rocky Mountains) with my husband. I am a Disney fanatic – Disneyland to be specific. I spend as much time there as I absolutely can. I currently am immersed in studying American Sign Language (ASL) and am trying to work that into a novel at some point in time.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve had stories bouncing around in my head since I was a kid. I’ve always loved to write but never committed to a novel. I took a leave of absence from my job a few years ago and filled my days with writing. Best hours I’ve ever spent, in my opinion.

Tell me about your journey to publication

Wow. It has been a long road filled with encouragement and defeat. When my first novel was finished it was in the midst of the American recession. I had read that just a few years earlier getting published was a much easier task. Also, the self-publishing/ebook publishing market was just beginning to take off so publishers were fairly nervous about risk taking. At that time I contacted over 80 publishers. I got many of the typical rejection letters, but I also received many personal responses of “We really liked your writing/see potential, your novel just isn’t what we are looking for right now.” Those are the letters that I saved and kept me going.

In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?

In the Eyes of an Angel by [Livingston, Kimberly]

In the Eyes of an Angel is about college student Camille Ryan who is eking out a living as a bartender while trying to cram 8 semesters of college into 6. It is the story of her struggle with her father’s alcoholism and with being raised to be independent but really wanting someone to just take care of her and love her. She meets Rick Pantanelli, a wealthy executive who happens into her bar one evening and falls for her. The problem is, Camille’s friends convince her that he is too old for her and likely married as well. Camille sees in Rick the escape to the “easy life” she has been looking for, but something is definitely missing.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Titles, for me, come before the complete story does. Once I get a title in my head I am married to it. It makes the book become mine. For me, In the Eyes of an Angel comes from when Rick first meets Camille and sees something in her eyes, a lightness and a strength. I see Camille as a very strong character underneath her fragile exterior.

How did you celebrate publication day?

I have a mug that you can write on with marker. I named it my “celebration mug”. Some days I wished I had written on it the day the novel was first started. That I suppose was a celebration in and of itself. I look forward to writing on that mug.

Do you have a work in progress just now?

Yes. I am actually writing a follow up novel to In the Eyes of an Angel. It follows one of the characters on their own journey. I am super excited about it and feel it is so close to being ready to share. It is set in Hawaii and so allows me to “escape” to the beaches as often as I want. Other than that, I have a slew of other stories waiting in various forms to be put on paper.

What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern has captured my heart and imagination. I read it cover to cover, turned it over, and started it again. Twice. I have now read that book a half a dozen times and each time I catch something new. It is magical and picturesque in a way very few novels are for me. I am all about the story plot when I read, but this book was oh so much more.

What are you reading just now? 

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (Bridget Jones series Book 2) by [Fielding, Helen]

I don’t often read “just released books” and I am rather random in my selection.  I just finished “Bridget Jones Edge of Reason” (February 2017) because I need something that I don’t invest a ton of time in so that I can focus on my own writing.

If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?

I would bring a blank book – a very large blank book – and enough pens to be able to fill it with the stories I create.

Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film? Who would be in your dream cast?

The Night Circus would make an incredible film. I have given much thought to the cast, though the main two characters might be cast with unknowns.

Hector Bowen-  Donald Sutherland

Alexander – Ian McKellan

Chandresh Christophe Lefever – Robert Downy Jr.

Ethan Barris – Ewan McGregor

Herr Frederick Thiessen

Poppet – Emma Stone

Tante Padva – Helen Mirren

Tsukiko – Lucy Liu

[Sounds like a great cast!]

How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?

Twitter – @KLnovels

Facebook – Kimberly Livingston Novels

Website –

And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

I like Morgan Le Fay in the Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I feel like her character has always been given a bad wrap, and I like that she is the heroine in this version of the King Arthur story. She is often misunderstood, but truly a strong and generous character who is trying to keep the world right. I connect with her completely.

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys #review @doubledayuk @MsTamarCohen

“You can’t get away with anything on a ship you know. Someone always finds out.”

So says the glamorous and beautiful Eliza Campbell, one of the first class passengers on board the ocean liner Orontes. It’s 1939 and the Orontes is setting sail for Australia, taking its passengers to a new life and leaving behind the threat of another war in Europe. Among those passengers is Lily Shepherd, trying to leave behind a secret that we get glimpses of throughout the book. On board ship, she quickly makes friends with many of the passengers but her choices don’t all sit easily with other passengers. As the ship makes its five-week voyage towards Australia, Rachel Rhys takes her readers on a completely addictive journey finding out about the passengers, the secrets they are trying to leave behind them and all that happens on the boat and at its various stopping points.

I adored this book and was drawn in from the very intriguing prologue. Who was the mysterious woman being taken off the ship in handcuffs and what had she done? The author has made her book gloriously visual. She paints a vivid picture of the woman leaving the boat: her detailed descriptions made it so easy to visualise the style of the clothing, the searing heat, the excitement of the waiting crowds. She continues this visual style throughout the book evoking the atmosphere and glamour of the era.

I was fascinated by the thought of all these people who wouldn’t normally engage with each other on land, being thrown together in the relatively small confines of the ship. Social and class barriers didn’t seem to matter quite so much, at least not for everyone. It was such an isolated community full of people who would not under normal circumstances associate with each other. The detail of radios being confiscated added to the feeling of a closed off society. The crew did not want the passengers to know if war was declared when they were at sea as it could result in social and political tension, potentially dangerous in such an enclosed environment.

For many of the passengers, travelling to Australia was as much about escaping from their pasts as beginning a new life. “On a boat like this….. everyone is running away from something.”  Lily began to wonder if she had been too trusting of her fellow travellers: “It hasn’t occurred to Lily not to take her fellow passengers at face value.” As everyone’s secrets began to be exposed and the story neared its conclusion there was an almost unbearable sense of tension as I wondered what was going to happen and when the mysterious woman from the prologue would be revealed along with whatever she had done.

A Dangerous Crossing is a wonderful book. It’s glamorous, exciting and mysterious and all the more enthralling for knowing that it was inspired by a memoir of a real voyage to Australia in the 1930s. Although I must add that no deaths took place on that voyage to my knowledge!

My thanks to Alison Barrow for sending me a copy of this book. Dangerous Crossing was published by Doubleday yesterday in hardback and as an ebook. The paperback will follow in August. You can order a copy online here

From the back of the book

Sparkling cocktails, poisonous secrets …

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own. 

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

Spring Cleaning the TBR #guestpost by Bella Osborne author of Willow Cottage @osborne_bella @AvonBooksUK

Willow Cottage - Part Three: A Spring Affair (Willow Cottage Series) by [Osborne, Bella]

I’m very pleased to be joined by Bella Osborne, author of the Willow Cottage series of books. Part three, A Spring Affair, has been published today by Avon UK and is available to download for only 79p by clicking here. Bella has written a guest post about the kind of spring cleaning I think I should be doing too – spring cleaning the to-be-read pile!

Bella Osborne

Part 3 of Willow Cottage is set in springtime and, for some people, spring is about cleaning. In theory this is a great idea but seeing as we have to keep on top of the cleaning throughout the year, otherwise the dust bunnies mount a rebellion, it doesn’t seem like much fun to add on extra chores just because the daffodils are popping up. So instead I decided to have a look at my To Be Read (TBR) pile and decided to give that a dust off instead.

So here is a list of books I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time but for various reasons** just haven’t managed to get to them.

The Bridges Of Madison County by [Waller, Robert James]

This is on the list because it is my friend’s favourite book and because it is special to her I have been meaning to read it for a while. So this spring I will push it up the TBR list and hopefully be in for a treat.

After You by [Moyes, Jojo]

I completely fell in love with Louisa and Will in Me Before You and was excited to get hold of the sequel when it came out but I just haven’t started it. Perhaps there is a small part of me that wants to leave the characters untouched as it is a very hard thing to do to match a novel as good as Me Before You, I don’t know, I will see if this is the case when I read it.

This is on the list because it was a really big thing at the time. It is one of those books that had a huge amount of publicity a few years ago and everyone said I must read it. I think I may have rebelled a little and not read it simply because everyone was telling me I must, but the time has come to see what all the fuss was about. 

This is definitely my kind of spring cleaning!

What is on your TBR pile?

**By various reasons I mean they have been overtaken on the reading list by impulse book purchases, book club reads, the ‘ooh it’s the latest thing and it’s sooo good you have to read it’ reads, the latest from my favourite authors, as well as my favourite sort of jump to the top of the book pile, a friend’s debut novel.

About A Spring Affair – Willow Cottage Part Three

Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a warm, caring and safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

Willow Cottage is part of a serialized novel told in four parts, following the journey of Beth and her new life in the Cotswolds. The full book will be out next this August, but for now, enjoy Willow Cottage seasonally.

#SometimesILie by Alice Feeney #review @alicewriterland @HQStories

Sometimes I Lie: A psychological thriller with a killer twist you'll never forget by [Feeney, Alice]

Sometimes I Lie is a psychological thriller from debut author Alice Feeney which seriously messed with my mind. Amber Reynolds is our main character and, as the book cover says, she is in a coma following a serious car crash. Although she is in a coma, she is very aware of her surroundings and can hear what is going on round about her. She can’t quite remember though what happened to put her in hospital and can only start to piece it together from what she hears the medical staff and her visitors say. Amber is that fascinating kind of character,  an unreliable narrator as her memories start to come back piece by piece. While she is in hospital, the chapters are headed ‘Now’. We also have chapters about ‘Then’ following Amber in the few days leading up to her accident and I have to say I really didn’t like her at all! You see, another reason that Amber can’t be trusted is that she freely admits that she lies. Doubly unreliable then. 

Just to add to the intrigue, there are diary entries from ‘Before’ when the reader learns more about what was going on in Amber’s childhood and I have to say the diary entries don’t portray a particularly likeable or reliable narrator either.

So throughout the book, you are really not sure what you can believe and what is the truth. And that is what makes it such a page turner. Add in lots of twists and turns and your head will be spinning too! There was one particular point in the story when I suddenly realised just how cleverly Alice Feeney has written this book and that I had been reading it all wrong! From that point on, I read with very different understanding. Or so I thought, until the author proved me wrong once again.

Sometimes I Lie is a completely gripping thriller which will have you compulsively turning the pages trying to figure out just what is going on. It will take you by surprise so many times with clever twists and turns right up to the very last chapters. Sure to be a big hit this year.

My thanks to the publishers  HQ Stories for my copy of this book. Sometimes I Lie is published today in paperback and as an e-book. At the time of writing, the e-book is only 99p and I highly recommend you snap it up at such a bargain price. Then again, you may prefer the paperback for the ease of flicking back when you wonder how on earth you have missed certain things! You can order online here: Sometimes I Lie

From the back of the book

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.

1. I’m in a coma

2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore

3. Sometimes I lie

Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors, The Girl on the Train and The Widow.