Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The Forgotten Village by @LornaCookAuthor 5* #NewRelease #HistFic #Mystery #Romance @AvonBooksUK #DebutAuthor

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The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook ~ (Titled, The Forgotten Wife in the US)
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

1943: The world is at war, and the villagers of Tyneham are being asked to make one more sacrifice: to give their homes over to the British army. But on the eve of their departure, a terrible act will cause three of them to disappear forever.

2018: Melissa had hoped a break on the coast of Dorset would rekindle her stagnant relationship, but despite the idyllic scenery, it’s pushing her and Liam to the brink. When Melissa discovers a strange photograph of a woman who once lived in the forgotten local village of Tyneham, she becomes determined to find out more about her story. But Tyneham hides a terrible secret, and Melissa’s search for the truth will change her life in ways she never imagined possible.

‘A coastal village abandoned in wartime, a haunting expression in an old photograph, and a charismatic TV historian: from these raw ingredients Lorna Cook creates an intriguing mystery that will keep you wanting to read more’ ~ Gill Paul

My Review ~

The Forgotten Village is the perfect summer read. It really has a little bit of everything to draw the reader in and warm the heart! It is a dual timeline novel split between the modern day and the historical era of 1943. There is a mystery at the core of the title and a brilliant dash of romance! As I type that, I am aware, I am not known to read romance as such. But with The Forgotten Village I was completely taken in, as much as I was when I devoured the entire series of Poldark!

The title opens in Tyneham, Dorset in December 1943. We become acquainted with Sir Albert and Lady veronica Standish. Their entire village is to be requisitioned and to say Bertie is unhappy about it, is a major understatement. He is furious!

In the Alternative timeline we meet Melissa who is holidaying in the area with her boyfriend Liam. She is captivated by the history of the area, when she reads in the Purbeck Times of the village’s re-opening. Only when she meets historian Guy Cameron and becomes intrigued by an old photo, she is driven to investigate the mystery that lays deep in the war time past.

The novel then  jumps between 1943/2018. We learn how relationships between men and women have changed dramatically. Especially as we follow the events in Melissa and Veronica’s lives. When Melissa fails to uncover death records for the Standish’s; the investigation really heats up! Can Melissa uncover the mysteries of the past? Can Melissa she the romance blossoming before her eyes? Will Veronica find peace in her life? What lengths will Bertie go to, to ensure veronica remains with him for eternity?

‘She had no idea that the worst was yet to come’

There are mysteries and secrets galore and it is the perfect summer read! With a mix of the ‘feel good’ cosy crime. Which would make an ideal Sunday evening TV drama. Huge congratulations to the author on pulling off a fantastic debut novel and I wish her all the best in her future writing career. 5* 

LC
Lorna Cook
Website
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract The Confessions Of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins @mrsjaneymac #FrannieLangton #NewRelease #HistFic @VikingBooksUK

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The Confessions Of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
Currently Reading – Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

‘They say I must be put to death for what happened to Madame, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don’t believe I’ve done?’

1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning – slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.

But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?

A beautiful and haunting tale about one woman’s fight to tell her story, The Confessions of Frannie Langton leads you through laudanum-laced dressing rooms and dark-as-night back alleys, into the enthralling heart of Georgian London.

Extract ~

The Old Bailey,
London,
7 April 1826

Chapter One

My trial starts the way my life did: a squall of elbows and shoving and spit. From the prisoners’ hold they take me through the gallery, down the stairs and past the table crawling with barristers and clerks. Around me a river of faces in flood, their mutters rising, blending with the lawyers’ whispers. A noise that hums with all the spite of bees in a bush. Heads turn as I enter. Every eye a skewer.

I duck my head, peer at my boots, grip my hands to stop their awful trembling. It seems all of London is here, but then murder is the story this city likes best. All of them swollen into the same mood, all of them in a stir about the ‘sensation excited by these most ferocious murders’. Those were the words of the Morning Chronicle, itself in the business of harvesting that very sensation link an ink-black crop. I don’t make a habit of reading what the broadsheets say about me, for newspapers are like a mirror I saw once in a fair near the Strand that stretched my reflection like a rack, gave me two heads so I almost didn’t know myself. If you’ve ever had the misfortune to be written about, you know what I mean.

But there are turnkeys at Newgate who read them at you for sport, precious little you can do to get away.

When they see I’m not moving, they shove me forward with the flats of their hands and I shiver, despite the heat, fumble my way down the steps.

Murderer! The word follows me. Murderer! The Mulatta Murderess.
I’m forced to trot to keep up with the turnkeys so I don’t tumble crown over ankle. Fear skitters up my throat as they push me into the dock. The barristers look up from their table, idle as cattle in their mournful gowns. Even those old hacks who’ve seen it all want a glimpse of the Mulatta Murderess. Even the judge stares, fat and glossy in his robes, his face soft and blank as an old potato until he screws his eyes on me and nods at his limp-haired clerk to read the indictment.

FRANCES LANGTON, also known as Ebony Fran or Dusky Fran, is indicted for the wilful murder of GEORGE BENHAM and MARGUERITE BENHAM in that she on the 27th day of January in the year of Our Lord 1826 did feloniously and with malice aforethought assault GEORGE BENHAM and MARGUERITE BENHAM, subjects of our lord the King, in that she did strike and stab them until they were dead, both about the upper and middle chest, their bodies having been discovered by EUSTACIA LINUX, housekeeper, of Montfort Street, London.

MR JESSOP to conduct the prosecution.

The gallery is crowded, all manner of quality folk and ordinary folk and rabble squeezed in, the courtroom being one of the few places they’d ever be caught so cheek to jowl. Paduasoy silk next to Kashmir shawls next to kerchiefs. Fidgeting their backsides along the wood, giving off a smell like milk on the turn, like a slab of pork Phibbah forgot once, under the porch. The kind of smell that sticks your tongue to your throat. Some of them suck candied orange peel fished out of their purses, jaws going like paddles. The ones who can’t stomach being caught in any sort of honest smell. Ladies. I know the sort.

Jessop hooks his gown with his thumbs, pushes to his feet. His voice laps steady as water against a hull. So soft. He could be gabbing with them at his own fireside. Which is how he wants it, for that makes them lean closer, makes them attend.

‘Gentlemen, on the evening of the twenty-seventh of January, Mr and Mrs Benham were stabbed to death. Mr Benham in his library, Mrs Benham in her bedchamber. This . . . woman . . . the prisoner at the bar, stands accused of those crimes. Earlier that night, she confronted them in their drawing room, and threat- ened them with murder. Those threats were witnessed by several guests in attendance that evening, at one of Mrs Benham’s legendary soirées. You will hear from those guests. And you will hear from the housekeeper, Mrs Linux, who will tell you the pris- oner was observed going into Mrs Benham’s rooms shortly after she had retired. Mrs Linux went upstairs herself at around one o’clock that morning, where she discovered her master’s body in his library. Shortly thereafter, she entered Mrs Benham’s bed- chamber and discovered her body, and, next to it, the prisoner. In her mistress’s bed. Asleep. When the prisoner was woken by the housekeeper, she had blood on her hands, blood drying on her sleeves.

What frightens me is dying believing that it was me who killed her

‘All through her arrest and incarceration . . . to this day, she has refused to speak about what happened that night. The refuge of those who are unable to offer a plain and honest defence. Well, if she can now offer an explanation, I am sure you will hear it, gentlemen, I am sure you will hear it. But it seems to me that a satisfactory explanation is impossible when the crime is attended with circumstances such as these.’

I grip the railing, shackles clanking like keys. I can’t hold on to what he’s saying. My eye swings around the room, catches the sword hung behind the judge, silver as a chink of moon. I read the words hammered in gold beneath. ‘A false witness shall not be unpunished, but he that speaketh lies shall perish.’ Well. We’re all going to perish, liars and truth-tellers alike, though the Old Bailey is meant to speed a liar’s progress. But that’s not what frightens me. What frightens me is dying believing that it was me who killed her.

I see you at the barristers’ table. You look up, give me a quick nod that settles on me like a horse blanket. There, laid out like china on a buffet, is the evidence against me: Benham’s cravat, his green brocade waistcoat; Madame’s lavender silk, her chemise, and her bandeau with the swan feather dyed lavender also, to match her dress. And there is Linux’s butchering knife, which, so far as I knew, was in its scabbard in the kitchen the whole time I was in Madame’s room.

But it’s the thing beside them that you’re frowning at. When I see it, worry curdles my guts. It’s curled inside an apothecary’s jar, tight as a fist. The baby. Someone joggles the table and it flattens against the glass, like a cheek. There’s a question in your raised brows, but it’s one I cannot answer. I didn’t expect to see it here. The baby. Why is it allowed here? Will they ask me to speak about it?

When I see it, my knees start to quake, and I feel all the terror of that night again. But the mind is its own place, as Milton said, it can make a Hell of Heaven and a Heaven of Hell. How does it do that? By remembering, or forgetting. The only tricks a mind can play.
A wave of memory breaks. She’s lying in bed, up on her elbows with her toes pointing into the air, in her hand an apple I’m trying in vain to coax her to eat. ‘Listen! Are you listening?’ She kicks one of her heels.

‘I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said ‒ “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies . . .’

I’m only half listening, because it is impossible, this thing that is happening, my mistress lying with me in her bed and reading me a poem! But also because it was one of those times, when it fell to me to watch what they called the balance of her mind, like a pot I had on the stove. Is she well? I’m asking myself. Is she well?

A novel is like a long, warm drink but a poem is a spike through the head

She turns to me. ‘Do you like it?’

‘Who is it?’ I ask, stirring her hair with my breath.

‘Shelley. Though I like Byron better, don’t you? The prince of melodrama.’ She turns over suddenly, onto her back, and closes her eyes. ‘Byron is proof, if ever it were needed, that a man is merely spoiled by his vices while a woman is soiled by hers. Oh, Frances, Frances, don’t you think everyone should be prescribed a poem a day? Woman cannot live on novels alone!’

She was right about that. A novel is like a long, warm drink but a poem is a spike through the head.

I told you that story yesterday when we first met. I don’t know why, except maybe I wanted you to know something about me and her other than the terrible things that are being said. You lawyers are as squeamish about hearsay as a planter about cane-rats, yet a trial boils a whole character down to that.

‘John Pettigrew,’ you said, holding out your hand, with your brief still in it so the ribbons dribbled down your wrists. You peered out through all your dark hair. I could see you were even nervier than I was about what lay ahead of us.

Then you said, ‘For God’s sake, give me something I can save your neck with.’

But how can I give you what I do not have? Remembering is a thing that happens or doesn’t, like breathing.

So I told you that story. I suppose I wanted to show you there was love between me and her. Though what good does that do? Whatever she and I were to each other is not a thing you men would care for. At any rate, love is no defence to murder, as you said, though, more often than not, it’s an explanation.

But this is a story of love, not just murder, though I know that’s not the kind of story you’re expecting. In truth, no one expects any kind of story from a woman like me. No doubt you think this will be one of those slave histories, all sugared over with misery and despair. But who’d want to read one of those? No, this is my account of myself and my own life and the happiness that came to it, which was not a thing I thought I’d ever be allowed, the happiness or the account.

I have the paper you gave me, and a fresh quill, and your instructions to explain myself.
Any gaol-bird could tell you that for every crime there are two stories, and that an Old Bailey trial is the story of the crime, not the story of the prisoner.

That story is one only I can tell.

SC
Sara Collins
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #BookReview Past Life by @NolanDom #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @headlinepg ‘An AMAZING debut novel 5*’

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Past Life by Dominic Nolan
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Waking up beside the dead girl, she couldn’t remember anything.
Who she was. Who had taken her. How to escape.

Detective Abigail Boone has been missing for four days when she is finally found, confused and broken. Suffering retrograde amnesia, she is a stranger to her despairing husband and bewildered son.

Hopelessly lost in her own life, with no leads on her abduction, Boone’s only instinct is to revisit the case she was investigating when she vanished: the baffling disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Still.

Defying her family and the police, Boone obsessively follows a deadly trail to the darkest edges of human cruelty. But even if she finds Sarah, will Boone ever be the same again?

My Review:

This novel has a gripping synopsis, a detective found with amnesia and a stranger to her own family. A pain that pushes her to search for the truth and justice.
I was 100% SOLD, straight from that.

The novel has a dark opening, with a woman awakening not knowing her own name. There is a nearby body of a late teen female, clearly dead. The scene is intense and dark, set the pace for the novel perfectly. The woman is in a locked room, with no handle on the inside of the door. The woman can here the voices of others nearby including another female.
‘Noises of fear. Noises of pain’

I was on tender hooks as I read her inner thoughts……
‘Deep breaths now – resist the urge to call out’
Eventually the female is able to escape, urging another captive to RUN!
‘She didn’t remember anything about anything’

As I said above, a tense, action-packed and emotionally charged opening scene.

Abigail Boone has since moved house, attempting a chance at a new start/life. She is still struggling with chronic pain in her leg. Her family, husband Jack and teen son Quin find her difficult to relate to as her habit have changed. Abigail Boone feels alone in the world. Her recovery is fully explored and we learn of the medical and psychological impact of what Abigail has sustained.

‘The doctors said short-term memory lass wasn’t that uncommon after major trauma, so confusion was to be expected. The heavy dose of benzodiazepines found in her system wouldn’t help either’

She has no memory of who she is but can understand the world, as such! Imagine surviving a trauma only to lose who you are and the ability to bring the perpetrators to justice?

‘Four days she had been missing. One hundred and two hours’

Abigail was found in a London flat, set alight there is no DNA/evidence and no ID on the dead body. The other female victim is Bulgarian, she is uncooperative due to her trauma and the investigation leads to a dead end.

‘Life was habits and systems and Boone had to learn them all anew’

The debut novel reminded me very much of Tim Weaver’s excellent missing series. As Boone, as she now likes to be called digs into a cold case in an attempt to expose her own memories. Her clinical psychologist husband Jack also urges her on in her search to find Sarah, a previous abduction case Boone had worked on.

Working Sarah’s case also leads Boone to Rumena Zlatkova (Roo) the Bulgarian captive held with Boone. Roo re-tells her experience of trafficking to Boone and we become aware of the horrors that these women endure.

‘Men like that rely on two things. Fear firstly. And secondly, the fact these girls have no voice. Nobody cares what they say’

Boone is a relentless force to be reckoned with, she makes an incredible protagonist and the ending completely blew me away, I felt bereft….

‘Masks don’t just hide identity – they hide a person’s humanity. Hiding that gives them the power, makes their victims feel powerless’

An AMAZING debut novel 5*

DN
Dominic Nolan
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The Dark Place by @steph2rogers1 #NewRelease #Psychological #Thriller #DebutAuthor @BooksManatee #TheDarkPlace ‘Prepare for an intense read 5*’

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The Dark Place by Stephanie Rogers
Review Copy
Synopsis:

When you look at those you love, what do you see?

When Issy, young mother and beloved daughter, seemingly kills herself her family is devastated.

Believing she would never leave son Noah willingly, Jon and Mel determine to discover what really happened to Issy. As they and the rest of the family struggle to come to terms with tragedy, Jon and Mel start to realise Issy’s secrets come from a very dark place…

My Review:

‘Faceless and desolate, like her. Lost’
The Dark Place is a family psychological thriller (in my opinion). It revolves around the family of 18yr old Issy after she ends her life by suicide. Her parents Jon and Mel are on a desperate path to understand her motives and why she would abandon her young son Noah (3yrs). I felt as if I was with the couple on their journey into #TheDarkPlace. . .

The method of Issy’s suicide is fully explored within the narrative, and the parents although at first in denial; eventually come to understand it was an intentional act. PC Dawson and PC Carter are called to the parent’s residence to explain. Mel as Issy’s mother is not only devastated, she is mentally broken by the news…..
‘For the next twenty four hours I can’t remember anything else, other than wishing it was me who was dead’ – Mel

When Jon goes to the police station to identify Issy’s body he notices scars of self-harm. It is then that it dawns on him that his daughter was in deep emotional and psychological pain. At first, he responds with anger and rage as the pain and grief consume him. I felt this was an accurate description of the stages of grief.
‘In my chest, where a warm human heart used to be, now sits a stone-cold lump of concrete’ – Jon

Mel and Jon do their best to hold their emotions together for Issy’s young son Noah. But they are still unaware of the child’s biological father and this adds another layer of mystery to Issy’s suicide. Eventually the parents befriend Inspector Steve Jackson, who is as baffled by the case as they are. He agrees to help them investigate when he is off-duty and so forth the journey into The Dark Place begins.

‘Everything looks bleak and I can’t see a way out of it’ – Jon

The investigation gives the parents a focus and a goal to aim for. They seek to understand their daughter and in some way bring themselves closure.
But they are unprepared for what they are about to un-cover and suspicion falls on everyone. . .
‘I’m feeling more and more like I never knew, my daughter at all’ – Mel

Prepare for an intense read 5*

SR
Stephanie Rogers
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with #Author @NatalieGHart #PiecesOfMe #NewRelease #DebutAuthour #DebutNovel @Legend_Press

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Pieces Of Me by Natalie Hart
Review to follow
Synopsis:

Emma did not go to war looking for love, but Adam is unlike any other.

Under the secret shadow of trauma, Emma decides to leave Iraq and joins Adam to settle in Colorado. But isolation and fear find her, once again, when Adam is re-deployed. Torn between a deep fear for Adam’s safety and a desire to be back there herself, Emma copes by throwing herself into a new role mentoring an Iraqi refugee family.

But when Adam comes home, he brings the conflict back with him. Emma had considered the possibility that her husband might not come home from war. She had not considered that he might return a stranger.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) Hello! Thanks for having me on the blog. I am currently based in London, but I often spend time travelling for work. Wherever I am in the world, I like to start my day by writing. My first job out of university was in Baghdad, which is where part of my novel is set.
My book follows protagonist British woman Emma, who meets and falls in love with US soldier Adam while she works in Iraq. Eventually she moves to the US to be with him, but when Adam is redeployed their relationship starts to struggle. My book explores the impact that conflict has on individuals and personal relationships, and the way that the effects of war linger long after the battle is over.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) I started writing the novel on a writing workshop in Mexico in January 2015. I had been thinking about the idea for a while, but the writers leading the workshop (particularly Magda Bogin and Owen Sheers) gave me the confidence to start it.
I met my agent, the wonderful Ella Kahn, at the London Book Fair where I won the Write Stuff competition in April 2016. Having an agent made the writing process both more focused and more enjoyable. Ella encouraged and reassured me every step of the way.
Legend Press bought my manuscript in February 2018. I got the call while I was at an airport in Morocco and promptly burst into tears because I was so overwhelmed. From the first time I met my editor I knew that she was totally on board with my vision of what I wanted the novel to be.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) My favourite book this year has been When the Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú, which is the memoir of a US border patrol agent. It resonated with me as a book that gives a real human experience to an international political issue, as I have tried to do myself. Cantú’s writing is a delight and his descriptions of the vast, beautiful and treacherous landscapes of the desert on the US Mexico border evoked feelings that have lingered long since I finished the book.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Dick King-Smith’s Sophie series were my favourite books as a child. The series follows a young girl who spends lots of time in the countryside and constantly works towards her ambition of being a ‘Lady Farmer’, which was also my goal at the time! I remember having an intense feeling of familiarity and being understood while reading those books. I think it’s the first time I experienced how writing can reflect and make sense of people’s realities, which is a major motivator for me in my writing today.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) When I was a teenager I worked in a small bookshop in East Sussex called Barnett’s of Wadhurst, owned by a man called Richard Hardy-Smith. My favourite moment of the publishing journey was telling Richard that he would finally be able to sell my book in his shop. I think my next favourite moment will be when I actually see my book on the shelves there!

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?
A) I am very, very lucky to have so many people who have supported me through the writing process. Different people offer me different things. I rely on some for emotional support, others for writing advice, and others still when I need a voice of reason. My family are particularly good at teasing me and reminding me not to take life too seriously.

natalie hart author pic 2
Natalie Hart
Twitter

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