Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost. 
Then Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town. And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.
DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late. 

NEVER BE BROKEN is a stunning, intelligent and gripping novel which explores how the act of witness alters us, and reveals what lies beneath the veneer of a glittering city.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. If you haven’t read the Marnie Rome series by Sarah Hilary then you should do. And in order, mainly because the lead characters have ongoing personal problems that won’t mean as much if you are not aware of the back story.

This latest book differs slightly to the rest, with much of the storyline concerning Noah. He is trying and failing to accept the events that happened in the previous novel and it is affecting his judgment. And with the violent deaths which have devastated two families in their local area he is struggling. 

There is too much about this novel that is real life news. When I first started to read it the city I live in was on lockdown and curfew controlled due to gun and knife crime. Something that is happening everywhere but especially in London. There is Grenfell which is visible from the area in which the book is set, one part of the novel is a chilling reminder of what happened there. There are unscrupulous landlords, untrustworthy people and drugs and how children are recruited into the drug culture. But the hardest part to read was the racial hatred and how people make assumptions because of skin colour. The way Noah coped with it was revealing, showing that it must be common.

It’s riveting, very realistic, heartbreaking and eye opening. I enjoyed knowing more about what Noah was feeling and seeing his conversations with his brother but I wish he could have a break.

Marnie does still feature, she is active in the case but is also aware that Noah is noticing more than her. She is feeling responsible for him and feels guilty over not being able to help. But she also has personal problems and I have a strong feeling that her decision won’t go the way she wants it to.

I can’t wait for the next book in the series. 

The Garden of Lost And Found by Harriet Evans – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death. 

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted TheGarden of Lost and Found, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I had only read one book by Harriet Evans before, that book was published over a few months. I am so pleased that I didn’t read this the same way. For no other reason than each time the book switched from modern day to Liddy’s life around the beginning of the 20th century, or vice versa, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. 

The characters are mesmerising, the way that the children in each part differed so much. The children who answered their mother back in modern day wouldn’t have dared do the same to their tyrant of a nurse in the 1890s. The friendships and love affairs, the secrets, the hopes and disappointments. And the way that attitudes change, how the unacceptable became understood. 

For much of the novel I preferred Juliet’s story. Her determination to leave her obnoxious husband and move to the house she visited as a child. Her frustration at not being able to keep her children happy and her wonderful relationship with Frederic and George. 

But as the story progressed I wanted to know more about Liddy. How she lived her life, in fear of the past and her devotion to Ned and her children. Pertwee, her brother, badly damaged, but still wanting to help in the end, and Mary, her sister who only ever wanted to protect her. Mary was my favourite character in the novel. Brave, devoted, and a suffragist

When this type of fiction is done well it is a favourite for me. This book doesn’t disappoint, it is remarkable and it was one I struggled to put down.

A character interview with Ed Belloc from the Marnie Rome series by Sarah Hilary and a Giveaway.

Today, I am featuring a character interview with Ed Belloc who is the partner of Marnie Rome in Sarah Hilary’s wonderful series. I first became aware of this series when I received a copy of Someone Else’s Skin in a goody bag at Theakston’s Crime Festival. This book was the winner of the Theakston’s 2015 crime novel of the year and was also one of Richard and Judy’s Book Club books in 2014. As well as the interview Sarah has very kindly offered a signed proof of Never Be Broken to one lucky reader. ( UK only). All you need to do is share the post or RT the pinned tweet and I will pick a winner via a random number generator on Thursday 28th March.

Character Interview – Ed Belloc

What do you do for a living?

I’m a Victim Support Officer, working with men and women affected by violent crime. This is going to sound odd, but I love my job. It’s hard and heart-breaking, and funding cuts make it frustrating, but it’s far and away the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. 

Did you meet Marnie through your work?

Yes, on a case involving child abduction. I was called in to support the family. Marnie was part of the team leading the investigation. It was her instinct that traced the kidnapping back to the grandparents. It was a tricky case, could’ve ended badly—wouldhave, if it wasn’t for her. Since then, we’ve worked together many times. I’ve never stopped admiring her courage and her resolve. Sorry, that sounds like I’m writing a reference … It’s an honour to work with her, though. Her bravery … People measure courage in different ways, but for me it’s about getting back up. She never stops getting back up. Take this latest case she’s working on: knife crime in London. Some people see that as a rising tide that can’t be stopped, but she sees every life affected by it, and feels it too. She puts the whole of herself into her work. That compassion and vulnerability? Is what makes her a great detective. At the same time, and for the record, I really wouldn’t want to be on the other side of the law where DI Rome’s concerned. She gets it done.

When did you first fall in love?

Honestly? When she brought that kid back home, right at the end of that first investigation. She didn’t want any thanks, or any glory. She just wanted to do her job. Then after Stephen … What he did to her parents—to her? For a long time she was grieving, fighting to get better. It was five years before I acted on those feelings. I spent most of that time thinking I’d never be able to tell her how I felt, because of everything else she was going through. Luckily for me, her patience outstripped my prevarication.

Do you find it easy to talk about each other’s work or do you prefer to talk about other things? I imagine with the job both of you are in it feels normal.

I’m not sure I’d call it normal, but yes. We do talk about our work, the same as other couples, I guess. I know she’ll listen and understand, and I hope she knows I’m the same. Of course, some nights we ask the Big Questions, like how come the redshirt vampires in Buffy spontaneously combust in sunlight while Spike just smoulders until he finds shelter? It’s not all work. 

It is lovely that you can be with her without seeing her as a victim, does that feeling come natural or is it hard to put her past to one side?

Damn, that’s a really good question. I don’t ever forget what’s been done to her; she’s struggling with it every day. For a long time, the idea of being a victim horrified her. I think that’s changed, over time. She’s met too many survivors to think ‘victim’ means weak or helpless. Look at the women in the refuge where we worked together … She’s in a place where she’s ready to make peace with her past, and that’s a huge thing. I’m scared for her, if I’m honest, but at the same time I’m proud of her. Not many people make it through the way she has.

Do you think it’s good for her to maintain contact with Stephen?

If you’d asked me that five years ago, I’d have said no. I’ve hated the hold he’s had over her, all the ways he was still hurting her, despite the fact he’s in prison. But she needed to stay in touch. She wasn’t ready to let it go. That’s changed too.

Another character I have a lot of sympathy for is Noah. I feel that he is a good friend to both of you. Is it a fine line between friend and counsellor? 

He’s a great friend, and the easiest man in the world to talk to. Life’s not been kind to Noah of late, but I hope he knows I’m here for him. He needs his friends right now.

What is your ideal date? Meal, concert, evening walk?

I refer to you to my earlier answer about Buffy. We still haven’t solved that spontaneous combustion versus smouldering thing …

Thank you Sarah, for this opportunity. You can see another interview, with Noah Jake and a giveaway at https://liveanddeadly.net/2019/03/18/interview-and-giveaway-with-detective-sergeant-noah-jake-from-the-marnie-rome-books-by-sarah-hilary-sarah_hilary-jenniferleech1-headlinepg-noahjake-neverbebroken/

About Sarah Hilary

Sarah Hilary’s debut novel, SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year and was a World Book Night selection. The Observer’s Book of the Month (“superbly disturbing”) and a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. NO OTHER DARKNESS, the second in the series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series continues with TASTES LIKE FEAR (2016) QUIETER THAN KILLING (2017) COME AND FIND ME (2018) and NEVER BE BROKEN (2019).

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @Sarah_Hilary

The Oceans Between Us by Gill Thompson – Extract

About The Book

A woman is found wandering injured in London after an air raid. She remembers nothing of who she is. Only that she has lost something very precious.

As the little boy waits in the orphanage, he hopes his mother will return. But then he finds himself on board a ship bound for Australia, the promise of a golden life ahead, and wonders: how will she find him in a land across the oceans?

In Perth, a lonely wife takes in the orphaned child. But then she discovers the secret of his past. Should she keep quiet? Or tell the truth and risk losing the boy who has become her life? 

This magnificent, moving novel, set in London and Australia, is testament to the strength of the human spirit and the enduring power of love.

Extract

Even after all these years he still dreads plane journeys. The take off is the worst: the rush of tyres on concrete, the scream of engines, a crescendo of pressure in his ears. 

There’s a light touch on his hand. He looks down. Her fingers on his white knuckles.

‘All right?’ she says.

He nods, then looks out of the window. The plane is climbing steeply, the runway already a biscuit-coloured blur. The landing gear folds itself in with a distant thump and the engine steadies to a low throb. 

He wipes his forehead with the back of his sleeve and leans his head against the rest. 

She squeezes his hand. ‘Well done. You’ll be fine now.’

Yes, he will be fine. He always is. But this time there is another anxiety. Not the journey but the destination. 

He pats his jacket pocket and feels the firmness of the expensive cardboard against the warm wool. No need to take the invitation out again. He knows the words off by heart. 

And suddenly he’s a young boy once more, excited to be going on a long journey to a land full of hope and opportunity. How was his eager twelve-year-old self to know what was really waiting for him? 

He glances at his companion. They are deep into a long marriage; her face as familiar to him now as his own, her hair shorter than when they’d first met. His breath still catches at the sight of her. He reaches out to stroke her cheek. ‘I’m glad you’re here with me.’

‘Wouldn’t have missed it. It’s been a long time coming.’

He’s suddenly too choked to speak. He swallows and runs a finger round his shirt collar. ‘Forty years’ he says. His voice sounds hoarse.

‘Half a lifetime. But you got there in the end. Just as you said you would.’ 

The seat belt signs have gone off. She reaches under the seat, pulls a leather bag onto her lap, and reaches into it for her bottle of water. She passes it across to him.

He takes a long sip. She always knows the right thing to do. 

‘I just wish I’d got there sooner. It’s too late for some people.’

‘Those who can will come. And remember who you’re doing this for.’

He nods, then turns to the window again. The horizon is striped with brilliant colours: turquoise, orange, green – all radiating from a fiery, sinking sun. They’ll soon be hurtling through a dark sky in their metal tube, for miles and miles until they reach Canberra. And the ceremony they will attend.

This day is the one he’s fought for. He closes his eyes and the faces of the past appear before him. 

No one had listened to them then. 

They would listen now. 


The Summer of Secrets by Nikola Scott – Blog Tour Review.

 

The Summer of Secrets Cover

About the Book

The heart-breaking and unforgettable new novel from Nikola Scott about two women born decades apart caught up in dark secrets. Perfect for readers of Dinah Jefferies and Kate Morton.

August 1939

At peaceful Summerhill, orphaned Maddy hides from the world and the rumours of war. Then her adored sister Georgina returns from a long trip with a new friend, the handsome Victor. Maddy fears that Victor is not all he seems, but she has no idea just what kind of danger has come into their lives…

Today

Chloe is newly pregnant. This should be a joyful time, but she is fearful for the future, despite her husband’s devotion. When chance takes her to Summerhill, she’s drawn into the mystery of what happened there decades before. And the past reaches out to touch her in ways that could change everything…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I always enjoy a dual time frame novel and this novel was one I was looking forward to reading. I could visualise both periods very well. The reclusive Maddy who struggles to accept her sister’s friends and partying, and Chloe who would appear to have a fantastic life but for her very sick brother and her controlling husband.
At first I struggled to read Chloe’s story. I found intimidating with the way that her husband manipulated her. But, she is stronger than she appears, something he seems to have forgotten and she won’t behave the way that he expects. As the novel progressed and she became more aware, I wanted to carry on reading about her. Every time it switched back to Maddy I was itching to know what happened next.
I liked everything about Maddy’s story. The friendships she had with Susan, William and Cookie. The tolerance but devotion to Auntie and the way that she had to handle the death of her father. But again, there was a troubling relationship. Not as intimidating as the other but still a concern for the two sisters. There were a couple of touching parts in the novel, waiting for the announcement on the radio about the war starting and when the men started to leave to go off to war. I could picture clearly what it must have been like for thousands of families across the country.
The level of trust was something special, Chloe and Danny, Maddy and Susan and as they got to know each other, Chloe, Maddy and Matt. I would have loved to read about their relationships develop more.
A lovely novel and a reminder that I need to read the author’s earlier book My Mother’s Shadow soon.

Summer of Secrets Blog Tour Poster