Names for the Sea – Sarah Moss

41KqgPxPF9LTitle – Names for the Sea

Author – Sarah Moss

Published – 2012

Genre – Non-fiction/travel

It isn’t unusual for me to buy a book based purely on its cover, but I can’t recall buying a book before after seeing someone on the tube reading it. I guess that may partly be because I try to avoid the tube as much as possible but on this occasion the woman opposite was reading ‘Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland’. I have an interest in Iceland and I thought the book looked intriguing, so without any real clue what it was about (and some issues trying to remember what it was called) I ordered it from the internet.

I was surprised, and am still fascinated, by the cover when I saw it in the flesh – I thought the pinky spots were small flowers – but look closely! This has got be one of the most amazing photographs I’ve seen on a book cover. You can find the cover designer, Anna Green on twitter @SiulenDesign and the photographer is Sandro Santioli – also on twitter @santioli and there is a gallery of his stunning work on sandrosantioli.com.

So to the author and the book! Sarah Moss studied English at Oxford and developed research interests in the literature of the far north and in food and material culture in fiction, specializing in the Romantic and early Victorian periods. She lectured at the University of Kent during which time her first novel was published. She’d visited Iceland with a friend when she was 19 with the intention of returning and then ‘real life’ got in the way, but when a vacancy at the University of Iceland coincided with some events in her life that meant her husband and two young sons were amenable to a move, the perfect opportunity was too good to miss.

The book is the story of Sarah (and her family’s) time in Iceland. Her interview was in November 2008 and their move to Reykjavik began in July 2009. Anyone who has even a passing interest in the news will recognise that this is the height of the financial crisis that gripped Iceland and had consequences around the world. At the time they begin their stay the crisis had halted construction of blocks of flats in Garðabær, a wealthy suburb of Reykjavik but word of mouth finds them an apartment to use, although they are the only ones to occupy the block.

Garðabær

There are two main aspects to the book – one is Sarah’s own experience of her time and being an ‘immigrant’ and the other reflects her own interests and natural curiosity as she tries to find out more about the people and history of the country. Initially the issues are completely practical – where on earth do you get fresh fruit and veg from, what do Icelanders eat? How to get about when you don’t have a car and don’t speak enough of the language to by a bus ticket? Where can you buy second hand things for kids? What is the protocol for getting changed at a swimming pool?

The mix of practical issues and her inability to see the effect of the crash (kreppa) – how can there be no market for secondhand goods in a country in financial crisis? prompt her to find out more about an issue that most Icelanders seem unwilling to acknowledge or discuss but she does persevere to find those who are really suffering.

She shows a journalist’s knack for finding the right people to talk to and finds Icelanders who tell her about the wool and knitting industry (who knew ‘traditional’ Icelandis jumpers were a relatively new thing??), the surprising truth about Iceland’s (apparently low) crime rate, what it was like in Iceland in the mid part of the twentieth century – and of course the hidden people!

House buried by lava at Heimaey by jkbrooks85 on Flickr

Not all of the writing is investigative – the family want to make the most of their time and manage to travel to some of the popular and lesser knows sites, including a visit to Vestmannaeyjar (the Westman Islands) and the village of Heimaey where houses were buried under the ash during a volcanic eruption 1973 (and which features in Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s book Ashes to Dust).

One aspect that it would be impossible to ignore is the environment; the climate, the landscape and the seasons which have such a dramatic impact on the length of the days. So how does a stranger survive and make this their home?

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Iceland twice and appreciate that I’ve only scratched the surface of what there is to see and experience but in such a small city there were bound to be places Sarah described with which I was familiar and one of the earliest ones in the book was the Nordic House – home to Iceland Noir! It was fascinating to see the place described through someone else’s eyes.

This is a fascinating insight into the country and its people as well as a (timely) exploration of what it’s like to be an immigrant who doesn’t fully appreciate all the cultural norms of their new home. I should also add that Sarah’s background as a lecturer in Creative Writing and as a novelist means that the book is beautifully written, humorous and absorbing. Whether you’ve only ever dreamed of going to Iceland or have already experienced its pleasures for yourself, this is a great read which I highly recommend.

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July 22, 2016 · 2:12 pm

The Strangler Vine – M. J. Carter

A1xP8btOSZLTitle – The Strangler Vine

Author – M. J. Carter

Published – 2014

Genre – Historical crime fiction

The Strangler Vine is M. J. Carter’s debut novel and was:

  • Shortlisted for the John Creasey New Blood Dagger for Best Debut Crime Novel of the Year
  • Shortlisted for the HWA Debut Crown 2015
  • Longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2015
  • Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014

so it comes with some pretty strong credentials.

The book is set in Calcutta, 1837, at a time when the East India Company effectively ruled India and beyond with its own private army. Ensign William Avery has been kicking his heels in Calcutta for nine months and is still hoping that he will get his wished for posting to a cavalry regiment. In the meantime he is frustrated by the forced idleness, ill-tempered, homesick, and prone to gambling to while away the time.

Avery is assigned a task to accompany Jeremiah Blake, a former Company man, to track down estranged agent, writer and poet Xavier Mountstuart who has disappeared. Part of the story is their trek across India – Mountstuart was last seen in the Thuggee territory and they undertake quite a perilous journey in their search for him.

The other part of the story is the relationship between Avery and Blake. Avery is reluctant to undertake the mission and there is no doubt that Blake doesn’t want Avery on the journey. Blake could be described as enigmatic, but initially he is far more reticent and distant, having very little to do with Avery. Gradually, as more difficult situations are thrown at them, there is a thawing in their relationship.

Told in the first person this gives both an immediacy to the events as well as restricting what the reader knows – keeping them as much in the dark as poor Avery. Blake is the star of the show – the genius who has gone native and has no great respect for the Company. And the country plays its own part as Carter brings to life the sights, sounds and atmosphere of the time and the different places. The plot itself is as twisty as the Strangler Vine that lines their route and as thrilling as a cheetah hunt (quite literally).

An unusual read, and an interesting duo.

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Saturday Requiem – Nicci French

91xfgQYOqxLTitle – Saturday Requiem

Author – Nicci French

Published – 30 June 2016

Genre – Crime fiction

This is the sixth in the series of eight books in the Frieda Klein series and despite my worries that I wouldn’t enjoy a Nicci French series I am starting to worry about how I will feel when we reach the end.

I normally read on my commute so it’s not often that I read for more than thirty or forty minutes but an extra day off work and some unexpected sunshine means that I started the book this morning and have finished it in one sitting (well, with breaks for coffee and biscuits). It’s such a treat to be able to do that when you’re really gripped by a book.

This story is much more of a conventional crime fiction plot. Frieda is asked to assess Hannah Docherty, a young woman who has been held in a secure hospital for thirteen years, having been convicted of murdering her family. Hannah’s ‘care’ seems to have been woefully inadequate and as anyone familiar with Frieda will expect, she is unable to leave the young woman without taking up Hannah’s cause. This leads Frieda to launch an investigation into the murders whilst on the periphery of her work with the police. In fact it’s good to see Frieda having some support from the police, although she does end up pushing the boundaries and taking matters into her own hands. Well she wouldn’t be Frieda if she didn’t.

There’s lots to love about Frieda but I particularly enjoyed the sessions she had with a patient. She listens and doesn’t really direct the woman but you feel that nevertheless she steers her in the right direction. She brings the same skill into play when she undertakes her own investigations – it’s always about the details and the people and not about the technical forensics or pathology.

We see a lot less of the regular characters that we’ve come to know though the series and certainly none of the huge group get-togethers that have peppered the earlier books. Although the characters all do make an appearance this is much more Frieda acting on her own and less her using the other characters as a sounding board. Frieda, as we know from ‘Friday’, needs the others around her, however peripherally.

This certainly has a different feel to it and perhaps it’s the sense that the series is drawing to the end and the loose ends are closer to being resolved. Dean Reeve continues to make his presence felt to give the underlying sense of tension that has permeated all the books. His physical presence is less than in some of the earlier titles, but we’re left in no doubt that he is still about. Of course we must now wonder, as we approach the climax of the series, what is it that Dean really wants…?

If you are wondering if you can pick the series up here – the answer is no! The book would make perfect sense on its own – the crime element is perfectly readable without knowing the characters and backstory – but this is very much an instalment in a longer story and I would recommend beginning with Blue Monday.

Many thanks to Penguin for the review copy.
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HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown 2016

The HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown is a literary award for debut historical fiction awarded by the Historical Writers’ Association. With a prize of £1,000 the HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown for new Historical Fiction will be awarded to the what is, in the judges’ estimation, the best debut historical novel first published in the United Kingdom in the year in question

The shortlist for the award was announced by Andrew Taylor and comprises:

Death and Mr Pickwick by Stephen Jarvis, published by Jonathan Cape

The judges said: “A splendidly ambitious and tongue-in-cheek pastiche of the Victorian novel: The Pickwick Papers will never be the same again.”

Eden Gardens by Louise Brown, published by Headline

The judges said: “White trash in British India: a poignant mother-and-daughter story provides an unexpected perspective on the Raj.”

The Hoarse Oaths of Fife by Chris Moore, published by Uniform Press

The judges said: “From Fife in the 1960s to Loos in World War I: a wry and moving novel about fathers and sons that also meditates on war and race.

Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea, published by Scribe

The judges said: “The private lives of Marx and Engels are revealed as never before in this brilliant act of literary ventriloquism.”
Summertime by Vanessa Lafaye, published by Orion

Summertime by Vanessa Lafaye, published by Orion

The judges said: “A powerful and accomplished novel of love and loss that focuses on the plight of unwanted veterans and Florida’s disastrous 1935 hurricane.”

Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck, published by Hodder

The judges said: “Finnish settlers are immersed in a powerful, beautifully written gothic murder mystery in a remote area of eighteenth-century Lapland.”

The winner will be announced at the Harrogate History Festival which takes place between 21 & 23 October.

I have only read one of these (Wolf Winter, which I loved) so I’m not in much of a position to pick a winner. How’s your reading going, have you read more – do you have a tip for this year’s winner?

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Crime fiction debuts to look out for in July 2016

This is a look forward to the crime fiction/thriller debuts being published in July 2016.

14 July 2016

91QomHzKjQLThe Last One by Alexandra Oliva (from Michael Joseph)

When Zoo agrees to take part in a new reality TV show, In the Dark, she knows that she will be tested to the limits of her endurance. Beating eleven competitors in a series of survival tasks deep in the forest, living on camera at the extremes of her comfort zone, will be the ultimate challenge before she returns home to start a family.

As the contestants are overcome by hunger, injury and psychological breakdown, the mind games, tricks and hazards to which Zoo is subjected grow dark beyond belief. This isn’t what she signed up for: the deserted towns and gruesome props, the empty loneliness. Is this a game with no end? And what is happening away from the cameras’ gaze? Discovering the truth will be just the beginning…

A graduate of Yale University, Alexandra grew up in a small town deep in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School University and undertook intensive wilderness survival training while researching The Last One. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their brindled mutt, Codex.  You can find her on Twitter – @ali_oliva

51H4yvOvnALThe Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (from Bantam Press)

You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall. Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying. Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour. Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone. You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there. What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

Shari worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before turning to writing fiction. She has written two critically acclaimed literary novels. The Couple Next Door is her suspense debut. You can find Shari on Twitter – @sharilapena

isbn9781472234766The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola (from Tinder Press)

It is 1837 and the city streets teem with life, atmosphere and the stench of London. Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, has been sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding.

Edmund Fleetwood, an idealistic lawyer, is appointed to investigate Sarah’s petition for mercy and consider whether justice has been done. Struggling with his own demons, he is determined to seek out the truth, yet Sarah refuses to help him. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone with a child would go willingly to their own death? You can see my review here.

Anna lives in Camberwell, London, not far from where the murder at the heart of The Unseeing took place. The Unseeing is Anna’s first novel. She is currently working on her second, which is about a collector of folk tales and fairy lore on the Isle of Skye who realises that girls are going missing.

Anna studied English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before becoming a criminal justice solicitor. She divides her time between writing, reading, lawyering, and child-wrangling. Ann is on Twitter – @AnnaMazz

28 July 2016

91bc2zNbEVLThe Last Thing I Remember by Deborah Bee (from Twenty7)

Released on Kindle in February this is the paperback publication date of this debut.

Sarah is in a coma. Her memory is gone – she doesn’t know how she got there. And she doesn’t know how she might get out. But then she discovers that her injury wasn’t an accident. And that the assailant hasn’t been caught. Unable to speak, see or move, Sarah must use every clue that she overhears to piece together her own past. And work out who it is that keeps coming into her room

Deborah studied fashion journalism at Central St Martins in the ’80s. She has worked at various magazines and newspapers including Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The Times and the Guardian, as a writer, fashion editor and later as an editor. Currently, she is a director of creative marketing.


For previous ‘debuts’ posts see JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMay and June.

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The British Lion – Tony Schumacher

51IFW16kA0LTitle – The British Lion

Author – Tony Schumacher

Published – 2015

Genre – Alternative history / thriller

I had been intrigued by the premise of this book and when I saw the glowing review from Kate (stay here with my review for now!) I swiftly moved it to the top of the TBR pile.

The place is London, the year is 1946, and the Nazis are in charge as Germany has been victorious in the war. With little explanation of the circumstances that led to the rather unexpected turn of events the reader is introduced to detective John Rossett and Major Koehler of the SS. There are obviously some loose ends being tied up from the debut (The Darkest Hour) which preceded this book and it quickly becomes clear that there is some animosity between the two characters. We learn that Koehler is disillusioned with the situation in London and has been hoping to return to Germany and to his family but the powers that be aren’t so amenable to the suggestion. Rossett is also disillusioned, he is more of the typical damaged character but he’s decided to make amends for some of the abhorrent acts he has been involved in. Whilst he would like to return to the police force his work with the Nazis has made him unpopular.

The one thing the two men are certain about, however, is that they intend to go their separate ways. Their plans are thwarted when Koehler’s wife and young daughter, who are on a visit to London from Berlin, are caught up in a kidnapping. The kidnappers objective is to use the hostages to demand access to a jewish scientist working in Cambridge. As Koehler is occupied in dealing with the investigation into his wife’s disappearance he has to (reluctantly) rely on Rossett to meet the demands of the kidnappers.

One of the things I enjoyed about this book was how much action there was – as well as the two men making their own efforts to thwart the kidnappers we also have Koehler’s daughter making her own attempts to escape. I really got swept along with these scenes but there are some pretty tense moments to give a change of pace. I liked the freedom that the alternate reality gave the author and as someone who read a lot of fiction set in the First and Second World Wars it was interesting to see the action taking place on English soil.

The political situation and the circumstances that led to the Nazi’s success are dealt with in an understated way which I felt was a bit of a tease – I wanted to know more about how they had won the war and the turning point that led to to this reality. There are some interesting interpretations of how post-war relationships might have developed in the wake of a German victory.

The atmosphere is skilfully written and it’s easy to picture the dark, depressing times and the deprivation and fear of the people living under Nazi occupation in a miserable British winter. Koehler and Rossett are great characters with an unusual relationship and their story reflects the conflicts of people put in extraordinary circumstances. A chilling, thrilling read.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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Crime fiction debuts to look out for in June 2016

This is a look forward to the crime fiction/thriller debuts being published in June 2016.

2 June 2016

51ZnfjjaqZLBurned and Broken by Mark Hardie (from Sphere) (out in hardback on 23 June)

An enigmatic policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found burned to death in his car on the Southend sea front.

A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery that surrounds their colleague’s death, they’re under intense pressure to crack the case without damaging the force’s reputation.

When a dramatic turn of events casts a whole new light on both cases, the way forward is far from clear. Were the victims connected in some way? And just how much should Pearson and Russell reveal to their bosses as they begin to unearth some dark secrets that the force would rather keep buried?

Mark Hardie began writing full time after completely losing his eyesight in 2002. He has completed a creative writing course and an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, both with distinction. You can find Mark on twitter @Markhardiecrime.

16 June 2016

51oxuCsdyMLMy Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor (from twenty7)

Heidi and Jason aren’t like other couples. Six years ago, Heidi’s daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason’s son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together. By chance, Heidi meets a boy she’s certain is Barney. But Jason is equally convinced it’s not him.

Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi’s newfound quest for the truth . . .

Deborah O’Connor is a writer and TV producer. Born and bred in the North-East of England, in 2010 she completed the Faber Academy novel writing course. She lives in London with her husband and daughter.

As with all twenty7 books this will be out on Kindle six months before the paperback is published.

Without Trace by Simon Booker (from twenty7)

Already out in kindle this is the paperback debut for this psychological thriller.

For four long years, journalist Morgan Vine has campaigned for the release of her childhood sweetheart Danny Kilcannon – convicted, on dubious evidence, of murdering his 14 year-old stepdaughter. When a key witness recants, Danny is released from prison. With nowhere else to go, he relies on single mum Morgan and her teenage daughter, Lissa. But then Lissa goes missing. With her own child now at risk, Morgan must re-think all she knows about her old flame – ‘the one that got away’. As the media storm around the mysterious disappearance intensifies and shocking revelations emerge, she is forced to confront the ultimate question: who can we trust…

Simon Booker is a screenwriter with an impressive set of credits to his name including The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and The Mrs Bradley Mysteries for BBC1 and ITV thrillers The Blind Date and The Stepfather. You can see my review here.

41nTt6pxC4LDear Amy by Helen Callaghan (from Penguin Random House)

As an agony aunt, Margot Lewis receives many letters – but none like this one. It claims to be from a kidnapped girl who’s being held prisoner – a girl who’s been missing for years. Is it a cruel hoax? Or a very real cry for help? This is a chilling, unpredictable psychological suspense novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Margot Lewis is an agony aunt who receives an unexpected letter from Bethan Avery, a girl who was supposedly murdered years ago. Is it a cruel hoax? As more and more letters begin flooding in, Margot must answer the letters which could cost her everything.

Helen Callaghan was born in California to British parents and her early years were spent in both the US and UK.

After several early false starts as barmaid, drama student, and nurse, she settled into bookselling, working as a fiction specialist and buyer for Athena Bookshop, Dillons and Waterstones over the next eight years. Though she loved life as a bookseller, Helen was drawn back to her studies. This decision proved to be rather a good one, and after studying for her A-levels at night school, she achieved a place to read Archaeology at Cambridge University as a mature student. Her interests include medieval cookery, hiking, running, and travel. She is fascinated by the past, and can frequently be found haunting ancient monuments. She blogs about these enthusiasms at www.helencallaghan.co.uk

She now runs her own business and lives in Cambridge.

852919413A Quiet Life by Natasha Walter  (from Borough Press)

Since the disappearance of her husband in 1951, Laura Leverett has been living in limbo with her daughter in Geneva. All others see is her conventional, charming exterior; nobody guesses the secret she is carrying.

Her double life began years ago, when she stepped on to the boat which carried her across the Atlantic in 1939. Eager to learn, and eager to love, she found herself suddenly inspired by a young Communist woman she met on the boat. In London she begins to move between two different worlds – from the urbane society of her cousins and their upper class friends, to the anger of those who want to forge a new society. One night at a party she meets a man who seems to her to combine both worlds, but who is hiding a secret bigger than she could ever imagine.

Impelled by desire, she finds herself caught up in his hidden life. Love grows, but so do fear and danger. This is the warm-blooded story of the Cold War. The story of a wife whose part will take her from London in the Blitz, to Washington at the height of McCarthyism, to the possible haven of the English countryside. Gradually she learns what is at stake for herself, her husband, and her daughter; gradually she realises the dark consequences of her youthful idealism.

Natasha Walter is the author of two non-fiction books, The New Feminism and Living Dolls: the Return of Sexism. She has worked as a journalist, columnist and reviewer for the Guardian, the Observer and the Independent, and is the founder of the charity Women for Refugee Women. She lives in London with her partner and their two children. A Quiet Life is her first novel.

30 June 2016

519N8czdefLS is for Stranger by Louise Stone (from Carina)

There are two sides to every story.

But only one is true.

Sophie wished she’d paid more attention when her little daughter, Amy, caught sight of a stranger watching them. She only looked away for a second. But now Amy’s gone.

No one trusts an alcoholic. Even a sober one. The police are suspicious of Sophie’s tangled story and so is her ex-husband, Paul. Especially when new information emerges that changes everything.

But what if Sophie is telling the truth? What if her daughter really is missing? And what if that stranger at the fairground wasn’t really a stranger at all…

Charlie Phillips, writing under the pseudonym Louise Stone, worked as a teacher before turning her hand to fiction. She was brought up in Africa and the Middle East and then – as an adult – travelled extensively before moving to London and finally settling in the Cotswolds with her partner, and now baby. When she’s not writing, you will find her scouring interior design magazines and shops, striving toward the distant dream of being a domestic goddess or having a glass of wine with country music turned up loud. As a child, she always had her nose in a book and, in particular, Nancy Drew. S is for Stranger is her first psychological suspense thriller and it was shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize 2014. She also writes women’s fiction under the pseudonym Lottie Phillips.

Too Close by Gayle Curtis (from twenty7)

51x1Bysg3hL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_

Cecelia and Sebastian have a connection like no other – more than just brother and sister, they’ll go to any lengths to protect each other. Growing up in a bleak old farmhouse, their mother gone and their father violent and abusive, the twins have only each other to keep them alive.

But when the secrets of their mother’s disappearance start to emerge, and truth and lies are thrown into question, events take a terrifying turn . . .

As Cecelia tries to break away from the ties that bind her to her brother, Sebastian is determined that the twins should be together – whatever the costs.

Gayle writes all her books from a caravan in a field; the rest of the time she resides in an old chapel situated in North Norfolk with her husband, Chris. She does not have a degree in English, or anything remotely creative. Born and bred in Norfolk, she is not married to any of her relatives . . . Her inspiration comes from the beautiful countryside where she lives, coastal walks and the weird friends she is surrounded by.

As with all twenty7 books this will be out on Kindle six months before the paperback is published.

4123316148The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis (from Borough Press)

This is the story of Elka, a young girl who is confronted by news that breeds distrust in the small, fragile world she has built with the help of man named Trapper. Set in a remote land ravaged by an unnamed disaster, The Wolf Road is not your average thriller.Since the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place. But Elka has learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old.So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.

Beth Lewis was raised in the wilds of Cornwall and split her childhood between books and the beach. She has travelled extensively throughout the world and has had close encounters with black bears, killer whales, and Great White sharks. She has been, at turns, a bank cashier, fire performer, juggler, and is currently a Managing Editor at a leading London publisher.

51ZyB4f4U3LBaby Doll by Holly Overton (from Penguin Random House)

Lily has been abducted from outside her high-school gates.For eight long years she’s been locked away from the outside world. During that time she’s changed from a girl into a woman. She’s had a baby.And now she has seized her chance and escaped. Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know – to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend – and her freedom. But is it possible to go back? Lily’s perfect life as a teenager doesn’t exist any more. Since she’s been gone, her family’s lives have changed too, in ways she never could have imagined. Her return, and the revelation of who took her, will send shockwaves through the whole community.

Hollie Overton is a television writer whose father was a member of the Overton Gang and went to prison for manslaughter. Hollie draws on her own childhood to explore violence and a complicated family.


For previous ‘debuts’ posts see JanuaryFebruaryMarchApril and May.

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