Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain | @SpainJoanne @QuercusBooks

Author : Jo Spain
Title : Dirty Little Secrets
Pages : 400
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : February 7, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Welcome to the gated community of Withered Vale; where the grass is green, life is good and everyone is happy. Or are they? When Olive Collin’s body is discovered at number four, cracks begin to show and Withered Vale will not quite be the same ever again.

What an absolutely delightful surprise this one was. Think along the lines of Big Little Lies but deliciously darker. There’s a whole cast of not particularly likeable characters, not even Olive and she’s dead. It’s a bit weird when you can’t even find it in yourself to sympathise with a dead person. And yet, dead as she may be, Olive also provides the chuckles and sometimes that was much needed because the issues the residents of this community are dealing with are often quite serious. From manipulation to addiction to infidelity; the amount of skeletons in the closet is pretty impressive.

What happened to Olive though and why was her body left undiscovered for so long? The police start asking questions and it soon becomes apparent Olive wasn’t exactly well liked in the community. She seemed to have a nose for sniffing out secrets and there are lot of them around. Pretty much each and every one of her neighbours has something to hide. So which one felt Olive should be silenced before their secret was revealed? I definitely learned that the whole “fly on the wall” thing is massively overrated. My neighbours need not worry about me watching them like a hawk. I’d much rather not know at all what they get up to behind closed doors, thank you very much.

Dirty Little Secrets was another buddy read with Janel at Keeper of Pages and it’s by far the fastest one we’ve done. We absolutely devoured the pages. Talk about an addictive page-turner! While we did have an inkling as to what had happened, it didn’t ruin our reading experience at all. With such a clever plot and so brilliantly written, Jo Spain kept me enthralled until the very last page.

Dirty Little Secrets is quite different from Jo Spain’s previous book, The Confession and I love that. It’s always a pleasure to know an author can keep surprising you. Immensely engrossing, hugely entertaining and absolutely unputdownable, Dirty Little Secrets shoots right up the list of my favourite books of the year and Jo Spain has found herself a spot on my list of go-to authors. I absolutely can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Dirty Little Secrets will be published on February 7th.

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The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl | @HoZ_Books @alexdahlauthor | #BoyattheDoor #LoveBooksGroup #guestpost

Today, I join the blog tour for The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl. Thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroups for the invitation to join. Author Alex Dahl visits my blog with a truly wonderful guest post but first, here is what the book is all about.

Author : Alex Dahl
Title : The Boy at the Door
Pages : 384
Publisher : Head of Zeus
Publication date : January 10, 2019 (first published in 2018)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Everyone has secrets. Even those who seem to be perfect…

On a rainy October evening, Cecilia Wilborg – loving wife, devoted mother, tennis club regular – is waiting for her kids to finish their swimming lesson. It’s been a long day. She can almost taste the crisp, cold glass of Chablis she’ll pour for herself once the girls are tucked up in bed.

But what Cecilia doesn’t know, is that this is the last time life will feel normal. Tonight she’ll be asked to drop a little boy home, a simple favour that will threaten to expose her deepest, darkest secret…

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| GUEST POST |

Not That Kind of Mother

It’s one of those days. You know, when you have so much to do at work your head is literally spinning. Your breath is shallow, your palms itchy, your entire being shaking with the ravages of your caffeine addiction. Then school calls to say your little munchkin is feeling iffy. You have little choice but to pick him up, but his illness magically evaporates as soon as you arrive home and the bored child then spends the rest of the day whinging. You wish you could stick him in front of Fortnite until two seconds before bed time, but you’re not that kind of mother, hell no, in this house there are rules and boundaries, and one of them is no gaming if off school sick. 

You put your head phones in and hope for the best. You dream about that big glass of Pinot Noir when the kids are in bed and then you remember it’s Dry January and you’re actually doing it, if only to silence the (alarming) number of friends who laughed in your face when you said you might. We all know the mummy-and-alcohol jokes- mummies love the vino a little too much because our little angels bleed us dry. But not me, oh no. I’m not that kind of mother, either. I don’t succumb to the dangerous clutches of alcohol to soothe my shot mummy nerves. 

Then your dog gets some kind of virus and stages an actual shit-show. It alternates between hysterical barking and literal general disgustingness. You clean up and plug the ear plugs back in. You’re just making a dent in your inbox when it’s time to pick up your other child. You walk, in torrential icy rain, dragging the half-squatting dog along, because you’re not the kind of mother who drives everywhere and spews more pollution into our children’s already doomed world. 

You drag the dog and the kid home, shouting snippets of French vocabulary over the downpour as you go along, why waste the opportunity to learn something? (Allez! Vite! Il faut manger! Repeat after me- mon chien s’appele Figaro, etc) You get home and decide to bake because your gluten-free low-carb six-seed paleo bread sure isn’t going to bake itself. While it is in the oven you check if anyone responded to your Mummy chat room bid for interesting vegan recipes for the whole family. And they did. Lots of them, in fact. 

What kind of psycho would make their kids go vegan? 

How the hell do your kids get protein? 

I am so sick of these goddamned vegans, go away, die, BURN! 

Your kids aren’t vegan, by the way. Perhaps you aren’t, either- it’s besides the point. The point is the fury. The judgment. The anger- the sheer, unbridled anger. It’s everywhere- in the media, in the chat rooms, at the school gates, in the way we make harmless jokes about ‘the kind of mother who…’ Why are we so angry? Why do we subject other women and ourselves to these insane, impossible demands? These questions are at the very core of my novel, The Boy at the Door. Cecilia Wilborg is consumed by appearances, obsessed with maintaining her flawless façade, at any cost. She may be an unsympathetic narcissist, but the point is that it is society’s entirely unreasonable demands on mothers that drives her to some very dark places. We are sold an idea of perfection, of having it all. We are expected to work harder and harder, while parenting our children in an ever more hands-on (smothering?) way, holding their hands well into adulthood. 

No wonder mummy needs a drink or ten to avoid cracking up. Just kidding- you’re not that kind of mother! 

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Alex Dahl is a half-American, half-Norwegian author. Born in Oslo, she wrote The Boy at the Door while living in Sandefjord.

Don’t Turn Around by Amanda Brooke | @AmandaBrookeAB @HarperCollinsUK | #DontTurnAround #NetGalley

Author : Amanda Brooke
Title : Don’t Turn Around
Pages : 416
Publisher : Harper Collins
Publication date : January 24, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Ten years ago, Jen’s cousin Meg killed herself after failing to escape an abusive relationship.

Now, Meg’s ex is back and Jen’s domestic abuse helpline has started getting frightening calls from a girl who knows things about Meg – details that only the dead girl or the man who hurt her could have known…

As Jen starts to uncover the past, someone is determined to stop her. Can she save this young woman from Meg’s fate? Or is history about to repeat itself?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Good grief! What an emotional rollercoaster ride this was. It took me several moments to recover from the devastating storyline Don’t Turn Around focused on.

Ten years ago, Meg killed herself. Her mother Ruth and cousin Jen have always believed Meg saw no other way to escape the abusive relationship she was in with her boyfriend Lewis. But lack of proof meant Lewis was never brought to justice. Now, Lewis is back in town and the helpline where Ruth and Jen work starts receiving frightening calls from a girl who knows things about Meg and is finding herself in the same situation. Can Ruth and Jen help this girl to safety before it’s too late?

This story is told through the perspectives of Ruth and Jen. Both of these characters struggle immensely with the guilt of not having seen what Meg was going through, of having been unable to see the signs and get her the help she needed. Throughout the story, you’re left to wonder if Ruth and Jen knew Meg at all as they delve into their memories of her short life. That in turn made me, as the reader, wonder about Meg as well. Was she someone who liked playing games, pulling people to her and then pushing them away again? Or was there something far more sinister going on that damaged her?

The search for the truth is not an easy one. Dealing with this new girl via the helpline has major consequences. Ruth and Jen have always vowed that the best way to deal with Meg’s loss is to make sure no other girl ever has to deal with what she dealt with. But does this determination blind them to the truth? And will they finally find out why Meg took her own life?

Amanda Brooke does an amazing job in delving into the aftermath of a loss like Meg’s for those around her. The immense struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on without her is utterly realistic and believable. Time does not heal all wounds and that’s something that’s very noticeable here. This isn’t the most comfortable storyline to read as it deals with the rather dark and disturbing topics of abuse and suicide but I feel the author tackled it brilliantly.

Don’t Turn Around is a gripping, suspenseful and emotive psychological thriller with plenty of twists and red herrings. It made me angry, it made me sad and had me completely engrossed right up until the incredibly shocking ending.

My thanks to the publisher for the advanced copy!

Don’t Turn Around is available to buy!

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I’ll Find You by Liz Lawler | @AuthorLizLawler @BonnierZaffre | #blogtour #extract

I’m kicking off the week with a stop on the blog tour for I’ll Find You by Liz Lawler. My thanks to Ellen at Bonnier Zaffre for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, here is what this psychological thriller is all about.

Author : Liz Lawler
Title : I’ll Find You
Pages : 286
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Publication date : January 24, 2019 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Emily Jacobs, a nurse, is in hospital for a minor operation. When she wakes in the night, woozy with anaesthetic, she sees the doctor frantically trying to resuscitate the woman in the bed next to her. In the morning, she is told that she must have had a nightmare. The bed has been empty all along . . .

When Emily returns to work she discovers a bracelet that she believes belonged to the missing woman. Soon, she becomes convinced that her colleagues at the hospital are hiding a terrible secret. 
What if she’s wrong? What if her own troubled past has affected her more than she knows?

But what if she’s right? 

What else could they be capable of?

| EXTRACT |

Prologue 

Courage abandoned her as she stared into the darkness. Her legs turned to rubber, as if she’d run long and hard, and her heart thudded as she dragged in air. Her mind froze with indecision. She needed to get a grip. To just get on with it and start searching, before the porter returned and caught her there. Her week of spying on him and following and noting down times of his every movement could change. His nightly routine of hanging up his porter’s jacket in the staffroom, with keys still in the pocket, before getting into his car and driving off-site to one of three neighbouring takeaways was no guarantee he would not return any moment and catch her in the act. She needed to be quick. 

She pressed her trembling hands together, attempting to squeeze away the tremors, and stiffened her legs to give them strength. It was not the fear of looking that stopped her taking this step, it was the fear of what she would find. 

She reached out and patted the wall, feeling for the light switch, hearing the pings and buzz of electricity as each Perspex square on the ceiling above illuminated brightly. The noise filled her ears and in her heightened state she imagined it being heard outside the building. She listened intently, but the momentary sounds had already ceased, and she could find no more rea son to abandon her mission. The place was silent except for the sound of her own breathing.

The room – rectangular, windowless and very private – looked like a bank vault with safe deposit boxes, where clients were taken and left in privacy to open a box and store their most valuable items. The difference here was in the size of the boxes. Each was big enough to take a body. The first and last were even bigger and were used to take the largest of the cadavers. On one wall she counted twelve doors – enough fridges for twelve bodies. That meant there were twelve spaces to check, not counting those on the facing wall. If she hurried she could be out of there in minutes, have the keys back in the porter’s pocket with him none the wiser to her being there. It may only take the opening of one door to find who she was looking for…

The small terracotta floor tiles were worn and the black scuff marks told of the back-and-forth journeys of rubber-wheeled trolleys. Parked trolleys and a hydraulic lift sat at the far end of the room, the lift plugged in for battery charging. A single chair was set against a drab grey wall.

She would open doors from left to right, bottom to top so that she didn’t miss any out.

She made her way to the nearest fridge and gripped the handle. The heavy door opened with barely a sound and cold air cooled her heated face. The cadaver was zipped inside a white body bag. She held her breath, not wanting to breathe in the air of the dead, the lingering scent of hundreds of bodies that had lain here before. The temperature was set to keep bodies cool, but could not prevent rot. When she finally took a breath, she was relieved to find that all she could smell were the harsh chemicals that the fridges had been sterilised with. Her fingers trembled as she eased open the zip, relief flooding her as she saw grey, wispy hair. Inside was a featureless old man or woman with hollowed-out cheeks. She closed the bag, shut the door and moved to open the fridge above. Her eyes fixed on a bald head, noticing wrinkles and liver spots. There were simi lar bodies in the next few chambers, with more grey hair on some, whispery white patches on others, a peach-coloured afro on another, then a shock of white-blonde hair tied back with a scrap of bandage. Someone young.

Resting for a moment, she tried not to imagine a face to fit that body. She unzipped the next bag, gagged and had to cover her mouth. The head was charred black with red congealed blood that had settled like jellied lava pushing through burst skin. She banged the door shut and gulped the air, trying not to imagine the particles of dead flesh that she could be inhaling. The dead can’t hurt you, she whispered into her cupped hand. Only to discover a moment later that they could. Inside the next fridge was a tiny, cocooned shape wrapped in a white sheet. She felt an unbearable ache inside her throat. There was a pink teddy lying atop the shrouded baby. It may have been a gift from the parents, and she felt unforgivably intrusive for seeing something so private and precious.

She slumped to the floor and leaned back against the cold steel. She was torturing herself in this place. She should have requested this search in the presence of someone else; demanded that they show her the inside of every fridge, but she couldn’t run the risk of being refused or seeing the pity in their eyes as they reluctantly agreed. They would think she had lost her mind to request such a search. As far as they were concerned the patient had simply absconded and was not one of the dead lying in this mortuary.

She crawled to the last two doors and reached up to open the top one first. Hardened by what she had already seen, she unzipped the bag fast and was surprised to see the soles of feet. The underside of the toes was pure white, the arches and heels dark purple. They were young feet, smooth and unworn by time. They could be male or female, though they were small. Using the door to steady herself she stood up and felt her insides buck as she saw the painted toenails. Blue’s so much prettier, don’t you think? It shows off your tan better. With fingertips, she reached in and touched the feet. They were cold. She cried out, unable to stop herself. It could be her. A white identity band circled the left ankle, the name hidden from view. She twisted the band slowly until she saw a printed name: Jane Doe. It was the name used for an unknown, the unidentified. Her breath felt ragged. Until she saw the face, she couldn’t be sure.

The body was in the fridge but the wrong way round. She would have to pull out the tray to see the face. She gripped its rim and pulled, but it didn’t slide out. She tugged harder, but it stayed put. She stared at the sides of the tray to try and see why it was stuck but could see nothing obvious. Maybe it just needed a stronger pull. She placed a foot against the door below, leaned back and pushed hard with her foot to put her weight behind the tug, but it was hopeless. The tray refused to move. Frustrated, she stared in at the body bag, staring at the space above it. Calculating. Thinking. Maybe there was enough room for her to climb in over it. The compartment was bigger than the others, and there was a further tray slot midway up the wall, room for a second body. She would have to unzip the bag as she went along so that when she got to the end the bag would be completely open. But fear filled her. The space looked so small, a narrow icy tunnel with only darkness at the end. She would have no room to turn around. She would have to get out of the fridge feet first, slide over the uncovered body and pray she held her nerve.

Placing her knee gingerly on the tray, she positioned her self; left foot on the left side, right foot on the right side. Keeping her head low and her weight off the body, she crab crawled her way in. The air she breathed was dense and cold and it chilled her skin as it clung to her. Her thighs were already beginning to tremble as she held herself awkwardly on toes and hands, in a spread-eagled press-up. Arching her back to relieve the stress, she was startled as she felt the ceiling pressing down on her, reminding her how tiny the crawl space was. She gulped at the air, trying to quell her rising panic. She needed to use her knees to take her weight, so that she could rest on her elbows. She shook from the strain of her position and needed to get comfortable. Clumsily she moved one knee forward as the edge of the metal tray dug into the bone, before bringing the other forward to lessen the pressure. She brought her shoulders back and straightened her arms so that she was on all fours, and immediately realised her error. She was now higher, her back a solid plane fixed in position, a feeling of weight on top of her as she pressed against the roof. She had taken up all the space with her change of position and now she was stuck.

She struggled, instinctively, shaking her head like a rabid dog stuck in a hole, banging it against the steel, grunting with the effort to get free, but her hands and knees were locked and her inability to go backwards or forwards petrified her. She wheezed, a whistling sound as her airway closed, and then, spent, weak with effort, she flopped down, resting on the body beneath her. She touched the plastic bag, feeling its smoothness, its coolness, and slowly her limbs stretched out and she realised how foolish she was to have panicked. There was enough room for both her and this body.

Moving her hand beneath her, she reached down as far as her fingers could stretch, searching for the zipper. Her fingers fumbled as they touched the bag, and she felt a solid mass beneath, but no goddamn zip. Her face mashed against the plastic as she half twisted, pushing her shoulder down and straining her muscles to reach it. Please, please just give it to me, she chanted inside her head, and then let out a cry of victory as the metal piece slid between her fingers. Wasting no more energy she pulled the zipper towards her. The scratch ing of metal against plastic echoed loudly in the confined space. She stopped as she reached the neck, seeing the sud den strands of dark hair, her fingers becoming like boneless appendages as they touched its softness. Tears blurred her vision and she was thankful for the watery screen. She could view the face through a teary waterfall and climb back out of here and still not know if it was her. She could hold on to the hope that she wasn’t dead.

She blinked away the tears and let her eyes adjust to the darkness. Slowly she brought the zip all the way up to see the top of the head, and somewhere in the region of where her heart lay, she felt a stillness. An absence of a heartbeat to match the one against her. The eyes were closed, lips pulled together and skin a washed-out milky grey. She gazed at the face. Then it came. A crushing, a squeezing, a pressing feeling right inside her heart. She had found her.

Wake up,’ she whimpered. Then, shoving the body hard, she yelled: ‘Wake up, damn you. Stop fucking playing about!

She wrapped her arms and legs around the unyielding form, trying to make it move. ‘You’re not dead,’ she cried. ‘You’re just cold. People can be brought back to life when they’re cold. You simply have to get warm. Come on. Wake up. Please!

Shuddering with grief she huddled into the still figure, pla cing her warm face against the cold face, her tears and mucus dripping down the neck of the body she held. Her cries changed from howls to sobs to whimpers as her mind slowly absorbed reality. Her search had finally ended. She could now lie there. She would stay for ever. She would not leave her in the dark. Stay there till —

The fridge began to hum, a healthy sound to indicate it was on. The air had suddenly become colder. Solid blackness filled the space where she lay. The square of light, from where she had crawled into the space, was now gone. While she lay there someone had entered the morgue. Someone had seen the fridge open. Someone had closed the door.

I’ll Find You is available to buy in ebook format!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Liz Lawler had a 20-year career as a nurse before becoming a general manager of a five star hotel. She found it an easy transition as she used the same greeting to both patient and hotel guest ‘Good morning. did you sleep well?’

She loves books and all things bookish!

The Woman Inside by E.G. Scott | @EGScottwrites @TrapezeBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n | #TheWomanInside #blogtour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Woman Inside by E.G. Scott. My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the opportunity and to the publisher for my review copy!

Author : E.G. Scott
Title : The Woman Inside
Pages : 310
Publisher : Trapeze
Publication date : January 22, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Rebecca didn’t know love was possible until she met Paul, a successful, charismatic, married man with a past as dark as her own. Their pain drew them together with an irresistible magnetism; they sensed that they were each other’s ideal (and perhaps only) match.

But twenty years later, Paul and Rebecca are drowning as the damage and secrets that ignited their love begin to consume their marriage. Paul is cheating on Rebecca, and his affair gets messy fast. His mistress is stalking them with growing audacity when Rebecca discovers Paul’s elaborate plan to build a new life without her. And though Rebecca is spiraling into an opiate addiction, it doesn’t stop her from coming up with a devious plot of her own, and this one could end absolutely everything.

| MY THOUGHTS |

If you suffer from major trust issues, step away now! Good grief! It is impossible to know who to believe or trust in this story, and quite frankly you may never believe or trust anyone ever again!

Things kick off with a most intriguing prologue. And then we have the pleasure, or displeasure, of meeting Rebecca and Paul. These two have been married for two decades but the cracks are starting to show. Paul is cheating and Rebecca has an addiction to pretty much anything that comes in pill-sized shapes. For years, they’ve been putting away money in order to build their dream home. But when Rebecca finds out all their savings have disappeared, well, let’s just say Paul had better watch out.

It took me a while to figure out what on earth was going on but the chapters were so intensely gripping that I just had to keep reading. Told mostly from the perspective of both Paul and Rebecca, the reader gets a really good insight into their marriage. These are not exactly your likeable characters. They are both incredibly flawed and there’s a lot going on with both of them. From infidelity, lies and deceit to addiction, it’s quite frankly a miracle this marriage made it to the twenty-year mark.

Because of Rebecca’s addiction to pills, it’s impossible to determine if she’s a reliable narrator. Is she suffering from hallucinations or paranoia? Or are the things she believes that are happening actually happening? This is where most of the tension comes from. Added to that is Paul’s latest mistress who can’t seem to take “no” for an answer and entertainment provided by two detectives investigating the disappearance of a woman. These two may just need a spin-off.

I was never quite sure how things would pan out but I thoroughly enjoyed the satisfying conclusion of Paul and Rebecca’s storyline. The Woman Inside takes dysfunctional to a whole other level and with plenty of twists and turns, this will leave you guessing until the end.

The Woman Inside is available to buy!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

E. G. Scott is a pseudonym for two writers, who have been friends for over twenty-years, and have been writing plays, screenplays, and short stories separately since they were kids. They’ve collaborated on multiple projects from the beginning of their friendship, but “The Woman Inside” is their first published work together. This book came out of their shared love of thrillers and noir and wanting to collaborate on a novel for a long time. They are currently working on their next thriller. 

Only A Mother by Elisabeth Carpenter | @LibbyCPT @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n | #blogtour #OnlyAMother #NetGalley

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Only A Mother by Elisabeth Carpenter today! My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

Author : Elisabeth Carpenter
Title : Only A Mother
Pages : 320
Publisher : Orion
Publication date : December 27, 2018

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

ONLY A MOTHER . . .

Erica Wright hasn’t needed to scrub ‘MURDERER’ off her house in over a year. Life is almost quiet again. Then her son, Craig, is released from prison, and she knows the quiet is going to be broken.

COULD BELIEVE HIM

Erica has always believed Craig was innocent – despite the lies she told for him years ago – but when he arrives home, she notices the changes in him. She doesn’t recognise her son anymore. 

COULD BURY THE TRUTH

So, when another girl goes missing, she starts to question everything. But how can a mother turn her back on her son? And, if she won’t, then how far will she go to protect him?

COULD FORGIVE WHAT HE HAS DONE

| MY THOUGHTS |

Almost twenty years ago, Erica’s son, Craig, was convicted of the murder of a young girl. Erica has always believed in her son’s innocence but she was the only one. Friends and neighbours have stopped talking to her. She has often come home to graffiti on her front door or poop through the letterbox. Her life has basically come to a stand-still. Afraid to leave the house in daylight but determined not to leave her home, she’s pretty much a pariah in the community. Just when life finally seems to quieten down a little, Craig is released from prison.

His homecoming isn’t exactly all roses and sunshine, though. Craig is now 38 years old. A man, no longer a teenager. A man hardened by life in prison, on top of that. Erica barely recognises him, is possibly even slightly afraid of him. And when another young girl goes missing, she starts to question everything. Was she wrong about her son?

The question surrounding Craig’s guilt or innocence continues throughout the story and my loyalties kept shifting. Craig isn’t exactly a likeable character and does little to redeem himself. And even though it was hard not to sympathise with Erica, I couldn’t quite warm to her either. Faced with difficult decisions, how far will a mother go to protect her child? This is very much a “what would you do” scenario. It’s quite easy to judge Erica and her actions but I couldn’t at all decide what I would do if I were faced with a situation like this.

I did figure out what happened but the author did such a great job of keeping the story tense and suspenseful that that didn’t bother me at all. Apart from Erica and Craig, we also meet Luke. He’s a reporter for the local paper who is trying to figure out if Craig was responsible for another murder all those years ago. But with a family to take care of, is he putting them all in danger?

This character-driven psychological thriller is immensely thought-provoking. It’s not about the murders exactly, but more about how prison life affects those who are left behind. The impact a child’s conviction has on a mother isn’t a topic that’s often talked about. If you’re looking for a thrill a minute, this probably isn’t it. But if you enjoy reading about realistic and believable characters in tense and dramatic situations, then this will undoubtedly hook you from start to finish.

Only A Mother is available to buy!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Elisabeth (Libby) Carpenter won a Northern Writers New Fiction Award (2016) and was longlisted for Yeovil Literary Prize (2015 & 2016) and MsLexia Women’s Novel award (2015).

Elisabeth lives in Preston, Lancashire with her family. She loves the north of England, setting most of her stories in the area – including the novel she is writing at the moment.

Author links : Twitter

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard | @cathryanhoward @CorvusBooks @theotherkirsty @annecater | #blogtour #extract

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard. My thanks to Anne Cater for the opportunity to join. I’m sharing an extract with you today but first, here is what the novel is about!

Author : Catherine Ryan Howard
Title : The Liar’s Girl
Pages : 304
Publisher : Corvus
Publication date : January 3, 2019 (paperback)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

 Her first love confessed to five murders. 

The truth was so much worse.

Will Hurley, Dublin’s notorious Canal Killer, is in prison, ten years into a life sentence.

His ex-girlfriend, Alison, has built a new life abroad, putting her shattered past behind her.

Then the copycat killings start. Will holds the key to unlocking these crimes, but he’ll only talk to Alison. Can the killer be stopped before there’s another senseless murder? And after all these years, can Alison face the past – and the man – she’s worked so hard to forget?

| EXTRACT |

It’s 4.17 a.m. on Saturday when Jen comes to on a battered couch in a house somewhere in Rathmines, one of those red-brick terraces that’s been divided into flats, let out to students and left to rot.

He watches as her face betrays her confusion, but she’s quick to cover it up. How much does she remember? Perhaps the gang leaving the club on Harcourt Street, one behind the other. Pushing their way through the sweaty, drunken crowds, hands gripping the backs of dresses and tugging on the tails of shirts. Maybe she remembers her friend Michelle clutching some guy’s arm at the end of it, calling out to her. Saying they were moving on to some guy’s party, that they could walk there.

‘Whose party?’ he’d heard her ask.
‘Jack’s!’ came the shouted answer.
It was unclear whether or not Jen knew Jack, but she followed them anyway.

Now, she’s sitting – slumped – on a sofa in a dark room filled with faces she probably doesn’t recognise. The thin straps of her shimmery black dress stand out against her pale, freckled skin and the make-up around her eyes is smudged and messy. Her lids look heavy.

Her head lolls slightly to one side.

Someone swears loudly and flicks a switch, filling the room with harsh, burning light.

Jen squints, then lifts her head until her eyes reach a single bare, dusty bulb that hangs from the ceiling. Back down to the floor in front of her. A guy is crawling around on all fours, searching for something. She frowns at him.

This place is disgusting. The carpet is old and stained. There are broken bits of crisps, hairs and cigarette ash nestled deep in its pile. It hasn’t been laid. Instead, the floor is covered with large, loose sections of carpet, ragged and frayed at the edges, with patches of dusty bare floor showing in between. The couch faces a fireplace that’s been blocked off with chipboard, while an area of green paint on the otherwise magnolia chimney breast marks where a mantelpiece once stood. Mismatched chairs – white patio, folding camping accessory, ripped beanbag – are arranged in front of it. Three guys sit in them, passing around a joint.

Another, smaller couch is to Jen’s left. That’s where he sits.

The air is thick with smoke and the only window has no curtains or blinds. The bare glass is dripping with tributaries of condensation.

He can’t wait to leave.

Jen is growing uncomfortable. Her brow is furrowed. He watches as she clasps her hands between her thighs and hunches her shoulders. She shifts her weight on the couch. Her gaze fixes on each of the three smokers in turn, studying their faces. Does she know any of them? She turns her head to take in the rest of the room—

And stops.
She’s seen them.

To the right of the fireplace, too big to fit fully into the depression between the chimney breast and the room’s side wall, stands an American-style fridge/freezer, gone yellow-white and stuck haphazardly with a collection of garish magnets.

Jen blinks at it.

A fridge in a living room can’t be that unusual to her. As any student looking for an affordable place to rent in Dublin quickly discovers, fridges free-standing in the middle of living rooms adjacent to tiny kitchens are, apparently, all the rage. But if Jen can find a clearing in the fog in her head, she’ll realise there’s something very familiar about this one.

She’s distracted by the boy sitting next to her. Looks to be her age, nineteen or twenty. He nudges her, asks if she’d like another drink. She doesn’t respond. A moment later he nudges her again and this time she turns towards him.

The boy nods towards the can of beer she’s holding in her right hand, mouths, Another one?

Jen seems surprised to find the beer can there. Tilting it lazily, she says something that sounds like, ‘I haven’t finished this one yet.’

The boy gets up. He’s wearing scuffed suede shoes with frayed laces, jeans, and a blue and white striped shirt, unbuttoned, with a T-shirt underneath. Only a thin slice of the T-shirt is visible, but it seems the design on it is a famous movie poster. Black, yellow, red. After he leaves, Jen relaxes into the space he’s vacated, sinking down until she can rest the back of her head against a cushion. She closes her eyes—

Opens them up again, suddenly. Pushes palms down flat on the couch, scrambling into an upright position. Stares at the fridge.

This is it.

Her mouth falls open slightly and then the can in her hand drops to the floor, falls over and rolls underneath the couch. Its contents spill out, spread out, making a glug-glug-glug sound as they do. She makes no move to pick it up. She doesn’t seem to realise it’s fallen. Unsteadily, Jen gets to her feet, pausing for a second to catch her balance on towering heels. She takes a step, two, three forward, until she’s within touching distance of the fridge door. There, she stops and shakes her head, as if she can’t believe what she’s seeing.

And who could blame her? Those are her magnets.

The ones her airline pilot mother has been bringing home for her since she was a little girl. A pink Eiffel Tower. A relief of the Grand Canyon. The Sydney Opera House. The Colosseum in Rome. A Hollywood Boulevard star with her name on it.

The magnets that should be clinging to the microwave back in her apartment in Halls, in the kitchen she shares with Michelle. That were there when she left it earlier this evening.

Jen mumbles something incoherent and then she’s moving, stumbling back from the fridge, turning towards the door, hurrying out of the room, leaving behind her coat and bag, which had been underneath her on the couch all this time.

No one pays any attention to her odd departure. The party-goers are all too drunk or too stoned or both, and it is too dark, too late, too early. If anyone notices, they don’t care enough to be interested. He wonders how guilty they’ll feel about this when, in the days to come, they are forced to admit to the Gardaí what little they know.

He counts to ten as slowly as he can stand to before he rises from his seat, collects Jen’s coat and bag and follows her out of the house.

She’ll be headed home. A thirty-minute walk because she’ll never flag down a taxi around here. On deserted, dark streets because this is the quietest hour, that strange one after most of the pub and club patrons have fallen asleep in their beds but before the city’s early- risers have woken up in theirs. And her journey will take her alongside the Grand Canal, where the black water can look level with the street and where there isn’t always a barrier to prevent you from falling in and where the street lights can be few and far between.

He can’t let her go by herself. And he won’t, because he’s a gentleman. A gentleman who doesn’t let young girls walk home alone from parties when they’ve been drinking enough to forget their coat, bag and – he lifts the flap on the little velvet envelope, checks inside – keys, college ID and phone too.

And he wants to make sure Jen knows that. Mr Nice Guy, he calls himself.
He hopes she will too.

Surely this extract intrigues you more than enough to go and grab yourself a copy of this one right now! I read it last year, it’s a goodie. Honestly!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

 CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin. Her debut novel Distress Signals was published by Corvus in 2016 and was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger.

Author links : Twitter

The Rumour by Lesley Kara | @LesleyKara @TransworldBooks | #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #TheRumour

I’m absolutely delighted to join the blog tour for The Rumour by Lesley Kara today! My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my brilliant review copy! Make sure to also check out my dear friend Karen’s review over at My Reading Corner!

Author : Lesley Kara
Title : The Rumour
Pages : 320
Publisher : Bantam Press / Transworld Books
Publication date : December 27, 2018 (hardcover)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

| MY THOUGHTS |

A disturbing backstory and the controversial topic of convicted child killers living a normal life set the scene for this chilling psychological thriller. Who are these people, hiding behind new identities? They walk amongst us at the shops, frequent the same restaurants or even babysit our children. Is there any thought more frightening than that?

Rumour has it convicted child killer Sally McGowan has been living in the small town of Flinstead-on-Sea. Sally was just ten years old when she stabbed a little boy to death. That was almost fifty years ago and there have been no sightings of her. Nobody knows what Sally looks like as an adult. Could she really be living in this quiet area? Just a little gossip at the school gates quickly takes a rather more sinister turn when Joanna passes the rumour on at her book club. 

And just like that, I found myself in the middle of a tangled web that messed with my head like crazy. It felt like getting lost in a maze and needing bread crumbs to find my way back out again. The list of suspects I put together was almost as long as my arm and I couldn’t figure out at all who to trust. If anyone. It seemed like just about everyone had something to hide and poor Joanna soon wishes she had just kept her mouth shut.

The “this kept me guessing until the end” is sometimes rather overused and I’m guilty of that myself but with this novel, it’s incredibly apt. It’s incredibly refreshing not to see things coming a mile away. Lesley Kara managed to outwit me at every turn, making me suspect everyone and The Rumour left me almost breathless as the pace and tension built up.

Full of intriguing and complex characters, brilliantly written and intensely gripping, The Rumour is one of those books that is just perfect for one glorious reading session. A highly addictive page-turner with an impending sense of doom that ultimately leads to an incredibly chilling conclusion.

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that The Rumour managed to sneak in on my list of favourite books of the year as a last minute addition and this remarkably exciting debut by Lesley Kara has me eagerly awaiting what she comes up with next

The Rumour is available in ebook format now! The hardcover will be published on December 27th, with the paperback to follow in July.

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She completed an English degree and PGCE at Greenwich University, having previously worked as a nurse and a secretary, and then became a lecturer and manager in Further Education.

Lesley has relocated to a small town on the North Essex coast, where she is currently working on her second novel.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

Halfway by B.E. Jones | @bevjoneswriting @LittleBrownUK| #blogtour #bookreview #Halfway #damppebblesblogtours

It’s a real pleasure to be one of two bloggers kicking off the blog tour for Halfway by B.E. Jones today! My thanks to Emma Welton for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my review copy.

Author : B.E. Jones
Title : Halfway
Pages :
Publisher : Little Brown UK
Publication date : November 1, 2018

The Halfway Inn is closed to customers, side-lined by a bypass, deep in the inhospitable countryside. One winter’s night, deep in snow, Lee, a student hitching home for Christmas, and Becca, a local nurse, end up knocking on the door as the blizzard takes hold. 

But are they the first to arrive? Why is the landlord less than pleased to see them? And what is his elderly father, upstairs in bed immobilised by a stroke, trying so hard to tell them?

At the local police station PC Lissa Lloyd is holding the fort while the rest of her team share in the rare excitement of a brutal murder at an isolated farmhouse. A dangerous fugitive is on the run – but how can Lissa make a name for herself if she’s stuck at her desk? When a call comes in saying the nurse is missing she jumps at the chance to escape the boredom and heads out into the snow.

The strangers at Halfway wait out the storm but soon realise they might have been safer on the road, especially when Lee finds something interesting in the cellar – which is nowhere near as interesting as what’s under the old man’s bed. It seems not all the travellers will make it home for Christmas… and if everyone is lying, then who do you trust? 

Ever feel like a book description gives away way too much information? I’m honestly glad I didn’t read the blurb above before I started reading Halfway. I much prefer discovering things on my own and not quite knowing what the book was about allowed me that.

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Wales, in the midst of a blizzard, the reader meets a multitude of characters. It’s rather obvious from the start that their paths will cross at some point but how or why remains a mystery for quite a while. There’s the hitchhiker, whose either running away from or towards something. There’s an old man, who has suffered a stroke, stuck in his bed just wanting to be heard. And there’s a police officer, desperate to make a name for herself. 

Out on an isolated farm, there’s been a vicious murder. The police officer is sidelined, not involved in the investigation at all. How is she supposed to move up the ranks if she can’t even get away from her desk? Who’s responsible for the murder up at the farm and why? What’s going on with the sick man in his room? As you can tell, there are a lot of questions that need answers and I thoroughly enjoyed trying to unravel the various threads.

Halfway is one intricately plotted puzzle. For the longest time, I couldn’t at all get a handle on things and didn’t have a clue what was going on. However, I found the chapters and the characters so immensely intriguing that I couldn’t stop reading. This story is very much on the slow side but does a brilliant job of setting the scene and delving into the minds of the various characters. Even if the pace puts you off at the start, stick with it. It pays off in the end when things come together rather cleverly.

Halfway is available to buy!

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Beverley Jones was born in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, and started her ‘life of crime’ as a reporter on The Western Mail before moving into TV news with BBC Wales Today. 

She covered all aspects of crime reporting before switching sides as a press officer for South Wales police, dealing with the media in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.

Now a freelance writer she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales. 

Halfway, her fifth crime novelfollows the release of Where She Went by Little Brown in 2017.

Bev’s previous releases, The Lies You Tell, Make Him Pay and Fear The Dark are also available from Little Brown as e books. 

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

The Memory by Lucy Dawson | @lucydawsonbooks @bookouture | #blogtour #TheMemory

Welcome to my stop on the the blog blitz for The Memory by Lucy Dawson! Many thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for the opportunity to join and for the review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

Author : Lucy Dawson
Title : The Memory
Pages : 352
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : December 6, 2018

People always notice my daughter, Isobel. How could they not? Extraordinarily beautiful… until she speaks. 

An unsettling, little-girl voice, exactly like a child’s, but from the mouth of a full-grown woman. 

Izzie might look grown-up, but inside she’s trapped. Caught in the day it happened… the day that broke her from within. Our family fell apart that day, and we never could pick up the pieces.

You can always rely on Lucy Dawson to come up with an intriguing story that will hook you from the first page to the last. Her books don’t tend to be the regular run-of-the-mill psychological thrillers, in the sense that even if you do see the twists coming, there’s always this incredible layer of emotion woven throughout the story that almost wraps itself around your heart in a vice-like kind of way.

I’m not telling you anything about the plot. The description is a nicely vague one and I prefer leaving it like that. Suffice to say Izzie is indeed a most unsettling character and one that is very hard to connect to. You never quite know what she’ll do or say next. Yet, she’s also someone to feel sorry for and that feeling only grows throughout the story.

The Memory is one of those books that lends itself perfectly to be read in one sitting. One of those utterly addictive page-turners that has you reading one more chapter and then another one and before you know it, it’s way past your bed time but hey, who cares, right? With lots of strange things happening, I was left to wonder if this was a case of paranoia or hallucinations. Yet, I found I was utterly convinced I knew exactly what was going on and couldn’t put it down until I reached the conclusion. As it turns out … I was completely wrong. 

This is a tense and gripping tale of secrets, unrequited love and a mother’s fierce attempts to protect her vulnerable daughter. It’s dark, sometimes creepy, sometimes disturbing but intensely compelling and delves into quite a few traumatic and important themes. An unnerving read that has desperately left me wanting more from Lucy Dawson.

The Memory is out today!

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I’ve been writing psychological suspense novels since 2008, when my first bestseller – His Other Lover – was published. I write full time (mostly on the playroom sofa) from my home in Devon, where I live with my husband and children. Before that, I used to edit a magazine for six to twelve year old girls for a living, making absolutely no use whatsoever of my psychology degree from Warwick University, but it was a lot of fun. 

I’m addicted to writing about the extraordinary things that can happen to ordinary people – stories that jump in at the deep end, with a gasp. When readers take the time out to let me know they’ve stayed up all night because they couldn’t put the book down, it makes my day. 

I really enjoy catching up with readers and always reply to emails. You can reach me at lucy@lucydawsonbooks.com. I’m also on Twitter @lucydawsonbooks and have a Facebook page at lucydawsonbooks. Alternatively you can download a free short story of mine at www.lucydawsonbooks.com or if you want to look at a lot of pictures of the beach and books that I’m reading, find me on Instagram at lucydawsonbooks.

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