The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland

Author : Shalini Boland
Title : The Other Daughter
Pages : 270
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 5, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Two-and-a-half-year-old Holly is playing happily in a pink plastic playhouse, while her mother Rachel sips coffee and chats with a friend nearby. It should be an ordinary day for all of them. But, in the blink of an eye, it turns into every family’s worst nightmare. 

Holly is taken by a stranger and never found.

Nine years later, Rachel is living a quiet life in Dorset. She’s tried to keep things together since the traumatic day when she lost her eldest daughter. She has a new family, a loving partner and her secrets are locked away in her painful past. 

Until one afternoon when Rachel meets a new school parent Kate and her teenage daughter Bella. Rachel’s world is instantly turned upside down – she’s seen Bella before. She’d recognise that face anywhere – it’s her missing child. 

And she will stop at nothing to get her back…

| MY THOUGHTS |

You can always expect Shalini Boland to deliver a tense story that will keep you hooked throughout and The Other Daughter does exactly that.

Every parent’s worst nightmare comes true for Rachel when her two-and-a-half- year old daughter, Holly, is abducted from a shopping mall. Now, nine years later, Rachel has moved away, picked up the pieces of her life and has a new partner and a new family. But then Kate and her family move into town and when Rachel meets Kate for the first time, Rachel’s life comes tumbling down around her. Because she is absolutely convinced that Kate’s daughter Bella is her very own missing daughter, Holly.

And off we go to find out if Bella really is Holly. Rachel is quite obviously the character to root for. She is going to stop at nothing, which is completely understandable. Yet I couldn’t help but think some of her actions were a tad on the dubious side. But it all does make you wonder what you would do in a situation like that.

Is Rachel imagining things? Is her conviction that Bella is her daughter driving her somewhat paranoid? What is Kate hiding? So many questions and the answers take quite a long time in coming. This story is one big puzzle, often switching between “then” and “now”, and I had a really hard time trying to put the pieces together. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have bothered because I couldn’t have predicted the outcome at all and it absolutely boggled my mind.

The Other Daughter is a twisty, gripping and addictive story that I devoured in one afternoon. Granted, there were moments where I felt I needed to suspend belief somewhat and I wasn’t entirely sure if things actually made sense in the end but I enjoyed it anyway. This is yet another suspenseful read from Shalini Boland and once you pick it up, you will not want to put it down.

The Other Daughter is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Close To You by Kerry Wilkinson | @kerrywk @bookouture

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Close To You by Kerry Wilkinson. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, let’s see what Close To You is all about.

Author : Kerry Wilkinson
Title : Close To You
Pages : 284
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : October 17, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

I pinch the screen to zoom until I’m staring at the face of a ghost. A man with very short hair, staring directly at the camera with piercing brown eyes. 

He is as he was when I last saw him: wrinkles around the corners of the eyes and a knowing smirk. That’s the expression I see when I can’t sleep. 

My body tenses. It can’t be him. It’s not my ex-husband. It’s not David. 

I know that better than anyone because he didn’t walk out on me. 

He didn’t disappear two years ago and he’s not a missing person. 

I know that for a fact because I’m the one who killed him.

| EXTRACT |

THE NOW

SUNDAY

There’s nothing quite like a good hypocrite. The people surrounding me, not to mention myself, will spend our day-to-day lives telling people about the benefits of moderation. A small glass of wine contains around 120 calories, so moderation is the key. Let’s be moderate, people. Nothing wrong with a glass or two here or there, but let’s hold back on downing half-a-bottle a night, yeah? Let’s not even dream of putting away a full bottle of Asda’s own £4-a-bottle white on a Friday night. That’s probably 800 calories right there and all your good work will be for nothing. All true – but none of that stops our room of ‘fitness professionals’ putting away the booze like a meteor strike has been pencilled in for tomorrow afternoon.

The waiter ambles around to my side of the table and reaches for my glass. His bottle is angled ready to dump another couple of hundred calories, but I place one hand over the rim and wave him away with the other. ‘Not for me,’ I say. His lips twitch into something close to a smirk and then they instantly arch down again. Assuming he works at this hotel most Friday and Saturday nights through November and December, he’ll have seen this over and over. Grown adults who are one step away from teenagers in a park sharing a bottle of cider. It really is not for me, though – not tonight in any case. My relationship with alcohol is like my mother’s with back-to-back episodes of her favourite soaps. A brief taste and I’m slumped in a chair, drooling for the rest of the night.

The bloke two seats away from me has no such hang-ups. He manages a leisure centre but has that hipsterish, waxy beard-look about him, as if he’d rather be running his own craft brewery. He motions the waiter over and gleefully eyes the white nectar that’s emptied into his glass. When it’s nearly full, he raises it in my direction: ‘To us,’ he declares. I waft my almost empty glass of water towards him. ‘To beards,’ I reply. He either doesn’t hear me, or doesn’t care, as he downs half his glass in one go.

This is the problem with these sorts of awards dinners – the seating plans are thrown together like an expressionist’s painting of an orgy. It’s all a vague collection of limbs and there are dicks everywhere. Even though it’s a ceremony and not strictly a Christmas party, it is December – so the room is decorated with various wreathes and tinsel. There’s a giant Christmas tree in the corner and twinkly lights zigzagging across the ceiling. There was turkey for dinner, but, now that’s cleared away, the booze is flowing and it’s time for the main event. Well, almost time.

I am fighting back the yawns as the comedian compère is busy making himself laugh, which at least makes it one person who’s enjoying the act. Someone else on my table described him as ‘old-school’, which is essentially code for ‘a bit sexist’. A decade back and there would’ve been a few racist jokes thrown in for the old-timers. His act is drawing a mix of muted laughs, awkward silences and brainless cackling from a handful of people who’ve either been lobotomised or had too much to drink. When the comedian reaches for his water, he trips on the mic stand and gets the biggest laugh of the night. Life offers nothing quite as funny as a stranger falling over and then pretending it hasn’t happened.

When his act is done, there’s an excited hum to the room. This is the reason we’ve paid £80-a-head for bad food and unfunny comedy. On the stage at the front, some bloke in a suit is messing around with the PowerPoint display that’s being beamed onto the screen. He’s obviously making a hash of it because that’s what blokes in suits do. He jabs at a laptop, looks gormlessly to his mate off to the side, holds up both hands, and then has a hushed argument with someone else who ends up plugging in a cable. A slide finally appears, displaying ‘Eighth Annual UK Fitness Professional Awards’. It’s not exactly the BAFTAs and, as I sit through a series of prizes being awarded, I start to question a few of my life choices. I’ve done some bad things in my time, one in particular, but I’ve never stumbled onto a stage and thanked ‘God, the Queen and my Mum’ for allowing my branch of Total Fitness to win gym chain of the year. Most people here are of the eye-rolling variety. We know this is a farce, but it’s also the game we play. For personal trainers like me, winning these sorts of awards means more offers of work, more appearances, better contracts, perhaps even a book deal.

I’ve more or less switched off when my best friend, Jane, leans over to me. She’s more excited than I am: ‘Is this your award?’ It takes me a second to catch what she’s said but, when I look up, I realise that she’s right. Jane hasn’t said much all evening, although she doesn’t really know anyone. I would have come with Andy, but he’s busy with his scout troop. That sounds like a euphemism, but isn’t – there really is a scout troop. I was happy to come by myself, but Jane said she’d be my plus-one and that was that. I could have mentioned a midwinter trip to the Antarctic with Piers Morgan and she’d have still volunteered to come. I think that’s what happens when there’s a 16-month-old at home. Any excuse for a night away. She won’t say it out loud, but she’s definitely missed work since giving up her job to have Norah.

The slide on the screen has changed to read ‘Personal Trainer of the Year’ and then ‘Seven Nation Army’ pulses in the background as Steven, the organiser, runs through a list of the nominees. Before today, I’d only met him via emails. He has that comic-book airline-pilot-look going on. All neat hair, stiff upper lip and moustachy. There are five of us nominated for the award, with our photos flashing across the screen as our names are announced. ‘Jason McMahon’, whose head is like a cork atop a barrel, gets a big cheer from his table. The next three names get polite applause and I tense as my own face appears on the screen. It’s one of the shots from my portfolio, the one that I convinced myself was a good idea after reading a New Year, New You article and, presumably, temporarily losing my mind.

‘ And finally,’ Steven says, his moustache practically audible, ‘after all she’s been through, Morgan Persephone.’There’s a gentle wave of applause that gets louder as people realise who I am. He’s pronounced my name wrong, making it rhyme with ‘telephone’, instead of ‘per-sef-oh-knee’. A shiver creases along my back, but not because of the mispronunciation. After all she’s been through. Maybe they are; maybe they’re not – but I can feel everyone watching as I give the watery, closed-lip smile that I’ve become so good at over the past couple of years. I can sense the whispers, if not hear them. People telling those next to them that my husband disappeared two years ago.

There is mercifully little time to dwell as Steven rips open the envelope like a kid with a Christmas present. And the winner is…’ He pauses, thinking he’s Simon Cowell waiting to tell some Mariah wannabe that she’s one step closer to being a little-known answer to a pub quiz question.

‘…Morgan Persephone.

’Steven gets my name wrong again and there’s a second or two in which I can’t quite take in what he’s said. It’s like we’re in different time zones with a slight delay. Jane leans in and gleefully hisses, ‘You won!’ – and then I find myself clambering to my feet. Jane adds a quick ‘Smile!’, which is when I realise I’m stumbling blankly to the front, like a drunk at closing time. I wave to a pair of women I don’t know on one of the front tables, largely because they’re clapping and cheering. I’ve seen those award shows, where winners guff a load of nonsense about not expecting their victories. This isn’t that. I had an inkling ever since the nominations went out in a barely noticed press release a couple of months back. I suspected I’d probably win, if for no other reason than everyone loves a good redemption story. That doesn’t prepare me for the wall of noise, all from strangers. The eruption is disorientating and hard to prepare for.

I head onto the stage and Steven passes me a golden trophy that’s in the shape of a treadmill. I expect it to be heavy, but the metal is plasticky and cheap. No matter – it’s the title that counts. A weird thought creeps into my mind that I’m going to need new business cards. ‘Personal Trainer of the Year’ sounds a lot better than ‘Personal Trainer’.

Everything is a bit of a blur – but it’s been like that since it all happened with David. After all she’s been through. Sometimes it feels as if someone else is steering the ship and I’m watching myself go through life. Not now. In this moment, I’m completely aware that nobody wants to look like the bitch who prepared a speech in advance. I run through the mental list of things to say while attempting to make it seem as off-the-cuff as possible. I remember to thank the organiser Steven; the gyms where I work and a few other industry types. To an untrained eye, it probably seems as if I know what I’m doing. That’s the game, really. That’s life. Nobody cares if a person actually knows what they’re doing, as long as they look like it.

When I’m done, Steven re-takes the mic and I hustle back to my table while shaking hands like a low-level Royal opening a community centre. When I get to my seat, more people come over to offer congratulations and pass across business cards, like I’m a hooker heading to a London phone box. I know very few faces, only a handful of people from the speaking circuit. Jane gives me a hug, but it’s awkward because we’re both sitting. The drunken leisure centre manager downs the rest of his wine and winks. There are more nods and waves and then, finally, Steven hushes everyone and continues onto the next category.

It’s late and, despite the rush of the past few minutes, I have to stifle a yawn. I’ve never really got these people that can do all-nighters. I’m a drowsy mess after about 11 and, with my trophy in hand, the hotel bed is calling. Steven runs through the nominees for Fitness Brand of the Year and, after another blast of ‘Seven Nation Army’, he names the winner. There’s a big cheer from the table at the front and then, after a chaotic speech with half a dozen people trying to talk over one another, the ceremony is finally put out of its misery. Jane uses the table to push herself up and is clear-eyed as she rubs my upper arm. ‘You deserve this,’ she says. ‘It’s only an industry award.’ ‘Your industry, though. It’s amazing… especially after everything you’ve been through.’ There’s that line again…

She smiles and then adds: ‘Are there photos?’ ‘I hope not.’ Jane nods over my shoulder, to where Steven is beckoning together the winners. ‘I’ll keep an eye on your bag,’ she says. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I’m back to my wedding day. Back with David. I have to blink away the moment. I think of him every day – but it’s never the Saturday we married; it’s always what happened at the end. Someone says, ‘Where is everyone?’ and then it’s all, ‘Stand here’, ‘Look there’, ‘Smile’, ‘Don’t smile’, ‘Point there’, ‘Laugh’, ‘Roll over’ – and so on. Possibly without the rolling over. There are around thirty winners in all and we’re divided into various groups for the picture-taking on the stage. At the rear of the room, the staff bustle back and forth clearing the tables. Steven continues to take photos, but Jane and others are there, too, with their phones. Nothing can happen nowadays without it being captured and sent to the cloud. Steven asks all the winners to smoosh closer together. I make sure I’m angling with my left side away from him, hiding the purple-brown scar at the base of my neck from the camera’s unrelenting gaze. He takes a few more photos and then puts his camera down.

We’re all ready to stop tensing our muscles when Jane calls, ‘One more’ and then she clicks a final photo or three. After that, we are finally done. Everyone offers weary smiles and drifts back to their colleagues. One of the other winners asks if I want a drink to celebrate, but I’m already batting away yawns. Sex and chocolate are good – but there’s nothing quite like a good sleep. Before I can get back to the table in order to collect my bag, Steven corners me at the edge of the stage. He is wearing the looks of a man who’s relieved it’s all over. ‘Congratulations,’ he says, rubbing my arm while he does so. I’d tell him to stop, but it already feels awkward. ‘Thank you.’ ‘I know it’s been hard after everything you’ve been through.’ ‘Yes…’ I almost reach for the mark on my neck. I used to rub the scar all the time – but I’ve been working at stopping myself for months now. Stephen’s stare flickers across it without lingering. He leaves my arm alone long enough to smooth his moustache, even though it doesn’t look like a hurricane would put a hair out of place. There is a moment in which he angles forward and I wonder if he might try to kiss me. Perhaps it’s ego on my part. I brace myself to flinch to the side, but he slants away at the last moment to whisper in my ear. ‘I voted for you,’ he says. ‘Thank you.’ ‘You’ve been very brave about everything. ’He speaks as if I’ve done a lengthy stint in Afghanistan and am finally back in Blighty. I don’t know what to say, so give him a slim smile and a half-hearted ‘thanks’. He pats my shoulder and then disappears off to talk to someone else.

Back at the table, the leisure centre manager has disappeared, along with the remnants of the table wine. Jane hands me my bag and we step to the side as the staff continue to clear the tables to make way for a dance floor. ‘You look tired,’ she says. ‘This isn’t really my thing,’ I reply. Jane finishes her water and passes the empty glass to one of the staff. I’ve only had a single glass of wine and she’s not had any alcohol at all. We’re a right pair of lightweights. I’m only thirty-three but can sense my teenage-self disapproving. ‘I’ve got to head back,’ Jane says, ‘I don’t like being away from Norah for a night… not a whole one, anyway.’ We’d spoken about this beforehand and brought two cars. I’m staying at the hotel where the awards are taking place, while Jane is driving home.

She starts to fish into her bag: ‘Do you want to see the photos?’ ‘How do I look in them?’ ‘Fit.’ ‘Let’s see then.’ She retrieves her phone from her bag and flicks through the images before passing it across. The device is one of those plus-sized ones that’s closer to a TV than a phone. Give it a few years and mobiles will be the same size as the bricks that used to pass for phones in the 80s. I suppose fashion really is cyclical. I refuse to use the word ‘phablet’. I’d bring back capital punishment for inventing words like that. 

The thing about a photograph full of fitness professionals is that we are, by definition, fit. Almost everyone in the picture will have to stay in shape as part of the job. That brings a natural competition. Almost all the women are wearing tight, low-cut tops or dresses, while the men are in custom-cut slimming suits. Everyone is flexing their arms, either subtly or not. At one time, everyone desired the biggest muscles; now it is all about getting lean. I glance at Jane’s photo and clock myself at the side. I’ve got my back straight, chest puffed up, chin solid, smile fixed. Give it the old tits and teeth. Half of us are turned towards Steven’s camera while the others are looking towards Jane. It’s all quite the mess. I’m about to hand the phone back when I spot a face at the very back. It doesn’t belong to the group, it’s not one of the winners, it’s simply there.

A man with very short hair, facing sideways but staring directly at the camera with piercing brown eyes. My body tenses and I can’t quite take in what I’m seeing. I pinch the screen to zoom until I’m staring at the face of a ghost. He is as he was when I last saw him: wrinkles around the corners of the eyes and a knowing smirk. That’s the expression I see when I can’t sleep. ‘Are you OK?’ I glance up to see Jane frowning in my direction. She has released her hair from its bun and the curly waves have dropped to her shoulders. She seems ready to leave. ‘Yes, um…’ My gaze flicks to the screen once more. ‘Could you send this photo to me?’ ‘Sure. ’Jane takes back her phone and swipes around the screen until she says ‘Done’.

The thing is, I recognise the man in the background of the photo. How could I not? It’s just that it can’t be him. It’s not my ex-husband. It’s not David. I know that better than anyone because he didn’t walk out on me. He didn’t disappear two years ago and he’s not a missing person. I know that for a fact because I’m the one who killed him.

I don’t know about you but that certainly got my attention! I’m sure you’d like to find out more so why not go ahead and grab yourself a copy of Close To You today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 crime bestsellers in the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Singapore. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.

When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down. 

Child’s Play by Angela Marsons | @WriteAngie @bookouture

Delighted to join the blog tour for Child’s Play by Angela Marsons today! Huge thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for the invitation to join and for the review copy!

Author : Angela Marsons
Title : Child’s Play
Series : DI Kim Stone #11
Pages : 359
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : July 11, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Late one summer evening, Detective Kim Stone arrives at Haden Hill Park to the scene of a horrific crime: a woman in her sixties tied to a swing with barbed wire and an X carved into the back of her neck. 

The victim, Belinda Evans, was a retired college Professor of Child Psychology. As Kim and her team search her home, they find an overnight bag packed and begin to unravel a complex relationship between Belinda and her sister Veronica. 

With DS Penn immersed in the murder case of a young man, Kim and her team are already stretched and up against one of the most ruthless killer’s they’ve ever encountered.

Faced with hundreds of potential leads and a bereaved sister who is refusing to talk, can Kim get inside the mind of a killer and stop another murder before it’s too late? 

| MY THOUGHTS |

And Angela Marsons strikes again! What a belter of a book!

Somewhere near the top of the “some things Eva gets really excited about” list, you’ll find this series. Whenever a new Kim Stone book arrives, I get immensely giddy because I know I’m in for a treat and I know that Angela Marsons will just knock it out of the park once again. Isn’t it a wondrous feeling to know you’re safe in an author’s hands?

Kim and Bryant are called out to a murder scene in one of the most innocent places you can think of : a children’s playground in a park. The identity of the victim is quickly discovered but that’s also where things become immensely intriguing. The victim’s appearance seems at odds with her lifestyle and the team struggle to find the truth amidst all this mystery. The victim’s sister is of little help, cold and distant, and refusing to talk.

Meanwhile Penn is forced to spend time with his former West Mercia colleagues when a case he worked on gets its day in court. But things do not exactly go to plan. Did Penn make a mistake? The only way to find out is to go through the entire investigation again with a fine tooth comb.

It’s absolutely remarkable when you realise this is the eleventh book in a series. But what is even more remarkable is how Angela Marsons is able to keep this eleventh book seem as fresh as the very first one. This plot is as compelling as ever but there are also other things that keep me, as a reader, utterly hooked. One of those things is splitting up the team. Having Kim, Bryant and Stacey work on one investigation and Penn on something else feels realistic and when both of those investigations grab your attention, well, you just can’t flip the pages fast enough. There’s also the introduction of new characters, for instance. Now I won’t say anything about the character the team is forced to work with but their arrival and the reaction of the team genuinely made me laugh.

Above all else though, are the topics Angela Marsons tackle. In Child’s Play, we find ourselves in the world of child prodigies. This quickly turned into quite the thought-provoking issue for me as Angela Marsons somehow made it easy to see the points of view from various sides. The parents, often ruthless and competitive, do they have their child’s best interests at heart or not? The child prodigy, often isolated, forced to study for hours on end, what sort of impact does this have on them? And what about siblings who aren’t as smart? And all the while, you’re left to wonder how the utterly brutal prologue fits into it all. I had no idea. Both investigations left me guessing until the very end.

This is what Angela Marsons does best. She always manages to come up with a hard-hitting topic that makes me think, that makes me feel rather emotional sometimes, that isn’t always easy to read. And throughout, there is Kim and her team, guiding the reader safely through an intense and intriguing investigation. Of course, there are light-hearted moments too. Thank goodness! The relationship between Kim and Bryant is one of my favourite things ever and there’s a lot of muttering going on that made me chuckle. And let’s not forget the absolutely delightfully snarky Keats!

Child’s Play is another utterly brilliant addition to this series. It’s gripping, compelling, super tense and extremely addictive. The kind of book you pick up and don’t put down again until you’ve finished it, no matter what time of night it is. I so can’t wait for the next one!

Child’s Play is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Angela Marsons is the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of the DI Kim Stone series and her books have sold more than 3 million in 3 years.

She lives in the Black Country with her partner, their cheeky Golden Retriever and a swearing parrot.

She first discovered her love of writing at Junior School when actual lessons came second to watching other people and quietly making up her own stories about them. Her report card invariably read “Angela would do well if she minded her own business as well as she minds other people’s”.

After years of writing relationship based stories (The Forgotten Woman and Dear Mother) Angela turned to Crime, fictionally speaking of course, and developed a character that refused to go away.

She is signed to Bookouture.com for a total of 16 books in the Kim Stone series and her books have been translated into more than 27 languages.

Many of her books, including Blood Lines, Dead Souls, Broken Bones, Fatal Promise and Dead Memories reached the #1 spot on Amazon on pre-orders alone.

This Week in Books (July 10)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

When Lydia and Josh Green walk into Karen’s office one rainy February morning, Karen sees a couple under stress, almost at breaking point. But working with struggling couples, finding out more about their problems, helping to save their marriages, is what Karen does. 

But as Karen spends more time with Lydia and Josh, her sense of unease grows… 

Lydia is something more than just a woman whose marriage is in trouble. She seems frightened for her safety. 

Josh is angry, grief-stricken and seems to be hiding a dark secret. 

And soon Karen herself is afraid – there is something about the behaviour of this couple that recalls traumatic incidents from her own past. There is something there that may be the key to saving them, if Karen can only unlock it in time…

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Every Monday, 49-year-old Ellie looks after her grandson Josh. She loves him more than anything else in the world. The only thing that can mar her happiness is her husband’s affair. But he swore it was over, and Ellie has decided to be thankful for what she’s got.

Then one day, while she’s looking after Josh, her husband gets a call from that woman. And for just a moment, Ellie takes her eyes off her grandson. The accident that happens will change her life forever.

Because Ellie is hiding something in her past.

And what looks like an accident could start to look like murder…

[I’ve been reading this one since Saturday. Socialising (subsequent hangover 😳) and Wimbledon are throwing a massive spanner in the works. It’s actually really good too!]

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

It’s just a normal morning for Anna McDonald. Gym kits, packed lunches, getting everyone up and ready. Until she opens the front door to her best friend, Estelle. Anna turns to see her own husband at the top of the stairs, suitcase in hand. They’re leaving together and they’re taking Anna’s two daughters with them.

Left alone in the big, dark house, Anna can’t think, she can’t take it in. With her safe, predictable world shattered, she distracts herself with a story: a true-crime podcast. There’s a sunken yacht in the Mediterranean, multiple murders and a hint of power and corruption. Then Anna realises she knew one of the victims in another life. She is convinced she knows what happened. Her past, so carefully hidden until now, will no longer stay silent.

This is a murder she can’t ignore, and she throws herself into investigating the case. But little does she know, her past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall.

[This will be my first ever Denise Mina book and I’m really looking forward to it!]

What does you reading week look like? Do let me know in the comments! Have a fabulous week and lots of happy reading! xx

The Divorce by Victoria Jenkins | @vicwritescrime @bookouture

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The Divorce by Victoria Jenkins. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for the invitation to join and for my review copy!

Author : Victoria Jenkins
Title : The Divorce
Pages : 212
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : July 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When Lydia and Josh Green walk into Karen’s office one rainy February morning, Karen sees a couple under stress, almost at breaking point. But working with struggling couples, finding out more about their problems, helping to save their marriages, is what Karen does. 

But as Karen spends more time with Lydia and Josh, her sense of unease grows… 

Lydia is something more than just a woman whose marriage is in trouble. She seems frightened for her safety. 

Josh is angry, grief-stricken and seems to be hiding a dark secret. 

And soon Karen herself is afraid – there is something about the behaviour of this couple that recalls traumatic incidents from her own past. There is something there that may be the key to saving them, if Karen can only unlock it in time…

| MY THOUGHTS |

You may know Victoria Jenkins from her brilliant crime fiction series featuring detectives King and Lane, but now she has crossed genres and The Divorce is her first psychological thriller.

In The Divorce, we are first introduced to Karen. She is a marriage counsellor and through her we get a glimpse into the marriage of Lydia and Josh. It soon becomes apparent though that this isn’t your average marriage. Both Josh and Lydia seem to be hiding something and don’t come across as particularly trustworthy. But is Karen’s own traumatic past blinding her from seeing the truth?

There are only three characters in this story, which allows the author to really dig deep into the psychology and give tremendous insight into what makes these characters tick. At times it even felt somewhat voyeuristic, seeing things play out through Karen’s eyes. A bit like being a fly on the wall, getting a glimpse into what goes on behind closed doors. There’s always something fascinating about that, isn’t there?

It’s not easy to keep the reader’s attention when there are so few characters to rely on but I feel Victoria Jenkins did a great job in fleshing them out, keeping me intrigued and guessing throughout. Despite the fact that I found it hard to get to grips with these characters, I did rather quickly pick a side but I couldn’t at all see what the purpose of it all was or where the story would end up.

The Divorce deals with some uncomfortable topics like domestic abuse and ends up being quite thought-provoking, wondering whose responsibility it is when something goes wrong but also the impact domestic abuse has. I could have done with just that bit more tension but overall, this is a really well written psychological thriller full of suspense and I very much look forward to whatever Victoria Jenkins decides to tackle next.

The Divorce is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Victoria Jenkins is a Welsh author who has made a name for herself writing the highly popular Detective King and Lane series of novels. The first novel in the series was “The Girls In The Water” that Jenkins first published in 2017, to much critical acclaim and popularity among crime fiction fans. 
The series of novels features Detective Constable Chloe Lane and Detective Inspector Alex King, who are the lead investigative characters that solve some mysterious murders in their hometown.

Jenkins lives with her husband and daughter in South Wales, where her series of crime novels featuring Detectives King and Lane is based.

Weekly Wrap-Up (July 6)

This wrap-up might be somewhat on the short side because I have friends coming over this afternoon and a bajillion things to do.

While I’ve been putting this post together, the other half started vacuuming so now I’m wondering if I just sit here and look busy, if he’ll tackle some other chores from my list. 🤔

This week has consisted mostly of books and Wimbledon tennis. Probably more tennis than books, actually. I have a liiiiitle bit of leeway in my schedule so hopefully I won’t get into too much trouble.

So, what have I read this week?

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

I’m okay with that. That could have been a lot worse! One from my 20 Books of Summer list and the others are all for blog tours. Good thing I’m slowing down, eh?

Today’s guessing game : there are two 5 stars reads. Go! 😂

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

Oops 😳. I am so running out of room to put all of these. Especially paperbacks. So I often tell myself “self, we should read more paperbacks” and thus we choose another hardback because that’s just how self and I roll. 🤣

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Shared my review for Black Summer by M.W. Craven

Tuesday : Reviewed The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett

Wednesday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for The Closer I Get by Paul Burston and shared My Week in Books

Thursday : Reviewed The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Friday : Joined the blog tour for The Reunion by Guillaume Musso

Saturday : Shared my review of The Island by Ragnar Jónasson

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Get me posting every day of the week!

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Blog tour | Review | The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox

Tuesday : Blog tour | Review | The Divorce by Victoria Jenkins

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Blog tour | Review | A Fatal Game by Nicholas Searle

Friday : Blog tour | Review | I Looked Away by Jane Corry

Saturday : Taking the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Yep, slowing down is working like a charm. 😂

Right, that’s it. Hope everyone has a brilliant week! See you next time. Happy reading! xx

This Week in Books (July 3)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

London, September 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Even the impregnable cathedral of St. Paul’s is engulfed in flames and reduced to ruins. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, and reluctant government informer.

In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back.

Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

As a series of rolling blackouts plunge the city into darkness, Detective Aidan Waits sits on an abandoned hospital ward, watching a mass murderer slowly die. Transferred from his usual night shift duties and onto protective custody, he has just one job…

To extract the location of Martin Wick’s final victim before the notorious mass murderer passes away.

Wick has spent over a decade in prison, in near-total silence, having confessed to an unspeakable crime that shocked the nation and earned him the nickname of TheSleepwalker.

But when a daring premeditated attack leaves one police officer dead and another one fighting for his life, Wick’s whispered last words will send Waits on a journey into the heart of darkness…

Manipulated by a reticent psychopath from his past, and under investigation from his new partner, Detective Constable Naomi Black, Waits realises too late that a remorseless contract killer is at work.

Can Aidan Waits solve his last case before fleeing justice?

Or will his name be next on the hit list?

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

When Lydia and Josh Green walk into Karen’s office one rainy February morning, Karen sees a couple under stress, almost at breaking point. But working with struggling couples, finding out more about their problems, helping to save their marriages, is what Karen does. 

But as Karen spends more time with Lydia and Josh, her sense of unease grows… 

Lydia is something more than just a woman whose marriage is in trouble. She seems frightened for her safety. 

Josh is angry, grief-stricken and seems to be hiding a dark secret. 

And soon Karen herself is afraid – there is something about the behaviour of this couple that recalls traumatic incidents from her own past. There is something there that may be the key to saving them, if Karen can only unlock it in time… 

Wimbledon is seriously messing up my reading plans. I can already tell I won’t be reading 7 books this week. 😂

What are you reading? Do let me know! Happy reading! xx

Don’t Ever Tell by Lucy Dawson | @bookouture

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Don’t Ever Tell by Lucy Dawson. My thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for the invitation to join and for the review copy.

Author : Lucy Dawson
Title : Don’t Ever Tell
Pages : 284
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : June 25, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

This is a story about Charlotte – a mother and a wife with the perfect job, the perfect life… at least, that’s how it looks from the outside.

But behind closed doors, the marriage is breaking, and Charlotte’s husband Tris doesn’t even know how much. He has no idea what Charlotte has planned for him, who she has found, why she has hired someone to pretend to be her. But he doesn’t have long to wait to find out… 

| MY THOUGHTS |

When author Charlotte Tristan contacts actress Mia Justice to work on a project, little do both these women know their lives will change dramatically.

Mia is a struggling actress. Jobs are few and far between. So when she is approached by Charlotte, it looks like things might finally be looking up. Charlotte wants Mia to pretend to be her, effectively offering her the part of “author” and sell a book.

That’s all I’m saying as I’m way too worried I’ll give something important away. Suffice to say, the intrigue drips from the pages. You know, from the prologue, that something quite bad has happened. But the what, who, why is a mystery. I couldn’t at all figure out how the pieces of this story fit together and felt compelled to keep reading until the answers were revealed to me.

The chapters alternate between Charlotte and Mia. I found Charlotte quite hard to connect to, or even like, most of the time. Although once I got to know her character’s circumstances better, it was easier to understand where she was coming from. Mia, on the other hand, immediately came across as someone to root for. She hasn’t had the easiest of times and I just desperately wanted something good to happen for her.

Lucy Dawson always manages to come up with an original plot that keeps you guessing until the very end, and Don’t Ever Tell is no different. You never know who to trust and I will give you cookies if you can at all predict where this story is going to end up. It is utterly unpredictable and another enjoyable read from Lucy Dawson.

Don’t Ever Tell is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Lucy studied Psychology at Warwick University before becoming a children’s magazine editor.

Her first bestselling book – His Other Lover – was published in 2008. Since then she has published four other novels and her work has been translated into numerous other languages.

She lives in Exeter with her husband and children. Lucy finds writing in the third person uncomfortable.

Weekly Wrap-Up (June 23)

Boy, am I glad to see the back of this week. So much stress and anxiety, tis not good for the soul.

On Tuesday, the ball-and-chain and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. Condolences welcome 😉. Now, you’d think that after 20 years, he would know that a) I don’t like surprises and b) I don’t like being the centre of attention. So naturally, he organised something behind my back that “involved other people”. I didn’t know where we were going, what I was supposed to wear, when I was supposed to be ready, nothing. And I hated every single minute of that day. Turns out we just went to a fancy restaurant with his stepbrother and stepbrother’s wife. And it was fantastic, had a really good time, sat outside until midnight, ate great food, drank fabulous wine and a cheeky limoncello or two.

But I could have done without the added stress as doggie wasn’t well again and I hated having to leave her behind with my mother-in-law, the babysitter. Yoshi was incredibly unsteady on her paws, almost toppled over a few times. She wouldn’t eat, she slept a lot. All in all, just not the kind of behaviour I’m used to from her. She’s also started walking into furniture as her sight is going. Anyway, stressful! For those wondering, she seems to be a bit better now but I’m obviously watching her like a hawk.

Obviously, all of this took a massive toll on my reading. I knew those 7 books last week would be a fluke but I wasn’t prepared for this week’s downward spiral. 😂

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Yep. Three. That’s it. Apart from a book where I got to 200 pages and then abandoned it. Two absolute corkers up there though! I’m sure you’ll be able to guess which ones 😉

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

Of course I was going to get a hardback of The Whisper Man for my shelves! While browsing, I stumbled upon Allen Eskens and I really need to get caught up on his books so there is one. Charlie Donlea is someone I keep hearing lots about. I’ve only read two of his books so far, although I do have the others.

| BOOK POST THAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP THIS WEEK |

Black Summer was a book I chose in a giveaway I won. The other two are for blog tours, kindly forwarded on by Zoé 😘

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor

Tuesday : Joined the blog tour for Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

Wednesday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for The Serpent’s Mark by S.W. Perry

Thursday : Reviewed Beneath the Surface by Jo Spain

Friday : Joined the blog tour for The Whisper Man by Alex North

Saturday : Took the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

I’m impressed with myself for getting this all out there on the right days and on time, considering the week I’ve had.

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Review | The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Tuesday : Review | After the End by Claire Mackintosh

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Blog tour | Don’t Ever Tell by Lucy Dawson

Friday : Review | The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

Saturday : Taking the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Look at that! Just the one blog tour! Do you need a minute? Feel a tad faint? 😂

My next blog tour isn’t until July 3rd. But I’ve only read 5 books from my 20 Books of Summer list so far, so I really need to get a move on. This upcoming week promises to be HOT AS HELL with temperatures of 38°C coming our way. The perfect excuse for doing absolutely nothing but read. Hopefully by the weekend, I’ll have another 7 books under my belt because this silly 3 just will not do!

Right, I have one review to write. I know, you’re jealous. Then I might browse around, possibly buy some more books as I still have a tiny bit of room left on my shelves and it looks stupid 😉.

Hope everyone has a fabulous week! If you’re caught up in a heatwave as I am, stay cool and drink lots of water. If not, erm, sorry 😂. Until next time! Happy reading! xx

The Dare by Carol Wyer | @carolewyer @bookouture

Author : Carol Wyer
Title : The Dare
Series : DI Natalie Ward #3
Pages : 348
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : April 25, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When thirteen-year-old Savannah Hopkins doesn’t come straight home from school, as she always does, her mother Jane immediately raises the alarm. 

Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward whose daughter Leigh is the same age as Savannah. Soon Natalie’s worst fears are confirmed when the teenager’s broken body is found in nearby shrubland. 

Evidence points towards a local recluse, but just as the net is closing around him, one of Savannah’s friends, Harriet, is reported missing. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

I can’t believe we’re already at the third instalment in the DI Natalie Ward series. That Carol Wyer is an insane writing machine!

When thirteen year old Savannah doesn’t return home from school, her mother immediately raises the alarm. A search for the young girl bears no results. Then her body is found near rubbish close to where she lived. As it is obvious this is not where Savannah was killed and there are no DNA clues at all, the investigations into her murder quickly turns into a frustrating one. And then another young teenager goes missing.

Do you know what your kids are up to? The mothers in this story most certainly do not, no matter how close they think they are to their daughters. These days, with all their online presence, things are even more frightening than they used to be. Carol Wyer introduces the topic of online dares in this story, which I’m sure you’ve seen mentioned in newspapers quite often as most don’t end all that well for the participants.

I shared the team’s frustration in this investigation. While there are a few suspects in their sights, there are also quite a lot of dead-ends. I couldn’t figure it out at all and was way off in a completely different direction than the one Carol Wyer herself went. Even the brilliantly written flashback chapters, courtesy of the killer, didn’t give me the tiniest clue as to who I should be focusing on. It is always such a bonus when you’re left guessing until the end.

Of course, we are also offered more glimpses into Natalie’s private life. Her husband David remains a total douchebag and I for one would quite like to see Natalie give him the boot. As it is, their arguments are having an effect on their children. But could one of them end up in danger? And let’s not forget Lucy, who is slowly but surely beginning to steal away the limelight from Natalie in this series. Lucy is incredibly focused, determined and like a dog with a bone. I just really like her and I hope her character continues to grow.

As always, Carol Wyer has delivered another gripping and compelling story. I raced through these pages as if my life depended on it, desperately trying to pick up clues and failing miserably at every turn. The Dare had me absolutely hooked and engrossed and I can’t wait for more!

The Dare is out tomorrow!

Amazon US | Amazon UK