The Daughter in Law by Nina Manning | @ninamanning78 @BoldwoodBooks | #BoldwoodBlogtour #extract #excerpt

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Daughter in Law by Nina Manning. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, let’s see what this book is all about.

Author : Nina Manning
Title : The Daughter in Law
Pages : 354
Publisher : Boldwood Books
Publication date : August 1, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

No one is good enough for her son…

As a single mother, Annie has an especially close relationship with her son, Ben. They have always been together. Just the two of them. So, when Ben brings home his mysterious beautiful new wife, Daisy, immediately Annie doesn’t trust her. Who is this woman who has taken her son away from her? And what is she hiding?

She’ll protect him with her life…

When Ben disappears, suddenly Annie and Daisy are all the other one has. Alone in Annie’s big, remote house, just the two of them, the tension is rising. And like any protective mother, Annie will stop at nothing to expose her new daughter in law, and the secrets she is hiding…

| EXTRACT |

Annie

My favourite room is the spare bedroom at the front of the house. It gets all the light in the morning and looks so inviting. I’ve done it up like a picture I saw in a lifestyle magazine: a checked throw across the end of the bed, floral sheets and hooked back curtains, a little wicker chair in the corner with a few well-read paperbacks stacked on top of it, and a white vase on the bedside table. It really is the most comforting place to be. Of course, no one ever uses it. I like to keep the house looking nice. But it was only ever going to be me and my son.

Getting out of bed was particularly hard this morning. It has been every morning since Ben left. I keep thinking, what is the point? I’ve been feeling that empty hopelessness for several months now. Since Ben deserted me.

For her.

I’d heard all about empty nest syndrome but I never imagined for a moment it would happen to me. I never actually thought he would leave. I thought we would just keep existing together. Forever.

He kept so much of his stuff here initially, that I felt sure he would return – but just last month, he came and took the lot.

It’s so quiet here now. It was quiet anyway, that’s why I took the house. It’s the house I grew up alone in with my father, but fled from as soon as I was able to support myself.

How do you define an unhappy childhood? In those days it was unheard of to make an allegation about your relative. I accepted the violence – it was, after all, part of him and all I had ever known. Throughout my motherless upbringing, the beach house provided a sanctuary for me with plenty of places to hide. I got stealthier as I grew and with my legs pulled up tightly into my chest and my head pressed to my knees, I would squeeze myself into an alcove, the airing cupboard or the shed with the ringing sound of my father’s threats in my ear. Later on, I would sneak out and find my way back to my bedroom past my father’s drunken snores. The next day he wouldn’t remember a thing. Had I not been able to escape down to the shore to skim pebbles or poke about in rock pools, then I would have run away sooner. The sea kept me safe. But as soon as I turned sixteen I took myself hundreds of miles away. I never heard a whisper from my father, who had told me daily I reminded him too much of my brazen excuse of a mother. Then he was dead and the beach house was mine. I left it sitting empty for a while, too scared to return, too busy trying to salvage my own marriage. Then Ben arrived and I knew it was time.

When I returned here all those years later with my son, it was fairly run down and rotting in places I couldn’t get to, much like my father for all those years. The brown weather-worn cladding needed a sand down and varnish and the white framed windows were peeling, but overall the exterior wasn’t so bad. I did the best I could with it and I could overlook most of the natural decay when I scanned the vast horizon and breathed in the fresh sea air.

It’s a remote spot, perched right on the edge of the peninsular before it slopes round into the sea. Standing in the garden or looking out of the window, you would be forgiven for thinking there were no houses for miles, but there is one around along the shore and to the left and then they begin to scatter more frequently as they feed towards the village. People rarely walk this far down as the shore is a little more rustic with huge pieces of driftwood and great mounds of seaweed washing up daily. Besides, the stretch of beach at the end of the garden and over the low battered wall essentially belongs to me. We are protected a little from the wind by a few surrounding trees, but it does get a little breezy here at times. But when it’s still and the sea looks like a flat piece of mirror you could walk across, that’s when I love it the most. Of course, I love the waves too, especially the ferocious ones that thrust themselves towards the wall. I like to watch those waves and feel my own fury in them.

A house on the seafront, much like a savannah plain, is the perfect spot to see when enemies are approaching. And anyone who tries to come between me and my son, I consider an enemy.

But despite the weather and the waves, I know the house is empty. And although I try to fill my days with mundane daily tasks, I too feel empty. I need to feel fulfilled again. I need my son back. Back where he belongs.

There’s no one downstairs humming a tuneless song whilst they make their breakfast. There are no dirty trainers in the hallway, or piles of washing in the laundry basket. There are no toast crumbs on the kitchen side, or butter streaks in the marmite. The house is so eerily quiet. I have never experienced this. Not since having Ben. I forced all the bad memories away from the time I lived here as a child and made it all about me and Ben. It’s our sanctuary; our hub. Our place away from the world.

Now he’s gone. He hardly texts or rings. She has him wrapped around her little finger. Calling all the shots no doubt.

It was a real shock when Ben told me he had met someone. It was more of a shock when he told me he had gone and gotten himself married. He had been spending a lot of time at her house, that I knew. But I had no idea things had evolved so quickly. And to have done it without telling me, his own mother, first. We used to be so close. I am not coping so well.

I did the right thing, of course. I invited them over for something to eat – mostly because I needed to get a good look at the woman who thinks she has replaced me.

But I know it’s only temporary. I can’t be replaced. My son can’t live without me.

Hm. Well, I don’t know about you but I sense trouble ahead. If you’d like to find out what Annie gets up to next, then you can purchase a copy of The Daughter in Law right now!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast.

The Daughter in Law is her debut psychological thriller, and will be published in August 2019.

She lives in Dorset.

55 by James Delargy | @JDelargyAuthor @simonschusterUK | #whoisfiftyfive #RandomThingsTours

Thrilled to bits to join the blog tour for “55” by James Delargy today! My thanks to Anne Cater for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my fabulous review copy!

Author : James Delargy
Title : 55
Pages : 432
Publisher : Simon & Schuster
Publication date : April 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.

He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.

Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.

Gabriel is the serial killer.

Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

| MY THOUGHTS |

When I first spotted this book on Twitter, I just knew it was one I had to read. The fascinating and intriguing premise caught my eye instantly. Who is fifty-five indeed?! My expectations were high but as soon as I started reading the first page, I was already convinced James Delargy was going to live up to them. And then some.

Welcome to the sleepy town of Wilbrook, Western Australia. A town so remote, it’s almost falling off the map. A town surrounded by stunning landscapes and beautiful Mother Nature and yet, it feels oddly claustrophobic. Nothing much ever happens in Wilbrook. It’s the kind of town you leave behind in a trail of dust on your way to the bright lights of the big cities.

The small police department mostly deals with domestic disputes, noise complaints, maybe a drunken fight here and there. But all that changes when a blood-soaked Gabriel enters the station. He says he was kidnapped by a serial killer called Heath, who told him he was going to be his fifty-fifth victim. Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins quickly launches a manhunt for this Heath but to his surprise, Heath walks into the police station himself, telling the exact same story. Two suspects or two victims?

Yes, good luck trying to figure that one out. Every time I thought I had it figured out, something would happen to make me doubt myself and my opinion shifted. These characters are so immensely intriguing and one or two are also awfully unlikeable. Somehow whatever is going on draws parallels with events from the past, which at some point led me to having one of those exciting eureka moments. But for the most part, my theories kept changing throughout the story as the author kept me guessing until the end, unable to predict the outcome.

Speaking of outcomes, I normally make it a point not to mention endings but I can’t wrap this review up without it this time. It is just extremely shocking and it left me so immensely flabbergasted, I had to read it three times. Only to spend the next ten minutes gazing into the distance wondering what the hell I just read. Fa-bu-lous!

This isn’t an easy one to review. Obviously I don’t want to give anything away and all you really need to know is right there in the book description. I will say “55” is brilliantly plotted, extremely clever, delightfully atmospheric and an incredibly addictive page-turner. I found it so intensely gripping that I just couldn’t put it down and devoured it in one glorious reading session. I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing this book again in my end-of-year wrap up. Loved it!

“55” is an incredible debut and I can’t wait to see what James Delargy comes up with next. In the meantime, I’ll be recommending “55” until I’m blue in the face.

“55” is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland and lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives. He incorporates his diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. 

55 is his first novel, which has been sold in 19 countries so far and optioned for film by Zucker Productions in partnership with Prodigy Pictures.

Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner @Ronnie__Turner @HQDigitalUK #blogtour #LiesBetweenUs #WhereIsBonnie #NetGalley

Such an exciting day today as I join the blog tour for Lies Between Us by our very own Ronnie Turner! My thanks to Ronnie and HQ for the invitation to join the tour and for my review copy!

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Author : Ronnie Turner
Title : Lies Between Us
Pages : 260
Publisher : HQ Digital
Publication date : October 1, 2018 (ebook) | December 13, 2018 (paperback)

aboutthebook

Three people, leading very different lives, are about to be brought together – with devastating consequences . . .

John has a perfect life, until the day his daughter goes missing.

Maisie cares for her patients, but hides her own traumatic past.

Miller should be an innocent child, but is obsessed with something he can’t have.

They all have something in common, though none of them know it – and the truth won’t stay hidden for long . . .

mythoughts

If you’re looking for a story that will keep you guessing until the end and make your head hurt like you’ve been banging it against a brick wall for hours on end (in a totally good way), then look no further because this is it!

Three different storylines will at some point connect to make one great big whole but the journey to get there will tie your brain into knots in the most delightful way. Maisie is an ICU nurse dealing with a comatose patient. John and his wife Jules are going through the worst kind of nightmare when their daughter is kidnapped. And then there’s Miller, the creepiest child that ever creeped. What do these characters have in common? Well, obviously I won’t be telling you that. You’ll just have to pick this one up and find out for yourself.

I am absolutely blown away by the fact that this is a debut novel. Not only is Lies Between Us utterly compelling and gripping, it’s also amazingly intelligently structured. There are moments that’ll break your heart, some that will chill you to the bone and the brilliantly multi-layered, believable and complex characters will get under your skin, in a good and a bad way.

You may know I read a lot of books from the ever-popular psychological thriller genre. Often I figure things out before reaching the halfway mark. But not this time. In fact, Ronnie Turner has me wanting to read her book again in a desperate attempt to see what clues I missed. The different perspectives and timelines did require a bit more concentration at first but once I got the hang of it, I didn’t look back.

Lies Between Us is a dark and disturbing tale of obsession. Deeply engrossing, it kept me hooked from start to finish. A remarkable debut from Ronnie Turner and I absolutely can’t wait to see what’s in store next!

Lies Between Us is available to buy in ebook format now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author. Ronnie now lives in Dorset with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. She is currently working on her second novel.

Author links : Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website

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The Rival by Charlotte Duckworth @charduck @QuercusBooks

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Author : Charlotte Duckworth
Title : The Rival
Pages : 400
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : September 1, 2018 (ebook)

aboutthebook

NOW:
Living in her home in the countryside Helena is a career woman without a job and a mother without a baby. She blames Ashley for destroying her life. But is what happened really Ashley’s fault?

THEN:
When Helena hires Ashley to work with her, she’s startled but impressed by her fierce ambition. They form a dream team and Helena is proud – maybe this is the protégé she’s always wanted to have? But soon Helena realises that nothing will stand in the way of Ashley’s drive to get to the top. And when Helena discovers she is pregnant, she quickly realises how vulnerable her position is, with devastating consequences.

mythoughts

When I picked up The Rival I was in the most grumpy mood. I’d had little sleep the night before, my day had been turned upside down by interruptions and distractions and I had a headache. All this meant it took me five hours to read a mere 50 pages. Why am I telling you this, you wonder? Because that extremely grumpy mood only became worse the second I was introduced to Ashley and I’m still not entirely sure if my dislike of her was something the author meant to happen or if I was in the wrong state of mind to form a fair opinion of her.

We meet Ashley on her first day at a new job for a make-up company. It’s obvious from the start that she is a fiercely ambitious young woman. She knows what she wants and she’ll do whatever it takes to get it. Nothing wrong with that. But she also comes across as a bit sneaky, devious, selfish and slightly ruthless. Or does she? Her boss, Helena, initially enjoys working with her. But she soon realises Ashley will stop at nothing to succeed. And when Helena falls pregnant, things take a turn for the worse.

It’s no secret that something happens between these two women. Helena blames Ashley for ruining her life, for being a career woman without a job and a mother without a baby. But what exactly happened? Is Ashley truly to blame?

The Rival is told in three parts, from two points of view and switching back between the past and the present. This works incredibly well and I was trying ridiculously hard to pick up clues and unravel the mystery. But I wasn’t at all prepared for the way events ultimately unfolded and it left me reeling, questioning everything, feeling I’d misjudged some things along the way.

This story of female ambition and rivalry is well-paced and although I wouldn’t call it particularly tense, it is full of intrigue and suspense and part three had me flipping the pages faster and faster. It completely made me forget how tired and grumpy I felt and I was determined to finish it before bedtime. Sure, maybe Ashley has the rather typical background to explain why she is the way she is but that didn’t really bother me.

I think this a cracking debut by Charlotte Duckworth and I loved how it combined a psychologic thriller feel with the challenges of pregnancy and motherhood. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and very much look forward to what this author comes up with next.

The Rival is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid @RebeccaCNReid @TransworldBooks @BeckyShort1

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Author : Rebecca Reid
Title : Perfect Liars
Pages : 352
Publisher : Transworld
Publication date : September 1, 2018 (ebook)

aboutthebook

Sixteen years ago, best friends Nancy, Georgia and Lila did something unspeakable. Their crime forged an unbreakable bond between them, a bond of silence. But now, one of them wants to talk.

One wrong word and everything could be ruined, their lives, their careers, their relationships. It’s up to Georgia to call a crisis dinner. But things do not go as planned.

Three women walk in to the dinner, but only two will leave.

Murder isn’t so difficult the second time around…

mythoughts

Perfect Liars is Rebecca Reid’s debut novel centred around the rather odd and extremely toxic friendship between Nancy, Georgia and Lila. It reminded me a little of Liane Moriarty and that’s never a bad thing in my book.

Nancy, Georgia and Lila met at boarding school when they were eleven years old. The three of them are very different. Nancy comes from a privileged background and seems to have it all, Lila is adjusting to a new stepmother and Georgia is at the school on a scholarship. They have the oddest friendship but it’s one that will survive to adulthood due to a certain event that’ll bond them together, whether they like it or not.

Now though, the cracks are starting to show. Lila, in particular, seems to be having a hard time. Her drinking is getting increasingly out of control and her friends are getting worried. As they come together at a dinner party at Georgia’s house, things begin to unravel. How far will they go to protect all they have?

Two timelines then. The present at the dinner party and the past at the boarding school, a setting I always enjoy. There are a lot of lies and secrets to discover and a heck of a lot of pretending going on. I thought the secret the girls were trying to protect was rather obvious but I couldn’t at all figure out who was responsible. None of them came across as particularly likeable. In fact, they didn’t even seem to like one another all that much. They had that “mean girls” vibe to them and I doubt very much their friendship would have survived if the circumstances hadn’t forced them to.

Perfect Liars is a thoroughly enjoyable psychological thriller. It’s brilliantly plotted, compelling and addictive. Despite the pace being somewhat on the slow side, I devoured it in one sitting. It’s clear from the beginning, something bad has happened and the ride to find out the truth is one heck of a thrill.

A fantastic debut by Rebecca Reid and I very much look forward to whatever she comes up with next.

My thanks to Becky Short at Transworld for my review copy!

Perfect Liars is available in ebook format!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis @EmilyGunnis @headlinepg @annecater #blogtour #RandomThingsTours

Delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my review copy.

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Author : Emily Gunnis
Title : The Girl in the Letter
Pages : 384
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : August 1, 2018

aboutthebook

In the winter of 1956 pregnant young Ivy is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a home for unmarried mothers in the south of England, run by nuns, to have her child. Her baby daughter is adopted. Ivy will never leave.

Sixty years later, journalist Samantha stumbles upon a series of letters from Ivy to her lover, pleading with him to rescue her from St Margaret’s before it is too late. As Sam pieces together Ivy’s tragic story, terrible secrets about St Margaret’s dark past begin to emerge. What happened to Ivy, to her baby, and to the hundreds of children born in the home? What links a number of mysterious, sudden deaths in the area? And why are those who once worked at St Margaret’s so keen that the truth should never be told? As Sam unpicks the sinister web of lies surrounding St Margaret’s, she also looks deep within – to confront some unwelcome truths of her own…

mythoughts

Wow! The Girl in the Letter has left me rather speechless and let me tell you that doesn’t happen very often. I feel quite lost for words and slightly incapable of forming any kind of coherent sentence, nor do I have a clue as to how to do this novel justice.

In her debut novel, Emily Gunnis tackles one of the most disturbing topics in history. That of the mother and baby homes, where single expecting mothers were sent to give birth away from the disapproving eyes of relatives and neighbours. They were often forced to give their babies up for adoption with no hope of ever seeing them again.

The story starts in 1956 when young Ivy is sent to St. Margaret’s. Abandoned by her family and the boy who got her pregnant, the circumstances in which she finds herself are utterly devastating.  Sixty years later, reporter Samantha stumbles upon letters written by Ivy while at the mother and baby home. Samantha senses there’s a story here that needs to be told. What happened to Ivy? Where is Ivy’s baby? What secrets and lies hide behind the walls of the home?

I don’t want to give too much away about the plot. Yes, there are a few mysteries to be solved and questions to be answered but to be honest, they all kind of melted into the background for me. This was all so realistic and believable, as history has proven it to be, that it near had me in bits. Ivy’s letters are immensely harrowing and the events she describes are incredibly disturbing. I can’t even begin to imagine the hardship of daily life at the home, the loss of a child. Not just at the home but also in later life. It’s devastating to realise that so many people got away with these atrocities.

The Girl in the Letter is a thought-provoking, moving and utterly heartbreaking novel that nearly had me in tears. It made me sad, it made me angry and it’s a novel I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. I’m not entirely sure I’ve managed to get across the impact this novel had on me but I do so hope I’ve said enough to make you want to pick this one up. This is an absolutely incredible debut novel by Emily Gunnis and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

The Girl in the Letter is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

I’ve wanted to be an author since my mum, Penny Vincenzi, got her first book deal when I was 13. We’d spend hours walking and talking about the worlds her characters inhabited and unpicking any plot dead ends she’d found herself in. I absolutely loved it – this is what I wanted to do!

Fast forward 30 years and I’ve discovered it’s a great deal harder than my mother made it look! But still, here I am.

After graduating I wrote scripts and had two episodes of BBC Doctors commissioned but didn’t like all the input from Script Editors and Producers. So, while I worked in various PA jobs I decided to go for it and just kept learning as much as I could until I sold my debut novel, The Girl in the Letter, which is published on eBook on 1st August 2018 and paperback in April 2019. I really hope you enjoy it, and my follow-up novel which I’m busy researching now!

I live in Sussex with my husband Steve and our two beautiful girls, Grace and Eleanor.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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The Backstreets of Purgatory by Helen Taylor @TaylorHelen_M @unbounders @annecater #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Backstreets of Purgatory by Helen Taylor!

Huge apologies to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours and to the author for posting this a day late.

I have an extract to share with you all but first, here is what the book is all about.

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Author : Helen Taylor
Title : The Backstreets of Purgatory
Pages : 496
Publisher : Unbound
Publication date : July 12, 2018

aboutthebook

Finn Garvie’s life is one spectacular mess. He spends most of his time fannying around a makeshift Glasgow studio, failing to paint his degree portfolio, while his girlfriend Lizzi treats him like one of her psychology patients, and his best friend Rob is convinced that the tattoos he designs are the height of artistic achievement.

To top it all, Finn is worried that some stinking bastard is hanging around, spying on him, laughing at his cock-ups and eating his leftover curry. Fortunately, he has plenty of techniques to distract him – tackling the church hall renovations with the help of his alcoholic neighbour; pining after Kassia, the splendidly stroppy au-pair; and re-reading that book on Caravaggio, his all-time hero.

Things take a turn for the strange when he finally encounters the person who’s been bugging him, and it seems to be none other than Caravaggio himself…

extract

Boy Peeling a Fruit

At much the same time as Finn was admiring young Davy’s nude torso at the Art School, across town, in a side street two up from Partick Cross, Tuesday McLaughlin was attempting to gain entry to a tattoo parlour that was owned by Finn’s best mate. The shop belonged to Rob Stevenson, a detail to which Tuesday was, for the moment, happily oblivious, intent as she was on finding a lawful way into the premises. The trouble was, from where she was standing, it didn’t look too promising. The sign quite clearly stated the place was open for another hour, but it was closed, no ques- tion. For about the seventh time, Tuesday rattled the locked door and, when it still wouldn’t open, shoved her face up against the window.

The shop was full of stuff she’d have been happy to offload given different circumstances: shelves lined with old medicine bottles and volumes of faded red and green hardbacks; a round mirror speckled with  age that would definitely make good money down the antique market; and, on the counter, gleaming under the protection of a fingerprint-free glass case, a set of brass weighing scales of a quality any dealer would happily pawn their weans for. But, as far as Tuesday could make out, if you were talking actual living breathing life, there was less than what you’d find in your average coffin-dodgers’ coach trip. The only hope of someone who might be able to do the business was the limp skeleton hanging from a scaffold by a screw in its baldy head who appeared to be guarding the till, or the baby alligator perched on top of the stationery cupboard with glassy eyes and a stupid grin on its face. Strictly, Tuesday knew she couldn’t complain if the shop was dead – it was the whole morbid thing it had going on that had made her choose it in the first place – but, frankly, if the sign said open, it should bloody well be open.

Frustrated, she rattled the door again. The lock was pretty flimsy, barely holding. If she still had her old ways about her, she might have considered it worth booting the door in and having a run-in with the skinny bloke at the till, if only for the scrap metal value of the chemical balance. Instead, as she left, she gave the door a half-hearted kick for old times’ sake, and immediately regretted it when she stubbed her middle toe. Once the numbness had passed, it started throbbing like a tadger.

She was hopping on the white line halfway across the main road, waiting for a break in the traffic, when she heard a shout.

‘Hey, missus.’ Rob was waving to her from under a streetlight at the corner of the side street. A big bloke with a shaved head and tats on his face was Tuesday’s take. Nobody she knew. Although with his steel toecaps and pumped-up muscles, she clocked him for the type who reckoned he was hard.

‘Aye, you with the skinny pins. Are you coming in or what?’

Rush-hour traffic was passing either side, coughing out blue exhaust fumes around her. Tuesday shook her head. She’d lost the motivation. The shut-up shop had floored her. Whatever the opposite of psyched-up, that was her. Psyched-down or something. It would be easier to dis- appear into the going-home crowd.

‘Nah, you missed your chance, doll.’

Mind made up, Tuesday waved Rob off, but before she managed to dive through the oncoming traffic, a black BMW came speeding up the main road. The driver was playing with his mobile, steering one-handed, swerving all over the place. For a second, Tuesday swithered on the mid- line, too late to make the dash. She couldn’t believe it. He was practically on top of her and he hadn’t seen a bone in her body. Fuck that. She wasn’t having it. She held her ground and pumped her bunched fist from her forehead. Dickhead. The car missed her by a sliver. The driver beeped, leaving his hand on the klax – a wanker’s lesson in road safety – and, as the car passed, the sound dropped a semi- tone and faded into the traffic hum.

‘You okay?’

‘Aye, fucking peachy,’ Tuesday said, even though she wasn’t. It did her head in, these fancy tossers who thought they were entitled to make her invisible because they lived inside their fuel-injection, leather-trimmed lives. But even though the near-miss had left her shaky, there was no way she was admitting as much to a bloke who wore his denims that tight.

‘Come on. I’ve put the kettle on.’

Tuesday pulled a face and crossed back over, following Rob past the overflowing bins in the darkened side street. At the shop, he waited for her, holding open the door.

‘Milk and three sugars,’ Tuesday said, as rudely as she could. She may have been quarter his size but it didn’t mean she wasn’t capable of opening a door. Not that she was one of those feminist nut-jobs who got offended by basic man- ners, but this chivalry business annoyed the tits off her. In normal life, the only time a man held open a door for her was when the door in question was attached to a police van.

She was still working out how best to slag him off when Rob bowed elaborately and offered her his arm. ‘Would the young lady care to enter my humble premises?’

Tuesday shoved his arm out of the way and pushed past him. ‘If you don’t mind me saying, pal, that’s no fucking normal.’

He laughed and followed her in.

Close up the shop looked even better than it had through the window. Tuesday glanced around, taking it all in. Pretty phenomenal. Without intending to, she let out a low whis- tle. Front of house, a computer and music speakers were the only evidence of the twenty-first century. Otherwise, the place was entirely kitted out as a Victorian consulting room, complete with microscopes, anatomy charts and pickled specimens. There was a waiting area under the window lit with pretend oil lamps, a travelling trunk in place of a table, and through the half-open door at the back of the shop, she could have sworn it was a full-on operating theatre walled by the industrial white glazed tiles familiar from the back courts of warehouses and workshops all around the city.

‘Some place,’ she said, unzipping her puffer jacket. ‘Lots of bottles.’

‘Indeed,’ Rob said. ‘As you can see, we have products to meet your every requirement. From the benign’ – he indi- cated a tin of Beecham’s Pills, another of Allenburys Throat Pastilles – ‘to – I hesitate to say ridiculous – let’s say safe-in- the-correct-hands . . .’ His hand swept past thick bottles with ground-glass stoppers and peeling labels. Tuesday had to strain to read names. Aquae camphorae, saltpetre.

‘. . . to the outright-hazardous-to-human-health.’ Mercurous chloride, belladonna.

‘Are thae ones poison too?’ Arsenic, she knew.

He frowned. ‘Well spotted. I’m probably meant to keep them behind bars. I ought to find out.’

‘Aye, you ought to,’ Tuesday sneered. He was doing that thing they did at the day centre. Feigning idiocy to get down to your level.

After a microsecond of hesitation, Rob finished his tour. ‘Finally, the favourite of poets and physicians alike . . .’ He made it sound like a big pronouncement, a fanfare, like Tuesday would guess what was coming before he said it.

‘Eh?’

‘Laudanum.’

Tuesday gawped as blankly as her irritation would allow. ‘Opium for the upper class,’ Rob clarified.

In response, Tuesday flashed him a look of contempt and pointed out that the bottle was empty.

He grinned at her inanely. ‘Aye, well at least I cannae get done for possession.’

The line of chat was boring her already, so to liven things up she asked why Rob had pickled his dick. Puzzled, he glanced over to see what she was talking about. ‘You mean the eel? I bought it in a supermarket in France when I bought the calf’s brain.’ He nodded at a jellied mushroom  in a jar. ‘It’s amazing what you can buy in the pre-packed aisle over there.’

‘I’ll take your word for it.’ In the last few years, the fur- thest Tuesday had been from Partick was the Underground station at Govan.

‘I’m no sure, though, that bunging it in neat formalde- hyde will stop it rotting.’ Rob lifted the specimen jar off the shelf and wiped the dust on its shoulders with a cloth from under the desk. The liquid around the jelly brain was snot- thick. ‘Maybe I should’ve consulted a taxidermist.’

‘Aye, mebbe you should’ve,’ Tuesday said, and wandered over to the travelling trunk to pick up one of the folders scattered on it.

‘I’m thinking about a tattoo,’ she said finally. ‘Well, you’ve come to the right place.’

Riled, she spun round, ready to match whatever aggro came her way. But straight off she registered Rob wasn’t taking the piss. He was nervous, she realised. She was making him nervous. She was beginning to wonder if, in fact, she had come to the right place.

Casually, she flicked through the folder. ‘These all yours?’ ‘Indeed. By my own dark hand.’ He did a weird thing with his fingers. ‘No kidding.’

‘Aye. Rule number one. Original artwork only.’ ‘No bad.’

‘Thanks.’ Under his tattoos, Rob blushed. Tuesday snig- gered. How awkward. The bloke clearly fancied himself as an artist. In what even to her was obvious as an abysmal effort to gloss past, Rob took the folder and opened the inside cover. The price list was stuck to the plastic. ‘It’s by the hour. A wee one will take an hour, max hour and a half. Big ones can take anything up to five or six. Longer for colour.’

Tuesday nodded. It was pricier than she had anticipated. ‘When can we start?’

‘Rule number two. First appointments strictly consults only. Don’t want to jeopardise my stats.’

She just looked at him. He laughed. Nervously.

‘My cadaver rate. It’s exceptionally low. If I don’t think someone’s up to it, I scare them off deliberately.’

‘Cadaver rate?’

‘You know, the jessies who take a whitey at the sight of a needle.’

‘Right.’

‘Talking of cadavers and the like, did you meet Lister?’ ‘The skelly? Aye.’ Tuesday didn’t like the way Rob was looking at her, kind of squinty-eyed and troubled, even as he held out the skeleton’s bony hand to shake hers. Sud- denly, she panicked that he was going to refuse her.

But all he said was, ‘We  know each other,  right?’

Tuesday breathed a sigh of relief. ‘To be honest, doll, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen you before in my puff.’ She would have remembered. He had near enough a menagerie swimming, running, crawling around his neck, up his jaw, on to his cheek. ‘It’d be hard to forget a face like that.’

‘Fair point,’ he said. ‘I’m Rob, by the way. Short for Robin. But you knew that already, I take it, or you wouldna’ve come in fancy dress.’

She laughed. ‘Fuck off.’ The funny thing was, he wasn’t that far off. The red puffer jacket had been her latest Oxfam steal and the leggings belonged to the Somali lassie who did the cleaning in the B&B and who changed into her work overalls in the reception toilets. The boots were her own. Discount sheepskin, tide-marked and losing their glue.

‘What I usually do is give the client a tour of the treat- ment room, get them to read over the health questionnaire and consent form, and then we work up some designs together. Gie’s two secs to finish the autoclave check and we can get on to it. Don’t let anyone else in.’ Rob locked the front door. Before he disappeared through the back, he gawked at her again. ‘I swear I know you. Those cheek- bones. Unmistakable. You could chib someone.’

Tuesday chucked the folder back on to the trunk. There was something majorly warped, she reckoned – something your mother probably would have warned you against if she hadn’t been a junkie waste of space with not a drop of maternal instinct – about being locked in a shop full of poison with a guy six foot four and built like a brick shit- house. But if anyone was crapping it, it certainly wasn’t her. While Rob sorted whatever it was he had to do through the back, Tuesday decided to make herself comfy. The choice of seating was laid out in front of her like the kind of cheap personality test they were keen on at the clinic. The window seat padded with charcoal velvet cushions was obviously the easy option. Beside that, there was an antique oak and leather study chair which had the air of being the boss’s and which she reckoned it would be sensible to avoid if Rob was the one inflicting the pain later, or an old- fashioned wicker and wooden invalid’s chair with foldable foot rests and a stick to steer it. She chose the wheelchair.

No contest.

Rob came back a few minutes later with his desk diary. ‘Okay, what are we looking at? See anything you like?’

Tuesday flattened a scrap of paper she’d pulled from her coat pocket and handed it over. Rob studied it.

‘Ah, the midge. Diminutive scourge of the Highlands and unwitting accomplice of the nationalists. The few foolhardy tourists who brave the badlands rarely repeat their mistake. Nectar running in their English blood, I reckon. Unlike the acerbic locals.’

Tuesday rolled her eyes. ‘You’re a freak, doll. D’you know that?’

‘All your own work?’

‘What gave it away?’ She’d torn it from a textbook in the nature section in the library.

‘Only I usually—’

‘You gonnae do it or what?’

‘The thing is . . . okay, maybe this once, but don’t let on to the masses. Where d’you want it?’

Tuesday scrabbled to pull off her coat and pushed up the sleeve of her sweatshirt. ‘Here.’

Livid tracks radiated up her arm from the scarred veins at the crook of her elbow. She stared at him, daring him to challenge her. To her surprise, he didn’t flinch.

He opened the diary. ‘What about next week? Early Monday?’

‘Listen, doll,’ she said, ‘I’m no being funny, but I’m here now.’

Rob stroked his chin. ‘True enough. Still an hour or two to torture before beer time.’ He pulled out a printed sheet from the back of the binder and passed it to her. ‘Is there anything I should know?’

The whole time she studied the form – following the words with her fingertip, mouthing them silently – she could feel Rob’s eyes on her. When she reached the bottom of the page, she flung it back to him. ‘I’m no HIV, if that’s what you’re on about.’

‘Fair enough. Sign here.’

She scribbled her signature. He twisted his neck to read  it upside down.

‘Tuesday. Tuesday McLaughlin.’ He was grinning, laugh- ing, rubbing the back of his shaved head in surprise. ‘I was right. I do know you. It’s me. Rob Stevenson. I . . . we . . . were in your class at primary. Jed – Gerrard – my brother. Twins. Remember? Athletics club in secondary. We used to pal around together. Bloody hell. I cannae believe it. Tuesday McLaughlin.’

It was pretty astounding how quickly a perfectly reason- able idea could take on a hideous new shape. ‘You know what?’ Tuesday said, scrambling to her feet. ‘Something came up.’ The consent form fluttered to the floor.

‘Hey, hey. You’re no going, are you? Don’t go. Hey.

Come on.’

But there was no way she was hanging about. She snatched up her coat and hurdled the travelling trunk.

‘I wouldna’ve had you down for bottling it.’

‘Fuck off,’ Tuesday said, jiggling the key in the lock. ‘I’m no bottling it.’

‘If you say so.’

‘Aye, I fucking say so.’ She was pissed off now.

Rob unlocked the door and stepped outside. He was chuckling to himself.

‘What’s so funny?’ Tuesday could smell fireworks and burning Catholics on the winter air.

‘I was terrified of you when I was a nipper.’

‘So you should’ve been. You and your brother? Soft as.’ Even in primary, Tuesday was harder than the twins. And wilder. By the time they were teenagers, she was already pretty much a legend, her name earnt by the inability ever to make it to school on the first day of the week. While Rob and his brother and their mates spent their Saturday nights innocently getting bevved on Tennent’s lager (and leching over the less-than-appetising Lager Lovelies that decorated the tins in those medieval times), Tuesday was moving in altogether different circles, getting spannered on acid and vodka in weekend binges that lasted beyond Sunday and put to shame even the Jimmy-Choo-and-fake-tan brigade that hung out those days at the Arches and had slag fights in the street overlooked by police who’d been advised not to inter- vene unless they were wearing stab vests.

Rob grinned at her. ‘What do you say? Mates’ rates?’

She shrugged and went back in, making out like she was doing him a favour. He offered her whisky from his special stock through the back, but she went for tea, loading it with sugar from sachets that had come from the café up the road and, as there was no sign of a spoon, stirred it with the top end of the Biro she’d used to sign the form. Once she was settled back in the wheelchair, she blew on her tea, watching Rob over the top of the mug. He was peeling an apple with an army knife. The peel unravelled in a single spiral.

‘Are you some kinda weirdo health freak, by the way?’ ‘Aye,’ Rob said mildly, dangling the peel into his mouth. ‘Still into all that fitness malarkey?’

‘Aye.’ He cut slices from the apple. Ate them off the knife blade. ‘Yourself?’

‘Don’t be fucking stupid.’

The running club was probably the last place they had seen each other. Tuesday’s one and only attempt at a legitim- ate extra-curricular activity. In the winter, they’d run the laughably named cross-country through the schemes round Knightswood and the Drum, getting abuse from the local kids who were after their Adidas three stripes and cagoules. And in the summer, endless laps round the playing field while Campbell Spence sat in his camping chair, feet up on his cold box, thumb on his stopwatch.

‘Cannon Balls Spence, remember him?’ Rob said, reading her mind. ‘He had a thing for you.’

‘Course he did. I was the  talent.’

‘Whatever happened to Tuesday McLaughlin?’ he said, starting on a second apple. ‘You left the party early, did you no?’

‘Like anyone gave a fuck.’

Tuesday sipped her tea. Rob crunched on his apple slices.

The wicker chair squeaked underneath her.

‘Gie’s a break,’ Rob said eventually. ‘Twenty years is a lifetime ago.’

‘Eighteen,’ Tuesday said. She’d been counting.

‘Eighteen, eh? You’ve no changed.’

Tuesday bit the edge of her mug. The soft git probably meant it as a compliment. ‘Cannae say the same about you, Slimster. What’s the story? Anything new? Girlfriend? Boy- friend?’

Lister jiggled almost imperceptibly in the air current. Tuesday could feel the dust settling on the poison bottles, the calf brain decomposing in its tank. The baby gator gave a rictus grin.

‘Nah, nothing to speak of,’ Rob said sheepishly. ‘So, are we gonnae do this thing or what?

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If this extract has tickled your fancy, then you can go grab yourself a copy of The Backstreets of Purgatory right now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Helen Taylor is a writer living in France. The Backstreets of Purgatory is her first book.

Author link : Twitter

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‘Mine’ by Susie Fox @writerdrfox @Deaco89 @PenguinUKbooks #blogtour

It’s such a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Mine by Susie Fox! My thanks to Sam Deacon at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and for my review copy!

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Author : Susie Fox
Title : Mine
Pages : 340
Publisher : Penguin
Publication date : June 14, 2018

aboutthebook

The baby in the cot is not your baby.

You wake up alone after an emergency caesarean, desperate to see your child. But when you are shown the small infant, a terrible thought seizes you: this baby is not mine.

They say you’re delusional.

No one believes you. Not the nurses, your father or even your own husband. They say you’re confused. Dangerous.

But you’re a doctor – you know how easily mistakes can be made. Or even deliberate ones.

Everyone is against you; do you trust your instincts? Or is your traumatic past clouding your judgement? You know only one thing.

You must find your baby.

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Flipping heck! I was so not prepared for the rollercoaster ride of emotions ‘Mine’ took me on!

Sasha wakes up in hospital after an emergency c-section. When she is finally shown her baby, she’s convinced this tiny infant is not hers. Nobody believes her, not even her husband. With everyone against her, what can Sasha do? Let herself be convinced this child is hers? Pretend to love a child she feels isn’t hers? Or keep searching for the baby she believes truly belongs to her?

Sasha has had quite the traumatic past and so throughout the story you can’t help but wonder if she’s a reliable narrator. As a doctor, she knows mistakes happen in hospitals but could her judgment be clouded? I thought I had a wee inkling as to what was going on but the author managed to keep me second-guessing events at every turn. I may have had a smug grin on my face when it turned out my initial theory was correct but the actual reveal still left me reeling.

This is the stuff of nightmares. I’m not a mother but I had no problems whatsoever imagining how frightening it must be when you think the baby in the cot isn’t yours. How frustrating it must be to realise there’s no-one in your corner. How hard it is when you’ve read all the books, you think you know what it should be like and suddenly this wee bundle of joy arrives and you feel absolutely nothing.

‘Mine’ is super intense from start to finish as it tackles topics like IVF, miscarriages and mental health issues. This incredibly gripping plot had me completely absorbed and I couldn’t help but flip the pages faster to see what would happen next. But it’s also moving and heartbreaking at times and it’s entirely impossible not to become invested in Sasha’s well-being.

It’s quite hard to fathom that this is Susie Fox’s debut novel and this addictive psychological thriller promises nothing but good things from her in the future. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

‘Mine’ is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be out on June 14th!

Amazon US | Amazon UKKobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Susi Fox studied Medicine at the University of Melbourne. She is the recipient of a 2014 Varuna Fellowship and was part of the 2015 QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program. She lives in Central Victoria, where she works as a GP. Mine is her first novel.

Author links : Twitter | Website

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