Friday 21 December 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Taken Girls by G.D. Sanders

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Taken Girls by G.D. Sanderse where I've an extract from his debut novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Sabah Khan from Avon Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the review so without further ado, here it is:

Lucy was awake. It was pitch black. She’d woken in an instant. One moment nothing existed, not even a dream. The next she was suffocating.
The darkness pressed on her body from all sides. There was no sound. Silence enveloped her like a coffin. Without light there was nothing beyond her skin. She felt trapped, suspended in heavy oil. There was no air and she knew she was close to death. She wanted to scream but fought against the impulse which would expel life’s last breath from her body.
Tightly wrapped by the duvet, she threw it from her with a sweep of her right arm. Now it was her clothes that held her prisoner, preventing her from living. She was contained by an oppressive presence composed of all that surrounded her. She wanted to tear the clothes from her body, desperate to step into the night and feel cold air against her skin, to open her mouth and draw fresh life-giving air into her lungs, but she was held fast by the handcuff and chain. Unable to move, feeling that she would die if she remained within her body, she lay rigid on the bed and struggled to escape her physical being, to retreat within herself, to live within her mind, to create space and light. Only in her imagination could she wander in cool shade, turning her nose and mouth to the salvation of a sea breeze.


Sunday 9 December 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Cuckoo by Sophie Draper

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Cuckoo by Sophie Draper where I've a review from her debut novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Sabah Khan from Avon Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the review so without further ado, here it is:

There’s a stranger in your house…

When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again. Caro also has a sister who now lives in New York and has done well for herself that she doesn't want anything to do with the house so has instructed to the solicitor looking after the affairs to let Caro take the house and do what she wants with it.

But when going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do.

As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

I really, really enjoyed this creepy and sinister debut novel, although it started off really well and had me gripped from the first page, I felt that it dropped a little in intensity but I kept my interest but then when it picks back up prepare to turn the pages and read this at break neck speed. Loved the atmosphere throughout the book and on a few occasions I felt an itch on arms which was the hairs standing up on them. The story was like an onion where you had to peel the skin off and then continue peeling back the layers as to why the neighbours stare at her and don't like her and as to why her step mother hated her so much. I loved the creepiness when things started happening in Caro's childhood house when she was there and started clearing it out. I don't want to say anymore incase I may give something away apart from go on and get a copy, you won't regret it.

Cuckoo is available in all good bookshops, on audio and on Kindle where it is currently £0.99 at the time of this review.


Monday 3 December 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Who I Am by Sarah Simpson

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Who I Am by Sarah Simpson where I've an extract from her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by the author Sarah Simson herself to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the review so without further ado, here it is:

‘Yes,  you  could,  it’s  Christmas  and  I’d  really  like  you  to  stay  on.  I’ll  be  leaving  tomorrow.’A  worried  expression  shot  across  her  face.  ‘Oh?  What  leaving  Uni?  For  good?’I  laughed,  feeling  flattered,  she  appeared  genuinely  upset.  ‘No,  course  not.  For  Christmas  I  mean.  I’ve  the  rest  of  next  year  to  get  through  yet.  How  about  you,  what  year  are  you  in,  you  didn’t  say?’‘Yeah,  the  same.  Well  it  should  be  anyway,  but  the  way  things  are  looking,  what  with  the  accommodation,’  she  shrugged,  ‘I  might  not  be  graduating  at  all.’I  curled  my  arm  around  her  and  squeezed.  ‘Try  not  to  worry.  Thing’s  always  turn  up,  there’s  always  something  to  be  worked  out.’  It  felt  like  a  silly  thing  to  say.  Why  do  we  say  these  things?  ‘Come  on  choose  your  cocktail.  I’m  buying,  I  insist.’  It’s  funny,  I  hardly  know  Camilla,  but  sitting  here  I  feel  a  real  affinity  to  her,  there’s  a  sadness  behind  her  eyes,  something  unsaid,  but  also  there’s  –life  and  excitement.My  head  spins,  my  legs  have  other  ideas,  when  I  stand  to  make  my  way  to  the  ladies,  stumbling  back,  I  collapse  on  to  Camilla’s  lap.  ‘Woah,  sorry,’  I  giggle,  ‘these  cocktails  are  potent.’  With  Camilla’s  help  I  lever  myself  back  up,  the  room  wobbling  around  me,  ‘I’d  better  come  with  you,’  she  laughs.Clara  gathers  herself  to  stand,  ‘I’ll  go,  I’m  used  to  her  atrocious  drink  tolerance,’  she  practically  spits  at  Camilla.‘It’s  fine,  Clara,  stay  put,  I’m  hardly  blotto,  just  stood  up  too  quickly.’  I  tell  her,  as  soon  as  the  words  leave  my  mouth,  I  realise  I’ve  offended  her  in  some  way.Camilla  smiles  at  her  warmly,  then  arm  in  arm  we  make  our  way  across  the  room.  Pushing  our  way  through  the  heavy  bathroom  door  into  a  woman,  giggling  at  her  affronted  face  as  we  pushed  past  her  in  the  doorway.‘It’s  Christmas.  Tis  the  season  to  be  merry.’Camilla  calls  after  her.  Her  tongue  finally  loosening  as  she  relaxes.  Practically  falling  through  the  second  door  into  the  spacious  bathroom,  gilt  mirrors  and  floral  displays  in  abundance,  a  strong  whiff  of  pot  pourri.  ‘Wow,’  I  hear  through  the  cubicle  door,  ‘these  loos  are  better  than  anything  I’ve  ever  lived  in.’  I  can’t  help  but  laugh  out  loud.  ‘Think  I  could  stay  here  next  year?  D’you  think  they’d  notice  if  I  moved  my  stuff  in?’  When  I  exit  the  cubicle,  she’s  padding  around  in  wonderment  before  turningher  attention  to  the  complimentary  toiletries.  ‘Look  at  this  stuff.  It’s  really  expensive,  wish  I’d  brought  a  bigger  handbag  now.’

I  giggle  at  her  expression  through  the  elaborate  gold-leaf  mirror  as  I  wash  my  hands.  ‘You’re  hilarious  Camilla,  you’ve  not  been  here  before  tonight  then?’She  bolts  herself  upright.  ‘Of  course  I  have,  only  pulling  your  leg.’  She  throws  her  hands  up.  ‘I’m  not  kidding  you,  am  I?’  She  nods.  ‘This  is  the  first  time,  and  it’s  completely  amazing.  But,  I’ll  definitely  be  coming  back,that’s  for  sure.  As  often  as  I  can.’She  reminds  me  of  an  awestruck  child,  so  refreshing  and  charming,  makes  me  feel  as  though  I’m  missing  out  on  something  special,  too  much  in  my  life  taken  for  granted.  ‘Are  you  serious  then?’  I  ask,  reaching  for  the  folded  cotton  hand  towels.  Camilla  spins  on  her  heals,  all  eyelashes.  ‘About  not  having  anywhere  to  stay  next  year,  I  mean.  Surely,  you  won’t  really  need  to  defer,  will  you?’Twinkling  dark  eyes  cloud,  ‘deadly,’  she  says.  ‘I  can’t  pull  the  funds  together,  so  I  can’t  see  that  I’ll  have  a  choice.  I’m  trying  not  to  think  about  it  but  it’s  a  strong  possibility.’‘So  what  about  your  student  loan?’She  regards  the  vanity  size  moisturiser  in  her  hand,  ‘ah  well,  that’s  another  story.  Probably  not  for  tonight,  I  don’t  want  to  burden  you  with  my  crap,  I  mean  bad  stuff,  it’s  not  fair.’‘No,  go  on,  please.  I’d  like  to  understand.’‘Nothing  to  it  really.  I’ve  used  up  all  my  allowance,  so,  can’t  afford  to  support  myself.  Simple  as  that.’  She  sighs  heavily,  shoulders  noticeably  slumping.  ‘I’m  all,  as  they  say  –spent  up.  Skint.’‘How  come?  Sorry,  do  you  mind  me  asking?  You  don’t  have  to  tell  me,  if  you  think  I’m  being  nosey.’‘It’s  fine,  feels  like  I’ve  known  you  for  ages  anyway,’  I  smile  at  her,  I  totally  understand  what  she  means,  it  does.  ‘Thing  is,  I  had  to  pay  for  my  dad,  he’s  sick,  really  sick,  in  a  home  he  is.’As  she  hangs  her  head,  I  could  kick  myself  for  making  her  feel  so  dejected  on  a  night  like  this,  I  brush  her  hand,  ‘I’m  sorry,  Cam,  I’d  no  idea  things  are  so  bad,I  shouldn’t  have  pushed  you,  feel  awful  now.’‘It’s  fine  really.  It’s  his  own  fault  really,  Dad,  I  mean.  Korsakoff’s  syndrome  they  call  it?’  Her  voice  rises  as  if  she’s  uncertain.  ‘Dementia  to  me.  That’s  how  I  get  my  head  round  it.’

‘Korsakoff’s?  Isn’t  it associated  with  too  much  alcohol?’  God,  I  wish  I  hadn’t  guzzled  all  those  cocktails,  in  particular  that  I  hadn’t  practically  forced  them  on  Camilla  too.‘Yeah,  he’s  a  pisshead  basically,’  she  cups  her  mouth  with  a  delicate  hand.  ‘Excuse  my  language,’  she  says,  ‘but,  he  always  has  been  –a  drunk.  You’ve  heard  of  it  then,  can’t  say  I  ever  had  before.  Could  hardly  even  pronounce  it,  never  mind  understand  it.  The  doctor  tried  to  say,  it  isn’t  always  caused  by  the  booze,  but  we  both  understood,  in  Dad’s  case,  it  was.  I’m  gob-smacked  you’ve  even  heard  of  it.’‘Only  because  we  had  a  talk  on  the  long  term  effects  of  alcohol  last  year.  Think  they  were  trying  to  dry  some  of  the  students  out.  Warn  them  off  with  a  list  of  potential  deadly  outcomes.  Wasting  their  time,  obviously.  I  don’t  really  understand  the  full  ins  and  outs  of  it,  other  than  it’s  a  really  cruel  illness,  as  dementia  always  is.  I’m  so  sorry,  that’s  really  tough  on  you  too.’‘Hmm.  Like  I  said,  it’s  his  own  fault.  But  anyhow  that’s  where  my  money  went.  All  of  it.  But  what  was  I  to  do?’‘What  about  your  mum?’  Words  I  wished  I  could  rein  back  in  on  noticing  her  physically  congeal.‘Dead.’  She  says.I  gasp  out  loud  before  I  can  stop  myself,  then  grab  her  hand  and  squeeze,  words  failing  me.‘Same  way,  before  you  ask.’  She  gives  a  reciprocal  squeeze  then  releases  my  hand,  to  place  the  moisturiser  back  in  the  basket  next  to  her.  ‘Not  the  Korsakoffs  stuff,  but  still  a...drunk,  amongst  other  stuff.  Again,  all  her  own  doing.’Despite  now  feeling  completely  sober,  I  feel  my  legs  quiver.  ‘Look,  I  appreciate  you  hardly  know  me,  so  please  tell  me  if  I’m  offending  you.  But  the  three  of  us,’  I  nod  towards  the  bathroom  door,  ‘me,  Clara  and  Jo,  we  share  a  house  in  Stockbridge,  Daddy  rents  it  for  us,  then  we  share  the  rent.  My  bedroom  is  huge,  plenty  big  enough  for  two  and  I’ve  a  spare  bed  already  in  there,  you  could  always  share  with  me,  until  you  sort  yourself  out  at  least.’‘But...’‘No,  you  don’t  need  to  say  anything,  not  just  yet.  Have  a  think  about  it.  I’m  off  back  home  tomorrow,  won’t  be  back  until  January,  so  you’ve  some  time  to  mull  it  over.  Please  don’t  feel  obliged  or  anything  though,  it’s  only  a  thought.’  I  pick  up  our  bags  and  hand  her  hers  as  we  walk  towards  the  exit  door.  ‘You  have  my  mobile number  so  let  me  know,  any  time.’  The  raucous  laughter  hits  us  as  we  push  at  the  door,  joyfulness  and  drunken  exchanges  circling  the  domed  ceiling.  I  pull  her  back  before  we  reach  our  table.  ‘Please  tell  me  –I  haven’t  offended  you,  been  a  little  too  forward.  I  didn’t  mean  to  be.  I  only  want  to  help  if  I  can.’Newly  perfectly  painted  lips  turn  upwards.  ‘No,  of  course  you  haven’t,’  she  reassures  me,  ‘but  obviously,  I’ll  need  to  think  it  over.  It’s  very  sweet  of  you  but  I  like  to  pay  my  way  usually  and  it’s  all  a  bit  embarrassing.  I’ve  always  been  a  believer,  nothing  is  free  in  life,  everything  comes  with  a  price  list.  Something  Dad  did  teach  me.’‘Accept  good  friendships,  Cam,  they  shouldn’t  come  at  a  cost.  I  know  we’ve  only  just  met  but  like  you  said,  feels  more  like  we’ve  known  each  other  for  ages.  If  I  can  help  you,  you’ll  let  me  know,  won’t  you?’‘Thanks  Andi,  I’ll  think  about  it,  promise.’  She  rubs  my  arm.  Maybe,  I’ve  lifted  some  of  the  weight  sitting  incongruently  on  a  petite  frame.  Life  can  be  so  unfair  sometimes,  so  cruel  and  as  Grandma  always  told  me,  there  but  for  the  grace  of  God  go  I.


Friday 30 November 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Good Samaritans by Will Carver

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Good Samaritans by Will Carver where I've a review from his latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Anne Cater from Random Book Tours to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the review so without further ado, here it is:

With huge thanks to Karen Sullivan, Orenda Books, Will Carver and Anne Cater I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.........

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach.

Meet Seth Beauman, he can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to a member from The Samaritans Helpline. But when a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. Unfortunately this dysfunctional love story turns into something much darker altogether, when Seth brings Hadley home, someone is watching.......

Well, where do I start, I found this review quite difficult to just put the words onto paper without giving much away. However, I enjoyed this book, it started off really well, then felt it slowed quite a lot and then just over halfway it picked right back up again with a bang. I will just warn that there is a lot of explicit scenes which are quite descriptive and I'm not prudish at all but some readers might find it an uncomfortable read at times but don't let that put you off.  It was a bonkers of a read too, I wasn't expecting the way the story developed at all but overall a really enjoyable read. Parts of this book kind of reminded me of the movie American Psycho starring Christian Bale. Seth Beauman was a very interesting character as was his wife, Maeve. Will Carver definitely has a warped mind with this book. This is my first time to read a book by Will and it definitely won't be my last.

Definitely Recommended.

Good Samaritans is available in all good bookstores, libraries, on audio and Kindle where it is currently £1.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Lingering by S.J.I. Holliday



Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Lingering by S.J.I. Holliday where I've a review of her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Anne Cater from Random Book Tours to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the review so without further ado, here it is:

With huge thanks to Karen Sullivan, S.J.I. Holliday and Anne Cater I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review..........

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient spiritual commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

Well, where do I start with this..........I didn't like it, I abolutely LOVED it. Jack is an ex-police officer and Ali a nurse but what led to Jack having to give up his role in the police force, well you need to read on to see why. The Lingering is told from 3 different characters within the book, Ali, Angela and Smeaton who is part of Rosalind House. It was such a creepy read, full of thrills and spills, parts were spine-tingling and terrifying and I don't think that you'll want to enter your bath for a long time after finishing this book, well I know I won't anyway. I could feel my heart beating while reading certain parts of it too, especially those footprints and the ending of it too but I don't want to say anymore other than go and buy this book immediately and prepare to be scared and freaked out. The Lingering has to be another one of my favourite books that I've read this year.

Then Lingering is available in all good bookshops, libraries, on audio and on Kindle where it is currently £4.31 at the time of publication of this review. Go and get it you won't regret it.



Wednesday 31 October 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ What Happened To Us by Faith Hogan



Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for What Happened To Us by Faith Hogan where I've a guest piece about animals and to list her favourite 3 animals. I was thrilled to be asked by Faith Hogan herself to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the review so without further ado, here it is:

Dog Days Indeed...

If you’ve spotted ‘What Happened to Us? floating about the internet, you can’t have not noticed the gorgeous dog in the foreground of the cover. I’m delighted to introduce this gorgeous character called Teddy to you today!
As you’re reading this, it will be almost a year since I talked Mr H into getting a family dog. Prior to this, we’ve had cats. We’ve had white cats, grey cats, red cats, fat cats and thin cats. Their personalities have run the gamut from clever cats to grumpy cats and everything in between. Basically, any cat that managed to walk into the garden has been offered refuge. Our very own cat was called Norris, an overweight, huge personality of a cat who managed to worm his way into the affections of everyone, even the decidedly non pet lover Mr H. 
Unfortunately, at the end of last year, our darling Norris, met his bumpy end on the nearby busy road, so it was time to welcome a new personality into our home. There was no replacing Norris, so another cat was out of the question.

pic courtesy of Keith Heneghan.

Enter Penny! A Labrador puppy who fills up our home and hearts as if she has always been part of us. I’ve always been a dog person, but it’s interesting to watch Mr H come to terms with the fact that he’s not getting much of a choice around loving Penny.  She has managed, with her gorgeous brown eyes and happy personality to win over even the most reluctant fan.

If you’ve read The Girl I Used To Know, you’ll probably remember a cat who managed to play some small part in making life better for more than just one character. In What Happened To Us? a small scrap of a dog manages to make his way into the lives of the main characters and just like life, I think he works his own special type of magic on the story!
It’s made me think about animals in fiction – the fact that cats and dogs are so prevalent and I thought it might be fun to list my favourite three....



Number 1 has to be Elsa:

We grew up with born free and recently watched it again on Netflix. My daughter,  who is just nine loved every second of it and you know, I thoroughly enjoyed it too, with this gorgeous big cat at the centre of the story. (if Mr H is reading this, don’t panic dear, I have no intention of looking for a Lion!)


Number 2 – this spot must go to Timmy:

The dog we all grew up with, even if you weren’t allowed to have a dog when you were growing up, you couldn’t help but understand the love of one solitary little girl for her dog. In Enid Blyton’s hands, Timmy ended up not just saving George and her cousins from danger, he actually connected them to start. It was when George realised how much he liked her cousins and they him, that she actually conceded, they might just be friends as well as cousins.


Number 3 – Orangey - the winner of two Patsy’s (the animal kingdoms Oscars!) 

Orangey symbolizes everything that’s wrong in Holly Golightly’s life – but don’t we all just want to cry when she finally sees the light and rescues him in the lashing rain?
And that’s it, the list could go on forever, but the thing is, cats, dogs, lions, it doesn’t really matter, there’s no getting away from the fact that in fiction, as much as in real life, the world is a better place if you have room in your heart for an animal to care about.


Friday 26 October 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Hush, Hush by Mel Sheratt

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Hush, Hush by Mel Sherratt where I've an extract from her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Sabah Khan from Avon Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the review so without further ado, here it is:

Having taken her detective sergeant’s exam last year, when a post had come up in her birthplace of Stoke-on-Trent, she decided to put in for it. She needed a change, somewhere she could start afresh, even though she wasn’t quite sure it was a good decision to come back to the town from which she and her mum had fled all those years ago. But circumstances were different now. The man who had caused them so much pain was no longer around.
After she’d been offered the job, Grace had got an invite to join the team for a night out before her start date on Monday. There was only one officer who hadn’t been able to make it, someone called Alex Challinor, who had a previous engagement he couldn’t get out of, although no one had enlightened her as to what it was.
Around her, her new colleagues were sharing some in-joke. Then suddenly Nick Carter, their DI, stopped laughing and turned to her.
‘Sorry, we’re ignoring you. You say you lived in Stoke when you were younger, Grace?’ he asked.
All eyes fell on her. ‘Yes, until I was twelve,’ she replied. ‘Then my parents divorced and I moved to Salford with my mum.’
‘So, you don’t have many memories?’ DC Perry Wright asked.
‘I have a few,’ Grace nodded. She could remember far more than she would ever share with them. The nights she’d heard her mum screaming as her father laid into her. The times there was no money for food because he’d spent it all in the pub. The days when he would go missing and be brought home by the police after being locked up in a cell. The weeks he spent with other women before fighting his way back into their house again. The double life he led that she knew nothing of until she was old enough to understand . . . ‘But I expect so much has changed since then, anyway,’ she added.
‘Not much to write home about,’ Sam giggled. ‘But we still love it. And you’ll soon know the place, and its people. Even the undesirables.’
Nick raised his glass in the air. ‘Welcome to the Major Crimes Team.’
Everyone joined Nick in a toast. Only Perry, sitting opposite her, didn’t lift his eyes to hers as well. He hadn’t joined in the conversation much either, she’d noticed.



Monday 15 October 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Promise by Katerina Diamond

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Promise by Katerina Diamond where I've a review of the brilliant The Promise. I was thrilled to be asked by Sabah Khan from Avon Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the review so without further ado, here it is:

You make it.  You break it.

When troubled teen Connor moves to Exeter from the US to escape his past, he finds himself embroiled in a world of popular kids and easy girls. Everyone wants to be his friend, but they don’t know about what he did…and they don’t know about his father.

As Connor’s life in England begins to unravel, DS Adrian Miles and his partner Imogen Grey are working up against the clock to catch a serial killer who dates his victims before he kills them. Determined to uncover the truth, Imogen is forced to act as bait – but will she take it too far and risk her own life?


WOW!!! Well, I thought The Teacher, The Secret and The Angel were  brilliant, The Promise was even better, I was pulled in from the first page & couldn't put it down once I got going, I absolutely LOVED it. As we discovered throughout the books in the series, DS Grey has her own hidden past and her own demons and her own buried secrets to deal with which we do touch on a little in The Teacher but is dealt with a whole lot more in The Secret and The Angel. Set in the present day and in the past, we get more of a feel for DS Grey & her past & why she struggles to let anyone get close to her. We also get to know DS Miles a bit better too and the way he's been dealing with a lot since the aftermath of what happened in The Angel. I will admit that I found parts of the story hard to read and in places & it made my skin crawl but it definitely didn't disappoint. It was a spine-chilling , pulse pounding, heart thumping rollercoaster ride. I know that his book will stick in my memory longer than most because of the subject matter that was involved. Katerina just keeps getting better with every books she writes. And, after that ending I am really looking forward to Katerina's next book already where I'm hoping it won't be too long until the next DS Grey Novel is upon us, so no pressure Katerina but I'm dying to know what's in store next for the characters 😱😱

The Promise along with all previous 3 books in the series are available in all good bookshops, libraries, on audio and also available on Kindle where The Promise is currently £2.99 at the time of publication of this review.



Tuesday 2 October 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham


Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Tatoo Thief where I'm delighted to welcome Alison to my blog where I have a blog post about how Alison got the idea for The Tattoo Thief. I am really looking forward to reading this book and I'm really hoping to get it read over the next few weeks for you, Alison. I was thrilled to be asked by Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers who organised this tour in conjunction with Orion Publishing Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this post so without further ado, here it is:

How I got my idea for The Tattoo Thief

Hi! 

Before I get started on telling you how the whole idea for The Tattoo Thief came about, I just want to say a big thank you to Celeste for inviting me to be here on her blog today – it’s a great opportunity to introduce myself and tell you something about my story.

In 2015, I decided after much deliberation that I was going to get a tattoo. I’d always wanted one. My grandfather was a submariner and, while posted to China in the 1930s, he’d had a dragon tattooed on each arm. These fascinated me as a child, and my brother and I would always ask to see them when we visited. As I grew older, I remained interested, but as a young adult, tattoos weren’t as fashionable as they are now and certainly not that acceptable for women. So the idea of getting a tattoo of my own was put on the shelf.

Fast forward to 2015 when my own children were old enough to get tattoos themselves. Now I finally plucked up the courage to get my own tattoo – a Japanese-style octopus on my right arm. I’d gone to the London Tattoo Convention to find a tattooist and I chose one whose work I loved. He was based in Berlin, so that November, I made an appointment and flew to Berlin for the weekend. On the Saturday, I finally took the plunge and had six hours of tattooing on my arm. And, yes, before you ask, it did hurt!

That night, as I lay in bed, staining the pristine white hotel sheets with indelible black tattoo ink, I had just one thought: finally, I’ve got my tattoo – and no one can take it away from me. I felt really happy that I’d done what I wanted after so many years. However, the writer’s part of my brain is never quiet and always asking questions. What, came the thought, if someone did try to take it away from you? And in that instant, I knew I had an idea for a gripping crime thriller – The Tattoo Thief. A story about a man who steals other people’s tattoos.

Over the next eighteen months, this tiny kernel of an idea grew into a story outline and then into a novel which was eventually bought by Trapeze Books, a new and exciting imprint of Orion. It took another four sessions over the following six months to complete my tattoo – and not only do I really love having it, I also have it to thank for giving me the idea that became become my debut novel. People sometimes ask me if I regret having a tattoo and it always makes me smile. How could I?






Alison Belsham bio

Alison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter—and in 2000 was commended for her visual story telling in the Orange Prize for screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. The Tattoo Thief is out now and she’s currently working on the second book in the Francis Sullivan trilogy, Death’s Needle. Alison lives in Edinburgh, and when she’s not writing she spends her time visiting tattoo conventions.






Thursday 27 September 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech where I have a review of her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Anne Cater from Random Things Tours who organised this tour in conjunction with Orenda Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this review so without further ado, here it is:

With huge thanks to Karen Sullivan, Louise Beech and Orenda, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.......

Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…

Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…

Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?

What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…

Well, where do I start with this review....................What a beautiful, emotional, heartbreaking and thought provoking story, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. This story had it all from family, love with more sensitive and hard-hitting issues which were dealt with perfectly and it was well researched and written in a very sensitive and compassionate manner. The Lion Tamer Who Lost is set in the present and the past and is centered around the two main characters Ben and Andrew where their lives are based around Zimbabwe and England respectively. I found I had tears streaming down my face at the end along with shedding a few for many of the characters along the way. This is only the 2nd novel that has made me cry, the other been Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. It completely broke me, I was such a blubbering mess after finishing this stunningly beautiful book in less than 2 days, I couldn't function as I couldn't stop thinking about it but especially those last few lines and anyone who has lost someone they loved will be able to resonate with it as I lost my beautiful aunt almost 14 weeks ago so they've given me great comfort. If this book has thought me anything it's to never leave anything on the long finger or let things go unsaid.

 I don't want to say too much more about this book incase I say something that I shouldn't but all I can say is grab this book, curl up on the couch and make sure you've a few tissues or maybe a box to hand and prepare to have a few lump in your throat moments too. This is the first book I've read by Louise Beech and I'm really looking forward to reading more of her books. I would highly recommend her if you haven't read any of her books already. I would definitely even say that this is definitely going to huge this year, is already my favourite book that I've read so far and will stay with me for a long time.  This book has ALL the feels 💖❤💖

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is available in all good bookshops, libraries, audio and on Kindle where it is currently only £4.79 at the time of publication of this review so get downloading it, you definitely won't regret it.


Tuesday 18 September 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ After He Died by Michael J Malone

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for After He Died by Michael J Malone where I have a review of his latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Anne Cater from Random Things Tours who organised this tour in conjunction with Orenda Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this review so without further ado, here it is:

With huge thanks to Karen Sullivan, Michael J Malone and Orenda, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.......

You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…

When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.

WOW!!! What a roller coaster of a read, a novel bursting full of secrets, lies, thrills and spills.  I absolutely LOVED it and as I was reading it I could feel my heart beating on occasions and I had to remind myself to breath a couple of times as I was holding my breath with anticipation of what was around the next page as the suspense just kept building. I didn't know who to trust while reading it and when I thought that I'd had things worked out, another curve ball was thrown into the mix to put you off and make you question things and that's the beauty about what I love about psychological thrillers and Michael does this perfectly in the way Michael writes this story and it's set in Scotland which is somewhere I've always wanted to visit so hopefully one day I will.

This is both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller.  Will things work out for Paula and will she get all the answers to her questions with the revelations throughout the novel??  Well, I don't want to say anymore as I'm afraid I'll give something away but  all I'll say is go and get this book and settle down on the couch with a cup of tea/wine and some chocolate, you'll find it very hard to put it down once you've started and you definitely won't be disappointed.  After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets, now I'm beginning to look at people especially the ones closest to me with suspicion and in a different way so thanks for that Michael 😂😂😂

Ashamedly, this is the first novel I've read by Michael but after reading this one it definitely won't be my last.  I think I've found another favourite author.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

After He Died is available in all good bookshops, libraries, on audio and also on Kindle where it is currently £4.31 at the time of publication of this review.


Wednesday 12 September 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Only In Whispers by Jacqueline Grima

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Only In Whispers where I have a review of her debut novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers who organised this tour in conjunction with Manatee Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this review
so without further ado, here it is:

With huge thanks to Manatee Books and Jacqueline Grima I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review..........

A forgotten past.
An uncertain future. 
A family hiding from the truth.

When their mother is hospitalised with depression, Annie and her brother Matthew are fostered by their beloved Aunt Helen. Their family eventually reunited, the siblings begin a new life in Derbyshire with their mother and new stepfather.

Now in her thirties and separated from her husband, Annie is struggling to escape the past and move forward with her son. Haunted by memories of her childhood, she begins to realise that there may have been more to her time in foster care than her mother claims. Why did social services take her and Matthew away? Who can she trust to tell her what really happened?

As Annie finds out more, things take a sinister turn…has the life she’s lived so far been a lie?

Well, where do I start........I LOVED this, I've been reading a lot of heavy psychological thrillers lately and it was nice to take a break from them to read this, although it is more of a family drama but it kind of had a psychological story line running through it which was perfect and not too much either. Packed full of secrets and lies, twists and turns and characters that I disliked especially Annie's husband, David. Even though he and Annie have been separated about 2 years he was still a possessive controlling character that was written really, really well, I despised him.

 I really felt sorry for Annie and at times with all she had to deal with as the more she discovered about her childhood with flashbacks throughout the chapters and not knowing why a certain image keeps cropping up, I wished I could give her a big hug and tell her that everything would be ok. Will everything be ok and work out for Annie or will the secrets and lies risk tearing her family apart??  I don't want to say anymore as I'm afraid I'll give something away but all I'm going to say is go and get this book and settle down on the couch with a cup of tea/wine and some chocolate, you won't want to put it down once you've started and you definitely won't be disappointed. An excellent debut novel.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Only In Whispers is available in all good bookshops, libraries, on audio and is available on Kindle where it is currently £1.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Overkill by Vanda Symon

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Overkill by Vanda Symon where I have a review of her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Anne Cater from Random Things Tours who organised this tour in conjunction with Orenda Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this extract so without further ado, here it is:

With huge thanks to Karen Sullivan, Vanda Symon and Orenda, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.......

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not as it seems. Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura in New Zealand she soon discovers the death was no suicide, and has to face the realization that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. She must find the murderer, and clear her name.

Well, where do I start on this, I didn't like it, I absolutely LOVED it. The prologue was one of the best I've read in a long time so be prepared, it's not for the faint hearted. This is the first book in the series set in New Zealand where we're introduced to PC Sam Shephard and I LOVED her, she's a petite character (like me), she's extremely independent, feisty and takes no nonsense and doesn't let anyone walk all over her or take advantage of her and I'm sure we could all learn a thing or two from her and I kind of felt a connection to her. When we meet Sam she's investigating the death of a young Mother, Gaby who coincidentally is the wife of Sam's ex, Lockie whom evidently she still holds a torch for but when she invests too much time in the case and makes a few silly mistakes to make the powers within the force bring her in to interview her and in turn decide to suspend her as she's stupidly made herself out to be a suspect in this investigation.  Will Sam just take the suspension on the chin and stay away, you bet she won't.  Will Sam find out the truth and clear her name??  Will Sam find the killer in time??

This is the first book I've read by Vanda Symon and it definitely won't be my last and can't wait to read more work from Vanda where I hope it won't be too long.

Overkill is available in all good bookstores, libraries, on audio and also on Kindle where it is currently £4.31 and FREE with Kindle Unlimited at the time of publication of this review so grab it while you can, you won't be disappointed so don't say I never told you so!!!



Monday 10 September 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Other Couple by Sarah J Naughton


Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Other Couple by Sarah J Naughton where I have a review of her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers who organised this tour in conjunction with Trapeze Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this review
so without further ado, here it is:


With huge thanks to Sam Eades, Lauren Woosey, Sarah J Naughton and Trapeze Books, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review..........


A dark, twisty psychological thriller set in paradise.

Asha wakes up in a Vietnamese hospital but she has been left for dead on the holiday of a lifetime after a night-time swim in the picturesque So Den Caves. We flashback to her fairytale wedding with Ollie, where a mystery guest puts in motion a change of events that will lead to murder. Unable to come to terms with the police's version of events, Amber returns to the scene of the crime. She remembers that there was another couple during the night of the murder. And the killer is still out there..........

Well, where do I start........I didn't like it, I absolutely LOVED it. A really twisty, turny and tense psychological thriller set on a beautiful island near Vietnam with picturesque views, a paradise where Asha and Ollie are going to have the honeymoon of their dreams but when Asha wakes up in a hospital in Vietnam with no recollection of what happened or how she got there and doesn't know where her husband, Ollie is??

The chapters alternate between their wedding day and their time on their honeymoon where it builds the story and each chapter reveals a little more of the story where you just know that there is something not right between Asha and Ollie but what exactly is it and why is Ollie acting so strange??

Just when you think you've worked out where the book is going and then another twist gets thrown into your path and you furiously read faster to find out which way it's going to go BUT I didn't expect that shocker of the twist to bring us to that ending. This is Sarah's second novel, the first been Tattletale which I haven't got around to reading yet but I definitely will and I look forward to reading more from Sarah. I would also love to see this optioned for a TV series. Go and get this book and settle down on the couch with a cup of tea/wine and some chocolate, you won't want to put it down once you've started and you definitely won't be disappointed.

The Other Couple is available in all good bookshops, libraries, on audio and is available on Kindle where it is currently £1.99 at the time of publication of this review.


BLOG TOUR ~ If They Knew by Joanne Sefton

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for If They Knew by Joanne Sefton where I have an extract from her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Sabah Khan from Avon Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this extract so without further ado, here it is:

It was twenty minutes after the call ended when Alys and Barney came tumbling down the stairs. Helen was still sitting at the kitchen table, surrounded by their leftovers. The phone was by her side and she was dabbing her eyes with her knuckles. Barney wobbled on his tiptoes to get the box of tissues from the windowsill before placing it on the table by her elbow. She went to take one but the box was empty – he must not have realised – so she kissed his gorgeous chestnut hair and tried to keep her voice steady to ask him to fetch some toilet paper instead. She hated that they were seeing her like this.
‘Mummy? Are you sad because of Daddy?’ Barney asked, frowning as he handed over a streamer of toilet roll.
‘No, my love, don’t worry.’ Helen shook her head. ‘That was Granddad. He was phoning to tell us that your Nana Barbara is ill. She might be very ill, and that’s why I’m sad.’
‘I’m sad too,’ said Barney, looking relieved.
‘We’ll have to go and visit them,’ Helen said, attempting a smile. ‘You’ll both like that, won’t you? A trip up north? You can see Granddad Adam and Nana Chris while we’re there.’
Alys spoke at last. ‘Daddy come too?’
‘I don’t think so, lovely.’ Helen bent to kiss her, which allowed her to hide the fresh tears from Barney. She could smell the jam around her daughter’s mouth. ‘But we’ll tell him we’re going. And you’ll be able to talk to him on the phone.’
‘But we’re staying with Daddy on Friday,’ said Barney, in his matter-of-fact way. His small brow wrinkled and Helen caught her own father’s frown in his expression. ‘We’re all going to Gambado.’
‘You are, are you now?’
Darren had only moved out six weeks ago and already it seemed he was resorting to indoor-adventure-play bribery. That’d be hurting him in the wallet. And did Barney’s ‘we’re all’ include Lauren? She felt a tension flicker start up by her left eye.
‘Gam-ba-do, Gam-ba-do!’ Alys was echoing her brother, her voice full of wonder. Gambado might enchant them now, but it surely wouldn’t be long before the stakes were upped to Euro Disney, then Florida. Anger at bloody Darren flared inside her.
‘Well, now that Nana’s ill, I’m afraid Gambado might have to wait for another day. Barney, will you take Alys upstairs please. I have to phone your father.’ She realised she’d never called him ‘your father’ before he left; how quickly they were turning into one of those ex-couples.



Saturday 8 September 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Perfect Silence by Helen Fields

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Perfect Silence by Helen Fields where I have an extract from her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Sabah Khan from Avon Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this extract so without further ado, here it is:

What a waste of a life it had been, she thought. And the
horrible truth right now was that if she could have even a tiny
percentage of those bruise-filled, hate-inducing days back, she
would take them with a grateful heart.
By seventeen she had been living with a college friend until
the girl’s mother had lost her job and couldn’t feed or house
Zoey any more. She had tried and failed to study and pass exams,
but the constant moving between sofas was too exhausting. In
the end she had given her mother one last try. Promises had
been made. They were just as swiftly broken. Fists had fl own
once more.
At eighteen, Zoey had been wise enough to know when to
cut her losses. She had walked out into the street to shout her
opinion of her stepfather to the world, publicly enough that
he wouldn’t dare retaliate. Then she had taken herself and her
plastic bag of clothes to a shelter she’d heard about. Sporting
the bruises that were her passport inside the safe haven, she had
settled down while she waited in the endless queue for social
housing. Scars were examined. An offer to prosecute was made.
Still Zoey couldn’t be so cruel to her mother that she could
put the man who kept a roof over her head in prison. Even if
he deserved it a thousand times over.
The sky came closer as she stared at the moon. A gust of
wind danced through the branches of the trees above her,
scattering a sheet of golden leaves over her body. A manylegged
creature skittered over her neck, but Zoey didn’t mind.
No point fl inching now. In a while, all she would be was bug
food. The road was long and straight, unadorned by regulatory
white lines. She was in the countryside, then. The next car
might not pass until morning. It would be an awful discovery
for the poor driver, Zoey thought. Imagine starting Monday
morning with such a monstrosity. That was if the car didn’t
run over her.


Friday 7 September 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Perfect Ten by Jacqueline Ward

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Perfect Ten by Jacqueline Ward where I have an extract from her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Anne Cater from Random Things Tours who organised this tour in conjunction with Corvus Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this extract so without further ado, here it is:

Chapter Two

Alanis is playing on the radio now and she’s telling you that you oughta know, and I can’t find the radio or the plug socket in all this stuff to end it. It’s brought my world into focus. The journal. I’m sitting in my kitchen – our kitchen – and I can hardly move for the shit I only bought to try to ease the pain of being alone. Of being wrong when, really, I’m right. It didn’t work. Because I always knew that the thing I was searching for was in that case.
The first pages of the first journal make me think that I was wrong. Completely wrong. There’s an early picture of you and me at nineteen, when we first met. My blondness, your jet-black crew cut – opposites attract. But we weren’t opposites at all, really. We were both fiercely competitive and the darlings of our university year. We married a year later. I sometimes wonder if that’s why things went wrong, because we were too young. Then I remember that things went wrong because you were sleeping with other people. The phone rings and startles me. Five rings then I let it go to answerphone. Naturally it’s you, Jack. Your voice, calm and controlled, booms around the kitchen.
‘Caroline. I know you have my bag. I’m warning you. You need to give it back. All my papers ...’
But I’m not listening to you. I can’t hear the words. I’m listening to the background of the call, ears desperately pricked for children’s
voices. Charlie and Laura. Are they there with you? You took them away and not a single moment has gone by in the last year when I didn’t miss them. My babies. Every time I shut my eyes I see my son’s face, terrified, as he realised I wasn’t coming with you. Laura crying as you bundled her into the car. You prevented me from seeing them at every turn and forced fear into my soul.
The call ends and I sink back into the journal. I might pretend to myself that I care about your other women, and I did back then. But what I really care about is getting my children back. And this is a means to an end.
I force myself to turn the pages and see myself age slightly: us in front of the Christmas tree right here in this house, and your handwriting at the side of the picture. Perfect ten. The warm reminiscence turns a little cool. Perfect ten? That’s what you said to me when we first slept together. You said it like I should be pleased, but all it made me do was think of who you were comparing me to.
‘Oh, I bet you say that to all the girls.’ It was a statement, not a question. A warning shot. But you answered.
‘No. I’ve never had a ten before. Eight. Nine. Yeah. But not a ten.’ You said it with a smile, but it niggled and I didn’t know why. I suppose that I was still heavily invested in romance and love back then, and I just didn’t expect you to mark me on my performance. I let it go. I shouldn’t have. Because it led directly to this moment, when I turn the next page and see a picture of a blonde woman.
Younger than I was then. Around nineteen. Arms linked with yours. That would be around fourteen years ago, just after we married. You’re at The Cabin, a nightclub you worked at as a part- time barman. It’s stuck in with glue and I pull it from the page and turn it over. Christine Dearden. There were more photos, all dated,
spanning two years. Then, overleaf, in the bottom right-hand corner of the page, I see it. You marked her too. Eight out of ten. You stuck hotel receipts and even a condom packet between the pages.
I turn the pages quickly. There are nine more women, all marked out of ten.
Julie Carson. Seven out of ten (possessive). Frances Burrows. Six out of ten. (No BJ). Pam Harding. Nine out of ten (would have been a ten but couldn’t keep her mouth shut).
Alicia Turnbull. Seven out of ten (expensive tastes). Lorna Kershaw. Three out of ten (great company but frigid). Katy Squires. Eight out of ten (drinks too much). Louise Shaw. Nine out of ten (would have been a ten if she hadn’t wanted a kid).
Paula Lord. Nine and a half out of ten (nearly as good). And the last one: Emma Parsons. Eight out of ten. Each of these women had long-term affairs with my husband. Not one-night stands – those were at the end of the journal with a puny line each. Thirty-seven one-night stands, all marked out of ten. I try to tell myself that none of them knew that you were married to me, that we had two beautiful babies. I read the detailed descriptions of your mistresses, months and months of receipts tucked away, I stare at the picture of Paula. If I was in any doubt at all about these women being innocent, this killed it dead. Paula knew I was married to you. Paula was my bridesmaid. Paula is my sister. My phone is in my hand and, fuming, I speed-dial the last number I had for her. Out of all of the women, this is the worst by far. It doesn’t even ring out. Out of service. I start to dial my parents to see if they know where she is, but stop. They would ask how I am and right now I’m not sure.
I sit for a while on the kitchen floor, my back against our expensive units, my morbid curiosity driving me on to know everything. Somehow it feels like relief, because I knew this all along. I knew. All the times you were on late-night dives, working in far-off quarries, hiking the Scottish countryside, I knew. People would tell me they’d seen you around, and at first I was sure that they were mistaken. Then I saw you myself. I was driving through Manchester and you came out of the dry cleaner’s. I pulled over and watched you walk towards the car park and drive your car away.
When I asked you why you were in Manchester, you didn’t even try to make an excuse that you’d been delayed or had missed your flight. You’d straight-out lied. You told me that you weren’t in town; you were in Milan at an environmental conference. You made me doubt my own sanity. It turns out that I was right all along.
I’m reading and rereading. It’s as addictive as it is painful. There’s a knock on the door. I look around at your possessions scattered all over the part of the kitchen floor that isn’t occupied by unopened kitchen appliances. I peer around the door frame and see the outline of a brown uniform with a yellow lapel badge. Pushing the papers and the briefcase back into the holdall, I throw it out of the back door and close the door quietly.
‘Coming. Just coming.’ I wrap a towel around my head and pull on my dressing gown over my clothes. I catch a glimpse of myself in the hallway mirror as I open the front door and realise I am crying.
‘Oh. Hello again. Just in the shower.’ The delivery man looks past me into the hallway. ‘Did I leave anything?’ I follow his gaze. ‘No. I don’t think so. There were the cases I gave you earlier.
That’s all.’
He stands there, looking into the garden now. ‘Could you check? Only there was another item.’ ‘Oh. Right. I don’t think so. I don’t remember anything else. But I’ll have a look.’
I shut the door and back into the lounge. There’s only a tiny floor space left that isn’t filled with piled-up newspapers, academic papers and Amazon boxes, but I flick the light on and pretend to look for the bag. I count to fifty then go into the kitchen. Then I go back and open the door again.
‘No sorry. Look, I don’t know what I’m looking for so would you like to have a peep, just to see if it’s here. I mean, the other man might have popped it inside ...’
He steps into the hallway and peers around the lounge door, then the kitchen door. His eyes meet mine and the shared acknowledgement that I’m not exactly coping flashes between us. ‘Right. No. I can see it’s not here. Must’ve been left in the van. I’ll check tomorrow. Thanks, love. And this lot,’ he points into the house, ‘you can get help, you know.’
I nod and shut the door. He’s right. I could get help. But, unfortunately, I am the help. That’s what everyone says. Physician, heal thyself. I only do it because it makes me feel better, but I do admit that it’s got out of hand. You handed the house over to me as part of the divorce settlement. Why would you need it? Besides, it made you look ever more snow-white. With no mortgage to pay and a subsidised restaurant at the uni, I had minimum bills and a lot of salary.
Naturally, conversations in the staffroom revolved around unit trusts and high-power pensions. ISAs. Although I joined in and faked concern about my future, my need was more urgent. Every
day, I’d leave my office and plan to watch a film or go to yoga, or something everyone else was planning for the evening ahead. Most days ended with me completely pissed in front of the shopping channel.
From the little I can remember, I would order anything that promised to make my life easier. It seemed to be a running theme on the labels of the items that appeared over the subsequent days. ‘Save time with a combination microwave and oven.’ ‘Improve your kitchen experience with this food processor.’
I’ve been doing it most nights since you left with Charlie and Laura. My regular delivery people came every morning first call, leaving the items on the overgrown path if I was too hungover to surface. I’d heave them in and pile them up. They were almost ceiling high in the lounge, and the kitchen was catching up fast. The hallway was lined with smaller items, mostly costume jewellery. Opened once and then returned to the box.
I’d ordered toys. Lots of toys. There’s a special section at the bottom of the stairs piled high with unopened boxes of toys that I started to buy for Christmas. Surely I’d get to see them at Christmas? Surely you weren’t so cruel that you’d keep them from me then? The boxes never even made it upstairs. They’re still there, a testament to my love.
It made me feel better and I was torn between seeing it as a disorder due to the suffering I had gone through and treating it as part of the healing process. Either way, my home was packed almost to the doors with boxed goods. There were little pathways here and there to allow me to, say, get upstairs, but, on the whole, the house looked nothing like it did when you were here. Maybe that was the point.
I retrieve the holdall and pack it back up, leaving only the briefcase on the kitchen side. The journal is still open on the floor,
the pages fat with the evidence of your secret life. I bust open the second journal, which is much thinner. The pages are crammed with your neat handwriting, your thoughts sprawling over the buff. Men are supposed to compartmentalise, but this is ridiculous. It’s almost as if there are two versions of Jack in front of me, and both of them are different to the Jack I knew.
The second journal has lists of books you’ve read, music you’ve bought, galleries you’ve visited on your travels. No surprises with the music. You love American rock and Madchester. I scan the galleries and wonder why on earth you kept your love of modern art to yourself. You’ve read hundreds of books and, right at the back, you’ve ranked your top ten.
You love biographies. Alec Ferguson. Robbie Williams. Roy Keane. Beckham. Obviously. Tom Jones. Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit. Terry Pratchett. Martin Amis. And Nick Hornby, High Fidelity. Really? And you’ve written a review. I can feel my blood pressure rise, the familiar redness sweep over my chest and neck as I read your words.
‘... what a sucker. I’d never do that for Caroline. Apologising to exes? That’d be a long job. Work in progress. LOL. Anyway, she’s too dense to know what it’s all about. Clever academically, but ... well ...
I close the journal. That’s enough for tonight. The words are shut between the pages with the receipts and the photographs and the condom wrappers. Sordid souvenirs of your life outside our life. It all seems like an anticlimax now as I reach for the blackcurrant- flavoured Absolut vodka.
Too dense to know what it’s all about. I’m momentarily defensive,
of course, but you’re completely right. I was too stupid to know what you were up to and, when I did have an inkling, too clumsy. That’s when it started, really. I’d been at your office, waiting outside to surprise you, take you out to dinner.
It was the early days of our marriage, just after our first anniversary. That first year had flown by in a mist of romantic lunches and late dinners. Then, just after we’d returned from a weekend in Paris to celebrate our first year, it tailed off. I’d mentioned it to my friend Anita.
‘It’s as if, well, as if he’s ... losing interest.’ It was all I could do not to let the brimming tears out. She’d patted my arm gently over our cappuccinos.
‘Well, I’m surprised it’s lasted this long. Most people just settle back into their lives. But you two are strong. He’s not losing interest. But if you feel like he is, up the stakes. Surprise him.’
I’d trawled the internet advice columns for hints and tips on ‘surprising your husband’. Underwear and cooking seemed popular, but I settled on a surprise date. After all, you always decided what we did. You always paid. So I booked a table at The Ivy, where we’d joked about celeb-spotting. There’d been a cancellation and I snapped up a six-thirty table. You were working in your London office, so I took the train down and waited outside after work.
You weren’t expecting me. That was clear. I saw you through the smoky glass, slightly swarthy with your five-o’clock shadow, and felt the familiar glow. Then I saw her. She followed you out and you were laughing and joking. My hackles rose but I reminded myself that you had female friends. Of course you did. That was normal. So why did I feel so angry?
Maybe I already knew deep down. Looking back, it was classic denial. You were always looking at other women and if I made a fuss
you’d make a big deal about my ‘green-eyed monster’. This time it was more. You were touching her, your arm around her shoulder. She was laughing into your face.
I hurried around the corner and watched as you stood on the pavement, hailing a taxi. I bit the bullet and walked around the corner as if I had just arrived. Suddenly you were colleagues. I remember thinking that it felt rehearsed, as if you’d been caught together in a lift or something. She knew who I was immediately.
You’d windmilled your arms towards me. ‘Caro. My God. What a surprise.’ I was still shaken. ‘Clearly.’ You looked at the woman. ‘Sorry, how rude. This is Christine Dearden. She’s in from our German office. I’m tasked with looking after her while she’s here.’
I squared up. ‘Well, that shouldn’t be much of a trauma, should it? Going anywhere nice?’
I was arms folded, rigid with temper. But you continued. ‘Caro. Don’t be like that.’ She was smiling. You shrugged. ‘I was dropping her off at the Ibis before I got the train home. On my way. Anyway. What’re you doing here?’
The doubt had crept in. Had I got it wrong? Had I? ‘I booked a table at The Ivy. For us.’ I glanced territorially at Christine. She just smiled at me. Maybe I had been imagining it, I thought.
We went to The Ivy, but the next day, on my way back from dropping you off at your office in a taxi, I dropped by the Ibis. I asked the concierge to call Christine Dearden’s room to tell her Lisa Phillips was waiting in reception for her. I watched his fingers
carefully as he keyed in the room number. 252. I waited until he was busy with an elderly American couple asking directions to the British Museum and hurried to the lifts, doubling back to reception and feigning confusion.
‘Oh, I’ve left my card in my room. 252. Christine Dearden. Energy Logistics.’
The receptionist checked the room and the booking and gave me a new key card. I clearly remember the feeling that descended. It appeared from nowhere, some kind of madness that drove me on. This didn’t feel wrong, it felt like retribution.
I calmly took the lift to level two and opened the door. Christine Dearden’s room was a mess. I packed her cases and swept all her make-up and toiletries into a plastic bag. I emptied the room, all except for a small bottle of Chanel No. 5, which I put into my own bag.
Then I wheeled the luggage to the lift and pressed the -1 button. It halted and the doors opened into a long corridor with a gym on one side and a fire exit at the end. I left her luggage by the fire exit. Serves her right, I thought, as I took the lift back up and exited the hotel. The mist lifted and I sprayed a little bit of the Chanel No. 5 on my wrist.
On the train home I felt slightly sick. What if they found out it was me? What if there were cameras? But as the days went by and you didn’t mention it, I just forgot about it. But I kept a close eye on you. I felt like I’d redressed the balance over Christine, but I was uneasy and a spark in me had ignited.
Two weeks later we went out to dinner and I sprayed myself with Christine’s perfume. I walked through a thick mist of it and, as the tiny droplets clung to me, I felt warm inside. Warm in the knowledge that you’d smell it and think of Christine. Maybe your
brain would make the connection and you’d wonder, just for a moment, if I had anything to do with her missing belongings.
If you did, I never noticed. You never mentioned it and I never found out what happened. We went out to dinner and you were my Jack again. And yes, it did occur to me to just ask you. I’m a psychologist. I know all about Pavlov’s dog. How you offer the reward and ring the bell. Well, I was Jack’s bitch. You’d conditioned me not to ask awkward questions by completely switching off when I did. Then, when I stopped, you’d be the best husband in the world. Good girl, Caro. Good girl.
I swig the blackcurrant vodka and suddenly realise that I can find out all the things I desperately wanted to ask. Right now. I open the journal again and turn back, right to the beginning. There she is. More than a page. Christine Dearden. Eight out of ten. A couple of hotel receipts. I run my fingers over the Ibis receipt. Room 252. Then she’d moved to the Hilton just around the corner. Paid for by Jack. Panic. She didn’t work for Energy Logistics at all. She didn’t work with you. So why was she in your offices? I slam the journal closed. I’m woozy, but not in a nice way. Vodka usually mellows me, but this is one of those nights. I just know it. I pack everything away and push it under the sink.
Of course she didn’t work with you. I’d seen her in your offices and drawn that conclusion myself when you’d lied. Thinking on your feet, as you called it when you lied about other things. She was in your office to meet you. She was known there. They’d just let her in. My God. They probably thought that she was me. Your wife. My vodka-addled brain is trying to work out how, if they thought Christine was me, had you explained all the others in the Journal? For some reason, I’d imagined – still imagine even now – that not everyone knew about these women. That you’d kept this big
secret from me and everyone else. Otherwise, how could you have defended yourself so publicly? And how could everyone we knew have believed your shit about me being crazy?
Now, as I’m nearly vodka blind, I’m laughing. This was no secret. The only person who didn’t know about it was me. All the office parties I’d attended with you, the dutiful wife, everyone there had known. All the nights out with friends. They’d all known, too. They’d probably spent time with these other women.
I glug down a couple of mouthfuls of the vodka and wait for the sweet release of nothingness to close over me.