Saturday 30 June 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Bomb Girl Brides by Daisy Styles

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Bomb Girls by Daisy Styles where I have an extract from her novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Katie Ashworth from Michael Joseph & Penguin Random 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:

1. London, January 1944

Julia Thorpe hurled an armful of clothes into her suitcase; as skirts, blouses and cardigans fell in a heap on top of her precious books, she began to cry. She wouldn’t need Shakespeare, Jane Austen and T. S. Eliot where she was going!

Falling on to her bed, Julia abandoned herself to tears, which just made her feel even guiltier. What if all the millions of conscripted women across the nation reacted in the same self-indulgent manner as she had? There’d be no bombs or planes built and who would work the land to provide food for a nation that was on the edge of starvation? Buses and Red Cross ambulances would stand empty without their female drivers; the country would literally grind to a halt.

Julia knew that signing on as a Bomb Girl was unquestionably her duty, but she’d been so close to her dream of going to Oxford. In her mind she’d walked the streets of the old city on her way to early-morning lectures; she’d pictured her garret room overlooking a leafy quad; and she’d imagined herself on autumn days cycling around the town with a long scarf wrapped around her college gown.
‘Damn! Damn! Damn!’ Julia seethed as she pum-melled her lilac satin eiderdown.

Her sobs were too loud for her to hear a tap at the door, so she was startled when her older brother, Hugo, walked in, calmly puffing on his pipe.

‘Cheer up, sis, it’s not that bad,’ he said with a cheery smile.

‘Go away!’ she mumbled as she wiped away her tell- tale tears on the eiderdown.

Ignoring her red, scowling face, Hugo settled himself on the pretty padded chair beside her dressing table.

‘Can’t you see I’m busy packing?’ Julia said, as she struggled to her feet and straightened her golden- blonde bobbed hair.

Hugo hid a smile at the sight of the flimsy silk under- wear and nylons she’d flung into her case.
‘You’ll need something more substantial than that lot to keep you warm up North,’ he joked.
‘What do you suggest? Clogs and shawl?’ she asked crossly.

‘Warm jumpers, trousers and skirts – and stout boots,’ he suggested with a knowing wink.

‘I’m not going on a walking tour of the bloody Alps,’ she snapped, as she turned her back on him to resume her packing.

‘Okay, okay,’ Hugo said, as he rose to his feet. ‘I’ll leave you to your bad mood.’

‘It’s all right for you,’ Julia grumbled. ‘Just because you’re a man you get away with everything!’

Hugo burst out laughing. ‘Don’t be so damned silly!’ ‘Daddy would have let you go to Oxford,’ she said sulkily.

‘He would not!’ Hugo exclaimed. ‘He wouldn’t have let either of us shirk our duty and you know it.’

Their eyes locked: Julia knew exactly what her brother was talking about. Hugo had lost his left hand when he’d been attacked by a German Messerschmitt as he was heading home across the Channel after a night raid. He’d insisted he could fly with one hand, but, for all his bravado, he’d been discharged from military service and now worked for the Ministry of Information in London. It was a worthy enough job, but Hugo never got over leaving his beloved RAF.




Friday 29 June 2018

REVIEW ~ Hangman by Daniel Cole


With huge thanks to Lauren Woosey from Orion Books, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review............

How do you catch a killer who's already dead?

Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.  DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA in New York. Shortly after she arrives, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder, a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, at The Brooklyn Bridge to be exact with the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.
As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer - PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the 'BAIT' is intended for, how the 'PUPPETS' are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.
Daniel Cole is back with Hangman, the follow up to Ragdoll which featured a new detective in the form or William "Wolf" Fawkes and I was very excited to read the follow on after that cliffhanger last few sentences that was in Ragdoll which left me open mouthed.

DCI Emily Baxter is the main focus within this novel and I LOVED her, she was such a kickass character, it was full of thrills and spills and I couldn't turn the pages quick enough. A little far fetched in places but with the bit of humour thrown into the mix to balance it out, it is quite an enjoyable read and once again the way Daniel writes the last sentence brings it nicely into the anticipation of the third novel which I'm hoping that it won't be too long until we catch up with our favourite characters yet again.

DEFINITELY RECOMMENDED.

Hangman is available from all good bookshops, libraires, on audio and on Kindle where it is currently £5.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Friday 22 June 2018

COVER REVEAL ~ Snowflake by Heide Goody & Iain Grant

BLURB:



"Lori Belkin has been dumped. By her parents.

They moved out while she was away on holiday, and now, at the tender age of twenty-five, she’s been cruelly forced to stand on her own two feet.

While she’s getting to grips with basic adulting, Lori magically brings to life the super-sexy man she created from celebrity photos as a teenager.

Lori learns very quickly that having your ideal man is not as satisfying as it ought to be and that being an adult is far harder than it looks.

Snowflake is a story about prehistoric pets, delinquent donkeys and becoming the person you want to be, not the person everyone else expects you to be"



Snowflake will be will be published on 20th July 2018.


BLOG TOUR ~ The Poison Bed by E.C. Fremantle ~ REVIEW

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Poison Bed by E.C. Fremantle where I have a review of her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Katie Ashworth from Michael Joseph/Penguin Random House 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 Katie Ashworth Michael Joseph and Penguin Random House, I received a copy of this in exchange of an honest review......

A king, his lover and his lover's wife. One is a killer.

In the autumn of 1615 scandal rocks the Jacobean court when a celebrated couple are imprisoned on suspicion of murder. She is young, captivating and from a notorious family. He is one of the richest and most powerful men in the kingdom.

Some believe she is innocent; others think her wicked or insane. He claims no knowledge of the murder. The king suspects them both, though it is his secret at stake.

Who is telling the truth? Who has the most to lose? And who is willing to commit murder?

The Poison Bed is set in early 17th Century at the Court of King James I and is based on a true story of a real-life murder. The story is told from two points of view, "Her" and "Him" who are Robert Carr who is the favourite of James I and his wife Frances Carr (Howard). Frances was rescued by Robert from an abusive marriage and Robert has risen from nothing to become one of the country's most powerful men. They are accused of the poisoning and death of Sir Thomas Overvurg and are held in the tower awaiting their trial and tell their sides of the story as to how they met to what happened regarding the death of Sir Thomas Overvurg.

To be honest I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction books but I absolutely LOVED this one, it was such a page turner full of twists, turns, secrets, lies and murder. It's definitely a well researched and plotted novel and the attention to detail is just perfect. A dark and compelling read and I couldn't turn the pages quick enough to see what the resolution was and it didn't disappoint.  I don't really want to say much more about this as I don't want to spoil it but just get it, you definitely won't be disappointed. 

The Poison Bed is available from all good bookshops, libraries, audio and on Kindle and it is currently £7.99 at the time of publication of this review.



Thursday 21 June 2018

REVIEW ~ One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis


Vicky Seagrave seems to have it all, a successful and doting husband, three beautiful children along with great friends and a job as a teacher which she loves.  She should be perfectly happy, shouldn't she!??

But when she does something silly, she risks everything she holds dear on a whim, there's only person she trusts enough to turn to - her best friend, Amber. But as Vicky is about to learn that one mistake is all it takes, that if you're careless with those you love, you don't deserve to keep them..........

Well, I LOVED One Little Mistake, it was tense and engrossing from the start right up until the end with plenty of twists and turns thrown into the mix and goes to show how one little lie can lead to another little lie and so on until it's too late and that maybe trusting your best friend is possibly the worst mistake you can ever make but thankfully I've never had that problem.  Told in two timeframes of 1992 and 2010 and told from different points of view, the 1st and 3rd person and with two storylines running through the book which come together perfectly towards the end.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

One Little Mistake is available in all good bookshops, libraries, audio and on Kindle where it is currently £0.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Wednesday 20 June 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Somewhere Beyond The Sea by Miranda Dickinson

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Somewhere Beyond The Sea by Miranda Dickinson where I have a playlist of songs that Miranda creates for every novel she writes so here is the playlist for Somewhere Beyond The Sea. I was thrilled to be asked by Annabelle Wright from ED PR to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. There's also a vlog at the end of the playlist that you can watch about Jack. You can also 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:

I make a soundtrack playlist for every book I write, to create the right atmosphere and capture the characters’ journeys in the story. Here is the playlist I compiled for Somewhere Beyond the Sea:

1. ‘The Star That Guides You Home’, Emma Stevens (Waves)
2. ‘Tinseltown in the Rain’, The Blue Nile (A Walk Across the Rooftops)
3. ‘Going Nowhere’, Sally J. Johnson (The Beacon Field)
4. ‘Symphony’ (feat. Zara Larsson), Clean Bandit (‘Symphony’ – single)
5. ‘A Sky Full of Stars’, Coldplay (Ghost Stories)
6. ‘The Bold Knight’, Seth Lakeman (Kitty Jay)
7. ‘Nebraska’, Lucy Rose (Nebraska – Remixes)
8. ‘Glow’, Ella Henderson (‘Glow’ – single)
9. ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’, HAIM (Days Are Gone)
10. ‘I Wish You Well’, Cara Dillon (After the Morning)
11. ‘Chasing Shadows’, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys (Pretty Peggy)
12. ‘The Greatest’ (feat. Kendrick Lamar), Sia (This Is Acting)
13. ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’, Oasis (Time Flies . . . 1994–2009)
14. ‘Breathe Me In’, Jared & The Mill (‘Breathe Me In’ – single)
15. ‘We Are Stars’, Callum Beattie (‘We Are Stars’ EP)
16. ‘What Do I Know?’ Ed Sheeran (Divide)




Somewhere Beyond the Sea is out now, published by Pan Macmillan in paperback, eBook and audiobook.


BLOG TOUR ~ Toxic by Jacqui Rose - Q&A Session

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Toxic by Jacqui Rose where I welcome Jacqui to my blog where she has kindly provided me with a super Q&A session. 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 piece so without further ado, here it is:

Hi Celeste, I’m delighted you’re part of my blog tour. Thank you for having me. It’s very exciting to be back!


When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
It didn’t dawn on me for a long time as I always associated writing with really studious people. I went to a very academic school where if you didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge you were seen as somewhat of a failure! It was a boarding school and it was really strict to the point we were only allowed to read certain books. The books we were given were really hard going – Ulysses, War and peace or books written by authors such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky! Not something you wanted to read at 13yrs old! So I wrote my own stories and sold them to the girls at school, always leaving a cliff-hanger so they’d want to buy the next instalment, though I didn’t get rich on it, it was either in exchange for contraband sweets (we were only allowed sweets once a week and I’m greedy!) or it was getting them to do my Latin homework for me. But I did love it, writing gave me a freedom of mind that I didn’t get in everyday life, creating characters, hearing and seeing them so vividly in my head was like someone had handed me a box of magic. Though it was years later when I got frustrated with all these stories piling up in head that I thought I’d put pen to paper and do something about it. And I was very lucky it happened really quickly. And although for my day job I write crime thrillers which are so much fun, in my downtime for myself I write quirky accessible literary fiction (think it must be all those years of having to read the classics.)


What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Well I don’t really plot my books or make notes, I write organically, but I do try to spread the writing of the book over a balanced period of time but if the idea doesn’t form in my head I just have to sit tight until it does. So I might start off thinking over a three month period I’ll write a thousand words a day but if I don’t hear the voice of the characters clearly then I have to wait until I do which means sometimes I’ll be writing a book in just six weeks – not something I recommend! But if everything is equal I like to get up early, say six thirty and write till about 8 o clock. When I’m writing I just feel like a secretary to my characters as all I feel like I’m doing is typing up what I’m seeing and hearing in my head. I edit as I go along as I can’t stand messy or chaos in my writing, then I’ll have a nice cup of coffee and spend the rest of the day riding and looking after my horses. At the end of the book it gets intense so I write in the afternoon for a couple of hours as well. I like to break it up so my head’s not spinning!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think that I have to keep changing rooms whilst I’m writing. I’ll start off in my study then twenty minutes later I’ll get restless then move to the laptop downstairs then after half an hour or so I’ll get restless again and I’ll move into another room or the summer house. It’s odd but it happens all the time. I can’t ever stay in the same room.

 What is your favourite and least favourite thing about writing?
The best part is the excitement of hearing and seeing new characters and the journey they’re going to take me on because I have no idea from day to day, so it’s a real adventure. I love it. I feel very lucky that this is how I earn my living, I can take my laptop into the fields or stables with my horses and write my story there – it’s an incredible feeling. Writing and horses – the most perfect combination! The worst part of writing is when something happens in your life that influences how you think. In early October my mum was diagnosed with cancer and then a month later she died, it was really tough to keep writing and doing your edits when your head is all over the place but I just had to keep pushing through and digging deep. But that’s the worst part when you need to write and your brain isn’t functioning the way it should!    

What's the one thing your readers don't know about you?
That I was taught to play golf by the Duchess of Devonshire – at school it was a choice between double maths or golf, of course I chose the golf but oddly I was the only one in my form who did! So once a week I was driven to Chatsworth House and spent the afternoon with the Duchess trying to play golf!  

Tuesday 19 June 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ With Or Without You by Shari Low


Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for With or Without You by Shari Low where I have an extract from Shari's latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Melanie Price from Head of Zeus 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:

Prologue
The Last Minute of 1999

There were sixty seconds left of the twentieth century.

Hogmanay. The biggest night of the Scottish celebratory calendar, when we eat, we sing, we dance, and we welcome in the New Year with the people we love. The music was blaring, the revellers were dancing up a storm, and glasses were being topped up with champagne, as I leant close to my husband’s ear.

‘I wish you’d had an affair,’ I said, my voice cracking. ‘It would be so much easier to do this.’
Nate, smiled, leaned in and kissed me, but not with any grand passion. That was part of the problem. We’d been together since midway through uni, and then married the year after we graduated, and since the day we’d danced up the aisle we’d had five years of contentment.

Contentment.

I hated that word. Imagine the obituary. RIP Liv Jamieson – a contented life. Worse, who wanted to be content at the age of twenty-eight? I wanted passion and excitement and maybe the odd little bit of danger, but contentment? It was like a scarf of boredom that got tighter with each passing year, until I could barely breathe.

I loved Nate, but – clichéd as it was – I wasn’t in love with him anymore. There was no-one else, no drama, no big scandal or cataclysmic event. Just a gradual drifting apart. A disconnection. And, in a twisted demonstration of our compatibility, he had reluctantly admitted that – while he wasn’t as far along the road of acceptance as me – he knew there was something missing too.

I loved him. He loved me. It just wasn’t enough.

Nate pulled back and pushed a stray curl of my red hair back from my face. ‘An affair? What if I told you I’ve had Kylie Minogue living in the loft for the last year because we’re having a torrid fling and she can’t get enough of me?’

‘I’d say please tell her I’ll let her have you – as long as she’s willing to trade you for her entire wardrobe.’

Nate’s brown eyes creased at the side as he laughed. It was my very favourite thing about him.
We’d tried. We really had. The previous January, just a day into 1999, we’d talked, and we’d agreed to give it everything we had for a year, determined to reignite the spark between us. We’d had weekly date nights. Lazy Sunday sex. Weekend breaks to quiet country cottages and busy city hotels. A fantastic holiday to Bali where we’d taken long moonlit strolls along the sands. We’d hung out with our gang of mutual friends and we’d laughed, celebrated, partied, and discussed it long into many nights.

Yet, much as it destroyed us to admit it, we were still in that ‘best friends’ zone. My heart didn’t flutter when he entered a room. His gaze made me smile, but it didn’t make my libido throb with lust. And neither of us could shake the feeling that there was something – or someone – else out there for us.

So we’d decided to call it a day. To wish each other well, split the CD collection and move on. That makes it all sound so simple, when the truth was that a piece of my heart felt like it was being surgically removed by a jackhammer.

Nate wasn’t one hundred per cent sure. He didn’t like change. Preferred familiarity and stability to the unknown. But he said he loved me too much to make me stay in a marriage that didn’t make me happy. And if he were honest, our marriage wasn’t making him happy either, not like he should have been. I wanted more for me, for him, for both of us. 

Tonight was our last night together. It seemed apt. Fitting. The final day of the century, a chapter closing, and a whole new world out there for us to explore.  And if I kept telling myself that this was a positive move; the right thing to do, it squashed the part of me that was terrified. 
I saw his lips move again. ‘Liv, are you…?’
I missed the last bit. It got carried away on the wave of noise that suddenly engulfed the room.
Ten…

The lead singer of the band was counting down the seconds to midnight. Every year we headed to The Lomond Grange, a gorgeous stately manor hotel on the edge of Loch Lomond, about forty minutes from home, to bring in the coming year. Despite our sadness, we hadn’t wanted to bail out on the people who shared our lives, so here we were. One last hurrah. On the dance floor, our closest friends, Sasha and Justin stood next to Chloe and Rob, all of them with their champagne glasses in hand, party poppers at the ready, expressions oozing excitement, braced for the big moment.
Nine… Nine seconds until my marriage was over.

A wave of sorrow.
Eight… ‘What did you say?’ I asked him.
Seven… Seven seconds until my marriage was over.
He had to lean right into my ear so I could hear him. ‘I said are you absolutely sure?’
Six… A stomach flip of doubt. We’d discussed this to death. Yes, I was sure. Of course I was. So was he. We’d agreed.

Five… Five seconds until my marriage was over.
‘Yes. Why are you asking now?’
Four… ‘I think…’ I could feel his breath on the side of my face. ‘I think I want to give it one more try.’

Three… Three seconds until my marriage was over.
A sick feeling of panic rising to my throat.
Two… ‘But Nate, we both know it’s time to move on.’ We did. Didn’t we?
One… ‘One more try, Liv. We owe it to each other to give it more time.’
Noooooo. This wasn’t the deal. We’d tried. It hadn’t worked. We weren’t right for each other. It was time to move on, to take different paths.

A deafening cacophony of sound erupted in the room. Happy New Year. Streamers shot in the air. Bagpipes bellowed out a chorus of Auld Lang Syne to say goodbye to the past and welcome the twenty first century.

We were entering a new millennium.
But was I going to spend it with Nate…
…Or without him?


Sunday 17 June 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Mad by Chloé Esposito ~ REVIEW

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Mad by Chloé Esposito where I have a review of Mad, her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Katie Ashworth from Michael Joseph/Penguin Random House 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 Katie Ashworth and Penguin Random House, I received a copy of this in exchange of an honest review......

"There's something you should know before we go any further: my heart is in the wrong place. Now don't say I didn't warn you....."

Meet Alvie, a complete trainwreck. She works in a job that she absolutely hates but lives on social media and mainly on Tinder and Twitter, is constantly tweeting Taylor Swift hoping one day she'll get a reply and is obsessed with Channing Tatum (who isn't?) She eats kebabs for breakfast she's aimless, haphazard, and pretty much constantly drunk and lives in a flat where her flatmates hate her.  She has an identical twin sister named Beth who lives in Italy and is happily married to a hot, rich Italian and dotes on their little baby boy and has always been their mothers favourite twin.

But when Beth sends Alvie a first-class plane ticket to visit her in Italy, Alvie is reluctant to go. But when she gets fired from her job and her flatmates kick her out on the streets, a luxury villa in glitzy Taormina suddenly sounds more appealing. Beth asks Alvie to swap places with her for just a few hours so she can go out unnoticed by her husband. Alvie jumps at the chance to take over her sister's life even if it's only temporarily. But when the night ends with Beth dead at the bottom of the pool, Alvie realises that this is her chance to change her life.

Alvie quickly discovers that living Beth's life is harder than she thought. What was her sister hiding from her husband? And why did Beth invite her to Italy at all? As Alvie digs deeper, she uncovers Mafia connections, secret lovers, attractive hitmen, and one extremely corrupt priest, all of whom are starting to catch on to her charade. Now Alvie has to rely on all the skills that made her unemployable, a turned-to-11 sex drive, a love of guns and having to lie to her mother if she wants to keep her million-dollar prize.

Well, what can I say about this books, I didn't like it, I absolutely LOVED it.  I went in blind reading this and I wasn't even really sure what it was about as I didn't read the blurb but sometimes I feel doing that is much better so you don't know what to expect.  I LOVED Alvie, she was a brilliant character, a real badass who doesn't care who she hurts.  Mad is the first in a trilogy series where it is set between London and Sicily with the next two been called Bad and Dangerous To Know and I can't wait to read the next installment to see what's in store for our heroine after that ending.

Alvina Knightly is Uncensored, Unhinged and utterly Unforgettable.

Going on holidays!?? Make sure you pack a copy of this in your bag as your beach read where it's a compulsive read packed with sex, violence, guns, lots of laugh out loud moments with twists, turns, thrills and spills thrown into the mix where each chapter represents one of the seven deadly sins; Sloth, Envy, Wrath, Lust, Gluttony, Greed and Pride so strap yourself in for one hell of an addictive ride.

I really can't wait to read the next installment in the form of Bad which is released on July 26th 2018 to catch up with what's in store for Alvie.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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


Saturday 16 June 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Single Mum's Mansion by Janet Hoggarth

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Single Mum's Mansion by Janet Hoggarth where I have an extract from Shari's latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Melanie Price from Head of Zeus 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:


1
The Heartbreak Diet

My face was reflected forlornly in the drip-splattered kettle, huddled in the corner by the compost bin overflowing with the detritus of this morning’s breakfast. A half-sucked toast crust hung like a mini prosthetic leg over the edge where I hadn’t quite managed to ram the bugger in. I pressed the button to start the ritual of tea making within my five-minute window of opportunity. The Chugganug was squatting like a rotund Buddha in his inflatable ring, lovingly chewing a board book on diggers, and the girls were upstairs playing shoe shops in my half-empty wardrobe. I had yet to browse their offerings – slim pickings, if I remember rightly – all lined up at the foot of my bed in pairs. The kettle was about to click off when the hammering on the front door began. Chugga watched me run from the kitchen to the door, swiftly dodging the wooden brick truck with the reflexes of a ninja. Oh, how I had laughed when Sam had broken his toe on it two years previously. Maybe that’s why he left? The hammering stopped and I could make out the shape of a person hovering behind the frosted-glass panels.

The wide entrance hall was home to the red double Phil and Teds buggy, two pink scooters and a faded yellow trike, lined up against the left-hand wall. The pockmarked bare boards were in need of some kind of cheap carpet runner to mask the splattering of silver star stickers from Barbie magazine, but as soon as I pondered this the shiny idea customarily burst into a trillion shards of what’s the fucking point. Baffled by his urgency, I opened the door, expecting it to be the postman.
Alison barged past me, her formidable bump brushing me as she hurricaned it into the house. The chandeliers above squeaked menacingly on their pendulous light fittings and I glanced upwards, wishing (not for the first time) that Sam had never bought them. I was convinced that, any day, one of those bastard chandeliers was going to plummet to the ground and impale someone. They were a testing reminder of jobs abandoned in this half-finished ‘For Ever’ house. Sam had given me the chandeliers as a birthday present a year before he left, with a promise to finally decorate the hallway and return it to its former glory as the centrepiece of the Victorian villa. Instead, it was still smothered in the original seventies mustard-yellow and poo-brown flowery wallpaper all the way from the ground floor up through the heart of the house.

Chugga had crawled over to investigate, and I scooped him up into my arms and sniffed the top of his head before I kissed him. I wondered if I had kissed him over a million times in the last sixteen months. I loved his sweet baby scent, and his hair was like a silky scarf upon my lips, apart from when it became matted with pureéd spinach, potato and cheese bake.

‘Jim’s singing from the same song book as Sam now!’ Alison’s eyes were hidden behind aviators, unnecessary on this dull grey autumn day. I ushered her into the chaos of the kitchen where she skilfully swerved the brick truck, the washing maiden draped with babygrows and small clothes in varying shades of pink, and levered herself down into one of the awkward, yet trendy, bamboo armchairs I had insisted we buy from Habitat. Maybe that’s why he left? He never liked them.

‘What?’ Ali removed her shades and her usual aquiline features and annoyingly perfect skin was puffy and blotchy. I grabbed a tissue from the box by the cooker and thrust it at her, curbing the urge to wipe her dripping nose like I did for everyone else in this house.

‘Jim said he’s going to leave.’
‘But he can’t! You’re just about to give birth!’
‘When has that ever stopped anyone?’ she snapped, smearing tears across her cheeks. ‘Sam left you on Sonny’s first birthday!’

‘He didn’t,’ I barked defensively, squeezing Sonny (Chugga) tightly, making him wriggle down onto the floor where he resumed his love affair with the digger book. I have no idea why I was alleviating Sam’s guilt. A wife’s misplaced sense of duty, perhaps.

‘All right, a couple of weeks later.’
‘How long have you known? When did he say all this? Tea?’
‘Have you got any wine?’

I warily eyed the clock near the back door. It was eleven thirty a.m. but there was a cheap bottle of red already open on the Moomins melamine tray next to the cooker.

‘I suppose it’s wine o’ clock somewhere in the world,’ I sighed, and grabbed a glass.

‘You’re not having one, too?’ Alison’s voice wobbled dangerously. I had found it hard to enjoy wine since Sam had left. In fact, most things were joyless. In the catatonic weeks that followed his swift exit from our home, I had dropped body weight like sandbags from a rising hot-air balloon. My stomach was perpetually clamped shut and anything I did manage to force down came swiftly out of one end or the other. While out shopping a few weeks after Sam left I bumped into my hairdresser when I was mindlessly skimming through one of those achingly trendy gift shops for a friend’s birthday present.

‘Amanda! Is that you?’ Sally had gasped, pushing her shades up onto her head to scrutinise me in detail as I leaned on the double buggy to prevent the spins taking hold. I couldn’t remember when or what I had last eaten.

‘Yes.’ That was all I could manage to say. I knew if I uttered anything else the water works would start gushing. Most days I was perilously close to the edge of Niagara Falls.

‘Are you OK? You don’t look very well. Are you… ill?’ she probed uncertainly, most likely wanting to ask if I had cancer, but not quite daring to. I certainly looked like it, with my twig-like arms and legs and scrawny turkey neck, heartbreak’s version of concentration-camp chic.

‘No. My husband… he left a few weeks ago.’ Predictably the tears started. I flapped my hands by my eyes as if that would somehow quell the tide of grief.

‘Put your Pradas back on,’ Sally ordered, indicating to my sunglasses on top of my head, a Valentine’s gift from Sam a few months earlier. I should have trod on them, ground them under my heel, but I loved them. I still wore my wedding and engagement rings, too. I had tentatively taken them off after a few weeks, but the gap on my finger pulsed like phantom limb syndrome and I had to ram them back on, but they were so loose now that they were in danger of falling off.


Thursday 14 June 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Summer of Love by Caro Fraser

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Summer of Love by Caro Fraser where I have an extract from Caro's latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Melanie Price from Head of Zeus 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:

1
1949

The air was full of the fresh, damp scents of early spring as Meg and Dan Ranscombe turned off the road and walked up the narrow path that led to the back of Woodbourne House. They made a handsome couple – Meg, in her early thirties, was vividly pretty, with dark eyes and chestnut hair curling to her shoulders; Dan, a few years older, was by contrast fair-haired and blue-eyed, his clean-cut features marked by a faint arrogance, a remnant of youthful vanity. They walked in thoughtful silence. It was four years since they had last been to Woodbourne House, the home of Sonia Haddon, Meg’s aunt and Dan’s godmother.

‘I’m glad we took the train instead of driving,’ said Dan, breaking the quiet. ‘I have fond memories of this walk.’

They paused by a big, whitewashed stone barn standing at the foot of a sloping apple orchard.
‘Uncle Henry’s studio,’ murmured Meg. ‘I remember that summer, having to traipse down every morning with barley water and biscuits for him while he was painting.’

Sonia’s husband, Henry Haddon, had been an acclaimed artist in his day, and in pre-war times to have one’s portrait painted by him had had considerable cachet. In Britain’s post-war modernist world, his name had fallen out of fashion.

Dan stood gazing at the barn, lost in his own memories: that final day of the house party twelve years ago, when he had come down to the studio to say farewell to his host. Finding Henry Haddon, his trousers round his ankles, locked in an embrace with Madeleine, the nanny, against the wall of the studio had been absurd and shocking enough, but what had then transpired had been even worse. He could remember still the sound of the ladder crashing to the floor, and the sight of five-year-old Avril peeping over the edge of the hayloft. Presumably the shock of seeing his daughter had brought on Haddon’s heart attack. That, and unwonted sexual exertions. The moments afterwards were confused in his memory, although he recalled setting the ladder aright so that Avril could get down, then sending her running up to the house to get someone to fetch a doctor, while he uselessly attempted to revive Haddon. Madeleine, unsurprisingly, had made herself scarce. And the painting – he remembered that. A portrait of Madeleine in her yellow sundress, seated on a wicker chair, head half-turned as though listening to notes of unheard music, or the footfall of some awaited lover. Haddon had been working on it in the days running up to his death, and no doubt the intimacy forged between painter and sitter had led to that brief and ludicrously tragic affair. The falling ladder had knocked it from the easel, and he had picked it up and placed it with its face to the wall next to the other canvases. He didn’t to this day know why he had done that. Perhaps as a way of closing off and keeping secret what he had witnessed. To this day nobody but he knew about Haddon’s affair with Madeleine. Had the painting ever been discovered? No one had ever mentioned it. Perhaps it was there still, just as he had left it.

Meg glanced at his face. ‘Penny for them.’

‘Oh, nothing,’ said Dan. ‘Just thinking about that house party, when you and I first met.’

What a fateful chain of events had been set in motion in the summer of 1936. He had been a twenty-four-year-old penniless journalist, invited to spend several days at Woodbourne House with a handful of other guests. Meeting and falling in love with Meg had led to the clandestine affair they had conducted throughout the war years behind the back of her husband Paul. Its discovery had led to estrangement with much of the family. Paul, a bomber pilot, had been killed on the way back from a raid over Germany, and the possibility that his discovery of the affair might have contributed in some way, on some level, to his death, still haunted them both. They never spoke of it. Meg and Dan were married now, but the guilt of what they had done remained. Meg’s mother Helen had been trying for some time to persuade her sister, Sonia, to forgive Meg and Dan, and today’s invitation to Woodbourne House was a signal that she had at last relented.

They walked up through the orchard, and when they reached the flagged courtyard at the back of the house Meg said, ‘I’m going to the kitchen to say hello to Effie. I don’t think I can face Aunt Sonia quite yet. I’ll let you go first. Cowardly of me, I know, but I can’t help it.’ She gave him a quick smile and a kiss, and turned in the direction of the kitchen.


Friday 8 June 2018

REVIEW ~ Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris


With HUGE thanks to the crew at HQ, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review......

Finn and his girlfriend Layla are a young couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay and to use the bathroom, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she's not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Fast forward ten years he's engaged to be married, he's happy and in love, his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She's turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love........

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Well, I didn't like this, I absolutely LOVED it. Gripping and addictive, just when I thought that I'd everything worked out, red herrings were thrown in my path to throw the reader off the scent which is a very clever thing to do in a psychological thriller, rather than it been predictive or having it worked out from the first few pages.  It kept me on my toes and on the edge of my seat. Just go and read it, you definitely won't be disappointed.

Ashamedly, this is the first book by B.A. Paris that I've read even though I have her previous two books here which I'll definitely be reading once I get my ever growing TBR pile down.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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

Wednesday 6 June 2018

REVIEW ~ The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly


With HUGE thanks to Elaine Egan, Hachette Ireland and Orion Publishing, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review..............

Three women are celebrating their milestone birthdays.......30. 40. 50. But as they're going to discover their birthdays marks the start of a year that will change everything.

Ginger isn't spending her 30th the way she would have planned. Tonight might be the first night of the rest of her life - or a total disaster.

Sam is finally pregnant after years of trying. When her waters break on the morning of her 40th birthday, she panics: forget labour, how is she going to be a mother?

Callie is celebrating her 50th at a big party in her Dublin home. Then a knock at the door from the police mid-party turns her perfect life upside down......

I absolutely adored this book, ashamedly I've to admit that it's the first time that I've read a book by Cathy Kelly but It definitely won't be my last.  It was warm and emotive and I warmed to every one of the three women who were celebrating their birthdays.  I really loved Ginger as she reminded me a little of me and her storyline at the start of the book but I'm not going to spoil it.  The only thing I would've liked is if Callie's husband, Jason's story had have been expanded a little on perhaps why he did what he did but that's only a little minor thing.

The Year That Changed Everything is a feelgood, uplifting and emotional novel about family, friends and how far we must go at times before admitting defeat and need them to step in and help out.  What I really enjoyed is that all three women's stories come together by the end of the book and proves that we all do need our girlfriends in our lives.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The Year That Changed Everything is available from all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle where it is currently £5.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Saturday 2 June 2018

REVIEW ~ Don't Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon


With HUGE thanks to Kirsty Doole and Corvus, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review......

Two sisters. A lifetime of secrets. One terrible reckoning. 

Robin and Sarah weren't the closest of twins. They weren't even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruelest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another to different sides of the world. 

Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Formerly a famous rock star, now agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches - watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something that she shouldn't.....

Her twin Sarah got what she wanted - the good-looking man, a beautiful little baby and the perfect home. But she's just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can't be around her new family until she has come to terms with something horrific that happened a long time ago. But to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.

But Sarah isn't the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship....

Well, I thought that this wouldn't beat me raving about Try Not To Breathe, Don't Close Your Eyes knocks it out of the park, I absolutely LOVED it. It is a stunning novel with twists, turns, shock with a gripping psychological suspense where two sisters find themselves on the razor's edge of sanity. It is full of untold secrets, an awful lie, and a stifling guilt hold them back. Only one astounding act can set them free. Those last two chapters blew me away with that one last revelation and left me open mouthed too. Well done Holly, another triumph and can't wait to read Love Will Tear Us Apart.

HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Don't Close Your Eyes is available from all good bookshops, libraries, on audio and on Kindle and it is currently £0.99 at the time of publication of this review.