#BlogTour In Your Silence by Grace Lowrie @AccentPress @GraceLowrie1 #BookReview

Hugely delighted to be kicking things off for the IN YOUR SILENCE blog tour today! My thanks to the author and publisher for the copy of the book and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘A compelling, suspenseful, and hauntingly atmospheric read’ – Lynne Shelby, author of There She Goes 

‘A beautiful garden, flawed leads and twisted obsession combine in this erotic romance’ – Laura Wilkinson, author of Skin Deep 


Still reeling from a sudden and very one-sided break-up, Liam throws himself into his work and gets commissioned to restore the neglected grounds of a mansion, Wildham Hall, for its owner Gregory Sinclair.

It is there that Liam meets Melody, who is mute.

Liam has always suppressed the darkest side of himself, but as his clandestine liaison with Melody develops, she tests him and his deepest desires are dragged to the surface.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

Publisher Website

hive.co.uk

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With a background in art, prop-making and garden design, Grace has always been creative – but she is a romantic at heart and writing was, and is, her first love. An avid reader of fiction she prefers coffee and a sinister undercurrent over tea and chick lit, and has a soft spot for grumpy ginger tomcats.
When not making prop costumes or hanging out with her favourite nephews, she continues to write women’s fiction and romance novels from her Hertfordshire home.

 CONNECT WITH AUTHOR


Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

MY REVIEW

Another sizzler from Grace which brilliantly captures the passion of a relationship alongside an intriguing storyline that left me shocked at the twists and turns by the end!

The story centres around Liam and Melody.  He’s a gardener who has just split with a long time girlfriend, and is drawn to an advert for  a gardener needed at Wildham Hall.

Wildham Hall is home to Gregory and Melody – he wants the grounds restored which is music to Liam’s ears as he loves looking into the history of the house and gardens and wants to bring it all back to life, despite the huge undertaking ahead of him.

Melody is the mystery character of the book! She is a proofreader and spends most of her hours in the house, with Gregory being very overprotective towards her and seemingly keeping her ‘safe’ at home for her own protection.  She’s always used to being different as she’s mute  – something that puzzles Liam when he starts spotting her watching him from windows or hanging around in the garden.  They both seem intrigued by one another! He because she is totally different from anyone he has ever met before, and she because Liam is patient with her, he doesn’t ask too many questions and she feels she can trust him.

The  more time they spend together, the more their passion grows and it’s soon clear they have a much deeper connection to one another – not that everybody approves!!

I loved the mystery in this story!  So many question you find yourself asking throughout, and then I found myself totally shocked when finding out the answers!! Melody seems to be a quiet soul, often cruelly treated by the housekeeper, but Liam seems to bring out another side to her and she soon craves more of the outside world rather than the lonely existence she’d had up until now.

Their relationship is often hot and steamy, but there’s a real tenderness there too but there’s more to this story than their romance, and I loved the tension as secrets from the past finally get revealed!  Prepare to be shocked!!

★★★★

#BookReview #Audiobook Childish Spirits by Rob Keeley

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Ellie and her family move into Inchwood Manor, Ellie quickly discovers strange things are happening. Who is the mysterious boy at the window? What secrets lie within the abandoned nursery? Who is the woman who haunts Ellie’s dreams – and why has she returned to the Manor, after more than a century? Ellie finds herself entangled in a Victorian mystery of ghosts and tunnels and secret documents – and discovers that life all those years ago isn’t so different from the world she knows today…Rob Keeley’s first novel for children brings out all the ingredients of the classic ghost story within a recognisable modern world setting. 

Readers of his short story collections for children will find in Childish Spirits the elements which made his past books such a success – strong and contemporary characters, inventive twists on traditional themes, and a winning combination of action, suspense and humour.

published by Troubador Publishing

PURCHASE LINK – audio version

Amazon UK

THE AUTHOR

Author Website

Twitter – @RobKeeleyAuthor

MY REVIEW

Having come to this series late – I started with book 3 The Sword of the Spirit – I’ve been thrilled to be able to listen to the audio version of Book 1 to see where it all began and I loved how brilliant it was to hear it all brought to life, and loved the drama, mystery and humour throughout!

Ellie is the star of this series, and we find her moving to Inchwood Manor, along with her mum and older brother, as a new chapter of their life begins and her mum starts a new job helping prepare the old house to be opened to the public. Ellie is quite excited by the mve, the same can’t be said for her brother Charlie!

It doesn’t take Ellie long to notice a young boy watching her, and she’s braver than I would be when she starts exploring the Manor late at night when she starts hearing noises, and comes face to face with a prank pulling young boy called Edward! What follows then is her learning about the history of the house and finding out about the family who lived there, and why Edward seems to be trapped and so scared of his governess who still haunts the rooms too.

Ellie has this boundless enthusiasm that is infectious! She’s willing to throw herself into solving the mysteries of the Manor as well as helping Edward and it’s also a great way to learn about the differences between growing up now, and how Edward grew up in the Victorian years. There are some scary moments alongside quite emotional times when Edward is remembering his family and this was all brilliantly portrayed in the audio version too! It’s a great mix for readers (and listeners!) of all ages!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing how this fabulous series started – I love the mix of history to be learnt and mysteries to be solved, and my thanks go to the author and publisher for letting me have a copy of the audiobook in return for a fair and honest review.

★★★★★

#BookReview The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell #bookblogger #TheDevilAspect

About the book

A terrifying novel set in Czechoslovakia in 1935, in which a brilliant young psychiatrist takes his new post at an asylum for the criminally insane that houses only six inmates–the country’s most depraved murderers–while, in Prague, a detective struggles to understand a brutal serial killer who has spread fear through the city, and who may have ties to the asylum 

In 1935, Viktor Kosrek, a psychiatrist newly trained by Carl Jung, arrives at the infamous Hrad Orlu Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The state-of-the-art facility is located in a medieval mountaintop castle outside of Prague, though the site is infamous for concealing dark secrets going back many generations. The asylum houses the country’s six most treacherous killers–known to the staff as The Woodcutter, The Clown, The Glass Collector, The Vegetarian, The Sciomancer, and The Demon–and Viktor hopes to use a new medical technique to prove that these patients share a common archetype of evil, a phenomenon known as The Devil Aspect. As he begins to learn the stunning secrets of these patients, five men and one woman, Viktor must face the disturbing possibility that these six may share another dark truth. 


Meanwhile, in Prague, fear grips the city as a phantom serial killer emerges in the dark alleys. Police investigator Lukas Smolak, desperate to locate the culprit (dubbed Leather Apron in the newspapers), realizes that the killer is imitating the most notorious serial killer from a century earlier–London’s Jack the Ripper. Smolak turns to the doctors at Hrad Orlu for their expertise with the psychotic criminal mind, though he worries that Leather Apron might have some connection to the six inmates in the asylum. 


Steeped in the folklore of Eastern Europe, and set in the shadow of Nazi darkness erupting just beyond the Czech border, this stylishly written, tightly coiled, richly imagined novel is propulsively entertaining, and impossible to put down.

Published by  Constable

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk

WHSmith

waterstones

MY REVIEW

Madness and Murder – what a belter of a combination!! And this book has it in bucket loads and kept me terrified and looking over my shoulder at every opportunity!

I loved the setting in a creepy old castle which is now home to the criminally insane – The Devil’s Six – and Dr Viktor Kosarek is a young psychiatrist is brought in to use new techniques to try and uncover just what made these people commit such horrific crimes. i loved how we got to hear the backstory of each of the Six while the Dr interviews them and the author pulls no punches in describing some of the gruesome crimes they committed! This is not a book to be read before bedtime!!

Meanwhile, there is a murderer on the loose, known as ‘Leather Apron’ who butchers his victims, and Kaptain Lukas is in charge of trying to get to the bottom of who this vile creature is and if there is any link to those inside the Asylum. There are links also to murders committed in London by Jack the ripper with the brutality used so this is another connection that needs to be looked into and the story allows for different avenues to be explored both from the police point, the psychiatrist view and that of the criminals themselves.

As Dr Viktor delves further into the past of the Six, he hears how each of them are convinced it wasn’t them committing their crimes but the devil himself. I really enjoyed his time spent with these six characters – they all could have had their own books written about them with the lives they’d led, and the lives they’d taken, but it was so interesting to see them up alongside one another so that Dr Viktor could see what links he could find between them all.

There is a great mix of a very strong plot line with this book alongside those of flawed characters throughout who had suffered in their pasts, and setting it in a dark period of history allowed there to be many twists that lead the reader up the garden path, so to speak, and I found it to be one of those books that you lose yourself in and one of those stories that stay with you for some time after you finish reading the last page! Beware the devil!!!

My thanks to the Author and Publisher for the book in return for a fair and honest review.

★★★★

#BlogTour The Duke and the Imposter by Michael Stolle #BookReview @Bookollective

Delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for THE DUKE AND THE IMPOSTER by MICHAEL STOLLE – and my thanks to the author, publisher and Bookollective for putting it all together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s a beautiful day in the seventeenth century. Pierre, Marquis de Beauvoir, Duke of Hertford and his small family arrive for a picnic on the banks of the River Loire in the grounds of his castle of Montrésor. It is a garden Eden – beautiful and peaceful. But fate strikes and, taken by surprise, the lunch party is ambushed.

Pierre is found later by his faithful valet, barely clinging to life, but his wife and only son have vanished without a trace. Beyond consolation, Pierre is convinced that his family has been annihilated. Luckily his friends François and Armand rush to the castle from Paris to his aid – and to investigate.

The quest leads to the coast of France and then on to the shores of England, a country torn apart by old loyalties to the Stuart king and the rise of the new Puritan gentry.

As the friends come closer and closer to the viper’s nest they must find out the truth, and track down the mastermind behind the ambush, who is prepared to stop at nothing until he has taken Pierre’s place and styled himself the next Duke of Hertford. A man not known to take prisoners. Soon Pierre and his friends are not only fighting against an enemy who’s ruthless and vile, they’re racing against time, the biggest enemy of all. 

Published by Amazon

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This is the 5th book in this series, but my 1st so don’t worry about not having read any of the others! It’s really easy to get in to and is a great mix of history and mystery, so plenty to keep you engaged and entertained from page one to the last!

Set in 17th Century England and France, you follow the story of Pierre who is in pain and struggling to remember what happened to his family while they were out having a picnic. With no sign of his wife and child he fears the worst, but calls in his friends Francois and Armand to help try and figure out what happened and how to find out if his family are alright.

As Francois and Armand start to question those around, they soon uncover sinister goings on and then have a race against time to track Marie and her son down before it is too late.

I enjoyed the duo of Francois and Armand as they would often bicker and were very funny together but they had great detective skills between them! They used their contacts in London well and it was quite good fun trying to work out who they should trust. I also like the way the story was switched too from Marie’s point of view as it showed her being so brave for her son despite not knowing what was really going on.  It soon becomes clear why they wanted the young son so badly and why they went to the lengths they did to grab him and a lot is uncovered in clandestine meetings back in London that really get to the bottom of the plot against the family.  

Set in the time of Cromwell and King Charles I, England was in turmoil so there’s always plenty going on and lots to explore in how people were behaving at that time,  and I just enjoyed the quick pace of the story, the engaging characters and a fascinating period of history!

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#BookReview Things In Jars by Jess Kidd

About the book

London, 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet. Reeling from her last job and with her reputation in tatters, a remarkable puzzle has come her way. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist.

As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Anomalies are in fashion, curiosities are the thing, and fortunes are won and lost in the name of entertainment. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen.

Things in Jars is an enchanting Victorian detective novel that explores what it is to be human in inhumane times.

Published by Canongate Books

Publication Date – 4th April 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Goldsboro Books  – signed first edition £14.99

hive.co.uk  £10.99

waterstones  £14.99

MY REVIEW

Move over Sherlock, Bridie Devine is the new super sleuth in town and I adore her! Jess Kidd has created another dark and wonderful tale set in Victorian times that explores the disturbing disappearance of a young girl, who has been kept hidden away because she’s ‘different’ – she feeds on snails, has an unusual appearance and is also said to possess powers.  The family she is stolen from are never too forthcoming with details about her, so it’s left to Bridie to uncover the dark story behind young Christabel, and that leads Bridie to look back on her own childhood too.

She isn’t alone on her quest as she is joined by the rather wonderful   Ruby, a ghost-boxer who appears in Bridie’s life at a seemingly random time! Is there more to his story than meets the eye?! He adds many lighter moments throughout with his comments and observations but also shows sensitivities which are very touching.

As she confronts many repulsive characters on the search for Christabel, the look back on her own earlier life is also a fascinating glimpse into why she feels so connected to this poor girl and why she is determined to try and save her.  

And while there is much love for Bridie and her quest, the evilness of many characters throughout is another success of this book! The levels of depravity that some of them sink to is eye-wateringly shocking and I just found myself wishing for karma to deal with them as soon as possible – in a very unpleasant way!!

I was utterly riveted by this story! And switching the story from the now timeline to Bridie’s past added more as she also had a very unconventional upbringing which explained her outlook on life – and death – now!  The more she uncovers about various characters, the more you left to be staggered by the goings on and I found that I had my heart in my mouth with the dramatic ending.

  I would love to say more about this book but am sure I would include a spoiler or three, so I’m just going to have to say if you love your stories dark, dramatic, mysterious, macabre, weird, wonderful, tense and thrilling then look no further!!

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#BookReview The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish #LibraryLoveChallenge

About the book

Welcome to Lime Park Road. A picture-perfect street with a secret at its heart.

When Joe and Christy Davenport step behind the Oxford Blue painted door of their ‘for ever’ home, they believe their dreams have come true.

Yet the boxes aren’t even unpacked before a series of events leads Christy to become obsessed with the previous occupant, the glamorous, enigmatic Amber Fraser, whose departure from Lime Park Road is shrouded in mystery.

What happened to her? And why are Joe and Christy’s attempts at friendship with neighbours met with an unnerving silence?

As Christy unravels the shocking truth about the Frasers and the place she now calls home, she discovers that behind the closed doors of even the most desirable postcodes, terrible secrets lurk.

Published by Penguin Books

MY REVIEW

I found this to be really engaging but quite a dark read, and the intrigue that followed with the departure of the Frasers from the neighbourhood, which leads to the Davenports being able to move into the home of their dreams was cleverly managed and well written.

When Christy and Joe move to Lime Park Road they think all their wishes have come true but it’s really the start of a nightmare for them as they notice the neighbours act very strangely towards them, and are reluctant to discuss just what happened to the family who lived there before and who had moved out so quickly.

The story flits between the present, with Christy becoming obsessed with trying to find out what really went on in their new home and trying to befriend her new neighbours, and also goes back to the past so that we see the story from the point of view of Amber Fraser, the glamourous wife of Jeremy, and how she viewed her time at Lime Park Road – and she has some stories to tell!!

This is a book to have you wondering about what goes on behind closed doors in your neighbourhood and just how dark and devious those you least expect can be! Those whose lifestyles you envy might not be all that they are cracked up to be!

Definitely hope to read more from this author in the future

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#BookReview The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

About the book

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Wilkie Collins and MR James meet Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers… 

Published by Quercus

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

book depository

waterstones

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a very clever, dark and compelling mystery and, being my first read from this author, I’m now eager to go back and read more from Elly Griffiths as I found her way of storytelling really enjoyable!

As a diary writer myself, the fact that Clare finds extra messages written in her diary after the murder of her close friend, Ella, made for creepy reading and set the tone as the hunt for this killer picked up the pace and could be one of many! I liked the way the different points of view – Clare, the detective Harbinder Kaur, and Clares’ daughter Georgia – really helped the story develop with the different personalities and backgrounds.

With Clare teaching English and featuring the ghost stories of R.M Holland, whom she is also researching, that also added an extra creepy element to the story. Tales of the building being haunted had been told for many years, and you really felt the edginess when Clare or others were alone in the building and wondering what they might hear or see next.

When the body count increases that is when the tension and pace picks up quite considerably and once the pieces start falling into place it isn’t too long before the killer is identified – if only I’d picked up on the clues earlier!

The perfect autumn/winter read to keep you thrilled and chilled!

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the e-copy in return for a fair and honest review.

⚘⚘⚘⚘⚘

#BookReview A House of Ghosts by W.C Ryan

About the book

A gripping mystery with a classic feel: And Then There Were None meets The Silent Companions.

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.

At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.

For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . .
.
An unrelentingly gripping mystery packed with twists and turns, A House of Ghosts is the perfect chilling read this winter.

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Almost unbearably creepy and beautifully written’ Liz Nugent, bestseller author of LYING IN WAIT

‘A splendid tale of wartime skullduggery, featuring both kinds of spooks – perfect fireside reading’ Mick Herron, CWA Gold Dagger Award Winning author of DEAD LIONS

‘Hugely enjoyable, A House of Ghosts has the bones of a taut thriller wrapped up in the gorgeous romance of its ghostly island setting’ Jane Casey

‘Perfect for a dark and stormy evening: a truly creepy and ingenious ghost story and murder mystery with an irresistible setting’ Ragnar Jonasson

Published by Zaffre

Publication Date – 4th October 2018

Pre-order links

hive.co.uk  £9.95

waterstones  £12.99

Goldsboro Books – signed first edition  £12.99

👻👻👻

MY REVIEW

This is an eerie and engrossing story set against the backdrop of The First World War, and featuring the imposing Blackwater Abbey where Lord Highmount has lived for many years with his family, and has now invited a select few to join him for a weekend to contact the spirits so he and his wife can reconnect with those he has lost.


I knew very little of this book going in, other than it has a stunning and striking cover, and within a few pages I found myself captivated by the setting of this home sitting on an Island off the Devon Coast, and the mixture of characters who all found themselves heading there for a paranormal weekend. The story is mainly told from the points of view of Lord Highmount, Kate and Donovan who have their own very mysterious backgrounds of which you learn more about as the story unfolds.

Kate is such a fascinating character. Working in intelligence,she is selected by her boss to go on this weekend to gain some valuable knowledge from some of the other guests, alongside her ex fiancee! Not a ideal set up! She has a history with the Highmount family too so that makes it an even more difficult task for her to complete. She is being looked after by another interesting character, Donovan, who is also there to oversee the goings on but from the servants side of things. They find they soon have more to investigate when one of the party is killed!

Kate also has the ability to see ghosts so while she is at Blackwater Abbey she is continually seeing things that others don’t and this adds another intriguing element to the mix in this story! It really blends the mix of the supernatural, history and mystery so well together. It’s one of those books that you can form your own opinion on a variety of characters as you read, working out who is trustworthy and who to be wary of. I know I was proved wrong on a number of occasions as to who I trusted!

The seances seem to change the sceptics minds amongst them but it also sets off a chain of darker events and this keeps you with that very unsettled feeling as you read. It’s one of those books that you read that really draws you into that world, as if you’re a fly on the wall overseeing all that happens around you and I loved the escapism that this story helps create. A really enjoyable read!

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My thanks to the publisher and Readers First for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview Ice by Anna Kavan #RIPXIII

 

Getting out of my comfort zone at the moment and picking up those books that I’ve been too scared to pick up as I’m a big wuss!!  And it’s all thanks to ReadersImbibingPeril who are hosting RIPXIII, the challenge they host to get us to pick up scary books and have fun reading them!

I’ve had this book on my shelves for quite a while so have been reading it over the past few evenings! 

About the book

In this haunting and surreal novel, the narrator and a man known as the warden search for an elusive girl in a frozen, seemingly post-nuclear, apocalyptic landscape. The country has been invaded and is being governed by a secret organization. There is destruction everywhere; great walls of ice overrun the world. Together with the narrator, the reader is swept into a hallucinatory quest for this strange and fragile creature with albino hair. Acclaimed upon its 1967 publication as the best science fiction book of the year, this extraordinary and innovative novel has subsequently been recognized as a major work of literature in its own right. 

MY REVIEW

In this book you are never quite sure what is real! It is extremely surreal and nightmarish! You’re always feeling unsure of what you are about to encounter and that is what keeps you turning the pages.

The ‘chase’ works so well against the bleak background of the Ice bound world that the characters find themselves living in. The narrator is a man who becomes obsessed with this pale girl who he often glimpses but never seems to get close to. Is she real? Is he just mad? I think with this story it’s all open to interpretation and I enjoyed that uncertainty throughout. You could read into it what you wanted! There was no real plotlines to keep track of and you just went where the story took you!  

An interesting and unsettling read!!

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#BlogTour What Was Lost by Jean Levy #BookExtract #BookReview @DomePress @JeanELevy

lost

Extremely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for WHAT WAS LOST by JEAN LEVY.  My thanks to the author and publisher for allowing me to be part of it all!

On my stop today will be my review of this stunning book, alongside a sneaky extract for you all to enjoy!

About the book

How would you live if you had no memories? And what if you were suspected of a terrible crime?

Sarah has no memories. She just knows she was found, near death, on a beach miles from her London home. Now she is part of a medical experiment to see whether her past can be retrieved.

But bad things seemed to have happened before she disappeared. The police are interested in her hidden memories too. A nice man she meets in the supermarket appears to have her best interests at heart. He seems to understand her – almost as if he knows her…

As she fights to regain her memories and her sense of self, it is clear that people are hiding things from her. Who are they protecting? Does Sarah really want the truth?

Published by The Dome Press

LEVY

Author social media link @JeanELevy

Purchase Links

Amazon UK £8.99

Waterstones £8.99

hive.co.uk  £7.75

BOOK EXTRACT

Episode Two (cont’d) 

I stared at the apple resting against my shoe. It was probably a too-red Bramley, perhaps a too-green Gala. I can’t remember now. But I do remember that, even after everything that had happened, everything I had lost, I could still remember the names of apples. And I could still remember Granny Clark’s stories: how apples came to be called this or that. Barnaby Smith’s old grandma used to hide those hard green apples in a box under her bed so that the night fairies would never find them. Annabel Bramley had been disappointed that only one of her apple pips germinated although she wasn’t to know that trees from that one tiny seedling would one day provide fruit for the best apple pies in the world. I was writing all those stories into picture books. Doing the illustrations myself. In fact, I’d been thinking about Orange Pippins that very morning. Before the black and white cat had purred in through the flap and demanded tuna.  

I stopped to retrieve the unsolicited fruit, lifted it to my nose and was briefly overwhelmed by a memory of pumpkins and autumn sunshine. I read the name on the round, sticky label. Was Braeburn in Scotland? Perhaps that was something I once knew.  

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t aim that at you!’ 

I looked up. He was smiling. The man who had not aimed the apple was smiling. He was, perhaps, early forties, tall with some very pleasing russet stubble, specked golden in the artificial light. His eyes were green: not apple green, more pastel green, like husky eyes made white by the snow. I offered him the apple. ‘It seems OK,’ I said. I really liked the colour of his eyes. Mine are just brown, like most other eyes. ‘But you ought to put it back. In case it’s bruised.’ 

‘Then someone else might finish up with a bruised apple.’ 

I felt myself smiling. That in itself was brave of me. ‘Shall I put it back for you?’ 

He made a display of coming to a decision. His smile disappeared. But the tiny creases beside his eyes didn’t. ‘No, never get anybody else to do your dirty work. I’ll take it to a member of staff and explain.’ 

‘They’ll put it back when you’re not looking.’ I was amazing at my own boldness. 

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but at least my conscience will be clear.’ He took the apple, hovered momentarily, then his face broke into a broad smile. ‘See ya!’ 

I watched him return to his trolley, replete with vegetables, grabbed a grapefruit I didn’t want, pulled off my scrunchie and reorganised it, then hurried away towards canned fish, where I loaded a dozen small tins of line-caught tuna in spring water into my trolley, before collecting two bags of cat biscuits and wheeling on towards the checkouts. Did tuna live in spring water? I couldn’t remember. I joined the nearest queue and thought about Orange Pippins, remembering what Granny Clark used to say: if they rattle they’re ripe. I could remember her holding those yellow-red apples to my ear and shaking them. I could remember them rattling. I could remember back then.  

‘Fancy a coffee?’ 

I spun round. ‘What?’ 

‘Coffee, do you fancy a coffee?’ The apple man. He as right behind me in the queue. 

I caught my breath, recovered. ‘I have to get back. I’m writing a book. For children.’ I noticed a slight flicker of awkwardness in his pastel-green eyes. ‘But thanks, if I didn’t have to… Do you come here often?’ 

‘He laughed away the awkwardness. ‘Excellent line! You’re clearly a world-class author.’ He took a very obvious deep breath. ‘Mostly Thursdays. Occasionally Saturdays. Not usually as early as this. The name’s Parry. Matthew Parry.’ He offered his hand.  

‘Can I help?’ The checkout operative sliced through our conversation. 

‘Oh, sorry,’ I said and hurried four tins on to the conveyor belt. 

‘Do you need help?’ He lifted two tins and my box of cornflakes and aimed them at the till. ‘Are the cornflakes for you or your cat? I presume you have a cat.’ He scooped up the cat biscuits. ‘Either that or you have a strange taste in biscuits.’ 

I forced myself to smile and quickly transferred the rest of my shopping before he could offer further assistance, pushed my trolley past the checkout and hurried everything into my bag, handed the woman my credit card, punched in the number that was written across my wallet, glanced towards the exit and waited. 

‘I’d like you to have this as a deposit.’ Again I was forced to look round. I was being offered a familiar red and green apple. The shop assistant tutted. He addressed her directly. ‘It’s weighed and included in the price.’ He demonstrated the sticker on his bag of other red and green apples. ‘Do you want to check it?’ 

The assistant rolled her eyes and ripped my receipt from the till. ‘Next!’ she instructed the conveyor belt, which was already filling with vegetables. 

I accepted the apple, surprised at my lack of embarrassment. Perhaps I’d forgotten how to feel embarrassed. He continued to unload his shopping. ‘Perhaps this Saturday? Same time, same place?’ 

I popped the apple into my bag and said nothing – which was pretty much a reflection of what was inside my head – left the supermarket in a blur and drove home, wondering who he was, what he did, where he lived. What he would think if he knew.  

I pulled into the residents’ parking zone, parked in my allocated space, being careful not to reverse into the builder’s skip that was occupying the two visitor parking spaces, hauled my shopping off the passenger seat and stepped out of my car. The black and white cat emerged from under a nearby van, rubbed past the back wheel of my dilapidated Escort and threw its ear against my leg. I hurried inside. The cat knew not to follow. 

Secure in my kitchen, I pulled a tin of tuna from my bag and emptied its contents onto a clean plate. I glanced up as a familiar black and white head purred through the flap, watched as the indifferent animal lapped systematically around the outside of the tuna flesh, savouring the spring water, before attacking the main course. The purring intensified. I washed my hands thoroughly then emptied my shopping onto the work surface, snatched up the apple as it rolled away and tried to remember whether apples ought to be kept in the fridge. It didn’t look as if it did. So I put it in the fruit bowl with the grapefruit and bananas. I stacked the rest of the tins and the cat biscuits into the cupboard under the sink and then returned to the small box of cornflakes, carried it over to the cereal cupboard, and took a deep breath before opening the door and inserting the fresh box alongside all the other identical boxes arranged two deep on all three shelves of the cupboard.

MY REVIEW

Why are books that mess with your mind so wonderful to read?! I found this story to be so compulsive and intriguing that it was really difficult to switch off from! ‘Just one more chapter’ become my mantra while reading this!
Sarah is a successful author and is found unconscious, bloodied and frozen on a beach miles from home with no memory of how or why she is there! Her story then becomes a battle to try and recover the lost memories alongside trying to hold on to the memories she has left. And the more that is revealed about her story, then the more you know there’s a lot of darkness in her past – plenty to keep the reader trying to second guess where the story will go next. There are so many red flags throughout that i just kept trying to work out if certain bits of information were important or not!
The police are suspicious about Sarah – is she claiming memory loss to throw them off track about something bigger, or is she genuine and if so what happened to her! She is introduced to people from her past and she struggles to build bonds with some of these people and others she trusts implicitly. Even photos from her past are kept back from her by her Doctors’ as they fear this could be too much of a trigger for her and you just put yourself in her position and wonder how you would react in such a situation. Wondering who to trust and what was being kept from you must be terrifying!

This was a truly thrilling read that I devoured and an astonishing debut from the author.

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