Tag Archives: Extract

**Cover Reveal & Extract** Blind Side by Jennie Ensor #BlogTour

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Today I am thrilled to have been asked to reveal the cover for Blind Side by Jennie Ensor, it’s certainly an intriguing cover, and one I would pick up to read the book description. I have two dates on this blog tour (yes very unusual I know), and tomorrow I will be featuring a guest post from the author herself. So I’m going to keep you waiting until tomorrow for the book description, but in the meantime here’s a sneaky extract, and don’t forget to pop by tomorrow where you can read more about Blind Side.
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 She’s standing there, across the lane. Close enough for me to call out hello. Blue jeans, padded jacket, short boots, the furry insides folded over. Not much make-up. Hair loose, tickling her shoulders. Scarf draped chicly about her neck. With her long legs and silky hair she could pass for a model.
Every so often she looks at her watch. She’s getting agitated, chewing her lower lip, staring at people passing by. Men, that is. Her hair keeps getting blown across her face and each time she pulls it off with an impatient flick of the fingers. The wind has a nip in it today. She hugs herself and rubs her arms. She pushes her hands down into her jacket pockets, rocking from one foot to the other.
It’s busy in this quaint little lane. People ducking in and out of boutiques and bakeries, yakking in French, supping their Saturday morning cappuccinos. Old ladies creaking along in cashmere coats and sensible shoes, trendy mums pushing designer kids. Oh yes, and little old me loitering in a doorway, watching.
A burly man in a khaki jacket strides into view from the direction of the tube station. His hair is hidden by a beanie. She checks him out too. A sharp turn of the head and the expectant look on her face is wiped in an instant. He disappears into the gallery.
Russell Brand or his lookalike emerges from a florist. Diamond earring, pirate beard. She looks again at her watch, ignoring him. Her mouth twists in frustration. She jams her hands in her pockets and strolls along the lane, away from me.
I drain my coffee, ditch the plastic cup. She stops and looks into the florist’s window. I go closer, almost close enough to reach out and touch her.
Her long earrings nestle into the curve of her cheekbones. She’s wearing gloss on her lips. A trace of light perfume reaches me. Something new, inviting. I feign an interest in the garish display of tulips, unnatural yellows and reds. Funny, how dark glasses and a hat can make such a difference. She doesn’t recognise me, doesn’t even see me.

you can pre-order Blind Side here……

Dont forget to pop by tomorrow to read more about Blind Side 

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***Extract*** Melody Bittersweet And The Girl’s Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French –

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Today I am delighted to have a extract from MELODY BITTERSWEET AND THE GIRLS’ GHOSTBUSTING AGENCY by Kitty French. I just adore this cover it screams out “read me”. Unfortunately I have such a back log of review books to get through that I just haven’t had the time to read this one, but hopefully I will soon (say’s every book blogger in the country, at some point). MELODY BITTERSWEET AND THE GIRLS’ GHOSTBUSTING AGENCY by Kitty French is published tomorrow by one of my favourite publishers Bookouture, I love the following extract and hope you do too. I’ve also included the links, so you can pop over an pre-order your copy today

Book Description

An absolutely hilarious, totally entertaining, spookily sexy read that you won’t be able to put down!

Life’s tricky for Melody Bittersweet. She’s single, she’s addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers and … she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder?
Waking up lonely on her twenty-seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things havegot to change.

Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency – kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits. She’s also flirting with her ex Leo Dark, fraternising with her sexy enemy in alleyways, and she’s somehow ended up with a pug called Lestat.

Life just went from dull to dynamite and it’s showing no sign of slowing up anytime soon. Melody’s been hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there are the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job…

Welcome to Chapelwick, home of the brand new and hilarious Girls Ghostbusting Agency series, where things really do go bump in the night.

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Melody Bittersweet and The Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency

Chapter One

‘So, what do you do with your spare time, Melody?’
I look my date square in his pretty brown eyes and lie to him. ‘Oh, you know. The usual.’ I shrug to convey how incredibly normal I am. ‘I read a lot . . . Go to the movies. That kind of thing.’
I watch Lenny digest my words, and breathe a sigh of relief when his eyes brighten.
‘Which genre?’
‘Movies or books?’ I ask, stalling for time because, in truth, I don’t get much in the way of spare time to do either.
‘Movies. Action or romance? No, let me guess.’ He narrows his eyes and studies me intently. ‘You look like a sucker for a rom-com.’
‘Do I?’ I’m genuinely surprised. I’m five foot three and look more like Wednesday Addams than a Disney princess. Maybe Wednesday Addams is over-egging it, but you get the idea; I’m brunette and my dress sense errs on the side of edgy. I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me and thought whimsy. Maybe Lenny sees something everyone else has missed, me included. I quite like that idea, mainly because everyone who knows my family has a head full of preconceptions about me, based on the fact that my family are all crackers.
‘Four Weddings?’ He shrugs hopefully.
I nod, not mentioning that the only part of that particular movie I enjoyed was the funeral.
‘The Holiday?’
Again, I try to look interested and hold my tongue, because I’m sure he doesn’t want to hear that I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than ever watch an over-optimistic Kate Winslet drag some old guy around a swimming pool again.
I’m relieved when the bill arrives and we can get out of there, because so far Lenny has turned out to be a pretty stellar guy and somehow I’ve managed to convince him that I walk on the right side of the tracks. Maybe this time, things will be different.
Lenny pulls his dull, salesman’s saloon into the cobbled cartway beside my building and kills the engine. I don’t mind dull. In fact, my life could really use a bit of dull right now, so I shoot him my most seductive smile, cross my fingers that my mother will be in bed, and invite him in for coffee.
Oh, just when it had all been going so well. Why couldn’t I have just given him a goodnight kiss, with maybe the smallest hint of tongue as a promise, then sent him on his way? He’d have called for a second date, I’m sure of it.
But no. I got greedy, pulled him by the hand through the dark back door, placing my finger against my lips to signal he should be quiet as we tip-toed past my mother’s apartment and up the old wooden staircase to my place.
He rests his hand on my waist as I turn the key, and a small thrill shoots down my back. Look at me, winning at this being-an-adult thing today! Dinner with an attractive man, sparkling conversation, and now back to mine for coffee . . . and maybe even a little fooling around. It’s not that I’m a virgin or anything, but it would be fair to call my love life patchy of late. By ‘of late’ I mean the last two years, ever since Leo Dark and I called things off. Well, by Leo and I, I mean Leo called things off, citing conflict of interests. Ha. Given that he was referring to the fact that my mad-as-a-bag-of-cats family are the only other psychics in town besides him, he was, at least in part, right.
But enough of Leo and my lamentable love life. Right now, all I want is for Lenny not to know anything at all about my peculiar family, to keep seeing me as a cool, regular, completely normal girl, and then to kiss me.
‘You remind me of Clara Oswald,’ Lenny whispers behind me at the top of the stairs. ‘All big brown eyes and clever one-liners. It’s very sexy.’
Lord, I think he’s just brushed a kiss against the back of my neck! My door sticks sometimes so I shoulder it open, aiming for firm and graceful but, I fear, ending up looking more like a burly police SWAT guy ramming it down. Thankfully, Lenny seems to take it in his stride and follows me into my apartment. Then I flick on the table lamp only to discover that my mother is standing on my coffee table in a too-short, too-sheer, baby-blue negligee with her arms raised towards the ceiling and her head thrown back.
‘Shit!’ Lenny swears down my ear, clearly startled. He isn’t to blame. My mother’s a striking woman, ballerina-tall and slender with silver hair that falls in waves well beyond her shoulder blades. It isn’t grey. It’s been pure silver since the day she was born, and right now she looks as if she’s just been freshly crucified on my coffee table.
I sigh as I drop my bag down by the lamp. So much for me being normal.
‘Err, mother?’
Slowly, she takes several heaving breaths and opens her eyes, changing from crazy lady to almost normal human lady. She stares at us.
‘For God’s sake, Melody,’ she grumbles, taking her hands from above her head and planting them on her hips. ‘I almost had the connection then. He’s hiding out in the loft, I’m sure of it.’
I risk a glance over my shoulder at Lenny, who sure isn’t kissing my neck anymore.
He lifts his eyebrows at me, a silent ‘what the hell?’ and then looks away when my mother beckons to him like a siren luring a fisherman onto the rocks.
‘Your hand, please, young man.’
‘No!’ I almost yell, but Lenny is already across the room with his hand out to help her down. My mother eyes me slyly as she steps from the table, keeping a firm hold of Lenny’s hand.
‘Long lifeline,’ she murmurs, tracing her red talon across Lenny’s palm.
‘Mother,’ I warn, but my somber, cautionary tone falls on her selectively deaf ears. I expected nothing else, because she’s pulled this trick before. Admittedly, the standing-on-the-table thing is a new twist, but she’s got form in scoping out my prospective boyfriends to make sure they’ll fit in with our screwball family from the outset. Not that her romantic gauge is something to put any stock in; Leo passed her tests with flying colours and look how that ended up. I got my heart broken and he got a spot on morning TV as the resident psychic. Where’s the justice in that?
Look, we may as well get the clanky old skeleton out of the family closet early on here, people. It’s going to come out sooner or later, and despite my attempts to pull the wool over Lenny’s eyes, there’s never any running away from this thing for long.
My name’s Melody Bittersweet, and I see dead people.
It’s not only me. I’m just the latest in a long line of Bittersweets to have the gift, or the curse, depending on how you look at it. My family has long since celebrated our weirdness; hence the well-established presence of our family business, Blithe Spirits, on Chapelwick High Street. We’ve likely been here longer than the actual chapel at the far end of the street. That’s probably why, by and large, we’re accepted by the residents of the town, in a ‘they’re a bunch of eccentrics, but they’re our bunch of eccentrics,’ kind of way. What began as a tiny, mullion-windowed, one-room shop has spread out along the entire row over the last two hundred years; we now own a run of three terraced properties haphazardly knocked into one, big, rambling place that is both business and home to not only me, but also to my mother, Silvana, and her mother, Dicey. Gran’s name isn’t actually Dicey, it’s Paradise, officially, but she’s gone by Dicey ever since she met my Grandpa Duke on her fifteenth birthday and he wrote Dicey and Duke inside a chalk heart on the back wall of the building. He may as well have written it on her own racing heart.
‘Silvana!’
Speak of the devil. Does no one go to bed around here?
I open my door to find Gran on the threshold with her hand raised, poised to knock. I guess I should be glad she’s slightly more respectably dressed, if a floor-length, purple shot-silk kimono, bearing huge technicolor dragons could be considered as such. Her usually pin-curled gold hair is piled elegantly on her head and she wears a slash of fire-engine-scarlet lipstick for good measure. Most people couldn’t carry the look off, but thanks to her poise, confidence and couldn’t-care-less attitude, Grandma Dicey wears it with artful success. She glides past me without invitation and gazes at my mother and Lenny, who are still hand-in-hand on the rug.
God.
First thing tomorrow morning, I swear, I’m going to look for a new place to live, somewhere, anywhere, that is not in the same building as my mother and my gran. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a charming old place and I love my family dearly. It’s not even as if I don’t have my own space here, because, theoretically at least, I do. Mum and Gran have the ground floor apartment behind Blithe Spirits, and I have the smaller flat upstairs, at the back. In lots of ways this makes me fortunate; I get to have a nice little home of my own and stay close to my family. It would all be fine and dandy, were it not for the fact that my family are officially bonkers and liable to come up and let themselves into my flat – using the spare key I gave them for dire emergencies only – and embarrass the shit out if me.
‘Why is Silvana entertaining a man half her age in your flat?’ Gran looks from me to my mother. ‘You should have said you were expecting company, darling. I’d have gone out.’ She touches her hand lightly against her hair. ‘Put a towel on the doorknob or something, isn’t that the modern way to signal these things? Don’t come a knockin’ if the caravan’s rockin’?’
She looks spectacularly pleased with herself, and one glance at Lenny tells me that he knows he’s way out of his depth with these two and is in the process of writing me off as the worst date he’s ever had. His eyes slide from me to the door, and I can almost hear him begging me to let him go unharmed.
‘He’s not mum’s date, he’s mine. Or else, he was,’ I mutter, and then I’m distracted as a beer-bellied pensioner in a soup-stained shirt slowly materialises through the ceiling, his flannel trousers not quite meeting his bony ankles. Stay with me; I see dead people, remember? As do my mother and my grandmother, who also watch him descend with matching expressions of distaste.
‘Finally,’ my mother spits, dropping Lenny’s hand so she can round on the new arrival. ‘Two hours I’ve been chasing you around this bloody building. Your wife wants to know what you’ve done with the housekeeping she’d hidden in the green teapot. She says you better not have lost it on the horses or she’s had it with you.’
Grandma Dicey rolls her eyes. ‘I rather think she’s had it with him anyway. He’s been dead for six weeks.’
‘You’re a fine one to talk, given that you still sleep with your husband twenty years after he died.’ Mother flicks her silver hair sharply. Touché.
Lenny whimpers and bolts for my front door, turning back to me just long enough to splutter ‘something’s come up, gotta go,’ before he hoofs it out and down the stairs two at a time.
I listen to the outside door bang on its hinges and wonder what came up. Probably his dinner.

Amazon UK     Amazon US

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**Extract** from Last To Die by Arlene Hunt

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Tomorrow Friday 24th of June is publication day for Last To Die by Arlene Hunt, I’ve read and reviewed this book so I know it deserves the tag line A griping psychological thriller not for the faint-hearted. Today I’m able to share an excerpt of the book, I hope you enjoy it. You can also find a link to my review at the bottom of this page.

Book Description

When Jessie Conway survives a horrific mass high school shooting, in the aftermath she finds herself thrust into the media spotlight, drawing all kinds of attention. But some of it is the wrong kind.

Caleb Switch, a sadistic serial killer, has been watching her every move. A skilled hunter, he likes his victims to be a challenge. Jessie is strong, fearless, a survivor, and now… she is his ultimate prey.

As Caleb picks off his current victims one by one, chasing, killing and butchering them with his crossbow, he’s closing in on Jessie… But will Jessie defy the odds and escape with her life? Or will she be Caleb’s final sacrifice …

A clever, dangerously twisted thriller that will have fans of Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter gripped until the very last page.

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Chapter 1
Jessie Conway fanned herself ineffectually with her hand and wished for the umpteenth time that the relentless heat would let up a little. She was thirty-eight years old, tall but evenly proportioned, with shoulder-length hair, the shade of which was the envy of every bottle red-headed woman in Rockville.
‘Miss Conway?’
‘What can I do for you, Riley?’
‘It’s really hot. I’m really hot. It’s really hot today.’
‘Would you like me to open the window, Riley?’
He nodded.
‘Use your words please.’
‘Open the window.’
‘What else should you say?’
Riley scrunched his face, thinking. Jessie waited while he figured it out. Riley was fourteen and one of the smarter pupils in her class. Certainly, he had the potential to live some kind of productive life when he left school behind. Manners were crucial in this. Jessie hoped the universe treated him a little better in the future than it had thus far.
‘Please?’
‘Very good, Riley.’
Jessie rose from her desk, crossed the room and grappled with the sash window. Despite being pretty strong, she could barely raise it an inch. This section of Rockville High was old and in need of care and attention. Something it rarely received.
‘That child is never happy unless he’s complaining about something,’ Tracy Flowers, her Teaching Assistant muttered, sliding in beside Jessie to help her wrestle with the window.
‘He’s right though, it is hot.’
‘Don’t see how this will help; it’s as hot out there as it is in here.’
Tracy was twenty-four years old. She had joined Rockville High the previous September and was without doubt the best Teaching Assistant Jessie had ever worked with. She liked to grumble, but she was tough, kind and, most importantly, she was scrupulously fair with the children. That day she was wearing a yellow sundress the colour of buttercups. Jessie thought it looked very pretty and would have liked to have said so, but Tracy did not take a compliment well and she did not enjoy people drawing attention to her.
Between them, they managed to force the window up by about a foot. Jessie leaned her hands on the ledge, savouring the slight breeze and the comforting drone of a lawnmower somewhere in the distance. It truly was a beautiful June day.
Only one more week until the holidays, she thought, smiling. She wondered if Mike, her husband, had called the realtor on the rental cabin like he had said he would that morning. Knowing Mike, he had probably forgotten. She decided she’d call him during recess to remind him.
As she turned back towards the class, Jessie caught a glimpse of a dark green Toyota cruising slowly along the ring road that encircled the campus. The windows were tinted and closed tight. Air conditioning, Jessie thought, something else the school board claimed they could not afford to repair. The car slowed, turned into the main parking lot normally reserved for staff and disappeared from view.
Jessie moved away from the window and went to help a sweet-natured girl named Martha Fisk stick glue to the card she was working on. Martha’s tongue jutted out to the side as she concentrated on her task. There was glitter just about everywhere.
‘This is very pretty, Martha.’
‘Uh-huh.’
‘Who are you making this for, your mom?’
Martha shook her head.
‘Your sister?’
She nodded.
‘Well it’s very—’
‘Uh-oh.’
Jessie leaned over the child’s shoulder. Martha had glued six tinfoil stars to her card and one to the desk.
‘Uh-oh. Uh-oh.’
‘That’s okay Martha. We can peel it off. It’s okay. Look.’ Jessie lifted the star and wiped the tiny smudge of glue with her thumb. ‘See, all gone.’
Martha offered Jessie a painful, pathetic grin. Her gratitude broke Jessie’s heart. Martha was missing her front teeth. No one had ever received a satisfactory answer from her about what had happened to them, only that they had been gone a long time and she didn’t like talking about it. Questions put to Martha’s mother, the only time she had bothered to show up to a parent teacher meeting, had been met with a bored shrug. ‘Probably she banged ’em. You see how she is, that damn kid’s always fallin’ and floppin’ all over the place.’
‘Miss Conway?’
‘What can I help you with, Austin?’
‘I need to go pee, Miss Conway.’
Jessie pointed to the big plastic clock hanging behind her desk.
‘See the big hand, Austin? Remember we talked about this? When that big hand reaches the number six you can go.’
‘I need to go real bad, Miss Conway.’
‘Tracy, would you show Austin to the bathroom?’
‘Sure. Come on, Austin.’
‘I don’t want her to go,’ Austin said, shrinking back from Tracy. ‘I don’t want her.’
Tracy’s expression remained neutral; she was used to this reaction, but Jessie felt a flash of anger and shame. Austin’s father disliked and mistrusted ‘coloreds’ and was more than happy to say so to anyone who might listen. He spent much of his limited time outside prison terrifying his youngest son with stories about what the ‘coloreds’ might like to do with soft, small-boned boys like Austin, should they get the chance.
‘Austin,’ Jessie said, ‘remember we spoke about this? You do not shout in class – if you shout in class you will lose your yard privileges.’
‘I heard you.’
‘Do you still want to go to the bathroom?’
Austin looked at her sulkily and shook his head. He bent to his work, pink with temper and Tracy went on about her business, stoical.
Jessie glanced at the clock again. She would be glad when this day was over. On paper, Jessie’s pupils were described as ‘marginalised’, which was nothing more than politically correct claptrap for ‘extremely messed up’. Most of the children in Jessie’s class were the product of appalling neglect, both mental and physical, and abuse, also both mental and physical. They were the children of alcoholics and drug-addicted parents, of parents who spent half their lives in jail, the rest of the time trying to spend their welfare on booze, weed and crystal meth. That was if they even had parents to speak of. Many of Jessie’s pupils were being reared by their grandparents; sad, tired, ill-equipped people whose hearts were in the right place, even if they did not have the wherewithal to help their grandchildren in ways other than to feed and house them.
Jessie lifted a pop-up picture book from under a desk and slotted it into what they romantically called ‘the library’, though it was little more than two shelves of tattered books bought and paid for by the profits from fundraisers and raffles. The bell finally rang. Her pupils collected their belongings and hustled their way to the door. Some said goodbye; most did not.
‘What a day,’ Tracy said, when the last child left. ‘I swear, I don’t think I can face another week of this.’
‘Nobody ever said Special Ed was easy,’ Jessie said, tying her dark red hair into a ponytail.
‘No, I guess they didn’t.’
Jessie rested her hand on Tracy’s shoulder. ‘You’re doing great.’
Tracy offered her a wry smile that said she thought differently. ‘I’m going to go get some strong coffee. You coming?’
‘Be with you in a few minutes. Save me a dessert if there is any. I think I heard talk of Key lime pie earlier.’
‘Aw man, how can you eat that stuff and never put on a single pound? If I even look at pie my hips expand.’
‘It’s a secret; if I told you I’d have to kill you.’
Tracy laughed and left.
Jessie wiped the board clean and began to write up the assignments for the next class. When she finished, she picked up her handbag and was about to exit the room when she heard popping sounds. They were loud and they were close.
Jessie opened the door and stepped out. Children milled about the hall, a number of them looked curious.
‘What’s going on?’ Jessie asked a heavily built boy she recognised from eight grade.
‘Dunno.’
The freckle-faced girl with him looked scared. ‘Sounds to me like gunfire.’
‘Nah, no way,’ the boy said. ‘Probably a cherry bomb or some shit.’
Then the fire alarm went off, filling the halls with deafening wails.
‘Okay, okay,’ Jessie clapped her hands to get attention. ‘You know the drill. Everybody make their way outside to the basketball courts. No running, no shoving please. Nice and easy now. Use the nearest exit please.’
Jessie pushed her way through the children and followed the corridor until she reached the main foyer. Rockville High was a single-storey building, built around this double-height space, off which were four ‘wings’. To Jessie’s immediate left was the staff room and to her right the cafeteria. Children spilled into the space from three separate hallways. Some of them laughed and hooted, others seemed more anxious. There were a number of students by the lockers opposite the cafeteria doors, changing books and emptying contents into backpacks as though the alarms were not going off at all.
Jessie caught sight of Adam Edwards, the Vice-Principal, striding to the foyer from the B wing. He was trying to get people to make their way to the A Wing, pleading with them to remain calm and to move quickly but without running. Jessie was puzzled as to why he was not shepherding them towards the main doors. She turned her head and saw that there was a chain strung through both door handles, with a heavy padlock hanging from it. She immediately made her way towards the Vice-Principal.
‘What’s going on?’
‘I don’t know. I was in the science lab. Someone said there was shooting. When I got down here the front doors were chained.’ He leaned in closer and whispered, ‘So is the fire exit by the bike shed.’
‘Do you think this is real?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Are all the doors locked?’
‘I don’t know. Principal Carmichael is checking the C Wing. I think we should get everyone outside.’
‘What can I do?’
‘You can help me get everyone outside and accounted for.’
She could see he was struggling to keep his voice calm. This alarmed her. Edwards was a tall man, good-natured but serious at the best of times and not one for panicking. More children were streaming in to the foyer. Jessie noticed the group she had spoken to outside her classroom.
‘I thought I told you to go outside,’ she said to the girl with the freckles.
‘The doors are locked. Someone locked them with a chain.’
Edwards raised his hands over his head.
‘Everyone, listen to me now. Stop pushing and slow down. Make your way to the rear emergency exit in a calm and orderly fashion. Come on now. I want everybody to move outside please. Everyone make their way to the basketball courts, nice and slowly. Miss Conway, can you make sure the cafeteria is empty?’
‘Sure.’ Jessie began to walk towards the cafeteria, but as she did, one of the swing doors opened and a tall youth she recognised as Kyle Saunders stepped out. He carried a semiautomatic weapon dangling from a long strap across his chest. Adam Edwards saw him; his eyes widened in surprise. He reacted fast. He grabbed the nearest child to him and shoved her towards a hallway.
‘Go!’
Kyle Saunders raised the gun. His face was shiny and his lips were peeled back over his teeth. His eyes roamed over the teeming foyer.
‘Hey maggots! Yo! Maggots, remember me?’
‘Kyle—’ Edwards put out his hands out before him, chest high. ‘Put the gun down, Kyle. Put it down now. We can talk about this.’
Kyle stared at Edwards for a moment, smiling a weird smile. Jessie could see some doubt come into Edwards’ eyes.
‘Kyle, listen to me now—’
Kyle opened fire.
The first spray of bullets took out the glass bricks that ran the length of the wall above the lockers. Children ran screaming in every direction. Some fell and were trampled; others flattened themselves against walls, covering their heads with their hands as though this might save them. One or two stood and stared, rooted to the spot in disbelief.
The second burst of gunfire was lower. A piercing scream was cut short. A round hit Edwards directly in the chest, spinning him where he stood. He took a step and dropped to the floor.
Jessie stared at Alan Edwards’ body, her face frozen, unable to comprehend what had happened.
‘Alan.’
She took a step forward but blood was beginning to pool under him and his fingers were scrabbling for purchase on the tiled floor. Behind him, another boy lay twisted and broken, his backpack still on his shoulders.
Kyle Saunders threw back his head and whooped. He was still howling when Jessie Conway slammed into him at speed. The force of the impact sent Kyle crashing through the swing doors of the cafeteria, with Jessie practically on top of him. They smashed into a table, toppled over it and hit the ground hard.
Jessie recovered first. She slammed her knees into Kyle’s stomach and ripped the strap over his head. Before he knew what had happened, she grabbed the gun. She felt the heat of the muzzle blister the skin on her fingers, smelled cordite and sweat from Kyle’s body. She threw all her weight backwards, bracing hard against his gut, screaming as she leaned away.
Kyle was too strong and managed to reclaim his grip on the gun. He wrenched it free and snapped the stock up towards the side of Jessie’s head. He clouted her with it, but she twisted her body to one side just before he could land a full blow. Kyle scrambled to get his feet under him. Jessie rose first; she shouldered him and wedged her body between him and the gun. Spittle sprayed the side of Jessie’s face as Kyle tried to ram the gun up under her chin. She held on doggedly, keeping the weapon as close to her body as she could, the muzzle pointed up and away from her.
They tussled back and forth. Kyle loosened one hand and punched her in the back, above her kidney. In desperation, Jessie stamped down on Kyle’s foot and tried to get her shoulder into his chest and force his grip to break over her shoulder.
Nothing worked.
She kicked and kicked, aiming her heel for any spot she could reach. She landed a bone-crunching snap on his shin but Kyle punched her again, and this time it hurt, badly. Jessie’s grip began to fail. She tried one last desperate swing. As she twisted, she saw another boy standing on a table at the far side of the cafeteria near the drinks machine. He was slender and young, with a thin wispy moustache he had not yet grown into. He was dressed head to toe in black. All these things Jessie registered in the blink of an eye. There was one more detail.
He had a shotgun trained on them.
‘Shoot her!’ Kyle Saunders screamed. ‘Shoot the fucking bitch!’
There was a deafening blast. Jessie felt pain along the left side of her face seconds before she collapsed under Kyle Saunders’ full weight.
The gun was now in her hands and she blindly raised it and fired towards where she thought the other boy might be. Through the smoke, she saw him fall backwards off the table and drop out of sight.
Jessie lay still, dazed. Kyle Saunders’ lower body was twisted across her hips. She turned her head and saw that he was dead. There was nothing left of his head but a mass of bloody scalp and glistening bone fragments. Jessie’s ears fizzed and rang. She lowered the gun to the floor, crawled out from under Kyle and sat up. Blood spilled onto her chest and lap. She blinked at it uncomprehendingly. By the time she got to her feet and staggered across the floor her shirt was saturated. She fell down and landed close to two terrified girls huddled beneath an overturned table. She recognised their faces but could not remember their names.
‘Get out of here.’
The girls cringed, and huddled against each other. One of them mouthed something but Jessie could not decipher the words.
‘Go.’
They fled.
Jessie crawled across the floor to where the boy had fallen.
He lay on his back, panting. The shotgun was off to his right, out of range. One arm rested across his chest, the other curled by his side. The front of his shirt was slick with blood. His eyes were open and as she moved closer they clicked around to her.
‘Oh,’ Jessie whispered when she saw the damage she had inflicted.
He smiled, in reality a terrible grimace. A bubble of frothy blood appeared at the corner of his mouth, popped, and was replaced by another. Jessie leaned all her weight on her right hand and took his left hand in hers.
‘Why did you do this?’
But he did not answer and after a moment his eyes lost focus, his chest stopped moving and he was gone.
Jessie stared at him. She tried to stay upright, but could not summon the strength. She sank to the floor beside the dead boy and wiped the blood from her eyes. She saw Tracy Flowers lying by the drinks machine. She had lost a shoe and the back of her yellow sundress was drenched in blood.
Jessie wanted to go to her but could not. She vomited, closed her eyes and finally darkness took her.

What readers are saying about Last to Die:

‘Absolutely relentless in pace …I became totally immersed in Last to Die. It’s a story of survival and there was certainly plenty of tension and suspense to keep me reading late into the evening.’ The Book Review Cafe

‘A great thriller that is extremely well written and will keep you on the edge of your seat while giving you food for thought. Highly recommended.’Bloomin Brilliant Books

‘Oh my! The tension builds and builds. What a powerful and edge of your seat ride!’The Book Club

‘This is an astonishing thriller of mammoth proportions and I cannot praise it highly enough!’Little Bookness Lane

‘This book needs to be finished in one sitting …Jessie had a lot of grit and was a strong main character. Caleb was a true sociopath. Put these two characters together and you are in for a real treat. My first book by this author and definitely it won’t be my last. Highly recommend reading this. But clear your calendar because you won’t be moving until you finish.’ Laura’s Book Reviews

‘Caleb is one amazing character and really showed just what evil could be like. Truly a great book and I will definitely be reading more from this author.’ Sean’s Book Reviews

‘This very intense pychological thriller is among the best of the genre I’ve read so far – and I’ve read a lot. I’m not easily scared or shocked by books anymore, but this one got under my skin.’ Reading Experience

Buy At Amazon
You can read my review here

https://thebookreviewcafe.wordpress.com/2016/05/23/last-to-die-by-arlene-hunt/you can read my review for Last To Die Here

**Blog Tour** The Daughters Of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl

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Today its my turn on the blog tour for The Daughters Of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl, the tour is hosted by Jenny over at Neverland blog tours. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to read this book yet, but hopefully I will get to it soon, I do have an extract from The Daughters Of Red Hill Hall which you can read below.

Book description

Blurb: When Gemma discovers a pair of ancient duelling pistols encrusted with rubies in the basement of the local museum, she is immediately intrigued…

On a fateful night in 1838 two sisters were found shot in the cellars of Red Hill Hall. And when Gemma begins to delve deeper into their history she begins to realise that the secrets of that night are darker than anyone had ever imagined.

As the shocking events of the past begin to unravel, Gemma’s own life starts to fall apart. Loyalties are tested and suddenly it seems as if history is repeating itself, as Gemma learns that female friendships can be deadly…

AMAZON       GOODREADS

 

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Prologue

August 1838

The pain was unimaginable. Red-hot blades of it shot through Rebecca’s furiously throbbing shoulder, pumping blood across the cellar floor. She lay in agony, groaning, but managed a glance over to where Sarah lay, just a few feet away. The other girl was also bleeding profusely from a shot to her abdomen. The pair of pistols lay discarded on the floor where they had been dropped, their ruby-encrusted stocks glittering in the candlelight.

Rebecca felt strangely detached from the scene. She watched as blood from her shoulder flowed across the floor to meet with the pool that spread from Sarah’s skirts. Their life forces mingled and combined, indistinguishable from each other. It was fitting, she thought, that two women who’d been so close in life should be together as they died. For she was certain they would both die from their wounds. It was better that way. They couldn’t both live. Not after all that had happened between them, after all the hurt they had caused each other.

Sarah moaned in pain, and her eyes flickered open. Rebecca stared at her across the cellar and a wave of compassion flooded through her. She reached out a hand towards her one-time best friend and adopted sister, causing her pain level to escalate yet further. She watched as with a huge effort Sarah shifted her position and reached out too, until their fingers touched. One last heave and Rebecca was able to entwine her fingers with Sarah’s. She felt a weak squeeze in return, telling her the gesture was appreciated. Sarah groaned and sighed, and Rebecca watched as her adored sister’s eyes closed. Only then did she allow her own eyes to close as she slipped into blissful, pain-free darkness.

Spencer, the butler, had heard something. He’d been putting away the glassware used at dinner when he heard the explosion. It sounded like a shot, or rather two shots, coming almost simultaneously. He hurried along the servants’ corridor in search of the source of the noise, and spotted the door to the cellars standing open. It should have been locked shut – they kept a valuable store of wines down there. Spencer snatched up an oil lamp, rushed down the cellar steps and made his way through the labyrinth of rooms and tunnels that made up the cellars of Red Hill Hall. ‘Hello? Is anyone there?’ he called, his voice sounding shaky and nervous even to himself. Another door was standing open – the one that led to the coal store. From there a flight of steps led to the grounds of the hall. Someone could have come in – and then escaped – by that route.

At last, in an empty room beyond the wine cellar, Spencer found the source of the noise. He gasped as he angled the lamplight onto the two mounds on the floor and recognised them as Miss Rebecca and Miss Sarah. His adored Sarah – that wonderful, vivacious girl who could light up a room with her smile. Their fingers were linked together, as though they’d been holding hands when they were shot, perhaps trying to save each other.

‘Oh my word, girls, what has happened?’ he muttered as he approached. His foot kicked something, and looking round he saw one of the old master’s duelling pistols. The other one lay close by as well. He cursed himself for not keeping the pistols under lock and key. Someone had clearly got in, probably via the coal store, stolen them from where they were kept in a cupboard in the first cellar, and shot the two beautiful young ladies, whose whole lives had been ahead of them. But why had the girls been in the cellar? He shook his head. Now was not the time to ponder such things. He knelt down in the pool of still-warm blood and checked for signs of life. One of them had no pulse. There was nothing he could do for her. But the other was breathing and had a faint, if erratic, pulse. If he acted quickly, maybe, just maybe, she could be saved.

About the  author

Author Bio: Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, with her husband, sons and cats. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present., and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

When not writing or working at her full-time job in IT, she likes to go out running or swimming, both of which she does rather slowly. She is definitely quicker at writing.

You can find out more at her Website or follow her on Twitter @KathMcGurl

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**Blog Tour** The Missing by C. L. Taylor including extract

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Today I am super excited to be hosting the next stop on the blog tour for The Missing by C. L. Taylor, this is her third psychology thriller, and I think it’s her best book yet. You can read an excerp from The Missing and my review further down the post. Many thanks to Helena over at Avon books and C. L. Taylor for letting me be part of this blog tour.

Book description

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to

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From chapter 2 of The Missing

‘Jake, give me that!’ Kira’s screech carries down the stairs and there’s a loud thump from the bedroom above as something, or someone, hits the floor.

I kick off Jake’s shoes and take the stairs two at a time, cross the landing and fly into his bedroom without stopping to knock. There’s a flurry of activity as Kira and Jake jump away from each other. Barely five foot tall with blonde hair that falls past her shoulders, Kira looks tiny and doll-like in her pink knickers and a tight white T-shirt. Jake is bare-chested, naked apart from a pair of black jockey shorts that cling to his hips. His shoulders and chest are so broad and muscled he seems to fill the room. At his feet is a shattered bottle leaking pale brown liquid onto the beige carpet. There are shards of glass on the pile of weights plates beside it.

‘Mum!’ Jake leaps away from Kira, planting his right foot on the broken bottle. He howls in anguish as a shard of clear glass embeds itself in his sole.

‘Don’t!’ I shout, but he’s already yanked it out. Bright red blood gushes out, covering his fingers and dripping onto the carpet.

‘Don’t move!’ I sprint to the bathroom and grab the first towel I see. When I return to the bedroom Jake is sitting on the bed, one hand gripping his ankle, the other pressed over the wound. Blood seeps between his fingers. Kira, still standing in the centre of the room, is ashen. I pick my way carefully through the broken glass on the floor, then crouch on the carpet in front of Jake. It stinks of alcohol.

‘Let go.’

He winces as he peels his fingers away from his foot. The wound isn’t more than half a centimetre across but it’s deep and blood is still gushing out. I wrap the towel as tightly around it as I can in an attempt to stem the flow.

‘Hold it here.’ I gesture for Jake to press his hands over the towel. ‘I need to get a safety pin.’

Seconds later I’m back in the bedroom and attempting to secure the makeshift bandage around my son’s foot. There are dark circles under his eyes and the skin is pulled too tight over his cheekbones. Mark and I weren’t the only ones who didn’t sleep last night.

‘What happened, Jake?’ I ask carefully.

He looks past me to Kira who is pulling on some clothes. Her lips part and, for a second, I think she’s about to speak but then she lowers her eyes and wrig­gles into her jeans. Downstairs the back door opens with a thud as Mark makes his way back into the house, then there’s a click-click sound as he paces back­wards and forwards on the kitchen tiles. In a minute he’ll be up the stairs, asking what the hold-up is.

I sniff at Jake. His breath smells pungent. ‘Were you drinking that rum before I came in?’

‘Mum!’

‘Well? Were you?’

‘I had a few last night, that’s all.’

‘And then some.’ I pluck a large piece of glass from the carpet. Most of the label is still affixed. ‘What the hell were you thinking?’

‘I’m stressed, okay?’

‘I haven’t got enough for a taxi,’ Kira says plain­tively, reaching into her jeans pocket and proffering a palm of small change.

‘Claire?’ Mark’s voice booms up the stairs. ‘It’s eight o’clock. We have to go. Now!’

‘I need to leave,’ Kira says. ‘There’s a college trip to London today – we’re going to the National Portrait Gallery – and I’m supposed to be at the train station for half eight.’

‘Okay, okay.’ I gesture for her to stop panicking. ‘Give me a sec.’

‘Mark?’ I step out onto the landing and shout down the stairs. ‘Have you got any cash on you?’

‘About three quid,’ he shouts back. ‘Why?’

‘Doesn’t matter.’

‘Right.’ I step back into Jake’s bedroom. ‘Kira, I’ll give you a lift to the train station. And as for you, Jake . . .’ There’s no blood on the towel I’ve pinned around his foot but he’ll still need the wound to be cleaned and a tetanus jab. If there was time I’d drop Kira at the station and then take Jake to the doctor’s but it would mean doubling back on myself and I can’t be late for the appeal. Why did this have to happen today of all days?

‘Okay.’ I make a snap decision. ‘Jake, stay here and sober up and I’ll drive you to the GP’s when I get back. If you need anything, Liz is next door. She’s not working until later.’

‘No, I’m coming with you. I need to go to the press conference.’ Jake grimaces as he pushes himself up and off the bed and hops onto his good foot so we’re face to face. Unlike Billy who shot up when he hit twelve, Jake’s height has never crept above five foot nine. The boys couldn’t have an argument without Billy slipping in some sly jab about his older broth­er’s stature. Jake would retaliate and then World War III would break out.

‘Claire!’ Mark shouts again, louder this time. He’ll fly off the handle if he sees the state Jake is in. ‘Claire! DS Forbes is here. We need to go!’

‘You’re not going anywhere,’ I hiss at Jake as Kira pulls an apologetic face and squeezes past me. She presses herself up against the linen cupboard on the landing, pulls on her coat and then roots around in the pockets.

‘Billy was my brother,’ Jake says. His face crumples and for a split second he looks like a child again, but then a tendon in his neck pulses and he raises his chin. ‘You can’t stop me from going.’

‘You’ve been drinking,’ I say as levelly as I can. ‘If you want to help Billy, then the best thing you can do right now is stay at home and sleep it off. We’ll talk when I get back.’

‘Claire!’ Mark shouts from the top of the stairs.

‘Mum . . .’ Jake reaches a hand towards me but I’m already halfway out the door. I yank it shut behind me, just as Mark draws level.

‘Is Jake ready?’

‘He’s not well.’ I press my palms against the door.

‘What’s wrong with him?’

‘Stomach upset,’ Kira says, her soft voice cutting through the awkward pause. ‘He was up all night with it. It must have been the vindaloo.’

I shoot her a grateful look. Poor girl, getting caught up in our family drama when the very reason she moved in with us was to escape from her own.

Mark glances at the closed door behind me, then his eyes meet mine. ‘Are we off then?’

‘I need to drop Kira at the train station for her college trip. You go on ahead with DS Forbes and I’ll meet you there.’

‘How’s that going to look? The two of us turning up separately?’ Mark looks at Kira. ‘Why didn’t you mention this trip last—’ He sighs. ‘Never mind. Forget it. I’ll see you there, Claire.’

He hasn’t changed his trousers. The greasy oil stain is still visible, a dark mark on his left thigh, but I haven’t got the heart to mention it.

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About C. L. Taylor

CL Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle then moved to London to work in medical publishing as a sales administrator. After two years she moved to Brighton where she worked as a graphic designer, web developer and instructional designer over the course of 13 years. She now writes full time.

CL Taylor’s first psychological thriller The Accident  was one of the top ten bestselling debut novels of 2014 according to The Bookseller. Her second novel, The Lie  charted at number 5 in the Sunday Times Bestsellers list. Combined sales of both novels have now exceeded half a million copies in the UK alone.

Her international bestselling romantic comedies (written as Cally Taylor), HEAVEN CAN WAIT and HOME FOR CHRISTMAS were both published by Orion in the UK. They have been translated into 14 different languages, and her debut was voted ‘Debut Novel of the Year’ by chicklitreviews.com and chicklitclub.com.

Sign up to join the CL Taylor Book Club for access to news, updates and information that isn’t available on the web, as well as exclusive newsletter-only competitions and giveaways and the books that CL Taylor thinks will be the next big thing:

Cally Taylor book club link

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Links to Cally Taylor 

Website      Twitter    Facebook

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The Missing is the latest psychological thriller by C. L. Taylor, and oh my god! From the first page I was totally gripped, it’s gritty and very realistic.The Missing starts 6 months after fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, Claire the mother blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

As a mother myself I couldn’t even begin to imagine the pain of loosing a child, especially not knowing what had happened to them. Thanks to C.L. Taylor’s superb construction of characters, I felt Claire’s every emotion anger, helplessness, suspicion and heartbreak at the situation she found herself in. As the story unfolds each member of the family has reason to feel guilty regarding Billy’s disappearance, and each have secret’s they would prefer to keep hidden. This makes for a very believable read, as the story doesn’t present you with the “perfect” family, Claire and her husband aren’t the perfect parents, are any of us? We try our best, but can we truly know our children as they gain their independence? Are our children as perfect as we would like to think they are? These are all questions that are explored as the plot unravels the family strand by strand, making for a tense and at times an uncomfortable read.

The story is told mostly from Claire’s point of view and at times I found her narrative unreliable, as she starts to doubt herself and other members of her family, but this only adds to the tension of the plot. Throughout The Missing we read What’s App messages between two people, each one becomes darker and more intense and you find yourself suspecting numerous characters throughout the book, and the reasons behind them. The Missing is the ultimate psychological thriller as it contains all the elements you would expect in this genre, it messes, with your head and emotions, it’s gripping with just enough twist and turns to build on the tension, with an intricately woven plot. C.L Taylor has written another high caliber psychological thriller that will keep readers wanting more from this very talented author.

5☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️ out of 5

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Avon (7 April 2016)

Kindle

Paperback

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**Guest Post** The Blood On My Hands by Shannon O’Leary

 

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Today I have a guest post for The Blood on My Hands an autobiography by Shannon O’Leary. It was published in Feburary 2016 and is available for sale on Amazon. This book is on my TBR pile but unfortunately I haven’t got to it yet, but I will certainly be reading it in the not to distant future. 

Book Description

Set in 1960s and ‘70s Australia, The Blood on My Hands is the dramatic tale of Shannon O’Leary’s childhood years, growing up with an abusive father, who was also a serial killer. No one, not even the authorities, would help O’Leary and her family. The responses of those whom O’Leary and her immediate family reached out to for help are almost as disturbing as the crimes of her violent father. Relatives were afraid to bring disgrace to the family’s good name, nuns condemned the child’s objections as disobedience and noncompliance, and laws at the time prevented the police from interfering unless someone was killed.

The Blood on My Hands is a heartbreaking—yet riveting—narrative of a childhood spent in pain and terror, betrayed by the people who are supposed to provide safety and understanding. The strength and courageous resilience it took for O’Leary to not just survive and escape from her father, but to flourish, thrive, and triumph over the unimaginable trauma she endured as a child is both powerful and moving.

Praise:

“The Blood on My Hands is a powerful, dark memoir… This is a story that is going to remain in my mind for a long time.” – 4 Stars, Readers’ Favorite

“Once I picked this up I could not put it down, I needed to see how they got away from the monster who called himself their father, who called himself a husband.” – Sarah on Goodreads

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite the subject matter and hope it manages to help at least one child know that it gets better, life gets better.” – 5 Stars, Sarah Purdy

About the Author:

Shannon O’Leary is a prolific writer and performer. She is the author of several books of poetry and children’s stories, and she has won many awards for song-writing.

Shannon has acted and directed on the stage and on Australian national TV, and she runs her own production company.

She has numerous graduate and post-graduate degrees in education, music, and science. She is a teacher and academic, has five children with her deceased former husband, and lives with her longtime partner in Sydney, Australia.

Her memoir The Blood on My Hands was published in February 2016 and is available for sale on Amazon and Createspace.

Goodreads     Facebook     Twitter

Extract from Blood On My Hands

Prologue

I have felt the cold steel of a gun in my mouth and against my temple.
I have tasted warm blood on my lips and witnessed horrific scenes of mutilation, where nameless people took their last breaths. In my life, I have experienced poverty, met people who had plenty, and lived through fire, floods, and drought. I have befriended the intellectually challenged and physically impaired and have known the mentally ill and misfits who were geniuses. I also assumed anonymity with my mother and brothers without people realizing we had disappeared.

In my youth I was exposed to many facets of raw emotion.

I’ve seen a living heart, beating and pulsating for its last time; seen broken fingers tossed in the wind; and watched a severed head dance. Tormented by recurring memories, I have chosen to write this book and put these ghosts to rest.

I first contemplated suicide at the age of four.

I devised my death plan down to the very last detail but never had the courage to see it through to completion. Instead, my mother’s face would keep interceding, begging me to stay alive. Faced with the fact that I could not inflict my death upon her, I’d pray for miraculous intervention. During hysterical bouts of entreaty, I would beg Jesus to strike us dead at exactly the same moment so that neither of us would feel the pain of enforced separation or the prolonged agony of death.

As a child, I dreamed of better things to come and lived in spiritualistic hope that one day my world would change. I thought my trauma was normal and didn’t know what other families experienced. I thought fear, sad- ness, and horror were just the by-products of a barely tolerable childhood. My self-esteem was nonexistent, and after a while I sought approval through the creative arts. I loved to sing, and as my voice was strong, I sang to cover my feelings of inadequacy and desolation. To me, music represented true happiness, a make-believe world where I could cling to melodious sounds instead of the tortured screaming of my nightmares.

As an adult, I have felt exhilaration when audiences clapped and called my name. At the same time, I have felt myself torn in two, experiencing the immobilizing fear of personal exposure when not protected by the proscenium arch of a stage. When I present myself without camouflage or without a scripted character to protect me, my gut wrenches itself into a catatonic knot, an all-enveloping state of fear. If I feel I am being examined on a personal level, my arms and legs become frozen, and I feel my soul moving toward automatic pilot. I smile and behave in the correct manner, but I’m mentally blank and devoid of all feeling.

I know what it’s like to be branded, to be labeled, and to work within the confines of a title. As a child I was called brilliant, genius, a child prodigy, and a precocious little troublemaker. I was also called an actress, liar, and evil. My teachers admitted they didn’t understand me and often left me to myself. As an adult, I experienced national fame as a children’s TV personality. I have brought joy to thousands of children by teaching them the elements of performance.
It brings me great fulfillment to see children experiencing happiness. It puts my own life in perspective.

I cannot find the words to describe my childhood. Words such as “passionately naive,” “emotionally lacerated,” and “holistically experiential” all pale in significance, in the shadow of living itself. My childhood was so creatively textured that it carried into adulthood without allowing me to become consumed by the insanity playing havoc around me. I am sane and strong, and for that I am eternally grateful. I have felt and seen extreme emotion. I have smelled my own flesh burning. I know what it feels like to have baby snakes wriggle across my body, to smell decay, and to see an eyeball popped between someone’s fingers. Alone, I have spent what seemed like hours in a blackened hole, a makeshift grave with a steel curtain, waiting for death.

Through all this, I stayed courageous and strong.

I treasure the power of love and the absurdity of shock, and I deal with these emotions on a day-to-day basis.

This is the story of my childhood.

Paperback: 258 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (3 Feb. 2016)

Kindle

Paperback

 

**Book Blog Tour**How To Get Hitched In Ten Days by Samantha Tonge

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Today it’s my turn on the blog tour for How To Get Hitched in Ten days by Samantha Tonge, hosted by Jenny from Neverland blog tours. It’s a short story and I’ve included a book description and extract below. I’m sure all you fans of Samantha Tonge are going to love it

Book Description

HOW NOT TO GET THE GIRL…

Meet Mikey, every girl’s best friend – he bakes the creamiest cheesecake, loves movie nights and is a great dance partner.

For Jasmine, Mikey is the perfect flatmate – he owns a 50s diner that turns out the best food around, gives the best bear hugs and amazing romance advice – after all they’re scoping out the same hot guys! So when her boyfriend proposes in the worst possible way, Jazz knows her best friend will be there to pick up the pieces with gourmet popcorn, Pinot sleepovers and a shoulder to lean on.

But Mikey isn’t about to let Jasmine give up on love, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to mend her broken heart – even if it means helping the one person who sees him as the enemy…

Because at the end of the day, all’s fair in the pursuit of true love… right?

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Extract from How To Get Hitched In Ten Days

This is Mikey speaking. He owns a 50s diner. Dave, the boyfriend of his flatmate Jasmine has come in and is clearly troubled…

Ten minutes later, caffeinated steam rose between us. There wasn’t a lot in the world a slice of cherry pie with a dollop of ice cream couldn’t put right. However, Dave only took one mouthful before pushing away his plate. What was wrong? He’d never come into the diner before, on his own.
‘I’ve messed up big time,’ he grunted. ‘What an arse. Jasmine must be really upset.’
A rich fruitiness satisfying my taste buds, I wiped my mouth with a napkin. ‘Guess so. She left for work before I got up this morning – Jazz never does that. I heard you’d booked a great restaurant for Valentine’s Day…’ My eyebrows rose. ‘What happened? Couldn’t she find a vegetarian option? Or did you argue over the bill? I know she always insists on paying her half. Wouldn’t she let you treat her for once?’
Dave’s cheeks flushed. ‘Ah. So she really didn’t tell you anything.’ He swigged his coffee. ‘Get this: I proposed.’
Heart thumping, a gasp escaped my lips. My Jazz and him married? Wow. For some reason I hadn’t seen that coming. Dunno why. I knew Jazz wanted to settle down and her face still went all squidgy when she spoke about Dave. But weddings, mortgages… it all seemed so final. A shard of coldness pierced my chest. Soon I really would be on my own. I shook myself. Okay. Enough with the selfish reaction.
‘That’s… great news.’ We both sat in deep thought for a moment. ‘But why the long faces?’ I managed eventually. ‘She was happy, right? I mean, it’s clear to me that, ultimately, Jazz wants the white picket fence and two point four kids.’
Dave leant back in his chair, dark circles under those chestnut eyes, cheeks half-shaven. Mind you, rough and ready Dave never managed to attain a really smooth look, even on those days he tortured the world with his out-of-tune whistling. ‘I’m not so sure, now. She’s always hesitated when we’ve talked about commitment. I know we’ve not been together two years but I just thought that, yesterday, the time was right. It’s… It’s what I’ve wanted from the first time I saw her,’ he added gruffly, and fiddled with his teaspoon.
My chest glowed. Bless. That was the nearest Dave had ever got to expressing his feelings in front of me. He was a strange one. I had several straight male friends who only needed the smallest of shoves to open up a little about their emotions. Whereas Jazz’s boyfriend… privately I called him Dinosaur Dave – except he’d be one of those cute herbivore species that wouldn’t harm anyone intentionally.
I chewed another mouthful of pie and swallowed, enjoying the sensation of vanilla ice cream drizzling across my tongue. ‘Look, angel-face–’
‘Don’t call me that.’
I rolled my eyes. ‘Okay. Dave. Do you know how many wedding fairs me and Jazz have visited over the last couple of months?’
His brow furrowed. ‘But that’s only because she’s going to be bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding next year.’
‘Think again. She’s hoarded a whole bundle of bridal catalogues recently. You don’t do that unless you’re fantasizing about your own special day.’
Dave rubbed his chin and said nothing.
‘So didn’t she accept? What’s the ring like? Bet she loved it.’

Links

goodreads

Amazon UK

Publisher: Carina; 1 edition (11 Feb. 2016)

About Samantha Tonge

Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it’s a dog. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. She has sold over 80 stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, “Doubting Abbey”, from CarinaUK HarperCollins, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Game of Scones won the 2015 Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.

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Links to Samantha Tonge

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