**Blog Tour**The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt #Extract & Giveaway

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Today I’m thrilled to be hosting the next leg of The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt blog tour. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to read it yet as my TBR pile is in danger of suffocating me! But I do have an intriguing extract from the book. Billed as a gripping, suspenseful, page-turning thriller The Good Daughter is published by Avon and it’s available now. I also have a giveaway for a paperback copy of The Good Daughter, so don’t forget to enter, link to the competition can be found at the bottom of this post   

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“Have you heard what happened?” I repeat, my voice louder than I want it to be.
“You had some sort of an accident. They wouldn’t tell me anything else,” she says.
“I found a body in the woods. A woman. She’s alive but in a coma.” I shudder at the mental image of my Jane covered in forest debris.
My mother shifts in place as if she is trying to find a way to perfectly position herself, like she is expecting a blow. “You should’ve stayed home and taken care of those crickets. You never listen to me.”
I stand next to her, pass the dish soap, and watch her swirl her hands around in the water.
“I was running but my leg hurt and I went into the woods and—”
“Where did you find her?”
“Let me tell you the story from the beginning.” My mind is still attempting to make sense of everything and recalling the moment. Allowing me to relive what happened might help me do just that, might help me separate truth from imagination. But as always, my mother won’t have any of it.
“What woman and where?” She scoops up dirty silverware and immerses the pile into the sudsy water.
“Will you just be patient,” I say and then lower my voice. “If you’ll allow me to tell the story without—”
She stomps her foot on the linoleum, and it strikes me how silly the gesture is. I watch the sudsy water turn into a pink lather. It takes me a few seconds to realize what has happened.
“Mom,” I say gently, “you cut yourself.” I grab her by the forearms and allow the water to rinse off the blood. There’s a large gash in the tip of her middle finger; a line of blood continuously forms.
“I don’t understand,” she says, and I realize she’s begun to sob.
I hug her but she remains stiff, her arms rigid beside her body. She has never been one for physical affection, almost as if hugs suffocate her. I rub her shoulders like she’s a little kid in need of comfort after waking from a bad dream. There, there. You’ll be okay.
I speak in short sentences; maybe brevity is what she needs. “I found a woman. She’s okay. I’m fine. Everything’s okay,” I say as I wrap a clean kitchen towel around her fingers.
“The police came to my house.” She pulls away from me, dropping the bloody towel on the floor. “I don’t like police in my house. You know that.”
“I’m not sure you understand. A woman almost died. I found her while I was running and they took her to the hospital. If I hadn’t-“
“You’ve been here long enough,” she says and starts banging random dishes in the sink, mascara running down her cheeks. “You came for a visit and you’re still here.”
“Mom.” She doesn’t mean to be cruel—she’s just in a mood, I tell myself. She needs me. I don’t know what’s going on with her but I can’t even think straight and all I want is to go to bed and sleep. “Please don’t get upset.”
“Can’t you just … lay low?”
The tinge of affection I just felt for her passes. I recall the time I didn’t lay low, years ago, right after I started school in Aurora. It was the end of summer, the question of enrollment no longer up in the air. I wondered how she had managed to enroll me in school, how she had all of a sudden produced the paperwork. “But remember,” she said, “stay away from the neighbors. I don’t want anyone in my house.” The girl—I no longer remember her name but I do recall she had freckles and her two front teeth overlapped—had chestnut trees in her backyard. One day, I suggested we climb the tree. When I reached for the spiky sheath that surrounded the nut, it cut into the palm of my hand and I jerked. I fell off the tree and I couldn’t move my arm. I went home without telling anyone my arm hurt. The next day a teacher sent me to the school nurse. They called my mother—I still wasn’t caving, still telling no one what had happened, still pretending my swollen arm was nothing but some sort of virus that had gotten ahold of me overnight—and an hour later my secretive behavior prompted them to question my mother regarding my injury. When I finally came clean, her eyes were cold and unmoving.
Laying low is still important to her. “What did you want me to do?” I ask with a sneer. “She’d be dead if it wasn’t for me.”
Even though she hardly looks at me, I can tell her eyes are icy. Her head cocks sideways as if she is considering an appropriate response. Her responses are usually quick, without the slightest delay in their delivery, yet this one is deliberate.
“I don’t need any trouble with the police,” she says.
“That’s what this is about? The police? What did you want me to do? Just leave her in the woods because my mother doesn’t want to be bothered? You can’t be serious.”
“I’m very serious, Dahlia. Very serious.”
“I have to go to bed. I’m exhausted. Can we talk later?”
“I’ve said all I had to say.”
I lie in bed, staring at the ceiling. I don’t want to think anymore—just for a few hours, I want to not think. I envy Jane in her coma. I wonder if she’s left her body behind. Has she returned to the woods, reliving what’s happened to her? And did she hear me when I spoke to her? Can one slip out of one’s body and back into the past, removed from time and space?
My mind has been playing tricks on me lately—all those childhood memories that have resurfaced, at the most inopportune moments, memories I didn’t know existed. I haven’t even begun to ask my mother the questions that demand answers.
Aurora; a phenomenon. A collision of air molecules, trapped particles.
I’m exhausted, yet sleep won’t come. I didn’t think coming back to Aurora was going to be so unsettling. There is no other explanation. It must be this town.

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Alexandra Burt was born in a baroque town in the East Hesse Highlands of Germany. Mere days after her college graduation, she boarded a plane to the U.S and worked as a freelance translator. Determined to acknowledge the voice in the back of her head prompting her to break into literary translations, she eventually decided to tell her own stories. After three years of writing classes her short fiction appeared in online magazines and literary reviews.

She currently lives in Central Texas with her husband, her daughter, and two Labradors. She is an outspoken animal welfare supporter, and a proud vegan. One day she wants to live in a farmhouse and offer rescue dogs a comfy couch to live out their lives.She is a member of Sisters In Crime, a nationwide network of women crime writers.

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Links:      Website       Twitter

Book description

What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?

Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.

In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighbouring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered…

Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

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To win a paperback copy of The Good Daughter enter here……

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/86b4d4058/?

Competition closes at midnight Friday 10th March 2017, sorry but this giveaway is open to UK residents only. Winner will be contacted within 24 hours of competition ending

Check out the rest of the blog tour

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**Blog Tour** A Brush With Death byMalcolm Parnell @paintauthor #Extract @3ppublishing1 @emmamitchellfpr

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Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for A Brush With Death by Malcolm Parnell, unfortunately I wasn’t able to read this book in time for the blog tour, as my review pile has got out of control! But it certainly sounds an intriguing read and one I will hopefully get to soon. I do have an extract from A Brush With Death which gives you a “feel” for the book, happy reading

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PROLOGUE
25 years ago

The boy pulled back the curtains and peered through his bedroom window. The view was to most eyes nothing spectacular, but for him it was magical. Straight ahead he could see across open farmland. Over to his left, separated from the farm by a meandering brook lay an area of marsh land. Mundane and of no practical value to some, to him it was a very special place, a place where all things were possible, a place where you might encounter lizards, snakes and all manner of creeping things. Rats and voles lived there and further on where the earth sloped upwards onto drier ground, foxes, rabbits and who knows what else roamed free. The boy watched his world unfold as light from the sun transformed the grass from a colourless mass to every shade of green. Each blade dancing as the lightest of breezes touched the tips bringing movement like the rolling sea.

Inside, the house was quiet. The only other occupant was his father and he had yet to awake, still clinging to the last vestiges of sleep. His day had not yet begun, but when it did the boy doubted it would involve snakes and lizards.

Water droplets fell like diamonds shimmering in the morning sun as the small net swung round in an arc and then hovered expectantly over the waiting glass jar. Peering into the net, the boy held his breath as he examined his prize. Scooped from its watery lair the great crested newt clambered up the sides of the net before falling back exposing its fiery belly. With a shout of triumph the boy plucked the newt from the net and dropped it into the jar. Holding it up to his face both boy and newt scrutinized each other, the captor and the captured caught in a moment of time, both bathed in the glow of the rising sun, one relishing it, the other, desperate to hide.

The stream gleamed and sparkled, bent and fragmented by stones and tree roots, it seemed to go forever twisting like a coil of rope through the meadows. Where he was standing was the widest point and the water was calmer here among the shallows, providing the perfect home for frogs and fish. The reed fringed banks giving way to a vast bed of water lilies that constantly nudged and swayed against his wellington boots. Further on, the banks grew more steeply and behind the blackthorn bush the lichen covered bricks of the old bridge could just be seen. How long the bridge had spanned the stream no-one knew. Neither could anyone fathom the reason for it being there. No road ran across it and either side was overgrown with wild blackthorn and holly. Those of a fanciful nature suggested it was a bridge to another world, but there seemed nothing other worldly about its overgrown walls and wild flower covered floor, although it is true that if one wandered into the darkness beneath the arch a gap in the bricks could be found. The boy had once explored this further, but after negotiating the almost un-penetrable array of spikey leaves and thorns, he eventually came disappointedly into the open air of the meadow which could have been accessed by the easier route of skirting the bridge further downstream.

The boy gave the newt one final look and lowered the jar into the water. He watched as the newt eager to be free, swam down into the depths and disappeared amongst the vegetation.

A sudden splash caught his attention and without turning his head he said, “You came then?”
From behind, a cheerful voice said, “’Course. I said I would, didn’t I?”
“I thought you were going to be dragged off shopping.”
“Nah, made a bit of a fuss. Mum chucked me out. So, Peter me lad, it’s you and me.”
The boy turned to greet his friend. John lived a few doors down from him and they had grown up together. People in the street saw it as a strange alliance as the boys were like chalk and cheese, both physically and in temperament. His friend was short and dark with a mercurial nature, subject to whims and flights of fancy. His attention span was short and he got bored easily which often led him into trouble as his need for thrills caused conflict with the elders. Peter, on the other hand was tall and willowy, prone to deep thought and consideration. He was a shy boy and considered by some to be easily led, but he had a sharp mind and inquisitive nature.
“Not caught anything then?” his friend asked surveying the now empty jam jar.
“I had a crested, just let it go.”
“Have you had a go for Billy?”
“No not yet.”
Billy was a fish, a bullhead, commonly known as a millers thumb. He inhabited a half-submerged rusty oil drum that lay on its side further downstream, here the brook flowed through a small coppice. As bullheads go he was big, at least the size of the boy’s hand and though often seen, was elusive, as the water was deeper there and once the bottom was disturbed, clouds of silt would obscure the view.
“Still, there’s plenty of time.”

The boys grinned. Today was the first day of the school holidays and the immediate future held six glorious weeks of climbing trees, hunting, fishing and exploring. New worlds would be discovered and the prospect was mouth-watering.

The next few hours were spent engrossed in the world of water. Taking turns, they pushed and prodded the fishing net through lily beds and rushes. Many fish were caught, including – to both boys delight – a small jack pike weighing around 1lb. By the middle of the afternoon they had wandered about half a mile upstream and had come to the spot where the blackthorn embraced the old bridge. Climbing out of the water, the boys scrambled through the thick thorns and holly roots before emerging, scratched and torn under the dark recesses of the bridge. Sitting on the moss covered stones they each produced packs of sandwiches and bottled water from their jacket pockets.

“This bridge is creepy.” His friend muttered, chewing on ham and tomato.
“Yeah it’s brill.” Peter answered also chewing on his lunch.
“It’s supposed to be haunted. Tommy Greenway says that a long time ago some kids disappeared from somewhere around here.”
Peter shrugged. He too had heard the story, but was unimpressed.
“Tommy Greenway’s a girlie. He’s scared of his own shadow.”
“Yeah, but, you’ve gotta admit it’s a funny place. For one thing there’s no sound. I don’t like it, I’m going back.”
“What? Why?
“Don’t like it.” John got up to leave and turned his head. “You comin’?”
“No, not yet, I’ll catch you up.” Peter answered and watched his friend back track through the water until he reached the part where the brambles gave way to clear meadow. Soon John was out of sight.

Peter stopped chewing and tilted his head. It was true, it was quiet, the silence only punctuated by the occasional bickering of squabbling coots further upstream. But then, a sound could be heard, difficult to make out at first, a sort of scraping noise. The sound a knife makes when being honed to a sharp point across a sharpening stone. Peter quickly looked around, his eyes wide trying to penetrate the gloom. Then, terror struck as a shadow emerged from the walls of the bridge and moved towards him.

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Harry Chase, a semi-professional artist and full-time nobody has recently been dumped by his girlfriend. Bewildered by the end of this relationship he withdraws into his painting. An attempt is then made on his life. Dismissing it as a freak accident he organises a painting holiday on the south coast of England with a group of amateur artists. During the holiday several members of the group also have close encounters with death and further attempts are also made on Harry. He has no idea why anyone should wish him harm, but as the holiday progresses he begins to take a closer look at his fellow artists and wonders if they are all that they seem. Maybe one of them is a killer!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brush-Death-Malcolm-Parnell-ebook/dp/B01I88X0YI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478029262&sr=8-1&keywords=a+brush+with+death

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**Blog Tour** The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt #Extract #Review #HelpMe

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Today I’m beyond excited to be on the blog tour for The Girls Next Door by the very talented Mel Sherratt. I’ve always been a huge fan of Mel’s so when Noelle over at http://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk asked me to be part of the blog tour I jumped at the chance. If you follow my blog you may have noticed I posted my review earlier in the month, so today I’m posting an extract from The Girls Next Door, and boy are you in for a treat. Just to tease you and keep you in suspense (just like the book) the extract will be published in four parts, I’ve included the links to where the next extracts will be published, because you don’t want to miss them. The Girls Next Door has all the hallmarks of what I look for in a crime read, and the best thing is it was published two days ago so you can get a copy today.

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One warm spring evening, five teenagers meet in a local park. Only four will come out alive.

Six months after the stabbing of sixteen-year-old Deanna Barker, someone is coming after the teenagers of Stockleigh, as a spate of vicious assaults rocks this small community. Revenge for Deanna? Or something more?

Detective Eden Berrisford is locked into a race against time to catch the twisted individual behind the attacks – but when her own niece, Jess Mountford, goes missing, the case gets personal.

With the kidnapper threatening Jess’s life, can Eden bring back her niece to safety? Or will the people of Stockleigh be forced to mourn another daughter…?

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THE FIGHT – APRIL 2015………PART ONE

Katie Trent dragged her feet as she walked down the street towards the park. Her bestfriend, Jess, was ill and already she felt lost without her, even though lately she seemed to be glued to the hip of her boyfriend, Cayden.When Jess had rang to say she wasn’t able to go out that night, Katie had suggested calling to see her instead of going to meet Nathan. Nathan was her new boyfriend – but not by choice. It was Cayden who had wanted her to get friendly with him.

He saw Nathan as their inroad, their ticket to more involvement with the Barker brothers.Katie didn’t really like him that much. Although she knew some of her other friends were envious because he was attractive in a bad-boy way, his moods were volatile and she hadn’t wanted to meet him unless it was in a foursome.But Jess had been adamant that she should go without her, said it was important that she keep up the act. It was all right for Jess, she thought. She didn’t have to haveNathan’s tongue rammed down her throat. She shuddered involuntarily.

The weather was warm for the end of April, the night sky clear but darkening by the minute as it edged towards 8 p.m. Katie tapped along in her heels, feeling grown-up in her new ankle boots. She was wearing Jess’s top and a leather jacket that she’d told her mum was a knock-off from a cheap shop in Stockleigh, rather than costing her a fortune from Topshop. Her parents didn’t approve of her wearing too much make-up, so once she’d left her house she’d added some more. She hoped it made her seem more mature, helping to hide her nerves a little.

On the Mitchell Estate, she headed across Reginald Square, turned the corner and crossed Davy Road into the park. There was grass on either side of the gravel path that led up to the children’s play area, the lawn sloping up to her right. In the distance was the subway she and her friends hung around inside when it was raining.Her heart sank as she spotted Nathan with two other boys at the top of the bank. It was all right when Cayden and Jess were with her, but Nathan was two years older, sohis friends were older too.

If Jess was with her, she would feel safe.

Her feet stopping abruptly, she turned to leave. Jess would go mad but suddenly she didn’t care.‘Katie!’ She paused before turning around to see Nathan beckoning to her. She couldn’t back down now, so she started walking towards him again.‘Where’s your mate?’ Nathan asked as she drew level with them. He threw an arm
possessively around her shoulders. ‘That bimbo Jess?’…………to be continued 

You can read the next extracts over at……..

Kate’s blog http://www.bibliophilebookclub.com on Sunday 30th October

Chelsea’ blog https://thesuspenseisthrillingme.com on Tuesday 1st November 

Kerry’s blog http://chataboutbooks.wordpress.com on Wednesday 2nd November 

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Mel Sherratt writes gritty crime dramas, psychological suspense and fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as she calls it. Shortlisted for the CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in the Library Award 2014, she finds inspiration from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante and Elizabeth Haynes. Since 2012, all nine of her crime novels have been bestsellers.

Four of her books are published by Amazon Publishing’s crime and thriller imprint, Thomas & Mercer and she has a new series out with Bookouture.

Mel lives in Stoke-on-Trent, with her husband and terrier, Dexter, named after the TV serial killer, and makes liberal use of her hometown as a backdrop for some of her books.

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Website     Goodreads     Facebook     Bookouture     Amazon UK     Twitter: @writermels

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You can read my review here https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2016/10/15/the-girls-next-door-by-mel-sherratt-writersmels-review-bookouture/

If you want to follow The Girl Next Door blog tour I’ve included the blog tour banner which includes the dates and the awesome bloggers taking part.

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**Blog Tour** Inside The Whispers by A.J. Waines @AJWaines #Extract #Review

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Today I’m really excited to be on the blog tour for Inside The Whispers by A. J. Waines where I not only do I get to share my review but also an extract from this gripping psychological thriller. Inside The Whispers was published on the 20th of October 2916, so you don’t even have to wait to get a copy!

Excerpt from the opening of Inside the Whispers by AJ Waines

I stand tall, snap my polished shoes together and suck in the salt air through my nostrils. If I’m going to do this, I want to get it right. I will lean forward, then stoop a little further until gravity claims me and I float off like a supple Angel of the North. I am so close to the edge. It will only take a second. I can let the empty space claim my weight.

I slide my shoe four more inches onto the grassy lip to see what it feels like. I look out towards the horizon, then down to my feet, testing the support of the turf, knowing there is a point of no return. So close. One more step. Another?
Without warning I’m forced to duck. The seagull is back, charging like a rabid dog. I flap my arms. I must be near a nest – there must be eggs only a few feet away and the gull is keeping them warm. Nature’s prime instinct is to protect those it loves. The thought is too much for me; too close to home. I sink to the grass. I press my face into its coarse blades, my palms face down close to my head like someone who is praying.

Except I’m not praying; I’m not worthy enough. I’ve failed in every aspect. Every minute of every day since it started.
I can smell the wet juice of the grass, see each and every blade close up, like the bars of a prison. How is it that everywhere I find myself I am confined, trapped? Even in the most expansive of places. I lift my head. The gull seems to have stopped pestering me. It must have realised I’m no threat. I get to my feet. It’s now flying beneath me, the wings crossing in and out of my sight below the edge of the cliff. Taking a deep breath, I slide my feet back to the lip of long fluttering grass. The yawning space is pulling at me again, enticing me. My breath is running out. This is it. Now…

I can’t decide whether to close my eyes or keep them open. How could I have failed to consider this part? My gaze trails across the far distance, seeing only choppy waves kissing swirls of clouds. I soften my view so the shapes blend away to nothing.
Go…

A speck on the horizon makes my eyes jolt into focus. It’s a ship, sliding elegantly in from the right, forcing me to think new thoughts: a symbol of rescue, a new beginning, going home… I snatch my head back from the edge. What the hell am I doing? This isn’t right. It will achieve absolutely nothing. This isn’t a time for giving up – I should be working it out. Planning how to turn things around. I can’t duck out at this crucial moment, like a coward; I have to find a solution, once and for all. There has to be one.

I zip my anorak up to my chin and turn back.

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Where the most Dangerous place – is inside your own head…

Following a London Tube disaster, three traumatised survivors turn to clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby, for help – but she’s mystified when their stories don’t add up. Her confusion turns to horror when one by one, instead of recovering, they start committing suicide.

When her partner, Conrad, begins to suffer the same terrifying flashbacks, Sam is desperate to find out what is causing them and a mysterious and chilling crime begins to unravel.

Then the flashbacks begin for Sam…

The first book in the Dr Samantha Willerby Series, INSIDE THE WHISPERS is a tense, haunting Psychological Thriller that will leave your nerves in shreds.

Print Length: 302 pages

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Ever since I read No Longer Safe by A. J. Waines  I’ve been eager to see what the author would come up with next, and she doesn’t disappoint with this tense psychological thriller. The book description alone makes for an intriguing premises, and considering I’ve always been intrigued by the workings of the human mind this book sounded like my kind of read.

This is the first book in a series featuring Dr Samantha Willerby a clinical psychologist who specialises in helping trauma victims, when Sam realises three of her patients are experiencing the same flashbacks and their stories don’t add up, she comes to the conclusion something sinister is happening to her patients.

This is a really hard book to review as I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but it’s safe to say A. J. Waines has plotted a tangled web steeped in mystery and intrigue. The authors characters are well developed, but if I’m honest I found it difficult to take to Samantha in my opinion she came across as cold and clinical, but as the story enfolds you learn more about her dysfunctional family, which help to explain her character better. Don’t get me wrong although I couldn’t warm to Samantha this in no way spoilt my enjoyment of this compelling read. If anything I really wanted to learn more about Samantha’s sister Mimi who I found intriguing yet mystifying, suffering from mental health problems she has her own demons to deal with. As this is a first book in the series I’m hoping the author will explore Mimi’s life in more detail as the series develops.

What I found intriguing about Inside The Whispers was the psychological aspects of this book, and its obvious the author has a great understanding of the subject through working as a psychotherapist herself, for me this added credibility to a chilling tale.To add a sense of mystery and unease to the plot there are short chapters narrated by an unknown voice, I found myself questioning their mental state as the narrator seems to become more detached as the plot progresses, this certainly added a sense of unease to the plot.

If I’m honest I love a book that is relentless in pace, I wouldn’t consider Inside The Whispers to be fast paced by any means, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, it’s just a slower pace than what I’m used to. What the author does well is build on the mystery and intrigue, almost drip feeding the reader the threads of the plot, and then brings them all together for the shocking and unexpected conclusion. Although I did guess the person involved in events fairly early in the book I would never in a million years have guessed their motives. I’m sure Inside The Whispers will be loved by fans of a psychological thriller, and I will certainly be looking forward to the next book to see how the series evolves.

4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️out of 5

Amazon U.K.
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My review for No Longer Safe can be found HERE

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AJ Waines has sold over ¼ of a million books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 with her number one bestseller,  Girl On A Train She was a Psychotherapist for fifteen years, during which time she worked with ex-offenders from high-security institutions, gaining a rare insight into criminal and abnormal psychology. AJ Waines is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany (Random House) and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth novel, No Longer Safe sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and in 2016 was ranked in the Top 10 UK authors on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

AJ Waines lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. Visit her Website and Blog or follow her on Twitter and Facebook
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There is a fabulous UK only Inside the Whispers paperback giveaway running on Goodreads between today and 27th October which you can enter by clicking HERE

I’ve included the blog tour banner so you can follow the rest of Inside The Whispers Blog tour
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**Guest Post** Harry Bingham author of The Dead House & #Extract

 

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Today I am delighted to have Harry Bingham author of The Dead House pop by the book review café. Harry  Bingham is a critically acclaimed crime novelist, whose work has been published all round the world. He has also written fiction and non-fiction for a variety of major international publishers. Harry very kindly answered a few questions about his book and the extract included in this post

Hi Harry can you tell us a bit about the Dead House

The book is The Dead House. It’s a modern police procedural that features my Welsh detective, DS Fiona Griffiths. The crime at the heart of the book is a very modern (and very plausible) one, except that it takes a very strange ninety-degree twist when it encounters some weird medieval practices that live on in the very heart of remote, rural Wales.

And your detective isn’t quite normal either, is she?

No. She’s pretty much the opposite of the standard procedural type character. She’s young. She’s female. She’s petite. She’s junior. She’s teetotal. She really wants (and will one day get) a happy, ordinary romantic relationship. That said, there are a couple of twists. For one thing, her (adoptive) father once used to be one of Cardiff’s biggest crime lords. And for another, Fiona is in recovery from a – completely genuine – psychiatric condition known as Cotards Syndrome. Patients with the condition go through life believing themselves to be dead. (And yes, I did just say that. And yes, some poor people do really, truly have that condition. If you don’t believe me, check this out on Wikipedia.)

So tell me about the extract below?

My literary agent and editor would kill me if I showed you anything that was too much like a plot spoiler, so here’s a passage which narrates the meeting of my detective, Fiona, with a man (Neil Williams) whose teenage daughter (Bethan) went missing some eight years previously. This extract comes fairly early in the book, so you can read it without spoiling your appetite for the book proper.

What were you trying to do in that passage?

Well, I always like to make even ordinary encounters as atmospheric as I can. I always hate it when characters seem to interact on an empty white stage, so here I made full use of the remote rural setting. I also wanted to emphasise the man’s loneliness. How his life had effectively been shattered by the loss of his daughter. I didn’t want to make him a saint though, so he acknowledges that he and his wife were arguing in the run-up to Bethan’s disappearance.

Does anything strike you when reading it back through now?

Yes, actually! I realise that the passage is communicating that Neil Williams is still stuck in the past. So he’s (near enough) a hoarder. His house just accumulates boxes of rubbish, for no reason except that the man is unable to move on. For the same reason, he has loads of Bethan’s stuff, including pictures she did as a four year old, as though time hasn’t moved on since there. He hasn’t even divorced his wife, so even that romantic area of his life is stuck. And here he is, living on his farm with his fridge full of very basic food, some dried up plants, and only a collie for company. I think it’s rather touching, actually. I certainly hope so!

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Neil Williams sits at table under the light.
The room smells of dog and cat and mud and maybe sheep. An oil-fired range cooker. Lino that’s unsticking itself from the floor beneath. Boots drying on a few sheets of newspaper. A flat cap, tweed, shiny with wear. A collie that barked twice at me when I entered, then jumped back onto the collapsing springs of an old armchair, where it’s been quietly licking itself ever since.
‘Bethan? I still think she might come back one day,’ Williams says. ‘I mean, I know that’s not what . . . I know that. But you know, it could happen. She was sixteen when she went, so she’d be coming up twenty-five now. Her whole life still ahead of her.’
The right answer to that—the right policish answer—would combine sympathy with firmness. A little splash of, ‘If you say so, sir,’ with a good, thick spread of, ‘Unfortunately, in these cases, the data tells us . . .’
I don’t take that option. Say, to my own surprise and certainly to his, ‘I vanished once. I mean, I was tiny. Only two. I remember nothing about it. But . . .’ And I tell him the story. The true story of my murky appearance in this world, when I simply appeared—from nowhere, unnannounced and unspeaking—in the back of my father’s Jag. ‘My adoptive father, that is. I’ve never met my biological parents.’
Williams stares at me in surprise.
I say, ‘So yes, it can happen. I’m trying to track down my original parents now. Maybe somewhere there’s a father, like you, wanting to know what happened to his little girl. Believing that that little girl might yet walk through the door. And of course it’s unlikely. These things are. But could it happen? Yes. Yes, I hope so.’
Williams—weathered face, brown hands, misting blue eyes—wants to reach out, to pat my hand, I think, or arm. He pulls back from that gesture, but taps a pile of papers on the table instead. Bills. A seed catalogue. Something to do with farm machinery.
‘Just a minute, love,’ he tells me.
Leaves the room.
The collie watches him go, but doesn’t move.
I offer the dog my hand and he, somewhat grudgingly, licks it.
I get up. Open the fridge, which is mostly empty. A paper bag with tomatoes. A loaf of bread. A half-eaten tin of beans. A smeary packet of butter. Milk, within its sell-by date. Bacon.
I find the kettle, put it on. The handle is sticky with something, I don’t know what. The counter too.
There’s a plant on the window sill which has dried up completely. Is now only sticks and barren compost. I find a bin and throw it away. By the bin, a little curl of dead leaves, chestnut and sycamore, from the trees outside. Tramped in here or wind blown. I throw those away too.
Williams has come back into the room at some point during this. Is looking at it with my eyes.
Says, ‘It wasn’t like this. Not then.’
‘I know.’
And I do. Back in 2006, Neil Williams was married. Wife’s name was Joanne. When their only child vanished and their lives descended into the crapper, there were any number of police enquiries, social services reports and the rest. Neil’s farm isn’t much—two hundred acres of upland grass that would be marginal at best—but he has, or had, a side-business as a straw and hay merchant that earned the family decent enough money. No doubt this farmhouse always had an earthy agricultural quality, but no more so than plenty of the houses in the surrounding valley. Certainly none of those intrusive enquiries found anything remiss with the basic quality of love, care, and hygiene surrounding the young Bethan.
‘Joanne’s gone?’ I ask.
‘After Bethan . . .’ he begins, then starts again. ‘Well, I suppose we were arguing a bit even before she went. Nothing, so big. Not really. Just that Bethan wasn’t sure about life up here on the farm and Joanne had started to take her side. So, I don’t know, we were snappy and Bethan in the middle of all that. It was a bad few months, maybe, but you know, all families have their spats.’
He looks at me, wanting me to tell him that, yes, all families have their rough patches, and I duly give him the assurance he needs.
I ask, ‘Your arguments. Did you ever get violent? Did you ever raise your hand in anger?’
He says no and I believe him, but there’s enough in what he does and doesn’t tell me to hint that those arguments were bad, even without overt violence.
‘And after Bethan went, that was it really. Me and Joanne were both upset. She spent more and more time with her sister in Brixham. Torbay area, you know. England. And when she was here, it wasn’t the same. We were always at each other. Stupid things. And, in time, she stopped coming.’
‘You divorced?’
‘No. It’s still odd though. Getting letters to Mr and Mrs Williams. I throw ’em away, often enough.’
He waves the papers at me that he’d left the room to collect.
The stack is cold and damp: the temperature and humidity of the house beyond this kitchen.
Photos. School reports. Postcards. Letters. Drawings and paintings.
Bethan’s life pre-abduction. There’s not much there. Not in terms of evidence, for sure, and these things would have been carefully evaluated by police at the time. But there’s not physically that much either. Just not much documentary record of a vanished life.
I turn pages. Look at Bethan’s four-year-old depiction of her home and family. A fat dad with a big red body, stick arms and legs, a smiley blue face on top. The mum the same, except smaller, and there’s some vague effort at a green dress. Little Bethan, with an orange body and holding a bright yellow balloon stands between the two.
The kettle’s boiled now and Williams make tea. Builders’ sludge for him. Peppermint from my own stash for me. While he’s doing it, I run some searches on my phone: “cleaning companies Carmarthen”. Tap through to any firms that look worthwhile.
‘What happened?’ I ask. ‘What’s your guess, this many years on?’
‘You’re her age, aren’t you? Sorry, I know I’m not meant to ask.’
‘I turned thirty this year. I know I look younger.’
‘Oh. Well, you’ll know from the police reports, love. There’s this . . . man. Len Roberts. Used to do some contracting work. Driving combines. Getting the silage in. That kind of thing. Very seasonal. Work like a devil for four months of the year, sit on your arse the rest.’
‘And?’
‘And he got close to Bethan. Or Bethan close to him. I don’t know. I didn’t like it. Neither did Joanne. But that’s how it was. She used to go over to his cottage, that old place of his. They used to talk, I don’t know what. It was like that maybe two months. Bethan swore the two of them weren’t, you know, weren’t –’
‘They were just friends. They weren’t sleeping together.’
‘Exactly. And we believed her. She was a sensible girl. Head screwed on. Not giddy. Then . . .’
‘Your girl vanishes. Everyone fingers this guy, Len Roberts, as the villain. His place is turned over. There’s any amount of evidence that Bethan had been there, including on his bed, but no trace of violence, no trace of sexual assault, and no trace of Bethan.’
‘Exactly.’
Beyond our windows, the air thickens. A low mist is beginning to form, water droplets swirling the other side of the glass. It darkens too. It’s mid-November now, and the night gathers early, even more so up here, among these purpling hills. There are no curtains on the windows. No streetlamps lighting the yard beyond. Somewhere, in the darkness a fox screams. Twice, maybe three times repeated. Not a mating cry, I don’t think, but one of those warning shrieks that’s almost like a groan of disappointment. The noise has an almost asthmatic quality, but also something darker, wilder, vulpine. We wait until the noise has gone.
I say, ‘You should get this place tidied. Tidied and cleaned. It’s not good for you living like this.’
He says the kind of things I expect him to say. That I’m right. That he ought to. That he makes the effort now and again, but . . .
I interrupt. ‘I’ve got some numbers.’ Wave my phone at him. ‘They’ll come out. Bring all their own equipment. Three or four cleaners. One solid morning’s work.’
He stares at me.
I say, ‘It’ll be a couple of hundred quid. Do you have that? Is that OK?’
He nods. ‘Yes. I suppose.’
He looks perplexed. Perhaps he didn’t know that the South Wales Police, unlike their Dyfed-Powys cousins, arranged house cleans for crime-stricken men of a certain age.
I’m not sure my bosses know that either, but I make the necessary calls all the same.
I walk into the part of the house I’ve not yet seen.
Heaps of stuff. Way too much. Not quite hoarder levels, but definitely not-quite-coping levels.
‘I’m going to get a skip too. I’m going to tell the cleaning people to throw away anything you don’t definitely need. Nothing to do with Bethan. That stuff is sacred. But other things.’
I point to a stack of dead newspapers where the paper on top is dated 2012. A plastic crate full of dead oil filters and old cam belts. A cardboard box, full of something, I can’t see what, but its sides are soft and outward sloping in the damp.
The collie’s on my side now and wags his slow approval.
Williams nods.
I make the calls. It’ll be more like five hundred quid when it’s all said and done, but five hundred quid well spent.
‘Then get someone in here. Once a week. Once a fortnight. OK?’
He nods.
‘Say, “Yes, officer, I promise to do that.” And I’m going to check on you, mind.’
He doesn’t say what I told him to say, but what he does say is close enough.
‘A promise is a promise, Mr Williams,’ I tell him sternly. ‘And if one day, I do find my biological father, I wouldn’t want to walk through the door and find him living in a pigsty. I’d want to see a family home, ready and waiting for my return.’
Something has collapsed in his face now. His right hand is down with his collie. Massaging its neck, its ears. Getting those swift, long dog-licks in return. And Williams’s eyes are more than just misty now. They’re watery. Ready to overflow.
Some collapses are good, I think. Collapses that precede change.
He takes me to the door. Wants to hug me, I think, except he can’t find a way to do it and I probably don’t help him much.
‘Thank you,’ he says, ‘thank you.’
‘You didn’t answer my question. About what you think happened.’
He’s resting a shoulder on the door frame, leaning forwards into the night. An outdoors man, happier out than in.
‘I used to hate that man. Used to think about driving down the hill and killing him.’ A glance indoors into the kitchen catches the old pine dresser in its sweep. Where he keeps his shotgun, I’d guess. ‘Two, three years, I used to think about that every day. Kept me going in a funny way.’
‘And now?’
‘And now? I don’t know. If Roberts did hurt my Bethan, I would kill him. I would do it, not that I should say so to you. But if he didn’t, and he always said he didn’t . . .’
I finish for him.
‘Then he’s suffered as much as you. Another life fucked up.’
‘Yes. Something like that.’
‘Have you ever spoken to him? Since then, I mean.’
‘No.’ His voice says he wouldn’t do it either. One of those rural feuds which will dissipate around the time that glaciers return to these hills.
I step out into the night.
I parked my car in daylight two dozen yards from the house, but the darkness here is so complete that I only find my way by pressing my blipper and waiting for the car to light up. When it does so, I see the mist has been thickening invisibly all this time. There’s twenty yards of visibility, no more. The car’s amber lights are haloed and softened, beckoning me across the mud and granite chippings of the farmyard.
At the car, I call back, ‘Thank you, Mr Williams. Good night.’

The Dead House by Harry Bingham is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

About the author

Harry is the author of the Fiona Griffiths series of crime novels, set in Cardiff and featuring a heroine described by the Sunday Times as ‘The most startling protagonist in modern crime fiction … brutal, freakish and totally original.’ Harry – slightly less freakish than his creation – lives in Oxford with his wife and young family. He also runs The Writers’ Workshop, an editorial consultancy for new writers. His books on Getting Published and How to Write are among the leading titles in their field.

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Links to author
 Website     Goodreads     Writers work shop     Twitter:@harryonthebrink

Book description

British detective Fiona Griffiths, one of the most engaging female protagonists in crime thrillers, is back with her toughest case yet.
When the body of a young woman is found in an old ‘dead house’ – the annexe where the dead were stored before burial in medieval times – of a tiny church in a small town in Wales, it seems that past and present have come together in a bizarre and horrifying way. For DC Fiona Griffiths, the girl – a murder victim whose corpse was laid out with obvious tenderness – represents an irresistibly intriguing puzzle, given Fiona’s unusual empathy for the dead. And when her investigations lead her to an obscure and secretive monastery hidden in a remote valley, she finds that the murder victim is far from the only victim of a dark and disturbing melding of modern crime and medieval religious practices. Only Fiona is capable of solving this brilliantly crafted mystery.

Amazon UK 🇬🇧

**Blog Tour**The Moment She Left by Susan Lewis #Extract & #Giveaway

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Today I’m super excited to be opening the blog tour for The Moment She Left by Susan Lewis,The compelling new novel from the Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, No Child of Mine and Don’t Let Me Go. I’m a huge fan of Susan Lewis and read nearly all her books, so I feel privileged to be part of this tour. Not only do I have a short extract from The Moment She Left, but I also have four paperback copies of Susan Lewis’s previous novel The Girl Who Came Back to giveaway.

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EXTRACT ONE

Jessica Leonard turned from the main road, still listening to music on her ipod, but with her phone switched off to conserve what was left of the battery. The leafy residential streets were quiet, practically deserted. After a couple of turns, taking her deeper into the heart of the area, she entered a narrow, sunbaked alleyway that acted as a service divider between the backs of grand stucco villas on one side and elegant town houses on the other. Here there were only automated garages providing secure and spacious accommodation for rich people’s luxury vehicles. The door Jessica approached, about half way along on the right, had a digital keypad beside it, but even before she could press in the code the door started to rise.
By the time it was fully open and she could see who, and what, was inside, she was clasping her hands to her face.
‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,’ she murmured, unable to believe her eyes. A flicker of fear flashed through her like summer lightning. This wasn’t what she’d expected. Was it going a step too far? Even if it was, how could she not take it?

Book description

Kesterly-on-Sea is full of secrets.

Some are darker than others; many are shameful. One is even deadly.

Andee is an ex-detective whose marriage is breaking up. So when a young female student disappears without trace, she throws herself into the search.

Meanwhile, the town’s beloved Rowzee Cayne has just discovered that she is terminally ill, and doesn’t want to burden her family and friends with the news.

Andee and Rowzee don’t know it yet, but their journeys are going to help them uncover a secret. One that is going to affect them more than they could ever imagine.

Amazon UK

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About Susan Lewis

When Susan Lewis was 18 she got a job at HTV in Bristol, and at 22 Imoved to London to work for Thames. Susan began as a secretary in news and current affairs, then trained as a production assistant and moved on to light entertainment and drama. It was a love of drama, combined with a fierce ambition, that got herknocking on the Controller’s door to ask what steps to take to become a producer. “Oh, go away and write something,” came the reply. So she did. Over 30 books later, her only regret is that none of them have yet made it to the screen. Susan Lewis lives on the edge of the Cotswolds in a delightful old barn with her husband James and two dogs Coco and Lulabelle.

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Links to Susan Lewis

Website     Facebook     Goodreads

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Book description

When Jules Bright hears a knock on the door, the last person she expects to find is a detective bringing her the news she’s feared for the last three years.

Amelia Quentin is being released from prison.

Jules’s life is very different now to the one she’d known before Amelia shattered it completely. Knowing the girl is coming back she needs to decide what to do. Friends and family gather round, fearing for Jules’s safety. They know that justice was never served; every one of them wants to make the Quentin girl pay.

The question is, what will Jules do; and which of them – her or Amelia – has the most to fear?

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I have four paperback copies of The Girl Who Came Back up for grabs, giveaway ends at midnight on Friday 5th August, winners will be notified within 48 hours of winning. Please note I will be giving the publishers the winning names and they will be posting out the books (not the book review café)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/86b4d4055/?

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**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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