Beneath The Skin by Caroline England – Extract.

Today, I am delighted to share with you an extract from Caroline England’s debut novel. I have the book on my kindle and hope to read very soon.

  About the Book

Antonia, Antonia. My name is Antonia.’
It’s been her name for many years. But sometimes, like tonight, she forgets.
Antonia has a secret. A secret so dark and so deep that she can barely admit it to herself. Instead, she treats herself to Friday night sessions of self-harm while her husband David is at the pub, and her best friend Sophie is drinking too much wine a few doors down.
Nobody close to her knows the truth about what the teenage Antonia saw all those years ago. No-one, that is, except her mother. But Candy is in a care home now, her mind too addled to remember the truth. Antonia is safe. Isn’t she?
The lies start small. They always do. But when the tightly woven story you’ve told yourself begins to unravel, the truth threatens to come to the surface. And then what’s going to happen?

Extract

‘How’s Antonia?’
‘Fine, she’s fine,’ David answers, glancing towards the bar, the sparkle back in his bright blue eyes. ‘At home with a DVD and guacamole. Jennifer Aniston’s my bet. Actually Mikey, I wanted to ask you. Her birthday’s coming up and I want to buy her something special, maybe something different for a change. Got any ideas? What would you buy Olivia?’
Mike scratches his chin, still smooth from its second shave of the day. He laughs. ‘You mean, what do you buy the woman who has everything?’
‘He treats her like a bloody doll,’ his wife Olivia often remarks, spot on as ever. The statement reminds him of a cardboard dolly set his sister was given one Christmas. She asked him to play, and despite his desire to try out his new bicycle in the biting Irish winter outside, he knelt beside her and joined in the game at the warm kitchen table, detaching the paper outfits from the booklet, the dresses, the hats, the scarves and the shoes, then dressing the doll in different designs for each season of the year.
‘I’m serious, Mikey.’ David interrupts his thoughts. ‘What would you buy Olivia?’
Mike takes a swig of his beer, then wipes the rim of the glass with his thumb. David’s assumption that their respective wives fall into any remotely similar category makes him smile to himself.
‘Vain and vacant. The sort of woman I can’t stand,’ Olivia said of Antonia after meeting her for the first time at one of David and Antonia’s dinner parties. ‘But as it happens, she’s nice and I like her, which is really annoying.’
So what would he buy Olivia? What had he bought her last time? Mike can’t remember, probably something she’d asked for, but then they don’t make a fuss of their own birthdays, preferring to concentrate on their two lovely girls.
And there it is: like Winston Churchill’s dog, his own black dog of despair, bounding back into the pub and sitting by him. Close, comfortable and devastating. He hears his own voice not long after it happened, trying for rationality: ‘I didn’t even know him. It could have been so much worse.’
There are times when Mike wonders if he’s spoken aloud, made his words to the dog public. For a moment he’s forgotten the question, but he’s saved from an answer; David has turned towards the door.
‘What bloody time do you call this?’ he bellows, standing up and gesticulating towards the bar. Mike looks at his watch. It’s getting on for last orders but Sami Richards grins and shrugs, holding out his palms in a dismissively apologetic gesture. Elegant and handsome, he strolls past the Friday regulars clustered at the bar, the turned-up collar of his black leather jacket matching the sheen of his skin.
‘Why does he always look as though he’s walked off the page of a fucking magazine?’ David says, a little too aggressively, as he turns back towards Mike. He knocks back his pint, ready to get in more drinks.

Blog tour banner BTS

99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter – Review.

51jb0b4pWUL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_

About the Book

Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?
When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.
What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?
Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared..

My Review

I moved this book to the top of the pile of books to read when I realised that the author was local and that there was an event to support the publication at the local bookshop.
Like many novels at the moment the synopsis concerns a missing child. Where the book does differ is that there is a connection to a child that went missing years earlier.
There are multiple narrators, some have said that they got confused but I found it easy enough to follow with most of the chapter headings saying who the narrator was. There were only a few occasions where the narrator was anonymous to keep the mystery intact. I thought that this was done very well, the narrators were all different and she managed to get into the heads of all of them. My favourite character was Maggie, the oldest one who has lost everything but still managed to keep going. I liked everything about her.
I thought the novel would be set in the local area, and even though one of the characters was from Preston it was mainly set elsewhere. This didn’t detract from the story, I found it all extremely enjoyable.
There is a twist, I could see it coming and thought I had worked it out but I was completely wrong. If you go into this novel assuming that it is just another missing person novel you would be wrong, most of the storyline is different to every other book that I have read.
It’s a great debut and after hearing about the next novel at the event I am looking forward to keeping up with this author.

99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter – Book Launch.

Red-Balloons

On Tuesday 12th September Libby Carpenter had an event to support the launch of her debut novel – 99 Red Balloons at Waterstones Preston. I have been to a few events there in the last few years and this was probably one of the busiest. The evening was very enjoyable with a good selection of wine and nibbles. Libby answered many questions giving everyone a personal insight into her motivation for writing.

Author_Red-Balloons-XP2

I finished reading the book a couple of days ago and enjoyed it immensely, my review will be up next week.


51jb0b4pWUL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_

About The Book

Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?
When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.
What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?
Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…

Trust Me by Angela Clarke – Review.

51vX7whxHbL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

About the Book

What do you do if you witness a crime…but no-one believes you?
When Kate sees a horrific attack streamed live on her laptop, she calls the police in a state of shock. But when they arrive, the video has disappeared – and she can’t prove anything. Desperate to be believed, Kate tries to find out who the girl in the video could be – and who attacked her.
Freddie and Nas are working on a missing persons case, but the trail has gone cold. When Kate contacts them, they are the only ones to listen and they start to wonder – are the two cases connected?

My Review

Trust Me is the third book in the social media series by Angela Clarke.
Each of the novels have focused on the more worrying sides of social media. In this book, the site featured is Periscope. It is another that I have never used but one that I do understand. Sort of.
This is a series that I am up to date with, an unusual occurrence for me with all the books that are published. I have enjoyed getting to know the characters, seeing them settle into their roles and changing their views as they learn. I have seen all their strengths and many faults, these police officers are more human than some that are seen in fiction. They also have complicated relationships.
Out of the three books that have been published this is my favourite one so far. Partly because Periscope is less complicated than other social media sites but mainly because I now know these characters. My favourites, Saunders and Chips have more of a presence and there is less focus on Freddie and Nas’s past.
Freddie has grown on me over the three books. Her desire to do the right thing isn’t always the correct way from a policing point of view and she struggles at times with the choices that she makes and getting into trouble for them. The attitude of some of the police towards her role was convincing. I can believe that there are some officers who think that civilian officers are not important to an investigation. I read the novel quickly, the chapters were very short and there were multiple narrators. Some accounts were upsetting, especially the ones that were anonymous and some were intimidating.
I hope that this isn’t the final book in the series, part of me feels that it has been brought to a close. I hope I’m wrong. I don’t think of it as an intense crime series if it was televised it would be more like No Offence than Line of Duty. Its great fun, even though the subject matters are serious.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via NetGalley.

Watch Me by Angela Clarke.

51g8rpiawvl-_sx325_bo1204203200_

About the Book

YOU HAVE SIX SECONDS TO READ THIS MESSAGE…
The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.
This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.
DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.
YOU HAVE 24 HOURS TO SAVE THE GIRL’S LIFE.
MAKE THEM COUNT.

My Review

Watch Me is the second book in the series that features Nas and Freddie. It could be read as a standalone but I would advise that you read the first book Follow Me before reading. They are strongly linked.
Both Nas and Freddie are emotionally damaged from the events that happened in Follow Me. Nas has moved to a different department within the police where she feels that she hasn’t been welcomed by all that are in it. Freddie is unemployed and back home with her parents trying to forget and recover from an injury she received. When the sister of Nas’s superior officer is abducted she asks Freddie for help.
I did enjoy Follow Me last year but liked this one a lot more. Both characters are more developed and more likeable. I know nothing at all about the social media site Snapchat which features in the book, but I have heard about the damage that such sites can cause when a user is so inclined. Some of the scenes described regarding the abuse that Chloe received were quite upsetting and totally believable.
Nas doesn’t make life easy for herself. Remorse over events eight years earlier and struggling to get past the young, pretty, female and ethnic police officer image and prove that she was good at her job. You could understand to some degree the frustration that her fellow officers felt. Freddie, despite her injury, emotional problems and civilian status is much more level headed and practical. I thought the ending was very clever and different to what I expected it to be.
A good second book in the social media series and I hope it continues. I can certainly see potential for more books and I’m sure it is one I will enjoy keeping up with.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via NetGalley.