Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with #Author of, Tell Me Where You Are @moira_forsyth @sandstonepress #NewRelease #Fiction #FamilyLife #TellMe

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Tell Me Where You Are by Moira Forsyth

Synopsis ~

Frances is doing fine; she has her life sorted. Then comes the phone call from Alec, the husband who left her for her younger sister Susan, thirteen years ago. Susan has disappeared, and Alec wants her daughter Kate to come and stay with Frances, out of harm’s way. Meanwhile, Frances’s youngest sister, Gillian, finds that two months after ending her relationship with a married man, she is pregnant. While all this is going on another crisis is looming. It’s been a family full of secrets. Frances and Gillian haven’t even managed to tell their parents Susan is missing. After all, she’s left unacknowledged thirteen years of birthday and Christmas presents for Kate, the granddaughter they never saw. She was the one who made sure she could never be forgiven, and now there’s another secret. It’s not always the things you fear most, which matter in the end.

Q&A ~

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) This novel started with a dream about the turkey we were to have for Christmas dinner. The bizarre dream Frances has at the beginning of the novel is a more detailed version of one I woke from myself, slightly shaken and glad I no longer ate meat, though I was cooking it for everyone else! The dream was too good to waste – which is what I often think when something happens that quite quickly turns itself into fiction in my imagination.

The novel is about three sisters and what happens when the middle one, who has always been trouble, disappears, leaving Frances, her older sister, with her teenage daughter Kate. Kate is in trouble, but no one realises that until it’s too late… The novel is set mainly in the Highlands, where Frances now lives, with significant scenes in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Newcastle. I can’t get on with a new novel until I’ve decided where the characters live. I know authors who can write vividly about places they’ve never been, but I’d find that difficult. For me, the sense of place is bound up closely with the people, and I want to be sure I can make that convincing.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) This novel has had a longer journey than most. When Waiting for Lindsay, my first novel, was accepted, Sceptre gave me a two-book deal, which I fulfilled with my second, David’s Sisters. After that, my agent turned down my next novel, which I suspect he had discussed with Sceptre. My sales weren’t high enough for them to offer on that one. I wrote another, but by then the agent had thrown in the towel. That novel, an earlier version of Tell Me Where You Are, went to the back of the drawer with my other unpublished work. (A much larger drawer than the published one!)

My life was then taken up with developing Sandstone Press, of which I’m a founding director. For several years Sandstone published only non-fiction, then in 2010 it was decided we’d try fiction. Tell Me Where You Are was one of the early novels published, because Robert thought it merited that. He carried out a stern edit on it – and when I’d stopped sulking I made all the changes he had suggested – he was right. However, though we were very good editors at Sandstone, we were still learning to be publishers, and the novel pretty well sank without trace. We do better for our authors now!

It’s worth new authors noting that larger publishers often drop authors in this way. I know a number of superb writers who have been ‘let go’ by corporate publishers.
Because of the success of my two subsequent novels, The Treacle Well and A Message from the Other Side, Robert decided my previous novels should all be reissued, starting with Tell Me Where You Are. So here it is, with a beautiful new cover.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Being an editor, and to some extent, being a writer, wrecks your private reading. For bedtime I have crime thrillers on my kindle, for holidays and other times I love literary biographies (I’m reading the first biography of Scott Fitzgerald just now, by Andrew Turnbull, who knew him well), and also re-reading authors I’ve always loved and return to every few years, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Bowen, EM Forster, Alice Munro and George Eliot – Middlemarch is still, for me, the quintessential novel, the best.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) As a child I read everything I could get my hands on. Not allowed to ‘read at the table’ I read everywhere else, though at mealtimes I was restricted to the back of the Shreddies packet and the HP sauce bottle (some of which, in French, I can still quote Cette sauce de haute qualité est un melange d’épices….). I read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass over and over, as a little girl, and later devoured all of Enid Blyton’s school stories. My parents often gave me their library tickets to supplement my own, I read so fast and so voraciously. The first time I really understood what writing can do, to draw you into another world, was when I happened on Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden, which I still think one of the finest children’s novels ever written. As a teenager I read all Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, but also the Brontes, Thackery, George Eliot and other classics. As a student I read John Fowles’s The Magus with the same absorption and utter belief in its world. That one hasn’t stood the test of time quite as much!

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) It’s a magical moment when you open the parcel and see your new novel for the first time. When my first, Waiting for Lindsay, was published by Sceptre in 1999, I sat in my little upstairs living-room, in the first house I’d ever had of my own, holding it and unable to believe that at last, this had really happened. I’d had a bad few years, with my marriage breaking up and having to find a new job and manage on my own, but that was a moment of pure happiness.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) My partner in life and at work, Robert Davidson, has supported me all the way through. He’s my editor and critic, and takes a huge pride in my achievements. My children have also been wonderful. Sadly my mother had become ill by the time my first novel was published, and was unable to enjoy it as she would have done in earlier years. My father though, who died in 2012, was an indefatigable supporter and would get my books off the library shelves and hand them to other readers, telling them, ‘My daughter wrote this – it’s very good’. He also rearranged books in bookshops, facing mine out so that they were more easily seen. After his death, I discovered he had kept a full and detailed folder with cuttings of my reviews and every bit of publicity I’d ever had.

Moira_Forsyth_2
Moira Forsyth
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Link to the book available via Sandstone Press

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Night By Night by @JackJordanBooks 5* #NewRelease #Psychological #Thriller @CorvusBooks #NightByNight

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Night By Night by Jack Jordan
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

‘If you’re reading this, I’m dead.’

Rejected by her family and plagued by insomnia, Rose Shaw is on the brink . But one dark evening she collides with a man running through the streets, who quickly vanishes. The only sign he ever existed – a journal dropped at Rose’s feet.

She begins to obsessively dedicate her sleepless nights to discovering what happened to Finn Matthews, the mysterious author of the journal. Why was he convinced someone wanted to kill him? And why, in the midst of a string of murders, won’t the police investigate his disappearance?

Rose is determined to uncover the truth.
But she has no idea what the truth will cost her…

My Review ~

‘For those sixty minutes, she was the loneliest woman in the world’

At the beginning of the novel we are introduced to protagonist Rose Shaw, her husband Christian and two young twin daughters Lily and Violet (10yrs). We become aware that Rosie is suffering from chronic insomnia and is plagued with thoughts of how due to this she is failing her children. Her close friend Heather attempts to convince her otherwise, to no avail. But for Rosie, her obsessive and intrusive thoughts, will have to deadly consequences…

‘Motherhood came with a price: it had meant sacrificing her former self’

The novel then jumps ahead 4yrs, to after the accident. It is Lily’s 14th birthday and Rosie is struggling to emotionally connect to anyone. She feels blamed for their pain and punished by her husband. These were painful and moving scenes to read. Rose’s grief and pain felt like a punch to the chest and this is all due to the author’s exceptional skill at weaving emotionally tense scenes between the suspense.

‘I saved the wrong one’

Rose is seeing a therapist Dr William Hunter and it becomes obvious the repercussions seep into every part of Rose’s life. Rose has lost multiple relationships with family and friends. she is surviving in a life of misery and pain.

‘To outward appearances, they had stuck together after the death of their daughter. but within their home they were strangers occupying different rooms, different beds, and avoiding each other’s eyes’

One emotional day, Rose visits her mother and brother’s graves. It is then we become aware the pain in Rose’s life reaches deep into her past also. When she is knocked over by a jogger, whom drops a journal…

‘My name is Finn Matthews and if you’re reading this, I’m dead’

Finn’s dairy tells the story of being stalked and concern he is losing his mind.
The diary scenes are gripping and intense. I kept having to remind myself to breathe!

‘What had become of Finn Matthews?’

Solving Finn’s disappearance becomes an obsession for Rose. Can she find her own salvation in the solving of his case? Can Finn bring Rose the redemption she so desperately needs?

The main focus of the novel is Finn, as a man and his mysterious journal. I don’t want to risk spoilers, but we the reader are in for one hell of a rollercoaster ride. Despite her obvious problems and flaws, protagonist Rose develops into a real fierce warrior of a woman. A HUGE 5* from me!

‘Life Marks us all’

JJ
Jack Jordan
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Jack currently is hosting a UK only giveaway via Pinned Tweet HERE

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Ted Bundy Conversations With A Killer by Stephen G. Michaud & Hugh Aynesworth #Netflix #TedBundy #SerialKiller #TrueCrime @TheMirrorBooks

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Ted Bundy Conversations With A Killer by Stephen G. Michaud & Hugh Aynesworth
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

The book behind the sensational Netflix series The Ted Bundy Tapes.

Now the subject of a major motion picture, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron

Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer was born out of more than 150 hours of exclusive interview footage with Bundy himself, recorded on death row before his execution in a Florida electric chair.

Bundy’s shocking eleventh-hour confessions to journalists Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth provide a horrifying insight into the twisted mind of America’s most notorious serial killer.

He was a sadistic monster.

A master manipulator.

His grisly killing spree left at least 30 innocent young women dead.

This is Ted Bundy in his own words.

Extract ~

TB: Uh huh. That would be fair to say. The sexual activity was very responsive and very energetic. Uh, at certain parts of the evening he felt himself on the edge of taking her life, just, just out of the desire to do so. But the justifications were not there. Nor was that malignant condition that active at that time. It was active, but not at high strength. But when morning came around and they dressed and he took the girl back to the area where she lived, he felt like he’d accomplished something.

He deluded himself at that point into thinking that he had really conquered those impulses. But within a period of time he discovered that that was an inaccurate conclusion. He didn’t recognize then, or perhaps he did not want to recognize, that just the matter of a week or two later he probably would have killed her.

SM: What happens when the malignant part cannot be controlled or insists on gratification? At Lake Sammamish, for instance, there were great risks taken. But what if the urge is there and it can’t, for some reason, be met?

TB (pause): In the wake of a particular crime, he was not in a state of remission. That is, he actively wanted to go out and seek a victim. But he knew that he could not afford to do so without creating an intolerable amount of more public frenzy and panic, as well as police activity.

But while driving one day, he saw a young girl walking along a deserted area. It was just too good an opportunity to pass up. So he exited his car and approached the girl and shoved her into a bushy field. Without any preparation. No planning. Without any disguise. Just an impulsive kind of thing. And then he was faced with the prospect:
What should he do with her? He’d have to debate a considerable amount. There had been an illegal act of rape. Yet he refrained from harming her physically and left the scene and returned to his car and drove home. Had it occurred a few weeks later, he wouldn’t have acted in the same way. Or a few days later. But he did not want to create a great amount of public furor because it would reduce the opportunity for victims later on and it would increase the possibility of eyewitness reports. And he knew enough about these circumstances that, in all likelihood, it wouldn’t be reported. Or if it was reported, nothing much would be done about it. They wouldn’t necessarily link it to the other crimes. It would have been a simple act of rape of the type that is fairly common.
(Bundy said that the act of rape alone did not satisfy “the entity.” But during the last segment of this last interview, he described another scene in which, he maintained, the object was rape. Two days before his execution, Ted told Dennis Couch of the Salt Lake County sheriff’s office how he had murdered sixteen-year-old Nancy Wilcox in October of 1974. According to Couch, the account Bundy gave of the crime matches this story, almost verbatim.)

TB: As we’ve discussed before, frequently after this individual, uh, committed a murder, he would lapse, uh, into a period of sorrow, remorse, et cetera. And for a period of time he would do everything to overcome and otherwise repress the, uh, the overt behavior. Indeed, on one particular occasion he went to extraordinary lengths to do this following a crime, and he felt that he had succeeded, that the abnormal course of conduct had just sort of, uh, extinguished itself. He became somewhat satisfied and secure with the feeling that he had accomplished this.

But in this instance, the cracks in the façade, as it were, began to appear. He then would attempt to channel the desire within him into a different area, into something which was still, uh, improper, immoral or illegal, but something that was less serious, less severe.
Uh, and so he, in sort of a, uh, a compromise decided that rather than go out and inflict this mortal injury on a someone he would search out a victim in such a way that there would be no possibility of detection and he would not be forced into a position of having to kill. In essence he compromised into just going out and performing an act of rape, as it were.

So, he, uh, began to just go out driving around the suburbs, uh, in this city, uh, that he was living in, and one particular evening he’s driving down a fairly dark street and saw a girl walking along the street. Okay?

SM: Uh huh.

TB: Because the area was dark and she was alone, he decided to select her as the victim for this intended act of sexual assault. He parked his car down the street, and, uh, then ran up behind the girl.

Just as he came up upon her, they were at a place where there was an orchard, or a number of trees or something. As he came up behind her she heard him. She turned around and he brandished a knife and grabbed her by the arm and told her to do what he wanted her to do. You know, to follow him.

SM: Yeah.

TB: He pushed her off the sidewalk into this darkened, wooded area, and uh, told her to submit and do what he wanted her to do.

She began to argue with him and he kept telling her to be quiet. She said she didn’t believe he would do anything to her, anyway. Then he began to try to remove her clothes and she would, uh, continue to struggle in a feeble manner. And also voice verbally her objections to what was going on.

And then, uh, the significance, now, is that his intent with this victim was not to harm her. He thought this was going to be a significant departure; perhaps even a way of deconditioning himself, to climb down that ladder or, uh, I can’t think of a good word, de-, de-escalate this level of violence to the point where there would be no violence at all. Even no necessity for that kind of encounter at all.

SM: I see.

TB: But he found himself with this girl who was struggling and screaming. Uh, not screaming, but let’s say just basically arguing with him. There were houses in the vicinity and he was concerned that somebody might hear. And so, in an attempt to stop her from talking or arguing, he placed his hand over her mouth.

She stopped and he attempted to remove her clothes and she began to object again. At this point, he was in a state of not just agitation, but something on the order of panic. He was fearing that she would arouse somebody in the vicinity.

So, not thinking clearly but still intending not to harm her, let’s say, he placed his hands around her throat.

SM: Uh huh.

TB: Just to throttle her into unconsciousness so that she wouldn’t scream anymore. She stopped struggling, and it appeared that she was unconscious. But not, in his opinion, to a point where he had killed her.

SM: Right.

TB: Then let’s say he removed her clothes and raped her and put his own clothes back on. At about that point, he began to notice that the girl wasn’t moving. It appeared, although he wasn’t certain, that he’d done what he had promised himself he wouldn’t do. And he had done it, really, almost inadvertently.

Uh, so he took the girl by one of her arms and pulled her to a darkened corner of this little orchard and then, in a fit of panic, fled the scene. He got back in his car and drove back to his house, still not knowing if the girl was alive or dead.

But once he returned to the house, upon reflection he began to wonder. He didn’t know if he’d left anything at the crime scene. He hadn’t thought about publicity and physical evidence.

So he decided to return to the scene and if the body was there to recover it and take it somewhere else where it wouldn’t be found.

SM: Is this the same night?

TB: Huh? Oh, yeah. But he faced two problems in returning to the scene. First, prior to the incident he was in a state of intoxication, and he didn’t know the area that well. So he couldn’t remember exactly where it was he had to return, couldn’t find his way back, as it were.

But let’s say, after a considerable period of time of driving about in the general vicinity, uh, he was able to locate the area. It was getting fairly late about this time.
Nobody was in the vicinity, so apparently she hadn’t gotten up and gone away and the police hadn’t returned to the scene. Or she was still there.
He parked his car at the curb in front of this small orchard and walked into it and saw that, in fact, the body was still in the same position he’d left it.
So it was clear that the girl was dead.

So he carried the body to his car and put it in and covered it. Then he returned to the general area with a flashlight and scoured it to pick up everything that he may have left there – her clothing, et cetera. He placed that in the car and then returned to his apartment.

SM: Did he find everything?

TB: I don’t know.

SM: Would he have worn a mask?

TB: No, I don’t think so. I mean, he didn’t… it was dark and he…

SM: Well, the reason I asked is that if the intent was not to kill the victim, you would think that there would have been some kind of measure taken to disguise his identity.

TB: In a way, it was planned, but in a way it was like a spur of the moment thing for this person. He figured the object was to do it in such a way that it would be done in a very dark scene. Eventually, he found that kind of opportunity.

Stephen
Stephen G. Michaud
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Crushed by @kate_hamer #NewRelease #LiteraryFiction #Thriller @FaberBooks

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Crushed by Kate Hamer

Synopsis ~

Phoebe stands on Pulteney Bridge, tights gashed from toe to thigh. The shock of mangled metal and blood-stained walls flashes through her mind as she tries to cover her face so she won’t be recognised. It wouldn’t do to be spotted looking like this. She’s missing a shoe. She feels sick.

Phoebe thought murder and murder happened. Thoughts are just thoughts, they said. Now she knows they were wrong.

At home, Phoebe arranges the scissors and knives so they point toward her mother’s room. She is exhausted, making sure there’s no trace of herself – not a single hair, not even her scent – left anywhere in the house. She must not let her thoughts unravel, because if they do, there’s no telling who might be caught in the crossfire, and Phoebe will have to live with the consequences.

Extract ~

Phoebe

It was a book full of hate. The words must have been scratched underground at the dawn of time. They should’ve stayed there and never come to the surface. It set it all off again.
I’ve had to come to the only place that can calm me down. The corner of Pulteney Bridge. The only thing is, I’ve lost a shoe so people keep looking. My tights have an open gash from toe to thigh, flashing bright white flesh. I try to cover my face with my hair so I won’t be recognised. Things get reported back. I don’t know where my bag has gone – perhaps I dropped it on the way and didn’t notice.
I’d been calm as the sea before that book. It may as well have come crawling towards me on its elbows, dragging its black and bursting body behind. I should have heeded the inkling I had straight away that it was a bomb about to explode.
I lean against the cool stone of the bridge and look over the water to the weir. Usually it soothes me, but not today. In this water are hidden many ancient things. Sometimes one pops out – a coin, a tin mask, a figure of a bull, a crown, a pin. People are always surprised. Why should they be? The river is at the end of a vast drain sluicing straight down from the Roman bathhouse.
The sun glints off the water. The ancient buildings look more friendly in this light. It turns their darkness the colour of honey. The trees are full of early summer and shake their leaves in the breeze. Yet despite the bright surroundings I cannot be contained this time and I have to lean further over the wall, sickness cramping my stomach.
I’d tried to explain to Grace.
‘It’s just a book,’ she said. ‘It’s just a dusty old copy with half the pages falling out because they won’t pay for new ones. What are you on about?’
Her soft blue eyes travelled from side to side as she looked behind me. Her hair is cropped close to her head. The sight of it always makes me feel tender because I know she cuts it herself. It’s so short you can see the shape of her pretty little skull. I wanted to get her attention back. I cupped my hand over my mouth and whispered to her, quoting from the text.
‘I’ve been eating on the “insane root” again. Not now. Not today. A couple of weeks ago.’
Her eyes snapped back on my face and she nodded and gave a little laugh. ‘I’m partial to a few substances myself.’ Then she frowned. ‘You want to be careful, though, you know. Stuff like that can be dangerous.’
I turned away from her. I was bored of tellings-off. I felt light and free. Nothing bad was going to happen. It was just the warm day that had made me feel there could be a bomb, and Mr Jonasson being so close. All the pieces of me that had flown out came back and began fitting themselves together safely with hardly any gaps left in between.
That’s where it should’ve stopped.
But, no. I had to take it further, didn’t I? I had to go on testing myself, trying things out.
I’ve been told once, thoughts are just that by a woman with a face that looked like a little pussy-cat. The more I stared at her the more she seemed to resemble one.
Usually my tests are of the mundane kind. If I think There will be a red car when I turn this corner, perhaps there will be one. What if I wish for blackberry ice cream on the menu and there it is? If I want that plate to fall, it might and shatter on the stone floor. If, if, if, if. The results so far have been inconclusive.
Not this time.
It must’ve been the darkness of the story that made me do it. It was to show myself it couldn’t happen, that the light and airy feeling was how things were going to be from now on. One last little time, I thought. TRY IT OUT.
Was it five or ten minutes later we heard the commotion? Perhaps I was the only one that went towards it. I slipped out and ran down the road until I saw. There was mangled
metal. Blood ran down the walls.
I froze a good few moments before I ran again.
I reach for the front door key that I wear on a heavy chain around my neck. It’s more precious to me than any piece of jewellery could ever be. Hard won. I clasp it now like a rosary. There’s probably keys down there in the water too, along with the other old Roman stuff washed down from the baths. I can almost see it all, bubbling up to the top. Statues and pendants and nails surfacing at once in a thick and filthy mass, and I feel sick again and have to lean right over the wall. A car behind me beeps, once, loudly. They thought I was about to fall, or jump. Maybe I was. I need to move, but maybe I don’t have a choice.

Orla

Well, that was sickening.
I feel shaken to the pit of my stomach as I walk away. They haven’t got enough tents to cover it all up because the blood goes right along the wall on Walcot Street. They were trying to do it in the chaos and then they made everyone drive or walk away and closed the road as quick as they could. Horrific. Stuff like this just doesn’t happen in a place like Bath. I didn’t mean to look but it’s hard not to. It was mesmerising. It’s unbelievable how much blood people have in them. The red was in a stripe coming out from the back of the plastic they’ve rigged up. I could see how it had got cemented in between the blackened old stones and I wondered how they were ever going to get it out. They’ll have to scrape right into the gaps and use hoses so there’ll be a wash of pink water swirling across the road.
Behind the yellow tape there’s people trundling around in white plastic suits now. They look so out of place against all that dirty ancient stone, it’s like flickering beings have been beamed in from the future. My heart feels like it’s never going to slow down to its usual pace. I want to cry so badly. I’m only trying to hold on until I get home. I concentrate hard on looking at the normal little things I see every day to keep me going until I can wail in my bedroom. There’s a shop of mirrors full of glitter. There’s the giant carved head looming over the undertaker’s door – Bath is full of odd things like that, carvings and statues and old buildings. When I was little I always used to whisper ‘Hello’ to the head as I passed because he looked like he was asking, ‘Is it your turn yet? Will you be next?’ And I thought starting a conversation might please him so he’d decide not to choose me. He seems to be staring extra hard and pointedly today. It must be because of what just happened. ‘Hello,’ I whisper in a trembling voice. ‘Not me right now. I’m not ready.’
By the time I get to the fruit shop with bright green plastic grass in the window, my breathing has stopped hurting so much.
How many times and in different lights and times of day have I seen all these ordinary things? Hundreds. Thousands. I try to make them take the place of what I’ve just seen.
That’s when I see Phoebe’s bag dumped in the shop doorway. The sickness returns. What’s happened to her? What’s happened to her? I pick the bag up and stand, rubbing the striped canvas between my fingers, wondering what to do. It seems strangely violent, this familiar bag being here that I’ve seen a million times, swinging on Phoebe’s shoulder, the hard outline of books showing through the fabric. It’s not exactly her dumped body but something makes me think of it. I hug it close, shaking now. God, she frightens me sometimes. It terrifies me the way she carries on. My heart lurches: what if it’s her that’s been killed on Walcot Street? What if it was her blood I saw? I close my eyes and sway, the idea being so shockingly awful. No, it can’t be. I won’t allow myself to think that. I’ll never make it back.
I hurry on, the taste of home so strong now it’s almost on my tongue. I can’t wait to collapse inside and feel safe, to phone Phoebe and make sure she’s all right. But up ahead are Belinda and her crew, and they’re walking so slowly I’ll have no choice but to pass them – it’ll look too odd if I slow down to their pace behind.
As I catch up with them their tense bright faces tighten towards me.
‘Orla, did you see it?’ Samantha’s eyes are starry with the sight of the blood. The ribbon of it in the sun is still glittering her eyes.
‘Yes. Horrible.’
We all nod even though I can see it’s put a spring in all their steps. They’ll go home and dissect it together, crouching on one of their beds with their arms around their knees and big, pointy-cornered smiles on their faces they can’t wipe off they’re so excited.
It’s such a beautiful day. The sky is a perfect blue. I have an intense longing to be off this dusty pavement with these girls clucking and mauling over the horror like they’re actually sticking their fingers into it and dabbling there. I think of our garden just down the road. It’s my favourite place in the world. Walled in on three sides and with an apple tree in the middle. In the summer, green vines crawl up the brickwork and the scent of the passion flowers passes over me. Mum and Dad aren’t really that into it so I can poke about in there to my heart’s content. Even when it’s cold I’ll sit out on the bench wrapped in a blanket. In the winter the plants have their own bare beauty with all their bones and pods showing like they’ve been turned inside out. I need to be there now.
‘Got to go.’ A wave of awkwardness washes over me. What’s wrong with me? I can’t even make a quick getaway without breaking into a terrible sweat.
‘Hey,’ Belinda calls after me. ‘What was it Grace was saying today?’
I shrug like I don’t know but I heard perfectly well. I was sitting right next to her. Someone had just read a piece out from the supplementary notes. It was Simon, I think.
‘The role of the witch is to demonstrate the female, intuitive, otherworldly power of the mind.’
And while we were all pondering it, supposedly thinking about discussion points, Grace came up with one of her own.
She said, ‘Did somebody actually write this shit?’
It wasn’t even under her breath. In a way it was kind of thrilling, like breaking the law must be.
Everyone heard but nothing happened about it. It never does. She gets away with anything because of her circumstances. Grace might be only sixteen, while Phoebe and me are seventeen, but Grace always seems by far the oldest – as if she’s twice our age and she’s been married and had three kids already.
Finally I see our house and the face of it seems like the sweetest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. As I’m trying to get the key into the lock, the door opens and I collapse inside into Mum’s arms.
‘Did you see?’ she asks. ‘Carol from church just called and told me what’s happened. She’s stuck in the traffic.’
I nod and I can feel my mouth turning down so sharp at the corners it actually hurts.
‘Oh Orla.’ She hugs me tight. ‘My darling, darling girl. I was hoping you hadn’t. I was hoping you’d never have to witness something like that.’

KH
Kate Hamer
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Giveaway (UK & IRL only) The Lost Letters Of William Woolf by @wordsofhelen #LiteraryFiction @MichaelJBooks

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The Lost Letters Of William Woolf by Helen Cullen
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

Lost letters have only one hope for survival . . .

Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries. Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names – they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.

When William discovers letters addressed simply to ‘My Great Love’ his work takes on new meaning.

Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn’t met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn’t know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love?

William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.

hc
Helen Cullen
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