[BLOG TOUR: BOOK EXTRACT] Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson @FaberBooks @PeterSwanson3

Today is my stop on the RULES FOR PERFECT MURDERS blog tour! I am sharing with you a short extract of the book.

EXTRACT

The waiter was hovering, so we both ordered. Agent Mulvey got the eggs Florentine. I wasn’t hungry but ordered two poached eggs on toast, with fresh fruit on the side. After we ordered, she said, “This has me thinking about rules.” “What do you mean, ‘rules’?” “Okay,” she said, and thought for a moment. “If I was the one who had set myself this task…… this goal of committing the eight murders that you described in your list, then it would be helpful to set some guidelines. Some rules. Do you copy the murders exactly? Or the idea behind the murders? How similar do they have to be?” “So, you think the rules dictate that the murderer adheres as closely as possible to the actual murders in the book?” “No, not the details of the murders, but the philosophies behind them. It’s almost as though the murderer is testing these books in real life. If the idea was simply to mimic the books, then you could just shoot someone in a country house library and call it a day. Or, for the A.B.C. Murders, you’d actually copy them exactly. You know, nd someone named Abby Adams who lived in Acton and kill her first, et cetera. But it’s not just about that, it’s about doing them right. There are rules.”

What are your thoughts on the extract? Let me know in the comments!

Add ‘Rules for Perfect Murders‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Rules for Perfect Murders‘ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Peter Swanson is the author of four novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, All the Beautiful Lies. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Find him on: Website, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter.

[BOOK EXTRACT] None the Wiser (Detective Mark Turpin #1) by Rachel Amphlett @rachelamphlett

Hello everyone! This is a new segment where I post a spotlight of a book and share an extract of it. I’ve been asked by the lovely author to share an extract which I expected gladly because I know many of you enjoy reading her books and love mystery/thriller books as well. This is the first book in the Detective Mark Turpin series. I hope you enjoy the extract!

EXTRACT

None the Wiser
(Detective Mark Turpin, book 1)
© Rachel Amphlett

Chapter 1

Seamus Carter dropped to his knees.
His voice was little more than a murmur, rising and falling with the rhythm of the prayer.
Exhaustion threatened, and he tried to take strength from the subtext, a momentary sense of calm easing the guilt that had gnawed away at him for days.He kept his eyes closed in meditation a while longer, savouring the tentative peace that enveloped him.
No-one would disturb him.
He was alone – the pub that stood on the other side of the boundary wall with his church had a live band playing tonight. He had heard the thumping bass line as he had been praying, and none of his parishioners were likely to visit at this time of night.
Easing himself from a kneeling position, he genuflected as he gazed up at the wooden crucifix above the altar, and then bowed his head in a final, silent prayer.
Seamus blinked, his trance-like state leaving him as soon as he moved away from the altar.
Despite his efforts, the self-loathing remained, and he scowled.
It wasn’t meant to be like this.
He stomped along the aisle towards the vestry, reached into his pocket for a bubble pack of antacids, then popped and swallowed two.
His thoughts turned to the Sunday morning service, and the uplifting sermon he wasstruggling to write.
The events of the previous week had shaken him, and he needed to excuse his fear.
Addressing the congregation would be a tincture, a way to soothe the wound that had been opened.
Crossing the remaining length of the nave, he pushed through the door to his office and sank into the hard wooden chair at his desk. It faced the wall, a plain wooden cross above his head.
The room had no windows, which he preferred. The setting enabled him to meditate upon his words as he crafted carefully phrased sentences to spread the word of his God.
He tapped the trackpad on the laptop, and, as the screen blinked to life, he manoeuvred the cursor over the music app, selected a compilation of violin sonatas, and closed his eyes as the music washed over him.
He smiled.
Two years ago, the church cleaner had entered the room and emitted a sharp, shocked gasp at the loud trance music emanating from the computer. After he’d calmed her and tried to convince her that, often, his best sermons were written at one hundred and twenty beats per minute, she’d continued with her dusting, although she’d eyed him warily. He’d resisted the urge to educate her musical tastes further with the progressive rock of 1970s Pink Floyd.
Seamus read through the words he had typed an hour ago, and frowned. He deleted the last sentence, cracked his knuckles and then stabbed two fingers at the keyboard in an attempt to convey the thoughts that troubled him.
Perhaps in sharing his own foibles, he would find retribution.
The stack of paperwork at his elbow fluttered as a cold breeze slapped against the back of his neck, and he rubbed the skin, his eyes never leaving the screen.
He would check all the doors and windows before leaving tonight, but now he had found his flow, the sermon was almost complete.
A shuffling noise reached his ears before he became aware of someone standing behind him, a moment before a rope snaked around his neck.
Seamus lashed out in fear, shoving the chair backwards. Terror gripped him as the noose grew taut.
A gloved hand slapped his right ear, sending shards of pain into his skull, and he cried out in pain as his assailant moved into view.
Black mask, black sweatshirt, black jeans.
‘There’s money in the box in the filing cabinet over there. My wallet is in my trouser pocket.’
Before he could recover from the shock, his right wrist was fastened to the arm of the chair with a plastic tie.
His left fist flailed, then Seamus cried out as he was punched in the balls, all the air rushing from his lungs in one anguished gasp.
He panted as his left wrist was secured to the chair, and tried to focus his thoughts.
‘What do you want?’
The words dried on his lips as he heard the warble in his rasping voice, the unsteadiness that betrayed the lie.
Eyes glared at him from slits within a black hood, but no words came.
Instead, the figure moved behind him.
Bile rose in his throat as the rope tightened under his Adam’s apple.
‘Help!’
His cry was instinctive, desperate – and useless.
Restricted by the rope around his neck, his voice was little more than a croak, broken and shattered.
He twisted in his seat, nostrils flaring as he tugged at the ties that bound his wrists to the arms of the chair.
He couldn’t move.
He gagged, struggling to swallow.
Without warning, the rope jerked, forcing his chin towards the ceiling and burning his throat.
A single tear rolled over his cheek as a wetness formed between his legs, heat rising to his face while his attacker crouched at the back of the chair, securing the rope.
He had known it would come to this, one day.
The figure said nothing, and edged around his body, peering into his eyes before raising a knife to Seamus’s face.
A gloved hand gripped his jaw, forcing his mouth open as the priest panted for air.
The blade traced around each eye socket, millimetres away from his face.
I don’t want to die.
His eyes bulged as the knife moved to his cheek, his plea little more than a whimper.
Seamus gagged at the rope cutting into his neck, fighting against the pressure in his lungs.
I can’t breathe.
A searing pain tore into his tongue, slicing through sinew and tendons before the knife flashed in front of his eyes, blood dripping from the blade, and, as Seamus’s body convulsed, the figure before him began to speak.
‘Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…’

What do you think of it? Let me know below in the comments!

Add ‘None the Wiser‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘None the Wiser’ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a film extra and freelanced in radio as a presenter and producer for the BBC. She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and is a USA Todaybestselling author of crime fiction and spy thrillers, many of which have been translated worldwide. A keen traveller, Rachel holds both EU and Australian citizenship.

Find her on: Website, Twitter and Goodreads.

[BOOK EXTRACT] A Window Breaks by C.M. Ewan @chrisewan #AWindowBreaks @panmacmillan

I’m very excited to share with you and extract of C.M. Ewan’s thriller A Window Breaks. The e-book version of A Window Breaks is out today!

What do you think of it? Let me know below in the comments!

Add ‘A Window Breaks‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase the ebook version of ‘A Window Breaks‘ here:

*Pre-order a physical copy of ‘A Window Breaks‘ with free international delivery here:

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Chris Ewan is the critically acclaimed and bestselling author of many mystery and thriller novels. Chris’s first standalone thriller, Safe House, was a number one bestseller in the UK and was shortlisted for The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. He is also the author of the thrillers Dead Lineand Dark Tides and the Kindle Single short story, Scarlett Point. He is the author of The Good Thief’s Guide to . . . series of mystery novels. The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam won the Long Barn Books First Novel Award and is published in thirteen countries.

Born in Taunton in 1976, Chris graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in American Studies with a minor in Canadian Literature, and later trained as a lawyer. After eleven years living on the Isle of Man, he recently returned home to Somerset with his wife, their daughter and the family labrador, where he writes full time.

Find him on: Website, Twitter and Goodreads.

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK EXTRACT] Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin @MichaelJBooks @GarethRubin

I’m excited to share an excerpt from Liberation Square with you as part of my blog tour stop! Hope you like it!

BOOK EXTRACT

Make sure to follow other bloggers on this tour!

Add ‘Liberation Square‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘Liberation Square‘ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Gareth Rubin is an author and journalist who has written for most British national newspapers. He lives in London, and Liberation Square is his first novel.

Find him on: Publishers website, Goodreads and Twitter.

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK REVIEW] A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas @FaberBooks @BevThomas20

A Good Enough Mother is Faber’s lead debut which comes out on 4th April. When I got the blog tour invite I jumped right in because after reading that synopsis I couldn’t resist! It ticks all the boxes when it comes to a book for me.

What’s it about? A Good Enough Mother follows Dr. Ruth Hartland who is a director in a well-known trauma unit. Ruth’s job consists of seeing different patients and helping them through their traumas and she’s quite a good therapist. Our main character Ruth has a few issues of her own – her son Tom disappeared without a word and that is something that haunts her daily [understandably so]. On one particular day Ruth is assigned a new case, a boy called Dan Griffin who resembles her son a lot. This is where the line between professional and personal intertwine. Ruth, who has years of experience in her practice knows what is to be done in these scenarios but something in her is stopping her from doing the right thing. She cannot get the likeness out of her head and so she begins treating him. Was that the right choice or the greatest mistake? Well, you have to read the book to find out..

Whenever I come across a book where our main character is a therapist or someone in the field of mental health I immediately add it to my TBR because I can’t resist those books. I love finding out about human psyche and what influences most of our behaviour. The author of this book, Bev Thomas, was a clinical psychologist who worked for the NHS and who’s now a consultant when it comes to mental health. I love how her knowledge as well as many years of practice influenced the book and she even mentioned Winnicotts theory of ‘Good Enough Parent/Mother’ which I wasn’t familiar with before. The characters in the book were well crafted and Ruth’s character had a lot of flaws which made her relatable. Now, when it comes to Ruth’s decisions I wanted to yell at her a few times but I have to take into account that she has went through hell with Tom’s disappearance and that’s something very very stressful and can cloud someone’s judgement. I did find issues with a few of her decisions that I couldn’t credit to her trauma and I seriously wanted to shout ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOOOING!!? NOO!’. The book is very readable and it has a nice pace so you can actually fly through it and experience a lot of emotions. Did I feel for Dan? No, I didn’t. I just didn’t like him as a character although I understood Ruth’s ‘pull’ towards him. This book doesn’t jump straight into the action so if you’re someone who wants a fast-paced read you won’t find it here [although the end is wild]. It’s a slow burner which I enjoyed and I especially loved finding out about Ruth’s job and what she did. Although I didn’t like Ruth’s decisions I enjoyed this book a lot and the last few pages were quite hopeful  which was a bonus for me.

A Good Enough Mother is an interesting look into a life of a therapist who while battlng her own demons tries her best to help her patients and a good study of what happens when personal and professional  lives mix.

I would like to thank the publisher Faber & Faber for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book from the publisher.

My rating:

Make sure to follow other bloggers on this tour!

Add ‘A Good Enough Mother‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘A Good Enough Mother‘ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Bev Thomas was a clinical psychologist in the NHS for many years. She currently works as an organisational consultant in mental health and other services.  She lives in London with her family.

Her upcoming novel A Good Enough Mother will be published by Faber & Faber in Spring 2019.

Find her on: Goodreads and Twitter

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK EXTRACT] She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge @MichaelJBooks

Today is my stop on the She Lies in Wait blog tour! I am delighted to share the first chapter with you! Let me know your thoughts on it below!

BOOK EXTRACT

Thanks for visiting! Make sure to follow other book bloggers on this tour!

Add ‘She Lies in Wait‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘She Lies in Wait‘ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Gytha Lodge is a multi-award-winning playwright, novelist and writer for video games and screen. She is also a single parent who blogs about the ridiculousness of bringing up a mega-nerd small boy. She has a profound addiction to tea, crosswords and awful puns. When not writing, she heads up a copywriting team at a global translation firm, where she generally tries to keep all the video-game writing to herself. She studied English at Cambridge, where she became known quite quickly for her brand of twisty, dark yet entertaining drama. She later took the Creative Writing MA at UEA. She has signed with Penguin Random House worldwide for the first three books in her crime series featuring DCI Jonah Sheens

Find her on: Goodreads and Twitter

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK REVIEW] Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson @FaberBooks @PeterSwanson3

Whenever I see a new Peter Swanson book coming out I immediately get excited. Swanson is that author you just love and whose writing pulls you in – he’s seriously one of my favourite thriller writers ever. When I saw that he had a new book coming out I got so excited! When I see a Swanson book I just get so excited because his books are something I love getting lost in.

Before She Knew Him follows Hen who moves in with her husband Lloyd to a new home. One night at a neighbourhood party Hen and Lloyd meet Matthew and Mira Dolamore, a couple with who they can most relate since they’re the only childless couple in the neighbourhood. Both couples agreed to meet up one night for dinner at the Dolamores so they can get to know each other better. While staying at dinner Hen gets a tour of the house from Mira and sees something that shocks her – a fencing trophy. She immediately gets chills because it can’t be! From this point on Hen starts suspecting that Matthew – a seemingly normal professor – is hiding a dark secret. Hen tells her concerns to her husband who dimisses this insane thought but she isn’t sure she’s being irrational in this situation. Hen begins getting interested in Dolamores more and more and this obsession will spark up an unusual bond with Matthew.

Before She Knew Him is out now in both US and UK! Swanson has a way of engaging the reader when it comes to his books. I have to say that of all the works I’ve read by him nothing can top The Kind Worth Killing which amazed me and made me fall in love with Swanson.

Before She Knew Him is such a fast-paced book and I loved spending every hour and every minute reading it. The characters in it have depth and even the side-characters are given a voice which I found to be excellent when it came to this story. I love how Swanson created Hen who even though has mental health problems still stays true to what she believes and doesn’t let it stop her from finding out the truth. The Dolamores as characters were amazing especially Matthew whose mind was so complex. When it comes to the plot I just loved it – especially the last twenty pages which had me gasping! Now, since I’m on the subject of the ending I kind of felt that it was rushed and would’ve loved that it was more thought-out because the whole idea was so amazing but cut abruptly. Something I love about Swanson is the Hitchcock-ian feel that he adds to his stories and this one had that as well – I mean that twist at the end! As I’ve mentioned, the characters are something I loved finding out more about and Swanson did that perfectly [getting into their psyche] but the ending felt a bit rushed for my taste. Although I had an issue with the ending of this book I still found it thoroughly enjoyable and something I would definitely recommend you pick up if you’re a fan of brilliant psychological thrillers!

I would like to thank the publisher Faber&Faber for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book for free from the publisher.

My rating:

Add ‘Before She Knew Him‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Before She Knew Him‘ here:

*Purchase ‘Before She Knew Him‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Peter Swanson is the author of four novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, All the Beautiful Lies. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Find him on: Website, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter.

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK REVIEW] The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup @MichaelJBooks #TheChestnutMan

I was very excited when I opened Twitter and saw a message about joining the blog tour for The Chestnut Man. Having loved The Killing TV series I couldn’t wait to dive into this one and I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed!

The Chestnut Man follows Naia Thulin and Mark Hess in their quest to solve the mystery and murder of Laura Kjaer, whose murder appears to be routinely executed but upon looking at the details both Thulin and Hess begin to see that something isn’t right. We are also introduced to Rosa Hartung who is a Minister for Social Affairs and who carries a horrible loss behind her. Rosa’s loss is the murder of her daughter whose killer has been caught but his testimony doesn’t make sense. Laura Kjaer’s murder contains a piece of evidence which is linked with Rosa‘s horrible loss – this discovery sets both Thulin and Hess in search of the truth behind the Chestnut Man.

Reading the first few chapters I felt shivers because of how dark and gruesome they were! What an opening! From the beginning we are introduced to Naia Thulin, a detective in the Homicide’s Murder Squad who feels like this job isn’t thrilling her and challenging her anymore so she plans on moving to the Cyber Crime Unit. Mark Hess has been kicked out of Europol for causing many issues and has made his way to Homicide’s Murder Squad. We can see that Hess doesn’t want to be there at all and already has plans to move quickly. Hess and Thulin have been partnered together in solving the case of Laura Kjaer and although not standing each other they have to do their best in solving it. Sveistrup has an amazing ability at writing gruesome scenes because I felt unsettled whenever I stumbled upon them. Naia Thulin’s character has to be my favourite because of how interesting she is and how her psyche worked. In the beginning Mark Hess wasn’t someone I liked but throughout the book we saw his flaws and that gave him depth and a somewhat understanding of why he is who he is. There are many voices in this book and at times I did feel lost because it didn’t keep my attention. Compared to the first part of the book the last part kept me much more entertained and although I found it a bit weak at times I felt that the ending made up for that. Sveistrup is someone who can write and I got reminded why I love these sort of books.

The Chestnut Man is a fantastic debut I highly recommend you pick up if you like dark and interesting thrillers.

I would like to thank the publisher Penguin Random House UK (Michael Joseph) for inviting me on the blog tour and providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Make sure to check out other book bloggers’ reviews on this tour!

Add ‘The Chestnut Man‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘The Chestnut Man‘ here:

*Purchase ‘The Chestnut Man‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Søren Sveistrup is an internationally acclaimed scriptwriter of the Danish television phenomenon The Killing which won various international awards and sold in more than a hundred countries. More recently, Sveistrup wrote the screenplay for Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman. Sveistrup obtained a Master in Literature and in History from the University of Copenhagen and studied at the Danish Film School. He has won countless prizes, including an Emmy for Nikolaj and Julie and a BAFTA for The Killing.

Goodreads

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK REVIEW] Who I Am by Sarah Simpson @sarahrsimpson @aria_fiction

I was invited by the author to join the blog tour for Who I Am and after reading the synopsis of it I had to say yes because – twisted friendship, twisted characters YES.

“You never know do you, people’s backgrounds, how much it impacts on them? The choices they make because of it.”

Who I Am follows two characters Andi and Camilla who upon meeting at University become best friends and quickly share their secrets and pour their souls to each other. The story is set to two different timelines 2000’s and 2017. In 2017 we see Andi as an adult with children, living almost an idyllic life but not everything is what it seems. She is haunted by what happened one night at the beach which changed everything and soon she becomes stalked by someone who knows what happened and is blaming her for it. Who is out there to get her?

I have to compliment the design of this book because it’s so good. Well done, book designer! From the first two/three chapters you can already sense that this story won’t be the usual ‘friendship’ one because it contains dark elements that make you all tingly inside because you know it will be a fun ride. The author’s background as a psychologist shows throughout the book and I love how in-depth her characters were and how you could analyse their actions. I also learned what Korsakoff’s syndrome is which I haven’t heard of before. Towards the last 150 pages of the story Simpson introduces a few more characters which I found to be very interesting and loved reading their POV. This book is very dark and is unlike other toxic friendship stories as I’ve mentioned before. It contains some trigger warnings (e.g. alcohol abuse) which may not suit every reader. I especially enjoyed how unreliable Andi’s characters was because I began second guessing her intentions and her role in that awful night at the beach. What I found lacking in Who I Am is that sometimes I felt the story going somewhere and losing my interest – but that wasn’t a huge part because I did enjoy the story a lot. I found Eve’s character to offer more info on Andi [which I appreciated] but she didn’t feel very necessary to the story for me. From my experience with Who I Am I can say that Simpson knows how to write dark characters and twisted stories. I was captivated throughout the book and although I found some small parts to lose my interest I absolutely enjoyed spending my time with Who I Am.

If you enjoy reading dark and twisted stories with unreliable narrators then you’re in for a treat with Who I Am.

I would like to thank the author Sarah Simpson as well as the publisher Aria Fiction for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written in this review are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘Who I Am‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Who I Am‘ here:

*I am in no way compensated by this site. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Sarah Simpson has a business degree and a first class honours degree in psychology with appropriate post-graduate qualifications. Her background, working privately within mental health for many years; within the collaborative family law arena and with additional experience within the family court system has gifted her an invaluable understanding of life and people. Thus, Her Greatest Mistake is a cocktail of professional and personal experiences stirred vigorously by the imagination.

She is relatively late to the writing scene, despite a love of books and writing from when she was very young, it wasn’t until 2016 that she sat down to put pen to paper. Her Greatest Mistake was then some twelve months in creation, followed by some vigorous re-writing. In June 2017, she signed with her current agent Broo Doherty and shortly after was offered a three book publishing contract with Aria, Head of Zeus…

Find her on: Website, Twitter and Goodreads.

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK EXTRACT] Who I Am by Sarah Simpson @sarahrsimpson @aria_fiction

Today is my stop on the WHO I AM blog tour. I am sharing an extract from the book and will soon post a review of the book.

BOOK EXTRACT

‘Yes, you could, it’s Christmas and I’d really like you to stay on. I’ll be leaving tomorrow.’

A worried expression shot across her face. ‘Oh? What leaving Uni? For good?’

I laughed, feeling flattered, she appeared genuinely upset. ‘No, course not. For Christmas I mean. I’ve the rest of next year to get through yet. How about you, what year are you in, you didn’t say?’

‘Yeah, the same. Well it should be anyway, but the way things are looking, what with the accommodation,’ she shrugged, ‘I might not be graduating at all.’

I curled my arm around her and squeezed. ‘Try not to worry. Thing’s always turn up, there’s always something to be worked out.’ It felt like a silly thing to say. Why do we say these things? ‘Come on choose your cocktail. I’m buying, I insist.’ It’s funny, I hardly know Camilla, but sitting here I feel a real affinity to her, there’s a sadness behind her eyes, something unsaid, but also there’s – life and excitement.

My head spins, my legs have other ideas, when I stand to make my way to the ladies, stumbling back, I collapse on to Camilla’s lap. ‘Woah, sorry,’ I giggle, ‘these cocktails are potent.’ With Camilla’s help I lever myself back up, the room wobbling around me, ‘I’d better come with you,’ she laughs.

Clara gathers herself to stand, ‘I’ll go, I’m used to her atrocious drink tolerance,’ she practically spits at Camilla.

‘It’s fine, Clara, stay put, I’m hardly blotto, just stood up too quickly.’ I tell her, as soon as the words leave my mouth, I realise I’ve offended her in some way. Camilla smiles at her warmly, then arm in arm we make our way across the room. Pushing our way through the heavy bathroom door into a woman, giggling at her affronted face as we pushed past her in the doorway.

‘It’s Christmas. Tis the season to be merry.’ Camilla calls after her. Her tongue finally loosening as she relaxes. Practically falling through the second door into the spacious bathroom, gilt mirrors and floral displays in abundance, a strong whiff of pot pourri. ‘Wow,’ I hear through the cubicle door, ‘these loos are better than anything I’ve ever lived in.’ I can’t help but laugh out loud. ‘Think I could stay here next year? D’you think they’d notice if I moved my stuff in?’ When I exit the cubicle, she’s padding around in wonderment before turning her attention to the complimentary toiletries. ‘Look at this stuff. It’s really expensive, wish I’d brought a bigger handbag now.’

I giggle at her expression through the elaborate gold-leaf mirror as I wash my hands. ‘You’re hilarious Camilla, you’ve not been here before tonight then?’

She bolts herself upright. ‘Of course I have, only pulling your leg.’ She throws her hands up. ‘I’m not kidding you, am I?’ She nods. ‘This is the first time, and it’s completely amazing. But, I’ll definitely be coming back, that’s for sure. As often as I can.’

She reminds me of an awestruck child, so refreshing and charming, makes me feel as though I’m missing out on something special, too much in my life taken for granted. ‘Are you serious then?’ I ask, reaching for the folded cotton hand towels. Camilla spins on her heals, all eyelashes. ‘About not having anywhere to stay next year, I mean. Surely, you won’t really need to defer, will you?’

Twinkling dark eyes cloud, ‘deadly,’ she says. ‘I can’t pull the funds together, so I can’t see that I’ll have a choice. I’m trying not to think about it but it’s a strong possibility.’

‘So what about your student loan?’

She regards the vanity size moisturiser in her hand, ‘ah well, that’s another story. Probably not for tonight, I don’t want to burden you with my crap, I mean bad stuff, it’s not fair.’

‘No, go on, please. I’d like to understand.’

‘Nothing to it really. I’ve used up all my allowance, so, can’t afford to support myself. Simple as that.’ She sighs heavily, shoulders noticeably slumping. ‘I’m all, as they say – spent up. Skint.’

‘How come? Sorry, do you mind me asking? You don’t have to tell me, if you think I’m being nosey.’

‘It’s fine, feels like I’ve known you for ages anyway,’ I smile at her, I totally understand what she means, it does. ‘Thing is, I had to pay for my dad, he’s sick, really sick, in a home he is.’

As she hangs her head, I could kick myself for making her feel so dejected on a night like this, I brush her hand, ‘I’m sorry, Cam, I’d no idea things are so bad, I shouldn’t have pushed you, feel awful now.’

‘It’s fine really. It’s his own fault really, Dad, I mean. Korsakoff’s syndrome they call it?’ Her voice rises as if she’s uncertain. ‘Dementia to me. That’s how I get my head round it.’

‘Korsakoff’s? Isn’t it associated with too much alcohol?’ God, I wish I hadn’t guzzled all those cocktails, in particular that I hadn’t practically forced them on Camilla too.

‘Yeah, he’s a pisshead basically,’ she cups her mouth with a delicate hand. ‘Excuse my language,’ she says, ‘but, he always has been – a drunk. You’ve heard of it then, can’t say I ever had before. Could hardly even pronounce it, never mind understand it. The doctor tried to say, it isn’t always caused by the booze, but we both understood, in Dad’s case, it was. I’m gob-smacked you’ve even heard of it.’

‘Only because we had a talk on the long term effects of alcohol last year. Think they were trying to dry some of the students out. Warn them off with a list of potential deadly outcomes. Wasting their time, obviously. I don’t really understand the full ins and outs of it, other than it’s a really cruel illness, as dementia always is. I’m so sorry, that’s really tough on you too.’

‘Hmm. Like I said, it’s his own fault. But anyhow that’s where my money went. All of it. But what was I to do?’

‘What about your mum?’ Words I wished I could rein back in on noticing her physically congeal.

‘Dead.’ She says.

I gasp out loud before I can stop myself, then grab her hand and squeeze, words failing me.

‘Same way, before you ask.’ She gives a reciprocal squeeze then releases my hand, to place the moisturiser back in the basket next to her. ‘Not the Korsakoffs stuff, but still a… drunk, amongst other stuff. Again, all her own doing.’

Despite now feeling completely sober, I feel my legs quiver. ‘Look, I appreciate you hardly know me, so please tell me if I’m offending you. But the three of us,’ I nod towards the bathroom door, ‘me, Clara and Jo, we share a house in Stockbridge, Daddy rents it for us, then we share the rent. My bedroom is huge, plenty big enough for two and I’ve a spare bed already in there, you could always share with me, until you sort yourself out at least.’

‘But…’

‘No, you don’t need to say anything, not just yet. Have a think about it. I’m off back home tomorrow, won’t be back until January, so you’ve some time to mull it over. Please don’t feel obliged or anything though, it’s only a thought.’ I pick up our bags and hand her hers as we walk towards the exit door. ‘You have my mobile number so let me know, any time.’ The raucous laughter hits us as we push at the door, joyfulness and drunken exchanges circling the domed ceiling. I pull her back before we reach our table. ‘Please tell me – I haven’t offended you, been a little too forward. I didn’t mean to be. I only want to help if I can.’

Newly perfectly painted lips turn upwards. ‘No, of course you haven’t,’ she reassures me, ‘but obviously, I’ll need to think it over. It’s very sweet of you but I like to pay my way usually and it’s all a bit embarrassing. I’ve always been a believer, nothing is free in life, everything comes with a price list. Something Dad did teach me.’

‘Accept good friendships, Cam, they shouldn’t come at a cost. I know we’ve only just met but like you said, feels more like we’ve known each other for ages. If I can help you, you’ll let me know, won’t you?’

‘Thanks Andi, I’ll think about it, promise.’ She rubs my arm.

Maybe, I’ve lifted some of the weight sitting incongruently on a petite frame. Life can be so unfair sometimes, so cruel and as Grandma always told me, there but for the grace of God go I.

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Sarah Simpson has a business degree and a first class honours degree in psychology with appropriate post-graduate qualifications. Her background, working privately within mental health for many years; within the collaborative family law arena and with additional experience within the family court system has gifted her an invaluable understanding of life and people. Thus, Her Greatest Mistake is a cocktail of professional and personal experiences stirred vigorously by the imagination.

She is relatively late to the writing scene, despite a love of books and writing from when she was very young, it wasn’t until 2016 that she sat down to put pen to paper. Her Greatest Mistake was then some twelve months in creation, followed by some vigorous re-writing. In June 2017, she signed with her current agent Broo Doherty and shortly after was offered a three book publishing contract with Aria, Head of Zeus…

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