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Sometimes I Lie Book Tour – Extract

Sometimes I LieToday’s book tour features an extract from Alice Feeney’s debut novel, ‘Sometimes I Lie’, a book that I recently read and couldn’t put down.

Sit back and enjoy the first chapter from this dark and atmospheric story and with a thrilling twist, this book is not to be missed.

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me any more.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Now
Boxing Day, December 2016

I’ve always delighted in the free fall between sleep and wake- fulness.

Those precious few semi-conscious seconds before you open your eyes, when you catch yourself believing that your dreams might just be your reality. A moment of intense pleasure or pain, before your senses reboot and inform you who and where and what you are. For now, for just a second longer, I’m enjoying the self-medicated delusion that permits me to imagine that I could be anyone, I could be anywhere, I could be loved.

I sense the light behind my eyelids and my attention is drawn to the platinum band on my finger. It feels heavier than it used to, as though it is weighing me down. A sheet is pulled over my body, it smells unfamiliar and I consider the possibility that I’m in a hotel. Any memory of what I dreamt evaporates. I try to hold on, try to be someone and stay somewhere I am not, but I can’t. I am only ever me and I am here, where I already know I do not wish to be. My limbs ache and I’m so very tired, I don’t want to open my eyes, until I remember that I can’t.

Panic spreads through me like a blast of icy cold air. I can’t recall where this is or how I got here, but I know who I am. My name is Amber Reynolds. I am thirty-five years old. I’m married to Paul. I repeat these three things in my head, holding on to them tightly, as though they might save me, but I’m mindful that some part of the story is lost, the last few pages ripped out. When the memories are as complete as I can manage, I bury them until they are quiet enough inside my head to allow me to think, to feel, to try to make sense of it all. One memory refuses to comply, fighting its way to the surface, but I don’t want to believe it.

The sound of a machine breaks into my consciousness, stealing my last few fragments of hope and leaving me with nothing except the unwanted knowledge that I am in a hospital. The sterilised stench of the place makes me want to gag. I hate hospitals. They are the home of death and regrets that missed their slots, not somewhere I would ever choose to visit, let alone stay.

There were people here before, strangers, I remember that now. They used a word I chose not to hear. I recall lots of fuss, raised voices and fear, not just my own. I struggle to unearth more, but my mind fails me. Something very bad has happened, but I cannot remember what or when.

Why isn’t he here?

It can be dangerous to ask a question when you already know the answer.

He does not love me.

I bookmark that thought.

I hear a door open. Footsteps, then the silence returns but it’s spoiled, no longer pure. I can smell stale cigarette smoke, the sound of pen scratching paper to my right. Someone coughs to my left and I realise there are two of them. Strangers in the dark. I feel colder than before and so terribly small. I have never known a terror like the one that takes hold of me now.

I wish someone would say something.

‘Who is she?’ asks a woman’s voice.

‘No idea. Poor love, what a mess,’ replies another woman. I wish they’d said nothing at all. I start to scream.

My name is Amber Reynolds! I’m a radio presenter! Why don’t you know who I am?

I shout the same sentences over and over, but they ignore me, because on the outside I am silent. On the outside, I am nobody and I have no name.

I want to see the me they have seen. I want to sit up, reach out and touch them. I want to feel something again. Anything. Anyone. I want to ask a thousand questions. I think I want to know the answers. They used the word from before too, the one I don’t want to hear.

The women leave, closing the door behind them, but the word stays behind, so that we are alone together and I am no longer able to ignore it. I can’t open my eyes. I can’t move. I can’t speak. The word bubbles to the surface, popping on impact and I know it to be true.

Coma.

You can pre-order Sometimes I Lie from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 23rd March 2017.

Cover Reveal – Just For The Holidays By Sue Moorcroft

Just For The HolidaysAfter spending Christmas at Number 1 on the Amazon Kindle Chart with her book, ‘The Christmas Promise’ Sue Moorcroft is back with a new book called ‘Just For The Holidays’.

What the back cover says

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting – perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

You can pre-order Just for the Holidays from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 18th May 2017.

Cover Reveal – The Darkness Within By Cathy Glass Writing As Lisa Stone

The Darkness WithinI dont know about you but I’m loving Avon Books psychological thrillers at the minute. With the release of ‘The Escape’ and ‘Perfect Remains’ they really are spoiling us and now they have revealed their latest book, ‘The Darkness Within’ by Cathy Glass writing as Lisa Stone and it sounds absolutely gripping!

What the back cover says

When critically ill Jacob Wilson is given a life-saving heart transplant, his parents are relieved that their loving son has been saved.

However, before long, his family are forced to accept that something has changed in Jacob. Their once loving son is slowly being replaced by a violent man whose mood swings leave them terrified – but is it their fault?

Jacob’s girlfriend, Rosie, is convinced the man she loves is suffering from stress. But when his moods turn on her, she begins to doubt herself – and she can only hide the bruises for so long.

When a terrible crime is committed, Jacob’s family are forced to confront their darkest fears. Has the boy they raised become a monster? Or is someone else to blame?

You can pre-order The Darkness Within from Amazon and will be available to buy from 13th July 2017.

The Best Of Villains; The Worst Of Villains By Marnie Riches

Born BadToday on the book tour for Marnie Riches thrilling new book ‘Born Bad’, Marnie talks about the best and bad villians.

There really is nothing better in fiction than a good baddy. Me and good baddies go back a long way. At the tender age of five or six, I fell in love with Darth Vader. And I mean, in love. I had the blanket; the bedding; the curtains. Hans Solo was okay, but Vader was the star attraction. The black-clad, helmeted ‘Star Wars’ anti-hero sported that perfect mix of effortless cool and evil, with an unexpected vulnerability and sliver of remaining conscience lurking beneath the hardened exterior of a sociopath.

Out of all the crime fiction I’ve read over the years, the villains who really captured my heart and imagination have been cut from similar cloth. The most charismatic who springs to mind is Hannibal Lecter from Thomas Harris’ ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. He’s suave, sophisticated, super-intelligent, witty…but he kills and eats his victims with the (now-proverbial) fava beans and a nice chianti. Years later, I read ‘Hannibal Rising’, which gives Lecter’s tragic backstory. It was revealing yet unsurprising. The prodigious young Hannibal’s boyhood is haunted by a tragedy of the worst kind. And it is his backstory that endears him to me even more, because as a reader, I can empathise with him and go some way to understanding why he does the terrible things he does. He even has his own twisted moral code, punishing his victims for some perceived wrong-doing; loyally supporting Clarice Starling whom he lovingly deems to be unimpeachable.

So the best baddies, like Vader and Lecter, have tragedy in their pasts that sets them a-stalking down the wrong road in life. It was essential, in devising my own baddies in Born Bad, that I also should give a great deal of thought to my characters’ backstories and reasoning.

Paddy O’Brien, king of the south-side of Manchester, endured a childhood that had been overshadowed by his father – a violent drunk – who showed a clear preference for his sister, Katrina – now a nun who heads up a convent and nursing home. The favouritism and beatings have left Paddy feeling helpless and have dented his self-esteem forever. Conky McFadden, Paddy’s right hand man, is paid muscle who completed an Open University degree in literature, whilst in prison. His is a shady past, sullied by the troubles in Northern Ireland and boyhood peer-pressure to take part in politically-motivated, violent scuffles. But he’s erudite, loyal and a hopeless romantic with appalling self-esteem. He’s perhaps a good man who fell into a bad line of work, fighting for a bad man who was never given a chance to be good.

In the north, we have the Boddlington gang. What would my good baddies be like there? Well, the men that head up a people trafficking, drug-dealing, brothel-keeping and counterfeiting operation are Tariq Khan and Jonny Margulies. Rather than the two childhood friends being purely psychopathic, they are savvy entrepreneurs who block out the moral wrong of their business endeavours, wherever possible. Tariq, an Oxford-educated law graduate, is desperate to avoid the life of poverty that his father, Youssuf endured when he came over from Pakistan, swapping an architect’s life for that of a machinist in a clothing factory, working round the clock in sweatshops. Similarly, Jonny Margulies kids himself that he is a pillar of the Jewish community, giving generously to charity whilst he earns a magnificent crust from selling pregnant Eastern European brides to immigrants, threatened with deportation, in order to guarantee their right to remain in the UK. These are men who fear poverty and who have become trapped by their own material ambition. Nothing pays like crime, after all.

Perhaps the most interesting true psychopath in ‘Born Bad’ is Asaf Smolensky, aka the Fish Man. Hiding in plain sight as a Hassidic fishmonger in north Manchester, he is an ex-Mossad soldier, discharged from active duty under a cloud and suffering from undiagnosed PTSD. He too, has a painful story of loss, though his military trials have left him pursuing a career as a hired hit man who guts his victims and leaves them dressed with cucumber pieces like a side of salmon. Is he a good baddy? I think so. He’s a well-trained machine but utterly idiosyncratic with it.

But, looking back at the books I’ve enjoyed, I think about Lionel Shriver’s Kevin in ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’. He exemplifies the notion of a child who has been born bad – a product of nature, rather than nurture. I loved the vulnerability that lurked beneath his obstinate, malevolent exterior. Does anyone from ‘Born Bad’ compare with Kevin? I’d say Paddy is the closest to him in terms of having been bad from childhood. With such harsh beginnings, it’s easy to see why, among the three O’Brien siblings – Paddy, Frank and Katrina – the eldest, picked-upon boy might turn out to be a bully and a thug himself, always trying to control his weaker, softer younger brother Frank and compete with his positively godly older sister, Katrina. Paddy isn’t articulate enough to speak his frustrations aloud, so he uses his fists, his gun and his penis to punish those around him.

In my George McKenzie books, I have a number of serial killers and multiple murderers. You can’t beat a good serial killer in a book. ‘The Snowman’ by Jo Nesbo is a case in point, as is his Leopard. More recently, I read Graeme Cameron’s ‘Normal’ and adored his killer, who managed to be a grim psycho and highly entertaining all at the same time. But ‘Born Bad’ is different. It’s about good people who have resorted to doing bad things for a living. It’s about the morally grey areas that we all inhabit sometimes, even if our transgressions are merely uncharitable thoughts, not acted out. That requires a different kind of a villain. Why don’t you read ‘Born Bad’ and let me know who your favourite good baddies are?

You can buy Born Bad from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Lisa Jewell Reveals New Book – Then She Was Gone

Then She Was GoneI love this time of the year, because it’s usually about this time that Lisa Jewell reveals a new book and I’m excited to reveal her latest book ‘Then She Was Gone’.

What the back cover says

THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

NOW
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter. And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? Who still has secrets to hide?

‘Then She Was Gone’ sounds like another gripping story from one of my favourite authors.

You can pre-order Then She Was Gone from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 27th July 2017.