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You Were Made For This By Michelle Sacks

You Were Made For This ‘You Were Made For This’ is Michelle Sacks’ debut novel.

Doting wife, devoted husband, cherished child. Merry, Sam and Conor are the perfect family in the perfect place. Merry adores baking, gardening, and caring for her infant son, while Sam pursues a new career in film. In their idyllic house in the Swedish woods, they can hardly believe how lucky they are. What perfect new lives they’ve built for themselves, away from New York and the events that overshadowed their happiness there. And then Merry’s closest friend Frank comes to stay. All their lives, the two women have been more like sisters than best friends. And that’s why Frank sees things that others might miss. Treacherous things that unfold behind closed doors. But soon it’s clear that everyone inside the house has something to hide. And as the truth begins to show through the cracks, Merry, Frank, and Sam grow all the more desperate to keep their picture-perfect lives intact.

When Merry and her husband Sam up stick from New York to Sweden, to the house that his deceased aunt left him. He thinks, it’s the perfect start for them with their new baby Connor, whilst Sam chases the dream of becoming a film director, Merry is left at home with the baby. Whilst Sam is away, Merry struggles with being a mother and pretending that she’s the perfect stepford wife, so when her best friend Frank plans to visit, she jumps at the chance for company.

Frank and Merry have a strange relationship. Their best friends but constantly are trying to outdo one another. When Frank visits, she’s surprised at how adept Merry has adjusted to her new life in the middle of no-where, but also finds herself jealous of Merry’s life and wants it for herself. Whilst Merry is trying to hide her struggles of parenthood as well as hide her mistrust of Frank as she settles into her role as Aunt Frank.

The story is written through the eyes of Merry, Sam and Frank and gives an insight into all of the characters and how all of them are hiding something and they’re not quite as perfect as we are all lead each other to believe. They are all unsettling in their own ways, Sam’s viewpoint of women and the relationship between Frank and Merry is toxic. Having been friends for 30 years, they know each other’s ticks and pretend to be best friends, but really they prefer to tear each other down, particularly Merry, who’s not as sweet and wholesome as she pretends.

The story is set in the wilderness of Sweden and this adds a lonely atmospheric touch to the story, as Merry spends most of her time alone until Frank turns up.

‘You Were Made For This’ is an exploration of motherhood and friendships, a story of lies and obsession, this story is deeply unsettling throughout. With believable characters and narrative, this psychological thriller about damaged characters and lives makes for brutal reading

You can buy You Were Made for This from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Our Kind Of Cruelty By Araminta Hall

Our Kind Of Cruelty‘Our Kind Of Cruelty’ is the latest book by Araminta Hall.

Mike and Verity have a special game. The Crave. They play it to prove what they already know: that Verity loves Mike. That she needs Mike. Even though she’s marrying another man. Now Mike knows that the stakes of their private game are rising. This time, someone has to die.

While the rest of the United Kingdom were absorbed in the England versus Sweden football match, I had my head buried in a book.

I read ‘Everything And Nothing, Araminta’s debut novel a few years ago, I really enjoyed it and thought she was an author, I’d like to read more off. So, when I received a copy of ‘Our Kind Of Cruelty’, I was keen to get stuck in.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Mike, a high powered business man who has moved back to London, hoping to reconcile with his ex Verity, who broke his heart when she broke up with him. Verity and Mike had an obsessive and intense relationship, where they played a game called ‘The Crave’. With ‘The Crave’, the couple would visit a club and Mike would leave Verity alone at the bar and they’d wait for someone to approach her. Once, someone would chat Verity up, she would give Mike the secret signal which was to play with her eagle necklace and he would swoop in and save her. So, when Mike receives a wedding invite from Verity, he sees this as an elaborate extension of the ‘The Crave’ and sets up creating the perfect life for her when he rescues her on her wedding day.

Mike is a complex character, somewhat reminiscent of Patrick Bateman from ‘American Psycho’. To the outside world, he’s a charismatic and successful business man, living the dream and settling into his new home with his partner ‘Verity’, but behind closed doors, it’s quite a different story as Mike is unravelling at the seems as Verity prepares for her big day.

This book is a dark and thrilling story and right from the offset, you can see that something terrible is afoot. The book is cleverly written and with it being only being seen through Mike’s narrative, it gives quite a rose tainted view of the world. Mike is a complex man, a gentleman but troubled and marked by his turbulent upbringing and sees solace and security in Verity and longs to be knight in shining armour, no matter the cost.

A troubling story about toxic love and obsession, ‘Our Kind Of Cruelty’ is a fantastically intense and suspenseful domestic noir that sucked me right in from the very beginning.

You can buy Our Kind of Cruelty from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Stalker Book Tour – Extract

StalkerToday on the book tour for Lisa Stone’s new book called ‘Stalker’, sit back and enjoy an extract from the chilling tale.

Visiting times for the high dependency ward (HDU) at St Mary’s hospital were from 2pm to 8pm. Derek planned to arrive at the hospital at 2.10pm, hoping no one else would be visiting Mrs Hanks. If there was anyone there he’d leave straightaway without even saying hello. He had a large box of chocolates tucked under his arm. He had wanted to bring her a bouquet of flowers, bright and forgiving; pink carnations, pale-blue hyacinths, red roses as an apology. But he’d found out while looking for the visiting times on the hospital’s website that in line with most hospitals they no longer allowed flowers on the wards for fear of bringing in infection or triggering allergies. So he’d done the next best thing and bought her a box of chocolates. He hoped she enjoyed them.

He felt bad, really bad. He’d never intended Mrs Hanks should be physically harmed. He hated violence, abhorred it; even watching it on the television or Internet made him cringe and turn away. He didn’t like to see people hurting each other, he wanted everyone to be kind. In his ideal world there would be no violence and every child would have two loving parents. It was OK to teach someone a lesson as long as it didn’t involve violence; that had been his intention with Mrs Hanks. He had wanted to teach her a lesson for all the times she’d cheated on her husband. Never for a moment had he thought Mr Hanks would react as he had, attacking his wife with that large spanner and beating her unconscious. He’d always been so placid and accommodating. It had shaken Derek rigid.

Derek parked his van in the hospital car park and made his way in through the main entrance, hoping Mrs Hanks was making a good recovery. He knew from watching their CCTV that she’d been alive when the ambulance had taken her away. At that point, Mr Hanks had gone with the police, presumably to make a statement. Derek hadn’t slept properly since, and not knowing how she was or what Mr Hanks had told the police was becoming unbearable. There’d been a small piece in the local newspaper, just saying that a woman had been found unconscious at her home in Princess Street and a man was helping police with their enquiries. There’d been nothing about how badly she’d been hurt, although being in HDU wasn’t a good sign, he thought. When he’d telephoned the hospital to find out how she was, the nurse had said they only gave out information to the next of kin and he should contact her husband. Clearly that was impossible, so he’d decided to visit in person.

The sign next to the lift showed that the HDU ward was on the second floor. With a shudder he got in and pressed for Floor 2. He hated hospitals and usually avoided them. His mother had been in hospital for two weeks when he’d been a child and at the time it had seemed she’d gone away forever. He’d visited her with his father but not every evening. His father wasn’t a good man and had resented having to look after his son. Derek remembered how unkind he’d been to him. He now associated hospitals with acute unhappiness and beatings.

The lift stopped and the doors opened. As he got out a woman stepped in. The HDU ward was signposted down a short corridor to his left. He stopped at the security locked double doors to the ward. If they asked who he was he’d have to say a relative. Summoning his courage – he hadn’t come this far to turn back now – he pressed the intercom button and waited, the tic at the corner of his eye began to agitate. Nothing happened so he pressed the button again and without any need to identify himself the doors released.

Did you enjoy that? Well, you can buy Stalker from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Sticks And Stones By Jo Jakeman

Sticks And Stones‘Sticks And Stones’ is Jo Jakeman’s debut novel.

Imogen’s husband is a bad man. His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son. In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable: she locks her husband in the cellar. Now she’s in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?

I started reading this book late one evening and from page one, I was completely absorbed in this tense thriller about revenge.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Imogen, the second wife of Phillip Rochester, to the outside world, he’s a highly regard policeman but behind closed doors, he’s a cruel and callous man who treats all the women for fall for his charms like crap. The story starts at the Phillip’s funeral and then flashes back to past leading up his death.

Phillip has left Imogen for a younger model called Naomi, although she’s upset that her little boy will grow up in a broken home, Imogen is glad to be away from Phillip’s wicked ways and is almost sympathetic Naomi, who will take her place. But as both Imogen and Phillip come to loggerheads over the terms and conditions of the divorce, Imogen sees red when Philip threatens to take their son Alistair away from Imogen and claim that she is an unfit mother. Enraged at this accusation, Imogen’s maternal instinct kicks in and she manages to imprison Phillip in the cellar when he fell down the stairs. But, when things can’t get any worse Naomi and Phillip’s first wife called Ruby turn up and end up being involved in Imogen’s crazy plans.

This has got to be one of my favourite debuts of 2018, it’s edgy, fast paced with a great narrative. The chapters are quite short in parts, so it was easy to get consumed and most ended on a twist that left me bursting for more. Imogen is a great character. At the start of the story, she’s quite a timid and meek character, who never quite got over the death of her father. She’s the subject of abuse from not only Phillip but also her mother, who’s quite a harsh woman who regularly likes to remind Imogen of her failures in life. But as the story progresses, we see her develop in a strong and determined woman who will stop at nothing to keep her little boy safe, even if that involves the unlikely help of her ex-husbands ex lovers. Phillip is absolutely horrendous, vile and callous, I hated him and was gleeful when the women got their revenge on him, for all the abuse he had caused them through the years.

Cleverly written with amazing characters, ‘Sticks And Stones’ is a compelling story, riddled with tension throughout and fascinating characters, this simple story of revenge was impossible to put down.

You can pre-orderSticks and Stones from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 12th July 2018.

Choosing Locations By Susan Stairs

Susan StairsOn the book tour for Susan Stairs’ new book caleld ‘One Good Reason’, Susan talks about deciding locations for her novels.

Make your setting a character. We’ve heard that said time and again. Where the action takes place is as important as every other element in your novel. My first novel ‘The Story of Before’ is set in a housing estate just outside Dublin in the 1970s and is told from the point of view of eleven-year-old Ruth Lamb. Because Ruth is a child and the story is hers alone to tell, the setting needed to be a place she was able to navigate easily, a place where she had free reign, somewhere she could easily interact with all the other characters. Hillcourt Rise is that place. An estate of over one hundred houses set around a green space, it is Ruth’s world. It is a world she feels part of – but only to a degree. She is an observer, an outsider who feels she has more in common with her neighbour – widow Bridie Goggin – than with the other children who live there. Almost all the action takes place within the confines of Hillcourt Rise as I wanted the novel to have a tense, claustrophobic, insular feel. 

For One Good Reason

My second novel ‘The Boy Between’ is split between two settings and perspectives: 14 year-old Tim in 1980s rural Ireland; and 27 year old Laura in Dublin in 2011. Aside from deciding that this was the best way to tell the story, I also wanted very much to juxtapose the two different Irelands, so to speak, and show how much things changed in the years between them. Central to the plot is the contrast between how we communicate now and how we did back in the 1980s. The criss-crossing back and forth from the past to the present allows the reader to empathise with both Tim and Orla and understand how their stories interlink and collide. 

‘For One Good Reason’, I wanted a more exotic location, but one that would also have a link to Ireland. For the plot to work, Laura, the protagonist – a girl from Dublin – needs to become someone she’s not and that is a lot more difficult to achieve on home turf. So I set the major part of the novel in the South of France, in a villa owned by her godfather in the hills above Nice. I’ve visited Nice many times and felt I was familiar enough with the area to describe it accurately and allow it to feed into the action convincingly. 

For my next novel, I’m back in Ireland with the action set between a girls’ secondary school in the 1970s and, mainly, an old house that’s for sale in contemporary Dublin. I’m captivated by the past and by the ways that memory and mystery can work both with and against each other and how we can convince ourselves things happened as we remember them. But did they really?

You can buy One Good Reason from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.