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Kiss Of Death Book Tour – Extract

Kiss Of DeathOn the book tour for Paul Finch’s thrilling new book called ‘Kiss Of Death’, which is the seventh book in his Detective Mark Heckenburg series, read an extract from the tale.

A third or fourth heavy blow sounded from the other side of the church.

Initially, the vicar wondered if the warm summer air was carrying an echo from some distant workplace. On the church’s south side, you could see the roof of Farmer Holbrook’s barn on the far southern edge of the wheat field next door. But that was the only building in sight, and there wasn’t likely to be much work under way on a tranquil Monday evening.

When he heard what sounded like a fifth blow, it was a sharper, flatter sound, and louder, as if there was anger in it. The vicar opened the gate, stepped onto the path and walked towards the church’s northwest corner. As he reached it, he heard another blow. And another, and another.

This time there was a smashing sound too, like wood splintering.

He hurried on to the church’s southwest corner. Yet another blow followed, and with it a grunt, as of someone making a strenuous effort.

On the building’s immediate south side lay an untended part of the grounds, the weathered slabs of eighteenth-century gravestones poking up through the long summer grass. Beyond those stood the rusty metal fence cordoning off the wheat field. It might be a sobering thought that, once you were on this side of the church, you were completely screened from the road and any passing traffic, but the vicar didn’t have time to think about that. He rounded the final corner and strode several yards along the south-side path, before stopping dead.

A man with longish red hair, wearing patchwork green/brown khaki, was striking with a wood-axe at the vestry door. He grunted with each stroke, splinters flying, going at it with such gusto that he’d already chopped a hole in the middle of the door, and very likely would soon have the whole thing down.

The soles of the vicar’s black leather shoes had made barely a sound on the worn paving stones, but the man in khaki had heard him; he lowered his axe and turned.

The mask he wore had been chiselled from wood and depicted a goat’s face – but it was a demonic kind of goat, with a humanoid grin and horns that curled fantastically. The worst thing about it, though, was real: the eyes peering out through the holes notched for them were entirely human, and yet they burned with living hatred.

You can buy Kiss of Death (Detective Mark Heckenburg, Book 7) from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Pieces Of Her Book Tour

Pieces Of HerOn the book tour for Karin Slaughter’s chilling new book called ‘Pieces Of Her’, sit back and enjoy an extract from the tale.

PROLOGUE

For years, even while she’d loved him, part of her had hated him in that childish way that you hate something you can’t control. He was headstrong, and stupid, and handsome, which gave him cover for a hell of a lot of the mistakes he continually made—the same mistakes, over and over again, because why try new ones when the old ones worked so well in his favor?

He was charming, too. That was the problem. He would charm her. He would make her furious. Then he would charm her back again so that she did not know if he was the snake or she was the snake and he was the handler.

So he sailed along on his charm, and his fury, and he hurt people, and he found new things that interested him more, and the old things were left broken in his wake.

Then, quite suddenly, his charm had stopped working. A trolley car off the tracks. A train without a conductor. The mistakes could not be forgiven, and eventually, the second same mistake would not be overlooked, and the third same mistake had dire consequences that had ended with a life being taken, a death sentence being passed, then—almost—resulted in the loss of another life, her life.

How could she still love someone who had tried to destroy her?

When she had been with him—and she was decidedly with him during his long fall from grace—they had raged against the system: The group homes. The emergency departments. The loony bin. The mental hospital. The squalor. The staff who neglected their patients. The orderlies who ratcheted tight the straightjackets. The nurses who looked the other way. The doctors who doled out the pills. The urine on the floor. The faeces on the walls. The inmates, the fellow prisoners, taunting, wanting, beating, biting.

The spark of rage, not the injustice, was what had excited him the most. The novelty of a new cause. The chance to annihilate. The dangerous game. The threat of violence. The promise of fame. Their names in lights. Their righteous deeds on the tongues of schoolchildren who were taught the lessons of change.
A penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, a dollar bill . . .

What she had kept hidden, the one sin that she could never confess to, was that she had ignited that first spark.

She had always believed—vehemently, with great conviction— that the only way to change the world was to destroy it.

CHAPTER 1

“Andrea,” her mother said. Then, in concession to a request made roughly one thousand times before, “Andy.”

“Mom—”

“Let me speak, darling.” Laura paused.

“Please.”

Andy nodded, preparing for a long-awaited lecture. She was officially thirty-one years old today. Her life was stagnating.

She had to start making decisions rather than having life make decisions for her.

Laura said, “This is my fault.”

Andy felt her chapped lips peel apart in surprise. “What’s your fault?”

“Your being here. Trapped here.”

Andy held out her arms, indicating the restaurant. “At the Rise-n-Dine?”

Her mother’s eyes traveled the distance from the top of Andy’s head to her hands, which fluttered nervously back to the table. Dirty brown hair thrown into a careless ponytail. Dark circles under her tired eyes. Nails bitten down to the quick.

The bones of her wrists like the promontory of a ship. Her skin, normally pale, had taken on the pallor of hot dog water.

The catalog of flaws didn’t even include her work outfit. The navy-blue uniform hung off Andy like a paper sack. The stitched silver badge on her breast pocket was stiff, the Belle Isle palm tree logo surrounded by the words police dispatch division.

Like a police officer, but not actually. Like an adult, but not really. Five nights a week, Andy sat in a dark, dank room with four other women answering 911 calls, running license plate and driver’s license checks, and assigning case numbers.

Then, around six in the morning, she slinked back to her mother’s house and spent the majority of what should’ve been her waking hours asleep.

Laura said, “I never should have let you come back here.”

Andy pressed together her lips. She stared down at the last bits of yellow eggs on her plate.

“My sweet girl.” Laura reached across the table for her hand, waited for her to look up. “I pulled you away from your life. I was scared, and I was selfish.” Tears rimmed her mother’s eyes. “I shouldn’t have needed you so much. I shouldn’t have asked for so much.”

Andy shook her head. She looked back down at her plate. “Darling.”

Andy kept shaking her head because the alternative was to speak, and if she spoke, she would have to tell the truth.
Her mother had not asked her to do anything.

Three years ago, Andy had been walking to her shitty Lower East Side fourth-floor walk-up, dreading the thought of another night in the one-bedroom hovel she shared with three other girls, none of whom she particularly liked, all of whom were younger, prettier and more accomplished, when Laura had called. “Breast cancer,” Laura had said, not whispering or hedging but coming straight out with it in her usual calm way. “Stage three. The surgeon will remove the tumor, then while I’m under,
he’ll biopsy the lymph nodes to evaluate—”

Laura had said more, detailing what was to come with a degree of detached, scientific specificity that was lost on Andy, whose language-processing skills had momentarily evaporated. She had heard the word “breast” more than “cancer,” and thought instantly of her mother’s generous bosom. Tucked beneath her modest one-piece swimsuit at the beach. Peeking over the neckline of her Regency dress for Andy’s Netherfield- themed sixteenth birthday party. Strapped under the padded cups and gouging underwires of her LadyComfort Bras as she sat on the couch in her office and worked with her speech therapy patients.

Laura Oliver was not a bombshell, but she had always been what men called very well put together. Or maybe it was women who called it that, probably back in the last century. Laura wasn’t the type for heavy make-up and pearls, but she never left the house without her short gray hair neatly styled, her linen pants crisply starched, her underwear clean and still elasticized.

Andy barely made it out of the apartment most days. She was constantly having to double back for something she had forgotten like her phone or her ID badge for work or, one time, her sneakers because she’d walked out of the building wearing her bedroom slippers.

Whenever people in New York asked Andy what her mother was like, she always thought of something Laura had said about her own mother: She always knew where all the tops were to her Tupperware.

Andy couldn’t be bothered to close a Ziploc bag.

On the phone, eight hundred miles away, Laura’s stuttered intake of breath was the only sign that this was difficult for her. “Andrea?”

Andy’s ears, buzzing with New York sounds, had zeroed back in on her mother’s voice.

Cancer.

Andy tried to grunt. She could not make the noise. This was shock. This was fear.

This was unfettered terror because the world had suddenly stopped spinning and everything—the failures, the disappointments, the horror of Andy’s New York existence for the last six years—receded like the drawback wave of a tsunami. Things that should’ve never been uncovered were suddenly out in the open.

Her mother had cancer. She could be dying.

She could die.

Laura had said, “So, there’s chemo, which will by all accounts be very difficult.”

She was used to filling Andy’s protracted silences, had learned long ago that confronting her on them was more likely to end up in a fight than a resumption of civil conversation. “Then I’ll take a pill every day, and that’s that. The five-year survival rate is over seventy percent, so there’s not a lot to worry about except for getting through it.” A pause for breath, or maybe in hopes that Andy was ready to speak. “It’s very treatable, darling. I don’t want you to worry. Just stay where you are. There’s nothing you can do.”

A car horn had blared. Andy had looked up. She was standing statue-like in the middle of a crosswalk. She struggled to move. The phone was hot against her ear.

It was past midnight. Sweat rolled down her back and leached from her armpits like melted butter. She could hear the canned laughter of a sitcom, bottles clinking, and an anonymous piercing scream for help, the likes of which she had learned to tune out her first month living in the city.

Too much silence on her end of the phone.

Finally, her mother had prompted, “Andrea?”

Andy had opened her mouth without considering what words should come out.

“Darling?” her mother had said, still patient, still generously nice in the way that her mother was to everyone she met.

“I can hear the street noises, otherwise I’d think we’d lost the connection.” She paused again. “Andrea, I really need you to acknowledge what I’m telling you. It’s important.”

Her mouth was still hanging open. The sewer smell that was endemic to her neighborhood had stuck to the back of her nasal passages like a piece of overcooked spaghetti slapped onto a kitchen cabinet.

Another car horn blared. Another woman screamed for help. Another ball of sweat rolled down Andy’s back and pooled in the waistband of her underwear. The elastic was torn where her thumb went when she pulled them down.

Andy still could not recall how she’d managed to force herself out of her stupor, but she remembered the words she had finally said to her mother: “I’m coming home.”

You can buy Pieces of Her from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The New Girl Book Tour – Extract

The New GirlSit back and enjoy an thriliing extract from Ingrid Alexandra’s chilling new book called ‘The New Girl’.

The wine is cool and crisp as it passes my lips and, after a couple more sips, the familiar warmth curls in my stomach like a cat settling in for the night. Humming a catchy tune I heard on the radio, I flip through the mail.

An estate agent advertisement, the electricity bill and a letter, the one with the brown stain on it, addressed to someone named Sophia Gates. It’s the second time this person’s mail has arrived here; Sophia Gates must have been the previous tenant. I toss the letter into the recycling, take a long pull of wine and then pause, rubbing a finger along my lips.

I knew someone named Sophia once. Or Sophie, maybe. I think for a moment but my mind’s cloudy, and I can’t remember anyone specific. It’s probably no one important, yet I have that feeling I get at times, like I’m supposed to remember something but there’s a brick wall in my mind and my thoughts stop there. A blank space, as I’ve come to call it.

My wine’s nearly gone and no one’s home yet, so I top up my glass with a bottle from the laundry. I go to my room, sit at my desk and flip open my laptop. I check my email, trawl through my newsfeed. Without planning to, I google the name Sophia Gates. Images, Facebook pages and LinkedIn accounts pop up, but I don’t recognise anyone. I’m being stupid, paranoid as usual. It must just be a coincidence.

‘Any mail?’ Cat’s voice calls from the kitchen, startling me. I hadn’t heard the door.

‘On the coffee table!’ I tell her, gulping a mouthful before hiding the glass under the desk.

Just a short taster, that really leaves you wanting more.

You can buy The New Girl from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 4th October 2018.

The Lost Sister Book Tour – Extract

The Lost SisterToday’s book tour features an extract from Tracy Buchanan’s new book called ‘The Lost Sister’.

Mike shot me a disapproving glance. ‘Fruit or nothing,’ he said, grabbing his car keys. He gave Becky a kiss on the head then waved at me before letting himself out. There was once a time when he’d kiss me before leaving for work.

Not now though.

Should that have made me feel sad? Well I didn’t. I felt nothing. When I was sure he was gone, I went to the cupboard and got some chocolate flavoured cereal out, winking at a giggling Becky. ‘You have to be quick though, we have to leave for school soon.’

Five minutes later, we walked to Becky’s school. It was a breezy day, still warm though, the skies blue, the sun bright, the sea glimmering in the distance. People were either walking to work or coming back from dropping kids off, dressed in shorts and T-shirts, sandals and flip-flops.

The school lay at the bottom of a hill, five minutes’ walk from our new-build house. As I passed the newsagent, I noticed the headline: UK’s Economy at Historic Low. I peered towards where Mike worked with Greg at a large
financial advice firm in town.

There had been rumours of redundancies the year before but nothing had come of it. What if Mike was made redundant now?

Would I have to go back to working full-time again?

The thought sent a dart of fear through me.

Better if they made me redundant from my senior copywriter job. It wasn’t like I was pulling in much on my three-day salary anyway.

I put my sunglasses on, pulling up the straps of my silky red vest top to cover my bra straps, my black skirt skimming the back of my knees. Everyone else around me was wearing pastel colours, but I liked to be bold: blood reds and stark blacks, azure blues and emerald greens. I had earrings to match, necklaces sometimes too.

You can buy The Lost Sister from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 20th September 2018.

Top 5 Tips for Creating You Own Cut Flower Garden By Vanessa Carnevale

The Memories Of UsOn the book tour for Vanessa Carnevale’s new book called ‘The Memories Of Us, she talks about creating her own cut flower garden and tips to making it a success.

While researching flowers for ‘The Memories of Us’, I set about creating my own cut flower garden in my own backyard. I pulled up all the veggies in my veggie patch and replaced it with flowers. I created garden beds for roses, peonies, dahlias, sweet peas and most of the varieties that Gracie cultivates at Summerhill. Here’s how you can go about creating your own mini flower farm.

Make a list of your favourite varieties
Start by making a list of flowers you love and the kind of colours you’d like to see in your garden or flower arrangements. You may like to plant several plants of the same variety so you can harvest multiple stems at the one time.

Some great cut flower varieties include: dahlias, peonies, ranunculus, sweet peas, hybrid tea roses, tulips, daffodils and gerberas.

Beside your list, make a note of when the sowing time is for seeds or bulbs, along with another column for the time you can expect your flowers to appear in the garden. You may not be able to order all the seeds or tubers at the same time, so it pays to keep track and add them to your garden as you go. For example, dahlias will come into bloom over the summer, peonies have only a short flowering window of around three weeks, and roses will last over a period of several months. If you can ensure you’re planting a range of flower varieties, you can be assured you’ll have a nice range of blooms to pick for as long as possible.

Don’t forget to plant filler foliage! Dusty miller, hypericum berries and seeded eucalyptus make great filler foliage. Bulking up an arrangement with greenery makes flowers look even more stunning in a vase or bouquet.

Decide on perennials versus annuals
When planning you’re cutting garden you may like to like to take into account how many perennials and annuals you’ll be planting. Bell flowers, asters and foxgloves are great examples of perennials that will grow back each year.

Stagger planting windows
Once you’ve made your list, plot out on a calendar, when you can look at planting each flower variety in your garden.

Decide where to plant your flowers
Deciding where to plant your flowers will depend on how much room you have. Raised beds and pots are a great option if you have limited space.

Keep your garden healthy
Be sure to adequately water and fertilise your garden. Don’t be afraid to cut flowers and when you do, be sure to cut stems a little longer than you’ll need them so you can recut when you arrange them in a vase.

You can buy The Memories of Us from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.