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Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

The Donor

My Rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book Description

When Lizzie’s daughter Meg is given a life-saving heart transplant, Lizzie feels hugely grateful to the nameless donor. Then she receives a letter from the donor’s mother, Karen, asking to meet, and it seems like the least she can do.

But as soon as Karen is welcomed into their lives, Lizzie feels something isn’t right. And before long, she can’t help but worry that by inviting Karen in, she might have put Meg in danger . . .

My Review

A perfectly paced, page turner!

What a fantastic thriller! I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read. Having struggled lately to concentrate on things, including books, this story grabbed me so much that I finished it in two short sittings.

Clare has cleverly filled 112 pages with suspense and drama, along with twists and turns that will make you not want to put the book down!

Some quick reads can feel rushed and leave you disappointed come the end. Not this one! I honestly feel like I read a full novel! This just shows what an incredible writer Clare is.

Although this book is fiction, it highlights just how important organ donation is. You can save up to 9 lives by opting in to donate your organs. More info can be found at www.organdonation.nhs.uk

For the bargain price of £1, you will not be disappointed with this book. If you love psychological thrillers and haven’t read any of Clare’s other books, then where have you been? I highly recommend them.

About the author

Clare Mackintosh is the author of I Let You GoI See YouLet Me Lie and After the End. All of her books have been Sunday Timesbestsellers and have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. They have also been translated into over thirty-five languages.

Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, which supports parents facing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

Link to purchase:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Donor-Quick-Reads-2020-ebook/dp/B07XMK4BD3/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=the+donor&qid=1585600825&sr=8-2

365 days later

Photo Prompt ©️ Jeff Arnold

It’s been a year since we went into lockdown. At first, we still had the internet and our phones, but these things stopped working a couple of months ago now.

I found my old typewriter in the attic and decided to keep a diary and write letters to my loved ones. Unable to post them, they pile up beside me.

I no longer know who has survived but I pray others are still out there and that we shall be reunited eventually.

I sip my glass of red, savouring the dark fruit flavours, knowing I’m down to my last bottle.

I’m a little late to the party this week with my story for The Friday Fictioneers. It’s been a tough week, going into partial lockdown here in the UK. Both myself and my husband are key-workers so we have continued to work alongside homeschooling our two sons aged 10 and 4. As hard as it is for everyone during this pandemic, I do believe many of us will come out of this better people.

As usual, the idea of The Friday Fictioneers is to write a story in 100 words or less using the photo prompt provided. Thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for running FF, something that I thoroughly enjoy joining in with each week and something that has allowed me to use my writing skills that I didn’t even know I had! Thank you this week to Jeff Arnold for providing the photo.

Stay Safe everyone xxx

One of us is Lying

My Rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟

My Review

Another gripping page-turner from one of the queens of psychological thrillers!

Told in three POV’s, this story follows Tia, Kelly and Fiona. Friends since childhood they still all live close by in the picturesque town of Ashridge Falls.

Tia lives with her husband Ed and their two children; all is well with life until a rumour starts up about her at her daughters’ school. Whilst trying to understand who would say such cruel things, something then arrives in the post that Tia will not want anyone else to see!

Kelly is a widowed mother of two. Mourning the loss of her husband, she tries her best to be a good mum to her kids and she volunteers in a shop to keep herself busy. Bizarrely a rumour also begins about Kelly at the school. She doesn’t have the time to think too much about it as she ends up helping a woman in distress, who really needs her help.

Fiona lives with her husband Nathan, both career type people they live in their posh lakeside apartment. Money seems to be no object and they seem quite the power couple. Things aren’t always quite as they seem though, and nobody really knows what goes on behind closed doors! Fiona is at work one day when she gets a couple of unexpected visitors, why are they here and who sent them?

Three close friends with a past they’ve tried to forget, all have strange things happening to them but suddenly don’t seem to feel they can confide in each other and each one struggles to get to the bottom of what is going on.

This is another great book by Shalini Boland. I love how easy it is to read her books. They are fast-paced so no time to get bored or lose interest. This story is easy to follow, and the chapters flit perfectly between the three ladies. I love the description used as I can clearly imagine the setting and the characters in my head whilst reading.

I did guess the outcome of this story, but it doesn’t mean I enjoyed it any less. It just shows that I am clearly a good detective! Less of a twisty thriller than Shalini’s previous books, but that’s ok, who says that all psychological thrillers must be filled with twists?

A well written, hard to put down kind of read!

Thank you to Shalini Boland, Bookouture & NetGalley for my ARC of this book.

Book Description

Tia never harmed anyone. So why does someone want to destroy her?

Tia is walking home with her children, along the lakeside of their quiet, safe town, when she realises something is wrong with her five-year-old daughter, Rosie. She seems troubled, not at all her usual happy self.

But when Tia finally coaxes Rosie to open up, she wishes she hadn’t. Because her sweet daughter asks a question Tia never thought she’d hear.

‘Why did you kill someone?’

Tia knows how rumours spread around her small town. She just can’t understand who would have shared such a horrible story. Or why.

It can’t have anything to do with what happened. Only her two best friends really remember that…

Tia thought she could trust Fiona and Kelly with her life. They’ve been through so much together. But when she’s sent photos of herself that could tear her whole world apart, she starts to wonder. Someone is determined to punish her. But who? And will her friends stand by her, or will the past destroy all of their lives?

About the author

Shalini Boland is the million-copy, USA-Today bestselling author of psychological thrillers: ‘THE GIRL FROM THE SEA’, ‘THE BEST FRIEND’, ‘THE MILLIONAIRE’S WIFE’ (optioned for TV by Legendary Studios), ‘THE SECRET MOTHER’, ‘THE CHILD NEXT DOOR’, ‘THE SILENT SISTER’, ‘THE PERFECT FAMILY’, ‘THE MARRIAGE BETRAYAL’ and ‘THE OTHER DAUGHTER’. ONE OF US IS LYING is now available to preorder! Her titles are published by Bookouture, Grand Central (USA) and Tantor. Shalini lives by the sea in Dorset, England with her husband, two children and their cheeky terrier cross. Before kids, she was signed to Universal Music Publishing as a singer/songwriter, but now she spends her days writing psychological thrillers (in between school runs and endless baskets of laundry). She is also the author of two bestselling Young Adult series as well as a children’s WWII novel with a time-travel twist.

Link to purchase/pre-order:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Us-Lying-psychological-brilliant-ebook/dp/B083QH6VS2/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=one+of+us+is+lying&qid=1585265411&sprefix=one+of&sr=8-4

I Dare You

Rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This is a book that I read as an ARC last year before I had set up my blog. I’d like to wish my lovely friend Sam Carrington a very Happy Birthday today, so thought I would share my review of her latest fantastic book on my blog 💕

My Review

A 5* gripping read that will keep you in suspense from chapter to chapter and will leave you utterly speechless come the end.

30 years ago a little girl was thought to have been captured and murdered by the village weirdo, Bill (Creepy Cawley), following a game of Knock Knock Ginger. Fast forward to 2019 and Anna is drawn back to where she grew up, by her mother, who is worried as strange things are starting to happen to her. Anna’s return to the village of Mapledon coincides with Bill’s release from prison, was he guilty of the crime he was convicted for? Or is there more to the story and who knows more than they’re letting on? Things don’t seem quite right and Anna is determined to get to the bottom of it all, as is another person who has also returned to the village she once lived in.

The chapters skilfully switch between that fateful day in 1989, the days/weeks surrounding it and the present day. It’s well thought out and cleverly written, with twists and turns aplenty.

‘I Dare You’ to read this fantastic Crime Thriller.

Book Description

AN INNOCENT GAME. A SHOCKING CRIME. A COMMUNITY FULL OF SECRETS.

Mapledon, 1989
Two little girls were out playing a game of dares. Only one returned home.
The ten-year-old told police what she saw: village loner Bill ‘Creepy’ Cawley dragged her friend into his truck and disappeared.
No body was found, but her testimony sent Cawley to prison for murder. An open and shut case, the right man behind bars.
The village could sleep safe once again.

Now…
Anna thought she had left Mapledon and her nightmares behind but a distraught phone call brings her back to face her past.
30 years ago, someone lied. 30 years ago, the man convicted wasn’t the only guilty party.
Now he’s out of prison and looking for revenge. The question is, who will he start with?

About the author

Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband, two border terriers and a cat. She has three adult children and a new grandson! She worked for the NHS for fifteen years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. SAVING SOPHIE, her debut psychological thriller, published in September 2016. It became a Kindle eBook bestseller, with the paperback hitting The Bookseller Heatseeker chart at #8. Sam was named an Amazon Rising Star of 2016. Her second psychological thriller, BAD SISTER, published in 2017 followed by ONE LITTLE LIE in July 2018. THE MISSING WIFE publishes in June 2019.

Links to purchase:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dare-You-gripping-thriller-bestseller-ebook/dp/B07RWSL54Y

https://www.waterstones.com/book/i-dare-you/sam-carrington/9780008331375

Scorned

Photo prompt ©️ J Hardy Carroll

Sandy finishes her breakfast burrito and leaves the diner tipping the waitress a ten-dollar bill.

Smiling, she strolls confidently across the parking lot, her long dark lustrous curls cascading down her back.

Sandy opens the door to her Chevy, only another three hours and she’ll be at the cabin, then she can finish the job properly.

Driving down the highway, the bright sunlight glints off the beretta poking out of her bag on the passenger side.

Sandy turns up the radio to drown out the muffled noises now coming from the trunk.

He really shouldn’t have cheated on her.

It’s a bit late on Friday that I’m writing my story for the Friday Fictioneers so will publish on my blog in the morning. It’s been super hard to concentrate on writing this week, all I can think about is this awful virus and the devastation it’s causing everywhere. I’ve felt really quite sad about it all and how it’s affecting my children’s education but we now have to do what we can and make the best of a truly terrible situation!

So anyway for those who don’t know, the idea of the Friday Fictioneers is to write a mini-story in 100 words or less using a photo prompt that is provided to you. Thanks as always to the organiser Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and this week the thank you for the photo goes to J Hardy Carroll.

As soon as I saw the picture this week I knew the kind of story I wanted to write. It’s amazing how a picture can create such an idea!

Thanks for reading! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!

The Virus

Photo prompt ©️ Ceayr

The sun beats down hard as we all fall breathless by the fountain. Legs aching and lungs strained, but we must keep running.

My eyes dart back and forth across the desolate park, searching for any sign of the men in white suits.

It’s been sixty days now since the virus swept the world, most haven’t survived. The ones of us that have, seem to be immune and it’s us they want to capture.

We heard on the radio about a safe house in Cornwall, so that is where we are heading. I just pray that we make it.

It’s Friday which means it’s time for a bit of flash fiction. I love joining in with the Friday Fictioneers. The idea is to write a mini-story using a photo prompt provided to you by email. The story must be 100 words or less.

I think the virus is on everyone’s mind at the minute which is probably why it was the first thing that came to mind when I thought about what to write! A little different from the kind of thing I’d normally write about but I hope you like it all the same!

As always please do comment with your thoughts. All feedback is greatly appreciated.

The Family Upstairs

My rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟

My Review

A creepy, twisted, atmospheric thriller that had me engrossed throughout!

Oh, I do love Lisa Jewell’s books and she certainly didn’t disappoint with this one.

Once there was a house, in this house there lived two families and a couple. When three wind up dead and the rest are nowhere to be seen, it becomes a mystery as to what happened there. Who were the family upstairs?

The story is told in 3 POVs. Libby and Lucy’s stories are told in the present day and Henry’s is told back in the late ’80s/early ’90s when he was a young boy.

Libby was adopted as a baby but now as she turns 25, she is set to inherit something from her birth parents. Something that will change her life and what she thought she knew about herself.

Lucy is living on the streets in the south-east of France. Not knowing where her next meal will come from, she resorts to desperate measures to look after herself and her two children.

Henry lives in a large mansion in Chelsea, London, with his mum, dad and sister. Life is reasonably normal and he’s preparing to head to secondary school. A visit from a stranger one-day change’s things dramatically and Henry’s home life is never the same again.

The chapters flit perfectly between each of the above characters, telling their individual stories whilst informing the reader of their connection to one another. It’s a dark and twisty read with a clever plot and fantastic ending.

What I loved the most was how Lisa described the characters and the setting, the creepiness seeped through and had me hooked from the first page. It was certainly a book that I struggled to put down and managed to devour in just two days!

The pace is just right, and the plot is easy to follow.

Perfect for lovers of a good psychological thriller.

Thank you to fellow book blogger Melanie Vout for gifting this book to me. 💕

Book Description

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note. 

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby? 

And where did they go?

Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.

About the author

Lisa Jewell was born in London. Her first novel, Ralph’s Party, was the bestselling debut novel of 1999. Since then she has published another sixteen novels, most recently a number of dark psychological thrillers, including The Girls and Then She Was Gone (both of which were Richard & Judy Book Club picks) as well as I Found You andWatching You. Lisa is a top ten New York Times and number one Sunday Timesbestselling author who has been published worldwide in over twenty-five languages. She lives in north London with her husband, two daughters, two cats, two guinea pigs and the best dog in the world.

Links to purchase:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Family-Upstairs-Number-bestseller-author/dp/1787461483/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?keywords=the+family+upstairs&qid=1583967265&sprefix=the+famil&sr=8-1

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-family-upstairs/lisa-jewell/9781787461482

Framed

My Rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟

My Review

A dark twisty tale full of lies and deceit!

This story is told in five different POVs. Beth, Jay, Cassie, Rick and Goode.

Beth and Jay are married, a music teacher and a film producer they have the life many could only dream of. With a beautiful home and trying for a baby everything on the outside seems perfect. Looks can be deceptive though and things aren’t quite as they seem.

Cassie is a fly by the seat of her pants type girl, with a shady past and a dodgy boyfriend Rick you just know from the start that she is trouble with a capital T!

The link between the above is that Cassie and Beth were best friends back in their college days. Two very different girls but connected by their love of music. Beth a pianist and Cassie a singer.

It’s been many years since the girls saw each other and Beth would rather it stayed that way. So, when Cassie calls Beth out of the blue wanting to meet, Beth feels a little uneasy about seeing her old friend again. Cassie doesn’t let on that she’s on the run, just that she’s passing through town and wanted to catch up. As it’ll only be a few days Beth lets Cassie stay in her spare room, unaware she’s on the run from something big. This is where the drama begins.

Goode is a detective and he’s determined to solve some of the crimes in this book!

I really enjoyed this LA-based novel. With a plot full of crime, action, suspense and much more I think this will suit any fan of a good psychological thriller. The twists were awesome and come the end I thought what a fab film this book would make.

My only critic would be that I got a bit confused at the beginning as the chapters skipped between each character telling their different stories. It also skipped backwards and forwards in time a bit, so it is key to read the title of the chapter as it tells you the name of the character as well as the day it is referring too. Once I knew who was who and got used to each character’s backstory I found it addictive to read and hard to put down!

This book is a debut for S L McInnis and all I can say is what a way to start!

Thank you to S L McInnis, Headline & NetGalley for my ARC.

Book Description

It was all fine until she turned up…

Music teacher Beth and film producer Jay seem to have the perfect life together in LA.

When Cassie – Beth’s old best friend and college wild child – turns up unexpectedly, everything changes. 

But what neither of them know is what Cassie is running from. And that it’s going to have consequences for them all.

Something is about to go very wrong. And someone is going to lie about it.

About the author

S.L. McInnis has a degree in broadcasting and has worked in public radio and television. Like the main character in Framed, she studied music for years. She lives in Toronto. Framed is her suspense debut.

Link to purchase:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Framed-absolutely-gripping-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B07WMQFKGS/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?keywords=framed+sl+mcinnis&qid=1583529252&sprefix=framed+&sr=8-1

Endo Story

November 2013

I wake suddenly, confused, several pairs of eyes staring down at me. “Hello Cathryn, it’s okay, everything went well, you’re in recovery now.”

I start to cry and the lady holding my hand asks if I’m alright, but I’m shivering fast and feel too sick to answer.

The surgeon appears at my side. Nervous, I move my oxygen mask to the side and ask him what they found. “You do have Endometriosis, Cathryn.” He says to me in a very matter-of-fact manner.

As I’m left to process the news, I think back to when it all started for me as a teenager with excruciatingly painful and heavy periods. “It’s normal.” The doctor would say, so for many years, I put up with it. It was through my mid to late twenties that things grew worse, especially after the birth of my son. For three weeks of the month, I’d be suffering debilitating pelvic, lower back and leg pain. I experienced constant Urine infections, extreme fatigue, nausea and vomiting. I would even suffer fevers, extreme bloating and bleeding from the bowel.

I felt embarrassed to discuss many of my symptoms but also worried in case something was seriously wrong. For years I got passed from Osteopaths to Chiropractors to Physios. The doctor convinced I had a bad back. I went through manipulation, acupuncture and even steroid injections in the spine. All the while I was getting worse and soon became the ‘sicknote’ at work. With the doctors scratching their heads and nothing obvious showing on scans and x-rays, my mental health took a complete nosedive.

“We’ll refer you to the pain clinic,” the doctor had said. “I’m sure they’ll be able to help you there.” The pain clinic, I’d thought expectantly, finally, I’m getting somewhere.

I recall sitting in the waiting room, clutching my pain diary filled with pages and pages of notes on how my life was being so badly affected by countless symptoms and endless pain, I had felt hopeful.

Upset and now angry too, I remember sitting in the cold, sterile room waiting in silence as the doctor read through my notes. “So, we haven’t actually found anything wrong with you,” he said. “I can see you’ve had a scan; an x-ray and you’ve tried physio.” I’d stumbled over my words trying to make the man in front of me understand how there WAS something wrong with me and that what I’d been going through for all those years had been rapidly destroying my life.

That’s when he’d said it, the words nobody with chronic pain wants to hear. “It seems that your pain, Mrs Northfield, may well be psychological.” My heart sunk and my body was wracked with an onslaught of sobs and tears.

“You seem rather upset, should I get someone to speak with you? Are you going to hurt yourself?” These were the things he’d said to me in quick succession.

“What do you want us to do?” he’d asked, as a student doctor passed me a tissue. It was then that I explained my sister had been training as a midwife and had come across details about a condition called Endometriosis. I seemed to have all the symptoms, so I requested, almost begged, that they refer me to Gynaecology.

“I really don’t think you have Endometriosis, but as you are so upset, I’ll refer you for your own peace of mind.” This was said with such mock sympathy, I’ll never forget that experience.

My thoughts are disturbed as the surgeon returns and I hear him say, “we can offer you a hysterectomy.” I look at him confused and ask how bad the Endometriosis is. “It’s very severe, unfortunately, you have stage 4 and what we class as a frozen pelvis.”

I look to the lovely nurse who is still holding my hand, distraught, I explain that I want another baby. She kindly asks the surgeon if there are any other options.

“We’ll refer you to a specialist and they will be able to discuss things further with you.” He replies, then he walks away, likely to get ready for his next patient.

I lie still as I cry tears of sadness and tears of relief. My fight to diagnosis was finally over but my fight with Endometriosis had only just begun!

Thank you for taking the time to read my Flash Non-Fiction story! Most weeks I get creative on my blog and write a bit of flash fiction, but I really wanted to do something for Endometriosis awareness month and I thought what better way than to use my love of creative writing and tell a story.

Sadly, everything you’ve just read is true and happened to me! I’m pleased to say once I was passed to the specialist, I underwent major surgery to remove what Endometriosis they could. I also went on to have a lovely baby boy in 2015. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Endometriosis, and I struggle to this day with the condition and the damage it has caused to my body.

I now have a wonderfully supportive GP and Endometriosis consultant but knowing how bad my journey was to diagnosis I didn’t want anyone else to suffer like I did and feel alone, so in 2017 I set up an Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain support group for Devon & Cornwall. I’m pleased to say it works wonderfully to this day.

Please do share this blog post to help raise awareness.

After my excision surgery in 2014
With my miracle baby 2015

What is Endometriosis? (Taken from the Endo UK website)

Endometriosis (pronounced en- doh – mee – tree – oh – sis) is the name given to the condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body.

Each month these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape. 

It is a chronic and debilitating condition that causes painful or heavy periods. It may also lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems. Around 1.5 million women in the UK are currently living with the condition. Endometriosis can affect all women and girls of a childbearing age, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Links for support:- https://endometriosis-uk.org/get-support

https://www.facebook.com/groups/126302984703079/?ref=share

Curtain Call

Photo Prompt ©️ Dale Rogerson https://adelectablelife.com/

Eleanor rushed to the stage for the curtain call.

It was a standing ovation, the audience’s rapturous applause resonating throughout the auditorium.

Eleanor had always dreamed of performing in the west end, she was ecstatic when she got the part of Fantine in Les Misérables.

Tears cascade down her cold, pale cheek as she remembers hurrying home that stormy night, excited to tell her fiancé the good news.

Too quick came the blinding lights from the truck and the beeping of the hospital machines. “So sorry, she’s gone.”

The curtain falls, Eleanor remains, joining the spirits of Drury Lane Theatre.

I hope you enjoyed my mini-story for the Friday Fictioneers. As always thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for organising FF & for emailing out the photo prompt for us writers to use to create a piece of flash fiction, in 100 words or less. Thank you this week to Dale Rogerson for the photo. Dale is so lovely and very supportive of my flash fiction stories 💕

I love going to the theatre and have always been fascinated with stories about hauntings and reported sightings of spirits at different theatres. I chose the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane for my story as this is reported as the most haunted theatre in the world.

Spooky fact about Drury Lane Theatre, from http://www.whatsonstage.com – The Man in Grey is the most prominent apparition – eyewitness accounts have long reported a man dressed in a cloak and tricorn hat stalking the upper circle of the theatre. His partner in crime whilst haunting the theatre is the ghost of comedian Joseph Grimaldi.

Another fact is that Les Misérables hasn’t actually been a performance shown at Drury Lane. I felt it went well with the story though and after all it is just fiction 😉

I really appreciate any feedback so please do comment and share. Thank you so much for reading 💕

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