Mother’s Sacrifice by Gemma Metcalfe #Blogtour #Review

Synopsis

God ensured she crossed my path. And that is why I chose her.

The day Louisa and James bring their newborn son home from the hospital marks a new beginning for all of them. To hold their child in their arms, makes all the stress and trauma of fertility treatment worth it. Little Cory is theirs and theirs alone. Or so they think…

After her mother’s suicide when she was a child, Louisa’s life took an even darker turn. But meeting James changed everything. She can trust him to protect her, and to never leave her. Even if deep down, she worries that she has never told him the full truth about her past, or the truth about their baby.

But someone knows all her secrets – and that person is watching and waiting, with a twisted game that will try to take everything Louisa holds dear.

My Review

Oh my goodness, by the end of the first chapter my adrenalin was pumping and I felt sick, and then it continued throughout the whole book!

This is a psychological thriller at its best.

From the very start you are on a constant search to find out who it is that’s stalking g Louisa and trying to take her baby, Cody. I even started to doubt her and think maybe this was post natal psychosis.

Gemma has created an absolute corker in A Mother’s Sacrifice. Louisa is a very deep character and slowly throughout the book you discover her past, bit by bit the seemingly happy family that you meet in the first chapter disintegrates before your eyes.

This is an absolute fab read with many nail biting moments and an ending you really don’t expect!

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All about Gemma

Gemma Metcalfe is a Manchester born author who now lives in sunny Tenerife with her husband Danny and two crazy rescue dogs Dora and Diego. By day, Gemma can be found working as a Primary school teacher, but as the sun sets, she ditches the glitter and glue and becomes a writer of psychological thrillers. An established drama queen, she admits to having a rather warped imagination, and loves writing original plots with shocking twists. The plot for her debut novel ´Trust Me,´ is loosely based on her experiences as a call centre operative, where she was never quite sure who would answer the phone…

Where to find Gemma

Twitter

Goodreads

Give Me The Child by Mel McGrath  #blogtour #giveaway ~Read chapter one here~

GiveMetheChild_Blogtour[2]

 

Synopsis

An unexpected visitor.

Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.

A devastating secret.

But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Do we get the children we deserve?

Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own…

Compulsive, dark and devastating, Give Me the Child is a uniquely skillful thriller with an unforgettable twist.

Typewriter-Chapter-One

Give me the child extract

CHAPTER ONE

My first thought when the doorbell woke me was that someone had died. Most likely Michael Walsh. I turned onto my side, pulled at the outer corners of my eyes to rid them of the residue of sleep and blinked myself awake. It was impossible to tell if it was late or early, though the bedroom was as hot and muggy as it had been when Tom and I had gone to bed. Tom was no longer beside me. Now I was alone. We’d started drinking not long after Freya had gone upstairs. The remains of a bottle of Pinot Grigio for me, a glass or two of red for Tom. (He always said white wine was for women.) Just before nine I called The Mandarin Hut. When the crispy duck arrived I laid out two trays in the living room, opened another bottle and called Tom in from the study. I hadn’t pulled the curtains and through the pink light of the London night sky a cat’s claw of moon appeared. The two of us ate, mostly in silence, in front of the TV. A ballroom dance show came on. Maybe it was just the booze but something about the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women made me feel a little sad. The cosmic dance. The grand romantic gesture. At some point even the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women would find themselves slumped together on a sofa with the remains of a takeaway and wine enough to sink their sorrows, wondering how they’d got there, wouldn’t they?

 

Not that Tom and I really had anything to complain about except, maybe, a little malaise, a kind of falling away. After all, weren’t we still able to laugh about stuff most of the time or, if we couldn’t laugh, at least have sex and change the mood?

‘Let’s go upstairs and I’ll show you my cha-cha,’ I said, rising and holding out a hand.

Tom chuckled and pretended I was joking, then, wiping his palms along his thighs as if he were ridding them of something unpleasant, he said, ‘It’s just if I don’t crack this bloody coding thing…’

I looked out at the moon for a moment. OK, so I knew how much making a success of Labyrinth meant to Tom, and I’d got used to him shutting himself away in the two or three hours either side of midnight. But this one time, with the men and women still twirling in our minds? Just this one time?

Stupidly, I said, ‘Won’t it wait till tomorrow?’ and in an instant I saw Tom stiffen. He paused for a beat and, slapping his hands on his thighs in a gesture of busyness, he slugged down the last of his wine, rose from the sofa and went to the door. And so we left it there with the question still hanging.

I spent the rest of the evening flipping through the case notes of patients I was due to see that week. When I turned in for the night, the light was still burning in Tom’s study. I murmured ‘goodnight’ and went upstairs to check on Freya. Our daughter was suspended somewhere between dreaming and deep sleep. All children look miraculous when they’re asleep, even the frighten- ing, otherworldly ones I encounter every day. Their bodies soften, their small fists unfurl and dreams play behind their eyelids. But Freya looked miraculous all the time to me. Because she was. A miracle made at the boundary where human desire meets science. I stood and watched her for a while, then, retrieving her beloved Pippi Longstocking book from the floor and straightening her duvet, I crept from the room and went to bed.

Sometime later I felt Tom’s chest pressing against me and his breath on the nape of my neck. He was already aroused and for a minute I wondered what else he’d been doing on screen besides coding, then shrugged off the thought. A drowsy, half-hearted bout of lovemaking followed before we drifted into our respective oblivions. Next thing I knew the doorbell was ringing and I was alone.

Under the bathroom door a beam of light blazed. I threw off the sheet and swung from the bed.

‘Tom?’

No response. My mind was scrambled with sleep and an anxious pulse was rising to the surface. I called out again.

There was a crumpling sound followed by some noisy vomiting but it was identifiably my husband. The knot in my throat loosened. I went over to the bathroom door, knocked and let myself in. Tom was hunched over the toilet and there was a violent smell in the room.

‘Someone’s at the door.’ Tom’s head swung round.

I said, ‘You think it might be about Michael?’

Tom’s father, Michael Walsh, was a coronary waiting to happen, a lifelong bon vivant in the post-sixty-five-year-old death zone, who’d taken the recent demise of his appalling wife pretty badly.

Tom stood up, wiped his hand across his mouth and moved over to the sink. ‘Nah, probably just some pisshead.’ He turned on the tap and sucked at the water in his hand and, in an oddly casual tone, he added, ‘Ignore it.’

As I retreated into the bedroom, the bell rang again. Whoever it was, they weren’t about to go away. I went over to the window and eased open the curtain. The street was still and empty of people, and the first blank glimmer was in the sky. Directly below the house a patrol car was double parked, hazard lights still on but otherwise dark. For a second my mind filled with the terrible possibility that something had happened to Sally. Then I checked myself. More likely someone had reported a burglary or a prowler in the neighbourhood. Worst case it was Michael.

‘It’s the police,’ I said.

Tom appeared and, lifting the sash, craned out of the window. ‘I’ll go, you stay here.’

I watched him throw on his robe over his boxers and noticed his hands were trembling. Was that from having been sick or was he, too, thinking about Michael now? I listened to his footsteps disappearing down the stairs and took my summer cover-up from its hook. A moment later, the front door swung open and there came the low murmur of three voices, Tom’s and those of two women. I froze on the threshold of the landing and held my breath, waiting for Tom to call me down, and when, after a few minutes, he still hadn’t, I felt myself relax a little. My parents were dead. If this was about Sally, Tom would have fetched me by now. It was bound to be Michael. Poor Michael.

I went out onto the landing and tiptoed over to Freya’s room. Tom often said I was overprotective, and maybe I was, but I’d seen enough mayhem and weirdness at work to give me pause. I pushed open the door and peered in. A breeze stirred from the open window. The hamster Freya had brought back from school for the holidays was making the rounds on his wheel but in the aura cast by the Frozen-themed nightlight I could see my tender little girl’s face closed in sleep. Freya had been too young to remember my parents and Michael had always been sweet to her in a way that his wife, who called her ‘my little brown granddaughter’, never was, but it was better this happened now, in the summer holidays, so she’d have time to recover before the pressures of school started up again. We’d tell her in the morning once we’d had time to formulate the right words.

At the top of the landing I paused, leaning over the bannister. A woman in police uniform stood in the glare of the security light. Thirties, with fierce glasses and a military bearing. Beside her was another woman in jeans and a shapeless sweater, her features hidden from me. The policewoman’s face was brisk but unsmiling; the other woman was dishevelled, as though she had been called from her bed. Between them I glimpsed the auburn top of what I presumed was a child’s head – a girl, judging from the amount of hair. I held back, unsure what to do, hoping they’d realise they were at the wrong door and go away. I could see the police officer’s mouth moving without being able to hear what was being said. The conversation went on and after a few moments Tom stood to one side and the two women and the child stepped out of the shadows of the porch and into the light of the hallway.

The girl was about the same age as Freya, taller but small-boned, legs as spindly as a deer’s and with skin so white it gave her the look of some deep sea creature. She was wearing a grey trackie too big for her frame which bagged at the knees from wear and made her seem malnourished and unkempt. From the way she held herself, stiffly and at a distance from the dishevelled woman, it was obvious they didn’t know one another. A few ideas flipped through my mind. Had something happened in the street, a house fire perhaps, or a medical emergency, and a neighbour needed us to look after her for a few hours? Or was she a school friend of Freya’s who had run away and for some reason given our address to the police? Either way, the situation obviously didn’t have anything much to do with us. My heart went out to the kid but I can’t say I wasn’t relieved. Michael was safe, Sally was safe.

I moved down the stairs and into the hallway. The adults remained engrossed in their conversation but the girl looked up and stared. I tried to place the sharp features and the searching, amber eyes from among our neighbours or the children at Freya’s school but nothing came. She showed no sign of recognising me. I could see she was tired – though not so much from too little sleep as from a lifetime of watchfulness. It was an expression familiar to me from the kids I worked with at the clinic. I’d probably had it too, at her age. An angry, cornered look. She was clasping what looked like a white rabbit’s foot in her right hand. The cut end emerged from her fist, bound crudely with electrical wire which was attached to a key. It looked home-made and this lent it – and her – an air that was both outdated and macabre, as if she’d been beamed in from some other time and had found herself stranded here, in south London, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, in the middle of the night, with nothing but a rabbit’s foot and a key to remind her of her origins. ‘What’s up?’ I said, more out of curiosity than alarm. I smiled and waited for an answer.

The two women glanced awkwardly at Tom and from the way he was standing, stiffly with one hand slung on his hip in an attempt at relaxed cool, I understood they were waiting for him to respond and I instinctively knew that everything I’d been thinking was wrong. A dark firework burst inside my chest. The girl in the doorway was neither a neighbour’s kid nor a friend of our daughter.

She was trouble.

I took a step back. ‘Will someone tell me what’s going on?’ When no one spoke I crouched to the girl’s level and, summoning as much friendliness as I could, said, ‘What’s your name? Why are you here?’

The girl’s eyes flickered to Tom, then, giving a tiny, contemptuous shake of the head, as if by her presence all my questions had already been answered and I was being obstructive or just plain dumb, she said, ‘I’m Ruby Winter.’

I felt Tom’s hands on my shoulder. They were no longer trembling so much as hot and spasmic.

‘Cat, please go and make some tea. I’ll come in a second.’

There was turmoil in his eyes. ‘Please,’ he repeated. And so, not knowing what else to do, I turned on my heels and made for the kitchen.

While the kettle wheezed into life, I sat at the table in a kind of stupor; too shocked to gather my thoughts, I stared at the clock as the red second hand stuttered towards the upright. Tock, tock, tock. There were voices in the hallway, then I heard the living room door shut. Time trudged on. I began to feel agitated. What was taking all this time? Why hadn’t Tom come? Part of me felt I had left the room already but here I was still. Eventually, footsteps echoed in the hallway. The door moved and Tom appeared. I stood up and went over to the counter where, what now seemed like an age ago, I had laid out a tray with the teapot and some mugs.

‘Sit down, darling, we need to talk.’ Darling. When was the last time he’d called me that?

I heard myself saying, idiotically, ‘But I made tea!’ ‘It’ll wait.’ He pulled up a chair directly opposite me.

When he spoke, his voice came to me like the distant crackle of a broken radio in another room. ‘I’m so sorry, Cat, but however I say this it’s going to come as a terrible shock, so I’m just going to say what needs to be said, then we can talk. There’s no way round this. The girl, Ruby Winter, she’s my daughter.’

give me the child

 

My review

Give me the child is a fast reading, page turning every mother’s nightmare read.

Set against the backdrop of London in 2011 during the Tottenham riots, Give me the child touches on mental health, domestic abuse and the consequences of infidelity.

What would you do if your partner’s secret love child turned up on your doorstep accompanied by two police officers? Her Mother now dead, life is thrown into complete turmoil.

Cat, Tom and Freya seemingly have a normal family life, until the fateful night when Ruby Winters enters into their world.

Very quickly you are thrown into the unexpected arrival of Ruby Winters. At first it seems to be the story of a husbands betrayal, a child that has been kept a secret. The unfortunate and untimely death of Lily Winters, Ruby’s Mother.  It soon becomes apparent that the death of Lily winters is not all as it seems.

The slow realisation that Ruby is a very dark and calculating character, a child who is far beyond her years really makes this book a riveting read.

It’s hard to understand how Cat handles the situation in the beginning with such a calm head. There were times when I wanted to climb into the book and drag her and Freya out of the situation which you could see was spiraling out of control. It becomes frighteningly clear that Ruby is a danger to Freya.

The darkness of the story, the conniving secrets between father and daughter are chilling.  This is a fantastic read and one I promise will haunt you for a long time after you have turned the final page.

I’d like to thank Mel McGrath & HQ stories for allowing me to review Give me the child

 

About the Author

Melanie-McGrath

Mel McGrath is an Essex girl, the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling family memoir Silvertown. She won the John Llewellyn-Rhys/Mail on Sunday award for Best Writer Under 35 for her first book, Motel Nirvana. She has published three Arctic mysteries featuring the Inuit detective Edie Kiglatuk under the name MJ McGrath, the first of which, The Boy in the Snow, was shortlisted for a CWA Gold Dagger.

In the last year she has been one of the founders and moving lights of the website Killer Women, which has rapidly established itself as one of the key forums for crime writing in the UK. This new standalone marks a change in direction.

Where to find Mel McGrath

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Buy Give me the child here

Did You Whisper Back by Kate Rigby #blogtour #giveaway

WHISPER for Jenny

Synopsis

Set in the nineteen-seventies, Did You Whisper Back? begins with Amanda Court’s longing to be reunited with her estranged twin sister Jo. Following a false lead, Amanda leaves her Merseyside home and family and goes to Devon to work as a chambermaid where she believes Jo now lives. Amanda’s new life begins to encroach on her personal space and time, and her search for Jo is put on hold until Amanda feels Jo calling her back to Liverpool.

Gradually it emerges that Jo is, seemingly, just a figment of Amanda’s imagination arising from distorted childhood memories. She experiences a series of strange and sometimes frightening experiences, including lamps talking and the endless ringing of telephones, until the desperation of her family reaches breaking point.

Did You Whisper Back? is a psychological novel about family secrets and a disturbing portrayal of the fragility of the mind.

This book was awarded a Southern Arts Bursary.

My review

did-you-whisper-back(cover) (002)

 Did you whisper back is written with so much insight about mental health and schizophrenia. It feels as if you are actually a fly on the wall as Amanda slowly deteriorates.

The story begins as Amanda is beginning on a never ending search for her twin sister Jo, who she believes was dumped in a rubbish bin as a baby. I at this point thought I had the story figured out, this would be a simple tale of Amanda’s journey. How wrong could I be!

It becomes very clear quite early on that Amanda’s family are very disjointed and have no understanding of Amanda and the person she is. In fact a huge part of Amanda’s problems are in fact her family. I wanted to shout at them, could they not see she needed help?!

The lies her Mother has told and the hidden secrets that surround Jo all contribute to Amanda’s chaotic world.

At times it does become an uncomfortable read, this is no criticism of the book, in fact it’s quite the opposite and shows just how well Kate has managed to capture the realism of schizophrenia.

There is a huge twist in this tale and the ending is definitely not predictable. I was hooked and longed for a happy ending for Amanda.

Would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a tale with a twist!

Thank you to Neverland blog tours  and Kate Rigby for allowing me to review Did you whisper back?
 

 

About the author

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Kate Rigby was born near Liverpool and now lives in the south west of England.  She’s been writing for nearly forty years, with a few small successes along the way. She is a hybrid author, having been traditionally published, small press published and now indie published.

She realized her unhip credentials were mounting so she decided to write about it. Little Guide to Unhip was first published in 2010 and it has since been updated.

However, she’s not completely unhip. Her punk novel, Fall Of The Flamingo Circus was published by Allison & Busby (1990) and by Villard (American hardback 1990). Skrev Press published her novels Seaview Terrace (2003) Sucka!(2004) and Break Point (2006) and other shorter work has appeared in Skrev’s avant garde magazine Texts’ Bones.

Thalidomide Kid was published by Bewrite Books (2007).

She has had other short stories published and shortlisted including Hard Workers and Headboards, first published in The Diva Book of Short Stories and as part of the Dancing In The Dark erotic anthology, Pfoxmoor Publishing (2011)

She also received a Southern Arts bursary for her novel Where A Shadow Played (now re-Kindled as Did You Whisper Back?).

She has re-Kindled her backlist of previously published as well as most of her unpublished work including:

Break Point (Awesome Indies Certified)

Seaview Terrace

Far Cry From The Turquoise Room

Suckers n Scallies (formerly Sucka!)

Down The Tubes (Underground Book Reviews Certified)

She Looks Pale

Tales By Kindlelight (a collection of short stories, many of them previously published or shortlisted in short story competitions and now available in paperback as She Looks Pale & Other Stories)

Savage To Savvy  (ABNA Quarter-Finalist 2012 and Awesome Indies Approved)

Thalidomide Kid

The Dead Club

Where to find Kate Rigby online

Website

Blog

Did you whisper back book links

Amazon

Amazon UK

Kobo

itunes

Barnes and Noble

Giveaway

To win copies of Savage To Savvy and Far Cry From The Turquoise Room also by Kate Click here

Mad girl by Bryony Gordon

I had never heard of Bryony Gordon and then I stumbled upon Mad girl in the latest Richard & Judy reads. The cover caught my eye and when I read the blurb it became the top of my 2017 ‘to be read’ list.

Growing up I suffered with awful anxieties and mental health issues which really shadowed my childhood, adolescent and early adulthood. At the time there wasn’t the support there is now, luckily I had a great family doctor who seemed to understand or partly understood what I was going through, and instead of making me feel daft he actually listened and tried to shed some light on the constant turmoil I was going through.

Reading ‘Mad girl’ was slightly like reading an autobiography of my life! I laughed out loud at some of Bryony’s stories, to the point that I took the book to the hairdressers with me and literally spat my coffee out at one point! This book made me sigh a big sigh of relief, finally there was a name for the turmoil I’d suffered all those years ago, OCD. I wasn’t alone! There are other Mad Girls & men out there! 

I, like Bryony, never see myself as cured, I handle my OCD now, it sits within a secure box in my mind, it’s been asleep now for years but occasionally it stirs, I hear it starting to wake but I’m clever now & manage to secure the box before it has a chance to open it.

I’d recommend this book to everyone, it makes you laugh, cry & sometimes spit out coffee!