Review: In the Vines by Shannon Kirk @ShannonCKirk


Release date: July 17, 2018

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


Family ties so strong you can’t escape…

Mary Olivia Pentecost, known as Mop, was born into one of the wealthiest families in the country—and one of the most guarded. Now, two years after her mother’s mysterious death, Mop is seeking closure on the disquieting tragedy by returning to the New England seaside estate of her cloistered Aunty Liv—once her closest relative and confidante.

But behind the walls of the isolated estate, the shadows of the past are darker than Mop imagined. The puzzles of the family history are not to be shared, but unearthed. With each revelation comes a new, foreboding threat—and for Mop, the grave suspicion that to discover Aunty Liv’s secrets is to become a prisoner of them.

How well do we know the people we love? How well do we want to know them? The answers are as twisted as a tangle of vines in this throat-clutching novel of psychological suspense.


If you’re craving a super dark and highly compelling read to binge on this summer, look no further because In the Vines has all of that and much more. This was a creepy gothic read that bordered on horror at some points, it sure as hell scared me half to death and you guys know how much I love that!

This is told alternately from Mop’s point of view and her Aunty Liv’s and it does jump around time wise, but everything is clearly labeled and easy to follow. Mop was a great character, but what does it say about me that I loved the mentally unstable and totally unhinged Aunty so much? (No need to answer that one 😜) Following her down a rabbit hole full of dark secrets and bat shit crazy musings was the most fun I’ve had in awhile, Kirk is such an outstanding writer that seeing Aunty’s stream of consciousness felt incredibly authentic, a true glimpse into the mind of someone living in total hysteria and paranoia.

Besides the fabulous characterization the level of detail in Kirk’s writing is truly amazing. Her prose is so rich and packed full of meticulously detailed descriptions that this is one book I would recommend that you savor. The atmosphere she created of a seaside New England mansion that’s the center of several family tragedies and horrifying secrets was vividly drawn and extremely creepy. I could wax poetic for ages about how much I enjoyed her writing style, but I won’t bore you and will just finish by saying read the damn book, SO GOOD!

In the Vines in three words: Immersive, Rich and Menacing.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager


Release date: July 10, 2018

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.


Last summer I had the pleasure of reading Final Girls, I absolutely loved it’s campy vibe and horror movie like situations and scenes, and it’s tense thrilling premise. I’ve been so anxious to get started on my copy of The Last Time I Lied but I was a tiny little bit apprehensive, what if this wasn’t quite as good? It does happen sometimes unfortunately, but I have to say I was once again impressed with Sager and am definitely a firm fan.

This definitely had some similarities to FG, another amazing atmosphere that’s on the campy side (and no that’s not a pun since it’s set in a summer camp haha) an old mystery that wasn’t solved and a plot that was compelling. What’s different is that this is much less gory and graphic, it’s still creepy but it doesn’t rely on slasher type murders but rather paranoia and that creepy feeling of being watched that worked so well for me.

I have to admit that I wasn’t immediately drawn in to this, not fully invested at initially. However, once I was hooked I was alllll in! This flips from present day as Emma heads back to Camp Nightingale and fifteen years ago during her first time there. I was initially more interested in the past timeline than the present which I think was part of my issue because those chapters were spaced out and it was mainly told in the present day. BUT THEN. Something changes and it was one of those moments where I had to reread just to clarify. Or maybe reread four times like my friend Chelsea at The Suspense is Thrilling Mebut who’s counting? Excellent execution and very well played, several things happened in the last half of the book that I in no way ever saw coming and I was knocked on my ass, some real stunners! You guys know how picky I am about endings and this one was good, satisfying as hell, I thunk Sager has another smash hit on his hands.

The Last Time I Lied in three words: Eerie, Intricate and Deceptive.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Somebody’s Daughter by David Bell @DavidBellNovels


Release date: July 10, 2018

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


When Michael Frazier’s ex-wife, Erica, shows up on his doorstep pleading for help, she drops a bombshell that threatens to rip his family apart: Erica’s nine-year-old daughter is missing–and Michael is the father. Unable to quickly determine if Erica is telling the truth, and unwilling to leave the little girl’s fate to chance, Michael has no choice but to follow the elusive trail of the child he has always wanted and never knew he had.

But finding Felicity comes at a price–the closer Michael gets to the truth, the further into jeopardy his marriage falls and the faster his family begins to unravel. As lies that span a decade bubble to the surface and the window for Felicity’s safe return closes, Michael will have just a few short days to decide who can be trusted and who is hiding the truth.


Wow. To say I was blown away, satisfied and completely engrossed in this one would be a huge understatement, this book totally consumed me. The blurb is enticing enough but trust me my friends, it does not even come close to conveying just what a twisty, wild ride Somebody’s Daughter is. I know I say this every summer when Mr. Bell releases a new novel, but I’m saying it again anyway, this is my favorite of his books to date and his best yet.

Bell is the master of taking ordinary people and thrusting them into outrageous yet wholly believable situations. Michael is happily married to Angela, so when Erica shows up unexpectedly one night and drops a bomb, he’s shook. The revelation is the first of countless shocking announcements, I swear this one was so surprising I truly never knew what would happen next.

The pacing of this was relentless, short chapters, tons of mini cliffhangers and a super intense plot that made this unputdownable. I could go on and on about how much I loved this one, but I’ll end by urging you to read this, it’s outstanding.

Somebody’s Daughter in three words: Shocking, Compulsive and Quick.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: The Man on the Roof by Michael Stephenson @filmbooksbball #TheManOnTheRoof #TMOTR

Release date: June 22, 2018

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


Someone has been creeping in the dark while the others sleep, and they’ve done terrible, terrible things.

“There was a man on your roof,” claims curmudgeonly lane-hermit Herbert McKinney. Then, he initiates an unprovoked fight with a local punk. Drama escalates when that punk’s dead body is found hanging at mid-street one August morning—a boastful killer messaging their next prey. All fingers point to Herbert as the culprit. Soon, the five couples he calls neighbors come under suspicion, too. When detectives divine blackmail as the motive, eyes cross to find who hides the most shameful secret. Husband versus wife, friend versus friend, the shiny suburban veneer of innocence has been forever tarnished. As hidden deviousness boils from their pores, there lurks a thief, a pill addict and a sadist—secrets worth killing for.

Now, as the man on the roof helps guide justice and watches devious neighbors slip in and out of sleepy houses, confusion and questions persist. Who dies next? What have they learned? Who is becoming a monster? Who already is one? And just how many secrets can a small group of multi-ethnic Ohioans have? Only one cemented truth exists: the killer will kill again.

A taut domestic mystery-suspense thriller, The Man On The Roof propels the reader through a tangled, volatile and suspenseful thicket of deception, murder and friends, inviting the reader to discover the murderer and who hides which lie. First there was Gone Girl. Then there was The Girl on the Train. Now, there’s The Man On The Roof.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Man on the Roof! I have a guest post from the author to share today.

Guest Post:

The Great Lure of Mystery: Why we’re Enamored with Mysterious People

Eve probably only ate the fruit because she wanted to know what it would taste like, or why it was forbidden. Scientists say that it’s one of the reasons we even began to build tools, and also why we were able to evolve to dominate the world. It’s why we learn, why we ask questions when we look up at the stars and why we sometimes find ourselves eavesdropping conversations of strangers on trains, planes and buses. Curiosity is to the brain what appetite is to the stomach, and it is no better, no easier satiated than by solving a good mystery. But why, out of all the wonderful mysteries in this great big universe, are we most enamored by the one that seems most easily understood: people? That is the great modern curiosity.

“Every one is a mystery, sometimes even unto themselves.” That is the premise on which I based my latest novel The Man On The Roof. A psychological mystery-thriller, The Man On The Roof follows in the footsteps of other recent hits like Gone Girl, In A Dark, Dark Wood, The Girl on the Train and The Woman in the Window, challenging readers to discover who is lying and who has really committed the heinous crime. Here, it is in its simplest form that we find out why we love not only a good mystery but a good mysterious person.

We’ve all heard the saying a woman must maintain an aura of mystery about her when it comes to courting. In other words, ladies can’t share all their secrets with their beau even after marriage. Why? Because he’ll get bored? Is that it? Are we obsessed with mystery simply because it keeps us from being bored. Maybe, but I believe there’s more there.

A good mystery keeps us active, keeps the brain churning, invites us into a world of new experiences. All of those things counter boredom. They also help us to think, learn, desire. When a potential lover maintains a mystery about them, it makes us work and shows us just how interested we are in keeping them. It’s a primitive form of testing our heart. Still, it goes deeper than that.

Mysteries in book form have a set structure. Authors introduce the players, set the stage, give them a puzzle to solve (a murder in the case of The Man On The Roof), then go about deconstructing the way and/or reasoning behind said puzzle. There is a concrete beginning, middle and end. In that way, mysteries supply us with structure to chaos in a world that increasingly seems to have little structure or cause for any effect. These fictional stories allow us to see justice done when in real life real justice is such a fleeting concept. But a psychological mystery-thriller is often different.

A psychological mystery-thriller thrives on the idea of people as mysteries. Instead of always supplying justice, they give us an often bleak look into the mind of the person who committed the crime. One might think that morbid, yet we’ve become engrossed in this genre of mystery now more than ever. Look on TV and you’ll find a glut of true crime stories, mysteries that didn’t always end with the right verdict. These allow us to sit in judgment of those around us, comparing and contrasting our own life to theirs. We can lose ourselves in wondering if we’d do the same as them, in trying to piece together the puzzle of a person.

Speaking of, there’s a feeling of accomplishment that we get from solving mysteries, from learning something new, from putting together the last puzzle. Time drips away at such a fast interval that we often need something to stake within the ground in order to feel as if we aren’t wasting it. During our schooldays we would burst at the seams at having accomplished passing from one grade to the next. There was always something to look forward to. In adulthood, there are not as many milestones. Years can float by where one feels as if they’ve done nothing. Mysteries give us a definite goal to achieve before the novel’s counterpart does. People are similar in that their mystery unfolds to us like a video game. We are able to notch our progress by recalling just how much we’ve been allowed to learn or “solve” about this person. It’s one thing to look out your window and see your newlywed neighbors and think they are happy. It’s an entirely different thing to look out and see her cheating. Level up! You just got a secret achievement.

Ultimately, we are drawn to mysterious people and look forward to the unknown in other humans because they make us feel and do it so effortlessly. We feel accomplished. We feel aroused. We feel a little smarter. We feel a little more accepted. We feel we’ve learned something. We feel a little less bored with our own lives. We feel alive! A person is a most pure mystery because they’re always changing, always challenging, always filled with secrets just waiting to be found out and explored. And in doing such exploration, we discover just as much about ourselves as we do about them. Mysteries, and mysterious people allow us to remember that we are so much more even on days when we think less of ourselves. I believe that everyone is a mystery, sometimes even unto themselves, so it is our duty to go out, have an adventure and discover the secrets we didn’t know we had. But first read The Man On The Roof (tee-hee)!

Check out the other stops on the tour!

Review: Find You In the Dark by Nathan Ripley


Release date: June 19, 2018

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


For years, unbeknownst to his wife and teenage daughter, Martin Reese has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and obsessively studying them, using them as guides to find the missing bodies of victims. He doesn’t take any souvenirs, just photos that he stores in an old laptop, and then he turns in the results anonymously. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of wrongs.

Detective Sandra Whittal sees the situation differently. On a meteoric rise in police ranks due to her case‑closing efficiency, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious source she calls the Finder, especially since he keeps leading the police right to the bodies. Even if he isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, how can she be sure he won’t start soon?

On his latest dig, Martin searches for the first kill of Jason Shurn, the early 1990s murderer who may have been responsible for the disappearance of his wife’s sister. But when he arrives at the site, he finds more than just bones. There’s a freshly killed body—a young and missing Seattle woman—lying among remains that were left there decades ago. Someone else knew where Jason Shurn left the corpses of his victims…and that someone isn’t happy that Martin has been going around digging up his work. And when a crooked cop with a tenuous tie to Martin vanishes, Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder.

Hunted by a real killer and by Whittal, Martin realizes that in order to escape, he may have to go deeper into the killer’s dark world than he ever thought…


As much as I’m a serial killer thriller junkie I’m always on the lookout for a unique twist on the genre and this one was definitely original. Sure, you have a cop tracking down a murderer and the killer himself, but the addition of Martin, who isn’t a killer but instead a bizarre combination of vigilante and everyday family man. He hunts the burial sites of victims, he doesn’t search for women themselves and he definitely doesn’t hurt them. A strange little hobby to say the least, but one that makes for a very interesting premise.

Martin was the sort of highly complex character that I love, you never quite know what to make of him. Is he really just a normal husband and father with an odd hobby? Or does he have some darkness inside himself, a desire to have a close brush with death? If kept me on my toes, and Whittal the detective investigating the case was another character I really enjoyed.

This is definitely a slow burn, there is plenty of simmering tension but it does require some patience, but for me, the wait was worth it. Ripley is an extremely gifted writer, his prose had a subtle intensity and feel of sophistication that worked so well for me. Recommended for those wanting a read that takes time to reveal its hand and also those who like a thriller that delves into a literary type of read.

Find You In the Dark in three words: Subtle, Original and Fluent.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky


Release date: June 26, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Women’s Fiction


Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends—and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She’s thankful for the new friends she’s made—though she can’t risk telling them too much. And she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.

Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself—or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie’s own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.

Before and Again is a story of the relationships we find ourselves in—mothers and daughters, spouses and siblings, true companions and fair-weather friends—and what kind of sacrifices we are or aren’t willing to make to sustain them through good times and bad.


Before and Again was my first Barbara Delinsky book so I really wasn’t sure what to expect, when a book is labeled as women’s fiction it’s hard to know if it’ll be on the light, funny side or if it’ll be more serious and emotional. This one definitely fell on the emotional side, though it wasn’t too heavy, more thought provoking than depressing and definitely hopeful in the end.

Maggie had one of those life changing moments when she was in an accident, her daughter passed away and her marriage crumbled. Fast forward five years and she’s finally settled into a very different life from her old one, but if she’s not exactly happy she has found a small bit of peace in Vermont. Maggie as a character was highly complex with a host of issues and traumas and Delinsky did a great job of exploring her issues in a deep way. The growth and discovery she experiences throughout the book is outstanding and I was very empathetic to her, I can’t even imagine what she went through after her accident.

Besides Maggie there is a colorful cast of supporting characters that added so much life and vitality to the story, I really enjoyed them all. This read like a family saga with plenty of drama and a vast range of emotions and it took me on my own emotional roller coaster. If a book can make me feel something I’m happy and this one made me happy, angry, reflective and sad among many others. Recommended for a book club but also for anyone looking for a women’s fiction read that has tons of emotional depth.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Before and Again in three words: Evocative, Deep and Moving.

Review: All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin


Release date: June 26, 2018

Publisher: Ballantine

Genre: Contemporary Fiction


Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.


I’m a huge fan of Emily Giffin, when she has a new book out I don’t hesitate to add to my TBR without reading the description, I always know I’ll like whatever she releases. While Something Borrowed and Something Blue will always be my firm favorites, AWEW has now landed itself a spot next to them, this was insanely good you guys!

This is told from several perspectives; Nina mother of Finch who is accused of snapping a wildly inappropriate picture of another narrator, Lyla and then you also hear from her father, Tom. I always admire an author who can not only write about timely, important issues in a relatable manner, but when they can give each character a strong and distinct voice, I’m seriously impressed. In a culture where sexual assault/harassment victims are banding together to be heard, the plot of this one could not be more relevant. I related the most to Nina, a mother who is just doing her best each and every single day who finds out that her best still may have not been enough to teach her son how to be the type of man she can be proud of.

Book clubs should go right ahead and make this your next choice, the discussion topics are endless and I would venture to guess that anyone could find at least one aspect they could relate to. Giffin explores parenthood, marriage, moral choices and how said choices can impact your life in extreme ways and so, so much more. This had a slightly darker edge than her previous work, but for me it made it all the better.

All We Ever Wanted in three words: Relevant, Thoughtful and Absorbing.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: Girlfriend, Interrupted by Patricia Caliskan @Caliskaniverse_ @Saperebooks #GirlInterrupted


Release date: June 28, 2018

Publisher: Sapere

Genre: Romantic Comedy


What do you do when the love of your life is already somebody else’s dad…?

Brown-eyed, brunette, 25.

Enjoys walking barefoot across shards of broken home. Likes loaded silences, resentment and insomnia. Dislikes romantic weekends, lie-ins and any chance of future happiness.

Former GSOH. Developing PTSD.

Ella Shawe was undomesticated, unattached and uninhibited.

Until she met Dan.

Sexy, charming and funny, Dan ticked all the right boxes and Ella threw herself head-first into the whirlwind romance.

But now she’s moved into his family home, complete with two demanding children and a hyperactive dog.

Throw in Dan’s impossibly perfect ex-wife, Ella’s interfering sex therapist mother and the snooty and dismissive mother-in-law from Hell, and Ella is almost ready to throw in the towel.

But, ready or not, Ella is part of the family now, and getting it right for Dan’s kids means getting it right for everyone. She just needs to figure out how to include herself in the mix…

Girlfriend, Interrupted will have you laughing-out-loud, gasping in embarrassment and rooting for Ella all the way. This British romantic comedy is packed full of humour and has a delightful contemporary heroine at its heart.

I’m so pleased to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Girlfriend, Interrupted, I have an extract from the book to share today!

Chapter One: Capital Punishment

It hadn’t occurred to me that the love of my life would turn out to be somebody else’s dad. If I’d thought about it long enough I’d have realized, the best thing that happened to me ended up being the worst thing that happened to Dan’s kids. Well, at least since the divorce anyway. And, if it was any consolation to them, I got a second-hand romance. It wasn’t exactly the kind of thing you’d look out for in a dating profile:

Brown-eyed, brunette, 26.

Enjoys walking barefoot across shards of broken home.

Likes loaded silences, festering resentment and insomnia.

Dislikes romantic weekends, sexy lie-ins and any chance of future happiness.

Former GSOH. Developing PTSD.

But, as with all great love affairs, it hadn’t started out that way. Those two, very separate worlds had slowly collided. We never really talked about what that meant. I mean, how could a man love you if his children didn’t even like you? You’ve probably already guessed, but that was exactly the question I’d been trying to avoid lately as I made my way into the office Friday morning. Only a few hours ahead of being utterly useless around the children for yet another weekend. Although, I thought, glancing over at reception, it was a far better option than falling in love with somebody else’s husband…

‘I am going to leave her, Karen!’ Harry Collins, Head of Digital, was leaning over the reception desk. ‘I promise I will, but it’s not that easy. I’ve got three children to think —’ He flinched at my footsteps. ‘So, those er … those staples? We’ll need at least another two boxes up there…’

Suddenly scrutinizing her to-do list, Karen-From-Reception, all blow-dry and diamante earrings, rearranged her cardigan. Scribbling everything down with a professionalism bordering on the provocative.

‘And those A5 notebooks, please, like we said.’ He pretended he’d only just noticed me. ‘Not the A4.’ He raised a hand. ‘Ah, morning Ella!’

‘Morning, Karen. Harry…’

The three of us exchanged polite smiles as I carried on towards the stairs, avoiding the lift in case I ended up stuck in there with him.

Steen & Heard Communications was located on the second floor of a listed building on Hanover Street. Sunlight streaked through the blinds as I fixed my jacket onto my chair and opened my first email of the day:




This was a typical greeting from Heather Constantine, Public Relations Manager extraordinaire. I’d found the best way to deal with her emails was to pretend they were computer-generated by a machine too primitive to know any better. Although, the ‘Read Receipt’ she included on every message was particularly annoying. Especially when she sat close enough to accept my offer of a Smint without leaving her seat.

I glanced over at her, peering behind her bifocals. Her short, sharp, red hair, hinting at her short, sharp disposition. She scrutinised her screen, searching out juicy worms of commission fit for the taking. First thing in the morning, her lack of hello, eye contact, please or thank you, had the same effect as having a jug of iced water poured over your head. In fact, I’d have chosen the ice bucket challenge every time.

Heather Constantine was the reason I dreamt about being sacked the way other people dreamt about winning the lottery.

Initially, I had worked for James Steen (who was really posh and semi-retired, which is what really posh people aged around sixty seemed to do), and his partner, Audrey Heard, as a copywriter. I was initially hired to write press releases, manage website copy, oversee editorial pieces for our clients, that kind of thing. But within weeks, Heather made me into her unofficial personal assistant and psychological punch bag. Nowadays, I took care of her admin, weekly diary and, on one occasion, a furious outbreak of cystitis, rather than becoming some kind of capable business protégé to her wise mentor-figure, the way Audrey seemed to think it worked.

‘Morning, Ella!’

Leah, Office Support, walked in behind Harry. Her neon-painted grin brightened the shadow of Heather, looming permanently over the rest of our day.

‘Morning, Heather…’

The typing continued.

Leah hung up her coat and straightened her skirt.

‘Would you like a cup of tea, Heather?’

Heather glanced at her watch.

‘Ten minutes ago. I trust you’ll be deducting the time from your lunch hour?’

I gave Leah a sympathetic look. Heather classed five-past-nine as unforgivably late. The only time she’d left the office for anything other than a meeting was when she gave birth to her son.

‘Would you like a coffee, Ella?’

‘I’d love one, please.’ I was deliberately perky. I hoped Heather might pick up on more pleasant ways to interact with other human beings. ‘Thanks for asking. Hey, Leah — we made it! No matter what happens, they’ll never take Friday away from us…’

‘Make sure you use my almond milk.’ Heather’s fingernails clawed at high-speed across her keyboard.

Almond milk? I’d never heard of it. I wondered if they made it especially for people like Heather, who must have problems with turning the regular stuff sour.

‘Will do.’ Leah smiled, not wasting another minute. She paused briefly at Harry’s desk to take his order as he fired up multiple screens on the digital bank.

Harry headed up a team of three almost identical lads. They all wore beards, checked shirts and sprayed-on jeans. As far as I knew none of them had any interest in harvesting trees, but you’d’ve sworn they’d just trekked back from an Alaskan Lumberjack convention. Either that or been knitted as a matching set by someone’s well-meaning grandma. I’d tried striking up conversation with them in the past, but they only communicated in instant messages. And, while the rest of us lived on the stuff, none of them drank tea or coffee, even though it was the lingua franca of our offices. Maybe there’d been some sort of technological advancement, I thought. Apple had launched the iRefreshment while the rest of us still stood around, boiling the kettle.

‘Is almond milk good for you?’

Heather caught my eye, standing to unlock her filing cabinet.

‘Well, obviously.’ She inhaled a laugh, combing through an assortment of colour-coded files. ‘I wouldn’t be drinking it if it were bad for me, now would I?’

I wasn’t sure if she was trying to make a joke or not.

I’d never learned to speak fluent Dictator.

‘It’s vegan friendly. Cholesterol and lactose-free. Those things are bad for you,’ she explained as if talking to a three-year-old. ‘So, yes. It is.’

She shut the metal drawer with a thunk!

Heather was vegan? I was surprised. You’d have imagined most vegans being quite nice to the people they worked with, considering they were so kind to animals.

‘Good morning!’

All heads turned as Audrey Steen, lady boss and agency owner, walked in, looking chic as ever. All curled lashes and nude lip gloss. Wearing my favourite outfit of hers, the grey trilby and pastel pink trench combo.

Audrey was utterly fabulous. One of those gorgeous, older ladies who crystal and diamonds cried out for, rustling up timeless glamour every morning.

‘How’s everything going, Heather?’ She cast a brief smile of hello my way. ‘Apollo doing well?’

If we hadn’t already worked out Heather had a messiah complex, she’d humbly named her first-born after a Greek god.

‘He’s doing brilliantly.’

‘Good to hear it. Did I tell you Peter’s wife’s expecting in the next few weeks?’

‘You must be thrilled.’ Heather still managed to look glacial despite the baby talk.

I’d tried mentioning Dan’s kids, Grace and Ethan, to Heather once. She’d looked at me as if I’d been clipping my toenails at my desk. I’d decided to drop the topic indefinitely.

‘We are. We are.’ Audrey smiled. ‘Listen, we really must have that catch-up. I’ve been meaning to put some time aside, see where we’re up to.’

‘Everything’s back on track.’ Heather squinted at Audrey with what I think was meant to be a smile, unless the sun was in her eyes. ‘I’d like to schedule in a meeting with you today if that’s convenient, Audrey? Four o’clock?’

‘Right-o!’ Audrey said. ‘Well, nothing pressing springs to mind…’

‘Ella?’ Heather rearranged her desk. ‘Could you update my diary?’

‘Of course, Heather.’ I wished I could schedule her in for a routine personality transplant while I was at it.

‘And, by the way.’ Audrey took off her hat, running her fingers through her perfect hair. ‘It’s great to have you back, Heather. Oh.’ She glanced at Leah’s desk then looked my way. ‘Have I missed the first brew of the morning?’


‘Please. Do you mind? I’m always in need of a complete transfusion by the end of the week.’

I noticed a faint sneer from Heather as I walked past her desk, possibly because I wasn’t taking IMMEDIATE ACTION on compiling her account data. Instead, I made my way into the staff kitchen and found Leah standing against the counter, mobile in hand.

‘What’s the matter?’

‘I’m fine.’ She put her phone inside her pocket and took a teaspoon from the drawer. Then stopped, eyes flooding. ‘I split up with my boyfriend.’

‘Oh. That’s not good.’

‘But then we got back together.’

‘And that’s bad?’

‘He’s just messaged saying he thinks we should leave it tonight. And.’ She checked her reflection in the mirror. ‘I just can’t handle Heather today. Urgh.’ She wiped inkblots of mascara from the corners of her eyes. ‘I missed the early train, doing my makeup. Now it’s ruined and I’m not even seeing him…’

‘Here.’ I grabbed another cup for Audrey. ‘You go and get yourself fixed up. I’ll finish the drinks.’

‘You sure?’

The kettle clicked to a halt as I busied myself at the counter.

‘Thanks, Ella. Oh.’ She paused on her way to the door. ‘Make sure you use her special milk, whatever you do. Heather’s almond milk’s in there. Bottom shelf. She’s labelled it.’

Of course she has, I thought. Even though everyone else in the office shared the same two-litre carton, it obviously wasn’t good enough for the Constantine constitution. Almond milk. I stared at the weird, peachy liquid. It didn’t look all that bad, but it definitely smelled a bit funny. Sod it. If Heather was going to stress us all out, the least she could do was lower our Cholesterol. I gave us all a free sample.

Back at my desk I found another email lying in wait to sabotage my happiness:



Re: Previous email: Account data for previous 12 months!!!

I couldn’t help but look over again.

Not a flicker.

Working with Heather was like catching a virus. You started slightly off-colour and ended up wanting to crawl under the covers, slayed by a highly contagious case of her utter misery. I found the files on the system and opened a new document. It was so bad that the thought of meeting mum for lunch formed an emergency raft in my mind that saw me safely through to half-past twelve.

About the Author:

Following a childhood spent writing her first books, most notably, Our Book about Jesus – a self-help guide for fellow young Catholics, and, The Sleepover – a compelling tale of a midnight feast, shockingly intercepted by fictitious parents with badly drawn hands, Patricia Caliskan always liked to play with words.

Patricia first saw her name misspelt in print aged 17, interviewing hungover rock stars and illegible actors for an Arts and Entertainment magazine. After graduating from the University of Liverpool, Patricia joined Trinity Mirror Newsgroup, working as editor across a portfolio of lifestyle magazine titles.

Patricia likes a good pair of boots, wearing perfume with her pyjamas, and laughter. Lots of laughter. Because without it life feels far too grown up for her liking. Told with mischievous humour, Patricia’s stories explore family dynamics, office politics, and the divergent roles of women throughout their lives.

Girlfriend, Interrupted is Patricia’s second novel: her first, Awful by Comparison, will be reissued by Sapere Books this summer.

Review: Death on Dartmoor by B. A. Steadman @berniesteadman @bloodhoundbook


Release date: June 25, 2018

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


Life is good for DI Dan Hellier until the discovery of two headless, handless bodies buried in a bog on Dartmoor. But how can he identify the victims when nobody has reported them missing?

The tension mounts when the death of a young man plunges Hellier into the murky world of the Garrett family. Could the peaceful, family-run Animal Rescue Centre really be a cover for murder and other criminal activity?

Hellier is about to learn just how far people will go to get what they want.

And this investigation will challenge Hellier’s decisions as he races to catch another murderer before it’s too late.

*** Death On Dartmoor was previously published as Death and The Good Son by B.A. Steadman***

Welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for Death on Dartmoor.


I had such fun reading this one, which is not a word I would usually choose to describe my reading experience when I’m engrossed in a mystery/thriller. However, there was such an endearing quality to this book that really added so much depth and substance to the story that fun is exactly how I have to explain my time with this book.

This is the second book in a series, I didn’t read the first one but I’m regretting that now. It read perfectly well on it’s own though, any pertinent backstory was explained to my satisfaction and I didn’t experience any confusion at all. DI Hellier is the protagonist here and I really warmed to him. He’s sharp, fast on his feet and a quick thinker, all good qualities for a competent DI. The rest of the team was compromised of Sally, Lizzie, Adam, Ben and Bill. All of them have a great sense of camaraderie and are willing to go the extra mile to solve a case. Thank god for that, because they have their work cut out for them when they’re tasked with solving two cases simultaneously. First, two skeletons are found in a bog but they’re missing their heads and hands. Doesn’t get much creepier than that. Meanwhile, a local teenager dies after taking a bad batch of drugs and the team must work quickly to get the dealer off their streets.

Some of my favorite scenes were when Dan and Sally were working the cases together. They have an amazing rapport and they gave me a good laugh when they ribbed each other. Young Adam, the newbie to the team also added some lighthearted moments when he was rather eager to impress his superiors. I so appreciate when authors add humor and warmth to crime novels, it’s such a nice touch and it really breaks things up. There was a perfect balance between Dan’s personal and professional life which really allows the reader to connect with him on a deeper level.

Crime fiction fans looking for a new series have no need to look further, this is an excellent book to lose yourself in. This took quite a few surprising turns and there were some great action scenes that got my heart beating faster. I’ll be anxiously waiting for the next book in the series and I may even try and squeeze the first book into my TBR at some point.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Completionist by Siobhan Adcock


Release date: June 19, 2018

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: Dystopian


Find her. You need to keep looking, no matter what. I’m afraid of what might’ve happened to her. You be afraid too.

A young Marine, Carter Quinn, comes home from war to his fractured family, in a near-future America in which water is artificially engineered and technology is startlingly embedded in people’s everyday lives. At the same time, a fertility crisis has terrifying implications for women, including Carter’s two beloved sisters, Fred and Gardner. Fred, accomplished but impetuous, the eldest sibling, is naturally pregnant—a rare and miraculous event that puts her independence in jeopardy. And Gardner, the idealistic younger sister who lived for her job as a Nurse Completionist, has mysteriously vanished, after months of disturbing behaviour.

Carter’s efforts to find Gard (and stay on Fred’s good side) keep leading him back home to their father, a veteran of a decades-long war just like Carter himself, who may be concealing a painful truth that could save or condemn them all.


Dystopian fiction can be a tricky genre for me, it either works incredibly well or it just flat out doesn’t most of the time and The Completionist sounded like it would be one that worked well for me. On the whole it was excellent and there were many aspects that I enjoyed, but I had enough issues that I’m torn, I’m not even sure if I actually liked it or not, so bear with me while I try to explain my thoughts.

I’m gonna expand on the blurb just a bit because it doesn’t give enough detail for once. Carter has just returned home after being in the war, there is a huge water shortage and now even engineered H2.0 is not readily available unless you have money. No showers, no running taps period and a fertility crisis is rampant as well. Women only usually get pregnant by using Insemnia, again for the wealthy but his sister, Fred gets pregnant the old fashioned way and is considered a miracle. They live in New Chicago and the world building was pretty great, the premise was interesting and I loved both Fred and Carter’s characters. So what went wrong….

I can be pretty picky about endings of books, they can truly make or break it for me. I’ve bumped books up an entire star rating based on an amazing ending and I’ve also bumped them way down for a weak ending and if I’m being brutally honest this had one of the most disappointing endings I’ve encountered in a long time. Everything was great, I was predicting a solid 4 star read, the mystery surrounding Gard was intriguing and the writing was top notch. Then the book just ended. Zero resolution and way too many questions left unanswered for me, it irritated me enough to bump my rating way down. If there was a planned sequel I guess I wouldn’t be as annoyed, but I can’t get past all that time and being invested in the story to leave with no clear answers.

Overall rating: 2.5/5

Thanks to the publisher and Booksparks for my review copy.