‘Burn’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies 🙂 Today, I’m wishing the happiest of book birthdays to Patrick Ness and Burn! Patrick Ness is one of my favourite authors and this book was one of my most anticipated of the year. Huge thanks to Walker Books for providing me with a free ARC to review!

burn book review


In 1956 Sarah Dewhurst’s father shocks her by hiring a dragon to work the farm. The dragon is a smaller blue rather than the traditional larger reds, though even the reds are now scarce. When the blue dragon, Kazimir, unexpectedly saves Sarah and her friend Jason Inagawa from the attentions of the racist police deputy, Kelby, everything changes. Sarah is part of a prophecy and she must escape the clutches of Malcolm, an assassin from a Believer Cell, the dragon-worshiping cult. When Sarah, Malcolm, and Kazimir eventually converge, they are thrown into another universe, where dragons seem never to have existed. Can they save this world and the one they left?

my thoughts

I have never read a Patrick Ness book that I didn’t love. And I’m delighted to say that this one was no different. It reminded me of that magical feeling I got when I read the Chaos Walking trilogy. There is just something about this author’s writing that I connect with so much. Ness has that rare ability to make you feel like you are being told a story by a friend but at the same time capturing that old mythology feeling. I honestly don’t know how to put it into words – but I love it. 

Ness is fantastic at creating characters. As a reader, I love to hate his villains and find it fascinating to see how they justify their actions as ‘righteous’. Equally, the heroes in a Patrick Ness book are always a joy to root for. When reading Burn, I felt so invested in the lives of Sarah and crew, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. In saying that though, nothing is merely black and white, and I loved how Ness used parallel worlds to show how there is always more to a person than meets the eye.

One of the things I love about this author’s books is that there is always something a little bit out of the ordinary. And in this case, it’s DRAGONS. But not just any old dragons. I can’t say any more because this is really a book you need to experience for yourself! Seriously though, I genuinely cannot stress enough how much I loved this storyline. There were plot twists in abundance that I honestly didn’t see coming. It just had everything I could have wanted and I didn’t want it to end. Please go read it, and experience this brilliant story for yourself!

burn patrick ness

Are you a fan of Patrick Ness? If so, which of his books is your favourite? Is this one on your TBR? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘Cursed’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my lovelies. I’ve been considering taking a short blogging hiatus as I just don’t feel I have the mental energy for it right now, what with working, studying for two diplomas, and just generally trying to survive a global pandemic, you know? I’m still debating it. I’d like to get my April wrap-up posted for the sake of the completionist in me but we’ll see. Just wanted to start this post being totally honest with you all! I can barely keep up with my own blog right now and I’ve been horridly neglectful of YOUR blogs and I hate that. I can only apologise and hope that my mental energy will return at some point.

Anyway. I realised that I had totally forgotten to post my review of Cursed, an anthology of fairytale inspired short stories which was sent to me by the fantastic people at Titan Books! So, that’s what I’m bringing you today. As I usually do for anthologies, I’ll give you some brief thoughts on each story as well as a general feeling about the collection as a whole!

cursed book review


Fairy tales take a weird twist in this anthology compiling stories from an all-star cast of fantasy writers, including stories from Neil Gaiman, Charlie Jane Anders and Alison Littlewood.

Here in this book you’ll find unique twists on the fairy tale conceit of the curse, from the more traditional to the modern – giving us brand new mythologies as well as new approaches to well-loved fables. Some might shock you, some might make you laugh, but they will all impress you with their originality.

my thoughts

As Red As Blood, As White As Snow by Christina Henry

Kicking things off with one of my favourite authors! And she did not disappoint me. Christina Henry’s writing was fabulous as always and I loved the mix of elements within the story. It was a fantastic twist on well-known fairytales and had a very satisfying conclusion.


Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman

And another of my favourite authors! Can you see why I was so excited for this anthology? 😉 This was classic Gaiman with great scene setting and wonderful themes. The only problem was I wanted it to be longer!


At That Age by Catriona Ward

I liked this story more than the author’s contribution to the Wonderland anthology. It was very dark and ominous for the duration, but I enjoyed it!


Listen by Jen Williams

I loved this one! It had a fantastic concept and gorgeous writing, plus it was musically themed which you know is always a winner with me!


Henry and the Snakewood Box by M. R. Carey

This was an interesting story that gave me Good Omens vibes. I appreciated the humour but things didn’t quite feel fully developed.


Skin by James Brogden

Wow, this was DARK. It was an uncomfortable story to read at times, both thematically and due to some long clunky sentences. But it definitely packs a punch!


Faith and Fred by Maura McHugh

This one was very enjoyable. It felt well developed, like a proper story with a beginning, middle and end. Plus it was wonderfully Gothic!


The Black Fairy’s Curse by Karen Joy Fowler

The writing in this story felt a bit repetitive; a lot of the sentences felt the same length which made for a quite monotonous tone. However, the twist at the end was very interesting!


Wendy, Darling by Christopher Golden

Ok, what an amazing take on a well-known tale! This was both harrowing and unexpected.


Fairy Werewolf vs Vampire Zombie by Charlie Jane Anders

Unfortunately, this is my second experience of Anders’ writing and I don’t think it is for me. This story was just a bit too weird and I felt like it was trying way too hard to be cool.


Look Inside by Michael Marshall Smith

I kind of liked this one? But I found the end confusing. Not too sure what to make of it.


Little Red by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple

This was another ambiguous story. I liked it but it should definitely have a trigger warning for self-harm so please take care if you decide to read.


New Wine by Angela Slatter

This was the only story in the anthology that I couldn’t finish. I just didn’t understand what was going on or what the point was. It felt dull and meandering. I will give a disclaimer though: I was in the middle of this story when the Covid-19 situation really took a downturn so my mental health may have had an impact on how I read this one.


Haza and Ghani by Lilith Saintcrow

This was an interesting take on the story of Hansel and Gretel. There was some gorgeous writing but it was another super dark story.


Hated by Christopher Fowler

Now, this one was fantastic. It was gripping from the outset and the plot progressed perfectly to a brilliant ending.


The Merrie Dancers by Alison Littlewood

This story was good but felt a little underdeveloped. I liked that it was ‘told’ in the way of traditional fairytales but I wanted more from it.


Again by Tim Lebbon

This was a bit gruesome at first but I settled into it and found it to actually be an interesting story that was quite poignant.


The Girl From Hell by Margo Lanagan

The final story in the anthology was a bit disappointing to end on. I didn’t really get it. The writing was too flowery for me (and you know that’s not something I say lightly because I normally love a bit of purple prose!)


The anthology, like Wonderland, was book-ended by two poems by author Jane Yolen, both of which were great.

Overall, this was a mixed bag, as all anthologies are. However, I feel like there were far more hits than misses in this collection! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to fans of dark fairytales.


Let me know in the comments if you’ve read this one! xsignature (2)

‘The Porpoise’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies 🙂 Today, I’m reviewing The Porpoise by Mark Haddon which was very kindly sent to me by Vintage Books for the Tandem Collective readalong over on Instagram! It was fascinating to discuss this one with other readers – though it definitely divided us! Read on to see what I thought of it…

the porpoise mark haddon


In a bravura feat of storytelling, Mark Haddon calls upon narratives ancient and modern to tell the story of Angelica, a young woman trapped in an abusive relationship with her father. When a young man named Darius discovers their secret, he is forced to escape on a boat bound for the Mediterranean. To his surprise he finds himself travelling backwards over two thousand years to a world of pirates and shipwrecks, of plagues and miracles and angry gods. Moving seamlessly between the past and the present, Haddon conjures the worlds of Angelica and her would-be savior in thrilling fashion. As profound as it is entertaining, The Porpoise is a stirring and endlessly inventive novel from one of our finest storytellers.

my thoughts

This is definitely a marmite book! When it started, everyone in the readalong group was intrigued and looking forward to seeing where the story would go. Some remained intrigued throughout and loved it, others got lost along the way. I fall somewhere in the middle but leaning towards the group that lost their way a bit.

This book definitely has one of the most captivating and powerful opening chapters I’ve ever read. I immediately wanted to know more. Unfortunately, the book didn’t really focus on the characters or plot that were introduced in the opening sections. It digressed into what felt like a different story altogether. I know the links were there but I was just desperate to know more about Angelica and how she coped with her abusive father, and it was frustrating to be taken away from that.

As it turns out, she copes by losing herself in stories within her own head. And that’s where the book became a bit tricky. There are stories within stories and I found it hard to feel invested in all of them because we never really spent enough time with any of them before jumping off somewhere else again. By the end, I felt unsatisfied because I hadn’t seen enough of certain characters or didn’t know how their stories ended.

In a sense, The Porpoise reminded me a little of a David Mitchell book, where things are confusing and you don’t understand how they link together but you can only hope that the payoff will eventually be worth it. In this case, I sadly don’t think that it was.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastically clever book and I can definitely appreciate it as a brilliant work of literature. It’s possible though that it was simply too clever for me. A lot of things went over my head; there was symbolism I couldn’t quite grasp, even though I knew if I only could, it would tell me something profound. I feel like this would be a great book to study but as an escapist read for the current times, I probably wouldn’t recommend it.

the porpoise mark haddon

Have you read this book? Or any of Mark Haddon’s other books? I’ve read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime but this was SO different! I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read it 🙂


‘What’s Left of Me is Yours’ spoiler-free review!

Hey lovelies! Today, I’m on the blog tour for What’s Left of Me is Yours by Stephanie Scott! Have a look below to see what I thought of this one 🙂

whats left of me is yours


In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the “wakaresaseya” (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings. When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō’s job is to do exactly that–until he does it too well. While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter’s life.

Told from alternating points of view and across the breathtaking landscapes of Japan, Stephanie Scott exquisitely renders the affair and its intricate repercussions. As Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother’s story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.

my thoughts

This was an assured debut that I enjoyed reading. The story is a mix of a romance and a mystery, focusing on a subject that I have never read about before – the marriage breakup industry. Apparently, it was based on a real-life trial which is SO fascinating! It did have an almost true-crime vibe to it, which I really liked.

I loved how Scott executed her story. The past and present were spliced together and we were given a look into various character’s perspectives. I particularly enjoyed the chapters written in Sumiko’s voice; it felt like I was hearing a story told by an old friend and I couldn’t help feeling every emotion right along with her.

One of my favourite aspects of this novel was the setting. I felt transported to the vibrant city of Tokyo, as well as the more rural parts of Japan. Scott really captured the setting well and I could picture even the tiniest details. She also treated us to some great foodie descriptions – and you know how much I love those!

I also connected with the story as a result of all the photography talk. Seeing one of my own hobbies depicted so passionately was simply lovely and added an extra level to the book for me personally. And I have to say, the part of the book where the title makes sense was beautifully done as well.

I will admit that I was expecting a twist of some sort towards the end which I didn’t get, but that’s no fault of the author! It was my own brain running away with itself haha. And I did appreciate the way she brought everything full circle. She held my attention from start to finish, which I’m so grateful for in the current climate.

If you’re interested and would like to purchase a copy of this one, the hardback is  available via Waterstones.com here or Blackwell’s here. And since physical books aren’t as easy to get hold of at the moment, you can also purchase the eBook (£9.99) here or the audiobook (£19.99) here. (These are not affiliate links, the publisher just asked that we spread the word about how you can get your hands on this one!)

whats left of me is yours

To see what other readers think of this one, check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Whats Left of Me is Yours BT Poster

Sending love and strength to everyone right now! I’m here if anyone wants to chat x

‘The Lost Child’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! I hope that you’re keeping safe and well, and that you’re still able to enjoy reading 🙂 I finally seem to be getting my reading mojo back after a rough few weeks and hope to get back to blogging properly soon as well. Thank you to everyone who has been taking the time to leave me comments; they warm my heart and I promise to respond to them as soon as possible.

Today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis. And hooray, I don’t need to apologise to anyone today because I managed to finish the book on time! I’m not sure how coherent this review will be as my head is still a little bit fried but I’m hoping it makes enough sense hehe. Read on to find out why you should pick this one up during lockdown… 😉

the lost child


1960. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca lives in fear of her father’s temper. As a storm batters Seaview Cottage one night, she hears a visitor at the door and a violent argument ensues. By the time the police arrive, Rebecca’s parents are dead and the visitor has fled. No one believes Rebecca heard a stranger downstairs…

2014. Iris, a journalist, is sent to cover the story of a new mother on the run with her desperately ill baby. But fatefully the trail leads to the childhood home of Iris’s own mother, Rebecca…Seaview Cottage.

As Iris races to unravel what happened the night Rebecca’s parents were killed, it’s time for Seaview Cottage to give up its secrets.

my thoughts

This was an incredibly easy book to get invested in. The scenes set in the present are extremely gripping and then you have the backstory adding so much more. The way everything gradually begins to come together as the book progresses was nothing short of awesome.

The author was able to keep me guessing for a good while with chapters written from an unknown perspective; just when I thought I had figured out who was speaking, Gunnis would throw me off the scent again. I love when a book can do that.

The gradual reveal was really well executed and had me hurtling towards the end of the book, desperate for answers. This is the perfect book to lose yourself in at the moment.

There are a lot of perspectives to get your head around at first and it took me a while to get everyone straight in my mind but after a while, this was no longer an issue and I knew who everybody was and how they all linked up. I love books where history seems to repeat itself so if that’s something you like too, I would recommend this one!

I will say that there were quite a few mistakes in the ARC that occasionally pulled me out of the story a little but hopefully these were caught before the final printing!

This book takes an important look at a mental health issue which is not often discussed and I found it fascinating to read about. The story hurtles along at break-neck speed towards its conclusion and never once relaxes the pace, so the reader is gripped from start to finish. And I think that’s something we all need from our books in the current time.

the lost child

To see what other readers think of this one, check out the other stops on the blog tour!

The Lost Child BT Poster

What books have you been picking up during these testing times? Let me know in the comments! x

‘Sanctuary’ first impressions!

Hello dear ones. I hope that everyone is staying safe and that anxieties aren’t too high (I know that’s a stupid thing to say, I just genuinely don’t have the words right now.)

Today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for Sanctuary by V. V. James, to celebrate its paperback release on April 2nd 2020. This is an extremely difficult time for authors releasing books so I’m trying to do whatever I can to support them. I was due to post a review but with everything that’s been going on, and being an essential worker, I’ve not had much time or indeed focus to read. So I’m only about halfway through the book. But I wanted to post some thoughts anyway because I couldn’t bear the thought of letting down the author or publisher.

I will share a full review when I’m finished the book but here’s what I’m thinking of it so far!



When young Daniel Whitman is killed at a high-school party, the community is ripped apart. The death of Sanctuary’s star quarterback seems to be a tragic accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper Fenn is the daughter of a witch–and she was there when he died.

VV James weaves a spellbinding tale of a town cracking into pieces and the devastating power of a mother’s love. Was Daniel’s death an accident, revenge–or something even more sinister?

As accusations fly, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a witch-hunt…and the town becomes no sanctuary at all.

my thoughts

One of the things I’m loving about Sanctuary is the small-town vibe. I always have a soft spot for books with this kind of atmosphere and this one is doing it particularly well. Sanctuary is one of those places where everybody knows everybody else and nothing can remain a secret for long. It makes for a lot of drama and it’s just what I need to distract me from real-life problems right now.

I’m also loving the way witchcraft is featured in the book. It gives a really interesting edge to a standard thriller/mystery story. I love witchy stories and it’s great to see it featured in a genre outside of where you would normally expect it.

When I saw the large cast of characters at the beginning of the book, I was apprehensive; I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep track of everyone. Thankfully, there aren’t too many perspectives to contend with and I’m not having trouble remembering who everyone is. Each character has a distinctive voice.

James has a great writing style, with short and snappy chapters and killer hooks that grab your attention and hold it. I know that, under normal circumstances, I would have flown through this book in no time. So if your concentration isn’t too bad these days, I definitely recommend this one for a gripping read!

I can only apologise to Gollancz and V. James for not having finished the book on time and I promise to share my full review when I do reach the end. But I can say that I have loved what I’ve read so far and can’t wait to see where the story goes!


Let me know if you’ve read this one! And be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour, which you can find on Twitter! 🙂 x



‘The Good Hawk’ spoiler-free review!

Hello dear ones 🙂 How are you all doing? I want to start by saying that if anyone needs to talk during the current climate, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me – we all need to support each other through this. We’re in it for the long haul ❤ Honestly, it feels weird to even be writing a blog post at this time but I suppose we need to try and keep things as normal as possible, don’t we? So today, I’m reviewing The Good Hawk which was sent to me by Walker Books UK. And guys, this book is pretty special.

good hawk


In a mythic Scotland, two unlikely heroes must make a dangerous journey to save their people.

Agatha is a Hawk, brave and fierce, who protects her people by patrolling the high walls of their island home. She is proud of her job, though some in her clan whisper that it is meant to keep her out of the way because of the condition she was born with.

Jaime, thoughtful and anxious, is an Angler, but he hates the sea. Worse, he’s been chosen for a duty that the clan hasn’t required for generations: to marry. The elders won’t say why they have promised him to a girl in a neighboring clan, but there are rumors of approaching danger.

When disaster strikes and the clan is kidnapped, it is up to Agatha and Jaime to travel across the haunted mainland of Scotia to Norveg, with help along the way from a clan of nomadic Highland bull riders and the many animals who are drawn to Agatha’s extraordinary gift of communication.

Thrilling and dark yet rich with humor and compassion, this is the first book in the Shadow Skye trilogy, written by a wonderful new voice in fantasy and introducing a welcome new kind of hero.

my thoughts

The first thing that struck me about this book was the writing style. Agatha’s narrative voice was perfectly captured. There was an element that reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (and please don’t think that’s me generalising in a negative way). The author made it clear that Agatha had her differences without coming across as patronising. And I instantly loved this book for that.

You see, Agatha has Down’s Syndrome. And it saddens me to say this is the first book I’ve ever read with Down’s rep. It was done so sensitively and didn’t feel at all out of place in this fantasy story. We need more of this!

Don’t get me wrong, some of the comments that other characters make about Agatha are heart-breaking but I can understand why they were there. But man, I was rooting so hard for her and couldn’t wait to see her succeed and show them all what she was made of! She is a strong and sassy heroine (without intending to be) and you can’t help but love her.

I also loved the anxiety representation that the author showed in our other protagonist, Jaime. Seeing a character in a fantasy novel having a panic attack (and one that was realistic at that) gave me such a weird sense of joy. I loved that I could relate to this character and that both Jaime and Agatha felt like real, ordinary people. Those are the best kinds of heroes.

There was also a wonderful cast of side characters, including some very adorable animal companions. And the interactions between them all made for some genuinely funny moments.

I suppose I should talk about more than just the characters though, right? Well the world building in this book was absolutely perfect. I was living for this magical version of Scotland. I felt like I was on this journey with Agatha and Jaime, and I am honestly so excited for the next instalment in this series.

This was genuinely such a heart-warming and special book. I am so grateful to the author for all that he chose to represent in his story and to Walker Books for publishing it and sending me a free copy! This is truly a magical story for all ages.

good hawk

Have you ever read a book with a character who has Down’s Syndrome? If so, please let me know in the comments because I don’t know of any others! x


‘NVK’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! Before we get into this review, I want to send you all a massive virtual hug – we are living in scary times right now and anxieties are running high. My mental health is certainly suffering due to all the panic that’s going on. And working in a care setting is not helping! I’ve never once had any regrets about taking on a job in the caring profession but it’s testing my strength right now, I can tell you!

Anyway. Let’s try to maintain some semblance of normality around here, shall we? Lose ourselves in those books and the blogging community ❤

Today, I’m recommending one for you if you fancy a bit of Gothic fiction during your self-isolation 😉 Today (March 17th) sees the release of NVK by Temple Drake, which was very kindly sent to me by Titan Books! Keep reading to find out more about it…



One night in 2012, Zhang Guo Xing takes a group of European clients to a fashionable high-end nightclub in Shanghai. While there, he meets a strikingly beautiful young Finnish woman called Naemi Vieno Kuusela. The physical attraction between them proves irresistible, and they embark on an intoxicating affair. But Naemi is not what she appears to be…

To Zhang’s surprise, she veers between passion and wariness, conducting the relationship entirely on her own terms. He feels compelled to find out more about her, and is swiftly drawn into a web of intrigue, mystery, and horror. Is she a ghost? A demon? Do the living dead walk the streets of twenty-first century Shanghai?

my thoughts

First of all, this book has one of the most captivating opening chapters I have read in a long long time. I knew right away that I was going to be gripped from start to finish.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the scene-setting. The majority of the book is set in the bustling city streets of Shanghai and the descriptions were so vivid, despite not being flowery. I could totally imagine the sights, sounds and even smells of each scene – and you all know how much I love that sensory information 😉 There are also some flashback scenes set in northern Finland and the contrast was utterly perfect.

Everything about this book flowed so seamlessly. Scene changes, introduction of characters – there was just a sense of ease to everything. It’s difficult for me to describe as it’s not something I’ve ever been consciously aware of until recently. I just found this book so fantastically easy to read and before I knew it, I was finished.

At the heart of the novel is a mystery, though it’s unlike any mystery I have read before. The stakes are raised continuously, another reason for why I could not stop reading.

My one slight complaint is that the ending is left slightly unresolved and you as a reader have to make what you will of the situation. I didn’t feel hugely satisfied with this and wanted definitive answers to certain questions.

As far as I am aware, this book is a standalone (always a bonus!) However, I was highly impressed by it and would certainly be willing to read more about the mysterious NVK! I think the potential is definitely there for Temple Drake to continue this story. But equally, it stands so well on its own. So I guess I don’t know which I’d prefer haha. I know, I’m so helpful. All I know is that you should definitely give it a read… 😉


Are you intrigued by this one? Leave me a comment and let me know! x


‘Rules of the Road’ spoiler-free review and EXTRACT!

Hello lovelies! Today is the final day of the blog tour for Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty. And I’m delighted to be featuring an extract from the book alongside my review!

rules of the road


When Iris Armstrong goes missing, her best friend Terry, wife, mother and all-round worrier, is convinced something bad has happened.

And when she finds her glamorous, feisty friend, she’s right: Iris is setting out on a journey that she plans to make her last.

The only way for Terry to stop Iris is to join her, on a road trip that will take her, Iris and Terry’s confused father Eugene onto a ferry, across the Irish sea and into an adventure that will change all of their lives.

Somehow what should be the worst six days of Terry’s life turn into the best.

my thoughts

When I read the synopsis for this one, I was immediately reminded of one of my favourite ever booksThe Universe Versus Alex Woods. So while I knew it would potentially be a difficult read at times, I also hoped that it would be worth it. And I’m pleased to say it was!

Rules of the Road is a heart-warming read, with a hugely endearing cast of characters. Terry’s father, who has a diagnosis of dementia and ends up being dragged along on an unexpected adventure, was a particular favourite of mine. I also loved all of the side characters that were introduced.

I did find myself questioning some of Terry’s decisions at times but I could also understand why she would be acting that way under pressure. The author definitely did a good job of creating realistically human characters in this sense.

I have always loved road-trip stories and this one is no exception, even if it does have sad undertones. I appreciated the author’s exploration of difficult topics and found that it was done sensitively but not in a morbid way.

I’m not going to spoil the ending; you’ll just have to read it for yourselves 😉 And if you can’t wait that long, you can read an exclusive extract from the book below!

rules of the road

For a taste of Geraghty’s writing, keep reading for an exclusive extract!

I drive to Iris’s cottage in Feltrim. The curtains are drawn across every window. It looks just the way it should; like the house of a woman who has gone away. I pull into the driveway that used to accommodate her ancient Jaguar. Her sight came back almost immediately after the accident, and the only damage was to the lamp post that Iris crashed into, but her consultant couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again. Iris says she doesn’t miss the car, but she asked me if I would hand over the keys to the man who bought it off her. She said she had a meeting she couldn’t get out of.

‘It’s just a car,’ she said, ‘and the local taxi driver looks like Daniel Craig. And he doesn’t talk during sex, and knows every rat run in the city.’

‘I’ll just be a minute, Dad,’ I tell him, opening my car door.

‘Take your time, love,’ he says. He never used to call me love.

The grass in the front garden has benefitted from a recent mow. I stand at the front door, ring the bell. Nobody answers. I cast about the garden. It’s May. The cherry blossom, whose branches last week were swollen with buds, is now a riot of pale pink flowers. The delicacy of their beauty is disarming, but also sad, how soon the petals will be discarded, strewn across the grass in a week or so, like wet and muddy confetti in a church courtyard long after the bride and groom have left.

I rap on the door even though I’m almost positive Iris isn’t inside.

Where is she?

I ring the Alzheimer’s Society, ask to be put through to Iris’s office, but the receptionist tells me what I already know. That Iris is away on a week’s holiday.

‘Is that you, Terry?’ she asks and there is confusion in her voice; she is wondering why I don’t already know this.

‘Eh, yes Rita, sorry, don’t mind me, I forgot.’

Suddenly I am flooded with the notion that Iris is inside the house. She has fallen. That must be it. She has fallen and is unconscious at the foot of the stairs. She might have been there for ages. Days maybe. This worry is a galvanising one. Not all worries fall into this category. Some render me speechless. Or stationary. The wooden door at the entrance to the side passage is locked, so I haul the wheelie bin over, grip the sides of it, and hoist myself onto the lid. People think height is an advantage, but I have never found mine – five feet ten inches, or 1.778 metres, I should say – to be so. Imperial or metric, the fact is I am too tall to be kneeling on the lid of a wheelie bin. I am a myriad of arms and elbows and knees. It’s difficult to know where to put everything.

I grip the top of the door, sort of haul myself over the top, graze my knee against the wall, and hesitate, but only for a moment, before lowering myself down as far as I can before letting go, landing in a heap in the side passage. I should be fitter than this. The girls are always on at me to take up this or that. Swimming or running or pilates. Get you out of the house. Get you doing something.

The shed in Iris’s back garden has been treated to a clear-out; inside, garden tools hang on hooks along one wall, the hose coiled neatly in a corner and the half-empty paint tins – sealed shut with rust years ago – are gone. It’s true that I advised her to dispose of them – carefully – given the fire hazard they present. Still, I can’t believe that she actually went ahead and did it.

Even the small window on the gable wall of the shed is no longer a mesh of web. Through it, I see a square of pale-blue sky.

The spare key is in an upside-down plant pot in the shed, in spite of my concerns about the danger of lax security about the homestead.

I return to the driveway and check on Dad. He is still there, still in the front passenger seat, singing along to the Frank Sinatra CD I put on for him. Strangers in the Night.

I unlock the front door. The house feels empty. There is a stillness.

‘Iris?’ My voice is loud in the quiet, my breath catching the dust motes, so that they lift and swirl in the dead air.

I walk through the hallway, towards the kitchen. The walls are cluttered with black-and-white photographs in wooden frames. A face in each, mostly elderly. All of them have passed through the Alzheimer’s Society and when they do, Iris asks if she can take their photograph.

My father’s photograph hangs at the end of the hallway. There is a light in his eyes that might be the sunlight glancing through the front door. A trace of his handsome- ness still there across the fine bones of his face framed by the neat helmet of his white hair, thicker then.

He looks happy. No, it’s more than that. He looks present. ‘Iris?’

The kitchen door moans when I open it. A squirt of WD40 on the hinges would remedy that.

A chemical, lemon smell. If I didn’t know any better, I would suspect a cleaning product. The surfaces are clear. Bare. So too is the kitchen table, which is where Iris spreads her books, her piles of paperwork, sometimes the contents of her handbag when she is hunting for something. The table is solid oak. I have eaten here many times, and have rarely seen its surface. It would benefit from a sand and varnish.

In the sitting room, the curtains are drawn and the cushions on the couch look as though they’ve been plumped, a look which would be unremarkable in my house, but is immediately noticeable in Iris’s. Iris loves that couch. She sometimes sleeps on it. I know that because I called in once, early in the morning. She wasn’t expecting me. Iris is the only person in the world I would call into without ringing first. She put on the kettle when I arrived. Made a pot of strong coffee. It was the end of Dad’s first week in the home.

She said she’d fallen asleep on the couch, when she saw me looking at the blankets and pillows strewn across it. She said she’d fallen asleep watching The Exorcist.

But I don’t think that’s why she slept on the couch. I think it’s to do with the stairs. Sometimes I see her, at the Alzheimer’s offices, negotiating the stairs with her crutches. The sticks, she calls them. She hates waiting for the lift. And she makes it look easy, climbing the stairs. But it can’t be easy, can it?

Besides, who falls asleep watching The Exorcist?

‘Iris?’ I hear an edge of panic in my voice. It’s not that anything is wrong exactly. Or out of place.

Except that’s it. There’s nothing out of place. Everything has been put away.

As always, if you’re interested in finding out more about this book, check out the previous stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews, and maybe even a giveaway!

Rules of the Road BT Poster

‘The Dark Side of the Mind’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovely people! Today, I’m rounding off the blog tour for The Dark Side of the Mind, an absolutely fascinating read by forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes. This one is an absolute must for anyone interested in true crime or the way human beings think and behave!

Copy of Copy of Copy of Marching to the Brand Beat


Welcome to the world of the forensic psychologist, where the people you meet are wildly unpredictable and often frightening.

The job: to delve into the psyche of convicted men and women to try to understand what lies behind their often brutal actions.

Follow in the footsteps of Kerry Daynes, one of the most sought-after forensic psychologists in the business and consultant on major police investigations.

Kerry’s job has taken her to the cells of maximum-security prisons, police interview rooms, the wards of secure hospitals and the witness box of the court room.

Her work has helped solve a cold case, convict the guilty and prevent a vicious attack.

Spending every moment of your life staring into the darker side of life comes with a price. Kerry’s frank memoir gives an unforgettable insight into the personal and professional dangers in store for a female psychologist working with some of the most disturbing men and women.

my thoughts

The Dark Side of the Mind is an absolutely fascinating book. Part memoir, part true-crime non-fiction, it provides a gripping insight into the human mind in some of its darkest moments.

I have always been fascinated by how the mind works (I have a career in psychology and did consider specialising in the forensic field at one point). So I already had a good feeling about this book before I even opened it. But Daynes’ writing was superb so I loved it even more than I thought I would. I often struggle with non-fiction but had no such issue here thanks to Daynes’ conversational tone and use of humour. It really does feel like you’re listening to a friend tell you about her day at work.

I genuinely couldn’t get enough of the anecdotes that were shared throughout this book. Daynes took me through a whole range of emotions and kept me reading late into the night to see how she handled the different situations. I felt gripped by every single case she presented.

It was interesting to get an insight into the author’s personal life as well as her profession. I had thought that these moments might distract from the main focus of the book but this was not the case; instead, they added to my enjoyment.

The book did make me feel quite reflective about the short time I spent working in a secure mental health hospital (and the reasons why I subsequently left the post). Daynes’ descriptions did not match up with what I had experienced and it made me feel quite sad at what I saw certain patients go through. Thankfully, that particular place seems to be in the minority.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys true crime or learning about the way the human mind works. I would certainly read more books by Kerry Daynes!

dark side of the mind forensic psychology

As always, if you’re interested in finding out more about this book, check out the previous stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

Dark Side of the Mind BT Poster