Thursday 30 June 2022

The Sinner by Caroline England BLOG TOUR #TheSinner @CazEngland #BookReview @PiatkusBooks #Giveaway #Win #Prize #Competition



To the unsuspecting eye Dee Stephens has a perfect life as the vicar's wife: a devoted marriage to her charismatic husband Reverend Vincent, an adoring congregation and a beautiful daughter.


But beneath the surface, Dee is suffocating. Vincent is in control, and he knows her every sin. Desperate, Dee escapes into a heady affair with Cal, an old schoolmate.


But is Cal the saviour she thinks he is? What dark secrets does he harbour? And to what lengths will Vincent go to when he uncovers the truth?

From the Top Ten ebook bestselling author, Caroline England's newest thriller will have you hooked from the first page to the last jaw-dropping twist.

The Sinner by Caroline England was published on 16 June 2022 by Piatkus. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review, as part of this Blog Tour.

I'm also delighted to have one copy to give away today. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget in the blog post. UK entries only please


Most people would look at Dee Stephens and assume that her life is really quite perfect. Married to the Reverend Vincent, a man so very admired by his parishioners, living the ideal life with a teenage daughter. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Dee is unhappy though. Her husband's outward persona is very different to the Vincent that she deals with behind closed doors and her daughter hardly seems to tolerate her. Add an overbearing mother in law into the mix and Dee considers herself to be little more than someone there to unblock the downstairs loo and ensure that snacks are available at all times. 

When, one day, she can bear no more, she makes her escape. Taking a long walk, but this ends in her getting hit by a car, and whilst she's not really injured, it's a real turning point in her life. Rescued and delivered home by knight-in-shining-armour Cal, her head is turned and they embark on a passionate affair. 

I had a bad feeling about Cal, right from the start, and it becomes clear that he's not entirely truthful about many things. As the story progresses we learn so much about Dee, Vincent and about Cal. Secrets are exposed and the long-term effects of those, and distant memories are shattering and emotional at times. 

Caroline England builds her story slowly and gradually. The reader learns a lot about the characters, making judgements (that often change) and seeds are sown expertly for what follows. 

This is not just a story about marriage and infidelity. It's a tense and at times, shocking novel that delivers some jaw dropping moments. The depth of detail into family relationships is excellent, and the intensity of the plot line adds so much. 

Gripping and unexpected, this a an excellent psychological thriller. 

One copy of The Sinner by Caroline England

Caroline is the author of psychological thrillers BENEATH THE SKIN, MY HUSBAND'S LIES,
BETRAY HER and TRUTH GAMES. She has also penned gothic-tinged psychological thrillers THE HOUSE OF HIDDEN SECRETS and THE HOUSE ON THE WATER'S EDGE as CE Rose. She writes multi-layered, dark and edgy ‘domestic suspense’ stories that delve into complicated relationships, secrets and the moral grey area.

Drawing on her days as a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer, she loves to create ordinary, relatable characters who get caught up in extraordinary situations, pressures, dilemmas or crime. She admits to a slight obsession with the human psyche, what goes on behind closed doors and beneath people’s façades. She also enjoys performing a literary sleight of hand in her novels and hopefully surprising her readers!

WATCHING HORSEPATS FEED THE ROSES and HANGED BY THE NECK are her dark, twisty short story collections.

Caroline’s new psychological thriller THE SINNER was published in June 2022.

Twitter @CazEngland

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Into The Woods by D L Mark #IntoTheWoods @davidmarkwriter @HoZ_Books #BookReview


Thirty years ago, three girls followed a stranger into the woods. Only two returned.

The surviving pair have never been able to remember what happened or what the fate of the third girl was. Local rumours in the Lake District talk of hippies and drugs and mystic rituals, but no one has learned the truth.

This story is just what Rowan Blake needs. He's in debt, his journalistic career is in tatters – as well as his damaged body – and he's retreated to the Lake District to write.

Yet even Rowan isn't prepared for the evil he is about to unearth, for the secrets that have been buried in that wood for far too long...


Into The Woods by D L Mark was published in April 2021 by Head of Zeus / Aries. 

I read this book whilst on holiday and at times, scared the daylights out of myself. The insidious, creepy descriptions of the woods made the hairs on my arms rise, I had to glance up and remind myself that I was actually sitting in the Corfu sun and not in the depths of dark, damp woodland. 

Mark writes evocative and captivating descriptions of landscape, and Into The Woods contains such memorable depictions of Cumbria, not only the environment, but the small community and the people within. 

Rowan Blake is an unusual, intriguing and strangely likeable character. He's a writer who had success with his true-crime book, but has struggled ever since to come up with a new story. His publisher is on his back and the tools of his trade (his hands) are bandaged after a run-in with a reader. Taking refuge in his sister's cottage in the Lakes he discovers a local story that could just be what he needs to resurrect his failing career. 

Rowan is determined to find out what really happened all those years ago, when three girls went into the woods and one didn't return. Ably assisted by his enthusiastic niece Snowdrop, he starts his own investigates. Rowan doesn't always go by the book though and finds himself in some awkward situations. 

This is a crime thriller with a touch of horror, incorporating issues around shamanism and looking at how some events can be brushed under the table if the people involved are important enough. 

Merging the modern, by using social media, and the ancient, with the woodland fables and beliefs and packed with characters who are quirky, both in name and nature, this is a novel of complexity and intelligence that certainly kept me on my toes. 


David spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post - walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.

He has been championed by such industry luminaries as Val McDermid, Peter James, Mick Herron and Martina Cole.

He has written eight novels in the McAvoy series: Dark Winter, Original Skin, Sorrow Bound, Taking Pity, Dead Pretty, Cruel Mercy, Scorched Earth and Cold Bones as well as two McAvoy novellas, A Bad Death and Fire of Lies, which are available as ebooks. McAvoy will return in 2021 with the prequel Darkness Falls, and new installment PAST LIFE.

His first historical thriller, The Zealot’s Bones, was a Sunday Times Book of the Year. With publishers Severn House, he has written the critically-acclaimed thrillers The Burying Ground, A Rush of Blood, Borrowed Time, Suspicious Minds and Cages.

His first work of non-fiction, a mental health memoir detailing his battle with depression and addiction, was released in September. Piece of Mind has been described as 'lyrical, raw, brutal and very funny'.

Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel (where he was Reader in Residence) and was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller. Dead Pretty was long-listed for the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger in 2016, as was Cold Bones in 2019.

David’s Radio 4 drama, A Marriage of Inconvenience, aired in 2017. His first novel has been adapted for the stage and was a sell-out smash in Hull. He has also written for the theatre and has contributed articles and reviews to several national and international publications. He is a regular performer at literary festivals and is a sought-after public speaker. He also teaches creative writing.

Tuesday 28 June 2022

The Apartment Upstairs by Lesley Kara BLOG TOUR @LesleyKara @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #TheApartmentUpstairs #BookReview


Scarlett's aunt lived - and was brutally murdered - in the apartment upstairs. But Scarlett is determined that life should return to some kind of normal, even if that means living with just a ceiling between her and the scene of such a devastating crime. After all, this is her home. She's safe here. Isn't she?

is busy balancing her job as a funeral director with organizing an event to mark the disappearance of her best friend, ten years ago. So she's got enough on her plate without worrying about the threatening messages that are appearing on her company's Facebook page.

When Scarlett approaches Dee about planning her aunt's funeral, an unexpected link between them emerges. Together, the two women could uncover secrets that have long been buried. Even while someone wants to stop them digging . . .

The Apartment Upstairs by Lesley Kara was published on 23 June 2022 by Transworld. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour 

I've been looking forward to Lesley Kara's fourth novel for ages, having read and enjoyed her previous three books, I was expecting another twisty, psychological thriller, and that's exactly what I got. 

This author excels in creating solid female characters and The Apartment Upstairs is told through the eyes of two of the most unusual and intriguing women that I've come across for a long time. 

Scarlett is a fairly isolated, often lonely woman. She suffers with a chronic health condition and this impacts her ability to do as much as she wants to. However, she's lucky enough to live in a beautiful apartment, specially adapted for her by her father and brother. She works from home and until recently, she had the company of her Aunt Rebecca who lived in the apartment upstairs. However, Scarlett and her family have been rocked by the recent tragic death of Rebecca. Brutally murdered, in her own bed by her boyfriend, who then took his own life.  Rebecca's death has had such an impact on Scarlett, as well as her father and brother. She's recently returned home, to the apartment downstairs, but feels uneasy. She's convinced that there's evil lurking upstairs, and strange noises and dark figures in the garden in the early hours of the morning do not help. 

Dee runs Fond Farewells, an alternative undertaking business and becomes involved in the story when Scarlett asks her to make the arrangements for Rebecca's funeral. Dee recognises Rebecca's name, and realises that Dee and her business partner Lindsay were once taught by her, years ago. 

Dee and Lindsay's best friend Gina disappeared many years ago. There's been no trace of her and Dee is helping Gina's family to organise a memorial event for her. 

At first, it would seem that Dee and Scarlett are only connected by Rebecca's death, but it soon becomes clear that they have other, long buried, links and these lead to Gina. 

The Apartment Upstairs is a cleverly structured story that delivers surprise after surprise. Not only do we get a murder mystery, we also get a great insight into a life living with disability and the intricacies of dealing with the bereaved. 
The family dynamics are done so well, with the male members of Scarlett's family assuming that her illness makes her weak, at times almost manipulating her to believe that herself. Dee and Lindsay's relationship is an interesting one to watch play out, often long-term friends will put up with much more from each other than they would from a newer friend. At times they become bitter towards each other, yet at others they are so very close. 

I really enjoyed this twisty thriller, I loved the characters and the complexities of the plotting. Another great read from Lesley Kara. 

LESLEY KARA is the author of Sunday Times bestsellers The Rumour and Who Did You Tell?

Her debut, The Rumour, was also a Kindle No.1 bestseller.

She is an alumna of the Faber Academy 'Writing a Novel' course.

She lives on the North Essex coast.

You can follow Lesley on Twitter @LesleyKara or visit her website at

Monday 27 June 2022

Looking For The Durrells by Melanie Hewitt #LookingForTheDurrells @MelanieHewitt61 @HarperCollinsUK #Corfu #HolidayReading


Fiancés, friends, and other animals. . .

After a year that sees a broken-off engagement and the death of her beloved father, Penny is desperate to get away.

Fulfilling a childhood dream, she sets off on a month-long pilgrimage to Corfu--an island idyll she knows only through the pages of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals.

On the island, Penny quickly finds herself drawn into the lives of a tight-knit circle of strangers. Exploring--searching for the places the Durrells knew decades before--she makes unexpected discoveries about the hopes, fears, and secrets of the people living there today.

And as strangers start to be friends, lives past and present become entwined in ways none of them could have predicted. . .

Looking For The Durrells by Melanie Hewitt was published on 5 August 2021 by Harper Inspire. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

I had intended to read Looking For The Durrells during my holiday to Corfu in October 2021 but sadly, due to family illnesses, that trip was cancelled. I saved my copy and was delighted to read this really quite wonderful story during our re-arranged trip to Arillas in North-West Corfu earlier this month. 

Corfu is one my favourite places in the world, and although I read this whilst staying in the North of the island, I have visited the small resort of Agios Georgios in the south, where the story is set,  on quite a few occasions. So, the perfect reading set up for me, reading about a location that I've visited whilst sitting in the sun in Corfu - perfection! 

Penny's life has been full of sadness just recently. Her beloved father has died and her engagement didn't work out. Single and lonely and desperately missing her father, Penny decides to go to Corfu. She and her father had always loved the works of the Durrells and had intended to visit the island that is described so wonderfully in the books. Penny has a special place in her heart for 'My Family and Other Animals' by Gerald Durrell, and this becomes something of a guide book for her. 

With a whole month in front of her,  Penny settles into her rented accommodation in Agios Georgios and it is not long before she is swept up by the warmth of the Greek hospitality. Being a single woman, travelling on her own, the locals feel protective of her and she soon has her own table in the taverna where she enjoys the freshly cooked food and becomes almost part of the family. 

Melanie Hewitt writes with such passion for Corfu, her descriptions of the people, the location, the flowers, the fireflies and the every day life in a small Greek resort are perfect. Penny discovers so much about herself, and about the people she gets to know and theres's some sadness, but so much joy within these pages. 

An absolute treat for any Corfu lover, and for those of you who haven't yet visited my favourite island, I can assure you that you will be desperate to book a flight when you've read this. 

Warm, uplifting, the perfect summer read and I'm really looking forward to more from Melanie Hewitt. 

After deciding she wanted to be a book illustrator, at 18, Melanie Hewitt went to Art
College. Halfway through the year, she changed her mind and secured a place at Swansea University to study English. After 18 months, she moved on again to a college just outside her hometown of Doncaster and studied an eclectic mix of linguistics, sociology, and economics.

Then she saw a job advert for a reporter and took up the post at the Doncaster Advertiser, later became Editor, and then worked in PR. She now works in education as Communications Lead for the XP Schools Trust based in Yorkshire and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Looking for the Durrells is her first novel.

Twitter @MelanieHewitt61

Friday 24 June 2022

Nothing Else by Louise Beech BLOG TOUR @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #NothingElse #JubilantJune #BookReview


Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet.

But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again.

When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night … coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.

An exquisitely moving novel about surviving devastating trauma, about the unbreakable bond between sisters, Nothing Else is also a story of courage and love, and the power of music to transcend – and change – everything.

Nothing Else by Louise Beech was published in paperback on 23 June by Orenda Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, as part of this Blog Tour 

I have read everything that Louise Beech has written and have been a fan since book one. What is so special about this author is her ability to write beautifully in different genre. Whether a psychological thriller, or a romance or a ghost story, she never fails to engage her readers with her beautiful prose and carefully created characters. 

It's very difficult to categorise Nothing Else into genre; it's contemporary fiction that deals with the effects of a broken home on the most innocent of victims. With a dual timeline that seems effortless, the author introduces her two lead characters whilst also detailing their earliest and formative years. 

The use of music throughout this novel is wonderfully done, and it is the character's ability to lose themselves in the sounds of Chopin, Beethoven and more contemporary composers that adds so much to the story.

Heather Harris is divorced with no children. She lives in the dockside in Hull and teaches the piano, she also plays small gigs in local pubs. Heather's life is far from complete, she is haunted by the memory of her younger sister Harriet who she last saw almost thirty years ago. After the tragic death of their parents, Heather and Harriet were taken into care and one day Harriet disappeared. Heather was never told where she went and despite being brought up by a loving couple, she has always felt that a part of her is missing. Often imagining that she sees and hears Harriet. 

When Heather makes the decision to take a six weeks contract playing piano on a cruise ship, she is excited, yet frightened of the unknown. However, this trip will change her life completely. She's applied for her care records and they arrive just as she's leaving home. Stuffing them into her bag, she decides to read them whilst she's away. Although the records don't tell her a lot, she finds a hidden cutting nestled in the back and what she finds out, changes everything that she believed about herself, and her parents. 

Beech allows her readers to meet and get to know Harriet too in a clever structure style that works really well. However, for me, it was the descriptions of the girls early life that really resonated, the absolute love for their mother and the total fear of their father is so precise and so strong, it is heartbreaking in parts. 

Beech deals with quite a few complex and serious issues within Nothing Else, and these are sensitively done. The cruise ship setting is very realistic, with the descriptions of life below deck and the glamour and glitz experienced by the passengers contrasting so well. 

Tender and emotional, with a strong cast of female characters, this is an evocative and stylish story of the strength of the sisterly bond. 

All six of Louise Beech’s books have been digital bestsellers. 
Her novels have been a Guardian Readers’ Choice, shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize, and shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award. 

Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. 

Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull. 

Follow her on Twitter @louisewriter


‘An atmospheric, haunting and beautifully written page turner!’ C L Taylor

‘With secrets, lies and plenty of twisty turns... eerie and evocative’ Fionnuala Kearney

 ‘EXTRAORDINARY – tense, twisted and utterly compelling’ Miranda Dickinson

‘Superb storytelling ... claustrophobic, unsettling and intense’ Prima

‘Haunting, provocative, and true to Beech’s style: packed with pain and heart’ Jack Jordan

'It’s a gentle book, full of emotion and it’s similar in tone to The Book Thief’ The Irish Times

 ‘Moving, engrossing and richly drawn, this is storytelling in its purest form ... mesmerising’ Amanda Jennings 

'Quirky, darkly comic, but always heartfelt’ Sunday Mirror

‘Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine will love it' Red Magazine

‘A powerful and moving story’ Madeleine Black

Thursday 23 June 2022

We All Have Our Secrets by Jane Corry @JaneCorryAuthor @VikingBooksUK @PenguinUKBooks #WeAllHaveOurSecrets @EllieeHud #BookReview


Two women are staying in Willowmead House.

One of them is running.

One of them is hiding.

Both of them are lying.

Emily made one bad decision, and now her career could be over. Her family home on the Cornish coast is the only place where she feels safe. But when she arrives, there's a stranger living with her father. Emily doesn't trust the beautiful young woman, convinced that she's telling one lie after another. Soon, Emily becomes obsessed with finding out the truth...

But should some secrets stay buried forever?

We All Have Our Secrets by Jane Corry is published by Penguin Viking in paperback today; 23 June 2022. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Ahh, secrets! Secrets make the best stories don't they? Jane Corry has taken a trio of characters and given them all the most devastating of secrets and created a mystery that intrigues and perplexes right up until the final chapters. 

Our two lead female characters are Emily and Françoise and both are totally unreliable. Corry gives them the opportunity to tell their individual sides of this story in their own chapters, cleverly allowing the reader to make judgements, only to have those opinions blown away when reading the alternative side of things.

Emily is a midwife in London. She loves her job, but is struggling at the moment. When a terrible mistake is discovered, Emily is put under investigation. She flees to Willowmead House, her childhood home by the sea where her elderly father Harold still lives. When she arrives, she is greeted by Françoise; a beautifully groomed French woman who claims that she is Harold's carer and that she answered his advertisement for help. Emily is shocked and stunned. Harold has never in the past accepted the need for help, and not only that, the relationship between Harold and Françoise makes her very uneasy. She's jealous of their closeness and feels that Harold is favouring her. 

Harold is not a nice man. He's a retired solicitor and everything he says must be correct. He's grumpy, manipulative and sometimes violent. He seems to take great pleasure in hurting Emily, even though she's his only child.

Françoise's own story is intriguing, but the reader is never quite sure just what is the truth, it's story that exposes many lies and secrets, but also raises many questions. 

I have to admit that I didn't really like any of the characters, especially in the first half, but as the novel progresses and seems to turn away from a thriller and become more of a family drama, I began to understand their behaviours. 

Nestled between the modern-day story are snippets from Harold's time during the war in France and I really enjoyed this aspect of the tale, I would have liked more of this and these past stories certainly explained some of Harold's current behaviour. 

Part thriller, part family saga, the author explores many themes within the story. At times it felt a little rushed towards the end, yet the middle part also dragged a little, but it is certainly an enjoyable read with a conclusion that I certainly didn't anticipate. 

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist (Daily Telegraph and women's magazines) who worked for three years as the writer in residence of a high security male prison. This experience helped inspire her Sunday Times Penguin bestsellers 'My Husband's Wife', 'Blood Sisters', 'The Dead Ex', 'I Looked Away' 'I Made A Mistake', 'o Tell The Truth' and 'We All Have Our Secrets'. She has now sold over a million copies of her books world-wide.

Jane also writes short stories as well as a weekly digital column about being a granny for My Weekly. As well as this, she speaks at literary festivals all over the world. Many of her ideas strike during morning dog-jogs along the beach followed by a dip in the sea - no matter how cold it is!

Jane's brand-new thriller 'We All Have Our Secrets' is  published on June 24 by Penguin Viking. 

You can find Jane on Twitter at @JaneCorryAuthor and on Facebook at JaneCorryAuthor as well as Instagram. See website for details of events.

Surf, Sweat and Tears by Andy Martin BLOG TOUR @andymartinink @RandomTTours #SurfSweatandTears #BookExtract


This is the true story of Ted, Viscount Deerhurst, the son of the Earl of Coventry and an American ballerina who dedicated his life to becoming a professional surfer.
Surfing was a means of escape, from England, from the fraught charges of nobility, from family, and, often, from his own demons.
Ted was good on the board, but never made it to the very highest ranks of a sport that, like most, treats second-best as nowhere at all.
He kept on surfing, ending up where all surfers go to live or die, the paradise of Hawaii.
There, in search of the “perfect woman,” he fell in love with a dancer called Lola, who worked in a Honolulu nightclub.
The problem with paradise, as he was soon to discover, is that gangsters always get there first.
Lola already had a serious boyfriend, a man who went by the name of Pit Bull.
Ted was given fair warning to stay away.
But he had a besetting sin, for which he paid the heaviest price: He never knew when to give up.

Surf, Sweat and Tears takes us into the world of global surfing, revealing a dark side beneath the dazzling sun and cream-crested waves. Here is surf noir at its most compelling, a dystopian tale of one man’s obsessions, wiped out in a grisly true crime.

Surf, Sweat and Tears by Andy Martin was published on 21 May 2022 by OR Books. I'm delighted to share an extract from the book with you today as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour

Extract from Surf, Sweat and Tears by Andy Martin 

This is how Rabbit thought Ted had died:

It was one of those fall days with a foretaste of the winter
to come. A big day at Sunset. Obviously Ted had to go for it even if he knew he shouldn’t. And he deserved respect for that. If he really was in as bad shape as they said he was, then he was a hero every time he paddled out. He could die at any moment in the water.

The pre-winter swell sparked off breaks all along the North Shore, but none more so than Sunset. Sunset was known for hoovering up every passing swell, something to do with the configuration of the reef. A storm way up in the Aleutians thousands of miles away and now, in the middle of the Pacific, the same pulse was cranking out perfect waves, almost like a machine. Of course there was no such thing as a perfect wave, there was only ever the wave that was in front of you, and if you surfed it then it was about as close to perfection as you were ever liable to get. On this particular day, Sunset was like an enthusiastic young dog you threw a stick for, jumping and leaping way up in the air, off the leash, running free, bounding up and down for sheer joy. But, by the same token, unpredictable, erratic, out of control.

And Ted was part of it. He was always part of it. He was a little bit like that young dog. Or a flying fish, glinting in the sun. He thought of Sunset as his wave now. And he couldn’t not turn up on a big day. Especially this early in the season. It would be a dereliction of duty. He would be like a deserter, chickening out under fire. Ted would never chicken out. The more anybody told him to go back and retreat, the more he would go forwards and push on even unto death. That was his way. He had, after all, only just turned forty. He wasn’t dead yet. So he paddled out. He would always paddle out, come what may. That was the thing about Sunset, it almost sucked you out regardless. The rip was like a conveyor belt, carrying you out into the great maw of the wave, all you had to do was hop on. A few effortless strokes and you were right out there, way out the back, beyond the impact zone, where all these superb unbroken waves stacked up like planes over an airport waiting to descend. All you had to do was select which one you wanted to ride. Sunset had the feeling of inevitability.

Maybe it appealed to Ted’s sense of history. In a way, this was about as primitive as you could get. As long as there had been oceans and islands, waves like these ones had slammed up against the shore. The ancient Hawaiians had surfed these very same waves–centuries before Captain Cook ever set sail, in the golden age before evangelical Puritans persuaded them to put some clothes on–and Ted was only carrying on an immemorial tradition. He really felt that. Like an Olympic athlete taking firm possession of a baton, passed on from one man to another, for ever and ever. A gentle offshore breeze pinned the waves back and groomed them neatly and held the door open long enough, just for you, almost like the elevator in a classy hotel, so you had time to get in properly before dropping down the face.

The set of the day manifested itself on the horizon. Wave after wave reared up out of the blue like humpback whales breaching. Not too many guys out on this glorious morning. Ted had the rare feeling that it was just him out here and the ocean. He could take his pick, like pulling a card out of a whole pack that a conjuror had fanned out in front of him. And lo!–this one was his wave, no question about it. He positioned himself right on the peak, wind- milled his arms, leapt to his feet, and without even thinking carved an effortless line down the face. He cranked out a bottom turn and then pulled up into a high line looking for a way in to something that did not yet exist. And suddenly there it was.

Behold the tube, the relentless, spinning, grinding core. The curl, like an immense quiff, arced out right over his head, and Ted found himself inside the “barrel,” the elusive, ellipti- cal waterfall formed by a breaking wave. Notwithstanding all the high-performance acrobatics of the younger generation, this was still surely the quintessence of surfing. If surfing had a soul it was right here, right now. Ted kept on driving down the line. With his right hand he scribbled a message over the face of the wave, instantly erased all over again as the wave kept on spinning, like the wheels of an immense one-arm bandit. The curtain came down over Ted. Maybe he went too high, because the next thing he knew he was tumbling around in the vortex, dragged up and flung down again. They call it the snake’s eye, when the cylindrical core of a wave closes with someone inside. The eye blinked shut. On Ted. The evanescent architecture that is the interior of a wave–the “green room”–collapsed. Like a tall building being demolished by a wrecking ball. With Ted inside.

Which is when, Rabbit thought, he would have had the seizure and therefore drowned. Unconscious plus underwater equals death in fairly short order. Sometime later the body was recovered and he was cremated and then they paddled out for him on a serene day at Sunset and formed a circle and all held hands and said what an all-time surfer he had been and this is the way he would have wanted to go and then scattered his ashes out on the water where he would always be remembered.

This was pretty much how Rabbit Bartholomew, world champion pro surfer, had seen Ted’s last wave, as he told me when I met him in Coolangatta, in Queensland. It was a scene that had replayed itself in his head, from time to time, over the last twenty years. He’d had it direct from Bernie Baker on the North Shore. Never questioned it. It was a good story. Made perfect sense. Ted would do just that, come what may.

Except that it didn’t happen quite like that. In fact, nothing like that at all. Rabbit had been severely misinformed. Not that I blamed him. The North Shore, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, was like a myth machine. Dreams and delusions proliferated like waves. Not too many of the inhabitants cared about the more complicated truth. Everybody lied, to themselves and others. And they had good reason, in cer- tain circumstances, to avert the gaze. The code of omertà. The North Shore could legitimately lay claim to some of the greatest breaks on the planet. But it was for sure a place of heartbreak too.

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Love and Missed by Susie Boyt @SusieBoyt @ViragoBooks #LoveandMissed #Competition #Win #Prize #Giveaway #SignedBooks #Champagne

'I was in the story, feeling everything. I cared about every character . . . She writes beautifully. It was a total pleasure' Philippa Perry, author of The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read

Susie Boyt writes with a mordant wit and vivid style which are at their best in Loved and Missed.
When your beloved daughter is lost in the fog of addiction and you make off with her baby in order to save the day, can willpower and a daring creative zeal carry you through ?
Examining the limits, disappointments and excesses of love in all its forms, this marvellously absorbing novel, full of insight and compassion, delights as much as it disturbs.

'She takes the study of love into uncharted territory and every sentence has its depth and pleasure' Linda Grant
'I am so moved: it carries a huge emotional power... I ache for them all. Poignant, witty, lyrical and perceptive' Joan Bakewell

Love and Missed by Susie Boyt was published in paperback by Virago on 16 June. I read and reviewed this one when the hardback was published and adored it. It was one of my top books of last year.

You can check out my review below.  I'm also delighted to offer a very special giveaway to celebrate the paperback publication. I have three signed copies of the book as prizes, and one lucky winner will also win a bottle of champagne!

Entry is simple. Just fill out the competition widget in the blog post. UK entries only please!

My review of Love and Missed by Susie Boyt

Love and Missed is a short novel at just under two hundred pages, but it packs a massive emotional punch to the reader. This is a beautifully perceptive story, character led and touching on some dark issues. 

Ruth is a school teacher. She brought up her daughter Eleanor on her own. Their bond was always strong, with a deep love shared between them. Just before Eleanor turned fourteen, she changed. She began to stay out at night, she didn't connect with Ruth anymore, the relationship was broken.

The novel begins as Ruth rescues Eleanor's baby daughter Lily. She takes her away from Eleanor and her boyfriend Ben who are both addicts. Their home is dirty and filled with unsavoury characters. It's not a place for a child. 

The author then details Ruth and Lily's life together, their incredible relationship is a joy to read about, but the spectre of Eleanor is always around. Whilst she does not physically feature in the story so much, her presence is always felt, especially by Ruth. Ruth is a woman who has no feelings of self-worth. Despite the fact that Lily adores her, and that she is respected by her colleagues and has a handful of friends, she feels as though she is of no use. Her overwhelming feelings of failure when thinking of Eleanor overshadow everything else in her life. Except, that is, for Lily, who becomes her life. 

Boyt's control of language and her pacing of the story is immaculately done. Her words are sparse but written with passion and so much meaning. The incredible love of these female relationships shine so brightly from the pages, along with the heartbreaks, the disappointments and the ultimate sadness. 

The author's insight and perceptions are startling at times, and the reader will urge both Ruth and Lily along, desperately hoping for reconciliations and happiness. We are often disappointed, along with the characters, but it is always so beautifully and sensitively handled. 

An utter joy to read. A book that touched me deeply and one that I highly recommend. 

Win 3 Signed copies of Love & Missed by Susie Boyt and a bottle of Champagne

Susie Boyt is the author of six acclaimed novels and the much-loved memoir My Judy Garland Life which was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley Prize, staged at the Nottingham Playhouse and serialised on BBC Radio 4. 

She recently edited The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories by Henry James and writes columns and reviews for publications ranging from the Financial Times to American Vogue. 

Boyt is a director at the Hampstead Theatre in London. 

She also works for Cruse Bereavement Care. 

She is the daughter of Lucian Freud and the great granddaughter of Sigmund Freud.

Twitter @SusieBoyt