The Daughter in Law by Nina Manning #BlogTour #Extract @ninamanning78 @BoldwoodBooks

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Welcome to my stop for debut novel The Daughter in Law by Nina Manning. Thanks so much to publisher Boldwood Books for the invitation to join their very first blog tour! I have an extract (the first chapter!) to share with you today but first check out how wonderful this novel sounds. When I read the blurb I immediately felt this was my kind of novel!

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No one is good enough for her son…

As a single mother, Annie has an especially close relationship with her son, Ben. They have always been together. Just the two of them. So, when Ben brings home his mysterious beautiful new wife, Daisy, immediately Annie doesn’t trust her. Who is this woman who has taken her son away from her? And what is she hiding?

She’ll protect him with her life…

When Ben disappears, suddenly Annie and Daisy are all the other one has. Alone in Annie’s big, remote house, just the two of them, the tension is rising. And like any protective mother, Annie will stop at nothing to expose her new daughter in law, and the secrets she is hiding…

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Author

Nina Manning

Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. The Daughter in Law is her debut psychological thriller, and will be published in August 2019. She lives in Dorset.

Connect

Twitter : ninamanning78

fB : ninamanningauthor1

Author’s website : https://www.ninamanningauthor.com/

Nina’s author profile : https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/contributor/nina-manning/

Extract

Annie

My favourite room is the spare bedroom at the front of the house. It gets all the light in the morning and looks so inviting. I’ve done it up like a picture I saw in a lifestyle magazine: a checked throw across the end of the bed, floral sheets and hooked back curtains, a little wicker chair in the corner with a few well-read paperbacks stacked on top of it, and a white vase on the bedside table. It really is the most comforting place to be. Of course, no one ever uses it. I like to keep the house looking nice. But it was only ever going to be me and my son.

Getting out of bed was particularly hard this morning. It has been every morning since Ben left. I keep thinking, what is the point? I’ve been feeling that empty hopelessness for several months now. Since Ben deserted me.

For her.

I’d heard all about empty nest syndrome but I never imagined for a moment it would happen to me. I never actually thought he would leave. I thought we would just keep existing together. Forever.

He kept so much of his stuff here initially, that I felt sure he would return – but just last month, he came and took the lot.

It’s so quiet here now. It was quiet anyway, that’s why I took the house. It’s the house I grew up alone in with my father, but fled from as soon as I was able to support myself.

How do you define an unhappy childhood? In those days it was unheard of to make an allegation about your relative. I accepted the violence – it was, after all, part of him and all I had ever known. Throughout my motherless upbringing, the beach house provided a sanctuary for me with plenty of places to hide. I got stealthier as I grew and with my legs pulled up tightly into my chest and my head pressed to my knees, I would squeeze myself into an alcove, the airing cupboard or the shed with the ringing sound of my father’s threats in my ear. Later on, I would sneak out and find my way back to my bedroom past my father’s drunken snores. The next day he wouldn’t remember a thing. Had I not been able to escape down to the shore to skim pebbles or poke about in rock pools, then I would have run away sooner. The sea kept me safe. But as soon as I turned sixteen I took myself hundreds of miles away. I never heard a whisper from my father, who had told me daily I reminded him too much of my brazen excuse of a mother. Then he was dead and the beach house was mine. I left it sitting empty for a while, too scared to return, too busy trying to salvage my own marriage. Then Ben arrived and I knew it was time.

When I returned here all those years later with my son, it was fairly run down and rotting in places I couldn’t get to, much like my father for all those years. The brown weatherworn cladding needed a sand down and varnish and the white framed windows were peeling, but overall the exterior wasn’t so bad. I did the best I could with it and I could overlook most of the natural decay when I scanned the vast horizon and breathed in the fresh sea air.

It’s a remote spot, perched right on the edge of the peninsular before it slopes round into the sea. Standing in the garden or looking out of the window, you would be forgiven for thinking there were no houses for miles, but there is one around along the shore and to the left and then they begin to scatter more frequently as they feed towards the village. People rarely walk this far down as the shore is a little more rustic with huge pieces of driftwood and great mounds of seaweed washing up daily. Besides, the stretch of beach at the end of the garden and over the low battered wall essentially belongs to me. We are protected a little from the wind by a few surrounding trees, but it does get a little breezy here at times. But when it’s still and the sea looks like a flat piece of mirror you could walk across, that’s when I love it the most. Of course, I love the waves too, especially the ferocious ones that thrust themselves towards the wall. I like to watch those waves and feel my own fury in them.

A house on the seafront, much like a savannah plain, is the perfect spot to see when enemies are approaching. And anyone who tries to come between me and my son, I consider an enemy.

But despite the weather and the waves, I know the house is empty. And although I try to fill my days with mundane daily tasks, I too feel empty. I need to feel fulfilled again. I need my son back. Back where he belongs.

There’s no one downstairs humming a tuneless song whilst they make their breakfast. There are no dirty trainers in the hallway, or piles of washing in the laundry basket. There are no toast crumbs on the kitchen side, or butter streaks in the marmite. The house is so eerily quiet. I have never experienced this. Not since having Ben. I forced all the bad memories away from the time I lived here as a child and made it all about me and Ben. It’s our sanctuary; our hub. Our place away from the world.

Now he’s gone. He hardly texts or rings. She has him wrapped around her little finger. Calling all the shots no doubt.

It was a real shock when Ben told me he had met someone. It was more of a shock when he told me he had gone and gotten himself married. He had been spending a lot of time at her house, that I knew. But I had no idea things had evolved so quickly. And to have done it without telling me, his own mother, first. We used to be so close. I am not coping so well.

I did the right thing, of course. I invited them over for something to eat – mostly because I needed to get a good look at the woman who thinks she has replaced me.

But I know it’s only temporary. I can’t be replaced. My son can’t live without me.

*** Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour ***

Blog Tour Nina Manning

 

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Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler #BookReview #BlogBlitz @HSCinkpen @orion_crime @TrapezeBooks

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I’m changing up my schedule guys, there won’t be a review on Sunday because this beauty releases today in e-book and I just couldn’t resist getting involved. I’m super happy I did because Degrees of Guilt is absolutely brilliant!

Happy publication day to HS Chandler!

Degrees of Guilt blogblitz

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When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

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I enjoy stories that involve morals and put you on the spot. I adore novels that provoke a reader and make you question the side you’re on. I love novels that secretly make you want to cheer the bad guy on..  it’s wrong to do so and you feel guilty but ok not all that much because sometimes, you know, it just can’t be helped. Degrees of Guilt is exactly this kind of brilliant novel, it hits all the high notes. In hindsight, I have to admit the title kind of gives it away but I was still very much unaware of it when I started reading this novel. I was ready to judge and condemn but I’ve never felt so torn.

The novel did start chillingly, with a woman, cold and rational, standing beside her dead husband. She also admits to the crime right away. How could this court case go then, it’s all rather clear cut, right? Awful crime, no remorse, big sentence to be expected. Well you might be mistaken there. There was a lot of background story that explains her current predicament. The novel massively challenged me to take mitigating circumstances into consideration. How much can be excused and can you ever understand why someone would murder someone else? I don’t know if I could say it out loud but eh deep down I understood why she did it for one hundred percent. What the outcome, the verdict would be was a big mystery though, and what I wanted it to be and how the jury saw it and if we were on the same page at all, I can’t say.

At first there wasn’t a bone in my body that made me consider her innocent but as the days progressed it was obvious that she was a victim too, trapped in a loveless marriage. I have read plenty novels with disturbing content and domestic abuse before but the author detailed her daily horrors so perfectly, it was such a quiet venom that poured from the pages, it would melt the coldest of hearts. A big tipping point and a scene that had a big impact on me was when I read about the tampons. I don’t know why that stood out but I think it’s something that is just completely our (a woman’s) business and everyone else should keep out of it.

Even though I knew what she had done and saw the damage together with the jury, I couldn’t help sympathise with Maria almost from the beginning. I believed her, I wanted to believe her, although I didn’t really know why she felt the need to lie about parts of her story. Why would she do that? A tiny part of me did feel a moment’s hesitation there about her. I didn’t know what to think.

Degrees of guilt is a domestic drama mixed with fantastic scenes in the courtroom and let’s not forget the sizzles between Lottie and hottie Cameron. Gawd there’s electricity crackling in the air! Their game was tantalising to watch unfold and he was sooo hot I could feel my own cheeks burn ;-). I found it a bit odd to insert this into such a novel but then it did help to lighten up the story a little and in the end it just worked out brilliantly.

Degrees of Guilt is definitely one of the best releases of the year for me. The novel demands to take a stance about the justice in this case and what you think is fair, it is so heartfelt, you just can’t not think about it when you’re not reading it. What would you do if you were on the jury? I can tell you it’s a difficult one because our heart and our head speak a different language when reading this novel! I can’t believe this is the first novel by Helen Fields I read but it most definitely won’t be the last.

I received a free ecopy via Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

Now You See Her by Heidi Perks #BookReview

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Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.

Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable: tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.

Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again. Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.

Someone is hiding the truth.
So what really happened to Alice?

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Now You See Her by Heidi Perks is also published as Her One Mistake. After reading the novel I think both titles are appropriate and quite fitting although I have a slight preference for the first one which makes me silently complete the sentence with Now You Don’t :-).

I enjoyed the author’s writing style from the very beginning. I knew the book was about a missing child and right from the start she had me highly anticipating that moment of the disappearance of four year old Alice. I was seeking out opportunities for someone to snatch a child and I had a few moments of relief but I knew it was inevitable. I know you have to have eyes on your back when it comes to small children but still, it’s frightening to see how quickly it can happen. The aftermath was so tragic, I felt strongly for both Charlotte and Harriet and it pained me to see that this also caused the loss of their friendship and the support in these tough times when they both need it the most.

In chapters told in the present and the past the women share everything leading up to that moment and the plotline was seriously addictive. I did enjoy a novel with a plot similar to this one not so long ago so I naturally made a connection and I can’t say I was surprised with the first big twist but it definitely wasn’t the only one in the novel so I still had my fair dose of surprises. What troubled me perhaps most was the fact that the novel begins two weeks after Alice’s disappearance with Charlotte and Harriet being questioned at the police station. It raised a big red flag in my head. What had happened, did they find Alice, and most of all why were they both being questioned? I had to wait quite a while to get my answer to that one and I loved being kept in the dark for so long.

I got much, much more than a straightforward abduction and solving of the case. The novel had two great characters and their stories made the story so very compelling. Now You See Her is a wonderfully gripping read. The ending was really high on tension too and it really made me wonder how it was going to end. Will all secrets be revealed and will they find Alice alive? I can only say the best books just don’t let you leave emotionally unscathed 🙂

I can highly recommend this novel where nothing is as it seems at first sight. There are false appearances, lies and deceit to be found in this novel, but friendship and love as well.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce #BookReview

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Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

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Oh Alison, what a tragic and unfulfilling life you lead. Alison’s making a right mess of her life and it’s of her own doing. Should I feel compassion? I’m not going to lie, it was hard to sympathise. She’s such a strong woman and then she shows such weakness, drinking excessively and making a fool of herself time and time again. She also has an affair and the worst part is that it isn’t even with anyone nice. Patrick’s debasing treatment of her and the rough sex he forces her into, all on his terms and how he pleases, were enough not to care for him at all. Not even after all that’s happened, he just sunk too low for me to crawl out of that pit.

I didn’t like Alison either but from what I’ve heard and seen myself in real life I know that drinking is a common problem among barristers, so it’s not so strange after all. If it were any other novel I’d have the reaction too that it’s yet another alcoholic, but I feel it’s quite justified here. And of course you can find adultery in all businesses… I’m just hoping they’re not all so loathsome as Patrick. I know that lawyers are in second place of professions with the most psychopaths (CEO’s are number one btw), and he sure comes close.

I was so very focused on Alison and her personal life that I’d almost forget there’s a legal part to this novel too. She’s working on the testimony of a woman who shot her husband and she has to decide the best way of presenting the case. I enjoyed the insight and reading about the different possibilities of going forward here but I can’t say I didn’t see any of it coming right from the start. I do read a lot of these type of novels though so maybe not so surprising I’m naturally inclined to think of every possibility.

I was more surprised however when I reached the ending of the novel… I completely forgot what drew me into this novel at first, being so preoccupied with everything else that was going on with Alison and her marriage, so I find that a really good thing and I was quite shocked when I suddenly remembered that part again. The ending was very fitting and I sure know I’ll never look at blood oranges the same way ever again. It’ll always, always be associated with this novel now :-).

I received a free copy of this novel from a lovely blog friend. This is my own opinion.

Verity by Colleen Hoover #BookReview

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Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of the night their family was forever altered.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

Sexy. Twisted. Consuming.

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I wanted to read this novel as soon as I heard about it. I’m a longtime fan of Colleen Hoover’s romance books and I happen to be quite a bit of a thriller lover too so this combination of my fav author writing a suspenseful novel was all I needed to hear!

This might be her first novel in the suspense genre but she obviously doesn’t look at the world hearty-eyed all the time and has a pretty wicked mind as well. It was much darker than I expected and I really appreciate that she didn’t hold back at all just to appease some of her readers who aren’t used to this.

While Lowen is staying at the Crawford residence where she’s meant to finish Verity’s manuscript, a woman who became paralysed after an accident, she stumbles upon a manuscript. Intermittent to Lowen’s presence at the house are chapters of this manuscript which slowly reveal a pretty disturbing secret.

It might be an upsetting topic for some readers but it’s CoHo’s trademark to make you feel emotional and I can say that I did feel very strongly about Verity, her actions seriously made my toes curl. Lowen is feeling increasingly disgusted and so was I. Should she tell Jeremy the truth about his wife or not though, that’s quite the dilemma.

At the same time it wouldn’t be a CoHo novel if there wouldn’t be a bit of romance in it as well although I really wouldn’t catalogue this novel in or even near the romance genre. There’s a lot of attraction and it was addicting to read the interactions between Lowen and Jeremy. There were a few too many graphic scenes in the novel for me if I’m being honest, be it with Lowen or the scenes in the manuscript with Verity, but in the end it seems that they kind of served a purpose so that makes me more forgiving :-).

The ending is absolutely worth mentioning the most! It’s one of those endings that I’ll remember in every detail even in 5 years of time. I saw one part of it coming and I felt myself already quite clever but I had no idea there was more! There was another part and it caught me completely off guard. I was quite stunned by this development to say the least. I don’t know if everyone will agree with me and will like hearing so but there’s plenty of room to question the ending and to decide on what you think has happened. It is designed to make up your own mind and I quite liked it.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Verity, the plot was clever, the novel was quite sinister and played with my mind. I truly hope she writes more novels in the genre!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen #BookReview

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Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive, and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr Shields may know what she’s thinking . . . and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what is real in her life, and what is one of Dr Shields’s manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

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This novel was very high on my wishlist and I might have squeeled a little when I was invited by the publisher to read it on Netgalley. It’s as if they read my mind!

I was’t only very excited to read the novel though, I was a little anxious as well. I don’t need to be reminded how unexpectedly twisted The Wife Between Us was so I didn’t know if the follow-up of that bestseller would be as satisfying as the first. The bar was set quite high but it definitely lived up to my expectations!

An Anonymous Girl really plays the psychological card and is for me THE perfect definition of a ‘psychological’ thriller! The book contains quite a bit of psychological warfare and I couldn’t be happier about that as I’m always fascinated by secrets and lies, how some people can derive answers from non-verbal clues, how they can read people and instinctively know their strenghts and weaknesses, what drives them and what makes them afraid. If you have an interest in the human psyche and psychology then this one is a real hit.

The novel is told in alternate chapters by Jess (Jessica), a girl working as a make-up artist and Dr. Shields, a psychology professor. Their interaction commences with Jess taking part in a survey where she has to answer truthfully on some thought-provoking questions that form the basis of a morality study. I loved getting to know Jess by working my way through her answers. Her thoughts and feelings were there, stripped from every disguise, and I liked her character, it shows she’s flawed but her honesty was touching. It also made me think what I’d answer on the questions myself. The novel takes a bit of a turn when her loyalty is being tested though. It’s not clear what Dr. Shield’s intentions are at first but I did have an unsettling feeling that there was an unseen threat and Jess was being used for something. There’s definitely manipulation in this novel involved but is it Dr. Shields or the third person who joins their little triangle who is lying to Jess? Trust is an important issue in the novel and I have to admit I was quick to judge some people as well… I liked and trusted some characters first, to change my mind about them as the story progressed, until I was completely at a loss about who to trust.

An Anonymous Girl is a novel of action and reaction, and as it nears the end it has something of a chess game with the main characters playing some serious mind games. Halfway through the book Jess doesn’t know who represents the real danger in this tangled web she finds herself in anymore. The tension hung in the air and it was great not knowing what their next move would be. The confrontation and finding out who would lie and who would tell the truth in the end was fascinating to see unfold.

I can’t wait to see what the authors come up with next.

I received a free copy of the novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Dark Place by Stephanie Rogers #BlogTour #Review

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My thanks to the wonderful Tracy Fenton and publisher Manatee Books for my copy of The Dark Place by Stephanie Rogers and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour!

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When you look at those you love, what do you see?

When Issy, young mother and beloved daughter, seemingly kills herself her family is devastated.

Believing she would never leave son Noah willingly, Jon and Mel determine to discover what really happened to Issy. As they and the rest of the family struggle to come to terms with tragedy, Jon and Mel start to realise Issy’s secrets come from a very dark place…

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The Dark Place is a compelling and harrowing novel about the aftermath of someone’s death. If you care for a little warning, there are definitely a few sensitive topics included in this novel, so beware.

When a loved one commits suicide the people left behind invariably want to know why so it’s only natural that Issy’s parents, Jon and Mel, ask themselves that same question. Why would a young girl, mother of a small child, with a promising life ahead of her, willingly kill herself? It was a strange sensation to be a witness to Issy’s last moments, I didn’t want it to happen but I couldn’t divert my eyes either and in the end I think it was necessary to feel the conviction in Issy. If I hadn’t, I could have had doubts myself perhaps but it was clear that Issy didn’t hesitate, there was no doubt in her mind whatsoever. So she must have had a damn good reason was what crossed my mind because that scene was heart-stopping and I thought a lot about it throughout reading the novel. I immediately asked myself what had happened in her past to result in such a drastic act. I couldn’t fathom what it was but wanted to find out why as much as her parents.

Besides a search for answers A Dark Place is also a story of dealing with grief. With their binding factor not longer there to keep them a tight little family, the tragedy makes Jon and Mel’s question their relationship soon enough. Their relationship was already in some muddy waters before so I was eager to find out if this would break them or pull them closer together. Even though Jon and Mel blamed themselves for not seeing what was going on with their daughter, I didn’t judge them for it, not even when I knew all there was to know.

The story is told in dual narratives by Issy’s mother and father. They both deal with their loss in their own way and both POVs were different in their approach; it helped to see it both from an emotional side and a more hands-on side. While Mel gets a lot of support from her sister Pam, Jon is handling it in his own way and he’s on a mission to find out why she did this with a little help from a detective. Throw in an overly present lorry-driver Greg who gave me shivers every time I read about him and I was getting more paranoid by the minute.

After a while there was an idea that was starting to take form in my head about Issy’s reason for taking her own life, even with the author’s attempts to mislead me with a few clever red herrings, so it didn’t come as a complete surprise but I was still unprepared for how hard it was to hear what it was all about.

The Dark Place is a compelling story that definitely takes a dark turn in the end. I also admire the brave decision of the author to handle several difficult topics in this novel.

*** Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour ***

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