31 July 2017

Bird Handbook by Ryo Takemasa

After some well-deserved holidays, and a full jet-lag week I am back!
So enjoy these beautiful birds from the artist Ryo Takemasa, I hope the next time I'll be in Japan I'll see a few of them! ;)

Dying To Live by Michael Stanley - Blog Tour

Dying To Live by Michael Stanley
Genre: Crime
Source: Orenda Books
Rating: 5/5

When a body of an old man appears dead, the police thinks this should be an easy case, but after some test of the body, it seems that is more than 100 years old! This would not be an easy case, be prepared for witch doctors and live potions before you know the real truth about the case...

"Kubu frowned. 'How can he be forty inside and seventy outside? Could it be just genetics? He chose his parents well?'
'I've never read of anything like this.' Ian replied. 'And there's something else.'
He passed Kubu a Petri dish containing a blackened lump of what Kubu took for metal.
'That's a bullet, no doubt about it. I found it by chance when I got intrigued by the young organs.'"

I have to say I was completely abducted with this book, maybe the author put a spell on it to be fascinated with the multiple twists and interesting characters of the book, it's a non-stoppable read!
This is not just an interesting case to read, it make you think what's the really value of life, is it worth paying an extensive amount of money to try to live longer? Or would you be ready to kill to know the secret of life? There has been a lot of movies talking about prolonging the life, but for me it has always been science fiction, you live what your body allows you to, not trying to drink something to live more! Sadly, some people believe in potions to make their life better and will try to do anything to have one on their hands, even killing!
Another interesting theme on this book is the witch doctors, they can heal all your illnesses with a potion or an enchantment, something that I just saw in movies or read in books, in some countries is real, and people believe it! It was quite curious how Michael Stanley put the main character in the difficult position to use a potion to save some familiar live, for someone that had believed in witch doctors and have family that believes it's a difficult choice, what would you put first, your values or your family love?
This is the 6 book of Detective Kubu, but you can read it as standalone. The characters are well explained an all the connections detailed.
This has been an amazing read; interesting, different and original. I recommend it you read it right now, Michael Stanely has won a new fan!

25 July 2017

Julialas Art

Some very pretty and cute illustrations, but very small by the artist Julialasart.

The source is Bored Panda.

Marked For Death by Matt Hilton - Blog Tour

I would like to apologise, because my turn on this blog tour was Friday 21st, but after travelling to the US, without a moment to relax and returning home with a little one that had Jet Lag, my last week was completely crazy, and I completely forgot that I had a blog tour with this amazing book. 
So here is a little excerpt of Marked For Death, it will make you want to read it right now!

Marked For Death by Matt Hilton
Genre: Thriller, Action

Joe Hunter has been Marked for Death in his most explosive outing to date
It should be a routine job. Joe Hunter and his associates are hired to provide security for an elite event in Miami. Wear a tux, stay professional, job done.
But things go wrong.
Hunter is drawn into what appears to be a domestic altercation. When he crosses the mysterious Mikhail however, he soon finds something altogether more sinister…
Before long this chance encounter has serious repercussions for Hunter and his friends. Good people are being killed. On the run, in the line of fire, the clock is ticking.
From the bars of Miami Beach to car chases and superyacht grenade battles, bestseller Matt Hilton dials up the intensity in this rip-roaring, set-piece filled thriller perfect for fans of Lee Child, David Baldacci and Stephen Leather.

And the promised excerpt...!


Smoke, fire and corpses.
That was his world when his senses coalesced out of the fog of incomprehension. For minutes gone – or for an eternity, he wasn’t sure – he’d floated outside his corporeal body, his mind tumbling slowly through a void of nothingness. He could see, taste, touch and smell nothing. In that place he was at peace. It’s said that when death comes, the final sense to leave us is hearing. In that abyss there was sound, though it came from such distance that it barely scratched at the edge of his hearing. 
As he tumbled through the colourless void he grew aware that he was straining to deny those sounds, because through acknowledging them it meant he still clung to life. He didn’t want to hear. He wanted only to wallow in peace and leave everything behind…the fear, the agony.
But the more he tried to ignore the sounds, the more insistent they became. 
And as they grew louder, panic swelled.
What was he thinking? He didn’t want to die!
Now he clawed against the alternative, and his own voice rose to join the audible chaos surging over him. He screamed, a ragged, throaty roar of denial that snapped his ethereal mind into the present, and he was reeled in at a shocking velocity. Mind and body collided with the force of an exploding star, a phosphorescent white light splitting apart the void, and through the rents in its insubstantial fabric poured reality.
Choking smoke. Searing flames. Charred and bloody corpses.
He could taste his own blood, and smell the acrid tang of noxious fumes. But they were distractions compared to the crushing weight on his chest and legs. A huge slab of jagged concrete bore into him, his frail body the only thing denying its inexorable contest with gravity. He was on the verge of bursting, of collapsing under the immense weight, as had the building currently under bombardment by US missiles. 
Even as he grew aware of his predicament, memory flooded in.
He had been standing alongside another two private military contractors, supposedly in Afghanistan to assist with the peace-keeping forces, but really using the opportunities that a nation in turmoil offered to those willing to step outside laws and morals. He’d partnered with the two Chechen mercenaries to work security while they brokered a deal with the Taliban. It was a deal that would open routes through Chechnya to the Western world. The mercenaries would grow rich on the raw opiates on offer. The meeting within the Taliban stronghold – a compound of high walls and a cluster of concrete bunkers abandoned by the Soviets years ago – had been tense, but promised to grow fruitful…until hell rained down from above.
The only thing that had saved him from immediate evisceration was that the first missile to strike had targeted an adjacent building. The detonation had destroyed that building, and had hurled massive chunks of debris onto the one in which they met with the Afghans. Walls and parts of the roof collapsed on them even before they were aware of the concussive wave of sound and fury rolling over them. He had seen men picked up and thrown through the air, as if swatted by an invisible giant, their bodies pulverised by flying debris, even as he had been thrown down. Ears ringing, thoughts swirling, it took him moments to crawl up from the dirt and stand again. He was dazed, covered from head to foot in dust, but otherwise unhurt. Miraculously he had survived where so many others hadn’t. Through the choking cloud of debris a hole in the wall offered an escape, and he staggered towards it. Beyond it a curtain of fire raged, and he backed away from the furnace heat that washed over him, throwing his arms over his face.
He was retreating like that when the second missile struck and the remainder of the ceiling thundered down on him, forcing his sensations into that foggy void. His arms were still before his face, but their strength wasn’t what had spared him from being pulped. Other chunks of debris he’d fallen amongst helped prop up the crushing weight of the slab. Yet he was still trapped, and had no hope of dragging himself free. The slab promised to be his final marker.
Another missile struck towards the rear of the compound. The flash lit up the smoke that wreathed around him, and he felt the concussive force of the detonation almost instantaneously, the concrete on top of him thrumming like the skin of a drum, casting down grit and dust in his eyes. The corresponding boom compressed his eardrums. He screamed again…but it escaped his constricted chest as a plaintive wheeze.
‘Elbek!’ A voice responded, speaking in Russian. ‘Is that you? Where are you, Elbek?’
Elbek was one of his Chechen partners. 
Elbek was dead.
He could see the man’s crushed face a few feet away, his body mashed under more fallen concrete. He could smell Elbek’s blood and his voided bowel.
‘It’s me!’ he croaked.
‘Where’s Elbek?’ The voice had switched to English, for his sake.
‘He’s gone…please…you have to help me.’
Rocks clattered, and a figure loomed alongside him, crawling on hands and knees. He peered into the face of the man that would decide his future. The Chechen’s face was streaked with dirt, and blood trickled down his cheek. His sharp eyes played over him, and then slipped away. He had been disregarded. The Chechen began to crawl away, to claw at rocks to help him stand.
‘Please,’ he said. ‘Don’t leave me here like this.’
He would die beneath the rubble, choked or burnt to death. Should he survive he faced execution by the Taliban – for in their minds, who else could have guided the US missiles to their stronghold – or capture and imprisonment by the US forces who would deem him a traitor and enemy combatant.
‘There’s nothing I can do for you,’ the Chechen rasped. ‘Except give you a swift death.’
The Chechen had returned to his side, this time standing over him with an assault rifle hanging down by his side.
‘No,’ he pleaded. ‘Please. I don’t want to die like this.’
‘I don’t see any other way for you.’
‘I’m trapped. Yes. But you can get me free.’
‘What’s in it for me? I’ve wasted enough time here as it is.’ The Chechen wasn’t only talking about his need to flee before the US troops arrived to sweep the compound of survivors. He was angered that his deal with the Taliban, and the riches it promised him, was at an end. There was little to profit him in dragging another mercenary from the wreckage.
He strained against the rubble. It sank a fraction lower. ‘Ask anything of me, and I’ll do it.’
‘I need to go.’ The Chechen snorted and turned aside, not even bothering with delivering a mercy killing.
‘Wait!’ If he could, he would have lifted beseeching hands to the Chechen. ‘Help me. Save my life. Do that and I swear to you I’ll do the same for you a thousand times. Please, get me out of here, and I’ll do anything you want. Anything! I’ll fight for you. Even if it means dying for you!’
He didn’t know it then, but his pledge would be tested many times in the coming years, and through every trial he would stay true to his word. Even when asked to do the worst things imaginable. 

24 July 2017

Lipton Doubles, Flavour with personality - Advertising

A funny and original way to advert the new Lipton tea!

Advertising Agency: Isobar, Portugal
Design: Filipe SJ, David Carvalho
Copy: Paulo Costa
Project Management: Ana Inocêncio, Ana Boullosa
Backup Team: Cristiana Costa
Creative Director: David Carvalho
The source is Ads Of The World.

Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon - Great Escapes Blog Tour + Giveaway!

Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon 
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Great Escapes

I don't think that the first time you meet your boyfriend's friends is easy, and when one of them appears dead, you just want to run away! That's what Jill will have to face in the first escape with Greg and his buddies, she doesn't know them, but she will have to discover who killed Greg's best friend before someone is been murdered again...!
This is one of those books that you will suspect the girlfriend since the first moment; too pretty, too much money spend, too much venom said... but is she really the killer? Or some of the other friends have a dark secret to hide?
I really enjoyed trying to discover the killer in this book, it was a funny and quick read!
This is the ninth book of the Tourist Trap Series, but you can read it as standalone.
Ready for a killer party? 

Interested? Good luck in the Giveaway!

23 July 2017

Engaged In Trouble by Jenny B. Jones - Great Escapes Blog Tour + Giveaway

Engaged In Trouble by Jenny B. Jones
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Great Escapes
Rating: 4'5/5

Paisley has returned to her home village to take care of her inheritance, a wedding planner business... she just wants to stay there for a couple of months and then sell the business... but when she is the first suspect of one of her clients, all her plans will change!

"But my prince stopped our ceremony mid-vow, let go of my hand, told me it was over before God and gape-mouther man, and walked away. The only wedding gift I kept was a chrome toaster -with aspirations of tossing it into Evan's bathwater."

This is an hilarious book, were all the characters have a sweet and funny part on the plot, even when their life was not easy...
This is one of those books where the case is not the most important part of the book, this doesn't mean that it is not interesting, just that the best of the book are the characters and the neighborhood, it adds a little spice to the story! The crazy aunties with all her CIA ideas, the attractive neighbour and the nice co-workers will make Paisley start healing from her past and start being happy, maybe?
The bridezilla murder is not surprising, she wasn't a trustworthy person and her favourite hobby was to take advantage of the people around her secrets and dreams, so, who wouldn't want to kill her?
This is the first book of this series, but I can't wait to read the next one!
Who would want to kill you?

Interested? Good luck in the Giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here is an interview to the Author, to make you want to read more this book!

Q: Let me start with asking you to tell us a little bit about yourself.
A. I’ve been writing books for about ten years. I’ve written a little bit of everything—from YA to New Adult to Contemporary Romance to Inspy and now coozy. I live in Arkansas, home of Walmart, I’m a stray animal magnet, a news junkie, and a foster parent.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A. Forever. I can remember writing plays in first grade, creating puppets, and my teacher letting me put on a one-woman show. I’m not sure why my classmates didn’t beat me up at recess.
Q: Could you give us the highlights of your professional writing career including how you got your first writing break?
A. In 2005, I went to my first writing conference, totally clueless and overwhelmed. I had a book idea, but no complete book. In fact, I only had a few chapters written. I had a paid critique on those first chapters with author Kristin Billerbeck, and she spoke to a publisher about the work. Six months later, I had my first contract. (And still had yet to write the book.) So that book, In Between (free at all e-tailers), got my into publishing and changed my life, and then when I got the rights back to the book and rereleased it, it totally changed my life. I will forever be grateful to Kristin and that conference.
Q: Would you tell us about your current book release Engaged in Trouble?
A: Engaged in Trouble is my first cozy. I’d written a mystery YA series, but never attempted a mystery for adults. I love the cozy genre because it’s like an off-shoot of chick-lit, which is the genre and style that got me into publishing. I love writing with humour, love quirky characters, and love writing in first person.
Here’s the back cover blurb:
When a washed-up pop star inherits a wedding planning business, it’s all bouquets and bliss until a bride turns up dead.
Paisley Sutton shot to stardom as a teenage rock sensation, but ten years later that star has fizzled out, just like her bank account. When she unexpectedly inherits her aunt’s wedding planning business, Paisley leaves the glamour of Los Angeles for a charming small town in Arkansas. Thinking she’ll arrive in Sugar Creek and liquidate the moldly property, Paisley’s shocked to find Enchanted Events has experienced a major makeover and is now the place for brides. She’s got two months to keep Enchanted Events afloat if she wants to sell and rekindle her music career with the profits.
Paisley’s tossed into a world of vows and venues, but her most difficult challenge comes in the form of one demanding bride. When this Bridezilla’s found facedown in her cake, all fingers point to Paisley as the prime murder suspect. And she does not look good in prison orange.
This former pop princess will need the help of her gun-toting, ex-CIA grandmother and her handsome neighbour, Beau Hudson, to unravel the mystery and clear her good name.
As she and her unruly posse dig into Bridezilla’s life, she discovers the woman had a long list of enemies. The closer Paisley gets to the truth, the more her own life is in danger.
Love is in the air this wedding season, but before Paisley can help the ladies of Sugar Creek say, “I do,” she’s got to unveil a killer. Or find herself the next target.
Q: Where did you get your inspiration for Engaged in Trouble?
A: A year-and- a-half ago, I spontaneously and randomly flew to Oregon to attend a mystery writing intensive class. I went because I had a spy-themed YA I was thinking about writing. But toward the end of the class, the instructor pulled me aside and said, “You should write cozies.” And a light bulb just went OFF. And I thought, “I SHOULD write cozies!” A good portion of the general plot comes from a writing exercise we had to do in class. It also comes from the idea that I’m writing what I’d like to read—a mix of comedy, romance, and mystery. Sometimes it’s hard to find that trio.
Q: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
A: In all my books, especially Engaged in Trouble, I want readers to just have a mini-vacation from all the stresses of life. It’s my goal to make a reader smile, laugh, and just have a good time. I love to hear how a book has made someone happy or given them a little break from kids, bills, work, or the hectic world. We are surrounded by so much chaos—from politics to the news to our own lives. It is my absolute honor to bring some happiness, laughs, and respite to someone with a book.
Q: What inspires you to write?
A. Everything. Travel, TV, people-watching, reading Garden &Gun, movies, the news, nearly twenty years in education. I get inspiration from all of that and a ridiculous amount of caffeine. I’m constantly asking myself “What if…?” What if I woke up and didn’t remember who I was? What if that old lady in the elevator had a gun? What if the president always used a body double? What if…?
Q: Would you share with us what you are working on now?
A. Engaged in Trouble is book one in the Enchanted Events mystery series, so I’m working on book two right now. Royally in Trouble will see more development and conflict in the possible romance between Paisley and Beau, there will definitely be more of the retired CIA ladies helping her, and Paisley will get to use her new event-planning and murder-solving skills when the town hosts a Renaissance festival. When Beau’s uncle is found murdered, it’s Beau who’s the prime suspect. Paisley and her crazy posse can’t let that happen, now can they?
Q: When you’re not writing what do you like to do?
A. I’m a foster mom of two children under six, so that’s my big time priority right now. I go to t-ball games, love movies, attend concerts when I can (I so want to see Bruno Mars), am a theater nerd, adore my church, travel when I can, LOVE the beach, and read lots of fiction, as well as boring books on clean eating (as I grab a bag of chips…). I’m kind of obsessed with Leah Remini’s documentary series on A&E on Scientology, eagerly anticipating Netflix’s second season of Stranger Things, and read celebrity gossip sites on the daily. At some point, I’m going to have to get real hobbies.

22 July 2017

Cute Forest Animals by Marko Rop

So cute illustrations by the artist Marko Rop.

The Detecting Duchess by Kate Parker - Blog Tour

Detecting Duchess by Kate Parker 
Genre: Historical Cozy Mystery
Source: Great Escapes
Rating: 4/5

This is a historical cozy mystery, with a brave main character that doesn't fear to face a murderer or an harpy, go Georgia! 

"I hadn't expected a missing person investigation to drop into my lap eight days before my wedding. I also hadn't expected the jolt of excitement I felt rush through my veins at the thought of working on one more Archivist Society case unfettered by matrimony."

With a hint of how was living in the aristocracy and being a woman, Georgia Fenchurch has a bookshop and is a member of the Archivist Society, to investigate crimes, like this case, a disappearance and missing gold. Georgia doesn't know where to start investigating this case, the client is hiding something, her missing friend is not the person she thinks and everyone who could have some information about the case is appearing dead... what's really behind this case?
This is a funny read, I had a good laugh with the Georgia lady's maid, Lucy, she will be a god help in the next cases, I am sure!
Georgia's mind is not only on this case, in the next weeks she will get married to the aristocrat Blackford, but with so many danger in their life, I am not sure they will arrive alive to their wedding, I was really scared that maybe neither of them would make it!
I love reading books where the woman is the main character and doesn't need a man to decide what to do in her life or to have an amazing adventure! Georgia was a good main character, she had love, good friends and a lot of mystery in her life, I wish my life has a little of that adventure!
This is the fifth book of the A Victorian Bookshop Mystery, but you can read it as standalone.
Ready to find the gold?

21 July 2017

Ozumii Wizard Fast Food Characters

The artist Ozumii Wizard has reimagined the famous characters we see in the Fast Foods, take a look...

Too Many Women In The Room by Joanne Guidoccio - Great Escapes Blog Tour + Giveaway!

Too Many Women in The Room by Joanne Guidoccio

Genre: Mystery
Source: Great Escapes
Rating: 4/5

The millionaire Gilda Greco has decided to be the silent parter of the new restaurant Xenia, but when the rehearsal dinner ends with a murder, she will have to rethink if becoming a murder suspect is worth the money she invested... Ready for a room full of potential killers?

He couldn’t believe he was following his wife’s advice. After twelve years of paying lip service to deep yoga breaths, mindfulness, and all the other New Age crap she espoused, he had finally found a use for it. His midnight run usually sorted out all the stress, but tonight was different. He still couldn’t shake the venom that had been directed his way.
To make matters worse, it had come from eight women, eight very different and very annoying women. He had bedded four, but right now he couldn’t imagine having sex with any of them. As for the untouched four, well, only one interested him, and it had nothing to do with her feminine wiles and everything to do with her healthy bank account.
He would have to take something to get through the night, something a lot stronger than his wife’s herbal teas. The remnants of an old Percocet prescription came to mind. Two capsules
might do the trick. The thought of a panacea, albeit a chemical one, calmed his racing thoughts.
A good night’s sleep would make a world of difference. And tomorrow, he would sort it out.
The light patter of feet distracted him. Definitely a woman’s gait. Her breath was even, neither shallow nor panting. Younger, maybe in her thirties. His pulse quickened, and a smile spread over his features. A welcome distraction. Just what he needed to erase the built-up stress. To hell with deep breathing, affirmations, and Percocet.

A womaniser has been killed by one of the women he shares the dinner with, all of them have a motive, who is the one that couldn't tolerate him any more? With so many secrets to hide, I was not surprised that the dinner ended with a victim!
In the beginning I was a little swamped by all the characters, too many information with just a few pages. This is the second book of the Gilda Greco series, you can read it as standalone, but you will be a little lost with all the family and friends connections, there are too many!
I liked very much Gilda's character, she always have resources and a positive mind.  And even if they had taken advantage of money before, she never stops trusting people, something we all must do! And let me tell you the truth, my favourite part of the book was when her aunties try to make a few enchantments to protect her, it was hilarious! 
I can't wait to read more of the Gilda adventures, and I am quite intrigued by her relation with the handsome detective Carlo, will they be able to repair the little problems they have? We'll see... 
If you like the cooking mysteries, this book is for you, and at the end there are a few recipes to enjoy at home, what else do you need?
In a room full of possible killers, who would be the one you suspect less?

Sounds interesting, don't you think? Here is your chance to read it, good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's a little excerpt from the author...

Affirmations for Writers

During my cancer journey, I read Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life, and developed an interest in affirmations. 

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation states an outcome or truth you wish to impress upon your mind. While the affirmation doesn’t actually make things happen, it can raise your vibration so that you are more receptive to the desired outcome.

At first wary, I slowly warmed up to the topic and adopted several of Louise’s suggestions:

Every cell of my body radiates health.
I relax and let my body heal itself.
I lovingly do everything I can to assist my body in maintaining physical health.

I also liked using the following mantra-like affirmation from French psychologist Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie:
Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.

Having experienced success with these health-based affirmations, I decided to use this technique to help achieve my writing goals. And I wanted to create my own personal affirmations rather than piggy-backing on someone else’s success. 

Here are the affirmations I’ve used during the past nine years of my writing journey:

My words flow easily.
Each day, I write with confidence and enthusiasm.
I submit a manuscript that is well received by a publishing house.
I write 50,000 words of a first draft during the month of November.
Joyful and creative, I delight in inspiring and motivating others with my written work.

Tips for Writing and Using Affirmations

1. Use the first person and the present tense. 
2. Keep the affirmations brief and limited. Focus on one or two until you’ve incorporated them into your psyche.
3. Don’t sabotage yourself with an unrealistic goal. For example, “My book achieves best-seller status” is too much of a jump for an unpublished writer who is struggling with the first draft of her book. 
4. Practice your affirmations each day. You can say them first thing in the morning, while looking in the mirror, or while exercising. 

5. Write down your affirmations. You can stick them on your mirror or bulletin board, post them on your computer, or carry them in your purse or wallet.

11 July 2017

An Act Of Silence by Colette McBeth - Blog Tour

Today I have the pleasure to introduce you An Act Of Silence by Colette McBeth, take a look at the original plot...

These are the facts I collect. 
My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him. They next morning she was found in an allotment. 
Mariela is dead. 
Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning
Linda Moscow loves her son; it's her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she's not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes in to protect him?
She's done it before, and the guilt nearly killed her.

Sounds interesting? I am sure that after reading the excerpt you will not be able to stand without reading the full book! Enjoy! ;)


It’s her house. My subconscious is playing tricks, has lured me here knowing that if I was in full control of my faculties this is the last place I would have chosen. The vision of it rearing up in
front of me, half lit by a stuttering streetlight, produces a violence in my gut. Why here? Why not a friend’s house, or Palab’s? Anywhere. 
A deep phlegmy laugh crackles through the night air. Someone’s been smoking too many Marlboro reds. But there’s no one else around. It is my laugh. And suddenly I know what’s so funny. The truth, that’s what. This is the place. The only place. Who else was I going to turn to? She knows who I am, underneath the bullshit and the expensive suits and the fame. That’s what everyone else wants, my so-called friends, my manager, the women. She loves me despite it. Another truth, they’re coming thick and fast tonight. Maybe that’s why I avoid her.She can see right through me. 
She’s my mother. 
I have to tell her. That’s why I have come here. I need her to look at me and see beyond the state I’m in and know, absolutely, no shadow of a fucking doubt, that despite everything I am still her son. I’m her boy, not faultless, far from it, but good at my heart.
I am not a murderer.
I need to hear her say the words: I believe you.
If I don’t have that, what else is left?

I let myself in. The blue numbers on the oven say 5.01. I want to wake her but then I always was a selfish bastard so I fight the urge, sit on my hands and let her sleep. As it happens, I don’t have very long to wait until her footsteps creak on the stairs. A warmth spreads through my veins, travels the length of me from my big toe to my fingertips and up through my head. It is hope. She is my hope and she’s here in the kitchen, flicking on the light. She hasn’t seen me, so I keep it casual and say, Milk, one sugar, please.
You’d think it is a fairly harmless request, but it doesn’t go down well.
She emits a scream. I hadn’t entertained the possibility that  my presence might give her a fright, it certainly wasn’t my intention. I should have thought it through, planned my arrival more carefully, but my cognitive abilities aren’t functioning at their peak right now, and I can’t turn back the clock.
We are where we are.
Her first words take a while to come out because after she recovers from the initial shock she spends a good while staring at me with a look of abject horror. It produces a sweat that beads on my forehead and chin and slides like worms down my back. I know I’m not looking my best but, to be fair, neither is she. Her hair would put Medusa to shame and her dressing gown, well, that should have been retired years ago. So I’m on the verge of saying, Shall we call it quits, when she beats me to it.
‘What have you done?’
I rerun her question in my head. What have you done? I heard it right first time. Why would she assume, before anything else, that I had done something wrong?
Because she always does.
My eyes tear up. The hope that had been kicking out so much heat fizzles to nothing.
I’m a grown man, universally acknowledged to be a success – though granted this current shitstorm isn’t my golden moment – but I need her trust, her love. Belief. I still need her.
She sees my tears. I wipe them away, embarrassed.
‘Oh, Gabriel,’ she says and holds me in a squeeze. ‘Tell me. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed.’
The hope ignites again.

I tell her about Mariela, as best I can; the details are a little sketchy even in my mind. I wasn’t exactly sober on the night and thirty sleepless hours have not improved my recall.
As I’m recounting the story and trying to gloss over the sex bit (there are things no mother needs to know about their son) it occurs to me that I can’t turn up at the police station in my current frame of mind. How can I sit in a room for hours and answer question after question? Christ, I don’t have any answers, none of it is straight in my head. I need a bit of space. Time to straighten myself out and collect my thoughts.
I ask her if I can borrow her car because this, it seems to me, is the obvious solution. She mutters something about needing it for a trip to Scotland. I ask for a bit of money too. It’s not like she won’t get it back. I have plenty, but walking to the cashpoint right now could be problematic. Someone would recognise me and, even if they didn’t, the police could trace my whereabouts.
That wouldn’t be good for either of us.
I wait for her response. I’d settle for a simple nod of her head. Something. Now is not the time for the silent treatment.
In the absence of a reply, I up the ante. ‘Someone is trying to frame me. You’re my mother. You know I couldn’t have done this . . .’
Say you believe me.
She closes her eyes as if she’s trying to summon sleep and the anger swells inside me.
‘Mum, please.’
Her eyes are open again, staring at something on my neck.
‘What’s that?’
I run my finger over the area in question. It’s a scratch, more of a gouge. Mariela and her nails. She wanted it rough. Don’t they all.
‘Oh that. I did it on a branch.’
She stares at it too long and I know what’s happening, her dedication to root out the worst in me is currently fastening itself to this cut on my neck.
‘Don’t do that,’ I beg. I sound pathetic. Can’t help it. She’s making my insides shrivel. I need her to hold me, kiss my head, tell me not to worry, It’s a mistake, I know you couldn’t have done it. I search her face for love but instead I read disappointment, disbelief, distrust.
‘If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.’
The word goes off like a siren.
‘You said, if I haven’t done anything wrong.’
‘Did I?’
‘You think I could have done this?’
My own mother doesn’t believe me. She sees right through to my soul and finds only dark, putrid matter inside. The hope is snuffed out. She was it. It all comes down to her. Always has. Her trust. She won’t give it. Can’t. I look to her for answers but all I find are more words: disdain, disapproval, disgust.

1 July 2017

Mercury by Margot Livesey - Blog Tour

Today I have the pleasure to introduce you to Mercury by Margot Livesey. Take a look at the original plot...

A taut emotional thriller about love, obsession, and the secrets that pull a family apart. Donald believes he knows all there is to know about seeing. An optician in suburban Boston, he rests assured that he and his wife, Viv, who works at the local stables, will live out quiet lives with their two children. Then Mercury -- a gorgeous young racehorse -- enters their lives and everything changes. Viv's friend Hilary has inherited Mercury from her brother after his mysterious death -- he was riding Mercury late one afternoon and the horse returned to the stables alone. When Hilary first brings Mercury to board at the stables everyone there is struck by his beauty and prowess, particularly Viv. As she rides him, Viv dreams of competing with Mercury, rebuilding the ambitions of grandeur that she held for herself before moving to the suburbs. But her daydreams soon morph into consuming desire, and her infatuation with the thoroughbred quickly escalates to obsession. By the time Donald understands the change that has come over Viv, it is too late to stop the impending fate that both their actions have wrought for them and their loved ones. A beautifully crafted, riveting novel about the ways in which relationships can be disrupted and, ultimately, destroyed by obsession, secrets, and ever-escalating lies.

Interesting, don't you think? Here are a few words from Margot Livesey explaining how this original idea came up on her mind...

And the Mercury began with a column I wrote for the Boston Globe about learning to shoot a gun. When the column was published, I got over a hundred emails and several phone calls, almost all from men, taking me to task for my views on gun control. One man left a message: “You’re just a Scottish immigrant. You’re lucky that there are Americans with guns ready to protect you.”

A month or two later I was having a drink with a Scottish friend who, like me, spends most of his time in the States. On his second glass of red wine he told me that the previous week, searching for something in the boot of his car, he had found a gun. His wife had bought it legally, to protect herself, but not bothered to mention it to him. They had met years ago at an anti war demonstration. Now he said sadly, “We used to believe the same things but we don’t any more.”

I was deep in another novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, but I was very struck both by how my column about guns had hit a nerve and by this different kind of infidelity which I had not seen in many novels. I had also long wanted to write about an ambitious woman. Gradually these two ideas converged with my desire to write something about vision. Of our five senses sight is the one we rely on most and yet it’s the one that’s most easily manipulated or deceived.

So I made my husband Donald – I named him after a Scottish king - an optometrist but I wasn’t sure at first what the focus of his wife, Viv’s, ambitions would be. A good friend has become an ardent rider and visiting the stables with her, I remembered how passionately I loved riding and horses as a teenager. And I thought this was a perfect passion for Viv because people have such different opinions about horses. Some people think it makes perfect sense to lavish time and money on these large animals. Others think it’s mad.

Writing Mercury required a good deal of research - for me always a very pleasurable part of writing. There were many visits to stables and conversations with equestrians. My optometrist was very helpful, as was the librarian at the school for the blind in Boston. And I had a wonderful time visiting pet shops and interviewing African Grey parrots who were not always as articulate as Donald’s parrot, Nabokov.

The biggest stretch was writing about guns, and I visited a number of gun shops in New Hampshire. They were often oddly cosy, with groups of men sitting around drinking coffee and eating donuts. When I explained about my novel, they were eager to help me get things right. To them there was nothing surprising about wanting to buy a gun. That required no explanation. What did need explaining was why I had waited so long. Talking to them I began to understand the deep divide in American culture and Viv might cross that divide.