The Wolf Is At Your Door~Simon Maltman

New York, 1987. Rory is a likable career thief originally from war-torn Belfast, planning out his next big score. A serial killer is murdering women in the city. But no bodies are ever found; just missing girls and cryptic plaques left on benches in Central Park. When the killer strikes too close to home, Rory becomes unhealthily obsessed with tracking him down. The cops begin to suspect Rory due to his lengthy criminal history, the press just want a sensational story, Rory’s partners in crime don’t want any heat, and the killers flourish in the chaos. “Sometimes it takes a thief to catch a killer”

What can I say?! I like a thief with a mission that’s been pushed by good. I had a bit of a soft spot for Rory-it can’t be easy living in a big and vibrant city (that never sleeps, they say) when you’ve been raised in a home country torn apart by war and death. His will for survival and energy were just amazingly well written-really pulled the reader in to be in his side. After all, thief isn’t really a likeable character but when he is a back story like this and determination to catch a killer, all can be forgiven!

Well written, well researched and well put together, Maltman has produced an excellent crime thriller worthy of rave reviews.

Author bio.

Simon Maltman is the author of novels, novellas and short stories, released with various publishers. An Amazon Bestseller from Northern Ireland he writes a range of crime fiction thrillers. A regular guest at festivals and events, he is the tour guide for Belfast Noir, and also a well known book reviewer for the likes of ITV and online journals. An established ‘Ulster Noir’ author, he also writes American-set high concept thrillers.

The Cursed Tarot~Killian Wolf

Everything you’ve heard about Wonderland is wrong.

Instead of falling through the looking glass, I’ve entered a cursed world where the tarot deck has come alive, there are impossible creatures that talk, and the high seas are deadly and filled with pirates.

My name’s Soren, and I’m not innocent. But my sister is and I’ll do anything to protect her. When my final con goes wrong and I steal a golden tarot card from a fortune teller that can open portals, I’m whisked away like Alice and the white rabbit, only it’s a spider who beckons me and Tarotland makes Wonderland look like a walk in the park.

I wake up on the ship of the Devil himself who brands me a spy, trading one jail for another. He has a darkness in him that sends shivers down my spine. Still, there’s something about him that piques my curiosity.

All I want is to get back home to my sister, but the only way to do that is to get the Devil to release me, and steal the Ace of Wands, a weapon of great power inside of this world. Unfortunately, it’s being protected by the Empress’s magic, and she wants my head on a platter.

Unless I can steal the Ace of Wands, there’s no escape from this world, and I’ll never see my sister again.

When offered the chance to read an alternative spin on Alice in Wonderland, I snatched it with both hands! I LOVE Lewis Carroll and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland so much and have done since I was a little girl! However at first glance, we’ll the first several chapters actually, I couldn’t really compare the two or see any resemblance however it wasn’t so much a resemblance but more of an Easter Egg hunt (like the ones you find in DVD menus) and I picked up on little bits of other stories here and there.

The mystical spider Soren follows and has a fascination with actually gave me Charlottes Web vibes in a way! But Wolf’s angle here was clearly White Rabbit all the way! Those pesky pirates Soren literally falls in to seemed to develop in to more a more likeable bunch as time progresses! I love how characters have back stories of their own too! And those sudden whip-lash-inducing turns within the characters and their intentions are plenty!

The book was BIG, literally! I’m glad I read the digital copy because sometimes large books can be daunting at first, but the more I got in to it, the more I forgot about it’s size! I do also think as it’s part of a series of books, is there anyway it could have been condensed and made a tad shorter? As much as I loved reading Soren’s tale, I’m not sure I’ll be able to commit to following the series as books as large as this take up a LOT of time! Characters were well written and the descriptions beautiful, it was sad i a way as well; you could feel the betrayals when people you believed were on Soren’s side turned on her and showed they never were in the first place.

Author Bio

Killian Wolf is a Miami, Florida native who enjoys pirates, rum, and skulls as much as she loves writing about dark magick and sorcerers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology and a Master of Science in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy.

Killian writes books about obtaining magical powers, and stepping into other dimensions. She lives in England with her husband, a tornado of a cat, and the most timid snake you’d ever meet.

When she isn’t writing, you might find her at an Archaeological dig, rock climbing, or sipping on dark spiced rum while working on a painting.

Thank you to ZooLoo’s Book Tours for offering me this chance to read a book I’d never thought to read before.

Girl Out Of Sight~Helen Matthews

How well do you know your neighbours? Odetta’s life has shrunk to a daily round of drudgery, running her father’s grocery store in a remote Albanian village. One day, an enigmatic stranger from Tirana turns up, promising her an exciting career in London. Odeta’s life is about to change, but not in the way she expected. Kate, a journalist, lives on a quiet London street, but her seemingly perfect life is filled with anxiety for her son, Ben. The boy is obsessed with online gaming but struggles to make friends. Kate sets out to create a simpler life for her family, disconnects them from the internet, and tries to build a community on her street. On a visit to her home village in Wales, Kate is forced to confront a secret from her past. But even greater danger lies where she lives. Perhaps her neighbours are not the friendly community they seem at first glance…

As a resident of Wales, not born but most certainly bred, I jumped on the chance my to have a space in this tour! And it did not disappoint!

Enigmatic and strong characters, amazing stamina and the support of a fantastic pace of writing with such a prominent and current theme focusing on human trafficking it just makes you wonder how much do you really know about those who are living close by. And to think that this sort of organised crime can be happening in a small town is bone shaking to the very core. Especially as it does happen!

I didn’t manage to read this in one sitting like some fellow tour-bloggers, but I did struggle to put it down! The descriptions of places and the emotions of characters and suspense was just incredible and I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to read Girl Out Of Sight!

Author Bio.

Helen Matthews writes page-turning psychological suspense and suspense thrillers and is fascinated by the darker side of human nature and how a life can change in an instant. Look out for  ‘Girl Out of Sight’ coming soon from Darkstroke Books. It’s a second edition of a prize-winning title from 2017 After Leaving the Village. 

Psychological suspense mystery The Girl in the Van’ was published earlier this year by Darkstroke Books and has been longlisted in the prestigious 2022 Pageturner Book Awards. It’s a chilling page-turner that touches on serious and complex themes including individual grief and vulnerability, as well as societal responsibilities towards the disadvantaged and dispossessed. 

Previous books include ‘Facade’ twisty noir about tragedy, guilt and revenge in a family where ‘silence echoes louder than truth’ and ‘Lies Behind the Ruin’ domestic noir set in France. 

Helen is an ambassador for the charity Unseen UK and available to give talks at festivals, author events and to local groups about the themes in her novels.

I’d like to thank ZooLoo’s Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read Matthews’ latest novel and share my thoughts.

The Devil’s House~ JM O’Rourke

A killer, silent for ten years. Now he’s back.

Ten years ago, three teens were murdered at a summer party in sleepy little Meadowstown. One of their friends was convicted of the murders and has been in a mental hospital ever since.

But now items are turning up which could have only been taken from the victims on that fateful night. Is it possible there was more than one killer? Or has the wrong person been convicted?

Det Sergeant Jack Brody of the Major Crimes Investigation Unit is sent to investigate. And comes up against apathetic local police who are determined to resist his every move.

Brody isn’t easily deterred. He pushes hard and becomes convinced the murderer is still out there, is stirring back to life, preparing to choose another victim. Brody summons the rest of his team, and they race to find the killer before he or she can strike again.

But this little town has some very dark secrets, and as Brody begins to uncover the horrifying truth, he realises that no-one here is safe, that even he and his team may be in terrible danger…

The Devil’s House – the first in the gripping crime series featuring DS Jack Brody.

I’m going to put this out there first; the book was good and intriguing. DS Jack Brody was well written and the descriptions were really very good.

I don’t know much about Ireland-I’ve never been but I really hope to someday, but the small-town goings-on and attitudes seem to fit exceedingly well (I’ve lived in rural areas and small towns and it’s been the same vibes and judgements wherever I’ve been). The geography is described in such a way that I can see it in my mind and the people always seem to be the sort of people you can place in your own hometown, which I liked-it made the story have more reality to it.

There was suspense and suspicions but I feel like there could have easily been more. As this is the first in a series, I’m hoping that O’Rourke contributes to this further in the next book.

Author Bio.

Originating from Mayo in the west of Ireland, O’Rourke spent much of his life away, in the US, UK, Europe, Jersey in the Channel Islands and various parts of Ireland. Hi describes his younger years as being incredibly restless. He left home and school at 16 to spread his wings and has tried his hand at everything from barman, labourer, staff newspaper reporter, soldier in the Irish army, station foreman with London Underground, mason, and many more besides, but later returned to education as a mature student in the 200’s and now holds a BA in history and sociology from the National University of Ireland at Maynooth, and an M.Phil in creative writing (first class honours with distinction) from Trinity College Dublin.

Before writing he was even a civilian employee of the Irish police, An Garda Síochána-which explains the descriptions and knowledge of the Irish police force.

Under the name of Michael Scanlon (O’Rourke’s birth name) he published for the first time in 2019 by Bookouture with the first of three crime novels.

The Devil’s House is his first police thriller with Inkubator Books.

I’d like to thank ZooLoo’s Book Tours who gave me the opportunity to read this book and provided me a digital copy for review purposes.

Forgot Me Not~Miranda Rijks

Five years ago, Helen lost her husband. Now she may lose her life.

Five years ago, Helen’s husband Paul went missing while skiing in the Swiss Alps. His body was never found, but he is presumed dead because no-one could have survived a night on that freezing mountainside.

It took Helen a long time to get over her loss, but now she has pulled her life back together – she is an acclaimed interior designer in a loving relationship with a new man.

Even better, Helen has just been offered her dream project, renovating a luxurious chalet in an idyllic location. There’s only one catch – it’s right next to the resort where Paul went missing.

She decides to take the job anyway, convincing herself that a visit to the scene of her great tragedy will actually be good for her, that it will give her a chance to lay old demons to rest.

But soon after she arrives, she makes an utterly shocking discovery and finds herself caught up in a nightmarish web of treachery and deceit where nothing is as it seems.

Only one thing is certain – the mountains want to claim another body…

Well that was a thrill ride of a book! I devoured it in a few days! There were time hops and changes of character narratives but those were clearly defined and made for smooth, transitional reading which just made sense. The characters were strongly written and plot was good-couldn’t argue with the story at all! At first I was umm-ing and ahh-ing at timings and thinking it was going to be a plot riddled with holes, but the more I read on, the more things added up and put pieces in place where they ought to be.

Having been to Switzerland, it was so nice to read a story set in this beautiful country and made me feel like I was back there (without the hefty flight and hotel costs!) and I do want to know what happened to Orla after the final page was read! Honestly this is a book I really recommend and would love to read more of Rijks’ works in the future.

Author Bio

Miranda Rijks is a writer of psychological thrillers and suspense novels. She has an eclectic background ranging from law to running a garden centre. She’s been writing all of her life and has a Masters in writing. A couple of years ago she decided to ditch the business plans and press releases and now she’s living the dream, writing suspense novels full time. She lives in Sussex, England with her Dutch husband, musician daughter and black Labrador.

I’d like to thank Zoe over at ZooLoo’s Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

The Perfect Husband~Ian Maitland

Laura thought Robert was too good to be true. She got that right.

A small-town barbeque in summer’s dying days. There, gentle, bookish Laura meets a man who makes her laugh, hangs on her every word.

He’s the one. Isn’t he?

But once Laura falls pregnant, Robert’s mask slips further. She can never quite keep him happy. He is cold and judgemental with a temper that can flare up at any moment. He goes out for hours and won’t tell her where he’s been, he even locks her own door against her.

Laura realises she is living with a total stranger, a man governed by dark impulses and darker secrets who seems determined to gain control of every part of her life. Who is this man she’s living with and what terrible things has he done?

As Laura slowly discovers the truth about Robert, she begins to realise that she and her unborn child are in terrible danger. And finally she understands she will have to answer one terrifying question – how far am I willing to go to protect my baby?

I first came across Ian Maitland earlier this year and his book The Girl Downstairs, which was passed on to me by a blog organiser/friend and I devoured it on a mini trip to Italy over Easter. I was so eager to read more of Maitland’s novels so when this opportunity landed in my inbox, how could I say no?

I loved the concept and idea behind The Perfect Husband, however I do feel the book needed to come with a trigger warning because the description of coercion, gas-lighting, financial and physical abuse throughout the book and couldn’t be avoided. I felt uneasy and it stirred up a lot for me which made it an uneasy read for a lot of the time. Having said that, I did find that Laura was a frustratingly sweet character who was naive and believed in the best side of every person-much to her downfall.

A lot of the time you weren’t sure if what was being described from Laura’s point of view was actually happening or if it was her running through the worst case scenario in her mind, confusing at times but still very well written. I was sorry she was betrayed over again and had hoped for more of a future for her, I was cross with Andrew and felt he led her down the garden path a bit too much in order to get why he needed-it still seems to me that there is more to him than meets the eye.

Overall, if you’ve no experience with domestic abuse and are unlikely to feel somewhat triggered by the topic , it’s a good read that captures the mindset of the abused in a way that can only be described as well researched if not observed first hand. However, if you’ve ever witnessed or been through situations like these I’d say probably best to avoid this particular title-go ad read The Girl Downstairs instead.

Author Bio.

Iain Maitland is the author of three previous psych thrillers, The Scribbler (2020), Mr Todd’s Reckoning (2019) and Sweet William (2017), all published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband.

Mr Todd’s Reckoning is coming to the big screen in 2023, courtesy of Infinity Hill, the team behind the award-winning BBC TV series Staged, starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen. Iain is also the author of two memoirs, Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder, 2016), a book of letters written to his eldest son who experienced depression and anorexia, and (co-authored with Michael) Out Of The Madhouse (Jessica Kingsley, 2018). He is also an Ambassador for Stem4, the teenage mental health charity. He talks regularly about mental health issues in schools and colleges and workplaces.

This review was supported by ZooLoo’s Book Tours who provided a copy of the book via the author to be red for review

Alias Emma~Ava Glass

Emma Makepeace is about to have the longest night of her life.

She’s on her first major operation with a shadowy government organisation known only as ‘the Agency’, assigned to track down and save an innocent man wanted by the Russian government.

All Emma has to do is bring him in to MI6 before sunrise, and before an assassination team gets to him first.

But the Russians have hacked the city’s CCTV cameras. There are spies all over London searching for the two of them. And her target, Michael Primalov, doesn’t want to be rescued.

As London sleeps, a battle is taking place on its streets as Emma fights to keep Michael alive.

But what sort of reception awaits them if and when they get to MI6?

And why do the Russians seem to be ahead of them every step of the way?

WHAT A BOOK!!!!! Alias Emma has been described as Killing Eve crossed with James Bond by other writers and, despite not having watched Killing Eve (please don’t come after me with pitchforks) I can whole heartedly say this is one of the best reads of the year for me!

Firstly a female spy!!!!! Got to love the girl power here-especially as Emma was in the Armed Forces and caught the eyes of important people simply by doing her job and being a clever and fast thinking woman. Secondly a really likeable mentor who backed Emma 100% and then thirdly; a smart and caring man who needed saving from the bad guys.

I don’t know London well but the places described and the routes were written in a way that made me feel I was going along on the race against time with Emma and Michael. Filled with suspense and the back stories were written in so well that there was no confusion with the time hops either.

Alias Emma is the first in a series of novels for Ava Glass and I really can’t wait to read the next one!

Author Bio.

Ava Glass is a pseudonym for an internationally bestselling author who has sold over two and a half million copies of her books worldwide. They have been translated into 25 languages and have been bestsellers in multiple countries. By concealing her true identity, she is hoping to reach an entirely new set of readers with Alias Emma. Glass originally worked as a crime reporter and civil servant. Her time working for the government introduced her to the world of spies, and she’s been fascinated by them ever since. She lives in the south of England.

I was given a free copy of Alias Emma via the Motherload Book Club, who worked in partnership with Cornerstone (Penguin Books) to give away 10 copies to club members.

The Shape of Velvet; Guest Post.

A friend very dear to me, who I’ve worked with and become quite close to over the past two years, has used her (amazing and genius) creativity to share with the world her story and her life. I implore you, whoever you are, to read and share this blog. Talk about it with your friends, family, children and colleagues. This is a story heard too often and too often those who cause the scars and pain are able to walk away as if it never happened. And it has to stop.

Onwards and upwards 

Updated: 1 day ago

Is it me? What I’m I doing… sometimes I feel like saying “well that’s a wrap”, maybe I should just thank people for their support and move on, but there’s a bigger picture than that. I was naive in thinking it would come to an end. Firstly with how many people are affected by this and how far it goes back… and when someone has gotten away with this for so long they just keep getting more and more dangerous and smug. I’ve been unable to talk about some of my feelings for the last year or so as there has been a police investigation going on, I’m still unable to share parts however what I can shine a light on I will. The investigation is over, unfortunately this is due to lack of evidence… but obviously we have no evidence it was years ago and my mother is being let’s say less than helpful. It’s frustrating, it’s upsetting but it’s not surprising.

Firstly before I start let’s run over a few points, a bit of a recap because I know friends, foes and ‘neutral’ parties will be reading this and I think it’s good to get some things out of the way firstly before I spill my feelings out once again. I’m aware I’m acting out of emotion they probably want this, it’s what narcissistic people do, they work on making us look crazy… I play into their hands, yep I’m self aware of that, but I have my reasons and I’m using my voice and my outlet because I’m an adult and that’s my prerogative.

If you have read all my other blogs then you can probably skip this part… if you haven’t read The shape of my art then none of this will make sense.

  • Yeah I tried to rebuild a relationship with my mum. She was ill I was naive, I tried way to hard and I regret it, now people are using this against all the facts.
  • Abusive people don’t show their true colours to everyone. They can be kind and charming when they need to be.
  • Kids often don’t realise what’s abusive or not, growing up in a toxic environment is confusing on many levels.
  • It doesn’t matter when you speak up or how much time has past, the truth is the truth end of.
  • All these people are not lying, in fact many are still staying quiet.
  • Yes when I was trying to make amends with my mother I let my daughter start to build a relationship with her too, this fills me with guilt and i’m gutted that I did this but I’m still a good mum.
  • It doesn’t matter if it ‘hasn’t happened to you’ I’m telling you now chances are if you live in Brecon you know someone even a friend of a friend who is somehow connected to this…
  • The reason I kicked off back last year about this was a younger family member came to me concerned about a few factors and as an adult I couldn’t stay quiet but I can’t get the authorities to listen.
  • Trust me, if I knew how bad some of it was there is no way I would have continued to play happy families for so long! Even I’m sickened and shocked by it all.
  • I don’t give a fuck that my old neighbours have seen me playing nice and taking part in the family for a brief part in my life, this was literally a fleeting moment, trust me now what happens behind closed doors is always a different story to people like that, totally get that it might seem odd to people that for a few years I try to forgive and forget. I was trying to do what I thought was right… remember I grew up in a abusive household where I wasn’t in control and my feelings never came first, so pushing aside my needs for the sake of others is engrained in me, also unfortunately we were very well trained at acting happy.
  • The people who read this, if you don’t believe me or the others ok, that’s up to you but If anything comes from this at all please, please, PLEASE let it be that you give this blog the benefit of the doubt and you stop anyone you know with a young daughter from going around that house or meeting up with him, being friends with him on social media. That is literally all that I ask, and that anyone who thinks they can help by sharing this blog does so, you don’t have to explain any of your experiences if you don’t want to, but by sharing we can spread some awareness but also show our support for each other and hopefully protect someone.
  • I got caught up in the romantic idea of having a ‘normal’ family and got carried away with having a mum while dismissing all my negative feelings that were damaging my mental health and having an effect on my judgment.
  • Why would any of us lie? What have we got to gain? I still have to walk around this town, think about that.
  • If someone came to you with disturbing information and you yourself had past experiences that were connected what would you do? Don’t begin to judge me if you have never been in my situation.
  • Some younger family members are saying i’m lying, I don’t blame them at all for any of their parts, they are children and they have a right to do what they feel is best. I want no negativity towards them at all.

Great, now that’s out the way… I don’t usually want loads of people reading my blogs, 30-40 views to me is always a comfortable number, however this one I want to be noticed more I guess. So again I’m asking if you can share please do.

My counsellor asked me again what I got from my blog. She asked what I wanted to achieve from sharing them. That question has been on my mind the last few days. It’s tricky, I’m still not sure, I think I want justice, I think I want awareness, I think I want to be heard, or I just need to do them perhaps. This one has been a long time coming well over a year in fact. I’ve been writing bits of this blog as I’ve been going through the police process, it also coincided with a stressful pregnancy and complicated birth (which is now done and Lunar is thriving). It’s been wild and life’s had ups and downs but as I’ve learnt over the past year or so story’s get told and life moves on. The phrase “it is what it is” is one I find myself using a lot in conversations. So here are a few of my diary entries for the last year that i’ve edited to make this blog-

The Blog

It was early hours of the morning, an unknown number was ringing me, that’s never good is it?!? It was the police, my life had always been hectic so the police ringing between the hours of 2am-5am wasn’t all that much of a shock unfortunately. My brother had almost died by suicide, I could hear him crying while the police spoke to me. Processing that kind of phone call is tricky, triggering and will really ruin a nights sleep.

The next day after he was released from the hospital I sat in a jail cell with him, he was confused and hurt, we were both exhausted. His mental health was extremely worrying, my anger growing. Why was I so angry? I was angry because I was sitting in a cell with my brother, I was thinking he doesn’t belong here. He belongs somewhere, but it’s not here… it was a battle, phone calls, police, I was almost begging for him to be sectioned to give me time to think of a more permanent solution, to get him help. I knew that the state he was in he would harm himself given the chance. I wasn’t going to let that happen, he is my family. I received a text from a number I’ve never had saved in my phone. It was from my mother, she was as cold as ever, “don’t let him home with you, he needs help”. There was no, ‘tell him I love him’, there was no ‘I want to help you, this is what we are going to do’, or no ‘what can I do to help’ … nothing, it reminded me how I used to feel as a child when she would do nothing when we needed her.

When she got ill I put aside all my hate, all my anger, all my frustrations and so much more. Because I thought that’s what I should do, she had cancer and I wanted to be a good person. After receiving that cold, inpersonal text from her it became apparent that she was still the same unloving, unsupportive cold person who’s first priority would always be herself.

I felt like I was going to pass out, I’d been at the police station for hours finally I’d got my brother into a unit where firstly he could detox in a safe environment and his mental health could be assessed while myself and other family members tried to get him into a rehab. I got home and had a shower where I cried. I took some deep breaths as the water washed away the day.

Some of my family members and myself spent the next few weeks sorting out a rehab while my brother waited for us to help. We love him, so we helped him, because that’s what family are meant to do! The NHS unfortunately don’t offer much help, and it’s all very tricky.

It was after this I decided enough was enough, we needed to open up about our childhood. It’s been difficult, from police interviews, to emails, to meetings and phone calls it’s all exhausting. I’ve unfortunately had police interviews before as a teenager, I’m open about this because I can admit my own wrong doings and can see that I was in no ways an easy adolescent. However I never deserved to get treated the way I did in my own home, the same with my siblings.

The police investigation was in many ways positive, my interview was filmed, it was sensitive, dignified and safe. That side of the process came with exhausting challenges however also relief in being believed. I wish I could share more details. I didn’t go to work the day after my interview because I was just so tired and I was throwing up. I was also pregnant at the time, I’ve been very open with my management and work colleagues through this process, which has been helpful on many levels. I also understand that this isn’t always the case for some people so I’m grateful for my support system.

I had a counselling session and I remember thinking after, “fuck do I have PTSD”… I grew up to afraid to sleep some nights and I have long lasting effects from those experiences. (FYI I also know some of my problems are down to my nerodivergent traits I believe i’ve mentioned that before in some past blogs). Counselling has helped me become much more self aware, it’s expensive though!

I used to live right across from my mother, that was tricky there was a time when I wouldn’t talk to her at all so living across from her was awkward! Then she started to creep back into my life and her illness got to my empathetic side. I regret this, I always see post on social media like “don’t hold grudges, you will regret not speaking to family members when they are gone” and all that blah, blah. This is toxic and a harmful message to push on people. So now I take my pills, I do my counselling, I create art and write to help regulate my emotions and intrusive thoughts… while they walk around calling me all sorts and get a sympathetic ear from people who don’t ask too many questions. But that’s fine, we all get freedom of speech right…

We live in a world where the people who come forward are more likely to get a backlash for speaking the truth than the perpetrators who committed the crimes are! It’s easier to pass off the truth as “causing a fuss”… we get told “be a voice, speak out” but then we get told to “be careful what information you share”. It’s frustrating too because you can tell that the police generally believe you when it comes to historical investigations, but they did make it very clear from the start “they are almost impossible to prove” I get it, but do I think they did enough? It’s tricky. It’s a difficult job, I get it, they were actually lovely at some points, the communication wasn’t amazing, but it’s clear to see that it’s the system that doesn’t do enough. We live in a world built up by angry men, for angry men to live in. And I know many people will disagree with that view, but think about… really think, imagine how hard it is to be in a scenario where you have to go up against someone who has constantly got away with disgusting misogynist behaviour in a world with a system run by misogynistic men. Fuck it’s frustrating, there are so many hoops I feel like a show pony from all the jumping!

When I posted my blog (The shape of my art) it got shared and commented as to be expected I guess, what wasn’t to be expected was the volume of messages and comments from people who had very creepy and dangerous experiences. I’m so glad I decided to write and share that blog! Yes there were times I thought maybe I’ve overshared, even though I held back. It’s a tricky one for sure right, how much is too much? How much isn’t enough? Why can’t we all just say what happened and be believed! I’m angry, but I’m also oddly at peace with some aspects of the last year, I feel more supported. When I got messages and I heard that people I knew and people I didn’t know had started talking about their experience because of the blog it was both as if a weight had been lifted because I knew people believed me but It was also triggering and distressing because I’m good at putting myself into how someone feels so my empathy became a little hard to navigate.

Some of the stories I was being told really got to me, I mean how can someone get away with all of that! Why is no one doing anything! And not just him, ALL MEN yes I said it, come at me. Firstly I know not all men are bad. Obviously but they have each other’s backs right?…Or they stay silent, FYI disapproving from a distance but keeping quiet isn’t helpful it’s harmful. We all need to speak up more, and trust me I get it I’ve been there we are the ones who get labelled as “difficult” or “starting trouble”. It’s funny right when men get caught out it’s always “oh she’s attention seeking” it’s like their ‘go to’.

It needs to be talked about more so lets say a ‘man’ hypothetically speaking (wink if you know you know right…) in a position of trust perhaps he’s a taxi driver, cadet volunteer, bouncer, personal trainer, fire fighter, or even an paramedic but he uses these roles to get away with harassing behaviour and goes for many years undetected. Then imagine it get’s even worse, he uses these jobs to make himself seam more and more trustworthy, safe, friendly, then he manages to get peoples personal details, such as addresses and phone numbers… hypothetically speaking…*winks again* sigh. This isn’t working, it’s hunting and young women and girls are the prey, how do you stop this?

So what’s a historical investigation? Again I can’t give all the information I’d like from my experiences, however talking on a much wider level anything that happened to someone as a child that is reported when they become an adult or after an amount of time has past is ‘historical’ and difficult to prove without, evidence, witnesses, physical evidence or photos etc. so yeah, it’s basically jumping through hoops hoping for some kind of miracle, and it takes years in some cases and unfortunately more than often gets dragged out so long that providing proof is difficult so a survivors feel as if their life’s are put on hold for so long they end up dropping the case. However, all crimes need to be reported when possible, big, small, historical or recent when something is logged at least it’s on file and can be used in connection with something one day if needed. I’m really not trying to put anyone off from seeking justice, or talk anyone into something they don’t want to do, I just want to be open about my feelings.

I found out the case had been dropped via a phone call, my heart sank when an unknown number rang me, it’s funny how you just know when bad news is coming isn’t it. I had a fairly lengthy conversation with the leading officer, again I can’t disclose too much information. She apologised for not being able to get us Justice, I thanked her for her time, and like that the phone call was over like the investigation. I lay my head on my bed and cried, thinking to myself ‘it’s all been for nothing’. I gave myself a little time, shortly after that my phone rang reminding me I had a meeting with some wedding clients. I had to snap out of my disappointment and carry on with my day, because in these situations that’s what we must do. We have no choice, it’s not fair and it’s hard, but such is life.

It’s gross and part of me would I love to share more details but that’s also unfair on others and that’s not me. Admittedly I wish more people would speak out more openly, speak, whisper, shout however you need to get your words out they matter, they are important, they will help others, invite people into your conversations, knowledge is power and we need to take our power back.

Ive grown from this, it hasn’t made me less of a person, it’s made me better, stronger, more empathetic, mindful, I know now that I have people…

Take a read at the blog that kicked it all off and if you feel you can help in any way please do. This is all true, in fact it’s not even the worst I could have written more, I could have got darker, this may seem like a rant however it’s the chaos I’ve lived. The shape of my art

It’s not a wrap though, let’s get that straight. Thank you everyone for your support and sticking with us.

My Art

So I also like to put some art into my blogs… after the case was dropped I decided to do some long exposures. Part of me wanted to lose my cool, to pick something and throw it, to scream loud and release my anger. BUT, that isn’t me now, I’m not that person. So instead I did a controlled long exposure of how I felt, this is all done in camera, I used a ring light. I basically just moved around really slowly with my shutter open, it was very therapeutic!

These are also long exposure, I really sympathise with anyone who has tried to get justice or awareness and has failed to do so, it’s tricky, it makes us feels small, but it’s when we feel small and lost that we can also become powerful, because that’s when we can find like minded people…

We had a night away last week, we stayed in a lovely B&B and visited the beach, we have two young children so of course there were a few stressful moments however in all it was a successful little family trip, it had laughter, love and a few tears but we all made some lovely memories. I took a 10 minutes walk along the beach on my own to take some photos, I stood in the sea and remembered the person I was a a few years ago, how far I’ve come and how far i still have to go, I felt happiness wash over me as the sea rushed to my feet. Sometimes life can seam very black and white, good vs bad, right vs wrong… however it’s much more complex than that isn’t it?

I did these images last week before I knew the case was getting dropped, I was feeling a little off about life I guess and wanted to do something meaningful. these images represent coping mechanisms but also ambition for change. I had also just got out of the shower and wasn’t dressed yet, like other blogs I often use my skin as a tool in my art work. I hate how our bodies have been over sexualised in not only the media but also our artwork, I love the simplicity of skin without clothing in images however when we do this our images get classified as ‘nudes’. I didn’t use any flash lighting just high ISO in camera. I really like the slightly grainy look and moodiness to them.

I did these images a while ago, I was pregnant at the time and the investigation was in full swing, I was having some really full on nightmares and hormonal. I guess I reopened some doors that were stressing me out! I really like these images though, I’ve already shared them before in an older blog however they are definitely relative to this one!

Velvet’s blog can be found here

The Forgotten Girl~Daco S.Auffenorde

She lost her memory. Now she might lose her life. A beautiful woman wakes in a hospital bed, t confused. She’s been in a coma for weeks. And can only remember her first name—Blue. Blue learns she fell from a window on the fourth floor of a hotel. Did she jump? Or was she pushed? To discover the truth, Blue must figure out who she is and what she was doing in that hotel. And she needs to do it fast. Because someone is out there, hunting Blue down, waiting for an opportunity to strike. Not knowing where to turn or who to trust, Blue must rely on her instincts to survive. Gradually, her memories begin to return, and they’re darker than she could ever have imagined. Will she put the pieces of her life back together before she’s silenced forever?

The premise of The Forgotten Girl really lured me in, despite the book being quite a large read with a lot of pages. However I did find it longer than it needed to be by about 100-150 pages and I was highly wary of the characters Lorraine and DeLuca, and something t about the way Blue suddenly had this amazing friend willing to support her just didn’t sit right at all. Plus the fact Blue was overly happy to share her memory loss with people she would certainly not have known prior to her fall seemed like a gamble to me. 

I did like Blue’s mother and her farm hands, however the book wasn’t sitting right in my brain, and I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve been in a massive reading slump this year with some time consuming personal and family issues or if it just didn’t have that spark for me.

On the whole it was a great idea, punctually perfect and use of descriptions bought it all to life and I applaud Auffendore for a genius idea but I hope for future books she keeps them slightly shorter and a little more enticing. The plot twist was good but just not quite at the top of the game in my opinion.

Author Bio

Daco S. Auffenorde is an award-winning author of thriller and suspense stories. She’s discussed her books in multiple interviews, including Bob Kustra’s National Public Radio show Reader’s Corner and George R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema. The daughter of a physicist, Daco is a southern girl from Huntsville, Alabama (known as Rocket City for its role in building the rocket that took astronauts into space), who pens fast-paced, edge-of-your seat tales that keep the reader guessing.

Daco holds a B.A. and M.A.S. from The University of Alabama in Huntsville and a J.D. from the Cumberland School of Law. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Alabama Writers’ Forum, Authors Guild, and Alabama State Bar. When she’s not writing or reading, she enjoys long hikes, painting with watercolors, and hacking away at golf balls.

The Forgotten Girl is her first psychological thriller with Inkubator Books.

A Stranger in the House~Shari Lapena

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind. There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town. The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good. Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

A Stranger in the House isn’t the first of Lapena’s books I’ve read (the first being The Couple Next Door-which I highly recommend!) and I really did enjoy it! Lapena has earned herself the Queen of The One-Sit Read and it’s not hard to see why; the way she writes is pure gold and the plot twists are so insane-yet-believable that it just keeps you enthralled even past the final page!

Karen and Tom are written so well; I wanted to dislike them but actually for a really long time I loved this couple! Brigid always came across as that nosey neighbour we all try to avoid and who loves to hear the sound of their own voice-and as the plot progresses she becomes a really nasty piece of work; granted still not entirely sure if it’s down to her wanting something she can’t have and manipulating the situation to get it or if she’s just been pushed over the edge by her obsession-quite probably both now I continue to think about. Karen was just fantastic! Without giving away the major plot twist, I was left craving more and hoping for a sequel!

If A Stranger in the House we’re ever to be made in to a TV adaptation, I would expect more of a follow up at the end, but I think it would make for easy viewing as there’s no complicated time hops or character changes and the plot twist was intense but without being confusing-like some plot twists can be, and I didn’t have to read that chapter twice to grasp it either. A perfect ending for a reader who likes loose ends tied up but also likes a bit of a “well I know the drama that’s coming next! Get popcorn!” moment.

I highly recommend Lapena’s books all round-despite having only read half of the available titles to date, the characters are written in such a way that you can relate to them somehow on a certain level or relate to a circumstance that surrounds them. Lapena writes so that you always try to find a level of empathy and then likes to rip the carpet out from under you with the most satisfying and delicious dog-leg turn that’s so sharp you end up coming around the corner and bumping in to your own back!

Author Bio.

Prior to being an incredible novelist, Shari Lapena was a Canadian born lawyer then English teacher. Her first novel Things Go Flying was published in 2008 and she isn’t looked back since and gone on to produce a torrent of incredible thriller novels including The Couple Next Door, An Unwanted Guest, Someone We Know and The End Of Her. The latest title of Lapena’s is Not A Happy Family and is available to buy now.