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Monday, 31 July 2017

Review: Give Me the Child and blog tour

GIVE ME THE CHILD is a pulse-racing thriller which delivers an addictive plot alongside a complex set of themes – from mental health, to societal expectations and realities.

Set against a backdrop of riots and growing urban tensions, Mel McGrath expertly constructs a vibrant urban setting, delivering a series of killer twists along the way.

Perfect for fans of MissingPresumed and The Girl on the Train.

An unexpected visitor.
Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.

A devastating secret.
But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Do we get the children we deserve?
Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own…

Give Me the Child

Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This turned out an unexpected surprise to me as when I saw the title and read the blurb I thought I had the story pretty much in the bag, give or take. But, it was much more than I expected.

This is one hell of a dysfunctional family.

Cat is a child psychologist which comes in handy within her family life.
She is married to Tom. They have one child, Freya and at first seemingly look and sound like the average family.

The author soon makes us aware of splits, lies and secrets very early on in the book, but as a reader we are not sure where this will lead us.

Cat has always wanted another child, but she wasn't quite expecting the way it happened.

I won't broaden out more on the story and events or I will spoil it for you.
I will explain though that all is not what it seems and the 'winds of time can change' most dramatically.

Cat is under severe pressure to keep Freya safe and away from harm, but does she succeed?

I can't begin to imagine Cats emotional rolling feelings at the discovery of her husbands infidelity let alone having to house his 'love child' half sister of Freya.

But Ruby is no meek and mild mouse of a girl, there are some underlining issues for sure.
A remarkable impacting story that will keep you turning pages and the ending was just perfect.

My thanks to HQ for providing me with an advanced paperback copy.

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My first thought when the doorbell woke me was that someone had died. Most likely Michael Walsh. I turned onto my side, pulled at the outer corners of my eyes to rid them of the residue of sleep and blinked myself awake. It was impossible to tell if it was late or early, though the bedroom was as hot and muggy as it had been
when Tom and I had gone to bed. Tom was no longer beside me. Now I was alone.
We’d started drinking not long after Freya had gone upstairs. The
remains of a bottle of Pinot Grigio for me, a glass or two of red for Tom. (He always said white wine was for women.) Just before nine I called The Mandarin Hut. When the crispy duck arrived I laid out two trays in the living room, opened another bottle and called Tom in from the study. I hadn’t pulled the curtains and through the pink light of the London night sky a cat’s claw of moon appeared. The two of us ate, mostly in silence, in front of the TV. A ballroom dance show came on. Maybe it was just the booze but something about the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women made me feel a little sad. The cosmic dance. The grand romantic gesture. At some point even the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women would find themselves slumped together on a sofa with the remains of a takeaway and wine enough to sink their sorrows, wondering how they’d got there, wouldn’t they?

Title: Give me the Child, Format: 153x234, v5, Output date:25.04 - 2017

4                                     mel McGrath

Not that Tom and I really had anything to complain about except, maybe, a little malaise, a kind of falling away. After all, weren’t we still able to laugh about stuff most of the time or, if we couldn’t laugh, at least have sex and change the mood?
‘Let’s go upstairs and I’ll show you my cha-cha,’ I said, rising and holding out a hand.
Tom chuckled and pretended I was joking, then, wiping his
palms along his thighs as if he were ridding them of something unpleasant, he said, ‘It’s just if I don’t crack this bloody coding thing…’
I looked out at the moon for a moment. OK, so I knew how much making a success of Labyrinth meant to Tom, and I’d got used to him shutting himself away in the two or three hours either side of midnight. But this one time, with the men and women still twirling in our minds? Just this one time?
Stupidly, I said, ‘Won’t it wait till tomorrow?’ and in an instant
I saw Tom stiffen. He paused for a beat and, slapping his hands on his thighs in a gesture of busyness, he slugged down the last of his wine, rose from the sofa and went to the door. And so we left it there with the question still hanging.
I spent the rest of the evening flipping through the case notes
of patients I was due to see that week. When I turned in for the night, the light was still burning in Tom’s study. I murmured ‘goodnight’ and went upstairs to check on Freya. Our daughter was suspended somewhere between dreaming and deep sleep. All children look miraculous when they’re asleep, even the frighten- ing, otherworldly ones I encounter every day. Their bodies soften, their small fists unfurl and dreams play behind their eyelids. But Freya looked miraculous all the time to me. Because she was. A miracle made at the boundary where human desire meets science. I stood and watched her for a while, then, retrieving her beloved

Give Me the Child 5

Pippi Longstocking book from the floor and straightening her duvet, I crept from the room and went to bed.
Sometime later I felt Tom’s chest pressing against me and his breath on the nape of my neck. He was already aroused and for a minute I wondered what else he’d been doing on screen besides coding, then shrugged off the thought. A drowsy, half-hearted bout of lovemaking followed before we drifted into our respective oblivions. Next thing I knew the doorbell was ringing and I was alone.
Under the bathroom door a beam of light blazed. I threw off the sheet and swung from the bed.
No response. My mind was scrambled with sleep and an anxious pulse was rising to the surface. I called out again.
There was a crumpling sound followed by some noisy vomiting but it was identifiably my husband. The knot in my throat loosened. I went over to the bathroom door, knocked and let myself in. Tom was hunched over the toilet and there was a violent smell in the room.
‘Someone’s at the door.’ Tom’s head swung round.
I said, ‘You think it might be about Michael?’
Tom’s father, Michael Walsh, was a coronary waiting to happen, a lifelong bon vivant in the post-sixty-five-year-old death zone, who’d taken the recent demise of his appalling wife pretty badly.
Tom stood up, wiped his hand across his mouth and moved over to the sink. ‘Nah, probably just some pisshead.’ He turned on the tap and sucked at the water in his hand and, in an oddly casual tone, he added, ‘Ignore it.’
As I retreated into the bedroom, the bell rang again. Whoever

6                                     mel McGrath

it was, they weren’t about to go away. I went over to the window and eased open the curtain. The street was still and empty of people, and the first blank glimmer was in the sky. Directly below the house a patrol car was double parked, hazard lights still on but otherwise dark. For a second my mind filled with the terrible possibility that something had happened to Sally. Then I checked myself. More likely someone had reported a burglary or a prowler in the neighbourhood. Worst case it was Michael.
‘It’s the police,’ I said.
Tom appeared and, lifting the sash, craned out of the window. ‘I’ll go, you stay here.’
I watched him throw on his robe over his boxers and noticed his hands were trembling. Was that from having been sick or was he, too, thinking about Michael now? I listened to his footsteps disappearing down the stairs and took my summer cover-up from its hook. A moment later, the front door swung open and there came the low murmur of three voices, Tom’s and those of two women. I froze on the threshold of the landing and held my breath, waiting for Tom to call me down, and when, after a few minutes, he still hadn’t, I felt myself relax a little. My parents were dead. If this was about Sally, Tom would have fetched me by now. It was bound to be Michael. Poor Michael.
I went out onto the landing and tiptoed over to Freya’s room. Tom often said I was overprotective, and maybe I was, but I’d seen enough mayhem and weirdness at work to give me pause. I pushed open the door and peered in. A breeze stirred from the open window. The hamster Freya had brought back from school for the holidays was making the rounds on his wheel but in the aura cast by the Frozen-themed nightlight I could see my tender little girl’s face closed in sleep. Freya had been too young to remember my parents and Michael had always been sweet to her in a way that

Give Me the Child 7

his wife, who called her ‘my little brown granddaughter’, never was, but it was better this happened now, in the summer holidays, so she’d have time to recover before the pressures of school started up again. We’d tell her in the morning once we’d had time to formulate the right words.
At the top of the landing I paused, leaning over the bannister. A woman in police uniform stood in the glare of the security light. Thirties, with fierce glasses and a military bearing. Beside her was another woman in jeans and a shapeless sweater, her features hidden from me. The policewoman’s face was brisk but unsmiling; the other woman was dishevelled, as though she had been called from her bed. Between them I glimpsed the auburn top of what I presumed was a child’s head – a girl, judging from the amount of hair. I held back, unsure what to do, hoping they’d realise they were at the wrong door and go away. I could see the police officer’s mouth moving without being able to hear what was being said. The conversation went on and after a few moments Tom stood to one side and the two women and the child stepped out of the shadows of the porch and into the light of the hallway.
The girl was about the same age as Freya, taller but small-boned, legs as spindly as a deer’s and with skin so white it gave her the look of some deep sea creature. She was wearing a grey trackie too big for her frame which bagged at the knees from wear and made her seem malnourished and unkempt. From the way she held herself, stiffly and at a distance from the dishevelled woman, it was obvious they didn’t know one another. A few ideas flipped through my mind. Had something happened in the street, a house fire perhaps, or a medical emergency, and a neighbour needed us to look after her for a few hours? Or was she a school friend of Freya’s who had run away and for some reason given our address to the police? Either way, the situation obviously didn’t have anything

8 mel  McGrath

much to do with us. My heart went out to the kid but I can’t say I wasn’t relieved. Michael was safe, Sally was safe.
I moved down the stairs and into the hallway. The adults remained engrossed in their conversation but the girl looked up and stared. I tried to place the sharp features and the searching, amber eyes from among our neighbours or the children at Freya’s school but nothing came. She showed no sign of recognising me. I could see she was tired – though not so much from too little sleep as from a lifetime of watchfulness. It was an expression familiar to me from the kids I worked with at the clinic. I’d probably had it too, at her age. An angry, cornered look. She was clasping what looked like a white rabbit’s foot in her right hand. The cut end emerged from her fist, bound crudely with electrical wire which was attached to a key. It looked home-made and this lent it – and her – an air that was both outdated and macabre, as if she’d been beamed in from some other time and had found herself stranded here, in south London, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, in the middle of the night, with nothing but a rabbit’s foot and a key to remind her of her origins. ‘What’s up?’ I said, more out of curiosity than alarm. I smiled
and waited for an answer.
The two women glanced awkwardly at Tom and from the way he was standing, stiffly with one hand slung on his hip in an attempt at relaxed cool, I understood they were waiting for him to respond and I instinctively knew that everything I’d been thinking was wrong. A dark firework burst inside my chest. The girl in the doorway was neither a neighbour’s kid nor a friend of our daughter.
She was trouble.
I took a step back. ‘Will someone tell me what’s going on?’ When no one spoke I crouched to the girl’s level and, summon-
ing as much friendliness as I could, said, ‘What’s your name? Why are you here?’

Give Me the Child 9

The girl’s eyes flickered to Tom, then, giving a tiny, contemptu- ous shake of the head, as if by her presence all my questions had already been answered and I was being obstructive or just plain dumb, she said, ‘I’m Ruby Winter.’
I felt Tom’s hands on my shoulder. They were no longer trem- bling so much as hot and spasmic.
‘Cat, please go and make some tea. I’ll come in a second.’
There was turmoil in his eyes. ‘Please,’ he repeated. And so, not knowing what else to do, I turned on my heels and made for the kitchen.
While the kettle wheezed into life, I sat at the table in a kind
of stupor; too shocked to gather my thoughts, I stared at the clock as the red second hand stuttered towards the upright. Tock, tock, tock. There were voices in the hallway, then I heard the living room door shut. Time trudged on. I began to feel agitated. What was taking all this time? Why hadn’t Tom come? Part of me felt I had left the room already but here I was still. Eventually, footsteps echoed in the hallway. The door moved and Tom appeared. I stood up and went over to the counter where, what now seemed like an age ago, I had laid out a tray with the teapot and some mugs.
‘Sit down, darling, we need to talk.’ Darling. When was the last time he’d called me that?
I heard myself saying, idiotically, ‘But I made tea!’ ‘It’ll wait.’ He pulled up a chair directly opposite me.
When he spoke, his voice came to me like the distant crackle of a broken radio in another room. ‘I’m so sorry, Cat, but however I say this it’s going to come as a terrible shock, so I’m just going to say what needs to be said, then we can talk. There’s no way round this. The girl, Ruby Winter, she’s my daughter.’

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Sunday, 30 July 2017

Review: The Betrayal

The Betrayal The Betrayal by Laura Elliot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Obsession and Betrayal are two things that go together, you just can't beat it.

Nadine is now divorced from her husband, they were married young and they have come to th end of the road basically. Nadine is slowly adjusting while Jake is having a relationship with what was Nadine's ex best buddy. Karin Moyes.
Not the best move on Jakes part I thought.

Jake knows some of the reasons why they are not friends now, so can he use this information when needed?
Karin is not a woman to be messed with, she can't be pushed around, oh no, too headstrong for that.

This is an unnerving read, manipulative, jealousy, bully with all the ingredients to make a fab story.

Great psychological adventure this.

Do you remember Fatal Attraction?
It's got all the elements of that.

My thanks to Bookoutour for my copy via Net Galley

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Review: The Letter

The Letter The Letter by Kathryn Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am very very late in reading this, I was lucky to get this in paperback and ebook.
My thanks to HEADLINE for my copy.

As the title predicts, this is all based on a letter, but, do not be mislead, its much more indepth than that.

Cast your mind back to 1970's and life back then. Tina worked in a charity shop, and as you sort through garments donated you need to search in pockets to make sure there is nothing in there.
Tina did just that on a regular basis but this time, she found something.

On closer inspection its a letter dated from the 1940's from a man named Billy to the love of his life Chrissie. Except this letter still had the stamp on it, it had never been posted.

The background of Tina is that she is married, but she is in an abusive relationship.
That's why you need to cast your mind back, there were things around that could help in situations like this if a woman needed it, but not as vast or as common as today.
We see though how she stayed with her husband and why. Regardless of what we as a reader might think or feel.

She decides to find the recipient to this letter, Chrissie. Is she still alive.
What she does not know is, she has now put herself in utter danger. There is more to this than meets the eye.

Going back in time, Billie and Chrissie meet, its the follow up to the war. They fall in love, in this letter Billie reveals the reasons.

What reasons and for what?

You will see.

The heartache was captured brilliantly and the abusive relationship was spot on of its era, done with a lot of insight I thought.

Thank you Headline for supplying me with a great read.

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Review: Letters to Katie

Letters to Katie Letters to Katie by Kathleen Fuller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Amish novels and I've not read one for ages, found this on my kindle, I had this from net galley for ages and it slipped down my kindle pages.

I'm going back to my roots here, I used to read heaps upon heaps of Amish writers books one of them being kathleen Fuller. Pre Kindle days.

This is a sweet, romantic and kinda easy read and its the 3rd book in the Middlefield family series.

Kathleen Yoder is a yound Amish woman, she's in love with her best friends twin brother and has been for a long time, trouble is, he is quite emotionally distant from her. A case of unrequited love and we know how that feels when young.

Johnny is very different, he has gone down the wrong road in life. His decisions are not very well thought out and he takes endless wrong turnings and paths in his walk through life.

I found him frustrating.

Kathleen's letters are heartbreaking where she pours all her emotions into them.

In these pages we have heartache, heartbreak, generations of a strong family, strong women, strong family units.

A very strong positive read.

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Review: The Good Sister

The Good Sister The Good Sister by Jess Ryder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh a whopping 5 * from me.
I was really mesmerised with this story, enjoying unwrapping every layer of it. I turned the pages very quickly where my eyes were reading like an excited child. It really gripped me.

Josie lost her father to a motor cycle accident to all intense and purposes it looked exactly like that, straight forward until something was found later are the accident scene.
Did he commit suicide?
Did someone drive him to this?
Or were there other mitigating circumstances?

Josie's life wasn't too made, she had her mom, her dad and a good wealthy family background. But then her life was turned upside down


I'm revealing now secrets in saying that her father had another family and another child. A half sister, Valentina.

They could have been twins, only days apart when they were born from different mothers.
Josie didn't want for anything, but Valentina was brought up in a less favourable environment .
The difference between the sisters are quite immense, Josie is polite, reasonable, calm, responsible and has a great boyfriend who she hopes to marry someday soon.

Valentin is loud, curt, abrupt, she drinks, smokes, takes drugs, parties and has no money. No job.

Once these two meet up it take a huge leap for me. I could see how manipulative Valentina was, how horrid, but why was escaping me.
Is she after Josie for money?
Does she resent Josie?
Is it pure jealousy and did she know about her fathers secret before Josie learnt of it?
What was the depth of this story.
It was puzzling around my mind constant.

You really understand the emotions that Josie's mom was experiencing, she had lost her husband, what when she finds out about his 'other family'?
How will she react, what will she say, what will she do?
And.....what about Valentina's mother?

This had me up to early hours of the morning, so transfixed was I to this story that I heard the birds tweeting outside.

The ending had me gasping in awe. Truly a masterpiece.

I would like to thank Bookoutour via Net Galley for my copy.

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Friday, 28 July 2017



Genre: Fiction
Release Date: 15th June 2017
Publisher: Honno Press
Tomos lives with his mother. He longs to return to another place, the place he thinks of as home, and the people who lived there, but he’s not allowed to see them again. He is five years old and at school, which he loves. Miss teaches him about all sorts of things, and she listens to him. Sometimes he’s hungry and Miss gives him her extra sandwiches. She gives him a warm coat from Lost Property, too. There are things Tomos cannot talk about – except to Cwtchy – and then, just before Easter, the things come to a head. There are bad men outside who want to come in, and Mammy has said not to answer the door. From behind the big chair, Tomos waits, trying to make himself small and quiet. He doesn’t think it’s Santa Claus this time.
When the men break in, Tomos’s world is turned on its head and nothing will be the same again.


The lady’s here. The lady with the big bag. She’s knocking on the front door. She’s knocking and knocking. And knocking and knocking. I’m not opening the door. I’m not letting her in. I’m behind the black chair. I’m very quiet. I’m very very quiet. I’m waiting for her to go away.
I’ve been waiting a long time.
‘Thomas, Thomas.’ She’s saying it through the letter box.
‘Thomas, Thomas.’
I’m not listening to her. I’m not listening at all. She’s been knocking on the door for a long long time. I’m peeping round the black chair. I’m peeping with one of my eyes. She’s
not by the front door now. She’s by the long window. I can see her shoes. They’re very dirty. If Dat saw those shoes he’d say, ‘There’s a job for my polishing brush’.
She’s stopped knocking. She’s stopped saying ‘Thomas’. She’s very quiet. The lady can’t see me. I’m behind the big black chair. And I’ve pulled my feet in tight.
‘Thomas?’ she says. ‘Thomas?’ I’m not answering. ‘I know you’re in there. Just come to the window, sweetheart. So I can see you properly.’
I’m staying still. I’m not going to the window. I’m waiting for her to go back to her car. It’s a green car. With a big dent in it. If I hide for a long time she’ll go. She’ll get back in her car and drive away. She’s knocking. And knocking again.
She’s saying ‘Thomas.’ And knocking and knocking again.
That is not my name.

When I first started to read this, I was a little put off in the way it was written, its through young Thomas eyes, using his words, his child way of looking at things which at first I personally found annoying as he would repeat himself. As the book grew on me and I stepped back from this thinking how a young boy Thomas age would talk, I got well into this.

This is a story that will 'knock your socks off' its shocking, its emotional and it darn right moving. 
I grew to love Thomas and just wanted to pick him up, take him home and give him a childhood. Poor little love.

We find some hidden background behind his Mother. Shes quite young and had had issues herself.
That becomes clearer as the story unfolds.
As sometimes follow they get attracted or become attractive to the male rogues of this world and she was no different. Shes a bad Mother in all round the clock details. 

Thomas doesn't know any difference its his 'normal' life.
He gets teased for his manners, teased for his mannerisms and teased because he smells.

A neighbour and her daughter wait outside his house gate each morning to walk him to school.

His teacher Lowri secretly feeds him sandwiches using the ploy that her husband has made too many.

School holidays are counted down by biscuits. There's not an adult to tell him.
He practically sees to himself, maybe a packet of crisps is his supper. But the pink packets are saved for his Mother. I thought very sweet, but, so undeserving of this boys thoughtfulness.

Yes there are visitors seeking if everything is OK, but they can't be let in as Thomas is on his own and he can't open the door if his Mums not there, he shouldn't go out either so his 'black chair' becomes his hideaway.

He has three objects that he cares for. And one that is left behind at his Grans and Granddads home which he used to live in, that he no longer lives in for reasons that become clearer as time goes on.

That's enough about the story.

The writing is superb. I got halfway through this read before I really and truly was hooked. It was my mindset I had to alter and adjust to reading from a child's POV. 

It was very moving and there are more secrets that come out towards the end.

Never read a book by this author before and I can honestly say I never heard of her [sorry] but I will definitely be following her for future reads.

My thanks to Cottage Tours

Sara Gethin is the pen name of Wendy White. She grew up in Llanelli and studied theology and philosophy at Lampeter, the most bijoux of universities. Her working life has revolved around children – she’s been a childminder, an assistant in a children’s library and a primary school teacher. She also writes children’s books as Wendy White, and her first, ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’, won the Tir nan-Og Award in 2014. Her own children are grown up now, and while home is still west Wales, she and her husband spend much of their free time across the water in Ireland. ‘Not Thomas’ is her first novel for adults.


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