Sunday, September 30, 2018

Review: Murder in the Morning

Title:  Murder in the Morning
Author:  Betty Rowlands
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Series:  Melissa Craig Book #2
Publisher:  Bookouture
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages: 284
Date Published:  September 20, 2018
My rating:  3.5 Stars


Perfect for lovers of COSY CRIME!

Cream teas, buttered crumpets and a very curious crime…

Melissa Craig is settling in nicely to a new teaching position in the quaint little village of Upper Bembury, getting to know her way around, drinking tea with the eccentric staff, even sewing the first seeds of romance…

But when she arrives one morning to find police outside her classroom, Melissa is shocked to hear that her beautiful colleague Angelica has been found dead in her home.

As everyone in Angelica’s life comes under suspicion, Melissa makes it her mission to go in search of the truth, not least because she’s romantically entangled with none other than the police’s prime suspect.

The discovery of a vandalised portrait of the murdered girl might be just the clue that Melissa needs to clear her lover’s name, but when a second body surfaces, she knows she needs to act quickly. Can Melissa uncover the ugly truth in this beautiful village before another innocent life is taken?

Do you love murder mysteries by Agatha Christie, P.D. James and Faith Martin? If so, make this puzzling and absolutely page-turning whodunnit your next read!

This book was previously published as Finishing Touch.


If you enjoy cozy mysteries set in a nice little village, before the age of cell phones and modern policing, then you may very well find Murder in the Morning to your liking. This story is the second in the Melissa Craig series. I enjoyed the first story, which allowed me to get to know the primary character, as well as a few others.

In this entry, Melissa is currently working on her next novel, but is also enjoying a new teaching job. She is happy where she moved a while ago and has found some good friends. However, a colleague has been murdered and Melissa gets involved - in more ways than one. There are several suspects immediately, yet Melissa develops a relationship with one of them, with a firm conviction that he could not possibly be the murderer.

Although cozy mysteries are generally easy reads, I did not find myself as engaged in this book as much as I was with the first one. It is not that there is anything wrong with story, it just plodded along. I did feel that Melissa was a bit reckless in trusting the primary suspect, but it was a relief when others cautioned her. The mystery itself is well done, especially as there are things about the victim that are revealed. I indeed was able to be surprised at the ending.

I will continue on in this series, because it is a nice break from some of the tough psychological thrillers that I read. As noted above, this is a reprint. I do look forward to the next release in this series. It can be read as a standalone, but I think if you want to know Melissa well, then reading the series in order might be beneficial.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

Reviewer's note:  Murder in the Morning is the second in the Melissa Craig series. The link to the review for Murder at Hawthorn Cottage:

The next book in the series is Murder on the Clifftops, scheduled for release on October 15, 2018.


"For as long as I can remember I've had a compulsion to write; short stories that were rarely submitted and never published, odd jottings of poetry and prose that were shown to no one, stuffed away in drawers and eventually discarded. I once began keeping a diary, but whenever life became extra busy or especially interesting it was difficult to find the time and during the quieter periods nothing seemed worth recording. After my children had grown up I gained a certificate in further education and found myself teaching English to foreign business executives. It was then that I began to write a series of case studies for use as teaching material; these were eventually published in a series entitled 'Management English'. This seemed to rekindle the creative spark and I began writing short stories, some of which were published. The next step was a full-length novel, which brought me into contact with the agent who advised me to try my hand at a whodunit."


Review: Lies

Title:  Lies
Author:  T.M. Logan
Genre:  Mystery/Thriller
Publisher:  St. Martins Press
Format:   Kindle ARC
No. of Pages: 432
Date of Publication:  September 11, 2018
My Rating:  5 Stars



When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she's supposed to be at work, he's intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe's young son has an asthma attack - and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that's when Joe receives the first message . . .


Grab a coffee. Delay dinner. Shut the TV off, kick your feet up and settle in for a nonstop read. Here is a story filled with contempt, jealousy and hate. One afternoon while driving four-year-old William home from school, Joe Lynch spots his wife's car at a parking garage. He is thoroughly confused, because she was supposed to be at tennis. He hurries over, and sees her having an argument with a man, Ben Delaney. He is unable to grab her attention, but does approach Ben afterwards. Joe and Ben get into an altercation and Ben gets hurt. However, William suddenly has an asthma attack, so Joe rushes off to attend to him.

Concerned for the hurt Ben, Joe does go back to the hotel. However, not only does he not find Ben, but he cannot find his cell phone. Almost immediately he begins to discover messages via his Facebook account where someone is apparently posting as him. This is no doubt in preparation to implicate him in something nefarious. That is evident from the very start. From this moment on in the story, we are hit with chapter endings that are intended to grab the reader from the throat. The very end of chapter one states that Joe made a spur-of-the-moment decision that would change his life. Read: “The hijacking of my life on social media.”  “Everything you know is a lie.”

Social media key in this story, which is entirely told from Joe's first person point of view.  Not only has Ben disappeared from the hotel, he has disappeared altogether. Where is he? What does he really want from Joe? Meanwhile, things begin looking very bad for Joe. He is forced to take matters into his own hands and is forced to act quickly, because his life is turned upside down.

I could not put Lies down! I devoured this book from cover to cover in just a couple of hours! While speeding through the pages, I was hit with so many twists and turns and incredible red herrings, well, simply put, that I did not see coming! The suspense is absolutely thrilling. The conclusion of this book is one that will remain with me for a very long time. It was done with excellent precision. Another great facet in this novel is the heavy use of social media and cell phones. So apropos to the times that we are living in. Lies is T.M. Logan's stunning first novel, which was followed by 29 Seconds. I most certainly will be reading this fantastic debut author again.

Many thanks to St. Martins Press and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Tim was born in Berkshire and studied at Queen Mary and Cardiff universities before becoming a national newspaper journalist. He currently writes full-time and lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children. LIES is his first novel - published by Bonnier Zaffre in January 2017. His next thriller, 29 SECONDS, comes out in January 2018 and is currently available to pre-order. For exclusive writing and new releases from TM Logan, sign up to the Readers’ Club:

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

BLOG BLITZ - The Birthday

Today I am more than pleased to share in the Blog Blitz for the book, The Birthday, by Natalie Ward, which I had the pleasure of reading several months ago.


One hot summer’s afternoon, five-year-old Ava Sawyer went to a party. She never came home… 

When five-year-old Ava Sawyer goes missing from a birthday party at a local garden centre, the police are bewildered by the lack of leads. That is until two years later, when Ava’s body is found and another little girl, Audrey Briggs, goes missing. Audrey also attended that party …

Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward. A mother of two teenagers, this case chills her to the bone, and is a disturbing reminder of the last job she worked on. One that still keeps her awake at night…

Natalie soon discovers that Ava’s mother has some worrying gaps in her alibi and as she digs deeper, she’s sure Ava’s father is not telling the full story. And what did the owner of the garden centre Elsa see that day? Something that she’s not telling Natalie …

Just as Natalie is facing up to the grim possibility that Ava and Audrey were killed by someone close to home, another little girl from the party doesn’t come home from her ballet lesson. Can Natalie find a way to stop this killer before more innocent lives are taken?

Gripping, fast-paced and nail-bitingly tense, this book will keep you flying through the pages long into the night. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter.

Title:  The Birthday
Author:  Carol Wyer
Series: Detective Natalie Ward, Book 1
Genre:  Mystery/Thriller
Format:  Kindle ARC
Date Published:  September 27, 2018
Publisher:  Bookouture
No. of Pages:  316
My Rating: 5 Stars

In The Birthday, Book One of an exciting new series, Detective Natalie Ward has the unenviable task of trying to solve the murder of 5-year-old Ava Sawyer. Ava went missing at a birthday party two years ago. Her body was just discovered at a building site. Soon after, the body of another little girl is found. Natalie and her dedicated team must act quickly to stop any more of these heinous crimes. It doesn't take Natalie long to discover the links between the two murders, although they are two years apart.

Natalie has a lot on her plate. She is haunted by a previous similar crime which only ratchets her desire to act as quickly as possible in solving these murders. She is truly hoping that her team will catch the killer before any more young lives are lost. While very involved in the job at hand, Natalie is struggling with issues at home and is also facing a moral dilemma. 

Reading how Natalie engages in her excellent crime-solving is exciting and tragic at the same time. Along with excellent character development, this story is full of surprising twists and turns. This was a truly thrilling book, albeit chilling at times. It certainly was no average read for me. I read The Birthday so fast that I was actually surprised. This excellent pacing, along with superb writing, is indicative of Carol Wyer's talent. This promises to be an excellent series and I look forward to reading the books to follow.

Many thanks to Bookuture and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Carol Wyer garnered a loyal following as an author of romantic comedies, and won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015). In 2017 she stepped from comedy to the “dark side” and embarked on a series of thrillers, featuring the popular DI Robyn Carter, which earned her recognition as a crime writer.
The Staffordshire-based writer now has more crime novels in the pipeline, although she can still sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Perfect Mother YouTube Review

Review: The Perfect Mother
Title:  The Perfect Mother
Author:  Aimee Molloy
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Format:  Hardcover Novel
Date Published:  May 31, 2018
No. of Pages:  317
My rating:  5 Stars


Vanity Fair calls it one of the most anticipated books of the summer. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Scandal's Kerry Washington.

An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

My thoughts:

Wow! What a read! Imagine a group of very young mothers who get together just to compare notes, pretty much. That is about it. Is my baby reaching the right milestones? Am I feeling like I am supposed to? What is your birth story? Questions like that are explored.

The women in this group, called The May Mothers, found each other online and get together twice weekly to explore these very topics and so much more. The problem is that they really do not go beyond the surface and don't really know one another all that well. This brings very heavy consequences when, after much cajoling, they agree to go out without the babies. They go to a fun bar, and before the night is out, one of their babies has disappeared from his crib.

While suspicion goes round and round, at least three of the women go about trying to find out their own answers. We have a rapid successions of many questions, with very few answers. As a reader, I certainly developed my own suspect, or suspects, depending on where I was reading the story. However, the conclusion is the ultimate shocker and really caught me off guard.

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy is her very first novel! Wow! What a fantastic writer! She pens a captivating story. A true psychological thriller that most certainly keep you on the edge of my seat as I was. I loved being forced to make what I thought were intelligent guesses, yet being completely thrown off each time. It is always my pleasure when an author can do that to me! I so look forward to keeping my eyes out for any future books that Aimee Molloy pens. This book comes highly recommended. It is one not to be missed!

As mentioned above, this book has been adapted for a movie starring Kerry Washington. It should be a fantastic collaboration and is one I am most certainly looking forward to seeing.




November 15, 2017 at 11:06 AM EST

Aimee Molloy’s chilling debut, The Perfect Mother, unfolds over just 13 days. It follows a group of Brooklyn moms called the May Mothers (so named for the month of their children’s birth) who go out for drinks one night — only to find that the child of another member of their group was stolen from his crib during the evening. So Colette, the pretty ghostwriter with a novelist husband; Francie, the stay-at-home Southerner with a workaholic husband; and Nell, who’s back at her corporate job after a swift maternity leave and harboring a scandalous secret from her past, must band together and find the missing baby before secrets emerge and spiral out of their control.

The Perfect Mother doesn’t hit shelves until May 1, 2018 — but EW has your first look at the splintering cover right here, along with a sneak peek at the first chapter. Be sure to read it when you can: Kerry Washington is already slated to star in the film version.

Excerpt from The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy



A Tasty Mediterranean Meal

TO: May Mothers

FROM: Your friends at The Village

DATE: July 4

SUBJECT: Today’s advice


In honor of the holiday, today’s advice is about independence. Do you notice that your formerly fearless little guy is suddenly afraid of everything when you’re out of sight? The neighbor’s adorable dog is now a terrifying predator. The shadow on the ceiling has become an armless ghoul. It’s normal for your toddler to begin to sense danger in his world, and it’s now your job to help him navigate these fears, letting him know he’s safe, and that even if you’re out of sight, Mommy will always be there to protect him, no matter what.

How fast the time goes.

That’s what people were always telling us, at least; the strangers’ hands on our bellies, saying how careful we must be to enjoy the time. How it’ll all be over in a blink of an eye. How before we know it, they’ll be walking, talking, leaving us.

It’s been four hundred and eleven days, and time hasn’t gone fast at all. I’ve been trying to imagine what Dr. H would say. Sometimes I close my eyes and picture myself in his office, my time almost up, the next patient eagerly tapping a toe in the waiting room. You have a tendency to ruminate on things, he’d say. But, interestingly, never the positive aspects of your life. Let’s think about those.

The positive things.

My mother’s face, how peaceful she looked at times, when it was just the two of us, in the car running errands; on our way to the lake.

The light in the mornings. The feel of the rain.

Those lazy spring afternoons, sitting in the park, the baby somersaulting inside me, my swollen feet bursting from my san- dals like bruised peaches. Back before all the trouble started, when Midas hadn’t yet become Baby Midas, everyone’s latest cause, when he was just another newborn boy in Brooklyn, one among a million, no more or less extraordinary than the dozen or so other babies with bright futures and peculiar names asleep in the inner circle of a May Mothers meeting.

The May Mothers. My mommy group. I’ve never liked that term. Mommy. It’s so fraught, so political. We weren’t mommies. We were mothers. People. Women who just happened to ovu- late on the same schedule and then give birth the same month. Strangers who chose—for the good of the babies, for the sake of our sanity—to become friends.

We signed up through The Village website—“Brooklyn parents’ most precious resource™”—getting to know one another over e-mail months before we met, long before we gave birth, dissecting our new lot in life in a level of detail our real friends would never tolerate. About finding out we were pregnant. Our clever way of telling our mothers. Trading ideas for baby names and concerns about our pelvic floors. It was Francie who suggested we get together in person, on the first day of spring, and we all carried ourselves to the park that March morning, under the weight of our third-trimester bellies. Sitting in the shade, the smell of newly awakened grass in the air, we were happy to be together, to finally put faces to the names. We continued to meet, registering for the same birthing classes, the same CPR course, cat-cowing next to one another at the same yoga studio. Then, in May, the babies began to arrive, just as expected, just in time for Brooklyn’s hottest summer in recorded history.

You did it! we wrote, responding to the latest birth announce- ment, cooing like seasoned grandmothers over the attached photo of a tiny infant wrapped in a blue-and-pink hospital blanket.

Those cheeks!

Welcome to the world, little one!

Some in our group wouldn’t feel safe leaving the house for weeks, while others couldn’t wait to come together, to show off the baby. (They were all so new to us still that we didn’t refer to them by their names—not as Midas, Will, Poppy, but simply as “the baby.”) Freed for a few months from our jobs, if not concerns about our careers, we got together twice a week, always in the park, usually under the willow tree near the base- ball diamonds, if someone was lucky enough to get there first and claim the coveted spot. The group changed a lot in the beginning. New people came, while others I’d grown used to see- ing went—the mommy-group skeptics, the older mothers who couldn’t stomach the collective anxiety, those already departing to the expensive suburbs of Maplewood and Westchester. But I could always count on the three regulars to be there.

First, there was Francie. If our group had a mascot, someone to glue themselves in feathers and lead our team in three cheers for motherhood, it was her. Miss Eager-to-Be-Liked, to not screw anything up, so plump with hope and rich Southern carbs. And then Colette, everyone’s girl crush, our trusted friend.

One of the pretty ones, with her auburn shampoo-commercial hair, her Colorado-bred effortlessness and unmedicated home birth—the perfect female, topped in powdered sugar.

And finally Nell: British, cool, eschewing the books and the expert advice. So trust-your-instincts. So I-really-shouldn’t. (I really shouldn’t have that chocolate-chip muffin. Those chips. That third gin and tonic.) But there was something else about Nell, something below the salty exterior I spotted from day one: she, like me, was a woman with a secret.

I was never going to be a regular, but I went as often as I could bear to, trudging first my pregnant body and then my stroller down the hill to the park. I’d sit on my blanket, the stroller parked near the others in the triangular patches of shade under the willow tree, feeling myself grow numb as I listened to their ideas on parenting, on the very specific way certain things needed to be done. Exclusive breastfeeding. Keen attention to sleep cues. Wearing the baby at every opportunity, like he was a statement piece splurged for at Bloomingdale’s.

It’s no wonder I eventually started loathing them. Really, who can stand to listen to that level of certainty? To sit through the judgment?

What if you can’t keep up with it all? What if you’re not breastfeeding? What if, for instance, your milk has practically dried up, no matter how many Chinese herbs you ingest, or all the hours you spend attached to a pump in the middle of the night? What if you’ve been worn down by the exhaustion, and all the time and money you’ve spent learning to decipher sleep cues? What if you simply don’t have the energy to bring a snack to share?

Colette brought the muffins. Every single time—twenty- four mini muffins from the expensive bakery that had recently opened where the tapas place had been. She’d unfasten the paper box and pass them around, over the bodies of the babies. “Win- nie, Nell, Scarlett, help yourselves,” she’d say. “They’re out of this world.”

So many around the circle politely declined, citing the weight they still had to lose, pulling out their carrot sticks and apple slices, but not me. My own stomach was already as flat and taut as it had been before I got pregnant. I can thank my mother for that. Good genes—that’s what people have always said about me. They’re talking about the fact that I am tall and thin, that I have a nearly symmetrical face. What they are not talking about are the other genes I’ve inherited. The ones bestowed to me not by my equally symmetrical mother, but from my exceptionally bipolar dad.

Joshua’s genes are no better. I would talk to him about this sometimes, asking if it worried him, the DNA he has to work hard to outsmart. His own crazy father: the brilliant doctor, so warm and charming with patients. The violent alcoholic behind closed doors.

Joshua didn’t like it when I spoke about his dad, though, and I learned to keep quiet about him. Of course I didn’t mention any of this—my genes, Joshua, his dad—to the May Mothers. I didn’t tell them how hard everything was without Joshua. How much I loved him. How I would have given up everything— everything—to be with him again. Even for just one night.

I couldn’t tell them that. I couldn’t tell anyone that. Not even Dr. H, shrink extraordinaire, who’d shuttered his office just when I needed him most, heading to the West Coast with his wife and three kids. I didn’t have anyone else, and so yes, in the beginning I went to their meetings, hoping to find something in common with them; something in our shared experience of motherhood that might help lift the darkness of those first few months, which everyone always said were the hardest. It’ll get easier, the health experts wrote. Give it time.

Well, things didn’t get easier. I’ve been blamed for what happened that Fourth of July night. But not a day goes by that I don’t remind myself of the truth.

It’s not my fault. It’s theirs.

It’s because of them that Midas went missing, and I lost everything. Even now, a year later, I sit alone in this prison cell, fingering the hard, jagged scar at my abdomen, thinking how differently everything might have turned out if it weren’t for them.

If I hadn’t signed up for their group. If they’d chosen another date, or another bar, or someone other than Alma to babysit that night. If the thing with the phone hadn’t occurred.

If only the words Nell spoke that day—her head tilted toward the sky, her features swallowed by the sun—hadn’t been so prescient: Bad things happen in heat like this.


AIMEE MOLLOY is the author of the New York Times bestseller However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph and the co-author of several non-fiction books, including Jantsen’s Gift, with Pam Cope. The Perfect Mother is her first novel.


Wedding Day Murder - September 28, 2018

I Will Survive - September 28, 2018

Little Orphan Girl - September 28, 2018

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Newbie Challenge Video

Dinner Party - September 27, 2018

BLOG TOUR - Dinner Party

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Dinner Party by Tracy Bloom.


Never has an unexpected guest caused such chaos!

Three couples take it in turns to host a monthly dinner party.

Beth, Sarah and Marie have been friends forever. Now they are grown up, with busy lives, busy husbands, busy kids… but they still find time to meet up over dinner once a month. A cosy, comfortable gathering of happy couples – or so they thought.

Until one night, someone brings along a last-minute guest whose wife has just left him.

Simon is standing on the doorstep in floods of tears. While the women do their best to console him, their husbands feel the need to mark their territory.

And as Simon becomes more involved with the group, his presence changes everything these three couples thought they knew about each other, leading to a final dinner party that no-one will ever forget.

From Amazon chart bestseller Tracy Bloom, Dinner Party is a funny and moving read that will make you see your marriage and friendships in a whole new light… and make you think twice about inviting your best mates round for dinner. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes, Nick Spalding and Gill Sims.


Title:  Dinner Party
Author:  Tracy Bloom
Genre:  Humor; Women's Fiction
Publisher:  Bookouture
Format:  Kindle ARC
Date of Publications:  September 26, 2018
No. of Pages:  330
My Rating:  4 Stars

Once a month three couples get together for a dinner party. They are Beth, Sarah and Marie, and their respective husbands, Chris, Tony and Duncan. It is Beth's turn to host and Beth and Chris are quite frazzled. She is more than annoyed at his forgetfulness during preparation, and even more so when he suddenly mentioned he has invited a new friend to the party, Simon. Simon's wife recently left him, and Chris thinks Simon could use a pick-me-up. Simon attends and everything that could go wrong did go wrong, if not at that event, certainly to come.

There are a lot of chapters in Dinner Party. Each chapter is written from one of the group's point of view. We are also treated to an ongoing interview with the individual members by a journalist of some sort at the end of each chapter. Hints are given as the story goes along that chaos has ensued. It takes a bit of reading through to absorb all of the consequences that will occur by simply inviting one extra person to the dinner party.

Dinner Party is truly a character-driven story. We are easily drawn into the personalities and characteristics of each one in the group. There is a fair amount of humor in this story - let's just mention Chris and his obsession with dips. Yeah, definitely humor. However, it certainly is not the laugh-out-loud sort. As the connections are made with each character, there is also a fair amount of sadness, especially concerning specific individuals. This is an easy and pleasant read. I was able to enjoy this book and do look forward to reading more of Tracy Bloom in the future.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Tracy started writing when her cruel, heartless husband ripped her away from her dream job shopping for rollercoasters for the UK's leading theme parks, to live in America with a brand new baby and no mates. In a cunning plan to avoid domestic duties and people who didn't understand her Derbyshire accent, she wrote her romantic comedy, NO-ONE EVER HAS SEX ON A TUESDAY. This debut novel went on to be successfully published internationally and became a #1 Best Seller.

You can follow Tracy on Twitter at @TracyBBloom, like her Facebook page on or get in touch via her website at

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Follow my blog with Bloglovin

BLOG TOUR - The Little Orphan Girl

Today is my stop on the Blg Tour for The Little Orphan Girl by Sandy Taylor.


Ireland, 1901: The work house gates clanged shut behind us, as me and the mammy walked down the hill towards the town. I was six years old and leaving the only home I had ever known…

When Cissy Ryan’s real mother comes to claim her from the workhouse, it’s not how she imagined. Her family’s tumbledown cottage has ice on the inside of its windows and is in an isolated, poverty-stricken village in the muddy Irish countryside. But when Cissy is allowed to help neighbour Colm Doyle and his horse named Blue on their milk round one morning, Cissy starts to feel as though friendship could get her through anything.

It’s Colm who looks in on Cissy’s grandfather when she starts at the village school, and Colm who tells her to hold her chin high when she interviews for a position at the grand Bretton House. But in the vast mansion with its shining floors and sweeping staircase, it’s Master Peter Bretton who captures Cissy’s heart with his dark curls and easy laugh.

As Cissy blossoms from a skinny orphan into a confident young girl, Colm tells her she’s as good as anyone and she begins to believe anything is possible. But not everyone with a kind smile has a kind heart, and Cissy doesn’t know that further sorrow lies in store for her.

When Cissy finds herself desperate, alone, and faced with a devastating choice, can she find the strength to survive?

Author:  Sandy Taylor
Genre:  Historical Fiction; Romance
Publisher:  Bookouture
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:  358
Date of Publication:  September 24, 2018
My rating:  4 Stars

This is an emotional read of a little girl who had been orphaned and how she grew up. The story takes place in the early 1900s in Ireland where young Cissy, formerly named Martha, began her life in a workhouse. At the age of six she left the Union Workhouse with the new mammy. What a life she led until that point. It was all she knew and she thought she was very happy. Everything was now new to her and she was forced to leave her very best friend behind. Cissy goes to live with the mammy, Moira Ryan, and Mrs. Ryan's father. She is told to call Mrs. Ryan Mammy and her new life has begun.

Cissy is able to attend school, and even church, but times then were very hard. Growing up, she developed a strong friendship with a boy a few years older than her, Colm Doyle. They become great friends, and perhaps one day would develop a great love, but many difficult years are ahead before this could ever even be imagined. Eventually she gets a job working for a very rich family.

I was very much drawn into this story. This was a very touching read. The times were hard for the poorer class during those years, and Cissy's story epitomized an incredible amount of sadness. The story takes gentle turns as hope begins to enter into the picture, although there is a long period of poignant moments. This story by Sandy Taylor is an evocative read, bringing readers to a time when lives were just so very difficult. The story was utterly warm as it evolved. What an impressive read! It took a long time for me to deal with the emotional upheaval that I experienced while reading this historical fiction story.

What pleased me is that this is also characterized as a romance, so I read the story with a fervent hope that the tides would shift for Cissy. This book is broken up into several sections during a period of years while we see Cissy grow up and find a life that will suit her. I was not certain for quite a while into the story as to whether or not I would be able to handle the scenarios of the life that Cissy led and her many trials. I am pleased that I stuck with this book. The writing style was a bit unique to me, as it is written in turn of the century Irish twang. It took a bit to get used to, as it was a bit stilted at times, thus slowing down my reading. The author is new to me. It is nice to be drawn into a sad story that evolves into one of hope. I do plan on reading more by Sandy Taylor.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for an honest opinion.


Sandy Taylor grew up on a council estate near Brighton.

There were no books in the house, so Sandy's love of the written word was nurtured in the little local library.

Leaving school at fifteen, Sandy worked in a series of factories before landing a job at Butlins in Minehead.

This career change led her to becoming a singer, a stand-up comic and eventually a playwright and novelist.

Author Social Media Links: 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Boy at the Door - Alex Dahl - September 25, 2018

Review: The Boy at the Door
Author:  Alex Dahl
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Publisher:  Berkely
Format:  Audiobook
Date Published:  July 24, 2018
No. of Pages:  351
My rating:  4.5 Stars


This riveting psychological suspense debut by Alex Dahl asks the question, "how far would you go to hold on to what you have?"

Cecilia Wilborg has it all--a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a gorgeous home in an affluent Norwegian suburb. And she works hard to keep it all together. Too hard...

There is no room for mistakes in her life. Even taking home a little boy whose parents forgot to pick him up at the pool can put a crimp in Cecilia's carefully planned schedule. Especially when she arrives at the address she was given and finds an empty, abandoned house...

There's nothing for Cecilia to do but to take the boy home with her, never realizing that soon his quiet presence and knowing eyes will trigger unwelcome memories from her past--and unravel her meticulously crafted life...

My thoughts:

There are three characters in this story that just might nag you for awhile. There is eight-year-old Tobias, who was left after a swim class with no one to take him home. There is Cecelia Wilborg, the woman who was asked to take the boy to his home, but instead takes him to her home, with her family for the night. Then we get introduced to Annika, the woman who may be mother of young Tobias. Who was she really, and what happened to her?

The story is delivered to us in different narratives.  As we read this story, we begin to piece together some interesting facts. Why was Tobias keeping secrets about his life and his past? How at eight years old was he able to even keep such secrets? It doesn't take very long to see that the perfect life Cecelia leads is not so perfect after all. She is married to the apparently loving husband Johan, and has two beautiful daughters. While she initially tries to do the right thing by Tobias, a part of her is quite reluctant. As things change for her, she begins to unravel. We discover that Cecelia lives a life based on lies, and the more she tries to and keep things together, the more things begin to fall apart.  And, as we are given parts of Annika's story, we cannot help but wonder how her life connects with Cecelia's.

It is rather easy to see who you will like in this story. Tobias is a young, abandoned child, all alone and trying to make himself fit into a new family. His pain is almost palpable. How can you not be drawn to this young boy? There are Cecelia's daughters. They are very quiet in the story, but boy are they so innocent! Whatever will happen to them? This is what was flitting through my mind as I got drawn in deeper and deeper to whatever Cecelia was dishing out. Now, what about Johan and Cecelia? Johan seemed like he was just along for the ride, so I didn't form a lot opinions towards him. Cecelia made me crazy. She was a liar of the worst sort, caking lie upon lie. To be a woman with such a young family, and now with this little boy in her life, this was rather disconcerting. You will have to read the book to learn about Annika. She had me going there too! You will also see what you do not like in this story.

I find it hard to imagine that The Boy at the Door is the debut story of author Alex Dahl. It is truly crafty, spell-binding, very dark and utterly impossible to put down. I downloaded this book from Audible, and listened to one half of the book straight through, then later, listened to the other half. I was truly drawn into this story. I experienced a maelstrom of emotions while listening to this book. It is truly a character-driven story, with plenty of moments of difficult reading. Just wait for the stunning conclusion! My heart was in my throat, and I just couldn't get there fast enough. I love the writing style and so look forward to reading much more by this wonderful author.



BERKLEY; JULY 24, 2018


Tuesday, I wake angry. I often do, if I’m honest, but today it’s worse than usual. Firstly, because I wake alone—Johan has gone off to London for the third time this month—and secondly, because it’s October and it will be completely dark until almost nine o’clock. I reluctantly get out of bed and stand awhile by the window looking out onto the harbor. It’s not yet seven, but across the bay, cars are moving in a slow line toward the motorway. The water in the harbor is dully reflecting the moonlight through a thin, eerie layer of ice. Downstairs, my daughters have already started fighting. I glance at my phone and it’s full of messages and missed calls, but I just can’t face dealing with them right now. With everything going on, I’ve hardly been in the office the last week, but I am going in today.

I take a few exaggeratedly deep breaths and keep my gaze on the moon, still high in the sky; mindfulness is the way forward, I’ve heard. I try to see Sandefjord the way it is in summer, when it really is a joy to stand at this window, looking out over the balmy, calm inner harbor full of leisure boats, and that bright, late-evening light. We get more sun than almost anywhere else in Norway, but I must say the winters are especially wet and drab. According to the weather report, we can expect another onslaught of torrential rain this afternoon, but for now, it’s cool and clear. I take another couple of deep breaths, mentally steeling myself for the day ahead. I guess everyone feels like the world is a dark place sometimes.

Tuesday is a crap day in my world. Especially now that Marialuz has decided to leave us halfway through her contract and I’m stuck with no au pair. I don’t particularly enjoy having a stranger in the house but I most certainly don’t enjoy having to do all the work myself either. It just isn’t possible. Especially on Tuesdays, when the girls both have after-school activities in opposite parts of town. Nicoline dances ballet at five, and Hermine swims at six. Because Nicoline finishes as six thirty p.m., I then have to drive into town to collect her, and bring her back to the pool, where we sit on ugly plastic chairs watching small children bob around in the water until seven fifteen. Nicoline whines for the full half hour we’re there, unless I let her watch YouTube makeup tutorials on my phone and buy her candy, which I do. Obviously.

Tonight I’m in a particularly stressed-out, irritable mood, as things didn’t exactly go to plan at work. I bend over backward for my clients, sometimes literally, and still they complain. Angela Salomonsen had the nerve to e-mail me today, saying that the violet raw-silk cushions I commissioned handmade in Lyon look dove-gray in the particular light in her conservatory, and could I call her immediately so we could discuss this situation. These are the kinds of things I have to deal with as interior stylist in a wealthy town full of spoiled, bored wives.

Sometimes I think it is a miracle that I work at all, considering I have two small children and my husband is always traveling and I have no au pair. It’s not really like I have to, but I quite like what I do, and being me is very expensive. Also, in my circles, it’s definitely looked upon as a bit lazy to stay at home. Unless you have a cupcake business from the kitchen counter and blog about it, which I don’t, as I hate cupcakes and blogs.

It’s raining hard outside, and as I watch volleys of rain slam against the floor-to-ceiling windows beyond the pool, it occurs to me that I don’t remember the last day it didn’t rain. I suppose October is like that in many places, but I think I’m one of those people who is particularly sensitive to dreary skies and wet wind—I am a Taurus, and I prefer my surroundings to be beautiful at all times.

A little boy catches my eye as the children line up at the one-meter diving board. I’m not sure why. He’s significantly smaller than the other children and his skin is a deep olive-brown and smooth. He’s bouncing up and down on his heels, rubbing his arms, but his face is completely void of the goofy expressions of the other children waiting their turn. He looks frightened. I look around at the other parents who are waiting in the steamy, overheated room for someone who might be the boy’s parents—I don’t remember seeing him here before. There’s chubby Sara’s fat mother who I always try not to have to talk to—I’ve heard from several people that she’s really needy and the last thing I need is some cling-on mummy friend. There’s Emrik’s father—a good-looking guy I went to school with back in the day who is now a police officer, and who I occasionally glance up at before quickly looking away. I can feel his eyes on me now but wait ten seconds longer than I want to before meeting his eyes. I give him a very faint smile and he immediately returns it, like a grateful puppy. I’m a good girl these days, though it doesn’t come easily to me; there was a time when I would have felt giddy with excitement at this little game, perhaps easing the top button of my blouse open, running my tongue slowly along the backs of my teeth. I scan the few remaining people for the little boy’s parents, now pointedly ignoring Emrik’s dad’s wanting gaze.

There are the grandparents of Hermine’s best friend from school, Amalie, sitting closely together and sharing biscuits from an old, faded red cake tin. There is also a slim, ginger woman sitting close to the door, a heat flush creeping across her freckled white chest. She, too, is watching the boy intently, and I suppose she must be the mother.

There’s nobody else here; I imagine the other parents are out in the parking lot, preferring their own rain-battered cocoons and a newspaper to listening to kids’ screeching voices cutting through the clammy, hot air.

Finally, Hermine’s class finishes after two rather underwhelming attempts at diving, and she walks over to where Nicoline and I are sitting.

“Did you see that?” She beams, exposing the wide, fleshy gash in her mouth from six simultaneously missing teeth.

“Fabulous,” I say, standing up, gathering our things together and nudging Nicoline, who is watching a ten-year-old in America apply a thick layer of foundation before expertly contouring her elfin face. “Hurry up in the changing rooms. We’ll wait in the foyer.”

Hermine does not hurry up in the changing rooms, and Nicoline and I wait impatiently in the brick-clad foyer, staring out at columns of rain moving back and forth across the parking lot like dancers in a ballroom. I keep checking my watch and it’s already past 7:30 when Hermine appears, freshly blow-dried and with a lick of pink lip gloss in spite of the fact that she’s about to step into a torrent.

I can practically feel the thin, cool stem of the wine glass in my hand and am slightly hysterical at the thought of having to deal with the girls for much longer today. They begin to argue over something as we walk out the door, and over the sounds of their high-pitched squabbling and the crash of the rain, I don’t pick out the other sound until I’ve taken several steps into the rain. I briefly turn around, and there is the receptionist, an older, tired-looking woman with tight gray curls and a sweater that reads “Happy Halloween” She’s shouting my name into the downpour, motioning for me to come back inside, and it’s so typical—one of the girls must have left something behind.

“Cecilia, right?” she asks as I step back inside, already drenched. I notice the little boy again, the one who’d caught my eye at the pool. He’s sitting on a bench, staring at the floor, his hair dripping onto the brown tiles.


“I . . . I was wondering if you could possibly take this little boy home? Nobody has come for him.”

“What do you mean, nobody’s come for him?”

The receptionist comes over to where I’m standing near the door and lowers her voice to a near-whisper, indicating the little boy on the bench.

“Maybe there’s a misunderstanding . . . He knows where he lives. It’s over on Østerøya, I looked at the list, it doesn’t seem too far from where you are.”

“I’m sorry, it’s really inconvenient,” I say, glancing back out at the black, wet night, longingly now. “Isn’t there anyone else who can take him? There was a woman in there I thought was his mother.”

“I’m afraid it can’t have been; they’ve all gone.” Damn Hermine and her blow-dry.

“Have you called the parents?”

“Yes. The number he gave goes straight to voicemail.”

“Can’t he take a bus or something?” The receptionist gives me a slightly cold look and pointedly looks over my shoulder to the downpour outside.

Nicoline and Hermine stare with open mouths from me to the boy to the receptionist, and back to me. The idea of not actually being collected by anyone from their activities is clearly unfathomable to them, as it very well should be. What kind of parents would not turn up to pick up their child? Some people really should be prevented from reproducing in the first place.

“Fine,” I say. “Of course I’ll take him.” I look at the boy, expecting him to get up and follow us to the car, but he remains sitting, staring at the floor.

“I’ve never seen him here before,” I say to the receptionist. “What’s his name?”

“Tobias,” she says. “He only started a few weeks ago. He’s eight, but as he’s quite little for his age and hasn’t swum much previously, we moved him in with the seven-year-olds.”

“I see.” I try not to think of the extra half hour this kid’s parents’ fuck-up is going to cost me and my plans for a very large glass of Chablis by the fire before Johan comes home. I walk over to where he’s sitting.

“Come on,” I say, but realize my voice sounds harsh. I kneel down next to him, and only then does he look up at me. He’s like a sparrow, with jittery, nervous eyes, but a soft, sweet face, framed by defined, dark brows. He’s tiny—it seems impossible that he can be a year older than my solid, tall Hermine. There’s something serious and un-childlike about him, and it throws me for a moment, but then I try to empathize—it must be a result of coming from a family that forgets to pick up an eight-year-old from the swimming pool on a bitingly cold, wet October evening.

“Come,” I say again, softer now. He doesn’t take my outstretched hand, but does stand up, gathering his things together.

In the car, the girls are completely silent for once, and the only sound is the repetitive, fast swoosh of the windscreen wipers. Nicoline sits up front with me, staring out at the twinkling lights of the harbor as we drive through town on our way to Østerøya. I glance in the mirror and see that Hermine is looking unselfconsciously at Tobias, whose wan little face is turned away from her, to the window. Hermine begins to draw shapes in the gathering steam on her own window; hearts with arrows through them, her initials—H.W.—little bunnies with smiling faces.

“Mum?” says Nicoline.


“Can you drop us at our house before you take that boy home?”

Our home is only a two-minute detour, and it would be good for the girls to get a head start on the evening routine. “Sure. Daddy isn’t home yet, though. He’s landing at ten.”


“I won’t be more than twenty minutes, so you can get changed into your pajamas and brush your teeth.” I turn into our long driveway and glance at the boy again as our house comes into view. It’s quite an impressive sight with its shiny black roof, numerous softly lit windows, a triple garage, swimming pool just discernible through the hedges, panoramic sea views and welcoming red door. I wonder whether the boy has ever been to a home like this before, but his neutral expression betrays nothing. Back on the road, I try to make some conversation with him.

“So, which school do you go to?”




“Are you in . . . umm, second grade? Third?”

Silence. I give up.

I pull up at the address the receptionist wrote down on the back of a Sandefjord Svømmeklubb business card: Østerøysvingen 8, but there doesn’t seem to be anything here. I glance back at Tobias, but he sits immobile, as though he’s never been here before.

“Tobias? Is this where you live?” He nods slightly, and finally, through the dark and the rain, I make out the outline of a structure set back from the road atop a rocky crag. “Okay, bye, then,” I say, but the boy doesn’t move.

“Umm, would you like me to walk you to the door?” Slowly the boy raises his eyes to meet mine and there’s something in the way that he looks at me that makes me anxious. He nods. I look away, back up at what looks like a small, huddled wooden house, cursing this turn of events. I could be at home now, my feet up on the new InDesign footstool, a glass of crispy wine in my hand, flicking through Scandinavian Homes, my cashmere Missoni throw across my knees, listening to the snap of flames and the howl of the wind. Instead I’m here in the crashing rain with a mute, strange child, trying to find his parents. I run from the car up a steep gravel path to the door of the little house, the boy trailing behind me, seemingly oblivious to the onslaught of icy water. I knock on the flimsy door with peeling blue paint, but as I do, it opens a crack, as though it was never properly closed. I’m not sure whether the booming sound rising above the hammering rain is coming from my heart or from something inside the house.

“Hello?” I say loudly with fake confidence, pushing the door open all the way. The door opens straight into a living room, but the house is clearly unlived in—there is no furniture except the bare wooden bones of a sofa in the middle of the room. There are mounds of dust everywhere, cobwebs descending from dark, moist corners, and mouse droppings scattered about. I turn around fast, to the boy standing in the doorway, no longer in doubt that the booming sound is indeed coming from my heart.

“Tobias,” I say, taking hold of his bony shoulders with both of my hands. “Is this your house?” He nods.

“Where are your parents?” No reaction.

“Tobias, look at me! You have to explain to me what’s going on here! Do you live in this house? It doesn’t look like anyone lives here.” He still does not answer but I follow his eyes up a narrow staircase. I run up the stairs and my steps reverberate in the hollow, empty space. I shudder to think of him just standing there downstairs, in the dark, by himself. For a brief moment I am grateful for my own two girls. For all their shortcomings and the constant annoyance of listening to their never-ending squabbles, they are nowhere near as weird as this kid.

At the top of the stairs is a white, clean-looking IKEA lamp, unplugged, but seemingly recently placed into the thick dust. I plug it in and look around in the pool of light. There are two rooms upstairs, one on either side of the stairwell, and a small water basin. In one of the rooms is a dirty mattress, propped up against the wall, and in the corner stands a bin liner overflowing with clothes. In the other room a smaller mattress is placed against the window and a postcard hangs from a nail—Krakow. I turn it over but nothing is written on it.

Downstairs, Tobias is where I left him, standing motionless in the doorway, not letting his eyes wander around the room. I kneel down in front of him, determined to find a way to communicate with him.

“Tobias, you need to tell me what’s going on, right now. Do you live in this house?” He nods.

“Where are your parents, Tobias?” No response.

“Look, I’m going to have to call the police.”

“No!” he shouts, and I’m surprised by how forceful his voice is—I would have imagined it to be a fragile mewl, judging by the rest of the kid.

“I have to, Tobias. Obviously I can’t leave you here in this . . . this empty house. Where are your parents, sweetie?” I reach into my pocket for my iPhone, only to realize Nicoline still has it.

“Look, we’re going to go back to my house and make a few calls. You don’t need to worry, Tobias. You’re a child, and you haven’t done anything wrong. There has probably just been some kind of misunderstanding. Okay?” He shakes his head curtly and his indifferent expression of earlier is replaced by a scowl. I stand back up and reach for his hand, which is cold and wet. “Come on, sweetheart. It’s going to be okay. I’m going to help you.” He looks me square in the eye and nods slightly, eyes distant and sad.

At home, I park outside the garage because most likely I’m going to have to spend the rest of the evening driving this forlorn little boy around when the police find out where his parents actually are, because they sure as hell aren’t at home in their squat. I switch off the ignition, look quickly in the rearview mirror, and freeze, my hand on the door handle. Tobias is crying silently, big droplets rolling from his eyes and hovering a moment on his chin before dropping off onto his already-soaked jeans.

“Hey . . .” I say. “Hey . . . Come on inside. I’ll fix you a hot chocolate and you can watch a movie with my girls until we figure something out, okay?” I think he shakes his head but his sobs are so violent that I can’t be sure he isn’t just shaking all over.

“Please,” he whispers finally. “Please can I stay here tonight? Just tonight? They’ll come back tomorrow. I promise. I promise! Just tonight! Please don’t call the police!”

“But, Tobias, where are they? Who are they? Your parents?”


“Where are they?”

“They’re coming back tomorrow.”

“How do you know?”

“They said.” At this, I let out a sharp little sigh. Judging by the state of their living quarters, I wouldn’t take Tobias’s parents’ word on anything.

“Please,” he says again, and there’s something so raw and urgent in his eyes that I wait a moment before I speak. I have to say no. This kid can’t just stay here. It must be illegal to just take some kid in overnight without at least alerting the authorities. I could call now, and they’d come straight here; serious-looking men and women with briefcases sitting around my living room all night questioning this mostly mute boy. There would be phone calls, crying, pleading, the astonished expression on Johan’s face when he gets home from the airport less than two hours from now. Or . . . or I could put him up in the guest room, just for tonight, and drop him at his school first thing tomorrow morning and that would be that. Then the school could deal with him if the parents don’t return.

“Okay,” I say. “Of course you can stay here tonight. But just one night.” He nods and smiles a tight little smile at me as we walk the last few steps to the front door. Next to it hangs a wooden heart, made and painted by Nicoline, which reads: “Welcome to the Wilborg family!” Tobias pauses next to it for several long moments and there is something in his focused, serious expression that unsettles me. There is something else, too; something about his smile—it looks familiar, like I have seen him somewhere before. This is a small town. I could have seen him anywhere, at any time. It isn’t so strange. But there was something about his smile . . . something familiar.

“Welcome,” I say, holding the door open for him, smiling stiffly, and he nods, stepping into the hallway.

Sometimes, if I wake in the quietest hour of the night, when the house seems to gently buzz with all that sweet normality, I pad across the hallway and stand awhile in one of the girls’ rooms. I stand still, listening to the rise and fall of soft, slow breath. In spite of the hell they put me through sometimes, and in spite of the fact that, really, I’m just another working mother trying to hold it all together at an astronomical cost, I am so very grateful for them. That somebody as perfect and wonderful as those two should have chosen Johan and me as parents is astonishing.

Hermine is contrary, sharp-mouthed and utterly beautiful. She is witty and independent, and has mastered sarcasm since she was tiny. Nicoline takes after Johan—she is truly kind, both in actions and in thoughts, and I don’t say that lightly, because nobody else in this family is as completely and uncomplicatedly kind as those two. Nicoline just wants us all to get along all the time, and easily senses when something is even slightly awry. One day, she’ll make an incredible mother. The kind who lives for the glee on dirty, sugar-crusted little faces. The kind of mother I’m just not.

I love my girls, wildly, but often my intentions surpass my practical ability. I want to be the kind of parent who reads to them for hours after spending the afternoon baking glittery pink, gluten-free unicorn oat biscuits. I want to be the mother whose facial expression is calm and harmonious even when they shout “Mommy” for the seventh time—in that minute. “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” “Yes,” I want to smile, “here I am.” A one-woman comfort station, a one-stop shop for food, fun and endless reassurance. But I’m not that mother, most of the time. I’m the mother who fantasizes about a piscine de champagne on Mala Beach, the one who wants to smash stuff when they fight and shout, the one whose maternal patience just isn’t all that.

But I do adore them. And especially in those silent, dark hours, when their faces are vulnerable and bare by the light of the moon, their breath uncontrolled and peaceful, their little hands clasped to their chins beneath unguarded faces, lingering at the very end of childhood.

Tonight everything is different. For several hours, I lie in bed, unable to sleep, just focusing on syncing my breath to Johan’s soft, regular rhythm. A part of me wants to go and stand in one of the girls’ rooms, to make sure that they really are there, that they are safe. I want to walk quietly around the house, making sure everything is okay, that everything is how it should be, but I don’t, because everything is strange and different, and I know I’ll burst into tears if I move even an inch.


Half-American, half-Norwegian, Alex Dahl was born in Oslo. She graduated with a B.A. in Russian and German linguistics with international studies and went on to complete an M.A. in creative writing at Bath Spa University, followed by an M.S. in business management at Bath University. Alex has published short stories in the U.K. and the U.S. She is a serious Francophile and currently lives in both London and Sandefjord. The Boy at the Door is her first novel.