23 Aug 2017


Book Review / Summer at Rose Island by Holly Martin

Fall in love with the gorgeous seaside town of White Cliff Bay this summer and enjoy long sunny days, beautiful beaches and… a little romance.

Darcy Davenport is ready for a fresh start. Determined to leave a string of disastrous jobs and relationships behind her, she can’t wait to explore White Cliff Bay and meet the locals.

When Darcy swims in the crystal clear waters of the bay, she discovers the charming Rose Island Lighthouse. But it’s not just the beautiful building that she finds so intriguing…

Riley Eddison doesn’t want change. Desperate to escape the memories of his past, he lives a life of solitude in the lighthouse. Yet he can’t help but notice the gorgeous woman who swims out to his island one day.

Darcy is drawn to the mysterious and sexy Riley, but when it seems the town is trying to demolish his home, she soon finds herself having to pick sides.

She’s fallen in love with White Cliff Bay. But is that all Darcy’s fallen for?

Pull up a deck chair, sink back with a bowl of strawberry ice cream and pick up the summer read you won’t be able to put down.

Published:     13th May 2016
Publisher:  Bookouture
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 3, White Cliff Bay
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


What I liked about this story...  Having read the first book in this series a little while ago (and loved it) I was really excited to pick this one up.  I know this is book 3 in the series but book 2 looked like it was based around Christmas time and I'm not going to read a Christmas book in the summer.  I was hoping that this was one of those book series that I can just dip in and out of and I was right.  To me, it really didn't matter that I had skipped a book, this book had its own plot line.  

What I liked the most was the dynamic between Darcy and Riley.  You have Darcy who is new to White Cliff Bay and doesn't like being told what to do.  Riley has lived in White Cliff Bay for most if not all of his life and doesn't like change but change is what is happening.   

What I didn't like about this story...   There were some parts of the story that didn't feel right to me.  You have Darcy who up until now has been a failure in the job department having unsuccessfully had 17 jobs.  She is then offered a job at the local council, a job that looks like it holds a lot of responsibility and something that she has no qualifications for and seemingly no training for.  She is a trained marine biologist which is vastly different to what she has ended up doing (although I do admit that there is a reason for why she has stopped doing that).  I also didn't agree with the choice that Darcy made when working for the council.  The decision she made just made her seem a bit unlikeable in that moment. 

Continue reading Book Review / Summer at Rose Island by Holly Martin

21 Aug 2017

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Book Review / Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that's exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison ...

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.

Published:     7th Septmber 2017
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Prisoner of Ice and Snow
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


I can't tell you how excited I am for this series (or trilogy - not sure which at the moment).  I read this book in one sitting.  I just could not put it down.  This book was fun to read but also so action packed it kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through.  Although I generally do not like comparing books to other books but the main character in this book, Valor, reminded me so much of Selaena from Throne of Glass.  A very strong character with a lot of hidden talents and I am sure there is a lot more to this story that we have yet to find out!

Such great fun to read this book, I can't wait to read more!


Continue reading Book Review / Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

17 Aug 2017


Book Review / Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um...

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait...what?

Published:     6th May 2014
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Library



What I liked about this story...  I kept hearing about this book everywhere so I thought it was time to pick it up!  This one has been on my wish list since it came out!  This was a really fun read.  Right from the beginning we are in the same position as the main character, Emily, when we find out that Sloane has disappeared.  Up until this point Sloane was the person who brought Emily out of her shell and helped build her confidence.  Now Emily is on her own and not sure if she can do this on her own.  Sloane hasn't left her completely high and dry.  She left a to do list for Emily to follow.  What I enjoyed the most was following Emily as she decides to complete this list. 

What I didn't like about this story...  Firstly, Emily's parents...   Emily's parents are script writers and when the writing bug hits it seems that they no longer care about looking after children (and from what it seems no longer care about looking after themselves much either) and its not the first time this has happened.  Morally, I don't agree with that.  When you have children, they should come first.  For someone to just drop all responsibility to focus on one thing and that one thing is not their children.

Lastly, I really didn't like the ending.  It was just kind of blah.  Emily goes through a lot that summer and the ending just didn't live up to the excitement of the rest of the story.

Continue reading Book Review / Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

14 Aug 2017

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Book Review / Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Juliet Young has always written letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither of them knows that they're not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. This emotional, compulsively-readable romance will sweep everyone off their feet.

Published:    6th April 2017
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


Now this was a pretty amazing read.  Right off the bat you have Juliet Young who has lost her mother and still visits the grave to leave letters writing how she is feeling.  It is only when Declan reads one of her letters and communicates back that Juliet has to confront not only Declan but her own emotions for losing her mother.  

This book was so packed full of emotion I had to read this in one sitting, in just one day.   Not only do you have Juliet having to face up to her feelings about her mother's death but you have the dynamic relationship between her and Declan.  Along with that you have Declan's story, so there is certainly a lot to pay attention to but not too much to be annoying.

I will definitely be picking up more by this author!


Continue reading Book Review / Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

10 Aug 2017

Blog Tour Author Interview / A Message from the Other Side by Moira Forsyth

When Catherine moves several hundred miles away from her sister, Helen says, ‘Phone calls aren’t enough’, but they make it easier to edit the truth. Helen can dismiss Gilbert and his enchanted Factory as ‘weird’ when she’s never met him, and Catherine think Helen foolish for loving the unreliable and dangerous Joe. 

Neither sees the perils concealed in what they have not told each other, or guesses at the sinister connection between their separate lives. 

A Message from the Other Side is a novel about love and marriage, but even more about hatred and the damage people do to each other in the most ordinary of families.


If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

As an editor, in my ‘day job’ I work with other writers all the time, and with (almost!) all of them it’s a pleasure and privilege. I’ve never collaborated on a project with an author, but that’s a project tucked away for when I have more time. It would be my partner Robert Davidson – he’s a very different writer from me, so we’d complement each other. We often talk about doing this, but have never had the time and the good idea together so far!

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I have written in lots of unlikely places – cafés, railway stations, the waiting area by a swimming pool… but usually I’m at the desk in my little study at the top of the house, surrounded by drawings, photographs and poems pinned up on the wall. I used to write everything longhand in the first draft, but a bout of tendonitis in the past has meant my handwriting is not good, and too painful to do for any length of time. So it’s the PC now – I like a big screen and a proper keyboard. Because I can rarely write daily, full time, this often has to be tucked into the corners of my life, but now and again I take some time out and focus on my own work. New writing is usually done in the morning, before the rest of the world has crowded in. I feed the cat, go back to bed to read for twenty minutes, go for a run then come back to shower, dress and sit at my desk. I like to have a walk or work in the garden after lunch, then come back to what I wrote in the morning and work on it again. Sometimes, if I’m well on with a novel, I’ll write again late in the evening, because by then it’s all I’m thinking about.

What is the hardest part of the writing for you?

The worst part is the uneasy period when I’ve finished one novel but haven’t begun another. There are ideas, odd paragraphs, sometimes several chapters, none of them going anywhere. It’s frustrating. I love that day when you suddenly realise you’ve got it – the new story has begun to unroll in front of you like a landscape with a winding road. When that happens I can’t wait to follow it, and I write steadily, and quite fast, from then on.

When and why did you first start writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a young child – I can’t remember not telling stories or writing them. I completed my first novel at twelve, then as a young teenager I wrote long stories putting my friends in as characters, as well as the pop stars we all loved, and these were passed round the classroom – some of my friends from those days remember waiting for the next instalment!

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

‘A Message from the Other Side’ began with a dream about the empty space that became the upper floor in The Factory in the novel. When I woke up, couldn’t stop thinking about it: it seemed too good to waste. At the same time, I had a few chapters about two sisters and the ex-husband of one of them, but no real story to put them in. These two strands began to merge, and once I had the character of Gilbert, who tries to make The Factory into a going concern, I was able to plan the novel.

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?

I’m always reading – I can’t go to sleep at night if I don’t have a book. Just now I’m re-reading the novels of Mary Wesley. A great inspiration for any hopeful writer, she wasn’t published till she was seventy, and became a huge best seller. I’ve ordered her biography and look forward to that – I love literary biographies.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

Join a good writers’ group if you can. I was lucky to be a member of Dingwall Writers’ Group in the 1990s, some of whose members were superb writers and excellent critics. Impartial, constructive feedback is vital. Give your work to people whose judgement you respect, and listen to what they tell you. Read good writers, and learn from them.

The Message from The Other Side ebook deal will be down to £1 on Amazon, iBooks and the Kobo Store. Links to the Kobo and Amazon pages are below:


Continue reading Blog Tour Author Interview / A Message from the Other Side by Moira Forsyth

8 Aug 2017

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Book Review / We Were Liars by E Lockhart

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Published:     13th May 2014
Publisher:  Delacorte Press
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Library


Well this book was a surprise...   

This is one of those books that I have been meaning to pick up for a while and now that I have read it I can't believe that it took me so long!  I loved this book.  From recommendations that I had from various book reviews, I went into this book blind.  The only information I had was the description at the top of this post and I have to be honest and say that this was most definitely the best way to enter into this book.  Not knowing anything meant that anything was possible, which made the twist in this story so much more unexpected and very interesting indeed!  I am not going to spoil any part of the story here but all I will say is this is definitely one to pick up.  

The best part of this book is most definitely the twist.  It was one of those kind of plot twists that made me have to take a minute before continuing reading because it was so surprising!

Adored this book and can't wait to read more from this author!

Continue reading Book Review / We Were Liars by E Lockhart

7 Aug 2017


Book Review / Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

Meet Robin Wilde! You'll make a friend for life and she'll take you on a journey you'll never forget ...

Single mum Robin Wilde adores her six-year-old daughter and loves her job as a make up artist's assistant. She has a wonderful best friend and an auntie who is bonkers, yes, but loves her to the moon and back.

But Robin has a secret. Behind the mask she carefully applies every day, things just feel ... grey. And lonely. She struggles to fit in with the school mum crew. Online dating is totally despair-inducing, and she worries every day about raising her little girl with self-confidence, courage and joy.

What Robin longs for is someone (over the age of six) to share with - someone who's always on her team.

After 4 years (2 months, and 15 days!) of single-mum-dom, it's time for Robin Wilde to Change. Her. Life.

Exciting new opportunities are about to come Robin's way ... Perhaps a man, perhaps the chance of a lifetime ...

What will Robin do with the possibilities she creates for herself? And what potential will she unlock if she takes the leap?

Published:     29th June 2017
Publisher:  Bonnier Zaffre
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone / Possible Book 1 in a Series
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


This is just what I wanted to read this summer!  A perfect holiday read that made me laugh and really want the main character, Robin, to 'win the day'.  If I had to pick one thing that I enjoyed the most was the character of Robin.  Following her journey throughout the story was really fun and I  was really hoping that all would work out for her and her daughter.   A part of the story that I really enjoyed was her work life where at the start we see her as an assistant make up artist and to where she ends up at you can't not be emotional for the journey she has taken. 

Heart warming and funny, this is the perfect book to read on a summer's day, whether that is at the beach, by the pool or even at home! 

Continue reading Book Review / Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

1 Aug 2017

The Andalucian Nights Trilogy - Author Giveaway

The award-winning epic Andalucían Nights Trilogy sweeps the reader from the wild landscapes of Spain in the 1950s, through a history of dangerous liaisons and revenge dramas, to a modern world of undercover missions and buried secrets. Romantic, exotic and deeply compelling, and featuring a memorable cast of characters, including a passionate young gypsy, a troubled young writer and an estranged family, The Andalucían Nights Trilogy is a romantic treat waiting to be discovered.

Buy link: Amazon.com


Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean. 

Hannah is a multi-award-winning novelist, and to date she has published five novels: Burning Embers, ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; The Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’, set in Italy; and the Andalusian Nights Trilogy Indiscretion, Masquerade and Legacy – her fieriest novels yet, set in sunny, sultry Spain. 

Continue reading The Andalucian Nights Trilogy - Author Giveaway

31 Jul 2017

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Blog Tour Book Review / It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan

Set, like Maeve Binchy's early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.

But in the end, Patrick Murphy's heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?

Published:     13th July 2017
Publisher:  Head of Zeus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


Iam sure I am not going to be the only one to say that after reading The Dress by the same author, I was so excited to read about this one.  It's not often that I am intrigued enough to pick up some form of historic fiction story.  This story is based in the 1950s, an era I have not read a great deal about.  In this story, we follow three women, learn their backgrounds and follow them as they get tangled up in the web that is otherwise called Patrick Murphy.

You have Rose, Ava and Sheila.  One of them knew Patrick when he was a teenager and was his first love.  One of them meets him much later on when he has moved to New York and falls in love.  The other one meets him and wants to help him with his career.  Then you have Patrick himself where we follow his journey from his younger years to when he is living and working in New York.

What made this book amazine for me was the depth of the characters and the fact that they all have back stories that were equally as interesting to follow as the one where Patrick is involved.

I can't recommend this book enough - YOU NEED TO READ THIS!!!

Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan

29 Jul 2017

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Blog Tour Book Review / Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

The sun is shining, the sea is blue, the children have disappeared.

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The adults are lulled by the ship’s comfort and ease. The four children—ages six to eleven—love the nonstop buffet and their newfound independence. But when they all go ashore for an adventure in Central America, a series of minor misfortunes and miscalculations leads the families farther from the safety of the ship. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

The disintegration of the world the families knew—told from the perspectives of both the adults and the children—is both riveting and revealing. The parents, accustomed to security and control, turn on each other and blame themselves, while the seemingly helpless children discover resources they never knew they possessed.

Do Not Become Alarmed is a story about the protective force of innocence and the limits of parental power, and an insightful look at privileged illusions of safety. Celebrated for her spare and moving fiction, Maile Meloy has written a gripping novel about how quickly what we count on can fall away, and the way a crisis shifts our perceptions of what matters most.

Published:     6th July 2017
Publisher:  Penguin
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


What I liked about this story...  Being in part of my 'I really need to read a lot of thrillers' mood this book was a perfect one to pick up.  Not only did it have the element of children that have gone missing but another storyline that was equally as interesting to figure out.  That was the element of this book that I liked the most.  If I had to pick a favourite side of the story to follow, it would have to be from the point of view of the children - watching them as they get lost and what comes after.  Also I have to say that although there was a big part of this story that I didn't like (see below) it also was a very interesting storyline morally to read about and think about.  

What I didn't like about this story...  What I could not understand was how could a mother who was responsible for not only her child/children but others as well fall asleep!  I know that accidents can happen but if you are in that position where you could fall asleep you get up, walk around a bit to try and wake up!!!  Also, how could a mother leave their child/children on the beach supposedly being looked after by another mother to cheat on her husband in the woods nearby!!!  Surely the well being of the children comes first and you should not leave the beach!!! 

Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

28 Jul 2017

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Blog Tour / The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone (aka Cathy Glass)

A gripping new thriller debut that asks the question, how deep in our hearts does evil lie?

When critically ill Jacob Wilson is given a life-saving heart transplant, his parents are relieved that their loving son has been saved.

However, before long, his family are forced to accept that something has changed in Jacob. Their once loving son is slowly being replaced by a violent man whose mood swings leave them terrified – but is it their fault?

Jacob’s girlfriend, Rosie, is convinced the man she loves is suffering from stress. But when his moods turn on her, she begins to doubt herself – and she can only hide the bruises for so long.

When a terrible crime is committed, Jacob’s family are forced to confront their darkest fears. Has the boy they raised become a monster? Or is someone else to blame?

[Extract 14 from Chapter 7 pp. 36-37]

After the transplant and following usual practice, Jacob was taken directly to the intensive care unit where he was kept sedated, connected to a ventilator to help with his breathing, and given a drip passing fluids and medication into his arm. As with the other transplant patients, doctors and nurses monitored him around the clock until he was stable enough to be removed from the ventilator and brought out of the drug-induced coma. 

As Jacob rose up through the layers of consciousness, he began swearing and cursing at the nurses, saying things he wouldn’t have done when fully awake. He told one nurse to ‘fuck off’ and another that he’d like to ‘give her one’, before trying to grab her breast. 

‘That’s not very nice coming from a vicar’s son,’ she joked, aware it wasn’t the patient talking but the cocktail of drugs – particularly potent after a transplant. 

As soon as he was fully conscious Jacob returned to his normal self and, still slightly confused, asked politely, ‘Where am I?’

‘You’re in hospital, Jacob,’ the nurse said. ‘You’ve had your transplant and everything is fine. We’re moving you to a different ward soon and your family will be in to see you again later.’

Relieved, he thanked the nurse and then fell into a more natural sleep. The next time he woke, his parents and Eloise were at his bedside, his mother, holding one hand and Eloise the other, while his father stood at the foot of his bed, smiling. The glow from the ceiling light caught his hair, circling his head like a halo, and just for a moment Jacob thought he’d died and was in heaven. After a few seconds, reality hit him, and he remembered what had happened.

Continue reading Blog Tour / The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone (aka Cathy Glass)

25 Jul 2017


Book Review / The Dark Isle by Clare Carson

Sam grew up in the shadow of the secret state. Her father was an undercover agent, full of tall stories about tradecraft and traitors. Then he died, killed in the line of duty.
Now Sam has travelled to Hoy, in Orkney, to piece together the puzzle of her father's past. Haunted by echoes of childhood holidays, Sam is sure the truth lies buried here, somewhere.

What she finds is a tiny island of dramatic skies, swooping birds, rugged sea stacks and just four hundred people. An island remote enough to shelter someone who doesn't want to be found. An island small enough to keep a secret...

Published:     1st June 2017
Publisher:  Head of Zeus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 3, Sam Coyle Trilogy
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


What I liked about this story...  What I had not realised when reading this book was that it was book 3 in a series.  I only realised that when starting to write my review here!  It may be that I would have learned a lot more about different characters and different situations from reading the first two books in the series but I have to say that I realy enjoyed this book and maybe the fact that I didn't know a lot about what happened previously helped me be more surprised with the twists and turns.  What I liked the most was the pace. It started off at a fairly normal pace but as we follow Sam and discover bits along the way the pace sped up until the pace was so fast I just could not put it down!  I had to know how it ended!  There were certainly quite a few parts in this story that surprised me.

Continue reading Book Review / The Dark Isle by Clare Carson

24 Jul 2017


Blog Tour Book Excerpt / The Dark Isle by Clare Carson

Sam grew up in the shadow of the secret state. Her father was an undercover agent, full of tall stories about tradecraft and traitors. Then he died, killed in the line of duty.
Now Sam has travelled to Hoy, in Orkney, to piece together the puzzle of her father's past. Haunted by echoes of childhood holidays, Sam is sure the truth lies buried here, somewhere.

What she finds is a tiny island of dramatic skies, swooping birds, rugged sea stacks and just four hundred people. An island remote enough to shelter someone who doesn't want to be found. An island small enough to keep a secret...

Orkney, September 1989

SAM STROLLED THROUGH the graveyard to the shore, hoping to escape the sense of being watched, but the shifting outline of Hoy made her uneasy. She stared at its treacherous north face of stacks and caves, shrouded by spray where the towering cliffs plunged into the sea and met the breakers rolling in from the Atlantic. The twilight made the isle appear more cloud than land, a storm gathering across the water. She trailed the high tide mark, her eyes still drawn to the island rather than watching where she was placing her feet, and almost tripped over the rusty corpse of the seal among the bladder wrack, starbursts scarring its abdomen where the body had bloated and exploded leaving the brine to preserve its hide. She leaned and stroked the leathery skin then parked herself by the dead creature. The still presence gave her strange comfort. She waited. A pipistrelle flitted past. The mountains of Hoy blurred with the darkening sky. The North Star gleamed. Surely he would have disappeared by now. She decided to risk it, stood and retraced her steps inland along the burn. The sea breeze buffeted her from behind and she tried to hold the gusts in her mind, but the wind slipped away, rattled the deadheads of the cow parsley lining the path. Left her with a knot in her stomach.

She reached the graveyard and heard the hurried footsteps of somebody retreating as she pushed the gate. She cut through the grey tombstones, past the yellow walls of the Round Church, surveyed the Earl’s Bu and the field beyond for signs. The Norse Earls had made their home here in Orphir on the southern edge of Orkney’s Mainland, the settlement recorded in the Orkneyinga Saga. A place of deaths and ghosts. There had been dusky evenings when she had stood here and thought she’d glimpsed the shadows of pissed Norsemen fighting among the ruins of their great drinking hall, but this evening she saw nothing apart from a hooded crow pecking among the stones. He was there, though, she could tell. Watching. She had been aware of his presence all summer. She had tried to ignore the constant prickle at the back of her neck as she grappled with the gradiometer, the new-fangled piece of kit they were using to try to locate the buried remains of the Norse settlement. They couldn’t dig because the ruins ran under the cemetery and they didn’t want to disturb the graves. Geophysical surveys were a good way of detecting sub-surface features without excavating and causing damage, the archaeologist in charge of the site had said. Like water dowsing, she replied. He laughed and said if they didn’t find anything with the equipment, perhaps she could have a go with her hazel divining rods.
The initial results were not promising. Too many anomalous spikes in the data, either because the ruins lay too deep to be detected or, as the archaeologist suggested when the monitor went haywire, there was some strange force buggering up the readings. He had looked at Sam when he said that and accused her of having supernatural powers that interfered with the magnetic fields. It had taken her a couple of seconds to realize he was joking. She was the one who had mentioned water dowsing after all. The archaeologist had invited her to come back the following summer to help with another survey, if they could find the funding. She had recently finished a history degree and now, at twenty-three, was about to start a doctorate. She would love to write her thesis on the Earl’s Bu, she had said. It would be a relief, she had added – four years of academic study. He had raised an eyebrow. A relief? She had corrected herself. More of a retreat than a relief. A retreat from what, he had asked. Her father’s dodgy legacy, she had wanted to say; Jim had been a police spy, killed five years before, and she’d never quite escaped his shadow. She shrugged instead of speaking. He had eyed her shrewdly and said retreating was fine as a temporary strategy but eventually you had to turn and face the ghosts, assess the ruins that lay below one way or another. She wasn’t so sure. She had volunteered for the archaeological project in Orkney, drawn back by the happier memories of childhood holidays here with Jim, the darker recollections buried deeper. The presence of the watcher made her fear that somebody else was digging in the murkier corners of her family’s history, unearthing events best forgotten. Her return to Orkney had disturbed ghosts of a more solid and ominous kind, she feared, than the spectres of long dead Norsemen.

Continue reading Blog Tour Book Excerpt / The Dark Isle by Clare Carson