#ThrowbackThursday | #BookReview | TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee | #TBT

Welcome to our #ThrowbackThursday part of the blog, where we share old reviews from the archives.

Todays review was first posted on The P.Turner’s Facebook Page, May 4th 2016!

To add to your Goodreads TBR please click on the cover

Hope you enjoy!

[K]


Blurb:

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Review:

New book review – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 5*

Wow! This book is just amazing. As I said in my previous post it was 15 years ago I first read To Kill A Mockingbird and it stuck with me. There was so much of the book that I could remember and it just did not fade over time.

I was reluctant to re read over the years. Would I like it as much the second time round? What if age makes a difference?

Well I can honestly say I think I enjoyed it even more this time around. There were parts that I missed at 15, I definitely feel I had a much stronger understanding of what was portrayed in the book. Harper Lee writes the book from a childs point of view and for me that really adds an innocence to the story and really makes the reader consider how life was in this era and how it would have been easier if people asked the right questions.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It is an absolute stunning read and despite the nature of the story is so easy to read.

*L*

#BlogTour | #BookReview | UTRECHT RAIN (UTRECHT MURDERS #2) by Jonathan Wilkins @WriterJWilkins (March 6th 2020) #UtrechtRain #UtrechtMurders @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Hello and welcome to our spot on the Utrecht Murders blog tour! Please scroll down for [K]’s review of Utrecht Rain:

Blurb:

Maaike Meijer is attacked in a senseless outbreak of violence at the Dom Tower in Utrecht. Her brother, Freddie, fights off the assailants, but how is the brutality linked to a series of violent threats, cyber crime and the Dutch Secret Service? Truus Heda continues her work as a private investigator whilst caring for her lover before finding the missing link. As the nightmare unfolds we enter the world of Serbian gangsters and Utrecht Goths and see how Hoofdinspecteur Caes Heda and his overworked team tackle a crime that could consume the city.

Publishing Information:

Published by lulu.com in paperback format on 17th March 2020

Review:

Following on a couple of months after the events of Utrecht Snow life is progressing well for our team, up until Maaike and Freddie are violently attacked whilst out on patrol. Whilst the twins recover from their injuries Caes, Truus and the gang are thrown back into the darker side of fighting crime and brutal violence. 

The well described story that was set in book 1 carried through to book 2, the snow has thawed. As we were introduced to the team in book 1 only a swift reminder was needed before I found myself back into the thick of things with the gang on the rain soaked streets of Utrecht.

I sympathised for Maaike as she struggled to deal with how limited her mobility was whilst she healed from her injuries, I felt the anger and frustration the team felt through lack of leads for the case and that something like this has happened to one of their own.

I loved the further development of the characters and not wanting to give away the storyline, with the way the book ended I cannot wait to see if there is a Utrecht Murders #3 I can get my hands on!

[K]

Author Bio:

Jonathan loves to write. He is a retired teacher, lapsed Waterstones’ bookseller and former Basketball Coach. He taught PE and English for 20 years and coached women’s basketball for over 30 years. 

He regularly teaches creative writing workshops in and around Leicester.

Social Media:

Twitter | Website | Instagram

You can buy Utrecht Rain from the following booksellers (and obviously many more! Support your local booksellers where you can!)

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (AU)

Book Depository

Stay tuned for [K]’s review of Utrecht Snow, posted this morning, please click here

#BlogTour | #BookReview | UTRECHT SNOW (UTRECHT MURDERS #1) by Jonathan Wilkins @WriterJWilkins (March 6th 2020) #UtrechtSnow #UtrechtMurders @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Hello and welcome to our spot on the Utrecht Murders blog tour! Please scroll down for [K]’s review of Utrecht Snow:

Blurb:

Utrecht police inspector Caes Heda leads a team looking into the disappearance of young women. Meanwhile his daughter, Truus, bored with University takes up a job with disgraced former police office Thijs Orman at his Private Detective Agency and finds herself looking for yet another missing girl, this time it’s her bosses own daughter. are they all linked? At the Kroonstraat Police station the team Caes has put together look into the normal run of the mill cases and try to overcome the weather as much as the crime in the city as snow envelopes the streets of Utrecht. We meet twins Freddie and Maaike Meijer who patrol the streets together with colleagues Adrie and Danny. The team is made up by Madelon Verloet and man mountain Ernst Hougewood. Together they investigate car theft, street crime, assault and finally murder. We look at the everyday lives of the police involved, Caes still traumatised after his wifes early death and Truus falling for Maaike.

Publishing Information:

Published by lulu.com in paperback format on 6th March 2020

Review:

Within the white snow of Utrecht women are going missing, Inspector Caes Heda and his team are tasked with investigating these disappearances but with clues and motive unknown how will they stop the kidnapper before they strike again?

When we first meet Caes ‘in charge of Crime at Kroonstraat Police Bureau, not committing it obviously, but tidying it up after it had been committed’ (love this quote, made me laugh out loud, comment after my own heart!) he is sat on a bus heading towards work. The description of his journey I felt was vivid, one of those cold crisp days, you could feel the cold seeping into your skin making me shiver. The rest of the book I carried on in a similar vein, despite only ever visiting Amsterdam I felt I was standing there beside the characters as they made their way around the streets of snowy and frozen Utrecht. 

I sympathised with Caes and Truus who lost their beloved Femke, and how they are still adjusting to living their lives without her. I found I developed favourites within the team, Maaike and Freddie, twins who both entered the police force together and now patrol the streets together, still enjoying their sibling banter. The characters felt like a true empathetic group working together within the force, trying to make Utrecht a better place. 

This is my first book by Jonathan Wilkins and now I have become attached to the characters I want to join them on back on the streets of Utrecht as soon as possible!

[K]

Author Bio:

Jonathan loves to write. He is a retired teacher, lapsed Waterstones’ bookseller and former Basketball Coach. He taught PE and English for 20 years and coached women’s basketball for over 30 years. 

He regularly teaches creative writing workshops in and around Leicester.

Social Media:

Twitter | Website | Instagram

You can buy Utrecht Snow from the following booksellers (and obviously many more! Support your local booksellers where you can!)

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (AU)

Book Depository

Stay tuned for [K]’s review of Utrecht Rain which will appear this afternoon!

#Review | #BookReview | THOROUGHLY WHIPPED by Tillie Cole @tillie_cole (June 7th 2020) @ArdentPRose

Thank you very much to Ardent Prose and Tillie Cole for providing a copy of the book to *M*

The review below is 100% honest and all of her own views.

Summary:

I, Faith Parisi, love my life. I have the best job—resident sex-advice diva for Visage magazine—I have the best friends, and I live in the best city in the world. Things are pretty damn fabulous. That is, until Henry “Harry” Sinclair III comes crashing back into my world like a bad case of herpes.

I hate the way Harry’s lip curls in contempt whenever he sees me. I hate his bright blue eyes and those inexplicably offensive dimples. I hate his stuffy English accent and the stick that’s permanently jammed up his aristocratic ass. More than anything, I hate that he’s now my boss.

But my professional prospects start to look up when a chance at writing Visage’s big summer feature falls into my lap. Success won’t be easy. I’ll need to let go of all my inhibitions—not that I have that many of those—and jump, stiletto heels first, into a hedonistic new world. An exclusive, secretive world, filled with leather, latex, and Manhattan’s elite.

Pulling this off will take every ounce of daring I have, and every ounce of focus. I can’t afford to get distracted by anything, least of all my new boss, his arrogant mouth, or the way the ice between us seems to be slowly melting away…

Review:

This is my first venture into the work of Tillie Cole, after hearing rave reviews from *S* for Cole’s other work. 

And let me tell you, what a joy this was to read. From the start Cole creates characters that are completely real, intriguing and utterly beautiful in their flaws. 

Here we have two lead characters whose chemistry is undeniable and unique. A female lead who is every bit the independent, smart, sassy and beautiful heroine we didn’t know we wanted. Juxtaposed perfectly against the aristocratic, handsome, untouchable hero, who keeps our female lead on her toes. 

The clever storytelling and excellent character development mean that we instantly connect to this story and the characters. Cole has blended cultures, intertwined this with humour and sexual chemistry to create a very enjoyable read. 

Thoroughly Whipped lives up to the title, keeping the reader hooked, whipped into a reading frenzy, so that we cannot stop reading until the very satisfying end. 

Safe to safe, I loved every minute reading this story and cannot wait to read more work by this truly amazing author. 

*M*

You can buy Thoroughly Whipped from the following booksellers (and obviously many more! Support your local booksellers where you can!)

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (AU)

#ThrowbackThursday | #BookReview | DARK BLOOD – A CARPATHIAN NOVEL by Christine Feehan | #TBT

Welcome to our #ThrowbackThursday part of the blog, where we share old reviews from the archives.

Todays review was first posted on The P.Turner’s Facebook Page, March 28th 2016!

To add to your Goodreads TBR please click on the cover

Source of original review is found here

Hope you enjoy!

[K]


Blurb:

At long last you are truly back with us…

Zev Hunter was an elite warrior, a dark-blood dealer of death to rogue Lycans who preyed on mankind. He was a loner, never given to personal attachments, and damned fierce at his job. But Zev begins to question his past and his purpose when he awakens in the darkness of the sacred cave of warriors—and is soothed back to consciousness by the sensuously familiar voice of one woman, the woman who has haunted his fantasies for centuries. She was Branislava, member of the Dragonseeker clan…

Mother Earth called the ancients to witness your rebirth…

For this half-mage, half-Carpathian temptress, the ritual of awakening Zev to the council of warriors was the only way to save him. Locked away for his own protection, the time has now come for his rebirth, for his blood to stir with that of the ancient warriors before him. He has been assured by Branislava that their fates are entwined, that their spirits are woven together for eternity and that his new purpose in life is beyond imagining.

Now, with a blood-sworn vow of honor, mercy and endurance, and under the influence of a siren as bewitching as Branislava, Zev begins to wonder what his purpose is, what it means for the future of the Carpathians and what it is about his rebirth that he has to fear…

Review:

Dark Blood – A Carpathian Review

*Not for the faint hearted 😉*

As a fan of the supernatural genre I was intrigued when my Grams (Grandma) told me about a series of novels in this genre based on a species called Carpathians, not your average vampires but handsome, loyal and seriously seductive men and women who protected humans from the foul, disgusting creatures, the vampires.

At first I was hesitant to read a novel that painted my favourite supernatural being in such a bad light. In my teenage mind I loved the idea of vampires and the possibility of living forever, of travelling the world without ever having to go home. As I became an adult I became attracted to them in a less naive way. And It was through reading that my love of vampires and the supernatural in general grew into the obsession that it is today. However whilst the vampire isn’t the hero in the Carpathian novels by Christine Feehan, the heroes and heroines are just as compelling, seductive and beautiful.

Dark Blood is one of many novels by Feehan that takes you into a world far from our own. With each beautiful man delivered to us on the pages is an equally beautiful female, a pair of lovers, mated together for all eternity. In the heart of the story you have Zev, a powerful hybrid of Carpathian and Lycan ancestry, together with his equally powerful lifemate Branislava. The novel throws the reader in at the deep end, forcing us to go on a journey of self discovery with these two characters as they learn to love each other, to trust one another and fight their battles together.

Feehan blends the beautiful scenes of family and loyalty seamlessly with the cruel and twisted a scenes of evil. It is through the clever description, honed character building and years of writing experience that the author swiftly draws us into this turbulent and sensual world.

Having read a number of the Carpathian novels by this author, you become accustomed to the sensuality of these characters, eager to finish reading the horridly vivid battle scenes, so that you can leisurely indulged in more carnal pursuits. Whilst the novels themselves are not my favourite from this genre, my heart belongs to a certain series by Laurell K Hamilton, they are the perfect addition to any bookshelf. An escape from the horrors of reality into a world of vivid beauty.

It is through Zev and Branislava’s story that you see the fairytale woven between the pages, cleverly hidden from plain sight but pulling you in all the same. A true love story, but with pure delightful bite.

Thanks Grams x

*M*

#BlogTour | #BookReview | THE PLACE WE CALL HOME by Faith Hogan @GerHogan (January 9th 2020) @BOTBSPublicity @Aria_Fiction

Hello and welcome to our spot on The Place We Call Home blog tour.

Thank you very much to Sarah @ BookOnTheBrightSide and Faith Hogan for providing a copy of the book to [K]

The review below is 100% honest and all of her own views.

Summary:

Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills…

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan’s is one of them…

Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills, until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they’d lead.

Ada has forever lived her life in her sister’s shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.

Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she’s unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what’s she’s been yearning for. The chance to go home.

Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he’ll have to return to the people who always believe in him.

Ballycove isn’t just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn’t just the base of the famous mills. It’s a place to call home.

Best-selling author, Faith Hogan returns with a family tale of love, loss, secrets and finding yourself.

Review:

We are introduced to Miranda and her family gradually, with the story split between present day and what is happening to the individuals , to the past where we meet Miranda as a child and read what shapes her into the woman we meet in the successful Corrigan Mills.

Along with the Corrigan family we are introduced to others in the village who have all grown up together so some are referenced in Miranda’s past, and others that whilst they had moved away had been drawn back to the magic of Ballycove.

Whilst I have never visited a quintessentially Irish village, I felt myself transported right into the heart of Ballycove, amongst the landscape in and around the village. Finding that I was there with the characters, experiencing their lives with them listening to them speak in lilting Irish accents and becoming emotionally involved in their wellbeing. Creating a hope that I will visit Ireland to see if my imagination lives up to the reality of the Emerald Isle.

I found I was immersed in this story that reads like a favourite relative has sat you down by the fireside to tell you a tale of love, loss and the warmth of family.

I have not read any of Faith’s previous work, but this book has touched my heart so as soon as I can I will be picking up another of her books to recapture the magic this one has woven for me

[K]

Author Bio:

Author Faith Hogan with her dog Penny at her home in Ballina, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan

Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of five contemporary fiction novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown up women’s fiction which is unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.

Faith’s latest book, The Place We Call Home is published in January 2020.

She writes crime fiction as Geraldine Hogan – Her Sisters Bones is available now!

Faith gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.

She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!

You can find out more about Faith on her website

Social Media: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

You can buy The Place We Call Home from the following booksellers (and obviously many more! Support your local booksellers where you can!)

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (AU)

#ThrowbackThursday | #BookReview | DIVERGENT LIBRARY by Veronica Roth | #TBT

Welcome to our #ThrowbackThursday part of the blog, where we share old reviews from the archives.

Todays review was first posted on The P.Turner’s Facebook Page, March 28th 2016!

To add to your Goodreads TBR please click on the cover

Source of original review is found here

Hope you enjoy!

[K]


Blurb:

This set is perfect for established fans who want to own the full Divergent library, readers new to the series, or fans of the blockbuster films starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Kate Winslet.

Divergent: One choice can transform you. Veronica Roth’s debut is a gripping dystopian tale of electrifying choices, powerful consequences, unexpected romance, and a deeply flawed “perfect society.” Includes bonus materials by Veronica Roth.

Insurgent: One choice can destroy you. The second bestseller continues the dystopian thrill ride. As war surges in the factions all around her, Tris attempts to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. Includes bonus materials by Veronica Roth.

Allegiant: One choice will define you. The explosive conclusion to the #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers. Includes bonus materials by Veronica Roth.

Four: A Divergent Collection: A companion volume to the worldwide bestselling Divergent series, told from the perspective of Tobias. The four pieces included—”The Transfer,” “The Initiate,” “The Son,” and “The Traitor”—plus three additional scenes, give readers a fascinating glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the Divergent trilogy. 

Review:

The end is here… A Divergent goodbye

With the last turning of the page I’ve finally finished all novels in the Divergent series. And I am a little sad that the story of Tris and Four has come to an end.

Even though these novels are outside of my usual genre, I found myself enjoying getting to know these characters and going on their journey. Whilst I loved Tris’ character and could relate to certain qualities in her, I found myself disappointed with how her story ended. However it was the character of Four that I found myself falling in love with more. Whilst the end of the series wasn’t the best for him either, I felt we lost a little of his strength of character at the end of Allegiant. Then I read his own journey, Four, a collection of mini-stories from Four’s point of view and I was delighted with these tales, with the development of this character. Once again we had the male lead that didn’t want to be a hero but was all the same.

So I turned the last page in the final Divergent novel and said a farewell to Tris, to Four and to Veronica Roth, closing this story with a sad, yet happy smile.

Until next time…

*M*

#Review | #BookReview | ROYAL PLAYER (ALL-STARS #1) by Katie McCoy (April 24th 2017)

Blurb:

Charlie Davenport is the bad boy of British sports – and third in line to the throne. 

He’s a beast on the courts, and a wild animal in bed (according to all the tabloids). Girls are lining up for chance at his crown jewels, and when I stumble into the wrong Wimbledon dressing room and catch a glimpse of his game, set, AND match, I can see why.

So what’s a little good luck kiss between f̶r̶i̶e̶n̶d̶s̶ strangers?

I know better than to get involved with a bad boy like Charlie. But now he’s on a winning streak, he thinks I’m his lucky charm – and you know what’s luckier than a kiss?

Everything.

Suddenly, I’ve got paparazzi on my trail, exes coming out of the woodwork — and you don’t know ‘cutthroat’ until you’ve seen a pack of hungry socialites set loose near the Royal Family.

I’m in way over my head, and even worse – I’m falling in love. Can this American girl win her Prince Charming? Or will we both crash out of the championships in flames?

Wimbledon-meets-The Prince and Me in this hilarious, sexy new rom-com from Katie McCoy!

Review:

As a new reader of this author I went into the novel Royal Player without any expectations and was pleasantly surprised.

Here we have a story of an unlikely couple, however one that holds a residency for readers in a time when an English royal falls in love with an American actress is in fact a reality. The roles of our leading characters aren’t too different from real life and we quickly establish a strong bond between the couple. 

The story flows smoothly, quick to get us from A to B. There is the standard rollercoaster that their positions in society hold, the ups and downs of new love, the belief that love really does conquer all. 

Overall this was a pleasant read, one that you can follow easy and forget about reality for a time. You like the characters, eager to see if they can work it all out for a happy ending. I’d recommend Royal Player to anyone who enjoys cocky, athletic men and sassy, independent women. Also, if you have a thing for Tennis players, this is will be a pleasure. 

*M*

You can buy Royal Player from the following booksellers (and obviously many more! Support your local booksellers where you can!)

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (AU)

Have you read Royal Player? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!

#ThrowbackThursday | #BookReview | WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFIN by Mark Wilson @markwilsonbooks | #TBT

Welcome to our #ThrowbackThursday part of the blog, where we share old reviews from the archives.

Todays review was first posted on The P.Turner’s Facebook Page, March 28th 2016!

To add to your Goodreads TBR please click on the cover

Hope you enjoy!

[K]


Blurb:

In a single lifetime, which moment mattered the most?

Son, husband, father.
Hero, alcoholic, wife-beater.
Steelworker, musician, friend.

At the moment of his death Wullie McAvoy confronts everything he’s been, everything he could’ve been and the people he loved, lost, saved and destroyed along the way.

From the author of the Lanarkshire Strays series, the dEaDINBURGH series and On The Seventh Day

Review:

Who has bagged this beauty?

A fantastic read and a refreshingly different approach from this author, Wake Up And Smell The Coffin is a relatable, heart grabbing account of the lives of the characters and the impact they have on others….definitely worth a read!

I enjoyed this thoroughly!

*K*

#BlogTour | #ExcerptReveal | EVERYTHING TO LOSE (A LAMBETH GROUP THRILLER) by Gordon Bickerstaff @GFBickerstaff #EverythingtoLose @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Hello and welcome to our spot on the Everything To Lose blog tour! Please scroll down for an excerpt:

Blurb:

Scientists claim their new sports drug will boost the performance of every athlete in the world. The Lambeth Group send scientist, Gavin Shawlens, to investigate the claim.

The product is stolen, top athletes disappear, and the research team are unaware that their product has a dangerous side effect. Gavin must stop the sports drug launch before more people die. 

When Gavin disappears – Zoe Tampsin searches frantically to find him before he becomes the next victim.

As if Zoe hasn’t got enough on her plate. Past events in Gavin’s life catch up with him. A powerful US general decides that Gavin must die to prevent exposure of a 60-year old secret capable of world-changing and power-shifting events.

The chase is on…  

Publishing Information:

Published in paperback and digital formats on 29th January 2015

Excerpt:

Gavin Shawlens is visiting his student Laraine in her home. He is hoping to gather information about a technician who disappeared. Laraine was the last person to see him. The discussion takes an unusual turn around Laraine’s daughter, Jess.

Gavin followed Laraine through to the kitchen. She shifted a pile of children’s books from a kitchen chair. He noticed cracked glass on the kitchen door, and a damaged doorframe. Jess ran up the steep staircase to change out of her school uniform. Laraine made two cups of instant coffee, then called out, ‘Jess. What do you want?’

‘Juice and crisps. Please.’

The kitchen had less clutter than the living room, but yesterday’s washing-up waited patiently in the sink. ‘Sorry about the muddle, and the washing. There’s never enough time with uni and everything.’

‘It’s okay. My flat is the same, but without the kid’s stuff.’

‘Did your sister have treatment for her psychological trouble?’

Gavin shook his head. ‘Who told you Jess had a psychological problem?’

‘My doctor. He told me she’ll grow out of it in time.’

‘Your doctor is way off target.’

‘Well … he’s in his seventies. He’s a nice man, but he should’ve retired ten years ago.’

‘Jess doesn’t have a curse or a psychological problem. She has a gift that’s very special.’

‘How special?’ Jess asked as she stood in the hall with her homework book in one hand, and a pencil in the other.

Gavin knelt to her height for their eyes to meet. Jess smiled, and he smiled back. She changed into pink leggings, a white One Direction t-shirt showing a picture of the band, and grey rabbit slippers.

‘My sister Siobhan has your gift. Everyone tells her she’s special, but some people don’t understand. Sometimes, they get jealous, and cause trouble.’

‘My best friend, Alyssa, only likes me when I don’t tell her any funny business.’

Gavin squinted at Laraine with a querying expression.

‘That’s what Jess and I call her feelings.’

‘Jess. I know you’re special, and when you grow up like my big sister, you will be an exceptional lady.’

‘Good. By the way, my mum and dad are on a break. You can stay for a while, if you like.’

‘Homework!’ Laraine bellowed.

Jess skipped into the living room.

Gavin nodded. ‘Sharp cookie.’

‘You’re good with kids, Dr Shawlens. Do you have some of your own?’

‘No. But people will tell you that I haven’t grown up yet.’

‘How did your sister cope with school?’

‘Good and bad. You’re right to keep her feelings secret. Kids can be cruel about things they don’t understand.’

‘I’m worried for her. She’s so isolated. I think she’s going to turn into a version of Wednesday Addams,’ she confessed.

He smiled as he remembered The Addams Family. ‘I liked Wednesday.’

‘So, she won’t grow out of it?’

Gavin shook his head. ‘Some try to suppress or ignore it. Some successfully harness it to become creative artists. Fighting it, will cause frustration and anger.’

‘We’ve had that. Her dad tried to focus her mind on normal behaviour, but it’s too strong. I wish I could understand how her mind works.’

‘It’s not difficult.’

Laraine sighed. ‘We’ve tried. We met a consultant, and he recommended a series of tests to prepare her for medical therapy. He said he would cure Jess, but he wanted a fee of sixteen grand upfront. We don’t have that kind of money.’

‘There isn’t a cure because there isn’t a defect.’

‘I don’t understand.’

After a swallow of coffee, he said, ‘People have five basic senses. Smell, taste, touch, hearing, and vision. For people like you and me, they mostly work individually.’

‘Okay.’ She nodded tentatively. She wanted to know, but she didn’t want a lecture.

‘People like Jess and Siobhan have six, seven, or eight senses because their basic five can also work in pairs, and sometimes in threes. Sight and sound often work together. Touch and taste often pair up.’

‘So, when she touched you, she could taste a lemon tart.’

‘As strong a taste as the real thing. When she listened to the track, the sound stimulated a blue sky in her mind’s eye. Touch receptors in her hand felt warm water running through her fingers as if for real. Sound, sight, and touch working together as one. She’s a very special girl.’

Emotion sapped Laraine’s voice. ‘Oh my God—that must be so wonderful.’

‘My sister can feel the environment around her, whereas I can only see it.’

‘Dr Shawlens, thank you. It means so much for me to understand how she feels. I knew in my heart she wasn’t mad, or trying to cause trouble. Oh God, the rows we’ve had over that.’

Gavin raised concerned eyebrows.

‘Not with Jess, with my husband, Aiden. That stupid old doctor told us it would wear off. Aiden tried to get it out of her head before she started school. We’ve had an awful time. If only I’d known. I would have helped Jess keep her feelings secret. I’ve been so stupid. I haven’t made it easy for her.’

Tears scampered down her face.

‘It’s called synaesthesia. Jess’s brain gives her additional sensory information. An extra perception of the world. My sister can run her hand over a piece of wood, and say it has a smell of wet rhododendrons.’

Laraine shook her head. ‘People have told us she’s mad. I’ve thought the worst things about her. I didn’t understand.’

‘Be thankful we’re not living in the mid-18th century. In those days, the clergy didn’t like anything they couldn’t explain. Girls with this gift were branded evil, and burnt as witches. Just ninety years ago, people were put in a mental hospital, and given drugs or electric shock treatment.’

‘Oh God, how awful. Is it only in girls?’

‘Boys are just as likely to have it. It does run in families. I don’t have it, but it’s strong in my sister. When Siobhan cooks dinner, she must make sure her food is the correct shape. Otherwise, it won’t taste right. She’ll cut her meat into strips, so it doesn’t taste like—’

Laraine squealed. ‘Aagghh!’

She collapsed into a kitchen chair, and burst into a flood of tears. She held her head in her hands, and screamed. Gavin was rooted to the floor, unsure of what to do.

Author Bio:

I was born and brought up in Glasgow, Scotland. I studied biochemistry, and I’ve worked in several Scottish universities where I did research on enzymes, and taught biochemistry. After thirty years of teaching and research I retired my academic pen, and took of a mightier fiction pen. 

I live in central Scotland with my wife and we enjoy reading, writing, and walking in the hills.

The Lambeth Group books follow the secret government investigations of agent Zoe Tampsin. A strong female protagonist with courage, determination, and guile. She is assisted by specialist consultant, Gavin Shawlens.

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