Friday 31 July 2020


Title: Lies Lies Lies
Author: Adele Parks
Publisher: MIRA books
Release Date: 4th August 2020

BLURB supplied by Harlequin Trade
LIES LIES LIES centers on the story of Simon and Daisy Barnes. To the outside world, Simon and Daisy look like they have a perfect life. They have jobs they love, an angelic, talented daughter, a tight group of friends... and they have secrets too. Secrets that will find their way to the light, one way or the other.
Daisy and Simon spent almost a decade hoping for the child that fate cruelly seemed to keep from them. It wasn’t until, with their marriage nearly in shambles and Daisy driven to desperation, little Millie was born. Perfect in every way, healing the Barnes family into a happy unit of three. Ever indulgent Simon hopes for one more miracle, one more baby. But his doctor’s visit shatters the illusion of the family he holds so dear.
Now, Simon has turned to the bottle to deal with his revelation and Daisy is trying to keep both of their secrets from spilling outside of their home. But Daisy’s silence and Simon’s habit begin to build until they set off a catastrophic chain of events that will destroy life as they know it.



May 1976

Simon was six years old when he first tasted beer.
He was bathed and ready for bed wearing soft pyjamas, even though it was light outside; still early. Other kids were in the street, playing on their bikes, kicking a football. He could hear them through the open window, although he couldn’t see them because the blinds were closed. His daddy didn’t like the evening light glaring on the TV screen, his mummy didn’t like the neighbours looking in; keeping the room dark was something they agreed on.
His mummy didn’t like a lot of things: wasted food, messy bedrooms, Daddy driving too fast, his sister throwing a tantrum in public. Mummy liked ‘having standards’. He didn’t know what that meant, exactly. There was a standard-bearer at Cubs; he was a big boy and got to wave the flag at the front of the parade, but his mummy didn’t have a flag, so it was unclear. What was clear was that she didn’t like him to be in the street after six o’clock. She thought it was common. He wasn’t sure what common was either, something to do with having fun. She bathed him straight after tea and made him put on pyjamas, so that he couldn’t sneak outside.
He didn’t know what his daddy didn’t like, just what he did like. His daddy was always thirsty and liked a drink. When he was thirsty he was grumpy and when he had a drink, he laughed a lot. His daddy was an accountant and like to count in lots of different ways: “a swift one’, “a cold one’, and ‘one more for the road’. Sometimes Simon though his daddy was lying when he said he was an accountant; most likely, he was a pirate or a wizard. He said to people, “Pick your poison’, which sounded like something pirates might say, and he liked to drink, “the hair of a dog’ in the morning at the weekends, which was definitely a spell. Simon asked his mummy about it once and she told him to stop being silly and never to say those silly things outside the house.
He had been playing with his Etch A Sketch, which was only two months old and was a birthday present. Having seen it advertised on TV, Simon had begged for it, but it was disappointing. Just two silly knobs making lines that went up and down, side to side. Limited. Boring. He was bored. The furniture in the room was organised so all of it was pointing at the TV which was blaring but not interesting. The news. His parents liked watching the news, but he didn’t. His father was nursing a can of the grown ups’ pop that Simon was never allowed. The pop that smelt like nothing else, fruity and dark and tempting.
“Can I have a sip?” he asked.
“Don’t be silly, Simon,” his mother interjected. “You’re far too young. Beer is for daddies.” He thought she said ‘daddies’, but she might have said ‘baddies’.
His father put the can to his lips, glared at his mother, cold. A look that said, “Shut up woman, this is man’s business.” His mother had blushed, looked away as though she couldn’t stand to watch, but she held her tongue. Perhaps she thought the bitterness wouldn’t be to his taste, that one sip would put him off. He didn’t like the taste. But he enjoyed the collusion. He didn’t know that word then, but he instinctively understood the thrill. He and his daddy drinking grown ups’ pop! His father had looked satisfied when he swallowed back the first mouthful, then pushed for a second. He looked almost proud. Simon tasted the aluminium can, the snappy biting bitter bubbles and it lit a fuse.
After that, in the mornings, Simon would sometimes get up early, before Mummy or Daddy or his little sister, and he’d dash around the house before school, tidying up. He’d open the curtains, empty the ashtrays, clear away the discarded cans. Invariably his mother went to bed before his father. Perhaps she didn’t want to have to watch him drink himself into a stupor every night, perhaps she hoped denying him an audience might take away some of the fun for him, some of the need. She never saw just how bad the place looked by the time his father staggered upstairs to bed. Simon knew it was important that she didn’t see that particular brand of chaos.
Occasionally there would be a small amount of beer left in one of the cans. Simon would slurp it back. He found he liked the flat, forbidden, taste just as much as the fizzy hit of fresh beer. He’d throw open a window, so the cigarette smoke and the secrets could drift away. When his mother came downstairs, she would smile at him and thank him for tidying up.
“You’re a good boy, Simon,” she’d say with some relief. And no idea.
When there weren’t dregs to be slugged, he sometimes opened a new can. Threw half of it down his throat before eating his breakfast. His father never kept count.
Some people say their favourite smell is freshly baked bread, others say coffee or a campfire. From a very young age, few scents could pop Simon’s nerve endings like the scent of beer.
The promise of it.

Excerpted from Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks, Copyright © 2020 by Adele Parks. 
Published by MIRA Books

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she's had seventeen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages, including I Invited Her In. She's been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa. She's lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, teenage son and cat.


Wednesday 29 July 2020


Title: The Princes Of Stone & Steel
Series: Roshambo Rising
Author: Sarah Zolton Arthur
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: 6th July 2020

BLURB supplied by Silver Dagger Book Tours
She must remember the past to save the future. 

What starts as the abduction of Millie Merchant turns into an awakening of bitter truth. Her life is a lie. Her family a fake. It’s all been part of an elaborate hoax to keep her from her destiny. A destiny that lies in the land of Roshambo.

The lines between fantasy & reality blur as she’s transported to a fantastical realm boarding on extinction. Struggling to make sense of it all, Millie is presented with two princes determined to win her hand. One has her best interest at heart, the other seeks control of the realm. But who can she trust in a world full of strangers?

War is looming. Nightmarish beasts prowl the lands. It falls to Millie to be the salvation of Roshambo. For she alone is the ruler the Outliers have been searching for. The origins of rock, paper, scissors come alive in a tale far more twisted than a simple child’s game.


Sarah Zolton Arthur is a USA TODAY Bestselling author of Adult Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Rom-Com, LBGTQ+, and PNR author who recently decided to dip her toes in the world of YA Fantasy. She spends her days embracing the weirdly wonderful parts of life with her two kooky sons while pretending to be a responsible adult. And there is plenty of the weird and wonderful to go around with her older son being autistic and the younger being a plain ol' wisecracker.

She resides in Michigan, where the winters bring cold, and the summers bring construction. The roads might have potholes, but the beaches are amazing.

Above all else, she lives by these rules. Call them Sarah's life edicts: In Sarah's world all books have kissing and end in some form of HEA. Because really, what more do you need in life?




I think I peed a little

MY HEAD FELT FOGGY, LIKE THAT INTERIM TIME BETWEEN SICK AND WELL, when the antibiotics started to kick in, but you still couldn’t think clearly enough to go back to school. Not that I’d been sick. I typically never got sick. So, perhaps what I said wasn’t exactly accurate, except that I pulled my point of reference from other people’s conversations.

Part of me just wanted to get to school and get the day over with. I hated school, not the learning part. I actually liked to learn. I hated the people part. The socializing, or anti-socializing, in my case. We lived in small-town-nowheresville-Michigan which meant most of the kids at my high school were small-town-nowheresville students with paper-thin personalities that I could see right through.

It hadn’t seemed that bad before, I didn’t think, not until about three months ago when I’d made a new friend. She’d opened my eyes to the life of drudgery I’d been living amongst the jockstrap boys and mean girls. That bourgeois ‘us against you’ typical of the small-town Midwest and so very Michigan. A life so bourgie, numerous teenage angsty-to-rom/com movies had been made throughout the nineteen-eighties and nineties on this exact subject, or so my new friend, Korrigan, informed me by making me watch them, contraband-like, because Aunt Cynthia believed movies rotted the brain. Calling Cynthia old school was akin to calling the dark ages progressive. My aunt’s ideas on life and gender roles were nothing short of ancient.

The other part of me wanted to curl back up in my nice warm bed and try for sound sleep. I hadn’t slept soundly in months. Every single night, plagued by the same dream.

Immersed in this time and place—the intensity—that even though it wasn’t real… it felt real. The girl in my dream, Millicent, she was me, yet she clearly wasn’t me. Although we shared a few things in common, namely a name and a face, she lived in the nineteenth century and thankfully, I was a twenty-first century girl. Antibiotics. Sexual freedom. Pants.

The worst part was that it seemed the dream had been trying to tell me something. My subconscious reaching out to me. Cynthia didn’t believe in “that third-eye nonsense” as she’d called it after about the fourth time of me trying to explain the dream to her. Though, did the subconscious trying to work out a problem really constitute ‘third-eye’ anything?

“Millicent Merchant, get down here.” My great aunt called up the stairs to me from the landing in the living room, in her everyday harsh tone.

Cynthia, how did one describe Cynthia? I’d lived with her for as long as I could remember, and she wasn’t a cold woman per se, but wasn’t especially giving in the hug or kind words departments. Too pragmatic for either of our own good. She kept her white hair pulled back in the tightest ponytail imaginable, no doubt contributing to her sour mood. Her skin pulled taut on the sides of her face enough to smooth out her wrinkles and she always wore loose, white or off-white linen dresses with long sleeves, high neckline and fabric down to her ankles. She used wool shawls instead of a coat during the winter. The one modern convenience she afforded us was her car. Thank goodness for small miracles.

“Yes, ma’am,” I called back. I wasn’t being smart with her, my aunt expected me to address her as either ma’am or Aunt Cynthia. I couldn’t respond with a simple ‘yes’ to her without getting a ‘yes, what?’ in return.

She never cooked breakfast and I never asked her to. I skidded into the kitchen off the momentum of bounding down the stairs, to grab a yogurt from the fridge and a snack pack of pipitas out of the snack cupboard.

Spoon in mouth, I walked out the side door from the vestibule off the kitchen where we kept our washer and drier, and climbed directly into the parked car—aunt Cynthia’s metallic blue 1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass in pristine condition which got about 2.2 miles per gallon. Only one previous owner. She’d been driving it since before I was born, always promising this jewel of the road would be mine someday. Joy.

Our tiny farmhouse didn’t have a garage and I’d been hearing the loud rumbling of the massive engine for the past twenty minutes, when Cynthia went outside to start it. Just one woman’s way of punching a bigger hole in the ozone.

We had to leave ungodly early for me to get to school on time as she refused to drive any faster than twenty-five miles per hour. Thankfully the weather had held out for us so she didn’t have an excuse to go any slower like, say, when the snow started falling and I’d swear she put the car in neutral and let the wind push us along.

October in Michigan could go one of a few ways: a beautiful summer not quite ready to end, crisp fall, or polar vortex. We’d found middle ground this year with crisp fall. Real sweatshirt and jeans kind of temperatures. In any weather, Aunt Cynthia preferred I dress like a “girl” with frilly dresses and shoes with pointed toes and heels. I never wore dresses and preferred to wear my docs.

No hello as I clicked my seatbelt, only a, “Don’t slouch. It looks common.” Then she shifted into gear and drove forward around the circle drive to lead us down the bumpy, dirt path carved out from years of tire wear. See? Not really cold, but certainly not friendly.

As we reached the end of our very long country road Cynthia slowed but didn’t stop. A Jeep running perpendicular to us sped through the intersection missing the front end of the Olds by inches. She slammed on the breaks. I slammed a hand against the dashboard. The Jeep raced past without a second glance to see if we were okay.

“I think I peed a little,” I tried to infuse a little joking to ease a bit of the tension but she bristled out her look that said she’d have none of it. She bristled out that look a great deal around me.

I barely made it to school on time, what with her dropping down from her speed racer twenty-five to a respectably safe fifteen. My classmates shot out ridiculous taunts as I exited the front seat, directly in front of the school where Aunt Cynthia insisted she drop me off every day.

“You sure you’re all right?” I asked. The hope was small, but maybe she’d let me skip just today.

“I’ll be fine. Thanks for your concern.”

“If you need me—”

“I’ll be fine,” she cut me off and I knew damn well not to push the issue with her.

“Well, remember I get out late tonight. Working off my volunteer hours at the daycare.” The school called them “volunteer” but in reality, since we didn’t get a choice in it if we wanted that stupid diploma, I usually referred to them as “community service” hours. But I found that most parents—including Aunt Cynthia—didn’t like telling others their kid had to do community service.

Aunt Cynthia nodded. “See you at six.”


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