How would you feel if you were ‘lucky’ enough to get a great
offer accepted on your dream home? You’d be really excited, wouldn’t you, and
be planning the schedule of works and be surrounding yourself with paint charts
and enthusiasm - but what if you gradually began to realise that things aren’t
all that they seem to be? The Sunday Girl Book of the Week is, The Upstairs
Room by Kate Murray-Browne and it’s a little bit creepy...
It was there from the beginning, the day they first saw the house . . .
Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to
the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East
London. But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the
eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill.
Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial
twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery
of the previous owners – including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of
times on the walls of the upstairs room.
I enjoyed this book – all the characters were believable and you could
empathise with them all – although Richard, obsessed with his vision of how
their home is going to be, when all is finished, doesn’t want to acknowledge
that his dream could crumble and he keeps his blinkers firmly on, while Eleanor
commences an increasingly desperate battle.
Zoe the lodger, has a complex life, away from the house and this gives the
story another dimension – a story within a story.
What do you do when no one really wants to believe you? Who is, or was, Emily
and what does she want?
The suspense builds nicely as this family start to fight the house, and each
other. It is well paced and you don’t know what is going to happen – the events
could go in any direction.
I’m really pleased that I wasn’t reading this in my old house – which happened
to be a big, five-bedroomed, Victorian Townhouse, which had one, upstairs, room
which always made me feel uneasy. The temperature was considerably lower than
the rest of the house and when my mother stayed, she said that she felt that
something was there, not necessarily unfriendly, but definitely something there
– and she’s not one to remotely think about things like that. She said that on
two separate occasions something touched her on the shoulder – EEK! She
actually didn’t tell me until I’d moved, so it didn’t freak me out. Too late it
already did. This room was fine in the daytime but at night I used to hate
going to the bathroom, which was on the same back part of the landing, as that
room. It just gave me a really disturbing feeling.
Do da do da dooooooo
Anyway back to The Upstairs Room. If you want something a bit on the different
side, a mystery and spine-chilling thriller which is an easy, flowing read, and
you don’t live in a spooky Victorian Townhouse, I can recommend it.
Author of The Upstairs Room, Kate Murray-Browne was born in
London, where she still lives. She worked in publishing for 10 years before
becoming a Freelance Editor. Kate is also an exhibiting visual artist.
The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne, is published by Picador on the 27th
of July 2017. So, jot it down, bookmark it,
or even order it and prepare to be unsettled!
I belong to a really good Book Group on Facebook, I don’t
really bother with groups, all that much, as I find them too time-consuming but
there are a couple that I really do like and this particular one feeds my long-term,
bookworm habit rather nicely. It is a great combination of both Authors, Reviewers and
enthusiastic readers and, in fact it is a bit too tempting as I just want to
read them all but there are, unfortunately, only so many hours in the day and,
as lovely as it would be, you just can’t sit on your bum, curled up with a good
book, all day – sounds good though, doesn’t it?! I’m an only child – books were
my best friends from a very early age.
I chose this particular book of the week as it seemed to be going down really
well with members of this book group and I ended up being intrigued as to what
it was all about. I am really lucky to be able to get some advance copies of
books so downloaded this one, and I am really pleased that I did, as I really
enjoyed it and could quite easily have read it cover to cover in one sitting –
I did have a couple of rather late nights of – oooh... just one more chapter...it
seemed to be glued to my fingers!
Did you watch Humans, on Channel 4? If you did you may have been like me and
found the moral, social and ethical questions that it raised, to be just as
intriguing as the actual storyline.
The One, by John Marrs, elicited the same reaction in me. It was a book that
was far more than just its entertaining storyline.
There are plenty of online dating sites now, to cater for all types of people
but what if there was just one website which could help you to find the one
person who was your genetic-match. Nothing to do with location, colour,
appearance, or even sexual orientation, in some cases, but the one person that
would be your perfect partner.
How far would you go to find THE ONE?
One simple mouth swab is all it takes. One tiny DNA test to find your perfect
partner – the one you are genetically made for.
A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one
person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five
more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more
shocking - and deadlier - than others...
A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which
is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Would you want this opportunity to be available or would you be happy to just
take your chance with fate? Hmmm – I think that I would be curious but not too
sure that I would be brave enough!
John Marrs, showcases several people, all with very different lives and needs, who
have taken the test and explores a few variables that may complicate things. I
can’t say too much without giving it away but I found it to be a brilliant read
and definitely one that is suitable for any gender to read. With short, snappy
chapters, this is a well-paced psychological thriller with some surprising
elements that will keep you hanging on right until the end.
The One by John Marrs is Released, in paperback form on the 4th of
May 2017 but is already available
to download as an e-book from Amazon. (Please note, it has been previously published under the name of A Thousand
John Marrs is a London-based, freelance journalist who has spent the past
couple of decades interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film
and music for many well-known newspapers and magazines.
His debut novel The Wronged Sons, was released in 2013 and in May 2015, he
released his second book, Welcome To Wherever You Are.
I can very highly recommend The One, by John Marrs – I
thoroughly enjoyed it. If you want a bit of thought-provoking escapism, in an
easy to read, proficient, writing style – go and grab it now – or pre-order it!
You can find John at: Twitter: @johnmarrs1 facebook.com/johnmarrsauthor as well
as his page on Amazon
What Tracey Did Next...Posted by WTDN Sun, April 02, 2017 12:49:18 Every Sunday Morning at Siren FM 107.3 I play two hours of great music - a mix of indie, chart, old and new, singles and album tracks. There are features such as a Quirky Question, The Artist of the Week, The Triple Play plus variables such as The Book/Author of the Week and Under The Covers With Sunday Girl. All shows are available on Mixcloud. Here is today's which features, Artist of the Week, Chris Mullin and lots of other great Artists: CLICK HERE TO PLAY SHOW
The Sunday Girl (no.176) Book of the Week (26/3/17) is the
latest offering by previous Sunday Girl Author of the Week, Liz Fenwick, whose
books, to date, have all been set in her beloved, contemporary Cornwall.
The Returning Tide, which was released this week (23/3/17) by Orion, is no
The difference this time, is time itself, as The Returning Tide has a split
timeline between the now and the second world war and is also geographically
split between Cornwall, England and America.
American, Laura connects the two locations and English, Elle connects the two
eras. Laura is desperately trying to unravel family secrets, while dealing with
her own emotional, and practical, circumstances, and Elle is tightly holding
onto her own family secrets, some that she, herself, doesn’t want to know
As Elle gets older, and Laura travels to Cornwall to continue her quest for
knowledge, it becomes a race against
time for her to persuade Elle to provide the missing pieces which could explain
Does she find out? You will have to read this intriguing story to find out!
Write what you know is the common mantra for writers and Liz has done just this,
in her previous Cornwall-based books, as she, herself, has a home near the
I used to live in the same village and that is why I started to read Liz’s
novels. I can therefore say with absolute authority that her descriptions of
the area are spot on. When someone goes sailing, or swimming, walks along a beach
or goes in the local pub, Liz describes both the scenery and the atmosphere, all
down to a perfect T. It was a place I loved living in and reading her novels
makes me really homesick for the area – which I think says a lot about Liz’s
Liz was born in Massachusetts, USA, and so the other side of the pond locations
and scenes have the same validity as the Cornwall ones.
I feel that with every book that she writes, Liz grows as an Author and The
Returning Tide added the extra challenge of having to research an era that she
was not a part of herself. Using both archival sources and firsthand accounts,
Liz has created an exemplary description of wartime life via the lives of twins
Adele and Amelia.
Not all, make do and mend or dances, Liz also recreates the horrors of war –
especially in one nail-biting, scene experienced by the helpless-feeling,
Adele. I actually felt quite educated about some aspects of the day to day
realities of living and working in the war.
I am not one for reading wartime-based books so I,
initially, didn’t really fancy this latest offering and, I have to admit that
the cover is a big minus point for me (sorry, Liz!) – I just wouldn’t have
picked it up, if I hadn’t already enjoyed reading books from the same author.
The first few books, from The Cornish House onwards, had more contemporary,
cleaner, fresher covers but a contemporary-vintage cover would have appealed
to me far more. But, that is the only minus point that I can come up with. It’s
not even bad it’s just my personal opinion and preference and I would have
missed out on reading it – which would have been a big shame. In this case
don’t necessarily judge the book by its cover.
The story itself has plenty of twists and turns. I more or less worked out what
some of the secrets were but that didn’t matter as I didn’t know how the story
was going to unfold or what was, or wasn’t, going to be revealed.
In wartime Cornwall, 1943, a story between two sisters begins – the story of
Adele and Amelia, and the heart-breaking betrayal that will divide them
forever. Decades later, the effects of one reckless act still echo – but how
long will it be until their past returns?
I ended up thoroughly enjoying The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick and I couldn’t
put it down. It really grabbed me and was one of those books that the
characters stay with you. I have really enjoyed reading all of Liz Fenwick’s
books, The Cornish House, (about artist Maddie who inherits a house in Cornwall
and the ups and downs of the new life that goes along with it) A Cornish Affair
(in which Jude, leaves her fiancé standing at the altar and runs away to a job
in a big house in Cornwall to catalogue an extensive library of research. I
adored this house and wanted Jude’s job!), A Cornish Stranger (where, Gabriella
moves into a waterside cabin to help her ailing grandmother, a once celebrated
artist and the stranger, of the title, who complicates things), Under A Cornish
Sky (another gorgeous house that entwines the lives of the characters that it
connects) and the novella, A Cornish Christmas Carol (a reimagining of a
Christmas Carol, via the hardhearted, Abigail and three visitors that reveal
life-changing things about her past, present and future lives.)
If you enjoy books by Rosamunde Pilcher or Kate Morton, you
will enjoy these. If you love Cornwall, you will enjoy these, if you love contemporary
fiction, you will enjoy these. I’m not a huge fan of romantic fiction, but if
you are, you will love these. Luckily for me, Liz’s books offer far more than
just a love interest element so will appeal to a wider audience – especially
The Returning Tide.
All that research certainly paid off.
I have had a bit of a binge read of all these books, to
catch up and I am eagerly awaiting the next one with more than a modicum of
excitement to see what Liz will produce next. All of the books are standalone
stories but as they are set in the same location there is the odd reference to
previous characters. You wouldn’t notice that, at all, if you hadn’t read the
previous books but it is a nice light touch to see what happened to some
characters, further along the line. For example in The Returning Tide, there is
mention of so-and-so and her husband and you think – Ooh they did get married
in the end then!
You can find out all about
Liz and her lovely books at her website: www.lizfenwick.com
She is on Facebook: Liz Fenwick Author and on Twitter: @liz_fenwick The Returning Tide is available from good
bookshops and also the usual online places such as Amazon and iTunes.
What Tracey Did Next...Posted by WTDN Wed, March 29, 2017 14:57:51 Okay, I didn't get very far with this blog and I've just realised why - I really, really didn't like the graphics! They were created for a specific situation (I had a craft unit on a local market) and it wasn't really me. I'm far, far happier with the new graphics, so here we go - AGAIN!
Expect to see plenty of reviews, features, all sorts of things that I have been up to and, probably dogs, yes, in all likelihood, dogs. I have two old ladies. Lucaya, a greyhoundX lurcher, who is now a massive 15 and a half and Mabel, a Springer/SussexX who is 12. There are times that I feel like I'm living in a care home for the-elderly-with-four-paws, especially when sorting out all their various meds and other requirements, as well as flying backwards and forwards to the vets!
Here is a painting that I did, when there were three. Maude, a whippetX lurcher who made it to 13 and a half. Maude is on the left, Mabel in the middle and Lucaya on the right. (I apologise for all the bottoms but they were busy looking out of the window. Maybe, if you waggle a smelly treat in front of the screen, they may turn around....)
Now I have the dog post out of my system more subjects will follow. Thank you for reading.
While my "What Tracey Did Next" Exhibition is running (see previous post for details), I am going to feature the odd painting with an explanation.
Just at the time that I was deciding which one to feature first, a lovely lady came in and was enthusiastically talking about all the colours, in my work, and choosing a selection of postcards. She was matching them to the friends that she wanted to send them to - ones that she thought would appreciate a particular image.
As a whole we send less postcards, nowadays, and I tend to think of mine being pinned to a noticeboard or ending up in a pile on a desk or in a drawer, rather than being written upon, stamped and posted. It was nice to think of them going on a journey and passing through different hands and eyes. It is always lovely to receive something personal, rather than bills n bumf, through one's letterbox.
In this exhibition, I have one painting that is dramatically different to the rest and I have never exhibited it before. It is called: "THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN MIDDLE EAST AND WEST”. Painted, when I was at Art School, in 1999, it is acrylic on coarse linen canvas and approximately 1 metre x 1 metre. This painting represents a tug of war between two cultures. opposing but of equal strength and determination.
My visitor was spot on with her assessment of this piece and liked it so much that she asked for some postcards of it. I couldn't refuse as I appreciated her interest (I'm just hoping that my printer is up to the job as my Laser one has gone to the same tech graveyard as everything else decently-techie that I seem to own!)
So, why did I choose to transition this piece from the private to the public? Basically, I am fed up of the racial hatred that we seem to be surrounded by at the moment and the tensions caused by one movement or individuals and the way that this is tainting whole races. People are people, wherever they live and whatever they look like.
“THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN MIDDLE EAST AND WEST” shows two different cultures. One solid and closed and one transparent, open and all-encompassing. Neither will win this struggle as both are strong - in different ways. The best way is for them to work together, respecting the difference of each other. The good in both against the bad in both.
My visitor was a Muslim lady and , as we were standing in front of this painting, discussing it, I saw us both reflected in this image. Two outwardly different people but, inwardly, the same, with a commonality of interest and ideas.
Some connections and moments can be quite powerful and they don't need to be loud, brash and 'shouty' to be so.
What Tracey Did Next...Posted by WTDN Thu, July 21, 2016 22:11:45 Welcome to the brand new blog: What Tracey Did Next - WTDN, for short. I wear lots of different hats (woolly, cap, the odd tiara...) so a post may be a review of an album, a book, a gig or some hash I've made of learning how to make something (I speak from experience, in the making a hash stakes), an interview or any other thing that I have experienced.
At the moment, I have an ongoing WTDN Art Exhibition on display at Freeman Street Market, Grimsby, which runs until 31st August. I am there Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 8-4.30pm either in the Gallery space, which is in The Courtyard area or at my WTDN unit which is opposite Kate's Burger Bar. I hope that you will enjoy this new blog and if you live in the Grimsby area, please come and say "Hello", it would be really lovely to meet you. Best wishes Tracey