Magic. Revolution. Identity. The Emperor is Dead. Long live the Emperor.
Lin Sukai finally sits on the throne she won at so much cost, but her struggles are only just beginning. Her people don’t trust her. Her political alliances are weak. And in a far corner of the Empire a rebel army of constructs is gathering, its leader determined to take the throne by force.
Yet an even greater threat is on the horizon, for the Alanga – the powerful magicians of legend – have returned to the Empire. Lin may need their help to defeat the rebels and restore order.
But can she trust them?
I absolutely loved The Bone Shard Daughter, its such an original story where instructions are carved into bone which can then command constructs, so I was very excited to see where the story went. I liked that this book picked up exactly where the first book finished as I immediately felt transported back into the bone shard world.
As in book one we get multiple points of view which I really liked as I felt like we got to see the empire from all sides. This book was a lot more political than the first book that contained all the history and world building, it gave us more of an insight into ruling different lands and how fragile loyalties can be. The ending was explosive and left me wanting book three now!
I cannot finish this review without mentioning Mephi, I think he might be my favourite none human character from any book, I just love him.
Thank you to @Tr4cyF3nt0n and @orbitbooks for my space on the blog tour tour.
Under the clocktower in central Cologne, with nothing but the stars above and their futures ahead.
They will meet again…
They don’t know it yet, but they’ll meet again: in numerous lives they will become friends, colleagues, lovers, enemies – meeting over and over for the first time, every time; each coming to know every version of the other.
But as they’re endlessly drawn together and the lines between their different lives begin to blur, they are faced with one question: why?
They must discover the truth of their strange attachment before this, and all their lives, are lost forever.
This was unlike anything I have read before. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down, I thought it was going in the direction of a romance similar to time travelers wife but it couldn’t have been further away from that. This story was about love as concept not romantic love.
We see the two main characters lives intersecting in a multitude of different ways and each time we learn a little but more about them as they unravel what’s happening to them. Santi believes that everyone has a path set out for them, whereas Thora believes that life changes based on the decisions you make. Santi is religious, Thora is not. We follow them through different iterations of their lives together and seeing how those beliefs were challenged was so interesting to read.
I honestly couldn’t tell you where I thought it was going but I was not expecting that ending at all but I absolutely loved it, I think it worked brilliantly and really cemented the read as a 5 star for me.
Thank you @randomttours and @harpervoyageruk for my spot on the blog tour.
About the Author:
Catriona Silvey was born in Glasgow and grew up in Perthshire and Derbyshire, which left her with a strange accent and a distrust of flat places. She overcame the latter to do a BA in English at Cambridge, and spent the next few years there working in scientific publishing. After that she did a PhD in language evolution, in the hope of finding out where all these words came from in the first place.
Following stints in Edinburgh and Chicago, she returned to Cambridge, where she lives with her husband and a very peculiar cat. When she’s not working as a researcher studying meaning in language, she writes. Her short stories have been performed at the Edinburgh Literary Festival and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.
The summer’s must read is here MARY JANE by Jessica Anya Blau is perfect for fans o f the 1970s nostalgia captured by Daisy Jones and the Six as well as readers of Judy Blume With hints of Almost Famous MARY JANE is a charming coming of age novel that perfectly captures that era of American culture, from rock music on the radio to family therapy on the beach.
Set in 1975 suburban Baltimore Blau’s breakout novel introduces Mary Jane, a sheltered teenage girl whose world opens up when she lands a summer job as the nanny for the daughter of a local doctor A respectable job Mary Jane’s mother says in a respectable house. The Cone house may look respectable on the outside, but inside it’s a literal and figurative mess: clutter on every surface, Impeachment: Now More Than Ever bumper stickers on the doors, cereal and take away for dinner. And even more troublesome (were Mary Jane’s mother to know, which she does not): the doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one important job helping a famous rock star dry out. A week after Mary Jane starts, the rock star and his movie star wife Jimmy and Sheba move in.
Over the course of the summer, Mary Jane introduces her new household to crisply ironed clothes and a family dinner schedule and has a front row seat to a liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (not to mention group therapy). Caught between the lifestyle she’s always known and the future she’s only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be.
A nostalgic trip into the 1970’s MARY JANE is a timeless coming of age story about finding yourself, all wrapped up with lots of humour, a dash of teenage rebellion and plenty of rock and roll.
This was a great coming of age story set in 1975. Mary Jane is hired as a nanny for the summer but ends up helping the family in more than her paid role as nanny.
I absolutely loved getting lost in the 70’s in this book, it really felt like I was travelling back in time with each page. I adored Mary Jane’s character, she was just such a lovely young girl thrown into a world she had no clue about but still tried to do her best for Izzy.
I thought Izzy was a brilliant character and enabled the innocent questions that child ask to be included in the story which I think really added to the narrative. I also really liked the rock star couple they bought music and glamour to the book that made it a joy to read. The group dynamic together had me laughing many a time.
I love how it showed the idea of family not necessarily being who you are born into but who supports you and looks out for you. A really great, heart warming read.
Thank you to @harper360uk and @randomttours for my spot on the blog tour
Lucy Vine Millie is a perfectionist. She’s happy, she’s successful and, with a great support network of friends and family (and a very grumpy cat), she’s never lonely. She loves working at a big tech firm and is on track be promoted to her dream role. The last thing she needs is romance messing up her perfectly organised world. Besides, normal people just don’t have romantic relationships. Everyone knows that being in a couple is a bit . . . well, odd. You know, like having a pet snake or referring to yourself in the third person. Why rely on another person for your own happiness? Why risk the humiliation of unrequited love or the agony of a break-up? No, Millie is more than happy with her conventional single life.
So, when Millie lands a new project at work, launching a pill that prevents you falling in love, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. That is, until she starts working with Ben. He’s charming and funny, and Millie feels an instant connection to him. Will Millie sacrifice everything she believes in for love?
I read this authors debut book, The Shelf, last summer and really enjoyed it so when the chance to read her latest novel came around I jumped at the chance. I love how easy this authors work is to read even though it is always packing some big punches.
I really enjoyed how the author flipped the norm and really exposed how much is put on marriage in our culture, things I didn’t even really think about like the tax benefits to being married or even just in a couple is something that I have always just taken as a given but really why are people being penalized for being single?
The chemistry between the two main characters felt real and I could feel the tension simmering between them. The concept of Oxytoxin pill was frightening and yet such a clever idea, I really hope it never gets invented 🤣
For me the ending felt at odds with the whole tone of the book although saying that I would have been disappointed if it didn’t end that way so I think I must have been in a contrary mood!
This is definitely one your going to want to pick up this summer and I can’t wait to see what this author brings us next.
Thank you to @zaffrebooks and @tr4cyf3nt0n for my spot on the blog tour!
Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely. Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy, and she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants.
Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.
When these three lives collide, and intertwine in unexpected ways, everything changes. For everyone.
Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, This Is How We Are Human is a powerful, moving and thoughtful drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family and to survive.
This is my 3rd Louise Beech Book and this one cements her in my auto-buy author list. I love that she can write so powerfully across genres so you never know what’s coming next!
In this story Sebastian wants nothing more than to meet a woman, and have sex, but he’s autistic which for him makes forming any kind of relationship difficult. His mother just wants him to be happy and thinks the solution is to hire a escort. Violetta has responsibilities to take care of and a nursing qualification to pay for, she is just trying to keep it all together.
I really loved Sebastian’s character, I thought he was a very loveable man with a good sense of right and wrong and he just felt so real to me, as did all the characters! I really felt for his mum as she really was jut trying to do her best but being on her own with no one to talk through raising a child with made her feel so alone. I loved the surprise twist, it was really clever and made me question my own judgements I might have made in that situation.
Reading the authors note I saw that Louise had worked hard to research and make sure that Sebastian’s character was right and that it actually based on a true story!!
Another moving tale from a master story teller who can weave emotion in to anything. Thank you @orendabooks and @randomttours for letting me be part of the blog tour!
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her 2019 novel Call Me Star Girl won Best magazine Book of the Year, and was followed by I Am Dust.
Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.
When she was thirteen, Lizzie lost her best friend in what she always believed was a terrible accident.
Even though she was with Alice when she died, Lizzie has no memory of the accident itself. Now there is doubt around if it was in fact an accident at all.
Alice’s friends and relatives seem to suspect Lizzie had a part to play in Alice’s death, but Lizzie knows that can’t be true. She would never have hurt Alice.
Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is finally beginning to feel like she can move on with her life.
But someone has other ideas.
Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge.
Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before her best friend Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. Skip ahead to 12 years later and Lizzie is moving on with her life, she has moved in with her fiancé and is going to go back to college. But strange things keep happening, is she being haunted by the past or is someone out for revenge.
This is the second thriller I have read by Lesley Kara as I was on the blog tour for who did you tell, and I think this is even better than the last. I read it in just a few sittings and was thinking about it when I was I put it down. The tension the author creates oozed off the page and at times I just wanted to shake Lizzie and say ‘can’t you see what’s happening here!!’
I did predict two of the main twists but in no way did this detract from my reading pleasure, in fact it enhanced it as it played out as I wanted it to in my head which gave me a whole separate sense of satisfaction.
Thank you to @randomttours and @lesleykara for my review copy of the book.
Lesley’s debut The Rumour was the bestselling crime thriller debut of 2019. It was a Sunday Times bestseller in both hardback and paperback, a Kindle No.1 bestseller, and has now sold over 350,000 copies globally. The Rumour has been optioned for TV by Cuba Pictures, and has sold in 15+ territories to date. Who Did You Tell? her critically acclaimed second novel was also a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.
Lesley is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives on the North Essex coast, inspiration for the locations in her novels.
Jeremiah O’Connell made his name solving problems in London and now does the same in LA. The problems other people can’t or won’t touch? They’re the ones that end up at Jerry’s door.
Suddenly Jeremiah has problems of his own when he sets out to right a wrong and finds himself on the hitlist of one of LA’s most feared drug gangs.
As the stakes rise, so does the body count, and Jerry has the fight of his life on his hands. Now, with high-class escort Noah in tow, Jeremiah must revisit his old London stomping grounds and assemble his team in order to wage all-out war on the streets on Tinseltown…
Jerry ambled towards the strip club entrance, pulled open a
door and moved into a vestibule area, where a doorman sat
on a bar stool looking at his phone. Jerry tried to hide his
contempt, resisting the urge to tell the guy to get his arse
outside, which was where he should be. Standing. Watching.
Being a fucking doorman. Not sitting inside texting like a
The guy looked up at Jerry, down at his phone and then,
in a double take, back at Jerry. In the next second, he was
scrambling to his feet, broadening his shoulders and narrowing
his eyes. ‘What up?’ he croaked.
From behind him came the muffled thump of the strip
club music. The phone went away, hands into the pockets of
his bomber jacket. Making it clear to Jerry where he kept his
weapon – whatever that might be.
‘All right, mate?’ said Jerry. ‘You open for business, are
you?’ He was taking the piss, but it went clean over the head
of the doorman.
‘Always, always,’ nodded the doorman, ‘just as long as
you’re not after trouble . . .’
Jerry held up his hands. ‘Just here for the booze and the
The doorman held the door open for him and he moved
through into the foyer. A woman in a booth took his money.
He passed into the main club and took in the scene: dancers
gyrating at poles on a central stage; sleepyeyed
a clientele who looked like part of the furniture. The overall
feel was one of lethargy, boredom. The afternoon after a
heavy night when the world has nothing more to show you.
He took a seat, ordered from a waitress who introduced
herself as Ashley, and then, when she returned with the
bottle, asked her, ‘You got a girl here called Commodore?’
Lord D’Arque is dead, enquiries have led to the Lord’s loved ones being ruled out, and the search for a clear picture has put the servants of the manor in the frame. But what possible motive could the staff have for wanting their mean and miserly master murdered?
You’d be surprised what secrets are lurking behind the doors of the Manor!
The servants are our lead suspects and it’s up to you as detectives to prove which one committed the dastardly deed. Playing good cop or bad cop? Picking from these two game versions will determine the type of investigators you’ll be whilst you try to solve the crime, but which detective will crack the case first?
Foul Play is a murder mystery card game for 2-5 players in which you need to find three clues to work out who the murder is and then convince the other players that you know who it is and put your evidence forward to back it up.
I sat down to play this with my husband after putting the little one to bed. The set up was really easy and there is even a photo on the website that shows how it should look for anyone who is unsure. We started off playing good cop but quickly moved on to bad cop as we are both very competitive and wanted to be able to win quicker! The game was fast paced and fun and we will definitely introduce the family to it over Christmas. The one recommendation I would give is to read the instructions online over the small card instructions as they didn’t seem to be as clear about what do with cards you had played/picking up new cards so the first few games we ran out of cards!
Thank you to @damppebbles , @DamppebblesBTs and @afterdarkmurder for my chance to play along! Check out these other lovely bloggers who will be taking part over the next ten days:
Unfortunately, Tom Cooper, like the rest of the world, has found himself stuck in the middle of a pandemic. He’s going to be spending the next few months trapped inside a small flat with sole responsibility for his two single digit children.
Separated from his girlfriend (and any possibility of help with childcare), Tom is plunged into a world of home schooling, awkward Zoom calls, supermarket feuds, al fresco workout sessions, cash strapped tooth fairies, aging parents who won’t stay home and competitive clapping for the NHS. Not to mention the problem of trying to fulfil his girlfriend’s request for an erotic selfie of his rapidly deteriorating body…
Join Tom as he navigates the lockdown in the stand-alone sequel to last year’s hilarious The Rebuilding of Tom Cooper. Laugh-out-loud with real heart.
Lockdown has never been so entertaining!
To be honest I was a little worried about reading this at the start of a second lockdown but this was a thoroughly enjoyable look at lock down from the perspective of a single parent. I really liked seeing all the parts I didn’t see from living in the country side and I especially enjoyed the observations of how different lockdown was for the rich vs the poor as (not knowing any very rich people) was something I was curious about.
This book is more about the challenges and joys of raising children and all the hilarious situations they put us in and is one I would recommend to all if you want a fun, light hearted read. That being said it did have some very tender and real moments that had me welling up!
I didn’t realise this was the second book when I signed up for the tour but I am glad of that as I might not have said yes had I know and it read absolutely fine as a stand alone. I will definitely be on the look out for book one!
Thank you to @randomttours @marottebooks and @thespencerbrown for my copy of the book in exchange for review.
Spencer Brown began performing comedy with the Cambridge Footlights alongside John Oliver (HBO’s This Week Tonight) and Matthew Holness (Garth Merenghi’s Darkplace), before becoming an internationally acclaimed stand up. He has performed everywhere from London’s The Comedy Store to Mumbai and the USA, TV credits including Nathan Barley (Channel 4), Edinburgh Comedy (BBC 2), Last Comic Standing (NBC), his own special on Swedish television. As a TV presenter, he fronted ITV’s Lip Service alongside Holly Willoughby and Five’s The Sexy Ads Show. He is also the writer-director of the multi-award-winning film The Boy with a Camera for a Face. The Lockdown Diary of Tom Cooper is his second novel.
Emily is sure she’s getting this baby stuff all wrong. Why does everyone look like they’re smashing motherhood when she’s barely made it out of the house? She’s usually covered in sick, eating yet another beige freezer dinner, and relying on wet wipes to clean the baby, herself and the house. And coffee. All the coffee. Surely she can’t be the only new mum totally winging it?
Emily’s about to discover that when you’re starting a family, what you really need are your friends…
Our baby is stuck. The previously calm birthing room is full of doctors shouting at the midwives. ‘We need to get her to the operating theatre, now!’ one yells. ‘Why the hell isn’t she there already?’ I strain to see behind me as the pain grips and twists. ‘Nick? NICK? Where are you?’ ‘Here,’ Nick says. His hand firmly grabs mine. ‘What’s happening?’ I shrill, my voice not sounding like my own. ‘It’s OK, Emily,’ my midwife reassures me, ‘you’ve been in second stage labour for some time now. We are going to help you get your baby out.’ She squeezes my shoulder and hurries out of the room. ‘Nick, what’s happening? What does she mean?’ I demand as my entire innards crunch and tighten in the world’s strongest vice. ‘It’s going to be alright,’ Nick says. ‘How do you know?’ I screech at him. The mother of all contractions takes hold as I’m wheeled down the corridor. ‘Holy fuck!’ I hear myself scream. The porters push the trolley through the swing doors and the waiting doctor greets me, ‘Hello, Emily, I’m Doctor Marston. We’re going to move you into a sitting position and ask you to keep very still as I insert a spinal drip into your back. Do you understand?’
‘Yes,’ I respond, as the contraction eases and I get my breath back. ‘OK, Emily, you need to keep still. That’s it, remain absolutely still.’ Can he stop asking me to stay still? It’s like asking a boxer to remain static as his opponent repeatedly punches him in the face. My body wants to push our baby out. ‘Right, it’s in!’ he says triumphantly, and my midwife appears, guiding me back into a horizontal position on the bed. ‘You’re so close, Emily, you can do this,’ my midwife encourages. ‘I can do this,’ I agree weakly. ‘You’re doing brilliantly.’ Nick wipes my sweaty forehead with the sleeve of his jumper. This isn’t how it’s meant to happen. I wanted ‘Here Comes the Sun’, the Nina Simone version, playing triumphantly as my child effortlessly slipped into the world. I’d imagined doing the whole thing drugfree; that I would get the baby out on willpower alone. It’s all typed up in the birth plan. Why isn’t it happening like the birth plan? ‘Get my baby OUT!’ The wave of another kneeshaking contraction is starting to rumble. I can hear a low, Maorilike wail, which I assume is coming from one of the other rooms but as I draw breath, I’m surprised to fi nd it’s me making the noise. ‘What are you doing?’ I ask as a doctor straps monitors to me linked up to big beeping machines. ‘Is there something wrong with the baby?’ I panic. Where’s Nick? He’s not next to me anymore. ‘Nothing’s wrong. You’ve been crowning for a while now and your baby has just become a bit distressed so we need to monitor the heart rate. Just try to relax,’ the doctor explains. ‘Nick? Nick?’ Where has he gone?
‘I’m here. I’m right here,’ he soothes as I grab for his hand and pull him close to me. He’s changed. He’s wearing blue scrubs, George Clooney in ER style, and a net that tames his uncontrollable curly hair; he looks like he works in a chip shop. Where did he get the outfit from? ‘They know what they’re doing, Em.’ His voice is calm but his eyes look wild with fear. My breath is becoming shallow and panting. People sound like they are talking underwater and the skin on my face feels like it is about three sizes too small for my skull. I squeeze Nick’s fingers together so tightly that his hand starts to twitch. I close my eyes and try to take in a deep breath but only feel as if I can fi ll about ten per cent of my lungs. ‘Just breathe, breathe, Emily. Release it slowly like we practised. Make your lips really tight. Like a cat’s bum, remember?’ Nick’s voice sounds far away and echoey. I exhale and open my eyes. My vision has altered, the harsh strip lights have developed a seventies porno soft focus quality; the doctors busy around me through a frosted pane of glass. Nick grins at me and I know he is trying to mask his panic. He’s squatting down so he’s at eye level but his face is too close to mine. I can feel his warm breath on my cheek and it smells like Cornish pasties. ‘I love you. I love you so much. You’re doing so brilliantly. You’re amazing. Keep going, keep going. You’re nearly there.’ He squeezes my hand and emphasises every word. I try to reply but no sound comes out. He tucks a sweaty clump of hair behind my ear and I momentarily close my eyes. When I open them, my legs are in stirrups. I hadn’t even felt them move. These drugs are brilliant. Why hadn’t I asked for them sooner? Stupid, self-righteous birth plan. I start to melt into a drug fuelled bliss. My head feels like it is full of cotton wool; sentences drift off unfinished. I try to smile at Nick but only half my face moves, like a kind of Anne Robinson wink. ‘That’s my girl.’ He leans over and kisses my forehead. ‘We’re nearly there,’ he whispers, ‘we’re so nearly there. I’m so proud of you.’ I reach out to touch his face but my arm feels like it weighs a ton so I drop it back down onto the bed. My midwife has both her hands pressed deep into my stomach to feel when I am contracting; I can’t feel anything at all now – thank fuck for drugs. ‘OK, OK, this is it. I can feel another contraction coming, Emily. I need you to do one last big push for me, can you do that?’ ‘How? I can’t feel anything. How do I push?’ My body is completely numb from my lower chest downwards. ‘Imagine you’re doing a poo. Push like you think you’re doing a poo, Emily,’ she orders. ‘NOW! DO IT NOW!’ The world suddenly stands still. I’m looking at the silent, scarlet faced midwife barking orders at me. Her mouth is moving but I can’t hear her. I am utterly gripped by fear. I can’t do this, I can’t do this. I want all this to stop. I can’t do this. I’m not ready. I scrunch my eyes shut as the tears spill down my cheeks. Can all this just stop for a moment? I’m not ready. Then quick as a fl ash I’m back in the room like I’ve been given a shot of adrenaline. A glob of spit sprays out the midwife’s mouth as she screams, ‘I SAID NOW, EMILY!’ I shut my eyes again, but this time, a sheer determination takes over my whole body. I tense every muscle I can feel and focus on tensing all those that are numb. I imagine myself sat on the toilet and then push. And push. And push. And push. ‘And PUSH. Keep going. The head is almost out. Your baby is almost here. ONE MORE BIG PUSH, EMILY!’
The doctor standing between my legs is nodding frantically at the midwife. Fuck. This is it. Come on, Emily, you can do this. Let’s get this baby out. I gulp in another huge breath, grip Nick’s hand with all my might and scream a deep, powerful scream from somewhere right down in my solar plexus. ‘That’s it, Emily, that’s it, keep going. This is the one, we’re going to get your baby out on this one, KEEP GOING,’ she bellows. I gasp for another lungful of air and use the last bit of upper body strength to bend forward, imagining I’m doing the biggest poo of my life. Suddenly there’s a sharp tug between my legs followed by what sounds like someone spilling a pint of water on the floor. ‘Yes! Well done, Emily, your baby is here.’ Our baby is here. Everything pauses. There is a collective intake of breath followed by an ear bleedingly loud wail and the room becomes a hive of activity again. I flop back on the bed, sweat dripping in my eyes. ‘Daddy, do you want to come and see what sex it is?’ It takes me a moment to realise the doctor is talking to Nick. ‘Oh my God, Emily . . .’ His voice cracks. ‘It’s a girl, she’s a girl!’ ‘Can I see her?’ I croak. The doctor carefully places her on my chest. I’m stunned by the alien feeling of having the weight of a one breath old human being on top of me. She has tiny, tiny fingers with titchy fingernails and a mouth the size of an old five pence, opening and closing like a goldfish. We have a daughter. All slippery, a full head of black hair matted to her purple scalp with blood and discharge.
I look up at Nick, who is taking a picture of us both on his phone, and say in a voice that comes out so deep it sounds more like a burp: ‘It’s our baby.’ Later, we look back at that photograph which he immediately texts to everyone we know, and both comment on how much I look like a transvestite. ‘Do you have a name?’ a nurse asks. Nick and I look at each other and without hesitation, proudly say, ‘Lucy’, in unison. Of the five million names we toyed with, we always came back to Lucy. We don’t agree on a lot of things, but thankfully we agreed on this. There is another tug between my legs. I’ve been so busy staring at our baby, I hadn’t noticed the doctor was still ferreting around down there. She looks up at me and says, ‘Would you like to see your placenta?’ I nod before I’ve really had a chance to think it through and she passes it to the midwife who presents me with what looks like a massive bloody steak. ‘Are you keeping it?’ she asks. ‘Am I what?’ ‘Some people like to keep them, have it dried and made into capsules, or necklaces.’ She’s still holding the meat tray of bloody flesh. ‘Err . . . No, no, I’m fi ne thanks.’ ‘Yes, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.’ She shrugs, putting it down. ‘Can I hold her?’ Nick whispers. ‘You can do better than that, would you like to cut the cord, Daddy?’ I wish she’d stop calling him ‘Daddy’. It’s totally creeping me out. Nick looks terrified as the midwife gently takes Lucy from me and hands him a pair of scissors. He says afterwards how he wished the midwife had done it. ‘It was horrible.’ he explains.’ ‘Like sawing through really gristly cheap meat, knowing that you might slip and stab your new born baby.’ Nick picks her up tenderly and holds her in the crook of his arm. He reminds me of the Athena poster, if the guy was dressed like he worked in a chippy. A wave of emotion shudders through me. This is my family now. Nick passes Lucy back and I wrap a sheet around us both. A purple, wrinkly hand rests on my chest territorially and I think, I’m your mum. I’m your mum. I’m your mum. The room has emptied so it’s just me, Lucy, Nick, the midwife and one doctor, who looks at me reassuringly as she settles on the stool between my legs, which are still strung up in the stirrups. ‘Just relax,’ the doctor says perkily. ‘We had to cut through several layers of your vaginal wall to get your baby out, so I’m going to sew it up for you. You won’t feel a thing for now. I’ll tidy it up as best I can so it’ll be nearly as good as new.’ I don’t think I ever want to use my vagina again. She might as well just sew the whole thing up. ‘Would you like some tea and toast?’ the midwife asks in a kind voice that makes me want to cry. I am suddenly the hungriest I’ve been in my entire life, having done the whole labour on two peanut Tracker bars and a Milky Way. Under normal circumstances, that would be an in between snack snack. I give my brand new baby a big sniff on the top of her sticky head, and gratefully say, ‘Yes please.’ ‘I’ll go and put that toast on for you. Just relax, you’ve done the hard work now.’ She smiles. Those words stick with me, and later I will think how cruel it is to mislead someone so much, so early on.
The hard work has only just begun…
Thank you to @orionbooks and @alexxlayt for letting me share this extract with you as part of the blog tour.