We are thrilled to bring you a very special Book Club event on Thursday 21st October at 7pm to celebrate three incredible books that you need to add to your 'to-be-read' piles.
Here are some teaser extracts to give you a taste of what's to come… Get your cuppa ready and happy reading.
Today is the anniversary of Little Girl With Popsicle. It happened by the lake, eleven years ago – she was there, and then she wasn’t. So it’s already a bad day when I discover that there is a Murderer among us.
Olivia lands heavily on my stomach first thing, making high-pitched sounds like clockwork. If there’s anything better than a cat on the bed, I don’t know about it. I fuss over her because when Lauren arrives later she will vanish. My daughter and my cat won’t be in the same room.
‘I’m up!’ I say. ‘It’s your turn to make breakfast.’ She looks at me with those yellow-green eyes then pads away. She finds a disc of sun, flings herself down and blinks in my direction. Cats don’t get jokes.
I fetch the newspaper from the front step. I like the local because it has a rare bird alert – you can write in if you see something special, like a northern flicker or a Siberian accentor. Even this early, the dim air is as warm as soup. The street feels even quieter than usual. Hushed, like it’s remembering.
When I see the front page my stomach goes into curls and knots. There she is. I forgot it was today. I’m not so good with time.
They always use the same picture. Her eyes are big in the shadow of her hat brim, the fingers clenched on the stick as if she thinks someone might take it away from her. Her hair lies wet and sheeny on her skull, short as a boy’s. She has been swimming, but no one is wrapping her in a fluffy towel to dry her. I don’t like that. She might catch cold. They don’t print the other picture, the one of me. They got in big trouble for that. Though not big enough if you ask me.
She was six. Everyone was upset. We have a problem with that around here, especially by the lake, so things happened fast. The police searched the houses of everyone in the county who might hurt children.
Christine Pride and Jo Piazza
When the bullets hit him, first his arm, then his stomach, it doesn’t feel like he’d always imagined it would. Because of course, as a black boy growing in this neighborhood, he’d imagined it. He’d thought it would feel hot and sharp, like the slice of a knife; instead, his entire body goes cold, like someone has filled his insides with ice.
The blood is a surprise too, not how much—he’d pictured it pooling around him—but how little, a warm, sticky trickle flowing from under his jacket where he fell to the ground. He hears heavy footsteps and voices coming closer, two of them. One is calling for an ambulance. They’re talking loud and fast, not to him but to each other.
“Check his ID.”
“No, don’t touch him.”
And then: “Where’s the gun? Get the gun!”
One of them says this over and over.
There’s no gun. He wants to explain, but no words come out of his mouth. He was wearing his headphones—Meek Mill blasting in his ears—when he thought he heard shouting, felt footsteps pounding in the alley. He turned and instinctively reached for his phone in his pocket to turn off the music. That was stupid. He knew better. No sudden movements. Don’t be a threat. Do what they say. His mom had drilled this into him since he was old enough to walk. He didn’t even have a chance though; his mind moved so much slower than the bullets.
An image comes to him—his face on the news. He knows exactly which photo his mom will choose: his school picture from last year, eighth grade. She was happy he’d finally smiled in it; he usually tried to keep his mouth closed to hide the gap in his teeth, even though just last week he’d overheard Maya in line behind him in the cafeteria call it “cute.” He pictures Riley Wilson, the pretty one on Channel Five, with her bright red lips, her voice smooth as melted chocolate: “Fourteen-year-old Justin Dwyer was shot tonight by Philadelphia police officers. . . .”
He looks at his phone on the ground next to him, screen shattered into a spiderweb of cracks. For a split second, he’s seized with panic—his mom had made it clear when he lost his last phone that she wouldn’t buy him another one. Then it hits him just as suddenly: it doesn’t matter.
I am well aware that my name is ridiculous. It was not ridiculous before I took this job four years ago. I’m a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel, and my name is Molly. Molly Maid.
A joke. Before I took the job, Molly was just a name, given to me by my estranged mother, who left me so long ago that I have no memory of her, just a few photos and the stories Gran has told me. Gran said my mother thought Molly was a cute name for a girl, that it conjured apple cheeks and pigtails, neither of which I have, as it turns out. I’ve got simple, dark hair that I maintain in a sharp, neat bob. I part my hair in the middle – the exact middle. I comb it fl at and straight. I like things simple and neat.
I have pointed cheekbones and pale skin that people some times marvel at, and I don’t know why. I’m as white as the sheets that I take off and put on, take off and put on, all day long in the twenty-plus rooms that I make up for the esteemed guests at the Regency Grand, a five-star boutique hotel that prides itself on ‘sophisticated elegance and proper decorum for the modern age.’
Never in my life did I think I’d hold such a lofty position in a grand hotel. I know others think differently, that a maid is a lowly nobody. I know we’re all supposed to aspire to become doctors and lawyers and rich real-estate tycoons. But not me. I’m so thankful for my job that I pinch myself every day. I really do. Especially now, without Gran. Without her, home isn’t home. It’s as though all the color has been drained from the apartment we shared. But the moment I enter the Regency Grand, the world turns Technicolor bright.
As I place a hand on the shining brass railing and walk up the scarlet steps that lead to the hotel’s majestic portico, I’m Dorothy entering Oz. I push through the gleaming revolving doors and I see my true self reflected in the glass – my dark hair and pale complexion are omnipresent, but a blush returns to my cheeks, my raison d’être restored once more.