Monday 27 May 2019

Paper Dolls - Emma Pullar

I've seen a lot of people talking about this book lately so I decided that it was time that I read it for myself and it certainly didn't disappoint . The prologue was gruesome and I was hooked!

Kerri, Beatrice and Mike all share a flat but despite this they are mostly like the proverbial ships that pass in the night. Each one of them is focusing on bettering themselves in their chosen careers, Kerri is a journalist, Beatrice an author and Mike a frustrated street mime artist, but each one of them is struggling with their own personal issues.

When a serial killer dubbed the Paper Doll Killer starts to gain notoriety with their calling card of painting their victims faces with blood and leaving a paper doll at the scene, all three flatmates are horrified to discover that they could all have potential links to this deranged murderer but what is it that's connecting the victims?

Told in chapters alternating between the three flatmates and cleverly interspersed with chapters from the killers perspective, Paper Dolls is a book that pulls no punches right from the outset, so if, unlike me, you're a sensitive reader, this might not be the book for you. Personally I love a big of gore in my books, no crime scene is ever pretty (not that I've experienced one first hand!) so I admire any author that isn't afraid to go down the graphic route.

Each character in the book has their flaws and I found myself swaying between love and hate with all three of them. The more I read, the more involved I got with them and their lives and the more intrigued I was by the killer. As the story ramped up towards the end, I was convinced that I knew exactly who the Paper Doll Killer was - only to then have all my reasoning's snatched away from me by the dramatic turn of events. I certainly didn't see THAT one coming!!

This is the first book that I've read by Emma Pullar - but I have read London's Crawling, a short story in Dark Minds, a collection of short stories from various well-known authors published for charity - and I'll definitely be watching out for her future books. If you like to venture into the dark side of crime then Paper Dolls could be just the book for you!

With kind thanks to Wendy Clarke and The Fiction Cafe for my review copy.

Tuesday 21 May 2019

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to Cassandra Farren

This week is Dementia Action Week and to help raise awareness of this today I'm handing over to Cassandra Farren. Cassandra's latest book is called I've Lost My Mum and as the title suggests it tells her account of her experience with this heart-breaking disease.


I’ve Lost My Mum tells the true, soul-bearing, account of a daughter who wants to make a difference to those whose lives have been devastated by dementia.

Cassandra’s raw and deeply moving journey shares her own struggle for strength as well as invaluable insights into this invisible illness.

This heartfelt and compelling story not only provides a deeper understanding of this cruel condition but gives hope that it’s possible to find peace when someone you love is lost between worlds.

                                        *    *    *    *

                                 There’s no place like home?

When my mum was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, I had no idea about the harsh reality of this cruel condition. Over the next three years I watched the strong woman I once knew fade away into a stranger I no longer recognised.

As her condition declined, we knew we had to make one of the hardest decisions of our lives, a decision that that no family ever wants to make.

My mum had always been adamant that she never needed, or wanted, any kind of care. She was a young looking 71 year old, who despite her dementia, was still very young at heart.

She went indoor bodyboarding for her 65th birthday and would always be the first one to go down the Astroglide when we took my children to the soft play areas!

Sit down now! Look me in the eye and promise that you will never, ever, put me in a care home! I would rather die than be left in an institution. Tell me you would never do that.”

These are the exact words my mum said to me in April 2018. It broke my heart lying to the woman who I loved the most, as unbeknown her we had already booked her a room to live in a residential care home.

My dad had done the best he could, but it was no longer safe for my mum to live unassisted. 

On the 27th April 2018 I collected my mum from her house for the final time. She was totally oblivious to the fact that once she said goodbye to her husband and walked out the door, she would never return to the home where they had lived together for the last 30 years.

How do you cope with the guilt that consumes you following this decision?

I expected to be consumed by guilt as I waited in the care home reception whilst my mum was settling in. But it took me by surprise at how relieved I felt.  Yes, our lives were going to be very different from that moment on, but my mum was safe and that was all that mattered.

One year on, despite my mum not knowing who I am, I can hand on heart say that my visits to the care home have got easier. My mum has settled in extremely well and I know we definitely made the right decision.

I believe that home is no longer a place for my mum, it is a feeling.

Before she lived in the care home, my mum would often cry and say that she wanted to go home, even though she was in her own house. I believe what she really wanted was the feeling which she associated with home, the feeling of being safe. 

She is safe now, so she is home.

                                                       *    *    *    *

Thank you for writing such a moving and personal piece Cassandra, it sounds like your mum knew how to have fun! I, like a lot of people reading this, I'm sure, will have had some experience of dementia and it is devastating to have the person you know and love be there - but not there - all at the same time.

                                                      Author bio

Photo courtesy of Cassandra Farren

Cassandra Farren is the author of four books. She is also a Soul Writer and mentors heart-led authors.

Her mission is to create a new generation of authors who collectively make a difference to the world, one book at a time.

You can find out more about Cassandra and her books by visiting her website here.