Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Obsession
by
Amanda Robson
Blog Tour



It's my turn on the Obsession Blog Tour. I have an extract for you today and also a guest review from Julie Williams.


Extract

Leaving me alone, longing to see my husband, longing to see my children. Longing for Craig, just to speak to him.

At last. He calls. His voice bursts towards me through my iPhone.

‘Jenni.’

Just hearing his voice helps the chaos in my head begin to subside.

‘Craig.’

I hear him breathing heavily as if he is walking quickly. I hear the sea-like hiss of traffic.

‘Where are you?’

‘Just leaving the fire station.’ Breathing, breathing, quickly, quickly. A rise in the volume of the traffic.

‘Sounds quite noisy.’

‘A lot of traffic here tonight. There must be a jam on the bypass.’

My eyes settle on the wall clock by the back door.

‘Weird time to be leaving the fire station. What happened?’

He hesitates.

‘I just went in to do some extra paperwork.’

‘Where are the children?’ I ask anxiously.

‘Rob’s got them.’

‘What about Carly? I thought she was helping?’

‘Carly’s out tonight.’

‘Well, she’s been so helpful I expect she needs a break.’ I pause. ‘I’m missing you so much, Craig. And the boys. When are you all arriving?’

‘The day after tomorrow. I’m missing you too, Jenni. I love you to pieces.’

The love in his voice is reassuring me. Pushing my fears away.


Review by Julie Williams

I do enjoy a psychological thriller book so when I read the blurb for this one I knew I had to read it.

The tale begins with a family camping holiday in Brittany, France. Carly, a nurse at her husband Rob’s GP Practice asks him a seemingly innocent question: who else would you go for if you could? The answer Rob gives Jenni, wife of Craig their friends, starts a horrific roller coaster of events that shatters not only their friendship but also their lives.

All four main characters have flaws and I can’t say that I felt sorry for any of them and I am certainly glad they are not in my friend circle! Two of the group are very religious with church paying a huge part of their lives, yet they become just as deceitful and nasty as their partners. 

Hatred, lies, drug and sex addiction features in this story with four apparently normal professional family people. 

I really felt sorry for the children and grandparents who appeared to spend more time looking after the kids than their own parents did.

I give this book Obsession 4 star rating as it had many twists and kept me addicted from the start. Just a warning that there is quite a lot of sexual content in this book so not for the prudish!

Thanks to Julie for this book to read and review.






Friday, 19 May 2017

All The Good Things
by
Clare Fisher



It's my turn today on the Blog Tour for All the Good things by Clare Fisher. I hope you enjoy an extract I have for you.


Extract

All the Good Things

1. Smelling a baby’s head right into your heart
2. Running until your body is a good place to be
3. When two people love each other enough to share silence
4. Friends you can be weird with
5. Curling up in a fleece blanket, in your own home
6. Reading out loud to people who listen
7. Flirting on orange wednesday
8. Falling asleep with your legs tangled up in someone else’s
9. When you’re so happy it hurts
10. When your body finally grows up
11. Owning up to bad things you’ve done
12. Telling the truth in club toilets
13. A soft ear in hard times
14. How cats can find sun to lie in, even on a cloudy day
15. Baby bellies
16. When your mum wraps a scarf around your neck
17. Doing the things that scare you most
18. Running as fast as the thames flows
19. Knowing that whatever else changes, you will get up at the same time every day
20. When a baby bites your nipple like it will never let go
21.
22. The promise of a blank page





1. Smelling a baby’s head right into your heart

Of all the good things that have ever been in me, the first and the best is you. Every single part of you, from your stroke-able earlobes to the hope curled up in your toes. Remember that. Remember it when the dickheads say you’re a bad or a so-what thing. Remember it when you’re convinced the good things are jammed behind other people’s smiles. Remember it the hardest when you feel like nothing at all.

Writing a list of good things may seem pretty retarded – at least, that’s what I said when Erika brought it up. I didn’t know Erika before they put me in here but now we have to put up with each other for a whole hour every week. She has these geekster glasses that make her eyes look bigger than any person’s should; when I said the word ‘retarded’, they grew so big, it was like she knew everything about me and about the universe and about whatever lay outside the universe, and that made me feel small, and so I jumped up, gripped the back of my chair and said, ‘I’m not a retard.’

I waited for Erika to shout. Or press whatever button she had to press to bring the screws running. Instead, she sighed like I was some telly programme she wished would change into a better one.
I let go of the chair and sat back down.
‘Now,’ she said, laying her hands flat on the table between us. They were red raw and peeling, like she’d forgotten to wear washing-up gloves. ‘Why don’t you explain why you used that word – retard.’
‘I don’t know, do I? I open my mouth, the words come out. End of story.’
‘That’s one way of looking at it,’ said Erika. ‘But there are others. For example, I, like you, know what it is to be a mum. I’ve got three kids.’ The way her face moved, even a blind man could’ve clocked how much she loved them. Would a blind man have clocked how much I loved you? Would anyone?
‘One’s mad on football,’ she went on, ‘the other on Harry Potter, the third on spiders and spaceships. One hates loud noises, the other hates to eat anything round. It just so happens that one of them is autistic. But they’re all as real as each other.’ She paused and wiggled her eyebrows – eyebrows which, FYI, hadn’t been threaded or even plucked. ‘Do you see?’
The grown-up reply would have been sorry. And maybe: Thanks for talking to me like I’m just another mum. Like we’re just two human beings. But even though I’m twenty-one and have done 100% TM certified grown-up things like wash up my own plates in my own flat, rubber gloves and all; even though I’ve had a job and a boyfriend and a baby, grown-up isn’t always the way I am on the inside. I slumped down in my chair and mumbled, ‘Whatever.’
‘There are lots of ways to look at every person, and words like “retard” are dangerous because they make us believe there’s just one story.’
I opened my mouth but no words fell out, not even an almostword, like ‘Oh.’
‘I bet,’ she said, patting her grey-streaked boy-cut hair, ‘you know a thing or two about those kinds of words?’
Suddenly, Erika and her glasses and the custard yellow walls disappeared.
I was back in that courtroom, not knowing where to look because whether I looked at the judge and his wig or the clerk and her computer or the lawyers and their ring-binders or even the fake-wood walls, all I saw was the bad things I’d done. The things that stopped the other prisoners looking at me unless it was to give me the evils.
‘Bethany?’
Erika’s voice shoved this memory to the part of my mind that’s a bit like the patch of carpet under the sofa: it’s close, dirty and dark, and although you mean to sort it out, you never do, because the only parts of you that ever see it are your ankles.
Back in the room, Erika was staring straight at me but for the first time in my life, I didn’t mind; there was no way of knowing what a person was or wasn’t thinking about me, and this was an OK or maybe even a good thing.
I opened my mouth and out came these words I’d no idea were there: ‘One of my foster mums, the fourth or like maybe the fifth, she was obsessed with cats.’
‘Oh?’
‘She loved them. If I said I felt ill, she’d tell me to stop making a fuss. But if the cat sneezed, she’d shove it into this dark plastic box and rush it to the vet. Before she put it in the box, it’d be OK – a bit dribbly or moody or whatever but basically OK. As soon as it clocked it was trapped, it went mental. Scratching and howling and yowling and shitting itself. Eventually, it’d go all saggy and depressed. Anyway, that’s how they make you feel – those kinds of words.’
Erika smiled like I’d done some better-than-good thing. I waited for her to tell me what it was; instead, she handed me this exercise book. ‘So you’ll have a go at the list?’
‘Haven’t seen a book like this since school. I’ll warn you now: I’m gonna get shit grades.’
‘I won’t give you a grade,’ she laughed. ‘I won’t even look at what you’ve written, not unless you want me to.’
I made my best whatever face, but my hands were all over it, stroking its rough recycled pages, because it was a long time since anyone had given anything to them or me, and the ending of this time felt good. ‘What’s the point then?’
‘The point is for you.’
‘Write down the good things about my life?’
‘Exactly.’
‘But what if . . . I can’t think of any?’
If you’ve never seen a sad smile, you should’ve seen hers just
then. ‘You will.’
‘Oh well. At least it’s something to do.’
I tucked it into my waistband and stalked out. It jiggled against my pants, and the only way to stop it falling down the left leg was to walk weird, but I didn’t care, because every time I bent my leg I was reminded of you.
I was alone again at dinner that night but I didn’t care. For the first time since arriving here three weeks ago, the shaking in my hands stopped. I even managed to stuff in a few mouthfuls of the brown stuff that was meant to be chicken curry. The noise of other girls talking and eating and laughing was just as loud, but it didn’t poke holes in my heart. When I was locked back in my cell, I didn’t mind the silence, or the blank space where the handle should be on the door. I was remembering your eyelashes; how they were thick and black from the moment you were born, a heart-breaker, said the nurses. Or the way you’d murmur in your sleep, as if you were already dreaming the best dreams. If it was a really good one, you’d blow a spit bubble. The way you’d curl and stretch your toes when I changed your nappy. Best of all was the ridiculously delicious smell of your head; pressing my nose to your fluffy hair and breathing in deep was better than any drink or drug or new phone or any other thing people buy to feel good; I’d breathe it right down into my heart. Making you into a shape on the paper would be the next best thing to the thing I’d already done, i.e. making the actual you.
Who knows? Maybe, despite everything, this list will find its way to the you that I imagine growing up with some other mum, somewhere far from here. I hope this list, whatever it turns out to be, will show you that whatever bad or non stories you might hear about me and about the way your life began, they aren’t the only ones. You might think I’m retarded for hoping such a thing in the light, or rather the dark, of everything that’s happened. But you know what? I think it’s good. I think it’s a good thing to find hope where any other person would agree

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

*** COVER REVEAL ***

Shelter
by
Sarah Franklin


They say you should never judge a book by it's cover, but as soon as I saw the cover of Shelter and read the blurb, I just had to show you this one! Any stories to do with before, during or after WWI or WWII i'm a sucker for, so I can't wait to get my hands on this!


Published by Zaffre in hardback, 27th July 2017, £12.99

A beautiful, unique and deeply engrossing novel about finding solace in the most troubled of times, about love, hope and renewal after devastation.

1944. Connie Granger must leave Coventry after her family home is blitzed, she must learn to survive alone, hiding a huge secret. She finds work with the Women's Timber Corps in the Forest of Dean and soon starts to work as a lumberjill.

It’s here that she meets Italian P.O.W., Seppe, who is haunted by his past. But in the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.

Their meeting signals new beginnings. In each other they find the means to imagine their own lives anew, and to face that which each fears the most. But then Connie’s secret is revealed and she must decide whether to stay or run - and who to leave behind.


About the Author




Sarah Franklin lectures in publishing at Oxford Brookes, is the host of Short Stories Aloud and a judge for the Costa Short Story Award. She has written for the Guardian, Psychologies magazine, The Pool, the Sunday Express and the Seattle Times. In 2014, Sarah was awarded a Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship on the strength of her opening pages of SHELTER, and worked on the novel for a year with Jenn Ashworth, amongst others.
Leopard At The Door
by
Jennifer McVeigh
Blog Tour


Guest Review
by
Julie Williams





I was asked to read and review this ARC as Julie Boon knows that I love the author Dinah Jefferies books which this book is likened to due to its exotic location.

Rachel, an 18 year old girl returns home to Kenya after six long years in England where she was sent with her grandparents by her father after her mother’s death. 

Rachel is excited to get back to the country she knows and loves expecting the family farm and her life to pick up as before she left. However, she soon discovers that there have been many changes in her absence, one being a new woman Sara, who now lives at the farm and who has stepped into her mother’s role. 

The country is also in the midst of political unrest as a secret society Mau Mau is wreaking havoc across Kenya against white supremacy fighting and murdering in order to reclaim their land. 

Rachel experiences awkward, complicated and forbidden relationships with some horrific consequences.

This story explores the struggles Rachel and others faced: discrimination, betrayal, shame and fear. 

As I enjoy reading about the culture and traditions of other countries and this tale explored Kenya in the 1950’s era, I found this novel packed with descriptive emotion and well written characters. 

I awarded Leopard At The Door a 4 star rating.



Sunday, 14 May 2017

** COVER REVEAL **

Her Last Breath
by
Tracy Buchanan



I'm delighted to show you the cover for Tracy Buchanan's new book Her Last Breath which is published in June. I love this author's books, so am eagerly awaiting this one!



A girl has gone missing. You’ve never met her, but you’re to blame.
Food writer Estelle Forster has the perfect life. And with her first book on the way, it’s about to get even better.
When Estelle hears about Poppy O’Farrell’s disappearance, she assumes the girl has simply run away. But Estelle’s world crumbles when she’s sent a photo of Poppy, along with a terrifying note: I’m watching you. I know everything about you.
Estelle has no idea who’s threatening her, or how she’s connected to the missing teen, but she thinks the answers lie in the coastal town she once called home, and the past she hoped was long behind her.
Estelle knows she must do everything to find Poppy. But how far will she go to hide the truth – that her
perfect life was the perfect lie?

Her Last Breath is an addictive, page-turning read that fans of Liane Moriarty and Claire Douglas will love.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

** COVER REVEAL **

The Widow's Promise
by
Jennie Felton



I make no secret of the fact that I love family sagas and I am so excited to show you the cover for the next instalment in The Families of Fairley Terrace saga. This will be book number 4 and I am very excited and eagerly awaiting publication of this one! You will have a bit of a wait as it is published on 7th September, but if you can't wait until then, why not start at the very beginning (I think that's a song isn't it?!) with All the Dark Secrets (book 1).


She'd do anything to keep her children safe...
Carina Talbot's life is shattered when her beloved husband Robert is found dead in mysterious circumstances. Suddenly she must take on sole responsibility for their two young children and find a way to continue running the farm which was Robert's pride and joy - not to mention prevent Sally, her beautiful yet headstrong sister-in-law, from making choices which will affect them all.
Help comes in the form of two new men in her life: local landowner Lord Cal Melbrook, a scarred war hero whose surly temperament seemingly masks a generous heart, and a mysterious stranger who claims to have been friends with Robert and offers a much-needed hand on the farm. But can Carina truly trust the motives of either man? And, as a woman alone, can she keep her vow to protect her children from further tragedy?
Don't miss the rest of the Families of Fairley Terrace series, which began with Maggie's story in All The Dark Secrets and continued with Lucy's story in The Miner's Daughter, and Edie's story in The Girl Below Stairs.


You can pre-order your copy here

Monday, 8 May 2017

The Punch and Judy Girl
by 
Sheila Newberry
Blog Tour



It's my pleasure to be a part of this blog tour today for The Punch and Judy Girl by Sheila Newberry. I have an extract for you below.


Extract

PROFESSOR JAS JOLLEY’S PUNCH & JUDY.

May would keep the legend, in memory of her late father, Jim, the popular Punch and Judy man. ‘Professor’ was of course an honorary title, but traditional. Smokey plodded on, sensing journey’s end, after May climbed back into the driving seat. May and her younger sister Pomona had travelled almost twenty miles from their Aunt Min’s home, on the outskirts of Kettle Row, a market town on the borders of Suffolk and Norfolk. Their grandfather had settled with his daughter when he gave up travelling with the show. To Min, who’d been widowed in the Boer War, the Jolleys were her family. Min was responsible for naming her younger niece after Pomona, the Roman goddess of orchards. This was fitting because Min made her living from the apple, pear and plum trees in the smallholding she’d inherited from her in-laws.
Jim and the children stayed on the farm during the winter, when Pomona attended the village school. May’s education had ended at fourteen, so she and Jim spent this time refurbishing the puppets, sewing new costumes, painting fresh backcloths, inventing new props.
Sadly, soon after their return from the last summer season, Jim succumbed to chronic congestion of the lungs. The condition had plagued him since he was gassed in the trenches during the Great War, the one it was said would end all wars. He had been invalided out of the Army in 1916. During his absence, Carmen, his wife, had left May with Min, while she toured with other dancers to entertain the troops. She’d not been best pleased when she was expected to return home to look after her sick husband, and then a new baby in 1917.
Jim’s last words to May were: ‘Will you girls carry on with the show?’ She’d promised him that they would.
May and Pomona were about to fulfill this pledge. Their mother, Carmen, a volatile Spanish flamenco dancer, who’d left most of the girls’ upbringing to their father, had flounced off four summers ago with an itinerant evangelist, after a huge row with Jim right in the middle of the rival entertainments, leaving both audiences gawping on the beach. ‘That’s the way to do it!’ Punch had cried, as the hymn singing faltered and faded. ‘He never liked her,’ Jim muttered to May.


To order a copy of the book click here