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Archive for the tag “Black and White Publishing”

Blog Tour – ‘The Devil Upstairs’ by Anthony O’Neill ~ @bwpublishing @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours

‘The Devil Upstairs’ by Anthony O’Neill was published last September by Black and White Publishing in hardback and eBook formats.  It is being released in paperback next year on the 30th June 2021.

I would like to thank Kelly Lacey of Love Books Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour.  It really is a pleasure to be taking part.

I have an excerpt from the ‘The Devil Upstairs’ for you all which I hope you enjoy.  Let’s just take a look at what this book is about first though.

 

Book Blurb

In a quiet corner of Edinburgh, Cat Thomas is going through hell.

She’s tried everything. He respects nothing.

If your neighbour was making your life hell …

Would you call upon the devil?

Cat Thomas, a brilliant fraud investigator, has just relocated from Florida to a dreamy flat in historic Edinburgh. Everything seems perfect. Everything seems serene. Except for the unbelievably noisy wannabe rockstar upstairs.

Soon Cat’s blissful new life is in ruins. Desperate, she’s willing to try anything. When all else fails, she makes an appeal … to Satan.

And suddenly everything is eerily quiet. But her nightmare has only just begun …

 

Excerpt

‘When I bought the place,’ Cat admitted, ‘I didn’t even realise there was an apartment upstairs. You can’t really see it from the street – the roof slopes in dramatically – and I just assumed it was a storage space or an empty loft or something.’

Agnes grunted. ‘Lots of buildings in Scotland have old nooks and crannies that’ve been converted into living spaces. You should’ve been more careful.’

‘Uh-huh. And then, for my first five or six weeks in Edinburgh, the flat was empty. The guy who lives there was away somewhere. I think he was away when I inspected the place, too, or just super quiet. But now he’s back. And suddenly I get why the previous owner was so eager to sell.’

‘He’s some sort of maniac?’

‘He’s a musician.’

‘Same thing.’

‘And he makes noise. Lots of noise.’

‘All musicians do.’

‘But it’s not just the music – though that’s bad enough. It’s all sorts of things. Dropping stuff. Stamping around. Banging doors.’

‘All through the night?’

‘Day and night. Every night. He never seems to sleep.’

‘Just kill the cunt.’

‘I wish I could,’ Cat said, grimacing. ‘I wish I could.’

It was an unusually humid early August evening and, with Agnes at the wheel, the two women were hurtling down the A91 towards Edinburgh after interviewing staff at the ABC branch in Montrose. It had only been Cat’s third such expedition since reviving her career in Scotland, so she had let Agnes take charge while familiarising herself with the local idioms and procedures. In fact, Agnes, though wildly different in most ways – as plump as Cat was slim, as loud and impulsive as Cat was prudent and methodical – had become her closest colleague in the department, and the nearest thing to a friend outside office hours, for all her fondness for booze, deep-fried food and the c-word.

‘Is the cunt renting?’

Cat grimaced again. ‘I don’t know . . . I don’t know.’

‘Complain to the landlord, if he is. Tenants need to maintain good records, you know – especially in a compact city like Edinburgh.’

‘The previous owner surely would have done that, if it was going to do any good.’

‘Complain to the factor, then.’

‘I don’t know what a factor is,’ Cat admitted.

‘The building superintendent.’

‘I don’t think there is one.’

‘How many flats in the building?’

‘Six, one atop the other.’

‘Maybe the place is too small.’

Honking the horn at a motorist who swung into her lane, Agnes mouthed the c-word again.

Cat shook her head. ‘In Florida I lived for a while in a condo, and there were strict rules in place. Anyone with floorboards had to cover at least seventy per cent of them to reduce noise.’

‘Got bare floorboards, has he?’

‘They creak like ship timbers. And – I swear to God – I think he deliberately leans on them, at their weakest points, just to make a racket.’

‘It’s an existential thing,’ Agnes said.

 

Like the sound of ‘The Devil Upstairs’?  It can be purchased from Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/372fbkd

 

About Anthony O’Neill

ANTHONY O NEILL is the son of an Irish policeman and an Australian stenographer. He was born in Melbourne and now lives in Edinburgh. He is the author of seven novels including The Dark Side and Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek, recommended by Ian Rankin as ‘clever, gripping and reverent’.

 

Links

Website – https://www.anthonyoneill.net/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/220734.Anthony_O_Neill

Blog Tour – ‘The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days’ by Juliet Conlin ~ @JulietConlin @bwpublishing @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours

I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour today.  ‘The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days’ by Juliet Conlin was published in 2017 by Black and White Publishing.  This book is available in paperback, eBook and Audiobook.

I would like to thank Kelly Lacey of Love Books Tours for inviting me to participate and the publisher for my review copy.

You will find out in a minute what I thought about this book.

 

 

Book Blurb

Approaching 80, frail and alone, a remarkable man makes the journey from his sheltered home in England to Berlin to meet his granddaughter. He has six days left to live and must relate his life story before he dies…

His life has been rich and full. He has witnessed firsthand the rise of the Nazis, experienced heartrending family tragedy, fought in the German army, been interred in a POW camp in Scotland and faced violent persecution in peacetime Britain. But he has also touched many lives, fallen deeply in love, raised a family and survived triumphantly at the limits of human endurance. He carries within him an astonishing family secret that he must share before he dies… a story that will mean someone else’s salvation.

Welcome to the moving, heart-warming and uncommon life of Alfred Warner.

 

My Review

I firstly want to mention the cover of this book which I love.  It shows the different stages of a human being, from when you are a baby to when you get old.  Very meaningful indeed.

‘The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days’ was an absolutely fantastic read.  The author has written an incredibly beautiful and unforgettable story.  I found myself totally engrossed and it was extremely hard to put the book down.  I thought the way the chapters were arranged worked out really well.  It was a bit confusing at first, but I could soon see exactly what the author was trying to achieve and why.

Alfred Warner at nearly eighty years old travels to Berlin to meet his granddaughter, Brynja.  He knows he doesn’t have much time left and he feels the need to tell her his life story before it is too late.  What follows is a truly remarkable and eye-opening look back at his life over six days.

This was such a wonderful book in so many ways and there was a lot packed into it.  I found Alfred’s story fascinating and could see why he wanted to share it.  There was so much tragedy in his life from a very young age and he suffered a lot of pain, but there were also good times.  It was great that Alfred found something that he actually enjoyed doing.  I loved reading about the gardening he did and the herbs.  He gained so much knowledge through books and it would prove useful for many years to come.

This may only be fiction, but Alfred really was an inspiration.  Even in death he was able to help someone.  You could say he left Brynja a legacy.

‘The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days’ is a stunning, heart-breaking and tragic tale which will stay with me for ages.  I recommend that you read this book.

 

‘The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days’ is available to purchase from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Uncommon-Life-Alfred-Warner-Days-ebook/dp/B01MS4KUYU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1595498972&sr=8-1

Waterstones – https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-uncommon-life-of-alfred-warner-in-six-days/juliet-conlin/9781785300820

hive.co.uk – https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Juliet-Conlin/The-Uncommon-Life-of-Alfred-Warner-in-Six-Days/20355364

Blackwell’s – https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/The-Uncommon-Life-of-Alfred-Warner-in-Six-Days-by-Juliet-Conlin-author/9781785300820

 

About Juliet Conlin

Juliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her family in Berlin. Her novels include The Fractured Man (Cargo, 2013), The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days (Black & White, 2017), The Lives Before Us (Black & White, 2019).

 

Links

Website – http://www.julietconlin.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/julietconlin

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/juliet.conlin/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/julietconlin/

 

Blog Tour – ‘A Sinner’s Prayer’ by M.P. Wright ~ @bwpublishing @EllingtonWright

I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour today.  ‘A Sinner’s Prayer’, the fourth and last book in the Detective JT Ellington series was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 18th July 2019 by Black & White Publishing.  It is also available in audiobook.  I would like to thank the publisher for inviting me to participate in the tour and for my review copy.

Before I tell you what I thought about ‘A Sinner’s Prayer’, here is the book blurb.

 

Book Blurb

Saying farewell to the dark side doesn’t mean the dark side wants rid of you. And I was about to be reminded of that fact.

1970, St Pauls, Bristol. A new decade, and JT Ellington is determined it will be a quiet one. He’s stepped away from the private-eye game to scratch a living, respectable at last, as a school caretaker.

Still his nights are full of torment – guilt and ghosts that no prayers will banish – but it’s not until the past comes calling in the unwelcome form of Superintendent Fletcher that JT’s resolve is truly tested.

Fletcher has a job for JT – and the hard-nosed cop can’t be refused. A young man, Nikhil Suresh, has disappeared hours before his wedding; rumours abound and his family is distraught. JT is to investigate.

With what feels like blood money in his pocket, JT is plunged deep into a demi-monde of vice, violence and forbidden passion. An extraordinary, malevolent enemy is intent on destroying him. Now – seeking survival and redemption – JT must play as dirty and dangerous as those who want him dead.

 

My Review

Oh Wow! Was that a fantastic read or what. You won’t believe this, but I haven’t read any of this series and am now wishing I had done. ‘A Sinner’s Prayer’ was absolutely amazing. I was totally hooked and when I wasn’t reading the book I was literally counting down the hours until I could pick it up again. It’s a shame when real life gets in the way isn’t it!

M.P. Wright certainly knows how to weave a good tale and keep his audience captivated. He mentioned JT Ellington’s past which painted a picture for me. That said I found there was loads more I wanted to know. The dialect throughout the book was fascinating. I could almost hear JT and other characters talking.

They say you never know what is around the corner and this was certainly very true in JT’s case. All he wanted was to be able to live a respectable life and for a while things seemed to be working out for him. He preferred doing an honest day’s work. But it turned out he couldn’t hide from the past and soon it was knocking at his door. JT was to find that things were about to become very complicated indeed with possibly no escape.

‘A Sinner’s Prayer’ is a must read for lovers of historical and crime fiction. You will find that you don’t want to put it down even for a second.

This book can definitely be read as a standalone novel but like me you will probably find yourself wanting to read the whole series from the beginning. This is something I will be doing for sure at some point. I am so glad that I have at last read one of M.P. Wright’s books. I hope there is a lot more from him.

 

‘A Sinner’s Prayer’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sinners-Prayer-Detective-JT-Ellington/dp/1785302299/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

About M.P. Wright

Mark Wright was born in Leicestershire in 1965. He was employed in various roles within the music industry before working as a private investigator. He retrained in 1989 and spent the next twenty years in the mental health and probation services in the UK, specialising in risk assessment. A self-confessed aficionado of film, music and real ale, and father of two beautiful daughters, Mark lives with his partner and their two Rottweiler dogs, Tiff and Dylan.

 

Social Media Links

Author

Twitter – https://twitter.com/EllingtonWright

Publisher

Twitter – https://twitter.com/bwpublishing

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/blackandwhitepublishing/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bwpublishing

 

Blog Tour – ‘The House on Rosebank Lane’ by Millie Gray ~ #MillieGray @bwpublishing

I am delighted to be kicking off this blog tour.  ‘The House on Rosebank Lane’ is Millie Gray’s tenth novel and it is out today in paperback and as an eBook, published by Black and White Publishing.  I would like to thank the publisher for inviting me to participate in this tour and for my review copy.

You will find out in a minute what I thought about the ‘The House on Rosebank Lane’.  First though, here’s the book blurb.

 

Book Blurb

Leith, 1953. Kirsten Mowat, eighteen years old and with a joyful spring in her step, couldn’t be more in love with her sea-faring sweetheart Duncan Armstrong. But, seven years later after a hasty wedding, a twist of lies and wrenching loss Duncan and Kirsten’s relationship has faded to tatters. When those closest to her turn their backs, Kirsten alone, with a young family to care for must gather all her spirit and strength if they are to survive. From much-loved Millie Gray, The House on Rosebank Lane is an Edinburgh story of families entwined, of sorrow and hopefulness . . . and of a young mother’s love for her children and a transforming quest for happiness.

 

My Review

It has been a while since I have read a book published by Black and White Publishing and what a treat ‘The House on Rosebank Lane’ was. I actually can’t believe that until now I had never picked up any of Millie Gray’s books. I love family sagas and I really liked that this book was based in Leith, Edinburgh. That’s what appealed to me when I first heard about it. I loved the author’s style of writing and the way the story was presented and found it very easy to follow.

Edinburgh will always be a very special place to me. Whilst reading this story I found myself wishing that I had been there in 1953 onwards. I think it would have been wonderful. I recognised quite a few of the streets mentioned and in the past have actually stayed in a hotel in York Place with my husband.

This story had so much packed into it despite not being very long and I felt I got a lot out of it. The one thing I wished would happen did so that really pleased me.

I loved Kirsten from the very start and I felt so sad for the situation she found herself in. She was a tough cookie though who with the help of friends and good advice coped with what life threw at her. I thought Dixie was so adorable and it was tragic what happened when he was doing so well.

‘The House on Rosebank Lane’ will have you hooked. You literally won’t be able to put the book down. I am looking forward to reading so much more by this author.

~~~~~

‘The House on Rosebank Lane’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Rosebank-Lane-Millie-Gray/dp/178530223X/

 

About Millie Gray

Millie Gray is a writer and professional storyteller. Her humorous plays attract audiences from all over Scotland and she is much in demand to do workshops and talks about her work. Millie Gray was born and raised in Leith and lives in Edinburgh.

 

Links

Black and White Publishing

Twitter – https://twitter.com/bwpublishing

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/blackandwhitepublishing/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bwpublishing

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Gingerbread House’ by Kate Beaufoy

blog-tour-poster

I am absolutely thrilled to be starting off this blog tour.  ‘The Gingerbread House’ is being published on the 2nd March by Black & White Publishing.  I was very kindly sent a copy to review which you can read soon.  First up though, a guest post by Kate Beaufoy herself.

 

An Introduction to The Gingerbread House

The Gingerbread House tells the story of Tess and Katia, a mother and daughter who move into a pretty bungalow in a remote country setting to care for Eleanor, Tess’s aged mother-in-law. Tess is trying to write a book, so a distraction-free zone is what she wants. Katia, however, finds the house eerie and claustrophobic; in order to escape its confines she retreats to her childhood treehouse and spends hours talking to an imaginary friend, telling herself stories, and spying on Toby, the fit young gardener.

Initially, Tess and Katia imagine that caring for Eleanor will be do-able – after all, what could be easier than looking after a little old lady? But it’s a tougher ask than either of them anticipates. Eleanor has dementia, and it’s getting worse. Soon Tess finds herself stressed-out and despondent, reaching for the wine bottle as soon as the carriage clock strikes 6.00 pm. And Katia is powerless to help …

Like most novels, The Gingerbread House is experience distilled through imagination. Although some of what Tess goes through is based on real events, the book is – as becomes clear to the reader turning the pages – a work of fiction.

I wrote the first draft ten years ago, never intending it for publication. It was an amalgamation of snapshot memories and a stream-of-consciousness record of a dark time, and I wrote it in just five weeks. Then I abandoned it. Back then it was something I felt I needed to do – a bit like talking therapy – but instead of communicating my feelings to a shrink, I wrote them down. Then I filed the story as ‘White Peacocks Doc’ and tried to forget about it.

However, as a writer, my job is to put a shape on words, and I couldn’t entirely ignore the fact that some 80,000 of them had spilled on to my computer screen. I couldn’t forget about the white peacocks and their spooky call. I couldn’t forget about the plight of Tess and Eleanor. I would open the file from time to time, rearrange the misspelled mess I had written in such a hurry, refocus, restructure.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from some of the best editors in the UK, and among the most helpful phrases iterated is ‘Take a knife to your little darlings.’ I cut 20,000 words. Instead of using a first person ‘Poor Me’ narrative, I brought Katia in to tell the story. I invented a friend for her, Charlotte, in whom she could confide her worries and sorrows. I conjured up beautiful Toby so that Katia could harbour a little crush, and so Tess could have someone to talk to.

What ultimately grew into a big story is driven by a small cast of characters. While some of them are fabrications, some are based on actual people: Lotus, Doctor Doorley, Donn. The white peacocks were, surreally, real. All of the women to whom Tess speaks on the phone are true friends of mine, to whom I reached out, and who helped me through a tough time. I was lucky – so very lucky – to have them.

Since I wrote the story of Tess and Eleanor and Katia, the concerns that made me tell the story have multiplied. Once as taboo a subject as cancer, dementia is being spoken about throughout the media. Equally importantly, the role of the carer is being highlighted. Just recently, BBC 4’s Woman’s Hour devoted an entire week to the subject.

Some women in similar situations to the one in which Tess finds herself have nobody to talk to. Hopefully this new openness will encourage those who have felt alone for too long that there are thousands and thousands of other Tesses out there.

The Gingerbread House by Kate Beaufoy is published by Black & White.
http://www.katebeaufoy.com

 

~~~~~

My Review

The first thing I want to comment about is the cover which I absolutely adore. It’s simply stunning; I love the colours and the picture of the house which has been given the name, ‘The Gingerbread House’. It looks so lovely and homely and it makes you want to go and live in it. You would be forgiven for thinking that this story is a fairy tale. Except it isn’t, far from it in fact.

The story is narrated by Katia, Tess’s daughter. I really enjoyed the writing style and the way the reader is given a tour of the house. I couldn’t wait to visit all the rooms and learn more about it. Katia who seems to see and know everything that is going on gives a very honest account of the situation at hand and what her parents, especially her mum are going through. But poor Katia can only watch as things fall apart and as I found out later there’s a reason for that.

Reading about Eleanor who was suffering from dementia was heartbreaking. Yes, she was old, but that didn’t make things any easier. It must have been really frustrating for her to not be able to do the things she used to. I don’t think poor Tess ever imagined just how hard it would be caring for Eleanor. Being asked the same questions hundreds of times a day and having to wash her clothes and bedding regularly due to accidents was no joke. That sort of thing would be enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown. I really worried about Tess, especially when she started drinking more.

There was a very dark sense of humour throughout the story which took a bit of getting used to. I had to read a joke two or three times before I understood it. I guess the humour is what helped to keep Tess and Donn going though. Temporary relief is what I think you would call it.

‘The Gingerbread House’ kept me reading. It will hopefully strike a chord with those who have loved ones with dementia. I’m sure a number of things will ring true.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

About Kate Beaufoy


Kate Beaufoy has an MA in French and English literature from Trinity College Dublin. As Kate Thompson she has had a dozen novels published, including the Number One bestseller The Blue Hour, which was shortlisted for the RNA award. Her previous book was Another Heartbeat in the House, which was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards. The Gingerbread House was inspired by her experience of caring for her mother-in-law, when she was suffering from dementia. Kate has contributed to numerous publications and broadcast media in both Ireland and the UK. A former actress, she was the recipient of a Dublin Theatre Festival Best Actress Award. She lives some of the year in Dublin and some on the West coast of Ireland, and is happily married with one daughter. Kate is an advanced-level scuba diver, a wild swimmer, and the keeper of a bewitching Burmese cat.

 

‘The Gingerbread House’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gingerbread-House-Gripping-heartbreaking-surprising-ebook/dp/B01MU7T4Y6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488136899&sr=1-1&keywords=the+gingerbread+house

 

Blog Tour – ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ by Daniela Sacerdoti

Blog Tour

Today it is my turn on this blog tour and I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part.  Last year I read and reviewed Daniela Sacerdoti’s previous novel, ‘Set Me Free’ and I absolutely loved it, so I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was to read this book.  ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ is out in paperback this month, published by Black and White Publishing.  It is the fourth book in the Glen Avich series.

Isabel Ramsay lives in Glen Avich with her husband, Angus.  A successful artist, she has never really got over her mother’s death, even though she died when she was very young.  Haunted by what happened all those years ago, Isabel finds that her own life is spiralling out of control and unable to bear the pain any longer she decides to end her life.  But then Isabel wakes up and discovers that she hasn’t died after all.  She remembers a vision of a mysterious woman who has saved her, but doesn’t understand how this could be so.

With Isabel’s family and friends worried out of their minds, Angus and his brother find a companion to watch over Isabel.  Angus’s work means he is away quite a lot from home and he doesn’t want Isabel to be alone.  Isabel doesn’t like anyone in her home but somehow she accepts having Clara there.  Clara connects with her in a way no one else can.  She helps Isabel to face up to her painful past, rediscover her passion for art and encourages her to live her life again.  But there is something mysterious about Clara.

I tend to comment if I really love a book cover and this one is just beautiful.  It is picture perfect like a postcard.  The snow looks so lovely that you just don’t want to disturb it.

When I first started reading ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ I wasn’t sure if I would like it as much as the previous novel.  I thought it might be a little bit too depressing, but after a couple or so chapters I found myself really getting into the story.  Daniela Sacerdoti portrays her characters so well that you end up feeling as if you’ve known them forever.  It was nice meeting up with some of the characters from the previous book.  It felt like a reunion of old friends.

I could really understand how Angus was feeling.  He was put in a very tricky situation and was naturally scared in case Isabel tried to commit suicide again.  I thought that Clara was exactly what Isabel needed.  She was really good for her.  I found myself trying to work out what the mystery was about Clara, although I did have an idea.

‘Don’t Be Afraid’ is a beautiful, poignant and magical story and its one I won’t forget for quite a while.  I think this is a wonderful book for people who suffer from depression.  I am really looking forward to reading Daniela Sacerdoti’s next novel.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

 

‘Don’t Be Afraid is available to buy from Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Afraid-Glen-Avich-Book-ebook/dp/B014JABSES/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452448414&sr=1-1&keywords=don%27t+be+afraid

 

Blog Tour – ‘Lullaby Girl’ by Aly Sidgwick

Blog Tour Banner

‘Lullaby Girl’ is Aly Sidgwick’s debut novel.  It is being published by Black & White Publishing in paperback this Thursday 4th June 2015 and is already out as an eBook.  I am so very excited to be part of this blog tour which I am kicking off.

 

Synopsis

Who is the Lullaby Girl?

Found washed up on the banks of a remote loch, a mysterious girl is taken into the care of a psychiatric home in the highlands of Scotland, Mute and covered in bruises, she has no memory of who she is or how she got there. The only clue to her identity is the Danish lullaby she sings…

Inside the care home, she should be safe. But, harassed by the media and treated as a nuisance by under-pressure staff, she finds the home is far from a haven. And as her memories slowly surface, the Lullaby Girl does her best to submerge them again. Some things are too terrible to remember… but unless she confronts her fear, how can she find out who she really is?

Taut, tense and mesmerising, Lullaby Girl is a shining debut from an exciting and very talented new author.

 ~~~~~~~

Like the sound of ‘Lullaby Girl’?  Read on for an interesting guest post from Aly Sidgwick.

Guest Post

Pianos and lullabies

I can’t do a blog tour without mentioning the piano man! So, here goes…

About ten years ago, like many others, I was swept up by the mystery of a young man who’d washed up on a Kent shore with no memory. That sort of thing happens all the time, I’m sure. People have breakdowns, and go missing, and run away from problems… But one detail set this case apart, and that was the man’s skill at playing piano. For some reason, that part sent the public crazy. People took delight in concocting theories. A huge effort was made to find out who the man was. But no-one seemed to recognise him, and no solid leads were found. All of this added to the mystery. People’s imaginations ran riot, mine included. For me, I think the really electric detail was his fragility. He was like a stunned bird, huddled in the midst of all this activity. There was a romance to his predicament. A sadness, and a sense of great waste. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of ’madness,’ or losing one’s sense of self, probably because I feared it would happen to me one day. When I wrote Lullaby Girl, I wanted to write from the perspective of someone who’d tipped over the edge in that way. To walk a person past breaking point into the no-man’s-land beyond, and find out what happened next. I find great beauty in that fragile state. It’s so human. So honest. And the scary thing is that we’re all capable of it. With a big enough push, everything you know and everything you are can fly out of your grasp. The Piano Man made it through with a shred of his old self intact- namely his musical skill. It was a link to a part of himself that was possibly gone forever, and there were so many possiblities in that one, strange clue. I let Katherine keep a shred of her past too, in the form of the lullaby. Like him she becomes branded by it. Even after her real name is known, the public insist on calling her ’Lullaby Girl.’ You could argue that that’s because people love labels. But I think it’s more than that. In my mind, it’s the glamour of ’madness’ that draws people. There’s something irrisistible in that fall from grace.

 ~~~~~~~

Now for an excerpt from ‘Lullaby Girl’ to give you a feel of the book.  It is taken from the first chapter.

Excerpt 

Rhona takes me outside. We walk round. She points her
finger. ‘That’s Loch Ghlas,’ she says, ‘and that’s the perimeter
fence.’

I look down the hill. The fence looks tiny. Wind blows on
my face. I close my eyes an’ breathe. Rhona keeps talkin’.

‘I suppose some folks might feel trapped by a fence. But
it’s actually a nice thing, because it means no bad people can
bother us. We’re safe and cosy in here, and you can walk
around the grounds without having to . . .’

Rhona’s coat swooshes. Quiet. She talks again. Slower.

‘You like it out here, don’t you? Well, we’ll be coming
out here a lot more. We can come out every day if you like.’

That smell . . . I know it. Where do I know it from?

I . . .

I open my eyes an’ see the sea. Far off. Grey. Iss further
than the perimeter fence. But somehow the sea is all I can
see. Suddenly I feel funny, like I can’t breathe. In my head, a
picture of waves. Cold. Heavy. A blackness under me, an’ no
place to put my feet. Iss the sea I smell. An’ . . . I’ve been
closer to it than this. Much closer. Not jus’ on the beach,
when the men came. I was in it . . . Far out . . . In the dark . . .

The funny feelin’ grows. I breathe out an’ can’t breathe
back in. My heart goin’ bump bump bump. Rhona’s mouth is
movin’. Can’t hear her now. I go backwards. I gasp. The sky
goes massive. All white, in my eyes. My ears are screamin’ an’
I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe . . . I . . .

Music plunging hard. I’m on the floor, pressed flat as possible.
Dust in my mouth, in the deepest darkest animal trap, and above
my head the screams keep coming. On and on and I can’t stand it
and Katty I can’t I can’t . . . Katty! His face bathed in red and the
words moving out of him . . . Slowww his hand comes up they will
get me and I know then I know I am done for . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . .

. .

About Aly Sidgwick

Aly Sidgwick

Aly Sidgwick spent many years in Oslo as a tattoo artist and comic strip artist before turning to writing. She became obsessed and didn’t tell anyone she was writing for six months. She has lived in North Yorkshire, Norway, Sweden and Edinburgh. Her spare time is devoted to reading, painting, travelling, and drinking lots of black coffee.

 

You can buy ‘Lullaby Girl’ from:-

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lullaby-Girl-Aly-Sidgwick/dp/184502950X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1433074751&sr=1-1

 

Blog Tour – ‘Set Me Free’ by Daniela Sacerdoti

Set Me Free Blog Banner

‘Set Me Free’ is Daniela Sacerdoti’s latest novel.  It was published by Black and White Publishing in paperback on the 30th April 2015 and it is also available as an eBook.  I am truly delighted to be a part of this blog tour.  Below is my review and a competition.

 

Review

Margherita’s marriage seems to be falling apart.  After trying for a baby and not having any success, Margherita and Ash decide to adopt a child.  A few years later Margherita eventually falls pregnant and is naturally over the moon.  However, her husband doesn’t seem to be very pleased with her news and is of very little support to her.

Needing a break and some time away to think things through, Margherita decides to spend the summer in Glen Avich where she can help out at her mum’s new coffee shop.  She also feels that she needs to spend time reconnecting with her adopted daughter and young son.  Glen Avich can have a very strange effect on some people and when Margherita starts working for Torcuil Ramsay at the rather neglected Ramsay Hall things begin to change.  Margherita finds that she is happy and Lara begins a new friendship with a local boy called Mal.  But there is something about him that just doesn’t add up.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Set Me Free’ from start to finish.  The prologue which was set in 1916 had me totally intrigued.  Daniela Sacerdoti writes beautifully.  I thought her descriptions of the characters and Glen Avich were wonderful.

Most of the characters were really likeable.  Margherita was just so lovely and kind.  Lara had had a very difficult time of things at the start of her life and Margherita gave her buckets full of love and lots of understanding.  Maybe Ash simply found it hard to be a proper dad, I don’t know, but he sure didn’t deserve to have Margherita as his wife.

I absolutely loved the sound of Ramsay Hall and I felt as if I was in there with the characters.  How I would love to have explored all the rooms and spend time in the library surround by all those lovely books.

Some of the cakes and biscuits which were baked for the coffee shop sounded scrumptious.

‘Set Me Free’ is a story of love, loss, hope and pastures new.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Black and White Publishing have produced a small recipe book containing baked products which are mentioned in ‘Set Me Free’.  I was sent a copy of it with the book and it is lovely.  The recipe book is free to download from their website:-

http://www.blackandwhitepublishing.com/index.php/books/view/set_me_free

You can also get it free from Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Margheritas-Recipes-Daniela-Sacerdotis-Bestselling-ebook/dp/B00VA69C84/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1429526611&sr=1-1&keywords=margherita%27s+recipes

 

Competition

Black and White Publishing have kindly offered two paperback copies of ‘Set Me Free’.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what your favourite baked products are.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 18th May 2015.

The winners will be randomly chosen and notified within 7 days of the closing date and their details will be passed on to Black and White Publishing who will send the prizes out.

 

Good luck! 🙂

Blog Tour – ‘Black Wood’ by SJI Holliday

Blog Tour Poster

‘Black Wood’ is SJI Holliday’s debut novel.  It was published by Black and White Publishing in paperback on the 19th March 2015.  I have been hearing a lot about this novel and was really looking forward to reading it.  As part of this blog tour I have written a review.

As young girls Claire and Jo had a very nasty experience which would change their lives for good.  It happened while they were in the woods resulting in Claire being paralysed for life and Jo being left with deep mental scars from which she had never totally recovered from.

Twenty-three years later and Jo gets a shock when a customer walks in to the bookshop where she is working.  There is something so very familiar about him and Jo is convinced that she has seen him before  Elsewhere, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating reports of a man wearing a balaclava who is apparently attacking young women on a disused railway.  This comes as a shock to the residents of Banktoun, a small and quiet town where crime very rarely occurs.  Is there a connection between the man from the past and the one going around scaring young women?

I found ‘Black Wood’ to be intriguing right from the start and couldn’t wait to read more.  It was thrilling and fast-paced.  I really like the way SJI Holliday writes.  The story goes back and forth from the past to the present which I thought worked well. The majority of the chapters are very short and have been written in such a way that you are left in suspense waiting to find out what happens next with a particular character.  It’s a bit like someone tantalising you with a bar of chocolate whilst opening it really slowly.

The author described the old cottage where Jo’s grandmother had lived so well that I could almost feel the chilling atmosphere.  Maybe some of what went on in there was in Jo’s mind with all the anguish she was going through, but I think there was definitely more to it.

‘Black Wood’ is a dark and disturbing story with a number of shocking revelations.  For fans of crime fiction this is a must read.

I am looking forward to seeing what SJI Holliday comes up with next.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SJI Holliday has kindly written a guest post for me.

 

When A Character Calls

When I first started plotting Black Wood, I had it planned in my head as a fairly straightforward, linear tale of obsession; written in first person, by the deeply flawed protagonist, Jo. It was a tale of revenge, and Jo was going to tell it all by herself.

Except it didn’t work out like that.

A few chapters in, and I was already starting to panic that Jo was too dark, too intense. There were plot points that had to happen to see the story through, and it soon became obvious that Jo couldn’t tell the story alone.

The thing about writing in first person is that you can follow the character on a journey, you can get right into their head – you might feel like they’re carrying you on their shoulders as they lead your through the story. But there are limitations. You can only see what they see, and you can only know what they know – unless you force things in – things that sometimes work, and sometimes don’t – such as the character being told things in dialogue by others, or the character finding a letter or a diary. There are many ways, but I was struggling to find the best way.

I realised I needed to lift the reader out of Jo’s head a bit – give them some respite from her unravelling thoughts.

So in walked Sergeant Davie Gray.

Well, he didn’t walk, actually. He was sitting in a police station, bored out of his tree, playing wastepaper basketball with his colleague. A phone call from their boss takes him away from his chair and out into Banktoun, a place where nothing ever happens… except when it does. He walks smack into Jo, and it soon becomes clear that the two of them have some history – but maybe not in the way you might think.

I never planned to have a police character. I never planned to have one that people would love and want to hear more about. I never planned to write a series… yet Davie is calling me. He has many more tales to tell.

I can hardly just ignore him now, can I?

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