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Book Launch – ‘Crossing the Line’ by Laura Wilkinson ~ @ScorpioScribble @AccentPress

Big congratulations to Laura Wilkinson whose book, ‘Crossing the Line’ (previously called ‘Public Battles, Private Wars’) is out today in paperback, published by Accent Press.  I just love that cover.

I read ‘Public Battles, Private Wars’ a few years ago and am posting my review again.  First though lets look at what ‘Crossing the Line’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

Miner’s wife Mandy Walker lives a quiet life. She’s hopeless at everything apart from looking after her boys and baking. Life is fine.

But she knows it could be better.

Her husband’s a drinker and best friend Ruth is busy with a teaching career. Mandy dreams of a different life – an impossible, unachievable life. Only Ruth’s husband Dan believes in her and, after serving during the Falklands war, he’s damaged.

But when the men come out on strike, Mandy joins a support group. She finds friends and strength in surprising places. And secrets and enemies where she least expected them.

Mandy must decide which side of the line to stand on and determine her fate.

 

My Review

‘Crossing the Line’ is set in Yorkshire, Fenley Down in the 1980’s, and tells the story of the miners’ strike.

Mandy is 23 years old, married to Rob who works in the mines, and has children.  Mandy feels as if she is stuck in a rut and wants to do more.  However, a life as a housewife and bringing up the children seems inevitable.  Mandy’s childhood friend, Ruth, who left Fenley years ago, returns with her Falkland’s war hero husband, Dan.  But something just doesn’t add up and Ruth isn’t the person she appears to be.

Conflict with the Coal Board turns to war and the men go out on strike.  The community and its whole way of life is badly threatened and Mandy finds herself joining the Fenley Action Group (FAG) which gives her a whole lot of confidence.  As the strike goes on relationships are tested and Mandy discovers just who her true friends are.

This book is just so different from Laura Wilkinson’s debut novel.  I really enjoyed it and I liked her writing style.  I could actually hear the Yorkshire accent.  Whilst this story was about the miners’ strike it also took a good look at the people affected by it and their families, bringing with it a couple of interesting plots.

Mandy was one of my favourite characters.  She was of strong character no matter what life threw at her and a woman to be admired.  The cakes she baked and the descriptions throughout the book are enough to make anyone’s mouth water.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘Crossing the Line’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crossing-Line-Laura-Wilkinson/dp/1786157381/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1552505894&sr=1-5&keywords=laura+wilkinson

 

About Laura Wilkinson

Laura Wilkinson is a feminist and lover of ginger hair. A resident of an unfashionable quarter of Brighton, she likes to write stories which entertain and provide food for thought. Her novels are Crossing the Line, The Family Line, Redemption Song and Skin Deep. Her work has been described variously as ‘compelling’, ‘poignant’, and ‘emotional’. Alongside writing, she works as an editor and mentor, and speaks at events nationwide. She has a passion for fashion and anything which glitters. In another life, she’d make a good magpie.

 

Links

Website – http://laura-wilkinson.co.uk/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ScorpioScribble

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

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7170702.Laura_Wilkinson

Blog Tour – ‘Skin Deep’ by Laura Wilkinson

‘Skin Deep’, Laura Wilkinson’s fourth novel, was published on the 15th June 2017 by Accent Press. Having previously read and enjoyed Laura’s work I was thrilled to be invited to take part in the blog tour for this book. Read on for my review.

You would think that it’s what’s inside that counts wouldn’t you? But unfortunately that’s not always the case. Diana, a former child model is studying art. She has always been admired for her beauty but her good looks are of no use to her. Diana wants her artwork to shine instead. Insecure and desperate for some inspiration, she needs something to help her focus.

Four year old Cal is facially disfigured and lives a life where he is mostly hidden from the world. His parents want to protect him from the cruel things people say. A chance encounter with Diana changes everything as he becomes her muse. As Diana’s reputation develops and Cal grows up, their relationship implodes and both struggle to be accepted for what lies within.

In a society where what’s on the outside counts for more is it possible to find acceptance?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Skin Deep’ and found it extremely hard to put down. This is one of those thought provoking stories that plays on your mind even when you’re not reading it. I have once again been left really surprised by this author’s talent and the way she can turn her hand to a totally different subject. ‘Skin Deep’ is in two parts, the first one set in Manchester and the second in London. Laura Wilkinson paints a really good picture of what Manchester was like in the 1980s with very colourful descriptions.

The story is narrated by Diana and Cal and it’s through them that the reader gets to meet a number of characters, most of them flawed in one way or another. There were a couple that I really didn’t warm to. I liked Diana and admired her for what she was trying to achieve. She wanted to do the best she could for Cal and to be able to give him a better chance at life. Cal was useful for her too and if it hadn’t been for him Diana might never have got where she did. I felt really sorry for Cal. I think Diana went a bit too far in the end and became rather obsessed with things, though that was partly because she wanted to be successful. What could happen next is left to the reader’s imagination. Things could go one of two ways.

‘Skin Deep’ is a beautifully written book. It deals with a number of difficult issues including drugs, depression and living with facial disfigurement. It really is a must read.

I am really looking forward to Laura Wilkinson’s next book.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

About Laura Wilkinson

Liverpool born, Laura is a taff at heart. She has published six novels for adults (two under a pseudonym) and numerous short stories, some of which have made the short lists of international competitions. Public Battles, Private Wars, was a Welsh Books Council Book of the month; Redemption Song was a Kindle top twenty. The Family Line is a family drama set in the near future, looking at identity and parenting. Her latest is Skin Deep. Alongside writing, Laura works as an editor & mentor for literary consultancies and runs workshops on aspects of craft. She’s spoken at festivals and events nationwide, including the Frome Festival, Gladfest, University of Kingston, The Women’s Library and Museum in Docklands. She lives in Brighton with her husband and sons.

 

Purchase Links

‘Skin Deep’ is available to buy from:-

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2rQL8qg

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/skin-deep/laura-wilkinson/9781783758678

WHSmith: https://www.whsmith.co.uk/search/go?af=cat1%3Abooks&w=Skin+Deep+by+Laura+Wilkinson

Website/Social Media Links

Website – www.laura-wilkinson.co.uk

Twitter – @ScorpioScribble

Facebook – Laura Wilkinson Author

Instagram – laura_wilkinsonwriter

Pinterest – laura1765

Goodreads – Laura_ Wilkinson

 

Blog Tour – ‘Redemption Song’ by Laura Wilkinson

Blog Tour Poster

‘Redemption Song’ was published on the 28th January by Accent Press.  Having read and enjoyed Laura Wilkinson’s previous two novels I was honoured to be invited to take part in this blog tour.

Just imagine this.  You’re getting on with your life, studying hard so that you can hopefully have a good career.  Things are going reasonably well and then just like that everything changes.  Unthinkable isn’t it?  Sadly though that’s exactly what happened to Saffron.

Saffron wants to become a doctor and is studying medicine.  But a tragic accident changes her life forever.  Unable to cope anymore and needing a break she leaves London and moves to Coed Mawr, a small coastal town in Wales to stay with her mother.  Saffron starts feeling trapped until she meets Joe, another outsider and they soon realise that they have a lot in common.  But there is something about Joe which Saffron just can’t figure out.  He has a complicated past which is in danger of catching up with him.  Will Saffron and Joe be able to help each other?

Every now and then I see a book cover I really like and in this case it was love at first sight for me.  It is just absolutely gorgeous.

I so enjoyed reading ‘Redemption Song’.  This story has been beautifully told, but then to be honest I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Laura Wilkinson who is a wonderful writer.  I thought this book was so different from her last two though.  It was nice learning a bit about bats throughout the story.  For anyone who wants to know more about them there is a link to a website about bats in the acknowledgements.

I loved meeting all the characters.  Rain, Saffron’s mum, who had also been through a very hard time moved from London to Coed Mawr to try and make a life for herself there.  A female minister, Rain never lost her faith in God despite what she had been through, though I’m sure it was tested.

I spent ages trying to work out what the mystery surrounding Joe was.  It was obvious that something was up.  Even Saffron’s mum couldn’t quite put a finger on it.  I thought Joe was such a nice man.  He brought out the best in Saffron, and feeling that she could confide in him, she was able to talk about the night of the accident and all that was going through her head.

‘Redemption Song’ is a wonderful story that you really won’t want to put down.  Laura Wilkinson’s books just keep getting better and better.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

‘Redemption Song’ is available to buy from Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Redemption-Song-Laura-Wilkinson/dp/1783758694/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454910802&sr=1-1&keywords=redemption+song+laura+wilkinson

 

Short Story by Laura Wilkinson

Scary Stories Banner

We’re nearly coming to the end of this event now.  Here’s a short story from the lovely Laura Wilkinson.

 

The Whispering Wall

Laura Wilkinson

The first time Lucile heard the crying, it was the dead of a summer’s afternoon. She assumed it was her next-door neighbour’s son until she remembered they were on holiday. When she told Edward that evening, he smiled and shook his head.

‘You’re imagining it. Either that or the bloody woman’s invited some of her friends to use the house while she’s away,’ he said, returning to the Independent.

‘We’d hear them if there were visitors, wouldn’t we, Eddy?’

He peered over the pages, eyes bloodshot, and said, ‘Probably. I can’t imagine any of her lot being quiet. But look, Lulu, it’s all in your head. Not surprising after everything you’ve been through.’

‘We’ve been through,’ she whispered. ‘Anyway, I rather like her.’

‘You need to rest more, darling,’ he said, before disappearing behind his newspaper again. ‘You’re overdoing it.’

Lucile wondered how she could possibly be overdoing it. She hadn’t worked in six months, not since she’d been ill, and she’d done nothing in the house. The move had been Edward’s idea. She needed somewhere quieter, somewhere to build a future, he’d said. Highgate was perfect and the house backed onto the cemetery – a place they both loved. Had loved. Edward rarely went there nowadays.

Later, Lucile lay in bed staring at the walls, an open, unread book resting on her chest. She could hear only Edward, the soft whistle of his out-breath. She closed the novel, rolled over and watched him sleep. Flat on his back, the duvet pulled up to his hips, sweat beaded on his forehead, his lips fell apart and this slackness gave him the appearance of youth. She longed to stroke the fleshy rise of his belly, to feel his skin against hers. She reached out, and then stopped. Her hand hovered over his chest, the hairs tickling her palms. Sighing, Lucile turned over and closed her eyes; he would be furious if she woke him up.

She woke to the sound of whimpering. The room was clothed in shadow. Startled, she sat up. She held her breath and strained to hear more. There was a long pause, then it came again, louder this time. Lucile pulled the duvet aside and climbed out of bed, careful not to disturb Edward. She stood still for a moment, her feet welcoming the cool of the bare floorboards; a breeze wafted round her ankles and she realised that the bathroom window had been left open. She went to close it, looking out over the gardens first, half expecting to see Samantha and her boy.

Crazy. It’s the middle of the night. Of course they’re not there. They’re on holiday, you fool, she thought.

As she crept back to the bedroom, it came again: the sound of crying from the far wall. The party wall. A deep wardrobe covered its entire length; not quite walk-in, but large enough for the estate agent to mention it a few times. Lucile slid open the heavy doors. Dresses, jackets, shirts and suits swayed from side to side. She parted the clothes and leaned in. Nothing. She waited, but the crying had stopped. The only sound was the rustling of plastic covered shirts, fresh from the dry cleaners.

As she prepared Edward’s breakfast, Lucile decided not to mention the crying again. He would only think she was making a fuss. Since his recent promotion, he’d been more distant than ever.

He sat down at the breakfast bar smelling of aftershave. Lucile didn’t recognise the fragrance and was about to ask what it was when Edward said, ‘Lulu darling, I’m afraid I have to go away again. One of Iain’s clients, his mother’s had another episode. Needs twenty-four hour care, at least until he gets a home sorted. ’

‘God, how awful, poor Iain. And Teri. Do pass on my best wishes.’

‘I will, sweetheart. Bloody inconsiderate disease, Alzheimer’s.’

Lucile smiled at his feeble attempt to make light of Iain’s pain.

He came up behind her and squeezed her shoulders. ‘Sorry I didn’t mention it last night. I didn’t want to upset you after that crying business. You’ll be alright won’t you, darling?’

‘Yes, yes, of course, I’ll be fine. Are you going anywhere exciting?’ She turned the bacon in the grill.

‘God, no. Brussels, then The Hague – bloody boring places. I’ll bring you something lovely.’ He gave her shoulders another quick squeeze and sat down again.

‘Why don’t you get some of your old friends over while I’m away? It’d do you good.’

She passed him a breakfast of eggs, bacon and hash browns, and said, ‘I’m not sure if I’m ready for that. I don’t know if I can face the questions. What I’m up to, why the move, why we haven’t got children yet…’

‘None of their bloody business, that’s what you tell them. You’re trying to forget, move on.’

I don’t want to forget, she thought. ‘Calm down. It’s not as if they’ve actually said anything. I’m nervous, that’s all.’

‘Well, there’s no need to be. Look, darling, I’ve got to shoot. Sorry about the food. Have a good day.’ And with that, he was gone.

Another eleven, twelve hours to fill before he returned home. Lucile took a leisurely bath and drifted into the village. It was such a contrast to Chelsea. Intimate, higgledy-piggledy, leafy. It was a beautiful day and everywhere she went there were babies in buggies, mothers with small children on trikes, women with swollen bellies and happy, smiling faces. She turned round and walked to the cemetery.

It was quiet, hot and sultry. Flowers bowed in the heat on the graves of the recently departed, twigs snapped underfoot as Lucile inched into the heart of the graveyard. She sought respite in the shade of the Circle of Lebanon and walked it until she was dizzy, and, though she fought against it, she found herself drawn to the tombs and headstones of children. Precious, stolen children immortalised in stone etchings and watched over by angels.

 

Ten days passed before Lucile heard the crying again. It was night-time and Edward was away. She sat in the wardrobe for two hours or more, waiting and listening, an ear pressed against the wall. A mewling, at first plaintive and lonely, built to a demanding, angry howl before shrinking into exhausted sobbing. It sounded like a boy.

In the morning, Lucile knocked on the peeling paintwork of her neighbour’s front door. There was no answer. They had not returned from holiday.

For three nights Lucile rose and waited for the child, but he did not come.

 

Edward walked into the kitchen clutching half a dozen white lilies. ‘Christ, Lulu, are you all right? You look terrible.’

He offered the gift. The cloying scent of her favourite flowers hung in the close air. Lost for words, Lucile looked at him, silent.

‘What’s happened?’ he asked, fiddling with his keys, avoiding her eyes.

She turned her back to him as she lied, ‘Nothing. I’ve not been sleeping, that’s all.’

‘Are you out of pills? Ask the doctor for more. I could do with a few myself. I’m bushed.’

Edward certainly slept deeply. He retired to bed early and was asleep by the time Lucile emerged from the bathroom in a lace-trimmed baby doll nightdress. Disappointed, she exchanged the frills for cotton pyjamas. Brushing her hands over her wide hips and full breasts, she felt betrayed by the body which had promised so much.

That night, the boy returned. Lucile heard him crying through the wall, though his sobs were barely louder than a whisper. She sat on the floor and pressed her face and palms against the wallpaper. She could see him now. Blonde and pink with blue eyes and fleshy thighs. How she longed to hold him. To cuddle him, to comfort him.

For five nights he came, and then he stopped. Weeks went by and still the neighbours hadn’t returned. Edward was away on another business trip and Lucile was lonelier than ever. It hurt. She sat in the wardrobe for hours, day and night, waiting for the boy.

Then, late one afternoon, he came. His voice was faint, as if he were at the end of a long tunnel and not the other side of a few bricks. Lucile huddled in the corner, listening. Here, the wallpaper was loose, bubbling, almost peeling. She picked at it with her fingernails and tore away a large strip to reveal another layer beneath. A dated pattern of blue and grey stripes, it was harder to remove. Lucile went to the kitchen for a knife.

She scraped at the wall. Away came another layer to reveal large pink flowers, roses or carnations, set in a yellowing background of stems, thorns and frayed leaves. Another layer came away, then another, and another, until she came to a dusty, faded print: sandy teddy bears with burgundy ribbons round their necks. A nursery paper.

She pushed her nose to the wall and sniffed. It smelt of talcum powder and camomile. As she pulled away, she saw the pencil mark: a squiggle, like a child’s handwriting, the message concealed by a layer of paper still attached to the wall.

The sun had set but Lucile was sweating. She clambered out of the wardrobe and raced downstairs, across the garden and into the shed. Amidst the chaos, she retrieved a torch, a scraper and a toolbox. Heart racing, she returned to the bedroom and began throwing clothes and shoes out of the wardrobe. Armed with a wet sponge and metal scraper, Lucile attacked the remaining wallpaper. It slipped off with ease. She followed the childish letters, jagged and scrawling. At first, she couldn’t decipher the message, but she persevered.

Help me. Help mummy help.

The crying filled her head. She tore at the teddy bears until her fingers were raw, exposing the brickwork beneath. She grabbed a hammer from the toolbox and chipped away at the crumbling red bricks. The crying continued, louder and louder. In despair, she threw down the hammer and bolted out of the house back to the shed for the pickaxe.

She knocked along the wall. It sounded hollow. There was a cavity; she was sure of it. She hauled up the pickaxe and swung it at the wall. Bricks cracked and fell to the floor in a cloud of dust. Coughing and spluttering, she pulled at the stone, blood trickling from her battered hands. The crying grew louder and more desperate until she could bear it no longer. Then, quite suddenly, it stopped.

Lucile was staring at the remains of a child, entombed in the cavity wall. Unafraid, she reached out a shredded finger to touch the skull. She felt an unmistakable flutter in her belly. The stirrings of a child. An unborn child. She looked at her bloodied hands and tried to remember the last time she had bled. It was weeks ago. Many weeks ago. Before the wall began to whisper. Laura Wilkinson, 2015

Copyright © Laura Wilkinson, 2015

 

 

Laura Wilkinson originally wrote this story for ‘My Baby Shot Me Down’, a collection of poetry and prose. Though the other stories in this book are not related to Halloween you may want to get yourself a copy.

This is the link:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Baby-Shot-Me-Down-ebook/dp/B00KY6OB2S/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444233924&sr=1-1&keywords=My+Baby+Shot+Me+Down

 

‘Public Battles, Private Wars’ by Laura Wilkinson

Public Battles, Private Wars

I read and reviewed Laura Wilkinson’s first book, ‘BloodMining’ a while back and so was delighted when she asked me if I would like to review her second novel ‘Public Battles, Private Wars’ which was published by Accent Press on the 9th March 2014.  Set in Yorkshire, Fenley Down in the 1980’s, ‘Public Battles, Private Wars’ tells the story of the miners’ strike.

Mandy is 23 years old, married to Rob who works in the mines, and has children.  Mandy feels as if she is stuck in a rut and wants to do more.  However, a life as a housewife and bringing up the children seems inevitable.  Mandy’s childhood friend, Ruth, who left Fenley years ago, returns with her Falkland’s war hero husband, Dan.  But something just doesn’t add up and Ruth isn’t the person she appears to be.

Conflict with the Coal Board turns to war and the men go out on strike.  The community and its whole way of life is badly threatened and Mandy finds herself joining the Fenley Action Group (FAG) which gives her a whole lot of confidence.  As the strike goes on relationships are tested and Mandy discovers just who her true friends are.

The first thing I want to say is that this book is so different from Laura Wilkinson’s first novel.  I really enjoyed it and I liked her writing style.  I could actually hear the Yorkshire accent.  Whilst this story was about the miners’ strike it also took a good look at the people affected by it and their families, bringing with it a couple of interesting plots.

Mandy was one of my favourite characters.  She was of strong character no matter what life threw at her and a woman to be admired.  The cakes she baked and the descriptions throughout the book are enough to make anyone’s mouth water.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

 

‘BloodMining’ by Laura Wilkinson

Firstly, I must say thank you to Laura Wilkinson for sending me her book for review.  This is Laura’s debut novel and it is based mainly in North Wales.  It has been set in the not-too-distant future, mostly mid 21st century and is divided into three parts.

Megan Evens appears to have it all – brains, beauty and a successful career as a foreign correspondent.  But is she really happy?  Deep down she is lonely and rootless.  After a destructive affair Megan is left on her own.  She is pregnant and craving love but finds that she is unable to trust again.  So she decides to give up her job and return to the security of her birthplace in Wales where she gives birth to a baby boy.

A few years later Megan’s son is diagnosed with a terminal condition, a hereditary disease, and she knows that she has to take action and fast in order to save him.  In doing so she finds that everything she believed to be true about her origins is thrown into question.  A very deep and painful secret is discovered, something that has been kept from her for years.  To help her son Megan has to unearth the truth.  With the assistance of a former colleague, Jack North, Megan embarks on a journey of self discovery and into the heart of what it means to be a parent.

I really enjoyed this novel.  It deals with some serious and emotional issues, things that are very important to us – family and children, but with a twist.  The characters are very real.   The story isn’t told in chronological order and some may find this slightly confusing.  I thought it worked well this way though.  The reader gets a very good insight into what happened in the past.   You are kept waiting for a while as to what the secret is but its worth it.

The ending was good.  It’s left to your imagination what could happen next.  I think it would be nice if there was a sequel to this book and I can see this being made into a TV drama in the future.

At the back of the book there is some additional material including discussion points for reading groups.

A very good first novel – I give it 4 out of 5.

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