Book Blog, Excerpt, HQ Stories

Give Me The Child @mcgrathmj @HQstories #Excerpt

Hello Lovelies,
Thank you for stopping by, today I have my stop on the blog tour for Give Me the Child which was published on the 27, July 2017 by HQ Stories. On my stop, I have sneak peek for you. I do hope you enjoy. Kelly xoxo

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Book Jacket

An unexpected visitor.

Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.

A devastating secret.

But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Do we get the children we deserve?

Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own…

Compulsive, dark and devastating, Give Me the Child is a uniquely skilful thriller with an unforgettable twist.

Sneak Peek

CHAPTER ONE

My first thought when the doorbell woke me was that someone had died. Most likely Michael Walsh. I turned onto my side, pulled at the outer corners of my eyes to rid them of the residue of sleep and blinked myself awake. It was impossible to tell if it was late or early, though the bedroom was as hot and muggy as it had been when Tom and I had gone to bed. Tom was no longer beside me. Now I was alone. We’d started drinking not long after Freya had gone upstairs. The remains of a bottle of Pinot Grigio for me, a glass or two of red for Tom. (He always said white wine was for women.) Just before nine I called The Mandarin Hut. When the crispy duck arrived I laid out two trays in the living room, opened another bottle and called Tom in from the study. I hadn’t pulled the curtains and through the pink light of the London night sky a cat’s claw of moon appeared. The two of us ate, mostly in silence, in front of the TV. A ballroom dance show came on. Maybe it was just the booze but something about the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women made me feel a little sad. The cosmic dance. The grand romantic gesture. At some point even the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women would find themselves slumped together on a sofa with the remains of a takeaway and wine enough to sink their sorrows, wondering how they’d got there, wouldn’t they?

Not that Tom and I really had anything to complain about except, maybe, a little malaise, a kind of falling away. After all, weren’t we still able to laugh about stuff most of the time or, if we couldn’t laugh, at least have sex and change the mood?

‘Let’s go upstairs and I’ll show you my cha-cha,’ I said, rising and holding out a hand.

Tom chuckled and pretended I was joking, then, wiping his

palms along his thighs as if he were ridding them of something unpleasant, he said, ‘It’s just if I don’t crack this bloody coding thing…’

I looked out at the moon for a moment. OK, so I knew how much making a success of Labyrinth meant to Tom, and I’d got used to him shutting himself away in the two or three hours either side of midnight. But this one time, with the men and women still twirling in our minds? Just this one time?

Stupidly, I said, ‘Won’t it wait till tomorrow?’ and in an instant

I saw Tom stiffen. He paused for a beat and, slapping his hands on his thighs in a gesture of busyness, he slugged down the last of his wine, rose from the sofa and went to the door. And so we left it there with the question still hanging.

I spent the rest of the evening flipping through the case notes of patients I was due to see that week. When I turned in for the night, the light was still burning in Tom’s study. I murmured ‘goodnight’ and went upstairs to check on Freya. Our daughter was suspended somewhere between dreaming and deep sleep. All children look miraculous when they’re asleep, even the frighten- ing, otherworldly ones I encounter every day. Their bodies soften, their small fists unfurl and dreams play behind their eyelids. But Freya looked miraculous all the time to me. Because she was. A miracle made at the boundary where human desire meets science. I stood and watched her for a while, then, retrieving her beloved

Pippi Longstocking book from the floor and straightening her duvet, I crept from the room and went to bed.

Sometime later I felt Tom’s chest pressing against me and his breath on the nape of my neck. He was already aroused and for a minute I wondered what else he’d been doing on screen besides coding, then shrugged off the thought. A drowsy, half-hearted bout of lovemaking followed before we drifted into our respective oblivions. Next thing I knew the doorbell was ringing and I was alone.

Under the bathroom door a beam of light blazed. I threw off the sheet and swung from the bed.

‘Tom?’

No response. My mind was scrambled with sleep and an anxious pulse was rising to the surface. I called out again.

There was a crumpling sound followed by some noisy vomiting but it was identifiably my husband. The knot in my throat loosened. I went over to the bathroom door, knocked and let myself in. Tom was hunched over the toilet and there was a violent smell in the room.

‘Someone’s at the door.’ Tom’s head swung round.

I said, ‘You think it might be about Michael?’

Tom’s father, Michael Walsh, was a coronary waiting to happen, a lifelong bon vivant in the post-sixty-five-year-old death zone, who’d taken the recent demise of his appalling wife pretty badly.

Tom stood up, wiped his hand across his mouth and moved over to the sink. ‘Nah, probably just some pisshead.’ He turned on the tap and sucked at the water in his hand and, in an oddly casual tone, he added, ‘Ignore it.’

As I retreated into the bedroom, the bell rang again. Whoever it was, they weren’t about to go away. I went over to the window and eased open the curtain. The street was still and empty of people, and the first blank glimmer was in the sky. Directly below the house a patrol car was double parked, hazard lights still on but otherwise dark. For a second my mind filled with the terrible possibility that something had happened to Sally. Then I checked myself. More likely someone had reported a burglary or a prowler in the neighbourhood. Worst case it was Michael.

‘It’s the police,’ I said.

Tom appeared and, lifting the sash, craned out of the window. ‘I’ll go, you stay here.’

I watched him throw on his robe over his boxers and noticed his hands were trembling. Was that from having been sick or was he, too, thinking about Michael now? I listened to his footsteps disappearing down the stairs and took my summer cover-up from its hook. A moment later, the front door swung open and there came the low murmur of three voices, Tom’s and those of two women. I froze on the threshold of the landing and held my breath, waiting for Tom to call me down, and when, after a few minutes, he still hadn’t, I felt myself relax a little. My parents were dead. If this was about Sally, Tom would have fetched me by now. It was bound to be Michael. Poor Michael.

I went out onto the landing and tiptoed over to Freya’s room. Tom often said I was overprotective, and maybe I was, but I’d seen enough mayhem and weirdness at work to give me pause. I pushed open the door and peered in. A breeze stirred from the open window. The hamster Freya had brought back from school for the holidays was making the rounds on his wheel but in the aura cast by the Frozen-themed nightlight I could see my tender little girl’s face closed in sleep. Freya had been too young to remember my parents and Michael had always been sweet to her in a way that his wife, who called her ‘my little brown granddaughter’, never was, but it was better this happened now, in the summer holidays, so she’d have time to recover before the pressures of school started up again. We’d tell her in the morning once we’d had time to formulate the right words.

At the top of the landing I paused, leaning over the bannister. A woman in police uniform stood in the glare of the security light. Thirties, with fierce glasses and a military bearing. Beside her was another woman in jeans and a shapeless sweater, her features hidden from me. The policewoman’s face was brisk but unsmiling; the other woman was dishevelled, as though she had been called from her bed. Between them I glimpsed the auburn top of what I presumed was a child’s head – a girl, judging from the amount of hair. I held back, unsure what to do, hoping they’d realise they were at the wrong door and go away. I could see the police officer’s mouth moving without being able to hear what was being said. The conversation went on and after a few moments Tom stood to one side and the two women and the child stepped out of the shadows of the porch and into the light of the hallway.

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Book Blog, HQ Stories, Interview, Midas PR

Death Knocks Twice By Robert Thorogood @robthor @HQstories @midaspr #Interview #CrimeFiction

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Hello Lovelies,

Today I am excited to share my interview with Robert Thorogood, author of Death Knocks Twice with you. I do hope you enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.

Kelly xoxo

Death Knocks Twice jacket

Book Jacket 

Two dead bodies. A family of suspects. One grumpy detective.

Reluctantly stationed on the sweltering Caribbean island of Saint-Marie, Detective Inspector Richard Poole dreams of cold winds, drizzly rain and a pint in his local pub.

Just as he is feeling as fed up as can be, a mysterious vagrant is found dead in the grounds of the historic Beaumont plantation. Immediately assumed to be suicide, DI Poole is not so convinced and determined to prove otherwise. Never mind that the only fingerprints on the murder weapon belong to the victim. Or that the room was locked from the inside.

Before long, death knocks twice and a second body turns up. The hunt is on to solve the case – despite the best efforts of the enigmatic Beaumont family…

 

Robert Thorogood

‘Real You’ Interview with Robert Thorogood 

Please tell Love Books Group little bit about yourself and your publishing journey before the questions.  Plus anything else you wish to tell their members.   

I’m the creator of the TV show, Death in Paradise. I also write standalone Death in Paradise novels featuring the show’s first detective, DI Richard Poole.

Describe yourself using three words?

Neurotic; melodramatic; incapable of following simple instructions.

What inspired you to write your first novel?   

I don’t quite know where the desire to tell stories comes from. But I love reading books above all other pursuits, and I know that when I write a novel, I’m trying to create something that will deliver all the thrills and excitement that I’d enjoy if I were reading it, rather than writing it (if you see what I mean).

What time of day do you like to write?  

While I love the idea of starting at 10pm with a glass of whisky and only the hoot of owls outside for company, the stark realities of being a parent mean that I generally write 9am-5pm.

What is your favourite book and why?

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré. I read it (and the subsequent two George Smiley books) from start to finish every couple of years or so and am always captivated by the beauty of the writing and the sense of moral decay it has running through almost every line. When I was younger, I thought it was a ‘whodunnit’ and couldn’t wait to find out who the killer was. Now that I’m older, I realise that the killer is pretty much revealed in Chapter 1, and the greatness of the book is that Smiley also realises who it is from the start. I think it’s Le Carré’s masterpiece.

How did you pick the title of your book?  

I had a fancy idea that I wanted to call it The Beaumont Inheritance – very much as a homage to the first Robert Ludlum book I read, The Scarlatti Inheritance. But I then realised that I needed something a bit punchier, and – ideally – with the word ‘death’, ‘murder’ or ‘killing’ in the title. So that’s how I came up with the title, ‘Death Knocks Twice’

Are the characters in your book based on real people?   

Oh yes, but I certainly couldn’t say who, as their friends of mine and would soon stop being my friends if they knew. Having said that, the character of my main Detective, Richard Poole, is a lot like the worst possible version of me. He’s neurotic, misanthropic, a cowardly stick-in-the-mud, and consequently, great fun to write.

What’s your favourite word?   

This is an excellent question, and I’d have to say that the answer is ‘sponge’.

If you were a colour what would it be?   

I’d love to say something vibrant like pink or yellow – any colour of the rainbow, frankly – but I worry that I’d be some awful Farrow & Ball paint colour that’s basically off-white and has a depressing name like ‘Faded Hope’.

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?  

The story is meticulously planned beforehand, because – as with any murder mystery – the starting point is always the end: how can I hide the killer? Then, once I’ve identified the mechanism or device that I hope will divert attention away from ‘whodunnit’, I then walk backwards through the story creating characters, red herrings, plot points and so on. It’s a hugely demanding process because the book is basically written ‘backwards’, but it has to make sense and appear to be spontaneous when it’s read ‘forwards’.

Who is your favourite Author?   

I have no one favourite author, although John Le Carré would be able to supply all my Desert Island Books. When it comes to murder mysteries, Agatha Christie is the person I consistently read over and over again; when it comes to contemporary British fiction, I adore Scarlett Thomas; and my American urges are entirely satisfied by Paul Auster. But then, I now realise I’m currently in a David Mitchell phase, and re-reading all of his books. Please don’t make me chose one author!

You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?  

I think I’d have to have my favourite Detectives: Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Inspector Morse and – although she was only tangentially a detective – Sally Lockhart from Philip Pullman’s brilliant series about her adventures. I’d basically pepper them with questions all night about what happened in the gaps in between what the books tell us.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I’m rereading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, mainly to find out if it really is as brilliant as I thought it was the first time I read it (it is).

Where in the world is your happy place?

Anywhere where my wife and children are.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

Being able to touch type properly so I don’t get shooting pains in my right hand.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?   

I know I’m missing the point to say this, but I really wish Godot had turned up – and preferably in Act 1.

Are you working on a new project?   

I’m currently plotting Book 4 in the Death in Paradise Series and loving it.

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?   

The next thing I’m speaking at is Bloody Scotland in September. I’ve always wanted to go, and can’t wait to attend.   ~ Bloody Scotland Website

To order your copy and read a sneak peek, please use the east access links below

We have three copies courtesy of Midas Pr to give away ~ Head over to our Love Books Group Twitter and see the pinned post for info.

Twitter GiveawayFollow @@ImpressBooks1 &@Lovebooks groupThen Retweet

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Before you go, check out our blog for The Choir On Hope Street ~ Click to read.

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Book Blog, HQ Stories, Interview, Midas PR

Ginny Moon By Benjamin Ludwig @BILudwig @MidasPR @HQStories #Interview

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Hello Lovelies,

Today I have an interview with Benjamin Ludwig, author of Ginny Moon. Published by HQ Stories on 01/06/2017. Ginny Moon is available in eBook, Hard/Paper copy and audio book. I do hope you enjoy.

Kelly xoxo

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Book Jacket 

The story of a lost girl searching for her forever home…

Everyone tells Ginny that she should feel happy.

After years in foster care, fourteen-year-old Ginny is finally with parents who will love her. Yet despite finding her forever family, she knows she will never stop crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something heartbreaking happened a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…

A fiercely poignant, inspirational story of a lost girl making sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up – Ginny Moon will change everyone who spends time with her.

‘Real You’ Interview with Benjamin Ludwig

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  • Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your publishing journey before the questions that would be super.  Plus anything else you wish to tell the members.   

By trade, I’m a middle-school language arts teacher, but I’ve been writing stories since I was nine years old, when I fell in love with books.  I wrote thirteen novels (all unpublished!) before writing Ginny Moon.  I write for the love of writing itself, which probably explains why there were so many books before the one that got published!  Currently, I’m writing full-time, hard at work on another novel.

  • Describe yourself using three words?

Take your pick:

Cares too much.

Have some wine.

Doesn’t follow rules.

  • What inspired you to write your first novel?   

Ginny’s voice, which came to me one evening in 2013 after I came home from my daughter’s Special Olympics basketball practice. I put my keys down on the counter and heard a voice ringing in my ears.  It wasn’t my daughter’s voice, or one I’d heard anywhere else.  It was driving, quirky, and desperate.  I couldn’t help but give it all the room it demanded on the page.

  • What time of day do you like to write?  

Early in the morning, before the children are up.  I come downstairs at 3:30, make coffee, and get straight to work.  My best writing happens when I’m half-awake, I think.  Then I work on revising and editing later in the day, and steal moments from my other hours.

  • What is your favourite book and why?

Without a doubt, my favourite book is Jim Heynen’s The One Room Schoolhouse: Stories about the Boys.  I love it because of the compassion that spills out of the narrator’s tone.  You can tell when a writer really loves what he’s writing about, and Jim Heynen loves farms, the earth, and the people who tend them.

  • How did you pick the title of your book?  

I wanted a title that would be a statement unto itself, representative of the voice that created it.  Ginny herself is undefinable, and so I thought she herself should define the book.

  • Are the characters in your book based on real people?   

No, but as the writer I’m every single one of my characters.   I can be as wild as Gloria, as unconcerned as Rick, as compassionate as Brian, and as over-protective as Maura, depending on the day.  

  • What’s your favourite word?   

I want to say, “luminous,” but really it’s probably “levity” or “lilting.”  I really like the letter l.

  • If you were a colour what would it be?   

Orange.  I love pumpkins.

  • Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?  

I plan it out, but in Ginny’s case, she was in charge.  Every time I tried to create an outline based on the scene she’d narrated, she would refuse to do what the outline said.  It was only after the first draft was complete that I was able to tinker with the events of the plot.

  • Who is your favourite Author?   

I’ve loved J.R.R. Tolkien since I was twelve years old.  

  • You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?  

The witches from Macbeth, (they count as one character though, don’t they?)  would be at the head of the table.  They’d be lots of fun, pronouncing curses and prophecies in rhyme.  Then Huck Finn, who could lean back with a grass stem hanging out of his mouth.  Next is Colonel Aureliano Buendia (from One Hundred Years of Solitude), who I think would get along great with Ramona Quimby.  They’d make a lively bunch, all together.    

  • What book are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading A Catalog of Birds, by Laura Harrington.

  • Where in the world is your happy place?

There’s this wonderful park near my house, a place called Wagon Hill.  It’s in the book, too – Ginny goes there twice with her Forever Dad.  It’s all walking trails over hills and along the shore of a river.  I love a good walk.  It gives me access to a different kind of thinking.

  • If you had one superpower what would it be?

Invisibility.  I’d love to disappear so that I can hear what people say when I’m not around.

  • If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?   

That means I have to like the villain, right?  Hmm.  Probably Actaeon, who was turned into a stag when he stumbled upon the bathing Artemis.  He was devoured by his own hounds shortly afterward.   But now that I think of it, I’m completely against hunting, and Actaeon was quite the hunter.  So maybe the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. After all, he’s a wolf – you can’t blame him for eating up some little kid in the forest, especially if she’s carrying around a basket of cookies, right?  

  • Are you working on a new project?   

I am.  I’m working on another voice-driven novel, which I hope to finish in the fall.  It’s about a little boy who becomes a poet.

 

  • Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?   

Lots!  But they’re all in the States.  My monthly newsletter lists them all, but also includes links to interviews, and – ready?  Ginny’s continued adventures!  She took over a section of the newsletter, where she continues to get into all sorts of trouble, and to meet some very interesting individuals.  I do hope people will sign up and stay in touch with us.  The link is http://benjaminludwig.com/mailing-list/.  

To order your copy and have a sneak peek read, use the handy links below.

If you enjoyed the blog please leave a like and a comment. We would love it if you could share it on Twitter & Facebook.  It really helps us to grow. Thanks so very much.

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Book Blog, Book~Reviews, HQ Stories, Kelly Talk

Not A Sound By Heather Gudenkauf #NotASound @hgudenkauf & @midaspr @HQstories #BookReview

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Hello Lovelies,

Today I have my review of Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf. I do love it when my week of adventures jumps from cheeky chick lit to keep me up all night thrillers.

Check out my review below and also a sneak peek of the novel.

Thank you for stopping by today, I really do appreciate it.

Kelly xoxo

Meet Author Heather Gudenkauf 

Heather Gudenkauf

Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing impairment Heather tended to use books as a retreat. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.

Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and is currently a Literacy Coach, an educator who provides curricular and professional development support to teachers.

Heather lives in Dubuque, Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Maxine. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. She is currently working on her third novel.

Heather’s first novel The Weight of Silence was a TV Book Club pick.

Not A Sound ~ A Review By Kelly 

 

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This was my first experience of Heather Gudenkauf’s work. For a thriller, her writing style was very different. The book is not filled with unrealistic dramatic events chapter after chapter. The events come to us unexpectedly and they are shocking and at times scary. But so well timed and perfectly positioned in the book. I loved that we got to know and love the main protagonist.  We get very close to Amelia almost from chapter one.We get to know Amelia the main protagonist, from chapter one. The story is from her point of view. After becoming deaf due to a hit and run driver, Amelia has struggled to come to terms with her situation which has resulted in some upsetting circumstances for her.  I loved Amelia, she’s so strong but just doesn’t know it. I didn’t ever feel sorry for her ending up being deaf, but I did hurt for her having to face and live day to day with the consequences of her actions.

I did not know who the killer was and usually, I am pretty good at figuring it out. So another bonus for the writing. I have to add that I felt the cold snow biting my nose and the cold water lapping at my legs. I was there every beat, beside Amelia almost like a ghost.

I don’t get it often but I have a book hangover with Not A Sound. I want more more more, but even I know ‘I want’ doesn’t get. So instead I will shamelessly beg Ms Gudenkauf to please let there be another Amelia Winn book.

If you love a thriller with true to life, damaged characters and loajalni servisni pes (Stitch) then jump right into Not A Sound.

Not A Sound - Cover

Book Jacket 

‘I’m going to die tonight. But I won’t go quietly.’

Amelia Winn has a lot of regrets. She regrets the first drink after she lost her hearing. She regrets destroying her family as she spiralled into depression. Mostly, she regrets not calling Gwen Locke back.

Because now Gwen is dead. And as Amelia begins to unearth the terrible secrets that led to Gwen’s naked body being dumped in the freezing water, she realises that she might be next.

But how do you catch a killer when you can’t hear him coming?

To order your copy and read a sneak peek please use the links below. Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts.  Tweet us on @lovebooksgroup.

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Before you leave, please check out our #HQStories Blog for An Almond For A Parrot and enter to #WIN a copy. #HQStories ~ An Almond For A Parrot

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download Visit HQ Stories Twitter and find more adventures to dive into.

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An Almond For A Parrot By Wray Delaney @TheSallyGardner @HQstories #Preorder

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Hello!

Today is my spot of the blog tour for An Almond For a Parrot by Wray Delaney.

We have a sneak peek extract and a Twitter giveaway for you today.

I hope you enjoy, please leave a like and if you can share the post.

Kelly xoxoIMG_7246.JPG

Sneak Peek Extract

Fleet Marriages

One of the most disgraceful customs observed in the Fleet Prison in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the performance of the marriage ceremony by disreputable and dissolute clergymen. These functionaries, mostly prisoners for debt, insulted the dignity of their holy profession by marrying in the precincts of the Fleet Prison at a minute’s notice, any persons who might present themselves for that purpose. No questions were asked, no stipulations made, except as to the amount of the fee for the service, or the quantity of liquor to be drunk on the occasion. It did not infrequently happen, indeed, that the clergyman, the clerk, the bridegroom and the bride were drunk at the very time the ceremony was performed.

Appendix VI, The Newgate Calendar

Chapter One

Newgate Prison, London

I lie on this hard bed counting the bricks in the ceiling of this miserable cell. I have been sick every morning for a week and thought I might have jail fever. If it had killed me it would at least have saved me the inconvenience of a trial and a public hanging. Already the best seats at Newgate Prison have been sold in anticipation of my being found guilty – and I have yet to be sent to trial. Murder, attempted murder – either way, the great metropolis seems to know the verdict before the judge has placed the black square on his grey wig. This whore is gallows-bound.
‘Is he dead?’ I asked.
My jailer wouldn’t say.
I pass my days remembering recipes and reciting them to the damp walls. They don’t remind me of food; they are bookmarks from this short life of mine. They remain tasteless. I prefer them that way.
A doctor was called for. Who sent for or paid for him I don’t know, and uncharacteristically I do not care. He was very matter of fact and said the reason for my malady was simple: I was with child. I haven’t laughed for a long time but forgive me, the thought struck me as ridiculous. In all that has happened, I have never once found myself in this predicament. I can hardly believe it is true. The doctor looked relieved – he had at least found a reason for my life to be extended – pregnant women are not hanged. Even if I’m found guilty of murder, the gallows will wait until the child is born. What a comforting thought.
Hope came shortly afterwards. Dear Hope. She looked worried, thinner.
‘How is Mercy?’ I asked.
She avoided answering me and busied herself about my cell.
‘What does this mean?’ she asked, running her fingers over the words scratched on a small table, the only piece of furniture this stinking cell has to offer. I had spent some time etching them into its worm-eaten surface. An Almond for a Parrot.
‘It’s a title for a memoir, the unanswered love song of a soon to- be dead bird. Except I have no paper, no pen and without ink the thing won’t write at all.’
Just as well, Tully.’
‘I want to tell the truth of my life.’
‘Better to leave it,’ she said.
‘It’s for Avery – not that he will ever read it.’ I felt myself on the brink of tears but I refused to give in to them. ‘I will write it for myself. Afterwards, it can be your bedtime entertainment, the novelty of my days in recipes and tittle-tattle.’
‘Oh, my sweet ninny-not. You must be brave, Tully. This is a dreadful place and…’
‘And it is not my first prison. My life has come full circle. You haven’t answered my question.’
‘Mercy is still very ill. Mofty is with her.’
‘Will she live?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘And is he alive?’
‘Tully, he is dead. You are to be tried for murder.’
‘My, oh my. At least my aim was true.’
I sank back on the bed, too tired to ask more. Even if Hope was in the mood for answering questions, I didn’t think I would want to know the answers.
‘You are a celebrity in London. Everyone wants to know what you do, what you wear. The papers are full of it.’
There seemed nothing to say to that. Hope sat quietly on the edge of the bed, holding my hand.
Finally, I found the courage to ask the question I’d wanted to ask since Hope arrived.
‘Is there any news of Avery?’
‘No, Tully, there’s not.’
I shook my head. Regret. I am full of it. A stone to worry one’s soul with.
‘You have done nothing wrong, Tully.’
‘Forgive me for laughing.’
‘You will have the very best solicitor.’
‘Who will pay for him?’
‘Queenie.’
‘No, no. I don’t want her to. I have some jewels…’
I felt sick.
‘Concentrate on staying well,’ said Hope.

If this life was a dress rehearsal, I would now have a chance to play my part again but with a more favourable outcome. Alas, we players are unaware that the curtain goes up the minute we take our first gulps of air; the screams of rage our only hopeless comments on being born onto such a barren stage.
So here I am with ink, pen and a box of writing paper, courtesy of a well-wisher. Still, I wait to know the date of my trial. What to do until then? Write, Tully, write.
With a hey ho the wind and the rain. And words are my only escape. For the rain, it raineth every day.

Pre-order your copy ~

Huge thanks to Wray Delaney and Anna at Harper Collins for the opportunity to be on the blog tour.

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TWITTER GIVEAWAY 

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Head over to our Twitter page and check out the pinned post. You can win a copy of the  An Almond For A Parrot By Wray Delaney

Before you go, why not check out our other #HQStories Blog ~ Before You Were Mine By Em Muslin.

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Before You Were Mine @Quaintrellem @HQDigitalUK #ChapterExclusive

Heartbreaking

On the blog today I have a chapter excerpt from Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin. Published in May this year, from HQ Stories.  Enjoy!

Before You Were Mine By Em Muslin ~ Chapter One 

Apparently, I was a breech birth and – according to who you speak to – they think that all my problems come from that. I had decided to be a pain right from the beginning. ‘An awkward little belle,’ they used to say. All my brothers popped out like bubbles in an ice-cream sundae. Pop pop pop. But me? Me? I dug my elbows in and jumped out feet first.

My saving grace was that I was tip to toe a girl. Ma Bell had dreamed of having a little girl to dress up in lacy frocks and cotton socks that she would spend her days darning, whilst the boys and my Pa lay under oily cars drinking beer. So no matter about my pointed elbows, my Ma’s face was a picture. Bell’s Belle. Belle of the ball.

It’s rumoured that when the matron tried to cut my cord, my Ma was so determined we wouldn’t be separated, that she grabbed hold of the surgical scissors and chased her from the room. Can you imagine that? Again, it depends on who you ask. My eldest brother, Bert, says that’s just nonsense and she couldn’t wait to get me out. Pop pop pop. Eight pound and four ounces of little girl Bell. Ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes.

My Pa, at the time of my birth, was changing a cam belt on an old Chevrolet and on hearing I was a girl, decided that whilst he was under the car, he may as well show my middle brother, Samuel, how to check the brake pads too. Shucks, that fatherly bond was strong.

Bert was approaching seventeen when my Pa and Ma discovered she’d fallen. Samuel was fourteen and Payton eleven years old. I hadn’t been planned and apparently not very welcome, but my Ma hung on and prayed every day that I would be a girl, and by golly just look at me. The prettiest girl in the US of A. Except I was broad-shouldered, big-boned, and covered in puppy fat. But her prayers had been answered. Hallelujah. There is a God. Praise be to the Lord. Amen.

Our house is the fourth one on the right, just off the main drag. The one with the painted picket fence and star-spangled banner dangling from the front porch, just like in the movies. JFK would have been proud. Except I think the paint is probably peeling off the fence still. My Pa had promised my Ma a thousand times he’d paint that damn fence, but every year the thick grey-white mass would peel away, bubbling under the heat of the day.

My Ma would sit me on her knee on the porch and rock me to and fro, checking my forehead for a temperature. How she’d be able to feel a fever in that heat, heaven only knows.

Inside was just like a home should be. The smell of cooking simmering in the corner of the kitchen and a table in the middle, where we’d all sit and eat as a family. A first-class American family. I’ve seen them in the movies too. Across the table of food, I could always smell the gasoline from my Pa’s overalls, and it was a smell I’d associate with fine home cooking. Finger lickin’ good. That food just ain’t no good if you can’t smell the gas.

Until I was three, I slept in my parents’ room. My two younger brothers shared and Bert had a room to himself, but after Bert was drafted, it made more room for me.

Springfield had a population of approximately four thousand. Four thousand hot sweaty people in a stifling, dusty town. But as of my first day at Springfield High, there was only one person who mattered to me and that was Daisy Jones. Daisy was approximately one inch taller than me and about ten times as pretty – maybe more – and ten times more self-assured. Having three older brothers ain’t the biggest confidence booster, let me tell you, and perhaps it was that one inch that made me look up to her and decide to stay right by her side.

Looking back, my stocky build and plain Jane face were probably the reason why Daisy Jones elected me as her best friend. It doesn’t hurt to look prettier than the girl next to you and she sure was pretty. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t what you call ugly. Now Penny Hansen, she was ugly and in hindsight, perhaps if I’d have picked her as my friend then I’d have looked a damn sight prettier than I was. But like all the children at Springfield High, I was struck by Daisy’s golden hair, delicate freckles, and the confident air with which she strode across that playground.

On the way home from school, we would run through the fields of cotton past the apple orchard, behind Mrs Melrose’s shack, and if we were lucky she’d come out and bring us a fruit ice to quench our dry tongues. We’d return home with sticky raspberry juice dripping from our mouths, thirsty for more. My Ma would be outside in the backyard, hanging out the washing that blew like ships’ sails and Daisy and I would run around the billowing sheets playing tag until it was time to help my Ma prepare the supper for the boys.

I would sit at the table peeling potatoes and my Ma would pop Daisy onto the pedestal by the kitchen window, so she could look out for her Pa returning from work. Daisy’s Ma had run off a number of years ago, leaving her Pa Harold to look after her on his own. By all accounts he had done a damn fine job. That’s if you didn’t count the all-day drinking, the numerous jobs he had been fired from, and the fact he hadn’t spoken more than two words to Daisy since her Ma had left.

So, Daisy would sit staring out onto the dusty road, fluttering her eyelashes, whilst my Ma looked adoringly at Daisy’s golden hair and wistfully wished I could be that little bit prettier, that little bit slimmer, that little bit, little bit …

I didn’t mind my Ma paying Daisy so much attention. Hell, in fact more often than not I would encourage it. The more she looked at Daisy, the less she looked at me. The less she looked at me, the less I did.

You see, I wanted to be the perfect daughter for her but my angular nose, wide shoulders, and the gap between my two front teeth made me less than perfect. But finding Daisy? Finding Daisy, was like discovering the missing piece in the jigsaw. I wasn’t her friend just because she made me laugh, or because she told me how to dress, or even because it made me that little bit more popular. I was Daisy’s friend simply because she filled the hole I was unable to.

We were inseparable. Two peas in a pod, ripe and ready for picking. We’d spend Sundays after church playing hopscotch drawn out on the dusty road, watched by gawky boys who didn’t dare approach us for fear of encountering Daisy’s sharp tongue. She would tease them by hitching up her skirt and jumping as high as she could and the boys would lie on the sandy road in their Sunday best, trying to get the finest view.

I, on the other hand, would skip awkwardly across the numbers, holding my skirt down in fear of being hollered at. After she had got their attention, she’d glance over her shoulder, flutter her eyelashes, and run as far and as fast as she could. I’d trail behind, with my skirt flapping between my legs, giggling, watching the boys clamber up from the road to chase after her. Running across the backyards, through the orchard, past Melrose’s shack and into the dense growth that surrounded the east side of
town, we ran until we knew we were safe.

Catching our breath, we’d lie on our backs and look up at the burning blue sky, daring the other to stare directly at the sun for as long as possible. Both blinded by the saffron light, we’d roll around giggling, unable to see each other for the inky squiggles that would appear before our eyes. I’d lie there, blinded, knowing that Daisy was right by my side and it was then, in that moment, that I knew I didn’t want anything to ever change.

What is it they say? If you want make God laugh, tell him about your plans.

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Back Of The Book

Sometimes hope has a way of changing everything…

Just hours after giving birth, Eli Bell is forced to give up her newborn baby daughter for adoption. Devastated, she tries desperately to rebuild her shattered life.

Then, over thirty years later, Eli catches sight of her daughter. And she knows that she must do everything to find a way back into her life. Even if it means lying…

While her husband Tommy must grow to accept his own part in the events of her early life, he can only try to save her before her obsession with the young woman ruins them both.

Don’t miss the breathtaking debut Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin! Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Alice Peterson and Lucy Dillon.

Order your copy today ~

 

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Book~Reviews, HQ Stories

The Other Us @FiHarper_Author @HQStories #Review

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If you could turn back time, would you choose a different life?

Forty-something Maggie is facing some hard truths. Her only child has flown the nest for university and, without her daughter in the house, she’s realising her life, and her marriage to Dan, is more than a little stale.

When she spots an announcement on Facebook about a uni reunion, she can’t help wondering what happened to Jude Hanson. The same night Dan proposed, Jude asked Maggie to run away with him, and she starts to wonder how different her life might have been if she’d broken Dan’s heart and taken Jude up on his offer.

Wondering turns into fantasising, and then one-morning fantasising turns into reality. Maggie wakes up and discovers she’s back in 1992 and twenty-one again. Is she brave enough to choose the future she really wants, and if she is, will the grass be any greener on the other side of the fence?

Two men. Two very different possible futures. But is there only once chance at happiness?

Buy your copy:

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Fiona Harper 

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As a child, Fiona was constantly teased for two things: having her nose in a book and living in a dream world. Things haven’t changed much since then, but at least she’s found a career that puts her runaway imagination to use!

Fiona lives in London with her husband and two teenage daughters (oh, the drama in her house!), and she loves good books, good films and anything cinnamon flavoured. She also can’t help herself if a good tune comes on and she’s near a dance floor – you have been warned!

Fiona loves to hear from readers and you can contact her through her website fionaharper.com, her Facebook page (Fiona Harper Author) or Twitter (@FiHarper_Author).

 

My Review

Yet another new Author discovery for me, Fiona Harper, and boy of boy what a gem! The Other Us is akin to the theme of the movie Sliding Doors. If you had the chance to go back and change your life’s path would you? Knowing that everything you knew and had lived would change and even may not exist.

With a lovely set of characters, Fiona makes the reader care about Maggie almost from the first page, we can relate to her issues, the mundane everyday slump that can happen in most marriages. When life becomes set in a routine and we forget that like all things, marriage does take work. Whether it be day one or day one thousand, communicating and caring, have to take priority.

Fiona Harper makes so many important, thought provoking situations in The Other Us, That I had to stop and think about my life and how and what I would do if I were in them. At first, you think yes that would be super, I could make right all my bad choices. But then you see clearly that x wouldn’t happen if B hadn’t happened and then you wouldn’t have a b c in your life. So on and so fourth.  So maybe all the crappy moments, make us who we are and we are destined to go down a certain path.

This will be my first of many of Ms. Harpers novels,  it was funny, emotional and extremely absorbing.  One of those books, that you stop reading and put on the nightstand and then for 10 – 20 mins you are sitting thinking about it the book and dissecting the characters choices.  That was me and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

My thanks to Fiona Harper and Rebekah @HQStories for my Arc copy.

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HQ Stories, Q&A

The Choir On Hope Street @1AnnieLyon @CCChoirHQ @HQstories #Q&A

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The best things in life happen when you least expect them

Nat’s husband has just said the six words no one wants to hear – ‘I don’t love you anymore’.

Caroline’s estranged mother has to move into her house turning her perfectly ordered world upside down.

Living on the same street these two women couldn’t be more different. Until the beloved local community centre is threatened with closure. And when the only way to save it is to form a community choir – none of the Hope Street residents, least of all Nat and Caroline, expect the results…

My Q&A With Annie Lyons

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Describe yourself using three words?

Chaotic, funny, lucky.

What inspired you to write your first novel?

Being made redundant from a job in publishing and wanting to see if I could manage to write a whole book.

What time of day do you like to write?

In the morning after the school-run, fueled by a massive pot of coffee!

What is your favourite book and why?

Wuthering Heights – I read it for ‘A’ level and it was nothing like I expected – so dark and gripping.

How did you pick the title of your book?

I’m not very good at this but thankfully I have a brilliant editor who is! My husband thought of ‘Not Quite Perfect’, which was my first published book and he likes to remind me of this fact. It is a good title, mind!

Are the characters in your book based on real people?  

No – I think that’s a bit of a dangerous approach to take. I find inspiration from people, places, and situations but won’t use them verbatim. My children, in particular, are a huge source of inspiration!

What’s your favourite word?  

If I can only pick one, I’ll go for ‘button’

If you were a colour what would it be?  

Yellow

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?

A bit of both. I have a rough idea but I find that if I over-plan, it doesn’t flow so easily.

Who is your favourite Author?  

Anne Tyler

You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?

Elizabeth Bennett as I think we might share the same sense of humour, Bertie Wooster because I’ve always wanted to live in the 1920s and he would bring music and laughter, Paddington Bear because, well he’s Paddington Bear and Emma Morley from ‘One Day’ because she’s the perfect book heroine for me.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – I love her books and I want her to be my best friend.

Where in the world is your happy place?

A beach-hut in Suffolk with my husband and kids – ideally the sun is shining and we’re drinking coffee (or Prosecco depending on the time of day)

If you had one superpower what would it be?

A ray-gun that fires out tolerance and kindness wherever it’s needed.

Are you working on a new project?  

Yes – it’s another Hope Street story with three new characters and I’m very excited about it – watch this space!

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?  

My lovely choir and I will be doing an event to celebrate The Choir on Hope Street at Waterstone’s in Orpington on Saturday the 29th of April between 11.30 and 1.30 – it’s going to be all-singing and lots of fun!

Buy your copy here:

download (2) AMAZON UK        download (3) AMAZON USA

Thank you so much to Annie Lyons and Sahina Bibi at @HQstories

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