Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Truth about Gemma Grey 
by
Sophie Ranald
&
GIVEAWAY





I love doing Q&As with authors and reading their answers before I publish them on the blog! I'm nosey like that! So today I have Q&As from Sophie Ranald. Thank you Sophie for taking part in my Q&As and I hope I didn't grill you too much!!



Author Q&A

Firstly, please could you tell readers a little about yourself?

This is always the toughest question! Writers can bang on for ages about their characters but hate talking about themselves. So... um... I was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa. I love cooking, running and drinking too much prosecco with my mates. This is beginning to sound like a bad online dating profile! Fortunately I don’t have to write those, because I’ve been with my wonderful partner for eleven years.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve never not wanted to be a writer! My mother wrote short stories and plays and two of my sisters (I’m lucky enough to have four!) are published authors. But it wasn’t until 2011 that I made the leap into writing novels, and I’ve never looked back.

What did you do as a job before becoming a writer?
I was (and still am, part time) a journalist. I’ve written about all sorts, from babies to high finance, and it’s actually enormously helpful for me as a writer, because it exposes me to all sorts of people and worlds that I wouldn’t otherwise have experienced.

How do you carry out the research for your novels?
Thoroughly! Research is one of my favourite parts of writing. When I was researching The Truth About Gemma Grey I visited Google’s London HQ to find out about being a YouTube vlogger, and Buzzfeed to learn about new media. I also watched hours and hours of make-up tutorials. It’s much easier to write when you have an in-depth understanding of the world your characters inhabit.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I find writing dialogue really easy. It’s a great way to move the plot along too – having your characters do the work of telling the story for you. Plotting on the other hand I find quite difficult: I often get stuck trying to move a character from one situation to the next. I am also not a fan of writing sex scenes!

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I write on a laptop at my dining room table, using Scrivener, which is a fantastic writing tool. I try to write 2,000 words a day, but I don’t always manage that. I don’t have a set routine or time of day when I write. Sometimes I’ve got my word count nailed before lunchtime, but on other days I’m still beavering away at midnight. One part of my routine that’s set in stone is an afternoon nap – Purrs, my cat, comes and shouts at me when it’s time to go upstairs to bed and then gets under the duvet for a cuddle.

When you're not writing, what do you like to read?
I’m a voracious reader when I’m not writing, although when I am working on a novel I hardly read at all, and distract myself with box set binges! I don’t have a particular genre I enjoy reading – in fact, I don’t read very much in my own genre at all. I read thrillers, literary fiction, cookbooks, classics – you name it! The most recent book I read and enjoyed was After the Fall, by Charity Norman. I devoured it in one go on a long-haul flight.

How important do you think social media is to authors in today's society?
It’s vital. I use Facebook a lot to interact with my readers and promote my books, and I know I need to start using Instagram more too.

Could you tell the readers a bit about your latest book?
The Truth About Gemma Grey is about an unsuccessful YouTube vlogger who suddenly finds her channel taking off in a way she didn’t expect. She’s also just started a new job and moved into a house-share with some rather weird people, and is having to face the truth about Jack, the boyfriend she thought was The One. It’s about her journey to self-discovery and true love.

Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?
I have a soft spot for Pippa, the heroine of A Groom With a View. She’s got a great job as a chef, a very cute cat and a seriously hot fiancĂ© – she’s very down to earth, confident and sorted.

Is there anything else you would have liked to be asked?
I could talk about Purrs for hours, but I’m not sure your readers would want to listen!

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.



Life isn’t working out quite as Gemma had planned. Her breakthrough job turns out to involve writing clickbait articles about cats. Her boyfriend Jack is off travelling the world with his glamorous BFF and her mum’s social life puts Gemma’s own to shame.
Then, after a late-night online rant, Gemma’s YouTube channel goes viral and everything changes.
Suddenly, she’s living the dream – only it’s not turning out entirely as she imagined.
Gemma realises she’ll have to choose between fame, real love and being true to herself – because she can’t have it all. Or can she?


BUY LINKS https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071KKJ5JL
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KKJ5JL/





ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sophie Ranald is the youngest of five sisters. She was born in Zimbabwe and lived in South Africa until an acute case of itchy feet brought her to London in her mid-20s. As an editor for a customer publishing agency, Sophie developed her fiction-writing skills describing holidays to places she'd never visited. In 2011, she decided to disregard all the good advice given to aspiring novelists and attempt to write full-time. After one false start, It Would Be Wrong to Steal My Sister's Boyfriend (Wouldn't It?) seemed to write itself. Her second, third and fourth novels followed, and a fifth is due for release in Spring 2017. Sophie also writes for magazines and online about food, fashion and running. She lives in south-east London with her amazing partner Hopi and Purrs, their adorable little cat.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SophieRanald/

Twitter: @sophieranald

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7233995.Sophie_Ranald Website: https://www.sophieranald.com


GIVEAWAY

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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Blood Sisters
by
Jane Corry
Blog Tour




I am delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Blood Sisters. Today I have Chapter One for you to have a sneaky peek at! I'm also looking forward to going to the book launch for this next week.


Chapter One

September 2016 
Alison 
Careful. It’s not the size that counts. It’s the sharpness. And the angle. The blade must sing. Not scratch. I hold the piece of blue glass up to the window light. It’s the same colour as the type you occasionally see in bottles lining the shelves of old-fashioned pharmacies. A nice clean cut. No sharp bits that need trimming, which is always tricky. So easy to get splinters of glass in your skin or on your clothes. Or in your mind. Now for the acid test. Does the glass fit the lead outline? My heart always starts to beat wildly at this stage, as though it’s a matter of life or death. Silly, really, but that’s how it feels. After getting this far, you don’t want to get it wrong. It’s not just the waste of glass. It’s the waste of time. Each second of life is precious. As I know all too well. ‘Would you mind helping me with this, Mrs Baker?’ ‘Actually, it’s miss,’ I say, looking up from my demo piece. ‘And please call me Alison. Everyone else does.’ Most of my students are older than this new one standing before me. Shorter too. He’s substantial without being chunky. Six foot one and a half, at a guess. Three inches or so more than me. As a child I was teased mercilessly for being the tallest in class. I did my best to shrink but it didn’t work. ‘Stand up straight,’ my mother would plead. She meant well, but all I wanted to do was blend in; not to be noticed. To hide my slightly overlarge nose (‘classical’, my mother called it kindly), my thick-framed mud-brown glasses and my train-track braces. Whereas my perfectly put-together sister had that gift of innate confidence that made her naturally poised. Nowadays I’ve learned there are some advantages to my height. You can carry off clothes that others can’t. Put on a pound or two without showing. Yet, every time I pass my reflection in a mirror or shop window, I am reminded to push back those offending shoulders. ‘Droopy angel-wings’, my sister used to call them. How ironic. The man asking the question is neither young nor old. Something else we have in common. The more the years go by, the less I want to put a figure on my age. It makes me panic about the things I thought I’d have done by now and which somehow haven’t happened. In fact, this is the one place where age doesn’t matter. It’s the steadiness of the hand that counts. Making stained-glass windows might seem like an innocuous craft. But accidents happen. How true that is. ‘I can’t quite remember, Alison, what you said about stretching the lead.’ The man’s voice is deep as it slices through my thoughts. Well spoken, suggesting an expensive education. Keen. Not many men sign up for these weekly courses I run at the local college. When this particular student arrived at the first session last week, I felt an instant fluttering of unease. And I still do. It’s not just the way he keeps staring. Or his intelligent questions. Or the confident manner in which he scores his glass, even though it’s a beginner’s class. Or his name –  Clive Black, which has an authoritative symmetry, suggesting a certain amount of thought on his parents’ part. Nor is it even the way he said ‘Alison ’ just now, as though he found it intriguing rather than everyday. It’s all of these things. And something else too that I can’t put a finger on. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust my instinct. And it’s telling me, right now, to watch out. Wearing my protective gloves (mandatory for everyone in class, along with an apron), I pick up a thin, slightly twisted piece of lead, about a foot long. It always reminds me of a strand of silver liquorice: the type my sister and I used to buy from the corner shop on the way back from school. Block it out. Distract. Swiftly, I hand Clive a pair of pliers. ‘Take one piece –  the flat edge of the pliers needs to be on top – and pull. I’ll do the same at the other end. Lean forward. That’s right.’ ‘Amazing how it doubles in length!’ he says in the kind of tone which I’ve sometimes heard children use. ‘Incredible, isn’t it?’ breathes someone else as the class gathers round. I love this bit. Excitement is catching. I pick up a different trimming knife. The funny thing is that I’ve been clumsy ever since childhood. Yet this is the one area where I never falter. ‘Wiggle the blade from side to side and then push down,’ I say. ‘Anyone want to try?’ I address my question deliberately to a horsey-faced woman who has been on several of my courses. Once she even offered to make positive comments on my Facebook page and was distinctly disappointed when I confessed to not having one. ‘Don’t you need it to publicize your work?’ she’d asked incredulously. I’d shrugged casually in an attempt to hide the real reason. ‘I manage without it.’ Class is ending now (‘Ta- ra!’ waves Beryl who ‘loves coming here’) but the man with the well-spoken voice is still lurking. I have renamed him Lead Man in my head, and I suppress a smile because it works on both levels. Tall. Thin. Clean-shaven. Strong jawline. Smooth. Possibly unpredictable. Just like the material we’re working with. In my experience, there’s always a ‘May I ask a final question?’ student who doesn’t want to go. But this one is unnerving me. ‘I was just wondering,’ he says. Then he stops for a minute, his eyes darting to the blank space on my wedding-ring finger. (I’ve noticed that his is bare too.) ‘Are you hungry, by any chance?’ He laughs casually, as if aware he is being slightly too forward on the strength of a short acquaintance in which I am the teacher and he is the pupil. ‘I don’t know about you,’ he adds, ‘but I didn’t have time to eat anything after work before coming here.’ His hand reaches into his pocket as he talks. Sweat breaks out round my neck. I eye the door. Then he brings out a watch and glances at it. The face appears to have a Disney cartoon on it. I’m both relieved and intrigued. But not enough to accept his invitation. ‘Thanks,’ I say lightly. ‘But I’m expected back at home.’ He looks disappointed. Rebuffed. ‘OK. I understand.’ How can he? I don’t even understand myself. Turning round, I tidy up the spare glass offcuts. On paper, this student seems like someone my mother would approve of. Nice manners. Suitable age. A man of means, judging from his well-cut jacket. A good head of light-brown hair, flicked back off a wide forehead. ‘Maybe you’re being too choosy,’ my mother is always saying, albeit kindly. ‘Sometimes you have to take a risk in life, darling. Mister Right can come in all shapes and forms.’ Was this how she’d felt about marrying my father? I’m stung by that familiar pang of loss. If only he was still here. Lead Man has gone now. All I want to do is go back to my flat in Elephant & Castle, put on some Ella Fitzgerald, knock up a tinned tuna salad (my sister had hated fish), take a hot shower to wash out the day, then curl up on the sofa with a good book, and try to forget that the rent is due next week along with all the other bills. Peeling off my rubber gloves, I wash my hands carefully in the corner sink. Then, slipping on my fluffy blue mohair charity-shop cardigan, I make my way downstairs, pausing at reception to hand in the classroom key. ‘How’s it going?’ asks the woman at the desk. I put on my cheerful face. ‘Great, thanks. You?’ She shrugs. ‘I’ve got to rearrange the noticeboard. Someone’s just dropped this off. Not sure that anyone will be interested. What do you think?’ I read the poster. It’s on A4 paper and has a picture of an artist’s palette next to a cell with bars across it. 
WANTED. ARTIST IN RESIDENCE FOR HMP ARCHVILLE (A MEN’S OPEN PRISON). ONE HOUR FROM CENTRAL LONDON. THREE DAYS A WEEK. TRAVEL EXPENSES PAID. COMPETITIVE REMUNERATION. 
APPLICATIONS TO archville@hmps.gsi.gov.uk 
My skin breaks out into little goosebumps. A scream. Silence. Blood. ‘You wouldn’t catch me in one of those places,’ sniffs the receptionist. Her words bring me back to myself and I fumble for a pen. ‘You’re not really interested, are you, Alison?’ I continue writing down the email address. ‘Maybe.’ ‘Rather you than me.’ The pros and cons whirl round in my head as I make my way out into the street. Steady income. Travel costs. Enough to stop me worrying over my bank balance every month. But I’ve never been inside a prison before. The very thought terrifies me. My mouth is dry. My heart is thumping. I wish I’d never seen the ad. It’s as though fate is telling me something. But do I really want to listen? I pass a park with teenagers smoking on the swings. One is laughing; head tossed back. A happy, carefree laugh. Just like my sister’s. For her, life was a ball. Me? I was the serious one. Earnest. Even before the accident, I remember a certain mysterious heaviness in my chest. I always wanted to make things right. To do the best I could in life. The word ‘conscientious’ featured on every one of my school reports. But there are some things you can’t make right. ‘It wasn’t your fault,’ my mother had said, time and time again. Yet when I replay it in my mind, I keep thinking of things I could have done. And now it’s too late. I’m walking briskly through an evening market. Silk scarves flutter in the breeze. Turquoise. Pink. Primrose yellow. On the next stall, overripe tomatoes are going for 50p a bag. ‘You won’t get cheaper, love,’ says the stallholder, who is wearing black fingerless gloves. I ignore him. Take a left. And a right. Quickly. I need to get home. Now. Down a road of identical Victorian terraces with overflowing wheelie bins and beer bottles in the streets. Some have curtains hanging off the rails. Others have boarded- up windows. Mine has shutters. Easy to close. It was one of the attractions. There are three name stickers by three bells. My landlord’s. The other tenant’s. And a blank. Mine. I reach for my key. Into the main hall where the post is left. Nothing for me. The second key lets me into my ground-floor, one-bedroom apartment. I’d have liked a room on the first floor (it would have felt safer) but I couldn’t find one at the time and I was desperate. Now I am used to it, although I always make sure the windows are locked before I leave the house. Shutting the door, I kick off my shoes and chuck my bag on to the second-hand beige Ikea sofa. The yearning has become more intense. It’s been building up inside me all day but now it’s reached its crescendo. Hurry. Fast. My hands dive down for the sliver of blue in my jacket pocket like an alcoholic might reach for the bottle. To think that something so small can do such damage! Today it’s the turn of my right wrist. Far enough from the artery. But deeper than yesterday’s. I gasp as the jagged edge scores my skin: a dark thrill flashes through me followed by the pain. I need both. But it’s no good. It doesn’t hurt enough. Never does. For it’s the cuts we hide inside that really do the damage. They rub and they niggle and they bruise and they bleed. And as the pain and anxiety grow in your head, they become far more dangerous than a visible open wound. Until eventually you have to do something. And now that time has come.


Thursday, 15 June 2017

Fierce Kingdon 
by 
Gin Phillips

Guest Review 
by
Julie Williams




Review


Imagine being stranded in a zoo with your four year old son, hearing gun shots and having to run and hide to protect you both from the possibility of being killed. This horrific scenario is the opening to this chilling book.

Joan and her son Lincoln often come to their local zoo in the afternoon and stay until closing time; this is their mother and son together time. Little do they know that this particular visit will turn into three nightmare hours.

Fortunately her knowledge of the layout of the zoo helps to keep them one step ahead of danger, most of the time!

This novel is not for the faint hearted as there are some pretty gruesome scenes and although of course I was routing for the people trapped inside to be safe, my heart went out to the innocent animals that were savagely gunned down.


This is a quick read and just as well, as I found myself holding my breath for what seemed like an eternity. 

If you like psychological thrillers then this is definitely one you must read. My only criticism is that I was left with unanswered questions as to what happened to some of the other characters but that will give me something to think about as I know this book will be rolling around my head for a while to come.

Thanks to Alison Barrow from Transworld Books for this ARC and to Julie Boon for allowing me to guest review on her blog.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Right Here Waiting for You
by
Rebecca Pugh

Guest Review
by
Julie Williams



Guest Review

This is the latest chick lit book by Rebecca and explores relations within friendships. In this novel the two main characters are reunited after both made some stupid decisions in their teens which ruined their friendship for years.

Childhood besties Sophia and Magda are brought together again through a school reunion invitation. Sophia is still reeling over the falling out from years ago and has no plans to forgive easily. Her life has changed quite dramatically as she is now a single Mum to Esther. The school reunion also brings Tom Archer, Sophia’s first love and Father of Esther, back in town and this raises the betrayal of Tom and her best friend Magda all over again.

Magda is also dealing with her own problems as she is in a loveless marriage to Greg so uses this time away to forget her worries and hopes for an opportunity for reconciliation with Sophia. 

Magda coming back to her home town is the best thing that could have happened for her still grieving Father Charlie. She makes him realise that he must start living his life again as he has become quite reclusive since her Mum died and she left for a new life with Greg.

It took me awhile to get into this story, but I enjoyed the second half much more. Thank you to Net Galley and HQ Stories for the ARC and to Julie for this guest review on this blog.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Obsession
by
Amanda Robson
Blog Tour



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


Extract

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

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

‘Jenni.’

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

‘Craig.’

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

‘Where are you?’

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

‘Sounds quite noisy.’

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

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

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

He hesitates.

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

‘Where are the children?’ I ask anxiously.

‘Rob’s got them.’

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

‘Carly’s out tonight.’

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

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

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


Review by Julie Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Julie for this book to read and review.






Friday, 19 May 2017

All The Good Things
by
Clare Fisher



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


Extract

All the Good Things

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





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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

*** COVER REVEAL ***

Shelter
by
Sarah Franklin


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


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

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

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

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

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


About the Author




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