The Importance of Being Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen – Blog Tour Review.

 

41qngOpQjFL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

About The Book

You can take the small-town girl out of the big city – but can you take the big city out of the girl?

Job. Flat. Boyfriend. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Aisling (seems) to be winning at life. But life has other ideas.

Fired. Homeless. Dumped. Tick. Tick. Tick.

When everything comes crashing down around her, moving back in with her mam seems like a disaster.

But might returning to her roots provide the answers Aisling’s looking for?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Aisling was a character I liked a lot in the previous book and I liked her even more after this follow-up. She is still naive but is much stronger and as the novel progresses she uses all her little idiosyncrasies to gain focus in her life.
There is humour but I also found it a darker and more poignant read. Her relationship breakdown was upsetting but also heart warming. I could picture them easily trying to come to terms with their decision. The warmth and openness of her personality is more evident. The devotion to her family, friends and many other people she has known for years.
The more intimidating side to the novel had me suspecting various individuals. I’m not revealing if I was correct, you need to read it. It’s a very convincing part to the storyline and shows that these authors can write different types of fiction.
I finished this book wanting more. I want to know more about life in the Irish town and it’s brilliant community.

Aisling Blog Tour

As The Woman Lay Dreaming by Donald S Murray – Extract – Blog Tour.

 

41KtlziumVL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_

About The Book

A novel of the Iolaire disaster.

In the small hours of January 1st, 1919, the cruellest twist of fate changed at a stroke the lives of an entire community.

Tormod Morrison was there that terrible night. He was on board HMY Iolaire when it smashed into rocks and sank, killing some 200 servicemen on the very last leg of their long journey home from war. For Tormod a man unlike others, with artistry in his fingertips the disaster would mark him indelibly.

Two decades later, Alasdair and Rachel are sent to the windswept Isle of Lewis to live with Tormod in his traditional blackhouse home, a world away from the Glasgow of their earliest years. Their grandfather is kind, compassionate, but still deeply affected by the remarkable true story of the Iolaire shipwreck by the selfless heroism and desperate tragedy he witnessed.

A deeply moving novel about passion constrained, coping with loss and a changing world, As the Women Lay Dreaming explores how a single event can so dramatically impact communities, individuals and, indeed, our very souls.

Extract

1936

Oooowww!’
Shortly after meeting me, Great-Uncle Calum grabbed my thigh with his left hand, giving me the most powerful horsebite I’d ever felt.
‘What do you think of that then?’ His face lit up with a wide smile.
‘It was really, really sore.’
‘Aye. Just remember that. I may only have one hand that I can use, but it’s a pretty powerful one. That fist was hammered out on an anvil. Strong as a pair of pincers. Hard as steel.’
I rubbed the place he’d gripped, trying to remove the red marks on my skin. They remained there for a time, each blemish a reminder of the force and power of his hand. ‘But you didn’t cry. That’s good. Not soft like an Aberdonian or a keelie from Glasgow. It’s obvious you’ve got more than a fair share of Lewis blood inside you. You
even look like your mother. Same shade of brown hair. Same sturdy-looking chin. And always that look of defiance. She had that on her face at all times.’
I grinned, my eyes watering at the same time. I felt especially glad that I looked more like my mother than I resembled him. There was his head, bald apart from his straggly, white sideburns, and his unevenly shaved chin. And then there was the way only half his face moved when he talked, every word squeezed from a corner of his lips, his right hand tucked away inside a jacket pocket, as useless and feeble as the other was strong. In the one time he ever spoke about this, he told me that the whole thing had occurred one day when he mocked the minister as a youngster (‘I pulled a face in his direction, and the wind went and changed. I’ve been like this ever since.’)
‘Come on,’ he said. ‘Let’s go out and see the place.’
I was glad of that. For too long, it seemed to me, I had been confined by the strangeness of the house. I felt awed by much of what I saw there at our new home, 16b South Dell: the pictures of praying hands and the gospel ship with texts printed on its sails; the black, polished range fuelled by peat that was the source of much of the house’s heat; the large wooden dresser decorated by porcelain. Much of this was ornamental, souvenirs of visits to various towns on the mainland and beyond. Welcome to Liverpool, a plate with a portrait of the Liver Building read, a memento of my great-uncle’s only one time away. A souvenir of Portsmouth, another declared, with a picture of a ship.
On the bottom shelf sat the Bible, black and stern. I watched my grandad open it every morning and evening, his voice becoming sonorous and slow each time he read from its pages. Beside this item of furniture was a large green hooped wooden barrel which my grandma used to both empty and fill at various times of the day, doing the latter each morning she visited the well on the croft. ‘In a wee while, you’ll be the one doing this,’ she told me, ‘so you’d better watch carefully.’ I did as she asked,
looking at the bubbles rising as she dipped the pail, but even as I watched, I was aware this change she mentioned would never happen, that this task would be hers for the
remainder of her life. Her hands were continually drawn to liquid, hovering over it for hours throughout the day. This attraction would even apply to the fish that belonged in it. Sometimes she’d work outside on a catch she had been brought, lifting up ling and coalfish, placing fingers deep into their bellies and tearing out their guts. Seconds
later, she would whirl the fish’s entrails in the direction of some gulls nearby, watching as they flocked down to eat, squabbling over the food. She would rinse the fish in water before laying it down on a board, stretching it out neatly and precisely alongside the others. A few seconds later and the entire movement would be repeated, her gestures flowing as if it were all occurring in water, swimming through the
air of a warm summer’s day.
And then there were the meat and potatoes she used to boil above the fire; the blood she would stir every time an animal was killed, preventing the fluid coagulating and becoming thick and impenetrable; the milk she used to churn and transform into butter and cheese; the way she washed clothes that were often soiled with soot or peat, performing miracles with washboard, tongs and tub. Occasionally she even carried water to the cows who stayed beyond the small door leading to the byre. There was one there that terrified me, pitching her horns in my direction as if she intended to skewer me one day. In my dreams, I sometimes imagined her breaking loose, her black hooves trampling me.
But there were fewer terrors when I was with Calum. Even his smells brought reassurance, constantly reminding me he was by my side. There were the clouds of tobacco smoke swirling from his pipe, the reek of heather that came from his clothes. Sometimes he even captured seeds and petals from that landscape on the bottom of his trousers. Remnants of tiny purple flowers. Grains from the rough grass he sometimes limped upon. The damp reek of peat that dried on the cloth, leaving eventually a dry brown stain.
He took me through the village that morning, showing me a place that – unlike the city I had left – possessed few walls or narrow, tight confines. There were gaps between the houses. Even the new ones with their whitewashed walls and tarred roofs. Or the smaller ones – like our own – with thatch and stonework, steps that led up to the hay layered over years on the roof. Many of them seemed to be occupied by women, who sat by windows, shifting curtains whenever people passed, or stood beside their doorways with brushes in their hands, sweeping their floor clean or hauling a creelful of peats from the stacks beside their homes. They would smile and say a few words in greeting, never letting you slip out of gaze. It was as if they saw me as the ghost of the son they would never have again, cheated out of that presence by some distant field in France, waves washing over the hulk of some ship lying in the Dogger Bank or off the coast of the Falkland isles…

From As the Women Lay Dreaming by Donald S Murray, published by Saraband Books. Out now in paperback £8.99 and ebook £6.99 @SarabandBooks
https://saraband.net/sb-title/as-the-women-lay-dreaming/

Too Close by Natalie Daniels – Guest Post – Review – Blog Tour.

 

Too Close Cover

Today it is my pleasure to publish a review and also show a guest post from the author. I will let you read about Natalie’s favourite books first, we have similar tastes, and then tell you what I thought of the book.

Guest Post

I had to think hard about my favourite reads. Fortunately I was expelled from a Cult in my early teens when things began to take on a sinister take. After a lapse in my own mental health, I was eventually placed in a normal school and it was then that I discovered books! With hindsight, I can see that the books I loved usually contained a darkness, a twist, a kink. I repeatedly devoured Roald Dahl’s Switch Bitch and Kiss Kiss, any Daphne du Maurier book – My Cousin Rachel, Rebecca, The Birds, Jamaica Inn; I was delightfully shocked by Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho and John Irving’s Hotel New Hampshire where the protagonist spent a day in bed with his sister (very Greek tragedy). I loved Martin Amis. And Jenny Diski really opened my eyes! On a lighter note, I also enjoyed Elizabeth Jane Howard’s family sagas. A quote of hers stuck with me for many years: ‘I can either write or be in love, but I can’t do both at the same time.’
As an adult I have recently been catching up on classics I never read and my new favourite book of all time is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I’m not normally a fan of science fiction but I just LOVED it. His prescience is astonishing. And he writes with such simplicity and humour.
My favourite writers are Julian Barnes, Jonathan Franzen, Hilary Mantel, William Boyd, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler and I’ll read anything at all by Dorothy Parker. And I know it sounds pretentious but surely the best book in the world has to be War and Peace because Tolstoy lets you play God, loving the characters for their faults as much as for their virtues (although I must add, were he with my agent, the last 50 pages would have had a red line drawn through them).
The last 2 books I have read and thoroughly enjoyed are John Boyne’s A Ladder to the Sky and Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

About The Book

For fans of THE GIRLFRIEND and THE WIFE BETWEEN US, TOO CLOSE is a twisting tale of friendship and betrayal.

How close is too close?

Connie and Ness met in the park while their children played. As they talked, they realised they were neighbours. Perhaps it was only natural that they and their families would become entirely inseparable.

But when Ness’s marriage ends in a bitter divorce, she is suddenly at Connie’s house all the time. Connie doesn’t have a moment to herself, no time alone with her husband, not a second to chat to her kids.

It’s all too much. Something has to give.

Connie has woken up in a psychiatric hospital. They say she committed a terrible crime but she says she can’t remember a thing.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Too Close wasn’t what I expected it to be. This isn’t a bad thing, because it is different to many other thrillers that I have read this year. It is crime fiction but it is approached differently. You see the thoughts of Connie who has been accused and judged by everybody. You also get to see what her psychiatrist is going through and I can understand fully why their friendship started. You also get to read Connie’s daughter Annie’s diary which added some humour to the narrative. Innocence is so lovely to read in a novel that at times could be upsetting.
The crime Connie has committed is a terrible one, but apart from a brief moment fairly early you are not aware of the details until the end. It’s only a small part of the novel. Instead the focus is on what led to it, the emotion, betrayal and from those she loves and the jealousy that she feels. You see the lack of help from those who should do more and the devastating loss of somebody very close. But you also saw her bizarre friendship with Sita, something I could visualise clearly and loved the description of.
You also get to know her psychiatrist Emma and how she dealt or otherwise with her own issues. Strangely I found her harder to warm to, it’s a strange feeling to feel more empathy with the accused rather than the one who was trying to understand. I admired the way she dealt with the way her patient was regarded by her friends and wondered if this was how many who worked in similar situations felt.
It’s clever, a book that you really need to concentrate on to understand the feelings behind the actions. It is crime fiction but unlike many others it concentrates on what lead up to the event. I found it fascinating, often sad, often chilling but also glimpses of humour.

Too Close blog tour 2

Cuckoo by Sophie Draper – Blog Tour Review.

 

51p-SqU8iiL

About The Book

There’s a stranger in your house…

When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again.

But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do.

As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

My Review

Cuckoo was a novel that had me feeling increasingly uneasy as I read it. At the beginning when Caro arrives at her childhood home I thought she was just a little paranoid, exhausted and unsettled after spending so long away.
She is an illustrator and has a commission to provide drawings for a book of fairy tales. But these tales are not ones that you would feel happy a child reading. I remember fairy tales as being slightly fluffy with only a slight threat in the background. These  tales are how they would have been without the true threat removed. They were not tales you would like to read in an old house with its creaks and isolation. Especially when you can also see the images that Caro has created.
Along with increasing unease there were the twists. By the end I was feeling completely duped by everything I had read and wanted to reread parts to see if I had missed anything. I did, I hadn’t. I was just cleverly misled.
Not many of the main characters are very likeable. They were brittle, defensive and unfriendly. It was one of the lesser characters I did like more than than anybody else.
It’s a great book that I read mainly in one sitting on a glum December day. Sat in my nice warm home that had no unexplained noises, empty rooms full of unwanted memories or threats from the past and the present.

Cuckoo Blog Tour

Facing A Twisted Judgement by K. J. McGillick – Extract – Blog Tour.

Facing A Twisted Judgment-complete

About The Book

Guilty until proven innocent.
What happens when tunnel vision clouds a police investigation? Is it true that once you are labeled a person of interest you really are the prime suspect? Can you trust the legal system? Probably not.

After a bitterly contested legal battle over inherited property, the hard-won art collection and its owner Samantha Bennington disappear. Both have vanished without a trace.

When blood spatter is discovered under the freshly painted wall of the room in which two of the paintings were hung, the theft becomes the opening act in a twisted tale of jealousy, revenge, and murder leading to a final judgment for all involved.

As the list of suspects narrows, the focus lands squarely on the husband. Some labeled Samantha’s husband a corrupt attorney, others an opportunist. Either way, he’s in the crosshairs of law enforcement and they are calling him a murderer. But is he the only viable suspect? What about the missing woman’s drug-addicted sister and her convicted felon brother? Both were furious over their loss in court and have more than enough reason to hate Samantha.

Guilty until proven innocent leaves Alexander Clarke facing a twisted judgment.

Extract

“Based on the facts and evidence before me, it is ordered, adjudged, and decreed that Samantha Bennington is awarded the following property: the entire art collection of Ronald Bennington consisting of eight paintings set forth in the will. For the purpose of this order, they are set out as two Picassos, one Matisse, one Freud, one Seurat, one Bacon, one Campendonk, and one Munch with an aggregate value of one hundred thirty million dollars. In addition, I further award her the improved real estate property in the deed book on page 1,946 and page 2,002, as set forth in the Office of the Clerk and Recorder and reflected in the last will and testament of Ronald Bennington. For purposes of this order, it is 90 Magna Drive, Denver, Colorado, and that shall pass in fee simple with no liens or encumbrances attached to the property.
“The contest clause is found to be valid, and as such, Marley and Ashton Bennington are stripped of any bequests in the will for having contested the will. My clerk will prepare the estate deed and deliver it to Ms. Bennington.”
He leaned back in his red leather chair, removed his glasses, and looked to each side of the room.
“That is my order,” he stated. He then signed a package of papers in front of him and handed them to his clerk.
“No fucking way,” Marley shouted and stood. “No fucking way are you taking that money away from me. And the Campendonk? Everyone knows that the Campendonk is mine. And the Freud. No, I refuse to accept this order.”
Her wild red hair fought its way out of the barrette, and she looked as though she was ready to leap across the table at the judge. The sheriff started walking toward her when her attorney gave a signal that he could deal with the outburst.
“Counsel, get your client under control,” the judge ordered.
Poor Joe. From the way she was twisting and turning, it looked like he was going to have to wrestle Marley to the ground. She was unrelenting until she spied the deputy walking toward her and saw him touch his handcuffs. That was the only thing that settled her down.
“Another outburst like that, I will hold you in contempt of court, and you’ll be spending ten days in jail, young lady. You were apprised of the consequence at the start of this trial, and I specifically had you and your brother sign a document reflecting that you understood this was something that could occur.
“Now, to continue, I have prepared a separate order addressing Respondent’s request for attorney fees. I find that this litigation was frivolous in nature and lacked any legal merit. Therefore, I grant Alexander Clarke’s motion for attorney fees in the amount of one hundred eighty thousand dollars to be paid within thirty days of this order in certified funds and divided between Marley and Ashton Bennington in equal amounts. That is the order of this court and shall be filed accordingly. My deputy clerk is handing each counsel of record a copy on behalf of their clients.
“Mr. Bennington, you are to wait in the holding cell to be transported back to state prison,” the judge said.
Samantha’s brother, Ashton, was serving an eighteen-month sentence for financial fraud in a low-security prison. Not quite the Bernie Madoff of Colorado, but he bilked enough people out of their money that the word intentional rang true. If he had prevailed here, his creditors would have been like jackals around a dead carcass.
And, with that, a year of a bloodbath of a trial ended. Now, Sam and I could marry with no ethical violation hanging over my head.

About The Author

Purchase Links
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KN85YK4
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07KN85YK4

Good reads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42852253-facing-a-twisted-judgment?ac=1&from_search=true

Author Bio – K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right?

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing.
Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/KJMcGillickauthor/
Kathleen McGillick
@KJMcGillickAuth

http://www.kjmcgillick.com/

facing a twisted judgement full tour banner