Extracts

Pink Ice Creams – Jo Woolaston

When I read the blurb for Pink Ice Creams, I was disappointed to realise that I wouldn’t have time to read it in time to review it on the blog tour, so you can imagine how happy I was when Jo Woolaston kindly provided me with an extract from the book to share with you all. Many thanks to Jo, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour.

BLURB:

Intent on fixing her broken marriage and the alcohol-fuelled catastrophe that is her life, Kay Harris arrives at her grim and grey holiday let, ready to lay to rest the tragedy that has governed her entire adulthood – the disappearance of her little brother, Adam.

But the road to recovery is pitted with the pot-holes of her own poor choices, and it isn’t long before Kay is forced to accept that maybe she doesn’t deserve the retribution she seeks. Will the intervention of strangers help her find the answers she needs to move on from her past, or will she always be stuck on the hard shoulder with no clear view ahead and a glove box full of empties?

Pink Ice Creams is a tale of loss, self-destruction, and clinging on to the scraps of the long-lost when everyone else has given up hope.

Pink Ice Creams - eBook Cover

EXTRACT:

Kay’s excessive drinking brings its own set of problems – memory loss and drunken encounters with strangers who she must then try to extricate herself from. But not all strangers remain so. Pete is not exactly the catch of the century but, if she lets him into her ordinarily closed world, perhaps he could be the diversion that leads her away from it for the better, who knows. But for now, he is just a pair of unfamiliar feet sticking out of the end of her bed…

So do the feet belong to Sanctimonious Sean or Brother Bollock-Head? Maybe neither, there was that toothless old geezer who drew a cartoon of my arse on the bar with spittle and a split finger nail.

‘Not seen you around these parts.’

‘Is that the same as ‘do you come here often’?’

‘On your holidays are ya?’

‘Yes, but not looking for romance.’

‘Drink?’

‘No thanks. And my arse is not that big.’

‘Well, a peanut here and a peanut there and you’ve got yourself a cracking pair of tits.’

People with so few teeth shouldn’t eat peanuts, I can barely read the answers on his quiz sheet under the debris. Quito, whatever that is. Question nine.

I knew Beachy Head was in Sussex not Dorset, and I would have said something but felt such an idiot after saying Di Caprio when I meant Da Vinci so whoever is in my bed I haven’t exactly lured here with my sparkling intellect. I need a plan. If I sneak out of bed and go out, he might get up and leave, avoiding any morning after awkwardness. But then if I move he might wake up. How old are his feet? They’re a bit manky but the toe-nails aren’t yellow and curled up, just a bit unkempt. If I stay still and pretend to be asleep then when he wakes up he can sneak out. But what if he’s pretending to be asleep and waiting for me to sneak out of bed and go out, so that he can get up and leave? Bloody hell Kay, just get up

There, he didn’t even move a muscle, where are my clothes? Quiet, quiet… Eeeeee… sssshhh ssh, ow ow ow, what a stupid place to put a radiator! Same toe as yesterday too, no wonder it hurts, the nail is split right down the middle.

Whoever he is he’s a heavy sleeper, that clang was loud enough to wake the dead. Is he breathing? My God, is he alive? Waking up with a stranger is one thing but waking up with a corpse is another thing entirely, what was that? Oh thank God, thank God! He farted, hallelujah! Jesus, oh for heaven’s sake get out of the bedroom quick, that is quite ripe. Stale ale.

“Mornin’”

Oh no, he’s the conversational type.

“Got any Marmite?”

“No.”

“Bacon? My mouth tastes like a sewer, that landlord ain’t cleaned his pipes for years.”

But you just have, and in my bed you stinky-arsed cretin.

“…Sean..?”

“Pete. The other Bollock-Head. The handsome one.”

“I’m Kay.”

“Oh I know. I know all about you, Jesus, I got your life story last night, over and over and over again.”

What was I worried about? No awkwardness here. Just simple, polite conversation taking place amidst the rancid stench-fog of a complete stranger’s innards.

“Well if a bacon butty is off the cards you can just make us a cuppa.”

“No I won’t. I’m sorry, but… I’d like you to leave.”

“Charmin’! You wouldn’t have got home if it wasn’t for me. I only stayed to make sure you didn’t choke on your own vomit, which incidentally is all down my Sunday best. My soaking wet Sunday best from jumping in the brook to save your bloody mobile phone.”

“You should have slept in the bunk room.”

“I’m not six! I was tired and I was pissed, it was the best option available even if it did mean sleeping next to a jabbering crackpot. And I may be neither Leonardo Di Caprio nor Da Vinci, but I can assure you I wouldn’t offer you a walk home again for all the thanks I get.”

He is clearly more adept at manoeuvring around a tight space than me, and is clothed and taking his leave far quicker than I thought imaginable.

“I’m sorry… about the Marmite.”

“Lost my appetite, you don’t get much ventilation in these places, eh? Fuckin’ reeks in here.”

I follow him to the door, all thanks and sorrys and questions about what may or may not have occurred between us sticking in my throat. The sooner he goes the better. I can put this out of my mind, whatever this was. He hesitates at the door. No, please, just go. GO!

“We didn’t… you know”

“Know what?’”

“Me and you. There was none of… that.”

“Oh thank God!”

“Steady on, I’m not that bad!”

“I didn’t mean it like that. I’m married. Happily married.”

“Ha!”

“What do you mean, ‘Ha’?”

“He’s left ya, or if he hasn’t – he will.”

“We had a row, but it’s just temporary.”

“You reckon? After what you’ve done I wouldn’t go near you with a barge pole.”

PURCHASE LINKS:

Hopefully that little snippet has sparked your interest as much as it has mine. If it has you can order your copy of the book here:

Amazon UK – Paperback

Amazon UK – Kindle

Amazon.com – Paperback

Amazon.com – Kindle

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Pink Ice Creams Bio Pic

Jo Woolaston lives in Leicestershire, England with her extreme noise-making husband and two lovely sons. She tries to avoid housework and getting a ‘proper job’ by just writing stuff instead – silly verse, screenplays, shopping lists…

This sometimes works in her favour (she did well in her MA in TV Scriptwriting, gaining a Best Student award in Media and Journalism – and has had a few plays produced – that kind of thing) but mostly it just results in chronic insomnia and desperate tears of frustration. Pink Ice Creams is her first novel, she hopes you liked it.

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To find out more about Pink Ice Creams, why not head over to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Extracts

Just Rose – L.T. Marshall

The wonderful L.T. Marshall has kindly let me share an extract from her book for my stop of the Just Rose blog tour today. Thank you so much Leanne for inviting my to get involved.

BLURB:

The unexpected death of Rose’s beloved aunt ends up being a driving force in her uneventful life. She gives up her lonely, unfulfilled big city existence for the country home and life from cherished childhood memories.

But can it live up to them?

All she wants is to find her place in the world; the happiness and independence she has been searching for. With her little dog Muffin by her side and a much-needed new friend, it does seem possible – until an encounter with the handsome local Laird of the Munro Estate sends her spiraling from young professional woman to hormonal bundle of goo.

Their chemistry is undeniable, but with him not seemingly on the market, this might not be the place for her after all.

Thrust into the world of country living, will Rose ever find true love?

In this roller coaster of emotions and a whole lot of country charm, one thing is for sure: Rose is certainly not going to be bored anymore!

39306172_208731339995602_7427067381949661184_n

EXTRACT:

‘You sound like Rob. He lived in Glasgow for a couple of years when he went to uni to study business, he said he couldn’t wait to come home and just get back to home life, the town, and the manor.’

It hit Rose then, that one tiny word at the end of a sentence. Manor. This was Abigail Munro. She was the Laird’s sister!

Running through the scene earlier in her head and piecing the fragments together in a split second, she felt her stomach lurching as it clicked into place. That familiar smile. That black hair, and although the eyes were not grey, she had his eyes. That same cheeky look when he smiled. The hint of dimples when she smiled. Just like his. That flawless skin and attractive bone structure. The easy confidence and the upper-class dialect which wasn’t common around here.

Surely, he couldn’t be? Could he?

He’d been leaving the Munro estate, and he did say, ‘Most people know I have a bad view of the road.’ Or something along those lines. Rose felt the colour drain from her face as it sunk in that her first encounter of the day with the asshole, had not been just any asshole, but this lovely girl’s brother and the Laird of her new home town. The Laird, who had invited her to his ball!

‘Are you okay?’ The look of concern on Abby’s face only struck it home, so alarmingly like his.

Damn!

Even the same question as he’d yanked open her car door. They were so alike it was traumatising; Rose feigned a smile and then let her head drop into her palms, groaning aloud. She felt like a moron, prize ‘A’ idiot, and this sudden dawning of events had her reeling with regret. She felt Abby’s hand touch her arm, concerned her new friend was having some sort of mental breakdown.

‘I met him,’ she mumbled, covering her face, and trying to rub away the realisation. The urge to pour her own hot chocolate over her head swiftly coming over her.

‘Rob?’ She could almost hear the surprise in Abby’s tone.

‘Yes. He almost killed me with his car this morning and then …’’

If that has caught your attention, you can purchase a copy of the book here.

Coming soon!June 2017 Release! (1)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author Leanne Marshall, better known as L.T.Marshall, is an aspiring romance writer from the UK who is fast scaling the charts as an Author. She has a passion for telling stories filled with dramatic twists and turns, deep emotional issues and gripping characters.

An advocate against all forms of abuse.

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GIVEAWAY:

Coming soon!June 2017 Release! (5)

Win one of 5 eBooks of the standalone Romance Just Rose by entering the giveaway using the link below.

Just Rose is a cosy romance set in the highlands of Scotland with undertones of mental health awareness and well worth a read. Five chances to get the book so don’t delay and click away.

ENTER HERE!

Don’t forget to pay a visit to everyone else who is taking part in this fab tour.

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Extracts

Gap Years – Dave Holwill – Extract from Chapter One

I am so excited to have a second stop on the Gap Years blog tour, and absolutely thrilled to be able to share an extract from the start of chapter one of the book with you all. Thank you so much to Dave Holwill for allowing me to share this.

Gap_Years_Front

Shit, Dad was right.

Why does Dad have to be right?

Why am I so annoyed that I am wrong?

That’s not what’s important here.

Priorities Sean, that car just came out of nowhere, and your twelve year old stepsister is in a hedge.

Not on her bike, in the hedge, upside down and not screaming anymore. It’s been less than a month since we met, and I’ve killed her.

Brilliant.

Why didn’t they stop? The car should have stopped, pulled over and checked we’re alright before apologising – and helping. It didn’t, it swerved round me, the dog’s lead went completely taut and my bike stopped (I didn’t, I am soaring over the car in a slow, graceless arc). Dad told me not to tie the dog to the bike, and not to take Melody on the road. He loves all three of us – I assume, he hasn’t mentioned it to me – but he will probably love them a little more than me when he hears about this.

I look down at the flattened dog, and Melody’s legs poking from the hedge. With a twitch of toes and squeal of joy she leaps out in a single bound.

‘Come on Whizzy, get up.’ A crackle of green light streaks from her finger. The blood pooling in the road regroups and streams back into the dog, who re-inflates, runs a few circles around Melody then sits next to her with his best good boy bark, tail thumping against the pot-holed lane.

‘Sean, come down from there and let’s carry on,’ Melody groans, as another flash from her fingers turns our bikes from mangled wrecks to two new, perfect specimens. I try to land but am unable, I am soaring ever higher, floating on a gentle summer thermal towards the sun, the sun has a face, it is smiling at me, beckoning me closer with short stubby yellow arms. I feel its warmth across my face, it smells like hot tarmac.

Tarmac, I remember now.

I am unconscious.

Melody is not a wizard.

The dog is almost certainly dead.

I landed on my head.

The balance of my life is now dependant on whether or not the helmet I hope I am still wearing was worth the extra twenty quid it cost. I suppose this flying towards the sun is some kind of rubbish visualisation of me clinging to/escaping from life. After all these contactless years I finally get to spend some time with Dad and his family and I’ve killed most of them/us. Well played Sean, well played.

I am metaphorically dragged back down to the road and reality. I open my eyes to a wheel flashing past. It’s a big wheel and very close. This is a truck, I am still lying in the road, why is nobody stopping? I pull myself to my feet, and check my limbs. All moving, a bit achy, probably just bruises. Good news, I walk towards the dog, at least I try, before my right leg gives way and I cascade to the ground.

‘Hey, are you alright man?’ A voice, finally somebody has stopped.

‘Apparently not, how many fingers am I holding up?’ I ask, waving my hand.

‘Three, but that’s not how it works, how many am I holding up?’ He thrusts his hand in my face.

‘Oh yeah, that’s true, three?’ I venture, I can see three, I hope I’m right.

‘Three it is,’ he laughs. ‘You’ll be fine, come on then.’ He picks me up off the road and helps me over to the verge. I recognise him now. I’ve seen him around. He looks like he came straight from a Grateful Dead concert, all long hair, beard and tie-dyed shirts. I see him quite a lot when I’m cycling about, he goes everywhere on a big old heavy dutch bike – which in Devon is madness, these hills are hard enough work on my super-lightweight road bike – usually with a basket full of cider, in a big floppy straw hat and flip flops. I don’t think he’s a serious cyclist, but I do think he can’t afford a car.

‘My sister,’ I say, ‘she’s… she’s…’

‘Already seen to her,’ he says, ‘in the recovery position and breathing, you got a phone I can use? Or you want to call it in yourself?’

‘You haven’t called an ambulance?’

‘Hey man, I needed to check you were both breathing.’ He looks offended, I feel bad now. ‘And anyway, I don’t have a telephone, no need for one, happier without.’

‘Okay, I can do it,’ I say, fumbling in my back pouch for my phone. I make the 999 call, my companion proving invaluable in pinpointing our location.

‘And the dog?’ I ask, once I know the ambulance is coming, I don’t think I want to hear the answer.

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If that has grabbed your attention, you can find out more about Gap Years, and Dave Holwill over on my review from 15th February here. Don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part.

Extracts

Isolation Junction – Jennifer Gilmour

I am sure most of you have realised by now that I am a huge fan of Jennifer Gilmour and all the amazing work she is doing. If you haven’t already realised, where have you been??? (Also, you can find my previous posts regarding Jennifer here, here, and here. I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Isolation Junction today, and thrilled to be able to share an extract of the book with you.

IJ - NEW COVER Isolation Junction

EXTRACT FROM CHAPTER SIX:

Sat back downstairs, Darren was muttering to himself. Rose could hear some of what he was saying but was trying her hardest to ignore him and zone out but when he said his behaviour was Rose’s fault because they hadn’t had sex for ages, she was devastated and disgusted all in one. He just loved sticking the knife in, over and over again. He was relentless.

Darren carried on, ‘I mean … we’re meant to be married, but that doesn’t mean anything these days.’ Rose’s heart was starting to race. ‘All my mates are getting it.’

That was it, Rose couldn’t listen to him anymore, she stormed into the kitchen and started to wash the pots. A distraction was needed and keeping busy was therapeutic to Rose.

Darren gave it just the right amount of time before following her – just long enough for Rose to think that she was going to get away with her defiance.

‘How dare you walk out when I’m talking to you?’

‘Talking at me, more like.’ Not caring about his reaction, Rose bit back at him.

‘Sorry, what did you say?’ he grunted. ‘I didn’t quite hear that; do you want to say it to my face?’

Rose was giggling inside, this was so pitiful and felt like they were in the playground at school bickering over the smallest of things. Rose carried on washing-up and ignored him. Then, as she leant over to grab a tea-towel, he gripped Rose’s wrist and pulled her towards him, something Rose wasn’t expecting.

‘Sorry …’ he said, taking a long pause, ‘…what … did … you … say … to me?’

Her heart was racing, and her breathing became erratic, his eyes filled with something akin to mania and Rose was terrified. Pulling her top in his fist he dragged her towards him and screamed in her ear, ‘Do I need to ask you again?’

Rose closed her eyes as he spat at her. Holding her breath, she didn’t want him to know she had a shake in her breathing and she looked around the kitchen, anywhere other than his eyes. There was a knife block on the sideboard right beside her, it would be over in minutes and it would be so easy if only she could grab the knife and stab him.

She’d thought about this plenty of times before, the opportunities would present themselves, but she’d never take them. However, if she had to do something in self-defence she’d do it, and this situation felt more concerning than others had. Rose knew it was because she’d tried to stand up for herself for once and he was trying to put her back in her place.

Darren was pressing Rose up against the fridge-freezer, holding her wrists tight by her sides. He could do anything he wanted to, and Rose would powerless against his force and he knew it.

As much as he belittled Rose’s body, he still wanted to abuse it – Rose had lost count of the nights she’d wake up to find him having sex with her. There would be a bit of a struggle as she tried to stop him, but he carried on – Rose was his wife and sex was his right, what Rose wanted, or didn’t want, was irrelevant.

The way he was breathing, the way he was holding her, the way his eyes flashed made Rose realise this time, there was something different about him.

ABOUT ISOLATION JUNCTION:

block the road

First published in 2016, Jennifer has republished a second edition with the changes in Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This is the republication of Isolation Junction and what a difference it is. A make over with a new book cover, new content, with Pict Publishing, third person only (as opposed to third and first in first edition) and the incidents in correlating order.

BLURB:

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. But through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t will she be able to do it? Will Tim help her? And will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

Based on true events.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

IJ - Jennifer Gilmour

Born in the North East, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children.  In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years.  A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write this first novel. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.  

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Make sure you stop by the other blogs taking part in this amazing tour.

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Extracts

A House Divided – Extract from Chapter One

AHD ebook cover (small)

Hayley Price was dead, and Jennifer Sinclair was going to get the blame.

Never mind that Hayley took her own life. Never mind that someone in Bronzefield Prison had provided her with the tool. And never mind that the prison staff had taken their eyes off a woman on suicide watch.

As far as the media was concerned, Hayley’s death was the fault of Jennifer Sinclair, Prisons Minister.

Today Jennifer would be making a statement in the House of Commons, explaining why Hayley had been allowed to die. And it needed to be good. The prison governor’s job was at stake – of course – but so was her own.

It was five am, and Jennifer was up early, taking advantage of the quiet of her London flat. Little disturbed her from outside: the milkman making his way along the street below, a couple of late night revellers ending yesterday instead of beginning today. Inside, all was quiet. Her husband Yusuf hadn’t stirred when she’d slipped out of bed and her two sons were fast asleep in sleeping bags on the living room floor, staying in London for a special occasion.

She sat on the floor of the kitchen, the only uninhabited room, and stared at the sheet of paper. Her civil servants had insisted on drafting a full speech, but she knew she’d do better with notes. Thinking on her feet had got her this far; hopefully it wouldn’t fail her now.

She glanced at the oven clock. Not long before Hassan would wake to realise it was his tenth birthday. She didn’t want him to find her sitting on the floor.

She pushed herself up, rubbing her cramped legs, and crept towards the bedroom. It was a treat having the whole family here – normally they’d be at home in her Birmingham constituency – but the timing of this crisis was far from ideal.

She reached the door to the bedroom and heard movement behind her.

“Mummy?”

She looked round. Hassan was sitting up, rubbing his eyes. His older brother Samir was still snoring.

She pushed the speech from her mind. “Morning, darling. Happy birthday.”

His eyes widened and he let out a shriek. He threw off the sleeping bag and jumped up, pushing past her to wake his dad.

“Daddy! Wake up!” he cried. Jennifer followed him into the bedroom.

Yusuf sat up in bed and feigned a yawn.

“Hello? Why would anyone want to get up this early on a Wednesday?”

“Daddy!” Hassan repeated, and jumped on him. Grunts came from beneath the duvet. Jennifer sat on the end of the bed and gave Hassan a hug. 

Yusuf leaned in and wrapped his arms round both of them. “Anyone would think it was a special day,” he groaned, pulling back and throwing Jennifer a wink.

Hassan shrieked. “Daddy! It’s my birthday!”

Yusuf threw back the quilt, grabbing Hassan in one swift movement and tickling him. Hassan shrieked with delight. 

Yusuf laughed. “Go and get your brother, Mr Early Waker.”

Hassan nodded and sprang for the door, confident in the knowledge that when he returned, there would be presents.

Five minutes later he dragged Samir into the room.

“Alright, alright, I’m coming,” Samir moaned, yawning.

“You can’t sleep in on my birthday,” Hassan replied.

Samir shrugged. Four years older than his brother, he was becoming skinny, gangly even. His skin was pale with fatigue and he had dark circles under his eyes. He would have been up late watching YouTube videos on his phone, Jennifer knew. He tried to hide it but the glow from beneath his duvet – or sleeping bag – was a dead giveaway.

“Hello, love,” she said, reaching out towards him. “Come and sit with us while Hassan trashes the place.”

She shifted into the middle of the bed, making room. Samir glanced at her then perched on the edge of the mattress. He pulled his sleeping bag around his shoulders.

Jennifer pushed aside the stab of rejection and shifted her attention to Hassan, who was scrabbling under the bed for presents. Samir dived onto his brother, pretending to grab the presents first. Hassan pushed him off.

“Come on Samir,” said Yusuf. “It’s Hassan’s day.” 

Samir scowled and Hassan emerged from under the bed, his face flushed. He passed a present to his brother. “It’s OK. He can help me.”

Jennifer threw Yusuf a smile. That was just like Hassan, always wanting to share with his brother.

“Go on then,” she laughed. “Get ripping.” Yusuf lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her fingertips, his eyes fixed on her face. The boys ignored them, intent on tearing open wrapping paper. Yusuf squeezed her hand, then dropped it and joined in with the boys, pushing wrapping paper to the floor. Jennifer sat back and watched, smiling to herself. Seeing her boys enjoy moments she’d never had as a child felt like an accomplishment.

Then her eyes glazed over and she turned away, the boys’ cries fading. 

She couldn’t stop thinking about that damn speech.

Thank you so much to Rachel McLean for allowing me to share this extract with you all. I hope it has tempted you to check this great book out for yourselves.

PURCHASE LINKS:

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Book Review

The Glass Diplomat – S.R. Wilsher

Today I am excited to be helping to kick off the blog tour for The Glass Diplomat by S.R. Wilsher. To be totally upfront, this isn’t the type of book that I would normally choose, but something in the blurb drew me in. Let’s see what you all think.

BLURB:

In 1973 Chile, as General Augusto Pinochet seizes power, thirteen-year-old English schoolboy Charlie Norton watches his father walk into the night and never return. Taken in by diplomat, Tomas Abrego, his life becomes intricately linked to the family.

Despite his love for the Abrego sisters, he’s unable to prevent Maria falling under the spell of a left-wing revolutionary, or Sophia from marrying the right-wing Minister of Justice.

His connection to the family is complicated by the growing impression that Tomas Abrego was somehow involved in his father’s disappearance.

As the conflict of a family divided by politics comes to a head on the night of the 1989 student riots, Charlie has to act to save the sisters from an enemy they cannot see.

The Glass Diplomat - E book Cover Final

REVIEW:

As I said at the beginning, this is not my normal type of book at all, but something sparked my interest, and I am so glad that I read it. Spanning 45 years this is the story of one boy’s attempts to unravel the mysteries of his father’s disappearance, and of his inextricable link to the Abrego family.

I am ashamed to admit that prior to reading this book, I had little to no knowledge of Chile and it’s complicated history, but Wilsher’s writing brought the city of Santiago to life, and left me wanting to find out more for myself.

Whilst this book provides an insight to Chile under the Pinochet regime, and hints at the corruption and lies that were a part of this, it goes much deeper than this. A sense of intrigue runs through the book as Charlie struggles to come to terms with the loss of his father and to discover the extent to which, if any, Tomas Abrego was involved. At the same time, he has to deal with conflicting and confusing emotions about each of the very different Abrego women.

The characters in this book are so well-developed that you are left with no choice but to feel invested in their futures, whether wishing them well, or hoping that they get their comeuppance, celebrating their successes or their downfalls. There are areas of the book that are not easy to read, especially when you remember that there is an element of truth in them, but it feels important that these actions are not forgotten.

This book was certainly an eye-opener for me, and has cultivated an interest in an area of history that I had honestly never considered before. I know that I will be going on to read further into the Pinochet regime, the tactics used to deal with those who fought against it, and the UK’s reaction to what was happening in Chile.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

I am absolutely thrilled that I have been allowed to share an extract of this book with you all, especially as this particular extracts takes place shortly after one of my favourite parts of the book.

Charlie is 13 when his father disappears. It’s a tough age to lose a father, and his relationship with Carla Abrego is central to the narrative. Not only is he infatuated with her at that impressionable age, he grows to suspect that she and his father were having an affair before he disappeared. That it might have been a factor in the events of that night.

When they’d met at the reception a few days ago she’d appeared much older. Today, she was how he always pictured, with long hair hanging loose, and bright orange dress compensating for the gloomy house.

She beckoned him with a small wave, clutching his forearms to half pull him down and raise up to kiss him on each cheek.

“You have a bruise, Charlie?”

“Rugby,” he lied. It could easily have been an instant stand-in for a troubling tale about Raoul Encarro and Maria. Instead it had been to hide the shame. He didn’t want her to see him as a rough street brawler.

“Come and sit with me in the dining room, Charlie. The girls can have you back in a while, I want to catch up with all you’ve been up to.”

She took him through the double doors the girls had disappeared into and led him through a single door into an equally large room with a trio of sofas arranged before a French window to the rear. Evident on the walls of the surrounding buildings, the sun didn’t quite reach into the room.

“This is a lovely house, although I do miss having a proper garden.” She peered from the large room into the tiny garden, that inverse ratio of space non-city people never understand.

“Thank you for spending time with the girls. It’s important to me they have a friend in London.”

“I enjoyed it.”

“See, I told you friendships are worth working at.” He didn’t get time to agree. “How much do you remember about your father?”

“I don’t remember much of what he said. Or, I think I’ve confused and misremembered much of what he did say. I recall images more than substance. I recall the factory, and large parts of the house. I see him in the car, and in his office. Although it’s like I’m looking through a window at him.”

More than any window, he recalled peering through the car’s windscreen. He played and replayed the image of his father walking into the dark constantly, afraid one day the tape of his memory would degrade with its overplaying, and always waiting for the horizontal interference of its loss to begin the destruction. He didn’t ruin her pleasantness with the image. Nor did he describe the emptiness of a house with only one parent to speak to, or meet in the kitchen, or watch TV with. How every day he didn’t arrive home it got worse, had grown worse in a way he’d failed to imagine it could. How, at each and every unexpected knock on the door, for the briefest flash of a moment, he believed it was him.

“What do you remember of him?” he asked instead.

“All of it.” The soft intonation and the sigh heavy with regret suggested much more than the long past loss of an old friend.

“Did you love him?” Every thought of them from then until now crystalized in the simple question. The inappropriate one he would never have asked if he hadn’t heard the heartbreak in her three words telling a story in themselves.

She nodded before she spoke. She retreated to the centre sofa, and indicated for him to follow. She didn’t speak again until he sat.

“Much of what happens to us does so in small steps. He made me smile, and then he made me laugh, and then he made me interested. Before I knew it, his next visit became all I cared about.” She turned to see if anyone else had come into the room. “And he visited more than he needed to.”

“Were you lovers?”

“We provided solace, a warm blanket in a cold world. It didn’t mean we loved our children less. But we all need the warmth to sustain us, and we did that for each other.

“I used to go to the house, before you arrived from England. I loved it there. I remember every visit. I’ve never been happier than that time. We called it our ‘impossible dream’ knew it would end one day, even though we each hoped the universe would find a way for it not to.” She placed a hand on his, a balm for the damage she might be doing.

“Jack loved you and your mother, and he would never have given the two of you up. And Tomas would never have suffered the humiliation if it had become public.

“It’s why I stayed in touch with your mother, to retain a connection to him. It’s why I asked you to stay in touch with the girls. If you were in our lives, I hoped I might occasionally catch a glimpse of him, in you. Stupid, I know. Pathetic even.” She smiled at the self-denigration. But she wasn’t ashamed by the admission. She was liberated.

Charlie avoided travelling down the path of how wrong it felt to him. He’d yet to love in such a way.

“Do you think Senor Abrego suspected?”

“He might.” She considered it. “I don’t think so.”

“But he might? Do you think it’s the reason my father disappeared?”

“Tomas never let me believe he knew. If he did find out, he kept it to himself. He would be capable of that. If the world had discovered us, he would have acted, and I’ve no doubt he would have had him killed. It’s what I’ve always feared.”

She’d told him the truth without ever saying yes to an affair, the self-preservation of keeping one step back from the brink.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

The Glass Diplomat - Author Pic

It didn’t occur to me to write until I was twenty-two, prompted by reading a disappointing book by an author I’d previously liked. I wrote thirty pages of a story I abandoned because it didn’t work on any level. I moved on to a thriller about lost treasure in Central America; which I finished, but never showed to anyone. Two more went the way of the first, and I forgave the author.

After that I became more interested in people-centric stories. I also decided I needed to get some help with my writing, and studied for a degree with the OU. I chose Psychology partly because it was an easier sell to my family than Creative Writing. But mainly because it suited the changing tastes of my writing. When I look back, so many of my choices have been about my writing.

I’ve been writing all my adult life, but nine years ago I had a kidney transplant which interrupted my career, to everyone’s relief. It did mean my output increased, and I developed a work plan that sees me with two projects on the go at any one time. Although that has taken a hit in recent months as I’m currently renovating a house and getting to know my very new granddaughter.

I write for no other reason than I enjoy it deeply. I like the challenge of making a story work. I get a thrill from tinkering with the structure, of creating characters that I care about, and of manipulating a plot that unravels unpredictably, yet logically. I like to write myself into a corner and then see how I can escape. To me, writing is a puzzle I like to spend my time trying to solve.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Twitter: @srwilsher

Website: http://www.srwilsher.com

I would like to say a massive thank you to S.R Wilsher and to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting my to take part in this book tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. If you want yo check out the other blogs taking part in the tour, all the details are below.

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Blog Tour – Mary Rosie’s War

I am thrilled that today is my blog tour date for Mary Rosie’s War by Catherine M. Byrne. I was able to put a few questions to Catherine, and am delighted to share her responses with you here. You can also read my full review of the book here, but in the meantime, Catherine was kind enough to share an extract from the book with us. At this point in the book, WW2 has been declared and Mary Rosie’s brother has already been called up. Many of Mary’s friends have volunteered and she longs to be with them. However, her widowed mother does not want to let her go and since she is only seventeen she needs parental permission.

From the distance came the deep drone of a solitary plane.

‘Doesn’t sound like one of ours,’ said Ellie, pulling a moue of distaste. ‘Could that be Jerries?’

The girls looked at each other, smiles slipping, their hands clutching their cups. At dusk on 16th March an attack had been made on Scapa in Orkney by fifteen enemy bombers. Four officers were killed and several officers and ratings wounded. That event, though many miles to the north, made the war real.

‘I’m no sure…’ Rita’s voice was lost as the thunder of the plane became so loud it could have been right outside. The girls rose as one and crossed to the window. ‘Bloody hell, that’s close,’ said Sally.

Suddenly the world around them seemed to erupt. Cups rattled in saucers, the building trembled.

Customers leapt to their feet and ran out of the door into High Street, desperately looking for a place of safety. A pall of smoke belched from the direction of the harbour as another explosion rent the air and flashes of fire and thick black clouds rose from down-river.

‘Oh my God,’ someone screamed. ‘They’re bombing the town.’

A woman dropped her shopping basket and ran past the girls. ‘Ma bairns,’ she screamed, ‘I left them playing…’

Everything seemed to happen at once. The clanging of the fire engine’s bell, children crying, people running around like confused ants as the managers of shops and banks herded them into the relative safety of their cellars.

‘It’s personal now,’ screeched Sally. ‘Why are they bombing us?’

An old man stood with one hand against the wall, the other clutching his walking stick. ‘I knew it’d happen,’ he said, as he struggled to catch his breath. ‘I knew that airport would attract them. The devil’s work if you ask me. And all these servicemen. What are they doing here? They should be away fighting, not billeted in good folk’s houses…’ He stopped and coughed, phlegm rattling in his throat.

Mary didn’t pause to answer him, but made to go across the bridge towards River Street.

‘Get inside, in the basement,’ someone shouted, grabbing her arm as air raid sirens, woken from their reverie, shrieked too late. She shook the hand off. Many of the lads and lassies she knew worked at the harbour which was the obvious target. Her uncle Jimmy ran his own coopering business there.

Nevertheless, she followed her friends into the cellar of the Royal Bank which was by now crowded with shocked pedestrians.

The all-clear sounded as, having unleashed its deadly cargo, the plane turned up river, guns rat-a-tat-tatting until they faded into the distance. The shaken shoppers emerged into the acrid afternoon. Coughing, Mary inhaled air dense with smoke. The sea of bodies scattered erratically as two heavy horses thundered towards them, ears flat, eyes white and rolling in terror. Mary squashed herself against the wall as they passed.

Word bounced from person to person, desperate voices shouting the news, ‘They’ve hit Bank Row. They’ve hit Bank Row.’

There had been no warning, no siren, no previous bombs dropped anywhere on mainland Britain, no reason for folk to suspect that death and devastation would rain down from a sunny blue sky on a residential area. Bank Row was a busy place with several shops, kilns and a pub. It had been a toss-up whether the girls went to the tea rooms there or the cafe in High Street.

The air seemed to have been sucked from the day. All around her people were crying or standing motionless. An ashen-faced policeman with shocked eyes stepped in front of her holding out both arms, barring the way. ‘Sorry, girls, no one’s allowed down there. It’s dangerous.’

She stopped and took a backward step. ‘The harbour…?’ she asked, icy fingers clutching a heart that beat all the way up to her neck. Apart from Uncle Jimmy, many of her friends worked down there gutting the herring.

‘I’ve no idea. Now keep back. Please…just…keep back.’

Numb with shock, the girls watched until the first of the stretchers was carried towards the waiting ambulance. A small mound completely covered by a blanket. A child.

From the centre of town the clock struck the hour. ‘I…I have to get my bus.’ She didn’t want to leave, wanted to know the extent of the devastation, needed to know. She would have gladly stayed in town had there been any way of getting word to her mam, who would be worried sick and, also, there was no other means of transport home to John O’Groats that night.

I would like to say a massive thank you to Catherine M Byrne, and to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. If you would like to read more about this delightful book, have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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