Today I am delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Sewing Machineby NatalieFergie. Over 100k eBooks have already been sold to date and the publication in paperback will bring this wonderful family saga to the hands of many more readers.
It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.
Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.
More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.
He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.
There is something rather wonderful about a good family saga. It pulls you in, makes you care and you follow through all the ups and downs, the heartache and the happiness because you want to see where it all ends. The Sewing Machine is one such story.
I was initially drawn in by the sewing machine. Using both image and name tempted me to pick up this engaging novel. My Nan used to own a singer sewing machine and so the brand itself holds memories of my own.
The Sewing Machine takes us through a period of time of over a hundred years, through various time points until the threads are all brilliantly brought together. Although at times heartbreaking, it was a comforting read, like a warm, hearty casserole on a winters day.
At the heart of the story is the sewing machine itself and how this item impacted on so many lives. I thought Natalie brought each of the characters together wonderfully. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each and every one. There was an awful lot of love amongst the pages of this book and it shows us that hope can be found in even the most difficult circumstances. My favourite character was Alf, such a warm, loving and generous human being. I also loved Fred and the issues he faced as he unravelled his past and the past of his family. A beautifully written debut, The Sewing Machine is simply unforgettable. I enjoyed reading this so very much.
Thank you Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for arranging my review copy.
About the Author
Natalie Fergie is a textile enthusiast, and has spent the last ten years running a one-woman dyeing business,
sending parcels of unique yarn and thread all over the world. Before this she had a career in nursing. She lives
Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the latest spell-binding novel from Michelle Harrison – A Pinch of Magic. I’m also thrilled to share a piece from Michelle herself on the inspiration behind the story. Read on dear reader, read on.
How stunning is this cover? Believe me it’s even more beautiful in the flesh, shimmering with gold foil. The detail is amazing and you’ll catch many glimpses of the story on this eye-catching cover.
I absolutely adored reading A Pinch of Magic, it’s a wonderful story full of adventure, courage and magic. Betty Widdershins is a sparky young lady desperate for travel and adventure but she might just get rather more than she bargained for. This is a story about magic but it’s also a story about family, love, and that nothing good can come from jealousy and hatred. Recommended for age 8+, I think this is a joyous read for anyone. Michelle is a mesmerising writer and I was completely held within her spell from the moment I picked the book up.
It was on Betty Widdershins’ thirteenth birthday that she first learned of the family curse…
Living on the isle of Crowstone, surrounded by eerie marshes and a formidable prison, the Widdershins sisters: Betty, Fliss and Charlie, are desperate for adventure. But when Betty strays too far from home, she learns the awful truth: a deadly curse has haunted her family for generations. If Betty and her sisters leave Crowstone, they will be dead by sunrise.
But the knowledge of the family curse comes with a bit of excitement too! Each sister inherits a magical object, been passed down the family: A scruffy carpet bag, a set of wooden nesting dolls and a gilt-framed mirror – none of them are what they seem.
Will they be enough to help the Widdershins break the curse? Or will the sisters have better luck with a mysterious prisoner who claims he can help them?
And now lets here a little from the author herself…
Widdershins and Witches: the inspiration for A Pinch of Magic – by Michelle Harrison
I came across the wonderful, whimsical word ‘widdershins’ in one of the spell books I often leaf through when researching magic for my stories. It’s a word commonly associated with witchcraft, and means the witches’ path/ the wrong way/ anti-clockwise. In the past, even observing someone walking ‘widdershins’ was enough to warrant an accusation of witchcraft. These days, when it is used by modern wiccans it’s usually for the purposes of banishing or eliminating something. It’s also believed to be unlucky. Naturally, I fell in love with the word immediately, and decided it had to be the name of the family in my next story.
Originally, A Pinch of Magic was based on witches, a subject I find endlessly fascinating. In the first three chapters and synopsis which I sent to my editor, Betty Widdershins discovered she was a witch on her thirteenth birthday and had to master a signature spell linked to an ordinary object of her choosing.
The idea stemmed from a snippet of local folklore linked to the Essex village of Canewdon. According to legend, there will always be six witches in the village, and whenever a stone falls from the church tower walls it signifies that one of them has died and been replaced within the coven.
While I loved the idea of all this, there was a problem. My publisher already had several other books about witches lined up, so my editor asked if we could rethink the witch element but retain certain parts of the folklore. Following some discussion and brainstorming I came up with the idea of a family curse, which allowed me to keep the ‘fairy tale’ aspect of the falling stones. Of course I then had to give Betty some siblings to ramp up the tension and danger of the curse, so Fliss and Charlie were introduced. As the youngest of three sisters myself, it felt like a good dynamic and the ‘power of three’ fits with my liking of fairy tales.
The witch became a sorceress, the church a tower, and the stones falling from it a warning of imminent death for the cursed girls. Finally, the ‘signature spell’ became a set of three magical objects handed down the family – after all, gifts and curses go hand in hand. The name of ‘Widdershins’ still worked perfectly with the idea of being cursed; being both unlucky and symbolic of the girls trying to ‘banish’ the curse from their lives. But I have to admit that it’s such a favourite word of mine that I was intent on using it – and I’m thrilled that it continues to be part of my working life, because I’m already working on the Widdershins’ next adventure . . .
So there we have it, the synopsis and the inspiration. There is already so much buzz surrounding this book. It is also a Waterstones book of the month (with some absolutely gorgeous special purple edged copies). This is a story to entrance young readers and add fuel to reading for pleasure, a story that will be treasured. I am so happy to hear there are more Widdershins’ adventures coming our way, these characters have found their way into my heart and I can’t wait to see where their story takes them next.
If you’d like to discover more about Michelle and her writing then take a look at her website here.
Thank you to Michelle for sharing Widdershins and Witches and her stunning photographs for me to feature on my blog.
Thanks also to Olivia Horrox at Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy for review and for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.
Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for another gripping offering from Orenda Books. Inborn by Thomas Enger is a thrilling court room drama that had me hooked and reading into the night.
When a teenager is accused of a high-school murder, he finds himself subject to trial by social media … and in the dock.
A taut, moving and chilling thriller by one of Nordic Noir’s finest writers.
When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?
Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community. As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has his relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect?
It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.
But can we trust him?
A taut, moving and chilling thriller, Inborn examines the very nature of evil, and asks the questions: How well do we really know our families? How well do we know ourselves?
Oh my, this is one good read. A chilling prologue leads us into the story where we follow young Johannes, a bright young soul, as he walks into something he really wishes he hadn’t. What follows is a series of events that we begin to witness through the trial when 17 year old Even takes to the dock.
Twists and turns aplenty my suspicions changed on many occasions. Wonderfully told mostly through the voice of a 17 year old the story keeps the fear, frustration and despair right on the surface. It brilliantly showed the dangers of social media. How it can be easy to condemn and spread hate and mistrust. Chinese whispers for the 21st century and a super way to throw in those clues (or red herrings).
You can’t help but feel sorry for Even; he has a difficult life with a reclusive younger brother and a mother who still continues to drown her sorrows some years after the death of their father in a car crash. The only sense of parental support comes from their uncle Imo. And now Even’s recently ex-girlfriend has been murdered and he is under suspicion.
I love the way Enger has built the story around the trial, hearing what Even has to say but also returning to past events with flashbacks through Yngve Monk, the Chief Inspector who has recently lost his wife and is floundering somewhat. He is also a great character though and I felt his loss keenly. Enger expertly portraying the sense of bewilderment and sadness that follows the death of a loved one. Monk really cares about the case too, determined to get to the bottom of what happened on that awful night he puts his grief to one side and gets the job done – with a little bit of help of course. The picture gradually becoming clearer and clearer until the shocking conclusion is revealed.
Absolutely gripping, this is one that I would definitely recommend for young adults and older readers alike. It is also crying out for a tv adaptation. There are plenty of skeletons in the closet of the people in Fredheim and they’re about to come out in a most spectacular but deadly way.
Thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and to her and Orenda Books for my eBook. As much as I prefer print copies I do LOVE the way I can read in the dark with an eBook. 🙂
About the author
Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication, and marked the first in the bestselling Henning Juul series. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, upon which Inborn is based, and another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017 and won the prestigious prize. Most recently, Thomas has co-written a thriller with Jorn Lier Horst. Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.
Today, I’m delighted to say, is my stop on the blog tour for The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden. This is a wonderful novel and Oh Billy, you have broken my heart. There is something rather beautiful in this tale of lost love, mistakes and missed opportunities and it moved me to tears on more than one occasion.
The Six Loves of Billy Binns is deeply moving, bittersweet century-spanning debut set in London against the backdrop of the changing 20th century.
At well over a hundred years old, Billy Binns believes he’s the oldest man in Europe and knows his days are numbered. But Billy has a final wish: he wants to remember what Love feels like one last time.
As he looks back at the relationships that have coloured his life – and the events that shaped the century – he recalls a lifetime of hope and heartbreak.
This is the story of an ordinary man’s life, an enchanting novel which takes you on an epic yet intimate journey that will make you laugh, cry and reflect on the universal turmoil of love.
Billy was born on the first day, on the first year of the 20th century. He is over a 100 years old and spending his final days in a care home. He has seen many residents come and go. Chairs filled and then left empty awaiting the next old soul. He knows he doesn’t have long but he has a need to remember the man he was and remember the times he knew love.
‘I want to remember what love feels like, one last time. To remember each of the people I loved, to see them all clearly again.’
Surely he was a good man and he simply wants to be remembered for something other than the shrivelled old body he has become. Because once upon a time there was so much more.
According to author, Richard Lumsden, the idea for the novel began in 1992 when he was just twenty-seven and living in Shepherd’s Bush.
‘Inspired by old photographs on the walls of the library (now the bush theatre) of trams on the Green, and an old white arch beside the central line station, I mapped out Billy’s story but became daunted by the amount of research required to detail all of the last century and turned to written TV & radio scripts instead.
In 2000, I discovered a series of booklets published by the Shepherd’s Bush Local History Society. I phoned their secretary, Joan Blake, who invited me to their monthly meetings in the back of St Luke’s Church on the Uxbridge Road. Over the next few months I listened to stories of growing up in W12 through the 20s, 30s & 40s, and watched slide shows featuring the exhibition palaces and canals at White City. With the kind help of Joan and her friends I was finally able to get started. It took me eighteen months to research and write part one of the novel. Then, faced with more intensive bouts of historical research for parts two to five, I decided I wasn’t cut out to write novels and abandoned the idea.
By 2009, having already worked on a couple of plays for BBC Radio 4, I decided to write ‘The Six Loves of Billy Binns’ as a play too. It still needed more research but a 45 minute radio script was less daunting than going back to the novel. In 2009 Sir Tom Courtenay gave Billy his voice, and the radio play, of which I’m very proud, still gets repeated from time to time. However, I knew I’d bottled out by not telling Billy’s story as originally intended.
In 2015 I turned fifty, and at a very different stage of life, twenty-three years after starting part one of the novel. A supportive literary agent encouraged me to get it finished. I went back to my Shepherd’s Bush Local History Society booklets and took another two years to complete a draft to send out to publishers.
It’s a story about love, disappointment, and the flaws that make us human. Billy has a tendency to reinterpret his own history, but ultimately he’s an ordinary man who lived an ordinary life, and I hope the readers might take him to heart on his journey to remember what love feels like.’
So Billy’s journey has taken it’s time to come to us but the time is definitely right. Life today moves incredibly fast and this novel not only takes us through the history of the last century but reminds us that life is fleeting. Yes, his story was at times incredibly sad and there were moments when I just wanted to shout ‘Billy NO!’ in frustration. Yet there were also the most wonderful moments of tenderness, especially towards the end. Moments that made me stop to take a breath. Now that I’ve reached the end I feel that I have shared so much with Billy. I have such affection for him and I wish that some things had worked out differently. Yet every experience he went brought him to the place he was at the end. It was beautifully done, beautifully worded and I really don’t think I will ever forget Billy Binns and the lessons he has taught me.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and sending me a copy of this wonderful novel. Thank you also to Richard for bringing Billy to us. This novel has quite obviously been a journey for you and I’m so glad you carried it through to the end.
The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden will be published by Tinder Press on the 24th of January.
Today I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for this incredible novel. Readers, may I introduce you to Midland by James Flint.
A tale of two families torn apart by the hidden debts of love, from the award-winning novelist James Flint
On his way back from a meeting one day, investment banker Alex Wold finds himself standing up to his waist in the Thames, trying to guide a lost bottlenose whale back out to the sea. Later, as he’s drying out his suit and shoes, the news comes through that Tony Nolan – his mother’s ex-husband – has died of a sudden heart attack. Alex wonders if the universe is urging him to resolve a long-running feud with his environmentalist brother Matthew, and with the Wolds and the Nolans all heading back to Warwickshire for Tony’s funeral he now has an opportunity to do just that. But he finds Matthew as angry as ever, unable to relinquish his obsession with Caitlin, Tony’s troubled daughter, whose actions force both families to take an uncomfortable journey into the past.
In Midland, the acclaimed novelist James Flint carries out a devastating exploration of what binds families together, and what tears them apart.
This is absolutely stunning. It’s a novel to take your time over and immerse yourself in James’ beautiful writing. From the very first chapter I was entranced. To me this novel felt like a celebration of language and the power it has. James has a unique voice, capturing moment, place and circumstance perfectly. He freezes time; holds it still for us and allows us to look at it from all angles. Here is a tiny snippet from early on in the novel where we are introduced to Alex and the whale he is compelled to help.
It was a perfect January day. The spokes of the London Eye shone with the glycerine light of the low winter sun. Big Ben stood cold and proud above the traffic, rendered timeless by the refrigerated air. News helicopters hovered at the old clock’s shoulders like winged familiars, their spinning rotors patiently processing the sky, almost but not quite achieving thought. And the river shone beneath the Victorian arches of the bridges, slapping and sucking at the weedy brickwork as the tide went out, grinning and gurgling as it slowly slackened its grip.
In the midst of all this beauty the whale seemed like hope, like a conciliatory messenger sent upstream by the senate of the seas. Here they were, the people of England, gathering to greet it, to embrace it, to send it back from whence it came with tidings of peace and love. Festival was in the air. People were happy and amazed. People were good, the universe was good. Today had become one of those rare days on which the laws of combat were suspended and, for a brief period, death was not the truth of things.
It was the image of a man and whale that drew me to the synopsis of this novel. It is an incredibly strong image and sums up the power of the story wonderfully. Secrets, homecomings and the complexities of family are woven in the landscape and James has created a novel that is both bold and memorable. It is one that I keep safe on my bookcase and will no doubt return to, it is so rich in detail that I feel I’ll always find something new amongst the pages.
The blog tour runs through until the end of the month so do check out what others are saying about Midland. I’m so thrilled to have discovered James Flint. I think he is an exciting talent and I look forward to reading more from him. Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
About the author
Born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1968, James Flint is the author of three novels and one book of short stories. In 1998 Time Out magazine called his first book, Habitus, “probably the best British fiction début of the last five years,” and when it was published in France it was judged one of the top five foreign novels of 2002. His second novel, 52 Ways to Magic America, claimed the Amazon.co.uk award for the year 2000, and his third, The Book of Ash, won an Arts Council Writers Award and was described by the Independent’s leading literary critic as “a bold British counterpart to DeLillo’s Underworld.”
In 2002 his short story The Nuclear Train was adapted for Channel 4 television; he has had a long involvement with Port Eliot Festival and curated the film tent there for several years; and his journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, Sight & Sound, Time Out, The Times, The Independent, Arena, The Economist, Dazed & Confused and many others. From 2009-2012 he was Editor-in-Chief of the Telegraph Weekly World Edition, and he is currently the co-founder and CEO of the health communications start-up Hospify.
Today I am taking part in the blog tour for Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb and oh my, is it a cracking good read. Published on January 10th this novel has quite literally started my new year off with a bang. It was an absolute treat to read. Fast paced, brutal and a total adrenaline ride, I consumed it in a weekend. Every possible minute this beauty was in my hands. It was a deliciously guilty pleasure and I overindulged with glee.
Yes, I know, my fluffy slippers and comfy pj’s don’t exactly say ‘girl kicking ass’ but in my head I was right there, living it. 🙂
Here’s the synopsis:
A price on her head. A secret worth dying for.
Just 48 hours to expose the truth…
Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.
With North due back in court in 48 hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family. Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined.
In this race only the winner gets out alive…
Deep Dirty Truth is book three in the series and I have to be honest and say that this is my first encounter with Lori Anderson. It didn’t hinder my reading in any way. The story is so sharp, so well written that I felt like I’d been following all along. The novel has been described as ‘Brimming with tension, high-voltage action & high-stakes jeopardy’ and I completely agree. I just could not put it down. I loved it. It was a thrilling ride and I instantly fell in love with Lori. Man, can she kick ass and yet there is something vulnerable about her, something that makes her incredibly likeable. From the very outset I was invested in her and her feisty, courageous daughter, Dakota.
The story starts off with a perfectly normal school run but within pages the action hits as Lori is abducted right outside the school gates. From that moment on it doesn’t let up and the death toll steadily rises as she fights against all odds to keep her family – and herself – alive. We hear the story mostly through Lori’s voice so we can feel her fear, pain, courage, anger, and her sheer determination to find a way out of this seemingly hopeless situation.
Apparently film rights are under negotiation and that is nothing but a good thing. Its just crying out for the big screen. Thoroughly recommended.
More about the author
Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most
of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego –
Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging
at crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest
releases. She is also a member of the crime-themed girl band The Splice Girls.
Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University
London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California, which inspired her Lori
Anderson thrillers. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and
Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts. My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.
Thank you so much to the wonderful Anne Cater and superb publisher, Orenda Books for my review copy. I shall definitely look to catch up on the previous two Lori Anderson novels and very much look forward to book four.
Every now and then a novel comes along that is something particularly extraordinary and unusual. Attend is one such novel. A tapestry in novel form, West has built a story that brings together the threads of three very different lives. Characters who have suffered, are suffering, who feel broken and cut off. Failures, unable to fit in and yet when it comes down to it, as we weave our way through the story we can see that those around them are just the same, if not worse. Perhaps these broken souls can actually save themselves and those around them after all.
Deborah is this strange, almost ghost like figure. She is old, very old. A lonely, invisible soul who believes she can never die. She also believes that people can’t see her yet Sam and Anne both stumble across her at a time when each are consumed with a sense of despair and sadness. Sam has moved to Deptford in the hope to finding his way and to escape the cycle of self hate and one night stands with strange men. Anne is a recovering addict, ostracised from her family, daughter and grandson. She’s now clean but those closest to her are set in their belief that she’ll never change, that she’ll always be a disappointment.
For both Sam and Anne, their encounters with Deborah are confusing and almost unbelievable and yet somehow she begins to make them see things a little more clearly with her strange stories and adventures. She seems to lurk in the background and yet is a central character leading the story; the thread that brings them together if you like.
This is a brilliantly written and impressive debut from West. Words at times can be crass and harsh, making me wince and at other times beautiful and lyrical, perfectly capturing all at once the heartbreak and the brutality, as well as the beauty and wonder of the lives we are visiting. There is a magical mystery that is held beneath the streets of Deptford, in tunnels where secrets lie still within the dank darkness. Yet these secrets begin to surface as dangerous events threaten those dear to both Sam and Anne. Action must be taken and so both face their own demons head on for the sake of those they love.
This is a tale that shows us the impact our actions can have… they seep out into the world, affecting people and events far more than we realise. No matter how small we feel our lives are, they matter. Even for Deborah, who felt invisible and forgotten for so long.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and to Orenda Books for a copy of the eBook. Attend is a wonderful, rich atmospheric novel and I thoroughly recommend it.
‘A highly anticipated debut, blending the magical realism of Angela Carter and the gritty authenticity of Eastenders’
When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah. Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne
and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises. With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters and set against the unmistakable backdrop of Deptford and South London.
About the Author
Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing. He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch. He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda Books with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost- writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short
scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel.