Extract and Giveaway: Win a copy of Swallowing Mercury @PLInst_London #PolishBooks


Wiola lives in a close-knit agricultural community. Wiola has a black cat called Blackie. Wiola's father was a deserter but now he is a taxidermist. Wiola's mother tells her that killing spiders brings on storms. Wiola must never enter the seamstress's 'secret' room. Wiola collects matchbox labels. Wiola is a good Catholic girl brought up with fables and nurtured on superstition. Wiola lives in a Poland that is both very recent and lost in time.


The Jesus Raffle

Disobeying my mother, i started sleeping with Blacky. Blacky smelled of hay and milk and had a snow white map of Africa around his neck. He would come to me in the night, lie on my duvet and start purring, kneading the covers like dough under his paws. Ever since I found him up in the attic, we lived in a strange state of symbiosis. Id carry him inside my jumper like a baby, steal cream for him from the dresser and, on Sundays, feed him chicken wings from my soup.

I spent the whole summer roaming the fields with Blacky. He showed me a different kind of geometry of the world, where boundaries are not marked by field margins overgrown with thistles and goosefoot, by cobbled roads, fences or tracks trodden by humans, but instead by light, sound and the elements. With Blacky, I learned to climb haystacks, apple and cherry trees, piles of breeze blocks; I learned to keep away from limestone pits hidden by blackberry bushes, from hornets nests, quagmires and snares set in the grain fields.
After Christmas, Blacky began to avoid me. Hed turn up at home only briefly and deposit a dead mouse on the doorstep, as if he wanted to make amends for his absence. On the first day of the winter break, he disappeared for good. I searched for him under tarpaulins and in the empty boxes where Uncle Lolek used to breed coypus and where Blacky loved sleeping all day, but he was nowhere to be found.
Uncle Lolek was my main suspect in the case of Blackys disappearance. A few months earlier, he had somehow managed to get hold of a sack of sugar which he hid in the coal shed, and thats exactly where Blacky set up his litter box. So, armed with my fathers air rifle, I ran to confront Uncle Lolek. I pointed the gun at him and ordered him to hand over Blacky immediately, since I couldnt allow my kitty to be turned into sausages and fur, like those nasty-smelling coypus. Uncle Lolek was speechless, and then he burst out laughing so hard he almost fell into the sauerkraut barrel. Grateful for being cheered up so much first thing in the morning, he offered me some sweets.

Blog Tour Giveaway: Win a copy of My Name is Leon by @KitdeWaal @PenguinUKBooks


A brother chosen. A brother left behind. And a family where you'd least expect to find one.

Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not.

As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile - like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.

Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a heart-breaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how - just when we least expect it - we manage to find our way home.

Blog Tour: Read a Deleted Scene from Good as Gone by @unlandedgentry @HQStories


Eight years ago, thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night.

In the years since, her family have papered over the cracks of their grief – while hoping against hope that Julie is still arrive.

And then, one night, the doorbell rings.

Gripping, shocking, and deviously clever, Good as Gone is perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and The Ice Twins – and will keep readers guessing until the final page.

Deleted Scene (Spoiler Free)

A note from Amy:

Good as Gone alternates between the mother's point of view and the point of view of a mysterious young woman who goes by many different names over the course of the book. This deleted scene comes from one of the earliest of those chapters, "Gretchen."

Guest Post and Giveaway: Win #TheReunion by @roisinmeaney @HachetteIre


Buy on Amazon | Add to Goodreads

It's their twenty-year school reunion but the Plunkett sisters have their own reasons for not wanting to attend ...

Caroline, now a successful knitwear designer, spends her time flying between her business in England and her lover in Italy. As far as she's concerned, her school days, and what happened to her the year she left, should stay in the past.
Eleanor, meanwhile, is unrecognisable from the fun-loving girl she was in school. With a son who is barely speaking to her, and a husband keeping a secret from her, revisiting the past is the last thing on her mind.
But when an unexpected letter arrives for Caroline in the weeks before the reunion, memories are stirred.
Will the sisters find the courage to return to the town where they grew up and face what they've been running from all these years?

Guest Post: Back to School

Most of the time I love what I do. Sitting at my kitchen table, tapping away on the laptop – particularly when the weather is atrocious, and the stove is blazing – has got to be one of the best ways to earn a living.

But there are other days, when the rain dries up and the sun emerges. There are days when the Muse is busy in another writer’s house, and I mightn’t have had a face-to-face conversation with anyone for three days, and the deadline for finishing the manuscript is a comfortable distance away. These are the days when I’m delighted to open my inbox and find someone, anyone, looking for me.

I was lucky enough to be accepted onto the database of writers who feature in Poetry Ireland’s Writers in Schools Scheme. This means that I can be found by any teacher who’s searching for someone to come to the school to talk to the children about the joys of writing for a living, or to tell stories to the ones too young for a writer talk. I also get occasional calls from libraries, bookshops and book clubs inviting me to come and do a reading – and recently I was asked to interview a visiting writer at my local library. All great, all very welcome breaks from the laptop-tapping that usually constitutes my day’s work.

And while I enjoy any interaction with the outside world, and I welcome the opportunities afforded by the adult events to spread the word about my novels, I look forward in particular to the school visits. When I gave up primary school teaching in 2008 in favour of fulltime writing, the only things I really missed about that job were the company of my little charges and the wonderful buzz of a classroom. I don’t have children of my own, and my nephews and niece are all pretty much grown by this (yes, I am that old) so I went from daily interaction with small people to virtually none at all. Not good.

Consequently, within weeks of giving up the day job I offered my services as a storyteller in my local library – OK, I sort of forced them to let me in – and I began a monthly Saturday morning session there for 3 to 6 year olds, which is still the highlight of my calendar – and when a fellow writer told me a few months later about the Writers in Schools scheme, I immediately applied to go on the database, and was thrilled to be accepted.

As an ex-teacher I have a distinct advantage over writers who’ve never taught. Some confess to being terrified at the prospect of speaking to a class of twelve year olds: for me it’s a thing to be anticipated with glee. I love chatting with them for an hour or so, asking them about their favourite authors, telling them about my life as a writer, reading a bit from one of my children’s books and responding to their questions (one of which is guaranteed to be ‘Are you rich?’ ‘Do I look rich?’ is generally my response, which seems to give them their answer.)

Mind you, much as I enjoy their company, I also love returning them to their class teacher at the end of the allotted time, and leaving the school without a bundle of copies to correct, or a lesson plan to prepare, or having to patrol a yard filled with running, shrieking little people – those bits I didn’t miss in the least when I stopped teaching.

I’ve visited secondary schools too, although my children’s books are both aimed at ten to twelve year olds. I must admit I was more than a little apprehensive the first time I was asked to come and talk to teenagers. I’d had little dealings with them in the past, and didn’t know what to expect. I called to mind the clusters of slouching youths I might pass on my way into town, or the groups of startlingly well-made-up young girls who might sweep past me in minis and heels – at their age I’d hardly have known what to do with a tube of lipstick, let alone eye liner or mascara; and to this day I’m shaky on anything approaching a high heel. I wondered if I’d be challenged, or mocked – or worse, if they’d chew their hair as they chatted to one another and ignored me.

I needn’t have worried. Teenagers, I’ve discovered, are simply twelve year olds with a bit more mileage. Once I cottoned on to that, and pitched my talk accordingly, we didn’t have a problem. I’ve discovered that visitors to any classroom, regardless of age group, are at an immediate advantage: they’re the fresh face, welcomed by students and teacher alike, offering a bit of a change for the former and a bit of a break for the latter.

So I really have the best of both worlds. Days of writing – nothing better when inspiration and words are flowing – interspersed every now and again with an opportunity to give my literary brain a break and mix with the outside world. And on the first Saturday of every month I pack up my storytelling kit and head for the library down the road with a big fat smile on my face.


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