Posted in Extracts, Young Adult

Today I am sharing an extract from a new YA release – I am Winter by Denise Brown

Today I am delighted to be spreading a little love and sharing an extract from I am Winter by Denise Brown. We are currently awaiting a copy and will be sharing a review on completion as Daisy is looking forward to this one as she loves a murder mystery. The cover is gorgeous and catches your eye straight away and I can’t wait to find out more about Cee and how they go from sitting in the park in the prologue to Cee dying from a cardiac arrest.

Book Blurb

When Summer’s best friend Cee dies from cardiac arrest after both girls have taken pills, the accusations on social media begin, but as the bullying intensifies, Summer grows closer to revealing the secret both families are harbouring. A must read YA murder mystery.

Prologue

Cee was nine months older than me. We were in the same year at primary school—there were only twenty-three of us so our hands couldn’t help touching when we did the hokey-cokey— but we weren’t friends. 

She was loud and embarrassing and bossy. If there was any performing to be done, Cee was at the front of the class with a hand up in the air, the words to ‘It’s a Hard-Knock Life’ already tumbling out of her mouth. At Christmas nativity in the village church, she played Mary or an angel or both. It didn’t matter to her so long as she was seen and heard. Sports Day she took part in everything. When parents were invited in to ‘Show and Tell’ or Mother’s Day tea parties, Cee invented an invisible family to make up for the lack of real family in attendance and gave them weird names like Archibald and Elizabetta and Geraldine, poured them tea in plastic cups, and kept up a steady stream of conversation about visiting her grandmother in London, where Great-Uncle Jimmy slipped and broke his neck one winter when the weather was Baltic. 

She lived in a fantasy world and no one else was allowed in. Apart from her big brother Ritchie. Cee and Ritchie were like shoes and socks or Jedward, weird when they weren’t together or close to each other. I’d have been her friend sooner if it would’ve made Ritchie see past my ankle socks and pleated skirts and look at me the way he and his mates looked at my mum. I loved Ritchie more than I loved Harry Styles. He had brown skin and curly hair and there was something about the way he walked around with his hood always up that made me feel like the ground was trembling under my feet. 

The summer I turned eleven, it seemed Cee lived outside on the walkway linking our houses, with Ritchie circling on his bike or huddled on the grass with his mates pretending they weren’t sharing a smoke or pictures of tits. 

“That girl’s always outside,” Gran said whenever her leather trousers squeaked through the front door. “Her mother’s obviously got no time for her.” 

I asked if could go out to play. My best friend was on holiday on an island, the name of which I’d forgotten as soon as she told me, and although she promised to bring me back a seashell or a dolphin to put in my ballerina box, her absence left my chest wide open and infected with a sense of abandonment. 

“Course you can, sweetheart,” Gran said. “It’ll do you good to get out.” 

Mum checked the mileage on her exercise bike odometer. Sweat dripped from the end of her nose and she brushed it with the back of her hand. Her legs kept moving. 

I sat on the step outside our house and smiled at Cee. She came straight over. 

“Do you want to go to the park?” she asked. 

I shrugged. It was the first time I’d been anywhere without telling my mum, which meant that “Any Tom, Dick, or Harry could pounce on you and no one would know where to look”; that’s something Gran would say. 

We walked. Cee talked. She told me Ritchie was going to move away, live with his dad in a shiny apartment in Glasgow. When he was settled, he’d come back and get her and she’d get a proper education, go to college, and become a policewoman. 

“You can see me with a gun, can’t you?” she asked. 

I didn’t know what to say because I thought her arms were too skinny to hold a gun, and her hair was so long it might get caught in the trigger and rip bald patches in her scalp, and then she’d look like she had alopecia which was Gran’s nightmare because her sister had it. So, I didn’t say anything. 

My silence made her roll her eyes.
“Well, I’m not staying here.”
“What about your mum?”
“She’ll only miss me when the baby cries.”
We passed the woods. We kept right on going until we 

reached the park at the bottom of the hill, sat on the very top of the climbing frame, our legs dangling and my heart rushing too fast with the fear of falling and breaking my neck and ending up with a wonky head. Cee told me she’d seen her mum having sex with a man. 

“They were on the living room floor. She still had her shoes on, and her knees jiggled when his bum slapped on top of her and after, she had carpet burns on her back. She showed Sam and Sam called them battle scars.” 

“Who’s Sam?” I asked. I didn’t really care who Sam was, I was just buying time, incubating the shared secret until it became a tangible thing, a rope binding us together. It didn’t occur to me she might have told this story to anyone else. This was our special moment, the spark that would ignite our friendship and from then on, we would be inseparable. 

Or so I thought.
“Sam’s her mate. She’s a lesbian.”
To me, wobbling in the breeze, my knuckles white around the climbing frame, Cee was a warrior princess, fearless, strong, honest. My brain was humming with panic, sifting through the fragments of my life trying to choose one secret that might live up to Cee’s, one special moment that would seal the deal, unite us forever. 

And of all the things I could’ve possibly mentioned, I told her about my bear-wolf. I blurted it out, confident in my newfound friendship and my closeness to the clouds. I told her about all the trinkets the creature kept safe for me, about the ball stuffed with beads from my mum’s necklace, and The Hunger Games book my friend gave me, and how one day I’d live in the woods and eat nuts and wild mushrooms—although I didn’t like mushrooms yet, but I would do when I was older. I’d never trusted anyone enough to tell before now. But there on the climbing frame, the backs of our legs metal-chilled, I believed Cee was the same as me. I believed I’d discovered a kindred spirit. 

“You actually think you found a bear-wolf?” she asked. “What even is that?” Her eyebrows arched and I felt silly because I could’ve told her I’d seen my mum having sex too. 

“It lives in the woods. I thought it was a dog, but she’s furry like a bear.” 

Cee blinked slowly and I felt like I was losing her, my euphoria being replaced by twisting cramps in my stomach. 

“She’s real,” I said. 

Thunderclouds rolled in, purple grey, booming like elephants. 

“My brother Ritchie loves storms,” she said jumping down onto bark chips, her hair flying behind her. 

I climbed down the steps with the rusty paint, holding onto the rails like a child. 

“Run!” she yelled, giggling as fat drops of rain dotted our clothes and our hair. We were drenched before we reached the main road; I could see her bra through her white T-shirt, and I wished I’d worn one of the white lacy bras Mum had bought me from Primark. 

It was still chucking it down when I stopped at the door to our house and waited for Cee to say goodbye, but she kept on running till she reached her own front door where she fumbled for a key in her pocket and let herself in without glancing behind her. 

That summer I didn’t go back to the park with Cee. The next day, on the walkway outside our houses, someone had drawn chalk pictures of a flat-haired stick-girl holding hands with a long-tailed bear. 

Available to purchase here

Meet the Author

Denise Brown is a writer, housekeeper, and single parent of five children. Her debut novella Devil on Your Back was published by Salt in 2014, and her short stories have featured in various online publications. In 2019 she was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award. Born in East London, Denise has now settled in Scotland where she feels certain she must have lived in a previous life. She loves dogs and snow globes and has a teensy obsession with Jack Skellington.

Many thanks for the invitation to read and review your latest release.

Massive thanks to everyone who has stopped by to visit my blog, please remember to like and share to help spread the book love far and wide!

Have a great day

Daisy & Kel x

Posted in Blog Tour, Extracts, Ghosts/Horror, Promotions

Do you love a good horror? Yesterday kicked off the blog tour for Rosie Shadow by Louise Worthington – pop over to my blog to find the purchase links and get a sneak peek

Today I am delighted to be sharing an extract from Rosie Shadow which is a new release by Louise Worthington, as soon as I read the blurb for this one I knew I wanted to read it as I love a good horror and I am lucky enough to be sharing a passage with you all today. Don’t forget if you love the sound of it, to grab your copy using the purchase link below

Book Blurb

‘Whatcha crying for, sissy? Why don’t you grow a pair?’ Rosie says to her mother…‘Send me to school and I’ll rip off your arm! Beat you with the stump.’
Abandoned by her terrorised mother at the age of six, Rosie Shadow will do anything to win the affection of her father Archie, an undead cannibal in charge of Her Majesty’s Prison Shortbury, now operating as a visitor attraction.
Clare is sent reeling into Archie’s arms with the grief of losing her boyfriend in a mysterious car accident when he collides with an ancient yew tree.

The secrets in the Medieval dungeon beneath the prison are under threat when Clare becomes suspicious of Archie’s true identity and his progeny.

Rosie Shadow is the first book in The Black Tongue Series, a gripping horror thriller by the author of Rachel’s Garden, The Entrepreneur, Willow Weeps and Distorted Days.

Available to purchase here

An extract from Rosie Shadow by Louise Worthington

Chapter Fourteen

People in the modern world, tottering above Archie’s head, have never known real suffering
or real hunger. Sure, a belly rumble if they skipped breakfast, but not the agony of hunger,
the death from hunger, the desperation, the instinct to chew, bite, swallow, denied day after
day until it’s tempting to eat your tongue, to chew the flesh from the insides of your mouth or
an inmate’s ear, just to taste something in your mouth and use your teeth.
The convenience of vending machines, take-outs, drive-throughs, irritates him – that
and so much more at the touch of a button. It’s unbelievable how easy people have it now.
People whine about the weather, for God’s sake. Get them down here, in this dungeon; then
they’ll have something to whine about. Experience real and prolonged suffering, and then the
sun never stops shining.
There is a chastity belt on the stone floor – old pickings of his. Once the woman got
skinny the belt slipped right off, like a ring on a finger. No mistake. A ball and chain loosely
encircle the bones from a dismembered leg. Had rats eaten their flesh? There are so many rats
scuttling over his shoes; he kicks the fat ones off, sending a couple flying against the stone
wall. Using salt as a preservative, and exhuming more recent corpses from the grounds, he’s
managed to keep the pantry stocked and himself alive.
‘Rosie, can you hear me? I’m talking to you. If you can hear me, send me food, Rosie.
Send me food. There’s a good girl, then Daddy will come for you to bring you home.’
Ah, the blissful stinking and whispering, the cackling and the odours of people left to
rot in their cells, one on top of the other. Humane? What’s humanity in the business of
criminality and punishment? He’s glad the women were convicted, so he can fill his belly.
‘Hello, stinky,’ he says to a female corpse who is still wearing her work shoes. ‘Nice
of you to drop by. Or rather, nice of Rosie to feed her Daddy-coo. Do you have any salsa to
go with you, or guacamole goo?’ He laughs, and the sound thuds against the damp walls.
‘Man, you stink, lady! Weeeell past your best. I’m going to call you Jasmine today, just for a
touch of irony.’
Archie tries not to overindulge on what he calls his Mexican meal, since rations are
low.

‘I’m hungry, so you’ll have to do.’ A snuffling sound comes from his mouth as he
dines on the female corpse, who is still on some missing persons’ list. The flesh is chewy;
pieces get stuck in his canines. ‘You’d taste better boiled, or braised. I’d sooner have fresh
meat to flesh me out. Got any tips for me, Jasmine, to make Clare want me?’
The grey outline of the man-thing begins to flesh out, to take a firmer, more definite
shape, as the grotesque sound of chewing and smacking of lips takes hold. There’s a slurping
sound as he finishes up. Archie rubs his biceps, enjoying the feel of muscle, then runs his
hands over his chest, pleased by the small swell of his pectoral muscles.
As he exhales, Archie’s breath is an icy circle hanging in the air. The sight of it makes
him happy. Breathing. It’s a bitterly cold, gloomy place, perfect for a man like him to savour
the joy of life. He’s lucky to be alive. The restaurant lit by candlelight is most suitable for a
banquet. The gibbet is a piece he’s fond of, empty now of course, but a decorative piece. The
mask of shame and torture shoe are still in reasonable shape, though rusty and unbelievably
heavy.
On an iron rack there are bones so old they have almost perished to nothing. He snorts
their white dust up like cocaine. The door to an iron maiden is open, another closed with a
skull for a joker’s head. Archie likes to stand in it, just for fun. He picks up a skull and aims it
at the open iron maiden, but misses.
‘Do you think I should get my hair cut, Jasmine? I mean, it stopped growing about
two hundred years ago, but it’s still long.’ He fingers his hair gently. ‘I do like my hair,
though. I think Clare does, too. There aren’t many men who can make long hair look
masculine.’
There isn’t the usual background music to dine to: the history of suffering and sounds
of pain come and go in waves as if all the inmates are one wave, one break, longing for fresh
air, natural light, food and water.
‘Ssssh,’ he says. ‘I’m talking to Jasmine. If I can make Clare happy, make her want
me, I needn’t dine on dead flesh ever again. How perfect that would be. Staying fat and fed
on pure sex. No gristly bits between my teeth.’
Prisoners had been friends down here in the place Archie thinks of as his pantry. They
talked about their crimes, their victims, their hopes. He hasn’t touched any of the men. Their
stories are embedded in the brick, buried in the soil. He eavesdrops, then gets up from his
knees a fatter, wider man with one hand on his stomach, which is bloated and feels gassy.

Merek, Tybalt, Rowan, Thea, Alice, Brom.
They were here, once.
Elspeth, Tristin, Josef, Cedric.
He removes a mask of shame from a skull. ‘You think I should be wearing you, don’t
you?’
In one cell no more than ten-by-ten there are twenty or more fragments from
skeletons. Men and women locked up for their crimes, to ‘do time’, perhaps dead from
starvation, torture or disease – cholera, polio, the plague. Maggots and beetles, which had
once perhaps wriggled through the eye sockets in a macabre game of hide and seek, have
shrivelled up and died as if in sympathy.
His friends had rotted to nothing. But not Archie. He didn’t need bread or meat to
feed on. Just a woman’s body. Living or dead, but the living kind fills him up faster for
longer – not that there’s much left of anything down here, now after the rats have gorged with
their fill.
Clare is tender meat. Soft flesh, and muscles. But she’s still off the menu for a while.
‘I bet she misses that boyfriend. Thinks about him when she’s in bed. Jasmine, I think it’s
time we had some fun, don’t you? Send her running in fright, and I’ll have my arms open
wide for her when she comes running to Daddy-coo.’

Meet the Author

Louise Worthington lives in Shropshire and is the author of six novels. She writes across genres, including psychological fiction, horror and women’s fiction. She takes inspiration for settings from Cheshire where she grew up, her local town of Shrewsbury and the surrounding natural landscape. As a teenager, she read until the small hours, enjoying the dark worlds conjured by Stephen King and Daphne du Maurier.

In June 2020 she signed with Bloodhound Books, leading crime and thriller publishers. 2021 will see the launch of book one of The Black Tongue Series, Rosie Shadow, a supernatural horror, and Dr Glass, book one of the Glass Minds Series, psychological thrillers.

Louise’s debut novel, Distorted Days, was described by Kirkus Review as ‘a formidable work’. Her novella-in-flash was longlisted by Ellipsis Zine and many of her short stories and flash fiction are published in the UK and America.

If you would like to get in touch please follow the links below.

Website: https://louiseworthington.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Louise-Worthington-105535434860475

Twitter: @louiseworthing9

Many thanks for the invitation to read and review your latest release.

Massive thanks to everyone who has stopped by to visit my blog, please remember to like and share to help spread the book love far and wide!

Have a great day

Daisy & Kel x