Blog Tour & Excerpt – Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell

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Part of my goal as a reader is to continue to explore a diverse range of titles and share them with others. I love finding new books and authors. Today I am pleased to be sharing an excerpt of Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell as part of a blog tour presented by Rachel’s Random Resources.

Tall Chimneys
By Allie Cresswell
Available 12/12/17



Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition.

Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder. 

Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself. 

A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever.
One woman, one house, one hundred years.

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“There are certain human experiences that all writers quail at describing; childbirth, death and sex are three of them. These things are so individual and yet so universal. They are also, often, dramatic peaks in any story. It is almost impossible to depict them in a light that is credible, sensitive, realistic and yet impactful, and many writers fail in their attempt. Thankfully, as a mother, childbirth is something I have experienced for myself, and, while my children were not born as Evelyn’s is, I called on personal experience in describing labour.”

Winter Labour

The light was fading, turning from opaque pearl to smoky amethyst. We went indoors and stoked up the drawing room fire. John went downstairs to make tea, while I arranged all the cushions so as to ease my back and aching legs. Later, John read to me from A Christmas Carol and I stroked my belly, and wondered if the baby could hear the sonorous tone of his voice as he read. The three of us curled up together in the depths of the sofa, and the warmth of the room wrapped itself around us, and the whole house stood sentinel over us in that remote, hidden glen, swathed in mist and clamped by cold, under the dome of the sky and the eye of God.

John still used the upper room of the gatehouse as his studio but he hadn’t spent a night there since his return from the Continent. It seemed a specious fallacy, now, a charade that fooled nobody. We usually slept in the housekeeper’s room, and kept ourselves discreetly and decorously below stairs in all our daily comings and goings, but, that night, when it was time to sleep, we damped down the fire and switched off the lights, and climbed the stairs to Mrs Simpson’s room.

Overnight the temperature rose, the mist dissolved and in the morning the house was bathed in pure, winter sunlight. The lawn and trees sparkled, drenched in dew like diamonds. John opened the curtains and immediately got that look in his eye which I knew presaged creativity.

‘Go and paint,’ I told him, nestling back into the pillows and resting the cup and saucer he had brought me onto my bump. ‘Go, while the light lasts, and paint something glorious.’

He looked at me. ‘I oughtn’t to leave you,’ he demurred.

‘Nonsense,’ I retorted. ‘I’m going to go back to sleep in a moment, so I’ll be no company for you.’

‘Oh, alright,’ he gave in.

I was as good as my word, back asleep within moments; I didn’t even hear the motorcar as it pulled out of the stables and laboured up the slush on the drive. I slept in the filtered sunlight that came in through the half-drawn curtains until midway through the morning when a change in its quality woke me. The blue had been replaced by thin cloud. Above the amphitheatre of the trees I could see it moving, quite quickly, from the east. I got up and drew myself a bath. From its depths I could hear the telephone ringing, but it would have been impossible – and dangerous – for me to try and answer it. I wallowed on, and presently it stopped ringing.

By the time I got downstairs it was midday, and I set about getting together some food to carry up to the gatehouse for John, later. This necessitated a trip to the hot house, where tomatoes were still to be had from the yellowing, spent trusses. On my way I let the chickens out, and collected the eggs – not many, at that time of year, but enough for an omelette for supper, I thought. The hens came out cautiously, eyeing the air, placing tentative feet down on the chill, wet ground. As I re-entered the house I could hear the telephone again, ringing in the butler’s pantry. I dropped the eggs and tomatoes into a handy basket and hurried through, but when I lifted the receiver there was only a click and a buzz like an angry wasp on the line. The only person I could imagine calling was the doctor, and I put a call through to him, but his telephone, too, rang on and on and nobody answered.

I continued to potter round the kitchen; folding laundry which had been drying over the range, getting distracted by a particularly delicious pie which Mrs Greene had sent down for us, opening one of the jars of pickled cabbage from the larder to eat with it. I dried and put away the glassware we’d used the night before. Time passed.

About three o’clock I locked up the hens. They had already retreated into the shelter and warmth of their accommodation, sensing, as I had not, the storm which was imminent. The air outside had turned bluish; the cloud overhead was much thicker, lower, and very dark. As I watched, fat flakes of snow began to float from the sky.

I packed up my basket and made ready for the walk up to the gatehouse. I would have to hurry.

The first pain came as I was bending to lace up my boots. It was sharper and much stronger than I had expected, and not in my back, as Rose had described, but in some hidden and hitherto unsuspected ventricle at my core. I took a sharp intake of breath and sat back on the settle, quelling panic. My instinct was to clench up the place where the pain had been, to resist the sense of prising pressure.

‘Relax,’ I told myself, ‘probably just wind. Shouldn’t have eaten that cabbage.’

But immediately it came again, more insistent, a sense of determined opening, the way I had seen Kenneth kick and rattle at a shed door which has swollen and warped over winter, breaking the seal which time and nature together have fastened shut. At the same time I was conscious of a trickle of warm liquid coming from me.

Clearly, the baby was on its way.

Tall Chimneys - Allie CresswellAuthor Bio

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, one granddaughter and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.

Tall Chimneys is the sixth of her novels to be published.

Follow Allie: Facebook  Website  Twitter 

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I would like to thank Rachel and Allie Cresswell for allowing me to participate in the tour today alongside so many other wonderful blogs.

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

Ever the Brave Release Blitz!


I am very excited to announce the release of Ever the Brave by Erin Summerill this week with Rockstar Book Tours! I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Erin (you can read it here) and reviewing the first book in the series, Ever the Hunted.

As part of the celebration, this blitz also includes a giveaway for a 3 finished copies of the book courtesy of Erin, HMH,  & Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter be sure to enter at the bottom of this post!


EVER THE BRAVE (Clash of Kingdoms #2)

By Erin Summerill

Pub. Date: December 5, 2017

PublisherHMH Books for Young Readers

Pages: 464

Formats: Hardcover, eBook



Ever the Divided. Ever the Feared. Ever the Brave.

After saving King Aodren with her newfound Channeler powers, Britta only
wants to live a peaceful life in her childhood home. Unfortunately, saving the
King has created a tether between them she cannot sever, no matter how much
she’d like to, and now he’s insisting on making her a noble lady. And there are
those who want to use Britta’s power for evil designs. If Britta cannot find a
way to harness her new magical ability, her life—as well as her country—may be

The stakes are higher than ever in the sequel to Ever the Hunted, as
Britta struggles to protect her kingdom and her heart.

Purchase: AmazonB&NiBooksBook Depository


The First Book


By Erin Summerill

Pub. Date: December 27, 2016

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Pages: 400

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook



Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her
dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father,
the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is
murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or
inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When
Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she
is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former
apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke
her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad
kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power
than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will
make her a daunting and dangerous force. 

Purchase: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks


The king and his men ride away into the Ever Woods.


Gillian sweeps in, face beaming. I want to shake her shoulders and erase
that smile. I slam the door.


“You look murderous.” Gillian spins around, her skirts swishing against
the stone.


“I am.”


A blink. “You don’t like the dresses?”


“Really? You’ve been living with me for a month.”


“Right. So they’re not your usual choice, but they’re variety. Something
different form brown trousers.


“They’re for the Royal Winter Feast Ball. He wants to sprinkle royal dust
on me and make me noble.”


Gillian presses her hands to her cheeks and pretends to swoon.


“Stop it,” I snap.


She flounces into the bedroom and lifts a rose dress from the bed. That
grin. Seeds. She’s as mad as the King Aodren.


The pull to the king, still taut in my chest, halves my attention from
her squealing prattle. I press my palm to my sternum. I’d give anything to be
free of him. To be able to live in peace on Papa’s land. But I don’t know how
to break the bond.


If Enat were still alive — the thought flattens me — she’d know what to
do. She’d tell me how to free myself from King Aodren. He’s been gone for five
minutes, and I can still pick out his location in the Ever Woods.


I pound my fist on the door. I have to figure out a way to rid myself of
the bond. I have to.

Gillian jerks to a stop. “It’s not the end of the world.”


I start to respond, but an answering rush of something strange and
shuddery slips under the surface of my skin. I lurch, cradling my suddenly
clammy hand, eyeing Gillian, then the door with growing alarm. Unease spreads
from the top of my head to my heels, a drop of poison fanning through a jar of


I’ve felt this way before.


“What is it?” Gillian’s fists crinkle a rose-colored gown. Breath
suddenly short, I yank the door open and stare deep into the Evers. The
breeze’s icy fingers caress my face. There’s nothing to see, but something is
very wrong.


“The king.”

(New)About the Author

ErinErin Summerill was born in England. After spending years bouncing between Air Force bases in Hawaii, England, and California, her family settled in Utah, where Erin

graduated with a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University. She had

aspirations to write the next great American novel, but writing proved tougher
than she first thought. So she grabbed a Nikon and became a professional
photographer while crafting manuscript after manuscript. The scenic detour of
shooting weddings across the United States, as well as internationally,
provided world-building inspiration. It gave her the vision to draft her debut
YA fantasy, EVER THE HUNTED. Now when she isn’t writing, or shooting a wedding,
she’s chasing her four kids, two dogs, one cat, and five chickens. This could
be why she downs massive amounts of Coke Zero and Hot tamales.

Follow Erin: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads


Giveaway Details:  3 winners will receive a finished copy of EVER THE BRAVE courtesy of Erin, HMH, Rockstar Book Tours (sorry US only). Ends December 12th midnight EST.

Enter Here

Good luck and happy reading!

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

HAPPY DREAMS ~ Book Excerpt

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I am pleased to be sharing  Jia Pingwa’s latest novel Happy Dreams along with an excerpt today on Books, Vertigo and Tea. Released on 10/1/17, this contemporary novel has been translated by award-winning writer, Nicky Harman.

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Happy Dreams
By Jia Pingwa
Translated by Nicky Harman
Published by Amazon Crossing
ISBN13: 9781611097429
Pages: 492



Hawa “Happy” Liu and his best friend, Wufu take an unforgettable journey from their rural hometown to the fast-paced city of Xi-an with just their hopes, friendship, and a pair of high heels for the woman of Happy’s dreams in hand.  In search of the recipient of his donated kidney and a more prestigious life, Happy will need more than just his unrelenting optimism to hold on to the belief that something better is possible when he is faced with harsh city conditions, the crush of societal inequalities and a sudden death.  Will they both survive?

Purchase Happy Dreams: Amazon  Amazon UK  Book Depository

(New)ExcerptFrom Chapter One

“Happy Liu.”
“It says ‘Hawa Liu’ on your ID card. What’s with this ‘Happy Liu’?”
“I changed my name. Everyone calls me Happy Liu now.”
“‘Happy’ are you, Hawa Liu?”
“You must call me Happy Liu, comrade!”
“Happy Liu!”
“Yes, sir!”
“Know why I’m handcuffing you?”
“Because I had my buddy’s corpse with me?”
“I shouldn’t have been at the station with Wufu on my back.”
“Well, if you know that, why did you do it?”
“He needed to go home.”
“Freshwind Township, Shangzhou District.”
“I’m asking about you!”
“Right here.”
“Well, I should be from Xi’an.”
“Tell the truth!”
“I am telling the truth.”
“Then what do you mean by ‘should be’?”
“I really should be, comrade, because…”

It was October 13, 2000, and we were standing on the east side of Xi’an Station Square, outside the barriers. The policeman was taking a statement from me. The wind was blowing hard, and leaves floated down from the gingkos, catalpa, and plane trees around the edge of the square, covering everything with brilliant reds and yellows.

The thing I most regret about that day is not the bottle of taibai liquor, but the white rooster. Freshwind folk believe the spirit of someone who dies away from home has to make its way back. In case the spirit gets lost, you tie a white rooster to the body to guide it. The rooster I bought was supposed to help Wufu’s spirit get home, but in the end, the bird messed up everything. It weighed two and a half pounds at the very most, but the woman insisted it was three pounds. I lost my temper.

“Bullshit! No way is that three pounds! I can always tell how much something weighs! Do you know what I want it for?” (Of course I didn’t tell her what I wanted it for.)

But she kept shouting. “Put it on the scales again! Go ahead and put it on the scales again!” So then the policeman trotted over to sort out the argument.

And he saw the bedroll tied with rope. “What’s that?” He jabbed it with his baton. Lively Shi went as pale as if he’d smacked his face in a sack of ash. Then the stupid fucker opened his big mouth and said it was a side of pork, of all things.

“Pork? You wrap pork up in a quilt?” said the policeman. He carried on poking, and the corner of the bedroll came undone. That was when that coward Lively showed his true colors. He dropped the taibai bottle and took off. The policeman immediately pounced on me and handcuffed one of my wrists to the flagpole.

“Would you be so good as to handcuff my left wrist instead?” I asked with a smile. I’d pulled a muscle in my right arm digging the trench.

This time, the baton jabbed me in the crotch. “Don’t joke around!”

So I didn’t joke around.

Everything looked blurred, as if my eyes were gummed up with boogers. But I told myself to stay calm. The ink wouldn’t come out of the policeman’s pen, and he kept shaking it. The patch of pimples on his forehead flamed red. I tried to put my foot on a drifting plane tree leaf but couldn’t reach it. I’d never seen a young man with so many zits. Obviously not married yet and fierce as a young billy goat.

Click. A reporter was taking a photograph.

I took an instant dislike to her. She was done up like a little girl, with bangs down to her eyebrows, though she was clearly well into her thirties. I didn’t notice her at first. When I did, I smoothed my hair, straightened my clothes, and presented my profile so she could take another picture. But the next day in the paper, they used the one where I was bent over as if I was giving a statement, and in front of me was the flower-patterned bedroll tied with rope. One of Wufu’s feet was sticking out, and you could see his yellow rubber shoe stuffed with cotton wadding. Dammit, that picture was no better than a head-on mug shot, enough to make anyone look like a criminal. I have a prominent nose and a well-defined mouth, but she wouldn’t take me in profile, the bitch.

No way did that photo look anything like me!

Once Wufu’s body had been taken to the funeral parlor, they let me go. But I had to go back to the train station to wait for Wufu’s wife, who was coming to deal with the funeral arrangements. The square in front of the station was full of people who’d seen the newspaper, and they pointed at me. “Look! That’s the man who tried to carry a corpse onto the train! Hawa Liu!” I ignored them. Then they shouted, “Shangzhou husk-eater!” That was an insult to Shangzhou folk, so of course I paid even less attention. (Where I come from, the land’s so barren that there’s not enough grain to last year-round. Come springtime, all there is to eat is a ground-up mixture of dried persimmon and toasted rice husks.)

I needed some time to think. Though Wufu’s body had been taken to the funeral parlor, I felt his spirit must still be around here in the square, maybe perched on the traffic lights or sitting on the piles of roast chicken, hard-boiled duck eggs, bread, and bottles of mineral water on the street vendor’s cart. The small of my back felt sore and tired now, and I pushed my hand against it. Then I had another thought: How good a car is depends on its engine, not on its body, right? And like a car’s engine, a kidney is fundamental to a human body, isn’t it? My flesh was from Freshwind, and I was Hawa Liu, but I’d sold my kidney to Xi’an, so that obviously meant I belonged in Xi’an. Yes, Xi’an! I was very satisfied that I’d worked this out. It made me feel sort of lonesome, but proud too. I held my head high and began to stride along. And each step proclaimed, I’m not Hawa Liu. I’m not a Shangzhou husk-eater. I’m Happy Liu from Xi’an. Hap-py Liu!

“Excerpted from “Happy Dreams” by Jia Pingwa. ©2017 by Jia Pingwa. Published by AmazonCrossing October 2017. All Rights Reserved.”

About the Author

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Jia Pingwa was born in 1952 in Jinpen, a hardscrabble village. As a child, Jia was forced out of his hometown due to extreme poverty and famines. Around the late 1960’s Jia’s father, a schoolteacher was sent to prison after accusations of being a ‘historical counter-revolutionary.’ After his father was released from prison in 1970, Jia was permitted to attend Northwest University of Xi’an where he polished his calligraphy and writing skills. Shortly after, Jia began writing short stories for newspapers, a collection of stories, and eventually went on to write his first novel, Shangzhou, in 1986. HAPPY DREAMS is Jia Pingwa’s third novel that will be translated from Chinese. Today, Jia is one of the most prominent and celebrated writers in the country and the deputy chair of China Writers Association.

Follow Jia Pingwa: Website & Twitter

About the Translator

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Nicky Harman is co-Chair of the Translators Association (Society of Authors) and translates full-time from Chinese. She won Mao Tai Cup People’s Literature Chinese-English translation prize in
2015 and was the first prize winner in the 2013 China
International Translation Contest. Nicky currently resides in the UK and is available for interview.

Follow Nicky Harman: WebsiteTwitter


*I would like to extend a special thank to Pamela with Wunderkind PR for contacting me regarding this opportunity. 

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram