This month I’ve chosen Black & White Publishing as my featured Indie Publisher after I bought a couple of their titles last month.
Black & White Publishing are a Leith based publisher, founded in 1999 by Managing Director Campbell Brown and Publishing Director Alison McBride. Since then, they have grown into one of Scotland’s leading independent publishers with over 300 books in print. Committed to publishing the best books from the most talented writers in the UK and beyond they produce an extensive range of titles across a variety of genres.
Last month I bought 2 titles I’ve had my eye on for a while, one in eBook format and one in paperback.
The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll
Every morning, Mayor Tibo Krovic stops off at the local café on his way to work. He drinks his Viennese coffee with extra figs, leaves a bag of sweets for the owner, and then continues on to his office. There he awaits the arrival of his secretary: the beautiful, married, but lonely, Agathe Stopak.
In the respectable town of Dot, there is nothing the good Mayor Tibo can do about his love for Mrs Stopak. Until one day Agathe accidentally drops her lunch into the fountain and a family tragedy is revealed. In that moment, everything changes.
The Good Mayor is a magical story of fate and chance, of loss and love.
The Lives Before Us by Juliet Conlin
It’s April 1939 and, with their lives in Berlin and Vienna under threat, Esther and Kitty – two very different women – are forced to make the same brutal choice. Flee Europe, or face the ghetto, incarceration, death.
Shanghai, they’ve heard, Shanghai is a haven – and so they secure passage to the other side of the world. What they find is a city of extremes – wealth, poverty, decadence and disease – and of deep political instability. Kitty has been lured there with promises of luxury, love, marriage – but when her Russian fiancé reveals his hand she’s left to scratch a vulnerable living in Shanghai’s nightclubs and dark corners. Meanwhile, Esther and her little girl take shelter in a house of widows until the protection of Aaron, Esther’s hot-headed former lover, offers new hope of survival.
Then the Japanese military enters the fray and violence mounts. As Kitty’s dreams of escape are dashed, and Esther’s relationship becomes tainted, the two women are thrown together in the city’s most desperate times. Together they must fight for a future for the lives that will follow theirs.
These are not my first purchases from the publisher I’ve been tempted by a number of their titles over the years, so I can vouch for the quality of their fiction list. Before I list my previous purchases please note that if you’re tempted by any of the titles the publisher is are no longer able to accept direct orders placed via their website due to the current covid19 restrictions. My links go to Amazon purely because that gives you the Kindle option, please use your own preferred book supplier to purchase.
The Last Day I Saw Her by Lucy Lawrie
When lonely single mum Janey stumbles into an art workshop, she can’t believe her eyes when her left hand mysteriously scribbles a picture of two little girls and a strange message from someone called ‘Hattie’: Janey’s childhood best friend. But they lost touch after Hattie’s family suddenly moved away in mysterious circumstances.
Janey’s instincts tell her that she must finally find out what happened to Hattie, but life is already complicated enough: she’s struggling with motherhood, a custody battle over her toddler son Pip is looming, and she finds herself falling for intense art tutor Steve. And when writing appears on the walls of her flat and Pip starts playing with an invisible friend, Janey fears she’s losing her mind. Is it really a good idea to go digging up the past? As dark secrets come to light, she can’t be sure what’s real any more – or who to trust…
The Gravity of Love by Noelle Harrison
Arizona, 1989 – Joy Sheldon loves the plants that bloom in the desert but dreams too of the sea’s elemental wildness. Now, riven by terrible secrets, Joy embarks on a journey to seek her identity – and to discover why the sea pulls at her heart.
London, 1967 – Lewis Bell, a young graphic designer, is aiming for the big time – if only he can keep his creative spark. But, as his talented girlfriend Marnie adds her own pressures, sixties Soho fast shows its darker side.
Ireland, 1989 – Drawn together, Joy and Lewis fly across the Atlantic to the Irish coast. She’s in search of a lost mother; he’s looking for a lost love. They need to make peace with the past, themselves and others. But the truths they encounter will transform everyone’s lives forever.
Found washed up on the banks of a remote loch, a mysterious girl is taken into the care of a psychiatric home in the Highlands of Scotland. Mute and covered in bruises, she has no memory of who she is or how she got there. The only clue to her identity is the Danish lullaby she sings… Inside the care home, she should be safe. But, harassed by the media and treated as a nuisance by under-pressure staff, she finds the home is far from a haven. And as her memories slowly surface, the Lullaby Girl does her best to submerge them again. Some things are too terrible to remember… but unless she confronts her fear, how can she find out who she really is?
Ursula’s Secret by Mairi Wilson
In just a few heartbreaking days, Lexy Shaw’s world has fallen apart. After her mother is killed in a tragic hit-and-run, her mother’s childhood guardian, Ursula, also dies suddenly, leaving everything to Lexy. But as Lexy reads through Ursula’s hidden papers, what she discovers raises doubts about her own identity and if she really is now all alone in the world.
Desperate to find out if she has any surviving family, Lexy travels to Africa hoping she can unravel the mystery she’s now tormented by, only to find that she’s stumbled into a past full of lies and deceit and that her life is in grave danger.
The Ludlow Ladies’ Society by Ann O’Loughlin
Connie Carter has lost everyone and everything dear to her. Leaving her home in New York, she moves to a run-down Irish mansion, hoping to heal her shattered heart and in search of answers: how could her husband do the terrible things he did? And why did he plough all their money into the dilapidated Ludlow Hall before he died, without ever telling her?
At first Connie tries to avoid the villagers, until she meets local women Eve and Hetty who introduce her to the Ludlow Ladies’ Society, a crafts group in need of a permanent home. Connie soon discovers Eve is also struggling with pain and the loss of having her beloved Ludlow Hall repossessed by the bank and sold off. Now, seeing the American Connie living there, the hurt of losing everything is renewed. Can these women ever be friends? Can they ever understand or forgive?
As the Ludlow Ladies create memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface. But can Connie, Eve and Hetty stitch their lives back together?
The Ballroom Cafe by Ann O’Loughlin
Sisters Ella and Roberta O’Callaghan live in separate wings of their crumbling Irish mansion. They haven’t spoken for decades, torn apart by a dark family secret from their past, and only communicate through the terse and bitter notes they leave for each other in the hallway.
Debbie, an American woman, is searching for her birth mother. She has little time left but as she sets out to discover who she really is and what happened to her mother, she is met by silence and lies at the local convent.
With the bank threatening, Ella tries to save the family home by opening a café in the ballroom much to Roberta’s disgust. And when Debbie offers to help out in the café, the war between the sisters intensifies. But as Debbie finally begins to unravel the truth, she uncovers an adoption scandal that will rock both the community and the warring sisters.
The Judge’s Wife by Ann O’Loughlin
Can a love last forever?
When Emma returns to Dublin to put her estranged father’s affairs in order, she begins to piece together the story of his life and that of Grace, the mother she never knew. She knows her father as the judge – as stern and distant at home as he was in the courtroom. But as she goes through his personal effects, Emma begins to find clues about her mother that shock her profoundly.
A tale of enduring love and scandal that begins in 1950s Dublin and unravels across decades and continents, digging up long-buried family secrets along the way, The Judge’s Wife asks whether love really can last forever.
Finding Alison by Deirdre Eustace
Grief and guilt. Love and resentment. A community divided.
No one in Carniskey has ever truly understood what led Sean Delaney, a seasoned local fisherman, to risk his life in a high storm in the dead of night. Now, three years on from that tragic night, his wife Alison is still struggling with her unresolved grief and increasing financial worries.
After three difficult years, Alison has grown distant from her daughter and estranged from her friends and fellow villagers, particularly her best friend Kathleen who harbours a deeply guarded secret of her own. Isolated by its stunning yet often cruel surroundings, this is a community used to looking after its own but the arrival of an outsider – artist and lifelong nomad, William – offers Alison a new perspective on life and love that threatens to unearth the mysteries of the past.
Watch Over Me by Daniela Sacerdoti
Eilidh Lawson’s life is in crisis. Years of failed fertility treatments, a cheating husband and an oppressive family have pushed her to the limits. At the end of her tether, she runs away to the one place she thinks she can find solace: her childhood home in the Highlands.
There, as she struggles to mend her broken life, she reconnects with her childhood friend Jamie McAnena, who is trying to raise his daughter Masie alone. After Maisie’s mother left to pursue a career in London and Jamie’s own mother, Elizabeth, passed away, he has resigned himself to being a family of two.
But sometimes there is more to a story than meets the eye. Despite their reluctance, curious circumstances keep bringing Jamie and Eilidh together. For even when it seems all is lost, help can come from the most extraordinary places.
Take Me Home by Daniela Sacerdoti
Inary Monteith’s life is at a crossroads. After a stolen night with her close friend Alex, she’s just broken his heart by telling him it was all a terrible mistake. Then she has to rush home from London to the Scottish Highlands when her little sister’s illness suddenly worsens – in returning she must confront the painful memories she has been trying so hard to escape.
Back home, things become more complicated than she could ever have imagined. There’s her sister’s illness, her hostile brother, a smug ex she never wants to see again and her conflicted feelings about Alex in London – and a handsome American she meets in Glen Avich. On top of that, she mysteriously loses her voice but regains a strange gift from her childhood – a sixth sense that runs in her family. And when a voice from the past keeps repeating “Take me home,” she discovers a mystery that she knows she must unlock to set herself free.
Set Me Free by Daniela Sacerdoti
Margherita’s marriage is slowly falling apart. Getting pregnant after trying for so long may have been a wonderful surprise for her, but for her husband it was the last straw. When she needs him most, she realises he’s just not there for her.
Needing time away to figure out where their marriage is going, Margherita decides to leave London and spend the summer in Glen Avich, to help out in her mum’s new coffee shop. She needs to reconnect with her adopted daughter Lara and her young son and sort out her life. But Glen Avich can have a strange effect on people, and when she and Lara start working for Torcuil Ramsay at a rundown local estate, everything begins to change. Margherita finds her heart awakened in a way she never thought possible and Lara begins a new friendship with a mysterious local boy, Mal, which makes her mother feel increasingly uneasy.
And just when Margherita is finally beginning to discover what she really wants, she finds out how quickly things can change and how hard it can be to make brave choices.
Don’t Be Afraid by Daniela Sacerdoti
Successful artist Isabel Ramsay has never come to terms with the tragic death of her mother. Haunted by what happened, Isabel finds her own life spiralling out of control until, one winter’s day, she gives up, unable to bear the pain of living any longer. Yet somehow she wakes up, remembering a vision of a mysterious woman who has saved her. But alone in a locked house, surely that’s impossible?
With her family and friends worried out of their minds, her husband Angus finds a companion to watch over Isabel while he’s away from home. Warm, wise Clara can connect with Isabel in a way no one else can, helping her face up to her painful past, rediscover her passion for art and become brave enough to live her life again.
But there’s a mystery surrounding Clara: who is she, and why does Isabel feel she’s known her all her life?
Keep Me Safe by Daniela Sacerdoti
Can a tiny Scottish island bring a heart back to life.. and offer a second chance at love?
When Anna’s partner walks away from their relationship, she is shattered. But it is her little girl Ava who takes it hardest of all, falling silent for three days. When she does finally speak, Ava talks about a new place – a small island of beauty, salt and sea in the Western Scottish Isles. In search of a new start, Anna and Ava embark on a journey to the remote and gorgeous Island of Seal. Falling in love with the locals and the landscape, could Seal offer the second chance they both need?
The Breadmakers Saga by Margaret Thomson Davis
The Breadmaker’s Saga follows the story of a Glasgow working class community living through the dark days of the Depression and the Second World War. Clydend, McNair’s Bakery and the surrounding tenements, are all vividly and absorbingly depicted, as are the lives and loves of people like Catriona, a young woman trying to cope with an overbearing husband; the foreman baker Baldy Fowler and his tragic wife, Sarah; Alec Jackson, the philandering insurance salesman; and a host of other colourful characters, who face up to the ordinary challenges of life and the extraordinary challenges of war with honesty, optimism and hope.
The New Breadmakers by Margaret Thomson Davis
The New Breadmakers is the long-awaited sequel to Margaret Thomson Davis’ bestselling saga The Breadmakers – her classic trilogy chronicling the life and times of a Glasgow working-class community during the 1930s and ’40s. Having survived everything that the Depression and the Second World War has thrown at them, the people of McNair’s bakery and the surrounding tenements are now facing an uncertain future. With the Coronation of 1953, a new age is beginning, and all is by no means well in the lives of the breadmakers. Catriona McNair’s husband is making her life a misery and she decides to take drastic action; her friends Julie and Sammy have become involved in a search for a long-lost daughter; Alec Jackson, the happy-go-lucky reformed philanderer, finds himself caught up in one of Glasgow’s worst tragedies; and the youngsters are challenging convention in the name of romance. The New Breadmakers is the wonderfully evocative story of these and a host of other colourful Glasgow characters, as they live through the extraordinary changes of the 1950s and ’60s.
The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days by Juliet Conlin
Approaching 80, frail and alone, a remarkable man makes the journey from his sheltered home in England to Berlin to meet his granddaughter. He has six days left to live and must relate his life story before he dies…
His life has been rich and full. He has witnessed firsthand the rise of the Nazis, experienced heartrending family tragedy, fought in the German army, been interred in a POW camp in Scotland and faced violent persecution in peacetime Britain. But he has also touched many lives, fallen deeply in love, raised a family and survived triumphantly at the limits of human endurance. He carries within him an astonishing family secret that he must share before he dies… a story that will mean someone else’s salvation.
He spots the two girls through the cracked screen of beech, sycamore and leg-scratching gorse: a flash of red skirt and a unison of giggles . . . The smaller girl sees him first and she lets out a strange little squeak and jumps back, grabbing onto the other girl’s T-shirt, revealing a flash of milky white shoulder.
Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story.
Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant David Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun. But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man?
To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?
When the past catches up, do you run and hide or stand and fight?
When a woman is brutally attacked on a lonely country road by an escaped inmate from a nearby psychiatric hospital, Sergeant Davie Gray must track him down before he strikes again. But Gray is already facing a series of deaths connected to legal highs and a local fairground, as well as dealing with his girlfriend Marie’s bizarre behaviour. As Gray investigates the crimes, he suspects a horrifying link between Marie and the man on the run – but how can he confront her when she’s pushing him away?
As a terrified Marie is pulled back into a violent past she thought she’d escaped, she makes an irrevocable decision. And when events come to a head at a house party on Willow Walk, can Gray piece together the puzzle in time to stop the sleepy town of Banktoun being rocked by tragedy once more?
The Secret Life and Curious Death of Miss Jean Milne by Andrew Nicoll
When the door opened and he came out, there came with him the stench of a dead thing, the sweet, sulphurous, warm, rotten chicken smell that only ever comes from unburied flesh.
A dead body is found in a locked house. It has been stabbed in a frenzy, the hands and feet bound, the skull smashed, false teeth knocked from its jaws. Blood pools around the corpse and drips from the staircase. Yet nothing is missing: money and valuables remain untouched. Who could have murdered an old woman in such a horrifying way? And why?
This is the mystery facing Sergeant John Fraser and Detective Lieutenant Trench when wealthy spinster Miss Jean Milne is murdered in the quiet seaside town of Broughty Ferry. Yet, despite an abundance of clues and apparent witnesses, the investigation proves troublesome: suspects are elusive and Miss Milne herself is found to be far from a model of propriety. And when sensational headlines put pressure on the police force to find a culprit, Fraser and Trench must work fast to prevent the wrong man from going to the gallows. But will they ever unravel the secret life and curious death of Miss Jean Milne?
The Dolocher by Caroline Barry
The Dolocher is stalking the alleyways of Dublin. Half man, half pig, this terrifying creature has unleashed panic on the streets. Can it really be the evil spirit of a murderer who has cheated the hangman’s noose by taking his own life in his prison cell, depriving the mob of their rightful revenge? Or is there some other strange supernatural explanation?
This terror has come at the perfect time for down-at-heel writer Solomon Fish. With his new broadsheet reporting ever more gruesome stories of the mysterious Dolocher, sales are growing daily and fuelling the city’s fear. But when the Dolocher starts killing and Solomon himself is set upon, he realises that there’s more to the story than he could ever have imagined.
With the help of his fearless landlady, ship’s surgeon-turned-apothecary Merriment O’Grady, Solomon goes after the Dolocher. Torn between reason and superstition, they must hold their nerve as everyone around them loses theirs. But are they hunting the Dolocher or is the Dolocher hunting them?
The House on Rosebank Lane by Millie Gray
Kirsten Mowat, eighteen years old and with a joyful spring in her step, could’t be more in love with her sea-faring sweetheart Duncan Armstrong.
But, seven years later – after a hasty wedding, a twist of lies and wrenching loss – Duncan and Kirsten’s relationship has faded to tatters. When those closest to her turn their backs, Kirsten – alone, with a young family to care for – must gather all her spirit and strength if they are to survive.
From much-loved Millie Gray, The House on Rosebank Lane is an Edinburgh story of families entwined, of sorrow and hopefulness . . . and of a young mother’s love for her children and a transforming quest for happiness.
A poignant and authentic family saga which depicts the reality of working-class life in 1950s Edinburgh.
The great thing about putting this feature together is that’s it’s reminded me of some of the fabulous books I’ve still yet to read and why I definitely need to keep Black & White Publishing on my radar.
Good choice Jill. Looking through the list of the B&W books you have read, I’ve read most of them too. Their offices are just along the road from me and I’ve been lucky enough to be invited for a visit a few times.
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You’re definitely in the right spot! Temptation on the doorstep. I should confess I haven’t read them all – that should come as no surprise. But as a result of this post I will try to remedy that, famous last words!!
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Some of these sound really good. Thanks!
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Some great reading suggestions, thanks Jill! x
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Thanks Janet x
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