My Five Favourite Books For Valentine’s Day

Harper, 2012 edition

Harper, 2012 edition

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I am not against Valentine’s Day although I am usually so disorganised, I end up joining the people who go to the shop to collect something last-minute. For me, it’s a perfect excuse to avoid all the overcrowded restaurants and to curl up with a book instead (especially as this year, my husband is at work.) It was hard to pick but I wanted to share five of my favourite love themed books that I think are perfect to be reading over this weekend, especially on the 14th itself.

Which books would be in your list? Let me know in the comments section.


P.S I Love You by Cecelia Ahern. 

Holly has a guardian angel; her husband Gerry who has recently died of a brain tumour. Letters from him mysteriously appear giving her advice and teaching her how to move on. This book is such a beautiful love story for me and is perfect for February. This is the book where I fell in love with Holly and Gerry and with Cecelia’s novels. There is just something magical about this story which is why it is in my top five favourite love stories and will remain there for a long time.

Everyone needs a guardian angel…

Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry.

Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other’s sentences and even when they fought, they laughed. No one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other.

Until the unthinkable happens. Gerry’s death devastates Holly. But as her 30th birthday looms, Gerry comes back to her. He’s left her a bundle of notes, one for each of the months after his death, gently guiding Holly into her new life without him, each note signed ‘PS, I Love You’.

As the notes are gradually opened, the man who knows Holly better than anyone sets out to teach her that life goes on. With some help from her friends, and her noisy and loving family, Holly finds herself laughing, crying, singing, dancing – and being braver than ever before.

Life is for living, she realises – but it always helps if there’s an angel watching over you.


Sphere, 2007

Sphere, 2007

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. 

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My Writing Ramblings: The Month Where I Don’t Write

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225.jpgFebruary could be renamed ‘the month in which I don’t write.’ I get my notebook out, I open my laptop but then I lose the motivation. Life has got in the way a little this month. It’s amazing how much that has played havoc with my productivity and it is something I need to work on. Life is something that does happen though and there is not a lot I can do about that. It doesn’t stop me from feeling guilt about not writing.

However, even though I have not been physically writing, I have been thinking about my novel. When I’ve been driving, I’ve developed plot lines, when I am sat watching telly, I am thinking about my characters; these people who seem to not want to leave me alone. I see this as a good sign as it means that the book is still churning away in my head even though I have not written anything.

I know I can’t carry on like this. I know that at some point I am going to have to fight through the procrastination and the other things in my life that seem to be sucking up my time but I am feeling a little happier about where I want my book to go and that can’t be bad.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Fish Out Of Water

rp_friday-300x16411111111111111-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x1641-300x16411-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x1641-300x164-300x164.pngFriday 12th February 2016: Fish out of Water

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s prompt: Your character is usually a confident person. However, they suddenly find themselves completely out of water and in a situation they don’t know how to deal with. Maybe they’ve realised that they can’t speak (the charm of their voice is usually what worked for them,) or they go from being rich to poor or lucky to unlucky. Anything goes.

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Mick’s Musings: Authors Meet Up


(L-R) Georgia Hill, Mick Arnold, Linn B Halton and Tora Williams

I went to an author/blogger meet up in Birmingham recently and I’d like to start by thanking the wonderful Kim Nash for not only taking the trouble to arrange it, but also for being such a gracious host; thank you Kim.

To those of you whom I didn’t get around to meeting, I’m sorry and, if like me, you’re down to go to the next one in London, I hope to at least be able to say hello and maybe share bookish experiences with you. I’ll be the one in the corner, looking not unlike a startled rabbit (but with slightly less hair).

Swift hello’s to a few that I did manage to meet, starting with the lovely Sue Moorcroft (always great to catch up) and the other members of her Facebook Team Moorcroft whose names I can recall. Louise Styles, hi and very good to meet and talk to you; Mark West, Sue told me about a short story you wrote (think it was yourself?) about someone with a foot fetish, thanks for the nightmares; Kim Nash, thanks again and very nice to put a person to the face. Bookaholic Holly, Georgia Hill, Janice Preston, Linn B Halton and undoubtedly others whose names I can only apologise for forgetting. Just think of a goldfish with amnesia and that’s me with names.

This was my first meet up of this kind and there are already two others this year that I’ve accepted the kind invitations to go to. If you’ve never been to one of these and you find an invite drop into your Facebook account, then I can honestly say that (assuming you’re either an author or blogger, or for that matter a keen reader) you won’t be in the company of such a warm and welcoming group of people – ever!

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Writing Room: Confessions Prompt

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199.jpgTuesday 9th February 2015: Confessions.

Your character is shown into a room. There is a circular table in the middle the room with six chairs around it. Eventually, five other people are shown into the room. These five people along with your character are told to take a seat. They are each told that they are connected and they need to confess what they have done to the people around them. Carry on the story….

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February’s Book Club: The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Black Swan, January 2012 edition.

Black Swan, January 2012 edition.

Welcome to the Novel Kicks online book club.

How it works…

We love books and we love chatting about them even more. Every month, we pick a new book for discussion. We will post a question to kick things off and then you can talk about any of your thoughts about the book in the comments box below. The best thing about our book club is that everyone is welcome to take part. It’s open to all. You can read the book at any point in the month or if you’ve already read it, tell us what you think.

For February, we are getting into the mood for Valentine’s Day. This month’s book is one of my favourite books, The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.

About the book:

Meet Rebecca Bloomwood.

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Blog Tour: The Last of The Bowmans by J. Paul Henderson.

51Xj1lmmeJL I am very happy to be a part of the blog tour for the latest book by J. Paul Henderson, The Last of The Bowmans.

After an absence of seven years, Greg Bowman returns home from America to find his father lying in a bamboo coffin, his estranged brother Billy stalking a woman with no feet, and his 79 year-old Uncle Frank planning to rob a bank. While renovating the family house, he is unexpectedly visited by the presence of his dead father and charged with the task of ‘fixing’ the family. In the course of his reluctant investigations, Greg discovers an unsettling secret of his father’s, and one that brings him face to face with the consequences of his own past.

Lyle Bowman is eighty-three years old. Taking a break from painting his house he decides to go and get a Double Decker from the local shop. What he has not realised is that he has drunk a glass of white spirit and his inability to walk results in him being knocked over and killed by a double-decker bus.

His youngest son, Greg returns from America for his funeral. It is the first time he has been home to see his family in seven years – his Uncle Frank and his older brother, Billy (a brother with whom he has been estranged.) Whilst staying in his father’s house, Greg’s Dad suddenly appears. What ensues is a look at this dysfunctional family who has to learn how to be a family again.

This book was not what I expected. There were elements of the story that took me completely by surprise especially the ending. There is a thread of sadness running through it but it is also done with great humour. There were some bittersweet moments, some strange moments and some outright funny moments – my favourites involving Greg’s Uncle Frank. I think out of all the characters, he was my favourite.

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Mick’s Musings: Fun! Fun! Fun!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgDoesn’t time fly when you’re having fun…now I need to find the time to have that fun.

When I’m writing, after the first few hundred words, so long as it’s flowing, it is fun. Characters I’ve created/am in the process of creating, stand up and wave their little paws at me (I like cats, heck knows why half the time, but my latest WIP has a quite prominent feline who seems to be making a bid for freedom) for attention and sit down to share a metaphorical cup of tea with me. Then there’s the (mostly) welcome appearance of a new character that I hadn’t even considered when the idea for the story first came to mind, and even after I’d actually done some planning!

With this WIP, it looks very much like it’ll now be starting at chapter three. So, what does that mean for the Prologue and the first two chapters? Well, not really wanting to throw anything away, I do believe that quite a bit can be incorporated into forthcoming chapters and I also have to admit, it does start off the story a lot better. It’s straight into mini-crisis, always a good way to start.

Thank you Kate T for the suggestion.

As far as these new characters? It’s a welcome to Tippy’s Posse. Okay, so she’s currently called Poppy, but I have a few too many characters whose names begin with the letter ‘p’, but I still like ‘Poppy’ so it’s really a case of watch this space.

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Writing Room: Fictional World

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199.jpgTuesday 19th January 2016. 

Today’s prompt: Fictional World.

Pick a fictional world or a fictional character. When your character wakes up one morning, they find themselves either in this fictional world or sitting next to this fictional character. What are they like? What do they get up to? What happens next….

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Blog Tour: What a Way To Go by Julia Forster

41QM1wj7ytL._UX250_I am very pleased to welcome Julia Forster to Novel Kicks and her blog tour for her debut novel, What a Way to Go. Hello Julia, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you first tell us a little about your new book, What a Way to Go which was published last week by Atlantic Books and how the idea originated?

It is lovely to be here today to talk about What a Way to Go. Thank you for having me.

The novel is a coming-of-age tale, set in the east Midlands in 1988, told by twelve year-old straight-talking Harper. Her parents, Mary and Pete, divorced when she was little, so she divides her time between her Mum’s rented house, which is being sold from underneath her, and her Dad’s mouldering cottage in a sleepy Midlands village. It’s a bittersweet tale about growing up and discovering some surprising home truths along the way. Harper’s a resourceful kid with an old soul, an infectious sense of fun and a sideways glance on the adult world around her.

The idea originated when I was successful in getting a £1,000 bursary from Literature Wales to pay for six months of nursery fees in order to begin a novel. When I started, I had no plan for how to approach it, no characters and no plot. All I had was a blank page. The idea originated when Harper’s voice exploded out of the blinking black cursor on the very white page about half way through the bursary period. The two of us got on like a house on fire. What a Way to Go is told in the first person and in the present tense, so there is an immediacy to how she narrates the story. It is very much a voice-driven piece of work.


The book features 80s music. Which 80s pop song best describes you?

That is definitely the hardest question that I shall be asked in the entire blog tour, Laura!

I created a Spotify playlist as I wrote the book and I listened to it a lot as I wrote. However, it isn’t one from this playlist which I would like to choose. I would pick ‘Solsbury Hill’ by Peter Gabriel.

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My Writing Ramblings: Reflections on 2015

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225.jpgHappy New Year everyone.

I can’t quite believe that 2015 has come to an end and we’re already eight days into 2016. Last year went so fast. I know that this year will probably do something similar. The older you get, the quicker it goes right?

I’ve been thinking a lot about 2015. I am a member of the New Writers Scheme which is part of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and last year, I didn’t manage to get any of my novel in for appraisal by one of the readers. I am not sure what happened. I just seemed to run out of time and what I had written didn’t seem good enough. I lost my confidence a little. So, if I have any goals for this year, it is to get my novel into the NWS by August.

As well as my writing and throwing myself into planning and writing my book,  I’ve been thinking about the books I read in 2015. I read so many brilliant novels and escaped into so many stories and met so many characters. I went through the list and tried to pick my favourites 71tu3h3TgKL(which was so difficult to be honest.) However, here is a list of my favourite novels from last year. What were your favourites?


Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott. 

(Black Dot Publishing, 2015.)

This was a great book; a thriller mixed with mystery. This novel had me gripped from the first page and I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t guess what was going to happen and a mystery novel that can have me guessing until the end is good.

It focuses on Emma and David who seem to have the perfect life. However, David has known sadness when his wife was killed in a car accident and his six-year-old girl goes missing. When his daughter suddenly reappears, Emma has to question everything that she knows.

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Book Review: Able Seacat Simon: The Wartime Hero of the High Seas by Lynne Barrett-Lee

51q5iv-ax6L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Simon is discovered in the Hong Kong docks in 1948 and smuggled on board the H.M.S Amethyst by a British sailor who takes pity on the malnourished kitten. The young cat quickly acclimates to his new water-borne home, establishing himself as the chief rat-catcher in residence while also winning the hearts of the entire crew.

Then the Amethystis ordered to sail up the Yangtze to take over the guarding of the British Embassy, and tragedy strikes as the ship comes under fire from Communist guns. Many of the crew are killed and Simon is among those who are seriously wounded. Luckily, with the help of the ship’s doctor, the brave cat makes a full recovery and is soon spending time with the injured men in the sick bay, purring and keeping their spirits up. News of Simon’s heroism spreads and he becomes famous world-wide – but it is still a long journey back to England for both the crew and the plucky little cat known as ‘Able Seacat Simon’…

To discover a new author is one of the joys still to be found in life, and that is exactly what I’ve just done having finished this new book by the very talented Ms Barrett-Lee.

Based on true events during the Chinese Civil war, in its continuation phase after the Second World War, this is told from the point of view of the cat in the title. If you’ve not heard the story of HMS Amethyst, then this is actually a very good introduction to this riveting episode in the history of the Royal Navy.

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Daily Prompt

Your character has always been lucky..until now...

Book Club – February

Book Club – February



Can movie adaptations really live up to the original book?