Laura

I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts. I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

Book Extract: I Can’t Tell You Why by Elaine Robertson North

Happy Saturday everyone and welcome to Elaine Robertson North and the blog tour for her novel, I Can’t Tell You Why. 

 

Having an affair is inconceivable to Dani and yet she’s having one with Alex. He’s married, he’s an actor and she’s his agent.

Then Dani meets Sean, a paparazzi photographer with a formidable reputation. It’s a profession that makes him unpredictable at best. A dangerous trait when his motivation to expose becomes personal. 

Dani knows she’s made mistakes. She also knows she’s not the first person who wilfully hurt someone they love and is simply unable to explain why.

 

Elaine has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

 

Dani is having an affair with Alex. He’s an actor and also married with children; she’s his agent. Their complicated relationship becomes even more so when Dani starts spending time with Sean, a paparazzi photographer. In this extract, Dani is heading home from an event with her two best friends, where the two men in her life – and Alex’s wife – have met for the first time.

 

Dani decided she’d well and truly had enough and leaving Sean to finish up his final obligation – a catch-up with the charity’s publicity team – she headed for the cloakroom for her coat. Much as she wanted to be alone, she couldn’t think of an excuse quickly enough to avoid sharing a cab with Billy and Amanda who had appeared beside her.

Within minutes, she found herself sitting in an uncomfortable silence next to Billy in the back of a cab with Amanda sitting opposite them, looking from one stony face to the other, wondering if she should attempt some conversation. She took a deep breath and smiled.

“Well that was fun!” She waited. Nothing. Not even a glance in her direction. Maybe she should just focus on Dani? She looked at her but her face was giving nothing away.

“You okay Dani?”

As the cab sped past a street lamp momentarily flooding them with light, Amanda couldn’t miss how Dani’s eyes were glistening, a clear sign that her friend was most definitely anything but. But those glistening eyes remained in a fixed stare, focused firmly out of the window while her body language was literally yelling a desperate plea to be left alone. Accepting defeat, Amanda sat back.

She had tried.

The silence continued until the cab pulled up outside Dani’s flat. She opened the door and, without a word or so much as a backward glance, she climbed out, closed the door behind her and headed inside. Billy watched her go as Amanda moved to sit next to him. She took hold of his hand and gave it a squeeze as the cab pulled away again. “You okay?”

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Book Review: Victory for the East End Angels by Rosie Hendry

Hello to Rosie Hendry. Today is publication day for Victory for the East End Angels, the last novel in the East End Angels series. 

The war is almost over – and it’s up to the East End Angels to keep the home fires burning!

Frankie’s fiance, a doctor, is away looking after the troops in Europe – will he return safely home?

Winnie has a happy secret – but can she carry on at Station 75 when she’s going to have a baby?

Bella is intrigued by her new friend, a Polish airman.

As the war ends and victory is in sight, what next for the girls of Station 75?

 

Happy publication day, Rosie.

It is now 1944. The war is almost over but London and Station 75 are not out of danger yet.

Bella is still grieving over the loss of James but the promise of a new love means that she may finally be able to move on.

Frankie is worried about Alistair and what will happen to him once he heads back over to mainland Europe.

Winnie is in the same situation to Frankie. Mac is also due for deployment but something unexpected takes them both by surprise.

It was lovely to catch up with the inhabitants of Station 75. It’s like catching up with old friends. I found that I could identify with each of the four women (Bella, Franke, Winnie and Rose,) and I think that’s what makes them such wonderful, endearing characters.

Rosie is so good at pulling the reader into the setting. I could feel the atmosphere (good and bad.) At certain points in the story, I wanted to step into the pages and hang out with the characters for a while. The friendship these women share is the one everyone aspires to have.

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Book Extract: Truth or Die by Katerina Diamond

I am welcoming Katerina Diamond to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her latest novel, Truth or Die.

Their darkest secrets won’t stay buried forever…

The butchered body of a professor is found in a private office of Exeter University. It is the first in a spate of horrific murders that shakes the city to its core.

Who would target a seemingly innocent man, and why? DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles turn to his students for answers, but their investigation turns up no leads. Someone must know more than they’re letting on…

As the body count rises, the police have to look into the past to uncover the person responsible before it’s too late.

But are they brave enough to face up to the truth?

 

Katerina and Avon have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

 

‘No, someone from the DCI’s old area. I think they wanted an outsider, someone who wasn’t caught up in any of the local shit,’ Adrian reassured her. Imogen herself had transferred from Plymouth under a bit of a black cloud and so he knew she wouldn’t appreciate working with any of her former colleagues.

‘Yet.’

‘Apparently she personally endorsed his transfer. The DCI has worked out all right. Maybe it’s a good move.’

‘Him? Is he hot?’

‘Why are you asking me?’

‘You can’t objectively say whether a man is attractive? Are you worried that I might think . . .’

‘Don’t finish that sentence. His face is very symmetrical, which suggests he is probably quite good-looking.’ Adrian smiled at her.

‘Wow. I’d hate to hear how you describe me.’ She gathered up her things to go.

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A Moment With… Julie Caplin

It’s finally the weekend. Julie Caplin joins me today with the blog tour for her novel, The Secret Cove in Croatia. 

Sail away to beautiful Croatia for summer sun, sparkling turquoise seas and a holiday romance that’s forever…

When no-nonsense, down-to-earth Maddie Wilcox is offered the chance to work on a luxury yacht for the summer, she can’t say no. Yes she’ll be waiting on the posh guests… But island-hopping around the Adriatic sea will more than make up for it – especially when Nick, her best friend Nina’s brother, is one of them.

Sparks fly when they meet on board and Maddie can’t believe self-entitled jerk Nick is really related to Nina.

But in a secret, picture-perfect cove, away from the real world, Maddie and Nick discover they might have more in common than they realise…

 

Talking about the value of research, it’s over to you, Julie…

As I set my Romantic Escapes series in interesting, overseas locations, I’m often asked how I research my books.

These days with the internet at the tips of our fingers, it is so easy for authors to do their research from the comfort of their own homes and it is amazing what you can find out without ever having to leave home. However, as a writer, I’ve found that nothing quite beats proper first hand research thanks to those interesting little facts and insights that you pick up when you actually visit a place.

I’ve been to Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Germany many times and I feel I have a reasonable understanding of the cultures of those countries, however when it came to writing my first book in the Romantic Escape series, The Little Café in Copenhagen, I had never been to Scandinavia let alone Denmark, so it felt really important that I visited Copenhagen to get a feel for the country and it’s people.

And it was exactly the right decision, I felt much more confident to write about the city once I’d been there.

With book five in the series, I decided to set the story in the beautiful country of Croatia. This was inspired by my lovely work colleague, Gordana, who grew up in Croatia. In our quieter moments (not many in a school office admittedly) she would show us the most wonderful pictures of the islands, the sea and the beautiful little towns. When my editor gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to Croatia as the next setting, I immediately knew that I needed a research trip to Croatia and specifically the Dalmatian Islands.

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Book Review: A Walk in Wildflower Park by Bella Osborne

Welcome back to Bella Osborne who is here today with the blog tour for her new novel, A Walk in Wildflower Park.

Life’s not always a walk in the park…

When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves in to her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?

Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.

Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

A Walk in Wildflower Park was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

 

Anna thought she had found the one in Liam until he broke off the engagement.

Hoping a change of scenery will do her good, she moves into a place of her own on the edge of the beautiful Wildflower Park.

With the help of her friend and neighbour, Sophie, a temperamental elderly man named Bert and a cat named Maurice, Anna quickly settles in and vows to put her career first.

A handsome new American colleague and texts from a mystery man don’t make her new plan easy.

Is this the beginning of something great for Anna?

A new novel from Bella is like catching up with a friend you’ve not seen for ages and yet pick up where you left off which starts with a warm hug – comforting but also exciting.

Told from duel point of views, Anna and Sophie, it was interesting to see the opposites when it comes to the lifestyles of these women. Their friendship was lovely to read about and the kind everyone wants.

As well as Anna and Sophie, other characters were great too. These included the handsome Hudson, the clueless yet loveable Dave and the brilliant Bert who added additional humour to an already funny novel.

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NK Chats To… Alex Brown

Thank you so much for joining me today, Alex. Can you tell me a little about A Postcard From Italy and what inspired it?

Thanks for inviting me. A Postcard From Italy is my eighth full length novel and it’s a love story that spans nearly ninety years. Connie is harbouring a secret at the onset of the Second World War and then we fast forward to today where Grace opens a storage unit containing a lifetime of treasured belongings.

She then sets out to unravel the secret in a quest to right the wrongs meted out to Connie all those years ago and maybe find love for herself when she travels to the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera.

 

What’s your writing process like (from idea to final draft) and how has it evolved since your first novel?

I’m not much of planner so I usually have an idea which I brainstorm with my editor before writing a synopsis which I then use as a rough guide to get me started. I write Monday to Friday and aim for at least a thousand words unless my deadline is looming and then I’ll write every day and into the night too for a week or two until the book is finished.

I start the day by editing the previous day’s words before writing on. My writing process hasn’t changed much since my first novel, although I procrastinate a lot less these days, I don’t have the time, and I always end the day by writing the outline for the following day … I like to know what’s happening next.

 

Which elements do you think are important for a successful novel?

There are so many variations but if you have a good story with a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter, so your reader feels compelled to read on, then you’re off to a good start. If you have wit and a sprinkle of wisdom too then even better.

 

Which fictional character would you like to meet?

Georgie Hart from my Carrington’s department store series. I love her so much and think we’d be the best of friends. It might sound daft but after writing four books she really does feel real to me and I miss her sometimes.

 

What other advice would you give to new writers like me?

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NK Chats To… Des Burkinshaw

Hi Des, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, Dead and Talking and what inspired it?

It’s lovely to be here. Thank you for the invite. The novel is about a man who is forced to atone for the “sins” of his family by a sort of ghost – think It’s a Wonderful Life’s Clarence! – And he can only do that by righting some historical wrongs. He’s given the gift of being able to peer into the last moments of dead people’s lives if he’s near their remains. Which sort of helps. He’s a natural sceptic and thinks he’s going a bit mad but picks up some fellow travellers who help him. It quickly becomes an ensemble piece. Although set today, the first case he has to solve is of a private shot for desertion in WW1. He soon finds it is linked to his own family history.

It’s dark in places but is also funny because he and his helpers are all so reluctant to believe any of it is happening. There are some Ealing Comedy moments too. Tone-wise, it’s in the same ballpark as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Though, as I say, the dark moments are pretty dark.

It was inspired by a few actual events from WW1. After I started plotting it, I also had to make a film about the role of soldiers from the Empire who fought for the British. I spent some time in Ypres, at the In Flanders Fields Museum and at some locations not open to tourists. It all sort of fitted together. Actually, doesn’t this show how research doesn’t just adorn the plot, it can become the plot?

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Is there somewhere specific you like to write?

I nearly always get up and go to a local coffee shop to get started for an hour or two on my laptop. I like to see the world go by before I hunker down behind the closed doors of my office. I write between 1-4 hours a day because I’m a filmmaker by trade and that takes up a lot of time. I wish I could spend more time writing.

 

How did your background in journalism help with writing your book?

Many ways. Not having a fear of the blank page helps a lot. Knowing how to plan, how to sub, how to edit. Knowing the importance of drafts and revisions. Welcoming constructive criticism and actually acting on it.

But it’s also in the people I’ve met. I’ve spent a lot of quality time with Normandy veterans and other soldiers. Also, my starting point has always been a journalistic one of trying to see both sides of an argument and so, though a natural sceptic myself, I’m able to suspend that disbelief while writing, simply by putting myself in the mind of someone who does believe. Sceptic or not, who doesn’t love the idea that there are ghosts?

 

What would your reaction be to a ghost? It would scare the hell out of me.

I’m a journalist. A sceptical journalist. But not a cynical one. I will never, ever believe there are ghosts until I see one myself though. I don’t care who else tells me. But if I did see one, I would use it as a basis to explore how I’d been wrong all this time. Sadly, I haven’t seen one – though I’ve seen quite a bit of death and spent a ridiculous amount of my life in cemeteries when I was younger. Always been a bit morbid.

I’d kill to see one. Even if I was afraid, I’d be delighted.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Viral

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

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: Viral 

Think about a typical day for you.

One event from this day gets recorded by a stranger and goes viral on social media, eventually making its way onto national news.

Continue the story using the first person point of view.

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Book Review: The Wedding Planner by Eve Devon

It’s summer, the wedding bells are ringing and I am saying hi to Eve Devon and the blog tour for her latest book, The Wedding Planner. 

Wedding bells are ringing and gossip is spiralling in Whispers Wood…
Single mum Gloria Pavey has a bad habit of saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. Determined to make a positive change she can’t say no when her best friend, Emma, asks her to take on the role of her wedding planner.

The only problem? Gloria’s co-planner – best man Seth Knightley.
Gloria is on a self-imposed man ban but pulling together the most beautiful wedding Whispers Wood has ever seen alongside gorgeous Seth is pushing her to her limits.

As every interaction increases the tension between them Gloria finds herself wondering…could the happy ever after she never thought she’d have be in her future after all?

 

The Wedding Planner, the third novel in the Whispers Wood series focuses on Gloria.

After finding out her husband had fallen in love with someone else, she’s no longer buying into the happy ever after. In-fact, she’s even finding it hard to be nice to people.

Determined to change her ways though, even just a little bit, she is pulled into the world of weddings when her colleague, Emma, finally makes a decision about her wedding to Jake.

Not only has Gloria got to be a bridesmaid, she’s now working with Jake’s younger and handsome brother, Seth. Can she resist him like she’s managed to resist everything else?

This took me a couple of chapters to get into and then I couldn’t stop reading.

The relaxed and chatty writing style made it a wonderful book to read. I felt as though I was witnessing all this rather than reading it, if that makes sense.

Gloria is a wonderfully complex character. She’s been hurt in love and in life so she has self-preservation in spades. Even when the gorgeous Seth makes it clear he’s flirting with her, she tries to resist him. I shouted to the page on more than one occasion for her to stop being so silly.

The characters around Gloria are equally as wonderful and I don’t think there was one I didn’t like.

Although there is the old chapter told from various point of views, this is Gloria’s story.

This book is a real journey for Gloria. She has closed herself off to everything.

It’s about her relationship with Seth and I loved this but it was also interesting to see how her friendships develop with the other women in the story, Juliet, Emma and Kate. It was a close run thing with Seth (the perfect Jane Austen type hero,) but the friendship between the four women is my favourite part.

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My Writing Ramblings: June Favourites

July is here and wow, the weather has been amazing. I am keeping everything crossed that it lasts. As June is now finished, I wanted to look at some of my favourite things from last month.

My favourite book from last month was Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay by Ali McNamara. I am a huge fan of Ali’s novels so it was no real surprise that I adored this novel.

Her writing style is so effortless and she creates wonderful characters. The plot for this book was great; a woman inherits a castle and meets a handsome stranger. Also, this cover is just so beautiful.

Here’s the blurb for the novel.

Amelia is a single mother, doing her very best to look after her young son, Charlie – but money is tight and times are tough. When she first hears that she is the last descendent of the Chesterford family and that she has inherited a Real-Life Castle by the sea, Amelia can’t quite believe her ears. But it’s true!

She soon finds that owning a castle isn’t quite the ticket to sorting out her money problems that she’d first hoped: she can’t sell, because the terms of the ancient bequest state that any Chesterford who inherits the castle, must live there and work towards the upkeep and maintenance of the family home. So ever-practical Amelia decides to uproot her little family and move to this magnificent castle by the sea.

Living in a castle on the beautiful Northumberland coast is fun at first, but organising the day-to-day running is a lot more complicated than Amelia first imagined. Luckily she has help from the small band of eccentric and unconventional staff that are already employed there – and a mysterious unseen hand that often gives her a push in the right direction just when she needs it most. It’s only when she meets Tom, a furniture restorer who comes to the castle to help repair some antique furniture, that Amelia realises she might get the fairy-tale ending that she and Charlie truly deserve…

 

 

There are so many great TV shows being released right now. The one I enjoyed most in June was definitely Black Mirror. I do think that Charlie Brooker is a genius. It’s sad he’s not doing his end of year show but if it’s because he has been writing Black Mirror, that is fine with me.

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A Moment With… Sue Moorcroft & A Modern Literary Hero. 

The fantastic Sue Moorcroft has popped into Novel Kicks today. 

Now summer is here, I’m very pleased to announce that one of our favourite books of the summer, ‘A Summer to Remember’, by The Sunday Times Best Selling author Sue Moorcroft is available to read and to make things even better, it is now only 99p on eBook.

As a special treat, Sue as written the description below of what a hero is to her. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. Over to you, Sue.

 

My hero!

What do I look for in a hero of one of my books? Decent but no pushover – in fact, a man with a bit of edge. He’s loyal to those who deserve it, probably a leader in his way, a man with admirable qualities including, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, good looks! He’ll invoke emotions in my heroine, whether that’s making her laugh, cry or steam with rage. And I like something a little less-usual about him, if possible.

Aaron de Silva’s a landscape gardener, creating or regenerating beautiful gardens in stately homes. He also hand-makes guitars. He’s one of the few people in Nelson’s Bar to be able to get satellite broadband and is constantly changing the password or finding half the village in his garden ‘borrowing’ his internet access. His own garden looks out directly over the cliffs to the sea far below and whether he’s sitting on the bench alone playing his guitar or hosting an outdoor party, his garden is Aaron’s happy place.

Aaron has lived all his life in the seaside village of Nelson’s Bar, Norfolk. His family are around him, including a lively younger cousin, Harry, who causes Aaron a few hair-raising moments, and his much-loved brother, Lee, who Aaron spends much of the book looking out for. Lee’s emotionally fragile after being jilted six years earlier and he returns to Nelson’s Bar to live just as heroine Clancy Moss comes to the village too. And it’s Clancy’s cousin Alice who jilted Lee. That Aaron was wildly attracted to Clancy at the wedding-that-never-was only feeds his emotional maelstrom when he’s constantly forced into her company.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Combinations

Welcome back to the Novel Kicks Writing Room. Today, it’s about combinations.

Pick a character from either something you’ve written or from the book you are currently reading. This is your main character.

Now randomly choose three more, each from different stories and as varied as you can make them.

Your main character is speed dating. One at a time, this character has a brief conversation with your other three choices before the bell goes off and they have to move on.

Write only using dialogue.

For each one, write for five minutes each time.

You could then always do other combinations within these characters. How would it work if your main character was suddenly the one who had to impress the others?

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Recent and Upcoming Book Releases – July

Scribner UK, July 2019

The books based around summer settings are making their appearance and there is something so nice about sitting in the garden with one of these books. It really helps with the happy vibes.

I wanted to share some of the upcoming or recently released books that I am looking forward to reading at some point.

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips is a novel that I am finding very intriguing.

The general premise is that two sisters are abducted one august afternoon on the shoreline of the north-eastern edge of Russia.

The ensuing weeks and months bring a stalled police investigation and reverberates across a tightly woven community.

This book does sound so good and I can’t wait to read it.

 

The second book is the latest one by Catherine Alliott called A Cornish Summer.

I am a bit of a fan of Catherine’s novels and so am always pleased when another one arrives.

This new book focuses on Flora who has been in love with her husband for twenty years. However, he’s been married to someone else for fifteen years.

Sphere, June 2019

Penguin, June 2019

Flora has been invited to spend the summer in Cornwall. It should sound blissful….. except for one small thing. Her former mother-in-law has also been invited. If that wasn’t enough, Flora’s ex husband and his wife are coming too.

Can she spend the summer playing happy families?

 

The Bookshop on the Shore is the latest book by the fantastic Jenny Colgan

Zoe is struggling to cope living in London as a single mother. Her son is perfect in every way. He just doesn’t speak.

When her landlord raises the rent on her flat, she doesn’t know what she is going to do. Zoe is then given the opportunity to help run a bookshop in the Scottish highlands. On first thought, she feels that this might be the change she needs.

She’s soon questioning her move and whether she made the right decision. She’s faced with an unwelcoming boss, a moody, distant bookseller and a band of unruly children.

Her son finds his first friend though and with the beauty of the area, Zoe only wishes the bookseller was a friendlier and more approachable.

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Cover Reveal: A Question of Us by Mary Jayne Baker

I am pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal for the new novel from Mary Jayne Baker.

It’s called A Question of Us and it’s due out on 5th September 2019.

 

Here’s a little about the book.

Two best friends. Eight pub quizzes. One shot at love…

There are some people who seem like they have all the answers in life. Clarrie Midwinter isn’t one of them.

At the age of 26, tomboy Clarrie is still struggling to become a ‘proper’ grown-up. She’s eternally strapped for cash, she hasn’t had a date in nearly a year and her attempts to quit smoking tend to take a nosedive after the second pint. Most annoyingly of all, her ladykiller best friend Simon just won’t stop asking her out. The only thing keeping her sane is her pub quiz team, the Mighty Morphin Flower Arrangers.

But when Simon bets her a date their team will win the quiz league, Clarrie is forced to confront what she really wants out of life – and love. Is it finally time for her to grow up?

Drumroll… three, two, one. Ta-dah.

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Book Review: Seventeen by Suzanne Lowe

Imagine a world where everything you grew up with is gone. No adults, no internet, no rules.

The world is facing the deadliest virus ever known.

When the KV17 virus kills everyone above the age of seventeen, life becomes a battle of survival for the children left behind. Seeking to escape the escalating violence in the city, two sisters, Lexi and Hadley flee to the Australian outback. Finding sanctuary in the small town of Jasper’s Bay, they soon realise it is far from safe, as a gang of lawless teenagers terrorise the town.

Caught in a bitter feud leading to betrayal, deceit and murder, the girls must quickly uncover who their enemies are, and who they can trust.

In a world drastically changed from everything they once knew; can the sisters and children of Jasper’s Bay learn to adapt? Can they maintain control of their town, and protect it from those who would destroy it?

 

Seventeen is the first book in the series of the same name by Australian author Suzanne Lowe.

A virus sweeps the world, killing off all the adults and leaving only the under 17s alive.

The story follows Lexi and her sister Hadley as they try and come to terms with the loss of their parents and finding their own way in a world without TV, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other technology we take for granted.

After meeting up with a group of other children they feel they might have found a new life for themselves in the country, but trouble soon finds them and their new life.

The book is fairly typical of the “kids against the world” kind of Young Adult fiction but it is no less enjoyable for that.

The book is very well paced and an easy read with strong characters and lots of cultural references.

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