Blog Tour

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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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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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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NK Chats To: Mandy Baggott

Hello Mandy. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your new book, One Last Greek Summer and what inspired it?

One Last Greek Summer is a perfect summer read set on the Greek island of Corfu. It’s the story of newly divorced thirty-something Beth Martin and her friend, Heidi, having one last holiday before they both re-evaluate the next stage of their lives. Except Heidi has picked the destination they both first visited when they were 21, and there just might be a few familiar faces waiting for them…

 

How has your writing process changed since writing your first novel?

*laughs* Seriously, it hasn’t changed that much! The only thing that has changed slightly is I now write two books every year as opposed to one when I first started out. I still initially come up with main characters and setting, the very bare bones of an idea, and then I literally start to write. I am not a plan it all and stick Post It notes around the room kind of writer, I just haven’t got that in me. I think if I knew the beginning, middle and end of each story I’d get bored writing it.

 

Where do you like to write? Do you have any writing rituals?

I have two main places I write. I have an office at home and I also visit my husband’s office at Numeric Accounting in Salisbury three days a week to give me that true ‘getting up and going to work’ feeling. It’s amazing how productive you can be surrounded by a team of accountants… As for writing rituals, I don’t really have any of those, just keep the coffee coming! Oh, and we always go to the pub at lunchtimes on a Friday! That surely counts, doesn’t it?

 

How important is it to pick the right names for your characters? 

This is SUPER important to me otherwise the characters don’t come alive or feel real to me. I remember one publisher (who shall remain nameless) at the very last moment, I think at the proofreading stage of things, wanted me to change the name and nationality of my hero. I was so shocked and I was absolutely not happy about it. I stuck to my guns and obviously I was right! It doesn’t usually take me long to come up with names but they do have to feel right for the characters.

 

What’s next for you?

I’m currently finishing writing Christmas! One Christmas Star comes out in e-book on 12 September and I am really excited about this book. It’s the story of schoolteacher, Emily and down-on-his-luck singer, Ray. It’s set in a festive London and involves a full-on school Christmas show – think Nativity meets A Star is Born – that’s how I pitched it to Aria Fiction.

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Book Review: The Secret – Violet’s Story by Eliza J. Scott

It’s been two years since glamorous and ambitious Violet Smith fell head-over-heels in love with blacksmith Jimby Fairfax, and moved back home to the North Yorkshire village of Lytell Stangdale to be with him.

Life couldn’t get much sweeter. Their romance is blooming and Romantique – the business she set up with Jimby’s sister Kitty, designing luxurious underwear and burlesque costumes with the odd wedding dress throw in – is thriving.

But on a romantic weekend break, a face from her past triggers a series of events which send Violet into turmoil. She finds herself with no alternative but to reveal a secret she’s buried deep for the past sixteen years. A secret she hasn’t shared with anyone, not even her best friends, Kitty and Molly, and they share everything.

With the revelation forcing a wedge between herself and Jimby, heartbroken Violet fears that he won’t ever be able to think of her in the same way again and won’t want anything more to do with her.

As ever, Kitty and Molly rally round, offering their advice and support but Vi is worried that keeping her secret was just a step too far for Jimby.

Will she succeed in showing him their love is strong enough to overcome it?

The Secret – Violet’s Story is book 3 in the Life on the Moors Series.

 

This third novel in the Life on the Moors series focuses on Violet. She’s now been with Jimby for two years and is blissfully happy. However, a secret from her past unexpectedly comes back up to the surface and threatens to derail everything Violet now holds dear, especially her relationship with James Fairfax.

I have been in love with this book series since the first book, which was Kitty’s story. Whenever a new book has arrived, it’s been like transporting back to Yorkshire and having a catch up with old friends; that’s how Violet, Molly and Kitty feel to me. I want to hang out with them.

I don’t have an overall favourite amongst the three women although Violet’s sense of style sounds amazing. It was nice to get to know her a little better as I progressed through the book.

Despite her ‘no cares’ attitude to the world, Violet has a large vulnerable side not helped by this secret she’s holding close to her chest. I can’t go into any detail about it as it would give too much away. I have grown to care so much for these characters and Violet’s situation makes me very sad.

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NK Chats to… Jenni Keer

Jenni Keer

Hi Jenni, it’s great to be welcoming you back to Novel Kicks.

Thank you so much for having me back. I can’t believe my second book is out already. I had a real thrill ride with The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker. The book had so many amazing reviews and I was delighted to get an Amazon bestseller flag. Let’s hope The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadowsis as enthusiastically received.

 

Which fictional character would you like to spend the day with? What would you do?

This is such a hard question. In fact, I left answering it until the end because there are so many characters I could have chosen. I considered people from historical novels where I would get the opportunity to spend some time in an exciting period of history – perhaps with a Regency lady or a certain Victorian cotton mill owner *wink*. I thought about characters with special powers, like Harry Potter and various superheroes (flying through the air with Superman would be a blast). I considered the simple rural idyll that would be spending a day with Anne Shirley at Green Gables, or Miss Marple in her beloved St Mary Mead. Perhaps I could pamper myself and spend the day with someone wealthy or influential, perhaps party with Jay Gatsby, or Holly Golightly? So many fabulous characters, so many choices…

In the end (wait for it…) it’s a toss up between Mr Daydream (who could give my imagination a boost and therefore some fabulous material for my novels) and Mr Impossible (so I can do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING) from the fabulous Mr Men. These were the very first books I read by myself and they have a special place in my heart. I’m sure I could have some up with something more intellectual but I’m embracing my inner child. Besides, I’m curious to see how they mange to drink a cup of tea with those stumpy little arms (Mr Tickle being the obvious exception).

 

Which songs would be on a playlist for The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows?

This is quite an easy question because Theo, who works with Maisie at the auction house, has a particular penchant for the 1980s. Although he is an expert in modern design (i.e. post-war) that’s the decade that really interests him, and this is reflected in his music taste. He plays a lot of The Jam, The Police, The Clash (late Seventies/Eighties) so a soundtrack would have to include these bands. This contrasts with the flamboyant Johnny (Maisie’s boss) who has more classical tastes, so perhaps some Mozart and a sprinkling of Shostakovich (as it is mentioned in the book). And then, to keep the author happy, I’d have to throw in a few recent dance tracks – which is largely what I listen to when I write. So it would be quite an eclectic mix.

 

How did your writing process differ from your previous novel?

In many ways it was quite similar. I’m a pantser, not a plotter, so apart from the bare bones of the story and a definite idea of the ending, I do tend to launch myself in rather randomly, not even writing chronologically. However, for Maisie I had to produce a synopsis for the publisher before I began writing and this did help me focus my ideas a bit more. There was also a time pressure for Maisie, whereas Lucy was written before I had a publishing deal so I had longer to play about with it. However, deadlines are Good Things. They help you focus.

The only thing I really did differently was a mid-book plan. I always refer to my first draft as the Bowl of Dropped Spaghetti stage – because in my head that’s what it feels like. After that, I need to pick all the jumbled spaghetti up and sort it out. Writing Maisie was the first time I’d produced a coherent plan but it was only at this post first-draft stage. I put all the scenes I’d written on Post-it notes and then planned the book – a bit backwards but it worked. My clever techie son set me up with two screens and I simply pulled across sections in order onto a blank document. I am at the Bowl of Dropped Spaghetti stage with Book 3 now so shall employ this method again.

 

Which authors have inspired you?

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Book Extract: Meet Me in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May

A big welcome back to Nicola May. She is here with the blog tour for her latest novel, Meet Me in Cockleberry Bay. 

Here’s a little about the book:

The cast of the runaway bestseller, The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay, are back – including Rosa, Josh, Mary, Jacob, Sheila, new mum Titch and, last but by no means least, Hot, the adorable dachshund.

Newly wed, and with her inherited corner shop successfully up and running, Rosa Smith seems to have all that anyone could wish for. But the course of true love never did run smooth and Rosa’s suspicions that her husband is having an affair have dire consequences.

Reaching rock bottom before she can climb back up to the top, fragile Rosa is forced to face her fears, addiction and jealousy head on.

With a selection of meddling locals still at large, a mystery fire and Titch’s frantic search for the real father of her sick baby, the second book in this enchanting series will take you on a further unpredictable journey of self-discovery.

 

Nicola has shared an extract with us today. 

 

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

PROLOGUE

‘Oh Titch, why didn’t you just ring for an ambulance?’

‘I did, but they’re always so slow getting down to the Bay and I knew you’d know what to do. I’m sorry, Rose. Oooh . . .’

Hot Dog, Rosa Smith’s excitable mini-dachshund, was now running around the Corner Shop making whining noises similar to the ones coming from the young girl in labour.

Flustered, Rosa snapped at him, ‘Hot, will you just stop it?’ She reached for her friend’s
hand and said more gently, ‘Come on, we need to get you upstairs.’

‘No! No, I can’t move.’ Titch was bent over, clutching at the counter. ‘Oh no – I think I’m ready to push!’

‘Shit! OK, OK, don’t panic.’ Rosa hurriedly turned the Corner Shop sign to Closed, dragged the biggest, comfiest dog bed off a shelf and carefully eased her friend to the floor. She then darted into the downstairs kitchen and grabbed a whole handful of clean tea-towels from the drawer.

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Book Extract: A Random Act of Kindness by Sophie Jenkins

Sophie Jenkins joins me today with the blog tour of her latest novel, A Random Act of Kindness. Even the title makes me smile. Here’s a little about the novel. 

It only takes a moment, to change a life for ever…

Fern is too busy making sure other people feel good about themselves to give much thought to her own happiness. But somehow, without her noticing, life has run away from her.

Suddenly, Fern realises her vintage clothes business is struggling, and the casual relationship she’d always thought she was happy in doesn’t look so appealing.

But sometimes, karma really does come through. And when Fern goes out of her way to help 85-year-old Dinah, little does she realise their new friendship will change her life.

Dinah may have troubles in her past, but she’s lived and loved to the full. Can Dinah show Fern that even the smallest acts of kindness can make the world a better place?

 

To celebrate the book’s release, Sophie and Avon have shared an extract today. Enjoy.

 

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

She always thought that I’d go first. We both did. All her friends are widows and some of them had a new lease of life after their loss. I’m not saying she was looking forward to her widowhood, but she was pragmatic about it. She liked to make the best of things.

The husbands went in various different ways in their own time: heart attack, cancer, mobility scooter accident. Stan broke his hip on a golf course after Christmas. He’d tripped over the rake in the bunker, stayed there overnight and got hypothermia while his wife, Betty, thought he was in bed with her all the time. She’d been at watercolour classes, painting flowers. She’d undressed in the bathroom, tiptoed into bed, woke up the next morning, made him a cup of tea and saw he wasn’t there, after all. Surprise of her life, she said, to see his side of the bed empty.

Enid thought it was the way he’d have wanted to go, on a golf course. She was wrong about that. I know Stan. Stan wouldn’t have chosen to die in a bunker, out of all the ways to go.

On a green, maybe. Stan was competitive.

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Book Review: Bring Me Sunshine by Laura Kemp

Bring Me Sunshine is the new novel from author, Laura Kemp and I am very pleased to be a part of the blog tour today. 

Charlotte Bold is nothing like her name – she is shy and timid and just wants a quiet life. When her job doing the traffic news on the radio in London is relocated to Sunshine FM in Mumbles, she jumps at the chance for a new start in Wales.

But when she arrives she discovers that she’s not there to do the travel news – she’s there to front the graveyard evening show. And she’s not sure she can do it.

Thrust into the limelight, she must find her voice and a way to cope. And soon she realises that she’s not the only person who finds life hard – out there her listeners are lonely too. And her show is the one keeping them going.

 

First off, I want to say that it’s always lovely when I get to welcome another Laura to Novel Kicks.

Words can not describe how much I love the cover of this book. It’s so pretty.

There is such an ease to this book that I immediately got pulled in. I had not read any of Laura’s previous novels but I am wondering where the hell I have been. This will soon be rectified.

The story was told from the point of view of three people and I found this an interesting way to get to know these well-developed characters.

Charlie has just moved to Mumbles to begin a new job. She is terrified to learn that it will be an on air role at Sunshine FM .

Delme, Del to his friends, at the beginning of the novel is working as the health and safety officer at the station.

Tina is the station’s office manager who has a few secrets of her own.

I fell in love with Charlie straight away. She isn’t just black and white. She is fighting battles relating to her past, her confidence and the lack of belief in herself – something I think we can all empathise with on some level. I wanted to jump in and just give her a hug. She felt like a friend.

I felt the same about Del. He is this loveable chap who seems sure of who he is but like Tina, not everything is as it seems.

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Book Review: Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay by Ali McNamara

A big lovely hello to Ali McNamara and the blog tour for her latest novel, Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay. 

 

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…

******

Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay focuses on Amelia. She’s a single mother who is trying to do the best for her young son, Charlie.

When she is told that she’s the last descendant of the Chesterford family and has inherited a castle, she doesn’t believe it at first. With a little convincing, she and Charlie arrive in Northumberland where most people are very friendly.

As she begins to make changes, strange things begin to happen, secrets are revealed and rumours about the castle being haunted may not be lies after all.

Ali McNamara is one of those authors for me. Whenever a new book of hers gets released, I read. Simple.

I pretty much devoured this book over a day. The story, the characters, the setting. It was all great; even grumpy Arthur.

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Book Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is the latest novel from Elif Shafak and I am pleased to be a part of her blog tour today. 

‘In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila’s consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away…’

For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works.

Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .

 

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World is truly a unique book and like nothing I’ve read before.

It’s an interesting look at what potentially happens in the minutes after death.

Split into three parts, part one and three are told from Leila’s point of view as she is dying, looking back over her life and what got her to that point (with chapters giving back story for her friends interspersed with what is going on with Leila.) Part two is from the point of view of her five friends as they try to do right by her.

There were a couple of moments where it was a little slow for me but overall, the pace was good and the plot unfolded well. Istanbul comes alive in this story. The description was so vivid I could imagine myself there, despite it being a place I have never visited.

Leila is a complex character whom you shouldn’t judge by her circumstance. She is stronger than she seems. She is also fiercely loyal and someone I would want in my corner. I felt incredibly sad by her situation and wanted to her to OK despite the fact that I knew she was dead. I cared what happened to her.

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NK Chats To… Jon Rance (Plus Book Review)

Hello Jon, welcome back to Novel Kicks. Congratulations on the new book Good Grief, which has been released today. What are you doing to celebrate?  

Firstly, thank you so much for having me! It’s always a pleasure. I don’t know about other authors, but I don’t do much to celebrate new books because I’m usually too anxious and worried about getting reviews and what people will think of it. I usually just have a meal with my family and a couple of drinks, and then it’s back to stressing about it! That’s the life of an author – 95% stress 5% enjoyment!

 

Can you tell me a little of what Good Grief is all about?

Good Grief is my eighth novel and it’s about two very different people trying to get over losing their partners. Holly Moon is twenty-seven and a year before the start of the book her husband died suddenly of a heart attack. Holly thought she had it all and suddenly her life is nothing like she had planned. Phil Turner is sixty and he’s been married to Bev for nearly forty years. She’s all he’s ever known. When she dies of cancer, he doesn’t know what life is about anymore. Holly and Phil meet at Good Grief counselling group and strike up an unlikely friendship. Together they help each other move on and find a purpose in life again. Good Grief is a love letter to the healing power of friendship. It might sound a bit sad, and it is in places, but ultimately it’s a feel-good, uplifting story.

 

Which songs would be on a playlist for Good Grief?

Haha that’s great. I actually made one on Spotify! Queen play an important role in the book and so definitely some Queen. I’d go for Another One Bites The Dust and I Want To Break Free. There’s the Snow Patrol song, What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get? Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, Your Song by Elton John, Nothing Lasts Forever by Echo & The Bunnymen, Hey Jude by The Beatles and One Day by Kodaline. You can find the playlist on Spotify. It’s called Good Grief Playlist. Enjoy!

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

Ooo that’s a tough one. I think my all-time favourite word is bivouac. I’ve never actually used it in a book, but one day!  The way it just sort of rolls off the tongue.

 

When you are beginning a new project, how much planning needs to be in place before you decide it’s enough to begin? Do you use software like Scrivener or a notebook?

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Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.

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