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Book Review: A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy

The only way is murder…

Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, is forced to brush up on her detective skills for a third time when her cousin Sarika is plunged into danger.

Sarika and her reality TV star boyfriend Terry both receive threatening notes.  When Terry stops calling, Lena assumes he’s lost interest. Until he turns up. Dead. Lena knows she must act fast to keep her cousin from the same fate.

Scrubbing her way through the grubby world of reality television, online dating and betrayed lovers, Lena finds it harder than she thought to discern what’s real – and what’s just for the cameras.

 

I am very happy to be involved in the blog tour for A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy.

Lena is an Hungarian cleaner who works in London. She uses the cover of her job to solve the murder of reality TV star, Terry Tibbs.

Whilst trying to figure out who killed Terry and keep her cousin safe, she’s struggling to determine what is real and what was for the cameras.

I had not read any of the previous books in the series but this didn’t seem to matter. I didn’t feel that I was playing catch up.

Lena is a feisty character and I immediately liked her. The supporting characters were all intriguing too.

Reality TV plays a big part in the plot along with revenge, obsession and murder. It’s a good study at how reality TV is blurring the lines between what is real and fiction and like Lena, I was desperate to find out what was what.

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Book Review: Right Behind You by Rachel Abbott

Jo Palmer’s peaceful and happy life is about to end.

Ash – the man she loves – will be arrested by the police.
Millie – her precious daughter – will be taken from her.

She will lose her friends.
She will doubt her sanity.

Someone is stealing everything Jo loves, and will stop at nothing.

But right now, Jo is laughing in her kitchen, eating dinner with her family, suspecting nothing.

It’s raining outside.

There’s a knock at the door. They are here.

When the police show up at Jo’s door saying they are arresting her partner, Ash, she doesn’t know what to think.

When Social Services are not that far behind, saying that they want to take her daughter, Millie due to complaints of abuse, Jo very reluctantly agrees when she thinks she has no choice.

When it becomes clear that things are not what they seem, Jo becomes frantic.

DCI Tom Douglas and DI Becky Robinson are back and they vow to help her but with Jo questioning which people she can trust, she doesn’t know whether she will see Ash and her daughter again.

I am always so happy when Tom and Becky come back again. They are one of my favourite crime fighting duos and I was intrigued to see what came next.

I don’t know what it is about these novels but I devour them. I race through them because I can’t stop reading and then I have such a book hangover once I’ve finished. Rachel Abbott has such a way of writing a compelling thriller and this book, like the others, did not disappoint.

Some of Jo’s decisions are questionable but overall, I felt sorry for her.

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NK Chats To… S.L Briden

Hello. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about From the Ashes, the first novel in your Shadows of a Phoenix series and how the idea originated?

Since a young age, I’ve always been fascinated with the Arthurian legend and, later on in life, the dark ages of the UK. My late husband shared this fascination with me and together we spent many years researching myths and legends across the UK.

From our research, we discovered that the roman era of the UK displayed strong possibilities that their gladiators who used two swords in their arena’s, could have extended this battle technique over to the UK. Thus, we drafted the series, ‘Shadows of a Phoenix.’

I’ve always loved reading and writing stories but over the years I’ve found that some fantasy stories, including historic ones, tell of the battles and feats of the heroes and heroines conquers but didn’t give a realistic feeling of how anyone would cope mentally to be a part of it, even if the characters are made up and can perform sorcery.

To believe you would be brave and just carry on with life as normal was completely absurd to me, the same as if the weight of a prophecy was placed on your shoulders which states that you are the one to bring peace, so that is where the idea came to me that there needed to be a story out there that showed the true effects these things could have upon someone and the mistakes they make along the way.

That a prophecy is nothing to be rejoiced about when you are the one prophesied.

 

What is your typical writing day like? Are you the kind of writer that needs endless amounts of coffee? Do you prefer silence? When and where do you like to write?

I mainly write in the evening at home but most of the time it’s not in silence. I write with my headphones on and listen to music to connect to me with different scenes that I’m writing.

I begin with a playlist that I add different scores to, to fit each scene, character or specific occurrence, be it just a single track or numerous ones for the same scene I am writing.

If whilst writing my draft I believe the track is suited to another scene, or it no longer inspires me, I simply move the track up, down or delete it.

I am always adding more tracks to each scene and deleting others whilst writing the novel which by the end of it gives me a musical outline of the story

 

Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?

Daenerys Targaryen. Putting aside that she’s turned into a mad queen toward the end of the Game of Thrones, she started as a scared young girl and turned into an amazing leader who sought to abolish slavery. Ok, and she can command dragons! lol

 

What’s your favourite word?

Muppet — I can be one myself at times lol

 

What are the challenges of writing a series of books?

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NK Chats To… Paul Nicholls

Hello Paul. It’s lovely to be welcoming you to Novel Kicks today. Can you tell me a bit about your book, The Magical Secret of the Crystal Kingdom and what inspired the story?

It’s a children’s portal fantasy novel along the same lines as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which was one of my favourite books growing up. It’s about a group of children who find a collection of crystals buried in a cave in the woods.

They take the crystals back to the house that they are staying in and that night they are transported into another world made of crystals and inhabited by magical talking animals. The female protagonist Rose is transformed into a pink horse and is separated from all of the other children who also think that they are alone there and are also transformed into magical animals.

One by one the children start realise that this world is at war and has been for a long time and that it is down to them to save it. It is a story of love and hope and believing in yourself.

 

What were the challenges you faced when writing?

Keeping track of the characters! I always knew from the start that I wanted to create a world into which both the characters and the readers can escape into. By creating another world it was inevitable that the children were going to meet lots of characters along the way.

Also, for the purposes of relating a deeper meaning to certain aspects of the story I knew that I needed to have seven friends who go into the crystal kingdom together.

 

What’s your writing process like from first idea to final draft, where do you like to write and do you have any writing rituals?

I did initially start with an outline or more accurately a headline for each chapter but as I started to write I realised that the characters and the story took on a life of its own and that so much just happened spontaneously that was never in my original plan.

I write at my desk at home and normally just write on a Friday morning to get me going. However once I’ve really got going I tend to write at all different times.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

I think Enchanting is my favourite word it just sounds exciting and amazing and wonderful all at the same time.

 

Which book made the most impact on you as a child?

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Cat’s Eyes

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: Cat’s eyes.

Where does your cat go when out on an adventure? I have always wanted to know and been fascinated about what the answer could be.

Your character finds that they have an insider view into the day of their cat. They get to follow them around and see where they go. Write about the day you have.

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Book Review: Make Do and Mend a Broken Heart by Katey Lovell

When you know how, you can make anything from scratch, including a new life after love…

When Leanne and Richard bought a dilapidated old seaside cottage to renovate together as their forever home, their future was full of hope and promise.

But heartbreak was just around the corner: fast forward a few months and Richard is gone. With his death, Leanne finds herself stony broke, faced with an uninhabitable home and lacking even the basic skills to do it up herself.

With the help of the friendly woman who runs the library and the reluctant assistance of the man who works in the local hardware shop, the cottage is lovingly restored. But broken hearts aren’t so easy to fix… are they?

 

I was so excited to be part of the blog blast for Make Do and Mend a Broken Heart by Katey Lovell.

When Leanne and Richard buy Sea Glass Cottage, they can’t wait to begin the new chapter of their lives and start renovating their new house by the seaside. When Richard dies before they have a chance to realise their dream, Leanne decides to go it alone.

She soon finds that the residents of Rockgate Bay pull together for her, especially the handsome, Harry. Can they help mend her broken heart?

First of all, can I move to Rockgate Bay please? Having grown up near the sea, this book really made me miss it so much.

The town sounds so wonderful (the setting is described so well,) as does most of the residents. There are a couple of them I didn’t care for. If you read it, you’ll see what I mean.

I loved Mary and Harry. Oh Harry Also, can I steal Milo?

Leanne was very easy to love. She’s been through a lot. I wanted to reach into the page and give her a hug.

She shows such strength as a character. She is well-developed and to me, she jumped off the page.

Katey Lovell’s style of writing made this novel hard to put down for me.

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NK Chats To… L.M Brown

Hello, L.M Brown, thank you so much for joining me today. What’s your typical writing day like?

It depends on what stage I am at. Before I start a project, whether it’s a novel or a short story, I plan it out. I think of the characters and their main story as well as the backstory.

This could take weeks or months with a novel, especially because I never start a novel now without reading at least 5 or 6 novels that I think might be similar.

With a story it could take an hour or so, and then I start writing. I like to get up before 6 when the house is quiet, and I work all the time I can. The re-write is my favorite part and its much easier to get up at 5 when I am there, because I have something to work with.

 

What’s the challenges of writing a collection of short stories? 

For a collection, there needs to be a common thread linking all the stories together, so not every story might fit the collection.

For Were We Awake, the publisher didn’t think one story fit. It was a story about alcoholism and family dynamics, but Marc believed it was too normal and boring for a collection with ghosts, clowns, exotic birds and murders. So, I wrote a different story, and he was right. The collection was better for it.

 

What’s your favorite word and why?

I laughed when I read this, such a hard question. I like the word ‘pernicious’, though I can’t say I have a favorite word.

 

How do you approach the planning process when writing a book made up of short stories? What advice do you have for someone who would like to put together a short story collection? 

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Cover Reveal: Never Saw You Coming by Hayley Doyle

I am so pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal for Never Saw You Coming, the new novel from Hayley Doyle. 

Before we reveal the cover, here’s a little about the book:

Zara Khoury believes in love – so much so that she flies from Dubai to Liverpool to be with a man she barely knows. It’s a risk, but she’s certain that uprooting her life for Nick is the new start she needs.
 
Jim Glover is stuck. Since his Dad died, he’s put his dreams aside and stayed at home in Liverpool to care for his mum. Trapped in a dead-end job, he’s going nowhere – that is, until he gets a phone call that just might change his life..
 
Zara and Jim aren’t supposed to meet. But then fate steps in, and when their worlds – and cars! – collide, the real journey begins…
 
A gorgeous tale about taking risks and living life to the full – perfect for fans of Beth O’Leary and Josie Silver.

OK, are you ready for the cover? 

Drumroll…. Ta-dah!

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Unexpected Journey

I am excited to be back with the first Novel Kicks Writing Room of 2020. 

Today, it is writing about an unexpected journey.

Your character’s day begins like any other.

They wake up, have coffee, see the kids off to school, take the same bus and arrive for the same job they’ve held for a few years.

The plan is to work, go back home, eat with the family, have the same conversations, watch TV and then go to sleep for it all to start again the next day.

Yet, that evening, they are on a train and are far from home.

Write about what happens between work and this point and/or what happens after.

 

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Book Review: Snowflakes and Sparks by Sophie-Leigh Robbins

One small town. One swoon-worthy neighbor. One second chance at love.

Old Pine Cove is the one place on earth Suzie swore she’d never return to, but then her boss asks her to manage one of their bookstores there. Since it’s only temporary, she agrees. Besides, what could possibly go wrong?

Gosh, how naïve of her.

Alex Denverton opening the door with that smoldering look of his, that’s what could go wrong. It’s been ten years since she broke his car and his heart. How is she supposed to focus on work knowing he’s right next door? And why did she even agree to organize the annual Winter Walk with him?

One thing is certain, though. If Suzie wants to have a magical Christmas, she can’t ask Santa to make it happen. It’s up to her to decide: go big or go home.

 

Snowflakes and Sparks focuses on Suzie. Living in LA, working in a bookshop and hoping for promotion, she didn’t think she would ever return to the small town of Old Pine Cove but it’s where she finds herself, just before Christmas, managing the bookshop there.

She has not been in town long when she sees Alex. She’s not seen him since she left and broke his heart ten years earlier. He’s as gorgeous as she remembers and seems to have no anger toward her.

How was she supposed to concentrate with him next door? She has even said she’d help organise the winter walk with Alex. What could go wrong?

Snowflakes and Sparks was my introduction to Sophie-Leigh Robbins but it won’t be the last book of hers I read.

I read this at the beginning of December and it immediately put me in the festive mood.

I loved Suzie from the beginning. She is a very open, friendly and relatable character. I want to be her friend.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: On The Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

Hello 2020. A new decade, a new year and a new Novel Kicks book club read. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

This month, I have picked On The Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher. 

As usual, I have posted a question to start discussion. I look forward to seeing you in the comments. Anyone can take part too.

 

About the novel…

Your soul is too heavy to pass through this door,

Leave the weight of the world in the world from before.

Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. I

t’s the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty seven- year-old self and the door won’t open. Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Come Get Father Christmas

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: Where is he?

Father Christmas has been kidnapped. It’s all over the news around the world.

However, your character is made aware of this when a red, hand-delivered envelope is posted through their door. The number one has been printed on the front. The note inside reads…

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Book Review: The Afternoon Tea Club by Jane Gilley

I am pleased to be welcoming Jane Gilley and the blog tour for her latest book, The Afternoon Tea Club. 

Marjorie, Stacy, Raymond and Dora each hold a different story to their chest – lost loves, abandoned dreams, crippling self-confidence issues, and simply feeling invisible. For each of them, the thought of letting those stories out is almost as terrifying as letting strangers in, and that makes for a very lonely life indeed.

But when these four strangers who have struggled to “fit in” end up on the same table for an event at their local community centre, little do they know that their lives are about to be entwined and changed forever because of an Afternoon Tea club.

Cue an unexpected journey of self-discovery, some unlikely new companions, and plenty of tea and biscuits along the way…

 

This novel had me at the title. Tea is one of my favourite things. There’s a lot more to it than that though.

The Afternoon Tea Club focuses on Marjorie, Dora, Raymond and Stacy.

All vary in ages but all are harbouring their own secrets and insecurities. These four characters are also lonely in their own ways.

When The Afternoon Tea Club is announced in their local area, each of our main characters goes although some are more reluctant than others. Dora, Raymond, Marjorie and Stacy are four unique characters who have more in common than they realise. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because, as normal, I hope you will decide to discover this book.

Marjorie carries a lot of learned behaviour and has much emotional baggage tied into the relationship with her husband.

Dora also has a lot of hurt from her past and it’s been something she’s been running from for a long time.

Raymond is probably one of the sweetest fictional characters I have come across. He’s a simple man who is still in love with his wife ever after her death.

Stacy is missing so many aspects of love from her life and she almost has to hit rock bottom to find herself again.

I think out of all of the characters, I related to Stacy the most. She and I don’t share life experiences but there was just something about her. Although, I think she may be a little braver than me.

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Christmas Gift Guide 2019: Stocking Fillers for Writers and Readers

It’s that time of year. In fact, it’s my favourite time of the year.. Christmas.

I am one of those people who likes finding presents for family and friends. I will sit for hours trying to find the perfect something – a gift they would like.

As I have been doing my own shopping, I have found some perfect stocking fillers related to writing or books so I have put together a gift guide.

If you’re struggling to find a present for the writer or reader in your life (or, if you want to observe the law of Christmas present shopping where you should buy something for yourself as well as for others. OK, I made that up but it’s a nice tradition to start right?)

I have tried to find things that are under £20 so let’s get straight to the guide.*

 

 

Literary Cat Mug – The Literary Gift Company – £13.99.

Words can’t describe how much I love this mug and it is going on my Christmas list for sure. This mug features nine cat silhouettes and kitty related quotes from people like Emily Bronte, L.M Montgomery and Winston Churchill.

It’s so pretty and for anyone who wants to know, it’s microwave and dishwasher safe too. If, like me, you or your gift recipient is a writer, reader or cat lover (or all three,) this mug is perfect.

 

 

100 Books Scratch Bucket List Poster – Gift Republic via Not on The High Street – £12.99.

 

I love these type of posters and really want one. This one in particular compiles a hundred of the best novels and, if you’ve not already guessed, you can scratch off the books as you read.

This poster features classic novels like Murder on the Orient Express and Great Expectations to more recent books like The Help, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Handmaid’s Tale. This would make a great reading challenge for the new year if you or someone you know have wanted to read some of the greats but haven’t know where to begin.

 

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Cover Reveal: The Beach House by P.R. Black

Today, I am joining P.R Black and Aria by helping to reveal the cover for his latest novel, The Beach House. 

Having enjoyed The Family, I can’t wait to read this novel. Before we reveal the cover, here is a little about The Beach House…

 

This vacation is about to turn deadly…

Cora’s on the island vacation of her dreams: a private beach in paradise, a romantic proposal, and an eight-figure cheque following the sale of her new fiancé’s business.

When their island turns out to be not so private after all, Cora tries to make the best of a bad situation by inviting their strangely friendly neighbours to celebrate with them.

But it doesn’t take long for her once-in-a-lifetime holiday to take a very sinister turn…

 

OK, time for the cover. Drumroll….. 

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

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