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Cover Reveal: The First Lie by A.J. Park

It’s time for another cover reveal. Today, it’s The First Lie by A.J. Park.

We’ve all had sleepless nights thinking about it. You’re home alone. Someone breaks in. In defending yourself, you end up killing the intruder.

Now you’re the one the police want.

That is the situation that criminal barrister Paul Reeve arrives home to find. His wife Alice stands in the bedroom, clutching a bloodied letter opener in her shaking hand.

“What have you done, Alice?”

“I didn’t have a choice…”

We would all believe the person we love most.

But would we all make the same choice Paul and Alice make next…?

 

OK, so now the cover. Ready? One… two… three

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: First Line

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: Your character is in their 50’s. Single and they don’t have any friends. With this information in mind, use the line below to begin your story.

‘He wanted her job, and it would be easy enough to discredit her.’

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Cover Reveal: Daddy’s Girls by Sarah Flint

I am thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for Daddy’s Girls, the latest novel from Sarah Flint. 

D.C. Charlie Stafford is about to face her toughest case yet… Someone is watching, waiting and preying on those who are at their weakest Uncover another gripping case in Sarah Flint’s latest action packed novel.

 

About Sarah:

With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.

Like Sarah’s page on Facebook: @SarahFlintBooks
Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahFlint19

 

Now, time for the cover. You ready? Drumroll…..

Ta-dah!

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Book Review: Crikey A Bodyguard by Kathryn Freeman

Hello and welcome back to Kathryn Freeman and the blog tour for her novel, Crikey a Bodyguard. 

She’s got the brains, he’s got the muscle …

When Kelly Bridge’s parents insist on employing a bodyguard for her protection, she’s not happy. Okay, so maybe not every woman is on the cusp of developing a vaccine against a potential biological terrorist attack – but crikey, it’s not like she’s a celebrity!

Ben Jacobs flunked spectacularly out of school, so he knows his new client Dr Kelly Bridge spells trouble for him. But on a conference trip to Rome he finds things are worse than he thought. Not only is he falling for the brilliant scientist, he’s also become horribly aware she’s in grave danger. As they go on the run, dodging bullets and kidnappers, can he resist his feelings and keep her safe?

 

Kelly is a successful Scientist who is working on vaccines. She has never entertained the idea that she would be in enough danger to need a bodyguard but finds herself with Ben. He’s ex military turned bodyguard who is focused and good at what he does… until he meets Kelly. They are total opposites. Could they be at all compatible?

Throw in a kidnapping plot and it’s an explosive story.

Crikey a Bodyguard is unlike anything I’ve read. It’s a romance, adventure and mystery all rolled into one.

Ben is a solid leading man. He’s the kind of man you want in bad situations.

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NK Chats To: Elle Nash

Hi Elle, thank you for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, Animals Eat Each Other and what inspired the story?

Hi Laura, thanks so much for having me. Animals Eat Each Other is a book about a girl who falls into a relationship with a couple, right after graduating high school. The couple, Matt and Frances, find themselves enamored with her, so much so that Frances even renames her: Lilith. Things become complicated when the three of them become dishonest with each other about their true feelings, and Lilith must explore these new boundaries in the wake of her own nihilism about herself and how she gives and receive love, raising questions about her own self-worth.

The biggest inspiration for the story was just how I felt at the age of nineteen. I felt lost, had been burned in love by a couple different people through high school up until that point, and became very jaded. I wanted to write the sort of book about not just love but also about bisexuality that I would have wanted to read as a young woman, without tokenizing the ‘sexual awakening’ aspect of the coming of age story we’re all so used to.

 

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

My typical writing day is haphazard and on the fly. I am the mother of a young and vivacious toddler so I tend to write whenever I can get it in. In the morning before she wakes up, it’s 15 minutes here or there, during naps if I can, at night when everyone is asleep. I’ll even bring my laptop with me in my car if we’re running errands. If she naps before we get to our destination, I’ll sit in parking lots and type up notes and write then, too. I also write into my notes app on my phone a lot, and even dictate thoughts to myself to transcribe later. I feel a bit like I’m collaging most of the time.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

Very tough question. Probably the word “spell.” There’s a lot to it. I view the practice of writing as a form of magic— like manifesting, conjuring something from the ether. The very idea of “spelling” a word, like carving something down onto a piece of paper or an object (or the internet) is a form of making a spell, of manifesting. You can out people under a spell with your words, by transmitting the feeling of a thing through atmosphere and character and mood. It’s a pretty powerful thing to think about.

 

Which authors have inspired you?

So many! Elizabeth Ellen, author of Person/a; Juliet Escoria, whose book Juliet the Maniac was just released; Mary Gaitskill, who has a great number of short story collections. Tom Spanbauer and Chuck Palahniuk’s early work were very inspiring to me as a young aspiring writer, along with Octavia Butler, whose book “The Parable of the Sower” really changed my life.

 

What are you currently working on?

I just shoved aside a second novel manuscript for a bit so I could focus on some short stories. It’s been fun.

 

What songs would be in the playlist for this novel?

Oh, so many, but here is a shortened list:
“10 or a 2 Way” by Korn
“F*** the Pain Away” by Peaches
“Tourniquet” by Marilyn Manson
“I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” My Chemical Romance
“Screaming Infidelities” by Dashboard Confessional
“With Teeth” by NIN
“King of the Closet” by Blindside
“Blood Pig” by OTEP
“WOW” by Marilyn Manson

 

What is your writing process like from idea to final draft? How long does it take you to write a book?

My first book took three years to finish a first draft, and then another year to get it to a publishable, final draft. I had never written a novel before and I had zero planning put in it whatsoever. It just kind of started as a short story and I kept expanding and expanding until it was more of a novel. The current book I’ve been writing, I actually planned out a lot beforehand, and challenged myself to finish a first draft in twelve weeks, which I finished in eleven, then spent a couple of weeks revising. I’m currently letting it sit for a bit before I go back to do more revisions and see if there are other structural issues I need to take care of.

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Book Extract: Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire

Hello to Jennifer Macaire and the blog tour for her novel, Son of the Moon. 

Alexander the Great journeys to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts and treachery.

With their son, Paul, being worshiped as the Son of the Moon, and Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable: how to save them and whether she dares to cheat Fate?

Jennifer has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

I climbed down the scaffolding and dashed across the floating bridge, grabbing for handholds as the river tossed it about. I had to run across a muddy, blood soaked battlefield. I leaped over bodies of men and horses, sliding and stumbling, my breath whistling in my tight throat. I knew I had to get to Alexander. He was so unrestrained. His joy and grief knew no bounds. This loss would devastate him.

I scrambled over the last twenty meters, calling Alexander’s name. He sat cradling his horse’s head in his lap, saying over and over, “Buci, Buci, Buci…”

He looked up as I arrived. “Ashley,” he said hoarsely. Then, “Your nose is bleeding.”

“Don’t worry about me.” I squatted down next to him. “You were wonderful,” I said. “Incredible. I watched the whole battle from the tower. Now I know why men will study this battle, sing songs about it, and write stories about it for thousands of years. It was amazing.”

“Do they really?” He smiled, but tears ran down his cheeks. “Was it so great?” His voice was raw and broken.

“More than great,” I assured him. I looked down at his hands, wrapped in Bucephalus’s mane. One of them was bleeding and swollen. “If you want, I’ll make you a bracelet with some of his hair.”

“I’d like that,” he said simply, and watched as I carefully plucked ten hairs from the horse’s long mane. “He was my horse,” he said softly.

“He was more than that!” I said. “Why, if everyone had a horse like Bucephalus, they would be the luckiest of men.”

“As was I.”

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: The Whimsical Fairy

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: a whimsical fairy. 

Your character is a fairy who is, well, away with the fairies in her/his own little world. They have earned their wings but on their final warning.

Your setting is a secret room in a library. In this room, there are boxes filled with…..

Continue the story.

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Cover Reveal: The Road to Cromer Pier by Martin Gore

Today I am taking part in the cover reveal for Martin Gore’s new novel, The Road to Cromer Pier. 

Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after forty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits.

The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning.

Ready…. Ta Dah! Such a lovely cover it is too.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Free Writing

For our writing group today, it’s a bit of free writing.

I have started a story below. Writing for a minimum of five minutes, continue the story. You can either keep the current POV or maybe carry it on using the point of view of the person being followed?

Have fun.

*****

I watch from the other side of the road whilst she waits in line for her coffee. She hasn’t spotted me. Her head is looking down at the phone in her hand; a small smile plays on her lips as her fingers fly across the screen.

I wonder who makes her smile like that. An agonising feeling of jealousy rises but I quickly try and brush it aside. I need to keep my focus. I am so close.

I come out of the shadows and begin to follow her when I see her finally leaving the busy coffee shop, almost loosing her in the crowds of people on the pavement. I keep my distance, careful not to be seen.

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Book Review: Sleep by C.L.Taylor

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

Anna is in a car accident which kills two of her colleagues and severely injures another.

In order to try and move on with her life, Anna splits with her boyfriend, Alex and ends up working at a hotel on the remote island of Rum in Scotland.

When tragedy strikes further, she and the guests discover they are cut off from the rest of the Island.

Messages for Anna begin to appear. Each one is more sinister than the last. She soon realises she has nowhere to hide.

I am a fan of C.L. Taylor’s novels. I tend to start reading and before I know it, I’ve reached the end and it’s 2am in the morning. I have not wanted to put it down. It was certainly the case with Sleep.

C.L. Taylor has such a unique way of drawing you into her novels. The beginning of this book is a prime example.

The tension is built at a great pace. I thought I had it sussed and then something else would soon happen to debunk my theories. I couldn’t see the end coming.

Anna is a damaged character. She has been through a lot. I felt sorry and protective of her as she tries to move on from her life.

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A Moment With… Iain Maitland

Iain Maitland has joined me today with the blog tour for his latest novel, Mr Todd’s Reckoning.

Norman Bates is alive and well… He’s living just next door

Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath.

The father: Mr Todd is at his wits end. He’s been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home… with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry.

The son: Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he’s getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where?

The unholy spirit: in the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he’ll kill again.

 

Iain is chatting today about getting into Mr Todd’s head for the novel. Over to you, Iain. 

Mr Todd’s Reckoning tells the story of two men, Mr Todd, the father, and Mr Todd, the son, living in a small, rundown bungalow during a long and endless summer heatwave. The younger Mr Todd is unemployed and has various mental health issues. The older Mr Todd has just lost his job and is angry and frustrated. Each man drives the other mad.

Getting inside Mr Todd’s head – both heads really, the father and the son – was easy to do. The two men were based, at least to begin with, on my eldest son, Michael, and me. I was writing from deep within myself.

Michael went to university, as so many teenagers do, away from home. He struggled with issues of low self-esteem and anxiety when he was there. Left unchecked, these turned eventually into depression and anorexia. He spent time in hospital and five months in The Priory. For a while, we thought we would lose him, either through anorexia or by taking his own life.

I understand now, to some degree, how someone with mental health issues thinks and acts. I read some of Michael’s diary entries from when he was in the Priory – they were the basis of a memoir we wrote together when he was getting better, Out Of The Madhouse (JKP Books). The younger Todd began as a fictionalised version of Michael, or someone much like him – someone with some of his issues anyway.

I’ve written in the national media, The Guardian etc, and in a memoir, Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder) about my childhood. My father brought his teenage mistress to live in the family home with him, my mother and me when I was six. Strange times, and they got much worse over the years. Lots of intense and negative feelings that I had in my childhood – being unwanted, feeling like an outsider, believing I was useless – were easy to dredge up when I wanted them.

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Book Review: The Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest

It is early 1940 and World War Two has already taken a hold on the country. Rose Neville works as a Lyon’s Teashop Nippy on the Kent coast alongside her childhood friends, the ambitious Lily and Katie, whose fiancé is about to be posted overseas in the navy. As war creates havoc in Europe, Rose relies on the close friendship of her friends and her family.

When Capt. Benjamin Hargreaves enters the teashop one day, Rose is immediately drawn to him. But as Lyon’s forbids courting between staff and customers, she tries to put the handsome officer out of her mind.

In increasingly dark and dangerous times, Rose fears there may not be time to waste. But is the dashing captain what he seems?

 

After becoming a fan of Ms. Everest’s writing with her ‘The Woolworth Girls’ series of novels, I was delighted to hear that this author had a new series coming out, centred around the famous Lyons teashops. Please say hello to the central cast of Rose and her mother Flora, their friends Lily and Katie, Mildred a mother cum father figure whom I can’t wait to find out more about. The icing on the cake is a delightful Polish immigrant named Anya.

Set around two teashops in Margate and Ramsgate, the novel begins prior to the Dunkirk evacuation of June 1940 with our protagonist’s literarily on England’s frontline and indeed, this is emphasised to full emotional effect by the writer a number of times. The descriptions of both during and post an air-raid are amongst the most vivid and real that this reader has seen and I must congratulate the author on this.

Seaview is the guesthouse that Flora runs and as well as the teashops, is the main location for the action. There is an eclectic mix of characters that are present here and together with the inclusion of an Army love interest for Rose, makes this an engaging, thrilling novel that should bring not only keep Ms. Everest’s long-standing readers happy, but should bring her a whole new tranche of devotees.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly

Lake Union Publishing, February 2019

Hello May. 

Here we are, into May already. This month, I have chosen One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly as the focus for our book club.

Harriet Greenleaf dreams of spending the summer in a beautiful ancient priory on the Somerset coast with her two best friends—but her dream is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s a chance to reconnect three lives that have drifted apart; on the other, she has a devastating secret to share that will change everything between them forever.

First to arrive is Audrey—the workaholic who’s heading for a heart attack unless she slows down and makes time for herself. Then Lisa, the happy-go-lucky flirt who’s always struggled to commit to anyone—or anything. Ever the optimist, can Harriet remind them of the joy in their lives and the importance of celebrating good friendship before it’s gone?

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A Moment With… Effrosyni Moschoudi

Effrosyni Moschoudi is the author of The Raven Witch of Corfu series. 

She is joining me today to talk about how Corfu has inspired her writing. 

*****

My love affair with Corfu began when I was only a child. Ever since I was about five years old, my Corfiot grandparents used to have me over for long periods every summer, first in Corfu town, then in the village of Moraitika.

Moraitika is situated on the southeast coast of the island between Benitses and the port of Lefkimmi. Back in the 1980s, Moraitika was a bustling holiday spot. My family ran both a souvenir shop and a small business of room rentals at the time, which meant I had plenty of opportunities to mingle with tourists on a daily basis, Brits mostly.

My sister and I often spent three-month holidays in Moraitika as youngsters, where we helped our grandmother with the cleaning of the rented rooms. Yet, there was always time for plenty of swimming and sunbathing, as well as for having fun in the evenings with a host of cousins and friends. This time of my life remains the most precious I hold in my heart, and this is even more so the case now that my grandparents have passed away.

I have strong family roots in Moraitika. My great-grandfather, the teacher and priest of the village in the turn of the 20thcentury is buried beside the old church. Part of his home that’s still standing in its entirety near the church was originally used as the school of the village. Today, it has been split up into small apartments which stay closed for most of the year and only come to life for 1-2 weeks at a time when descendants of my great-grandfather (my cousins, aunts and uncles) arrive for a short holiday. Having inherited the part of the house that once belonged to my grandparents, it is a precious bond with that special part of my life that literally comes to life for a few days every summer when I stay there.

Beside Moraitika, and across the river of Messonghi, lies a small fishing village of the same name. Unlike Moraitika that kept getting more built up over time, Messonghi has changed very little since I’d first laid eyes on it in the 1970s.

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Book Extract: A Perfect Cornish Summer by Phillipa Ashley

A big lovely hello to Phillipa Ashley and the blog tour for her new novel, A Perfect Cornish Summer.

Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival. At least, most of them are…

For Sam Lovell, organising the summer festival in her hometown is one of the highlights of her year. It’s not always smooth sailing, but she loves to see Porthmellow’s harbour packed with happy visitors, and being on the committee has provided a much-needed distraction from the drama in her family life (and the distinct lack of it in her love life).

When their star guest pulls out with only a few weeks to go, everyone’s delighted when a London chef who grew up locally steps in at the last minute. But Gabe Matthias is the last person Sam was expecting to see, and his return to Porthmellow will change her quiet coastal life for ever.

Phillipa has shared an extract with us today. 

 

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

 

Bryony prodded the laminated poster with the toe of her Doc Marten’s. ‘I’d hoped you’d decided to give the festival a rest for a year.’ The dog barked again so Bryony ramped up her own volume. ‘My Sacha hates all the noise and smells.’

Bryony stroked Sacha’s head while Sam tried to let the words wash over her. It didn’t do to argue with Bryony, Cornwall’s self-declared canine expert and the most unlikely metal fan on the planet. Woe betide anyone who dared ques­tion her views on dogs, music . . . or the festival, or tourists, or the weather, or anything else. Sam had often thought that if Professor Stephen Hawking had ever visited Porthmellow, Bryony would have been sure to take issue with his theories on black holes. She lived in a small house not far from Wavecrest Cottage. Sam often heard Sacha barking from fifty metres away.

Spotting a rare gap in Bryony’s tirade, Sam dived in while she could. ‘Well, the festival does bring lots of people into the town who might not otherwise come. Local people and tour­ists and it’s put Porthmellow on the map as a foodie and arty haven.’

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