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Book Extract and Review: That Girl by Kate Kerrigan

Kerrigan_THAT GIRLHello and welcome to Kate Kerrigan and the blog tour for her new novel, That Girl which was released by Head of Zeus on eBook on 1st January 2018. 

You can escape a place. But you can’t escape yourself.

Hanna flees the scene of a terrible crime in her native Sligo. If she can just vanish, re-invent herself under a new name, perhaps the police won’t catch up with her. London seems the perfect place to disappear.

Lara has always loved Matthew and imagined happy married life in Dublin. Then comes the bombshell – Matthew says he wants to join the priesthood. Humiliated and broken-hearted, Lara heads to the most godless place she can find, King’s Road, Chelsea.

Matthew’s twin sister, Noreen, could not be more different from her brother. She does love fiance John, but she also craves sex, parties and fun. Swinging London has it all, but without John, Noreen is about to get way out of her depth.

All three girls find themselves working for Bobby Chevron – one of London’s most feared gangland bosses – and it’s not long before their new lives start to unravel.

 

I’ve reviewed the book below but first, Kate and her publishers have kindly shared an extract from That Girl. I hope you enjoy! 

A year passed and Hanna turned from thirteen to fourteen. She became more independent and began to speak her own mind. She was glad that her mother had Dorian to focus on, instead of just her, and she came to trust him. While she knew her stepfather would never be a replacement for the father she so deeply loved, Hanna grew fond of him as time went by. Dorian Black loved her mother, there was no doubt about that, and he made her happy. Hanna also understood that he had been kind and generous regarding her as well. As the nuns pointed out to her in school, ‘It’s not every man would take on another man’s child.’

Dorian never patronised her, or talked to her like she was a poor child, as so many people did since her father died. He treated her as an equal, and she liked that. Dorian allowed her to call him by his first name. When she first did it, her mother tutted, insisting she call him father to show him proper respect. But Dorian had been on Hanna’s side. ‘Don’t push the child, Margaret,’ he said. ‘I am not her natural father. There is no reason she should look on me as such. Hanna is old enough to make up her own mind about the role I play in her life.’

Margaret became worried that Hanna was moving away from her, that she was losing her. Dorian was as wise and reassuring as ever. ‘Hanna is becoming a fine young woman,’ he told her. ‘She is not your little girl any more, Margaret. Sooner or later you’ll have to accept that she’s an adult.’

Margaret pursed her lips and remained silent on the subject. Hanna could tell she didn’t like it but it was important that her mother understood she wasn’t a child any more. Dorian was right, she was becoming a ‘young woman’ and her mother just had to get used to it. United in that understanding, a bond grew between stepfather and stepdaughter that felt to Hanna like friendship, or maybe even love.

Then, as Dorian and Margaret Black were coming up to their second wedding anniversary, Margaret came down with a nasty bout of flu. At first it seemed not to be serious but then her symptoms worsened with lethargy and headaches. Weeks passed and Margaret remained bedridden. With little appetite and no energy to lift herself from the bed, it appeared that there was something more serious underlying the illness. Hanna was worried and asked Dorian if there was anything more they could do. He reassured her that her mother’s recovery was just around the corner.

‘It’s only a virus,’ he promised.

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Book Review: Blackbird by ND Gomes.

HQ Young Adult, November 2017

HQ Young Adult, November 2017

Olivia disappeared the night the blackbird died.

It was New Years Eve the night that dead blackbirds descended, hours before fourteen year old Alex McCarthy’s sister Olivia went missing from a party.

Committed to finding out what happened to her sister, within the previously safe walls of their subarctic Orkney village, Alex knows that dishevelled, sometimes intoxicated Detective Inspector Birkens is her best shot.

Yet as they uncover the secrets behind Olivia’s last night, Alex starts to find things she may be better off never knowing…

Olivia disappears on New Years Eve. Orkney is a small community and the disappearance of a young woman puts everyone on edge.

Olivia’s younger sister Alex can’t rest until she knows what happened to her sister. The chaotic Detective Birkens may be her best shot at helping her piece together the events of the evening Olivia went missing.

The perspective of this novel is an interesting one. Rather than being told from the point of view of the police, it’s told from the point of view of the victim’s sister.

There is a mystery to solve (one of the aspects of the novel that appealed to me,) – what happened to Olivia and who was responsible but this is mostly looking at how Alex is dealing with the loss of her sister and how the event impacts her, the family and the community as a whole. This is really Alex’s story.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Everything Comes With A Price

Novel Kicks Fiction FridayFiction 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 is about getting what you want but at what cost?

You wake up to find that you are the smartest person in the world. The knowledge you now have will allow you to get everything that you want. Fame, money, power. However, nothing is free. When someone gets luck, someone isn’t so lucky. Write from both perspectives with the two characters meeting up at the end.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Photo Inspiration

Nove Kicks Writing RoomImages can conjure up a lot of inspiration. 

Google all of the following words – forest, desert, highlands and ocean.

Pick one of the images that appears; the one that stands out the most. Write a story around it. What has it inspired? What has it made you think about?

Don’t edit, just imagine yourself within the picture.

Feel free to put two of the images together if you like.

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Cover Reveal: The Best Boomerville Hotel by Caroline James

Choc Lit Caroline James PicI am very excited to be a part of today’s cover reveal for The Best Boomerville Hotel which is the latest novel from Caroline James. 

Let the shenanigans begin at the Boomerville hotel …

Jo Docherty and Hattie Contaldo have a vision – a holiday retreat in the heart of the Lake District exclusively for guests of ‘a certain age’ wishing to stimulate both mind and body with new creative experiences.

One hotel refurbishment later and the Best Boomerville Hotel is open for business!

Perhaps not surprisingly Boomerville attracts more than it’s fair share of eccentric clientele: there’s fun loving Sir Henry Mulberry and his brother Hugo; Lucinda Brown, an impoverished artist with more ego than talent; Andy Mack, a charming Porsche-driving James Bond lookalike, as well as Kate Simmons, a woman who made her fortune from an internet dating agency but still hasn’t found ‘the One’ herself.

With such an array of colourful individuals there’s bound to be laughs aplenty, but could there be tears and heartbreak too and will the residents get more than they bargained for at Boomerville?

OK, drum roll…..

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Book Review: Recluse Millionaire, Reluctant Bride by Sun Chara

rp_Recluse-Millionaire-197x300.jpg

HarperImpulse, 2017

Welcome to Sun Chara and the blog tour for her latest novel, Recluse Millionaire, Reluctant Bride which was released by Harper Impulse on 8th December 2017.

Stan Rogers, recluse millionaire, must negotiate a risky deal with Stella Ryan, the exotic beauty from his past, to gain custody of his son. But how can he close the deal with her, the one and only woman who flips his switches and pegs him as the enemy?

Martial artist Stella knows she should steer clear of Stan, the man who had shattered her heart and could still destroy her. Four years have passed since their hostile business deal, and now, the American financier is proposing holy matrimony…but she’s the reluctant bride wondering, what’s he up to?

Stella has no time for love. The love of her life is her business. When Stella is stopped by two men, put in the back of a van and taken to an unknown location she doesn’t know what to think. What she doesn’t expect is to be in the home of the man who financed her dream four years before. She quickly begins to question what is going on and why she’s there.

I didn’t completely know what to expect when I picked up this book to read and I wasn’t sure whether it would be my kind of book. Truth is, I couldn’t put this book down. For me, it is about how first impressions about someone aren’t always correct.

Stella is a strong fabulous female character. Sure, she is a workaholic and doesn’t really have time for a family which made me feel sad. She has her weaknesses (for Stan in particular,) but she’s a really likeable character.

The plot is paced well. The tone and setting at the beginning certainly drew me in. I wasn’t sure where the story was going to go and this made it exciting.

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NK Chats To: Charles Harris

charles harrisI’d like to welcome Charles Harris to the blog today. Hello Charles. Thank you so much for joining me today. Your first fiction novel is called The Breaking of Liam Glass. Tell me a bit about it and what inspired the idea?

Hi Laura, thank you for having me.

The Breaking of Liam Glass is a crime-satire – not so much a Whodunnit as a What-They-Did-After-It! It follows the twenty-four hours after a teenage footballer, Liam Glass, is stabbed and in hospital in a coma, and the piranhas – the journalists, politicians and police – who all want to use him to build their careers.

The idea came from both seeing the rise in knife crime in our cities that seems unstoppable and also looking at the way newspapers play such a crucial part in our lives, and yet are almost unaccountable. Even the good ones. And to some extent they all can be good at times. It’s easy nowadays to attack the tabloids, but they have mounted important campaigns in the past and it would be a poorer world without them.

In Liam Glass, the central character, Jason Crowthorne, is a young wannabe journalistic piranha who first discovers Liam Glass’ case and realizes this could be his ticket to tabloid heaven. Yet at the same time he is honestly shocked at seeing kids being stabbed and wants to do something that will stop it.

As the story develops, Jason is torn between his better instincts and promoting his own career. In the process, he gets sucked into a dark yet comic spiral of lies and deceit, each step trying to escape the consequences of the one before. And soon discovers that there are bigger and nastier piranhas than him in the sea.

 

What do you think makes a good main character? Which elements are most important?

There’s no formula – I wish there were, it would make my life a lot easier. It’s like finding a partner – you can specify all the traits you want on Tinder but ultimately it comes down to a certain magic: you just want to spend more time with this person.

Some characters in the novel just arrived, fully formed, and were a joy to write: a nice but dim gym instructor; a local politician who is desperate to get re-elected but has no idea of her own; a put-upon detective constable who makes a single bad mistake and is urgently looking for someone to pin it on.

Whereas Jason hid himself from me and had to be slowly teased out.

Having said that, there are some rough guidelines – you want characters who are full of energy and contradictions, facing big dilemmas yet capable of taking action.

Jason finally revealed himself to be a great person to spend time with, which is a good thing as I lived with him for many years.

His heart is in the right place and yet he keeps doing the wrong things. You fear for him and yet in some ways you long for his comeuppance. In all, he turned out to be a wonderful comic hero to write.

 

What is your writing process like? Are you much of a planner? Edit as you go?

In theory, I try to plan, but not too much, and then not edit until I have a full draft. But each book tells you what it needs. It’s like sailing single-handed across the Atlantic – you start off with the best of intentions and by the end you’re clinging onto a spar, soaked to the skin and searching the horizon for dry land.

 

Are you working on anything at the moment that you can tell us about?

I’ve just sent my editor a zillionth draft of a more serious psychological crime story.

 

Which three books could you not live without and why?

More like three hundred, but currently my top three would be Scoop, Catch 22 and Bonfire of the Vanities.

• Scoop for Evelyn Waugh’s brilliant depiction of the values and contradictions of the newspaper business;
• Catch 22 because every line that Joseph Heller writes both makes you laugh and pins some human hypocrisy like a butterfly on a pin;
• and Bonfire for Tom Wolfe’s ageless and constantly funny depiction of the hubris that led to the social and economic car crash we’re living through today.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Character Lists

IMG_0447This week, I want to look once again at creating characters.

I have featured a few ways of getting to know your character and today, I wanted to explore that further.

Using the prompts below, make lists as though you were your character. Do it for as many of your current characters as you like.

1. Pet Hates
2. What things worry you?
3. Your idea of a perfect day?
4. What are your wishes?
5. What are some of your favourite books?
6. What’s your favourite word?
7. What would you grab from a burning house?
8. What things would you do if you won the lottery?
9. What were your childhood dreams?
10. What things are you most afraid of?

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Blog Tour: NK Chats To Liv Constantine

the last mrs parrishI am pleased to be welcoming Liv Constantine (the writing duo of Lynne and Valerie) to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for their latest novel, The Last Mrs Parrish.

What’s your typical writing day like and as a duo, how do you approach the writing process?

We are in touch everyday via email and FaceTime. We both write in the mornings and email that day’s work to each other. Late afternoon, we jump on FaceTime and give each other feedback on the pages we’ve each read. During these talks, we’ll also bring up any issues either of us is having with character or plot, and brainstorm solutions. Then we assign scenes for the next day. This goes on every day, usually even Saturdays, and occasional Sundays depending on our deadline.

 

What are the advantages of writing together and also, what are the challenges? 

The advantages are numerous. Firstly, we get along great and enjoy each other’s company so we have a wonderful time coming up with the story, the characters, and twists and turns along the way. Our sessions are infused with a great deal of laughter and fun. When we get stuck writing a scene, a simple MORE HERE in the middle of a paragraph and an email to the other results in it coming back all filled in! It’s also great to be able to bounce ideas off your co-writer and to get input when you’re at a loss for where to go next. The biggest challenge is making sure our scenes mesh, both contextually and emotionally. A lesser challenge for us (fortunately) is the need to be open to hearing criticism and the other’s point of view.

 

The Last Mrs Parrish is your debut thriller. Can you tell me a little about it? 

It’s a story of two women: one who has “everything”, the other who has “nothing”. The story was born of a conversation we were having concerning the phenomenon of the “trophy wife”. We began to imagine how this trope might be turned on its head, and the more we talked, the more intriguing the idea sounded. It was then that we decided to write the story of a woman who befriends a wealthy woman with the intent of stealing her life and giving it a big twist.

 

How do you approach the editing process? What are the challenges of this with the physical distance between you? 

There’s no question that editing is the most time consuming and tedious process for us. This is often a four or five-hour exercise as we facetime, both of us with the document open on our computers, and go through the manuscript line by line. More than once!

 

What elements do you think make up a good thriller? 

Suspense is critical– keeping the reader wanting answers to questions and turning those pages; but it’s vital that you play fair with the reader. Authenticity in character and action is a must. Nothing pulls the reader out of a story more quickly than a cheap plot device that doesn’t ring true, or when a character does something totally contrary to her nature. Pacing is also a key element in a good thriller.

 

What do you think is the most important – Plot or Character? 

This is such a tough question and one that is debated over and over. The two are so intertwined that it’s almost impossible to choose, for without a good plot you have no story and without believable characters the story doesn’t matter. We begin with an overall plot, however, we let the characters drive the story. We’re always asking the question “Would she do this, say this, believe this.” And if the answer is no, then the plot has to change. If you think about the stories that move us, it’s usually the character that’s most memorable. Elizabeth Bennet, Scarlett O’Hara, Katniss Everdeen, Eliza Doolittle, Michael Corleone, Hannibal Lecter, Atticus Finch, James Bond, and Jay Gatsby are all examples of characters that live on. Does that mean that character is more important than plot? We go back and forth on this one.

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Book Review: The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine

the last mrs parrishI am thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for The Last Mrs Parrish which is the latest novel from Liv Constantine. 

Amber Patterson is tired of being a nobody: an invisible woman who melts into the background. She deserves more. She deserves a life of wealth, luxury and leisure.

Daphne Parrish is the golden girl of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut. With her model looks, her picture-perfect mansion and her millionaire husband, Jackson, she has everything Amber wants.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive―if she didn’t have a plan. Before long, she has become Daphne’s closest friend, and is catching the eye of Jackson. But a skeleton from her past could destroy everything, and if discovered, Amber’s well-laid plan may end in disaster…

 

The Last Mrs Parrish intrigued me before I even picked it up to read and it definitely sounded like my kind of psychological thriller.

Amber is tired of being invisible and is desperate to escape her past. She doesn’t want to be a nobody anymore. She wants to be noticed. She wants a life of luxury. She wants Daphne’s life.
Daphne is married to Jackson Parrish and together they are the golden couple. Outwardly, they have the perfect marriage and Amber wastes no time in making sure she becomes a big part of their lives.

The Last Mrs Parrish blog tour bannerThe plot to this novel, in my opinion is very clever and is unveiled in a very compelling and exciting way and is paced extremely well.

I was unsure of where it was going to go and I didn’t see the end coming at all. I thought I knew what was going to happen and then the plot would go somewhere completely different.

From the beginning, you know that Amber isn’t what she seems. Her behaviour throughout the novel and the lengths she goes to are quite shocking.

I wasn’t won over by Amber but had sympathy with other characters which then changed over the course of the book.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Resolutions

Novel Kicks Fiction FridayFiction 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 is about resolutions. 

Your character starts the new year with no relationship and no job. They decide to make a list of new year resolutions and one by one, tick them off the list throughout the year.

Pick one of the resolutions and put your character in the situation where they are trying to complete it. Do they? What happens and what conflict arises?

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January’s Book Club: Blackbird by ND Gomes

HQ Young Adult, November 2017

HQ Young Adult, November 2017

Hello January. 

I can’t say that this is my favourite month of the year. Christmas is over, the decorations and music are gone and we’re left with the rain and wind and no money until the end of the month. Boo!

The silver lining to this time of year is that it is a chance to curl up when you can with a book and this month, I’ve chosen Blackbird by ND Gomes.

This YA novel is set at the beginning of 2016 around New Year and January so I thought it was appropriate for this month’s book club.

Come join me in discussing Blackbird and the great thing is, you don’t have to leave your sofa to join in.

Olivia disappeared the night the blackbird died.

It was New Years Eve the night that dead blackbirds descended, hours before fourteen year old Alex McCarthy’s sister Olivia went missing from a party.

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My Writing Ramblings: My Christmas Traditions

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225-1-300x225.jpgAs I get older, Christmas traditions have become all the more important to me.

When I was growing up, it was the magic of waiting for Father Christmas. We’d leave the milk and biscuits and we’d get so excited when there would be presents waiting for us under the tree in the morning.

My Mum would hide a stocking filler and give us clues to find it. Then my Grandparents would arrive at some point.

I still have the same level of excitement about Christmas. some of the old traditions are still there joined by some new ones.

Family must be involved in my day, even if I am working. I have been known to make an eighty mile round trip after a night shift on Christmas Day so I can spend time with family.

Most of my traditions usually begin on 1st December once National Novel Writing Month is over. This is when the Christmas music is transferred to the iPod, the Christmas themed mugs come out, the Christmas phone case is used, Heart Xmas is set in the car and this is when we buy our tree. A real tree can’t be beaten.

Once my husband and I have the usual ‘can you get the decorations from the loft’ conversation, he and I both decorate it with a Christmas film or music on in the background.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Misdirected Festive Post

Novel Kicks Fiction FridayFiction 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 has a Christmas theme.

You wake up one morning to a mountain of post. Some of the post that was meant for Father Christmas at the North Pole has somehow been misdirected to your house. Your mission is to return the post to its rightful recipient. The trouble is, you don’t have a clue where to begin.

Continue the story.

 

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My Favourites: Christmas Movies

scroogedChristmas is only a few days away. I can’t hardly believe it. This time of year is probably my favourite.

I love being able to snuggle up in warm pyjamas and slippers. The Christmas Tree, twinkle lights. I love it all. I even love the repeated Christmas music.

One of my traditions is watching Christmas themed movies (not that I need much of an excuse.) With it being the festive season, it got me thinking about which films I can’t have Christmas without. The danger with a question like this is that I could have gone on forever so, because I don’t like making things easy for myself, I have limited it to five. So, in no particular order, here are my favourites.

 

Scrooged (1985)

Staring Bill Murray and Karen Allen, this is my favourite adaptation of the Christmas Carol. It’s a film that has been part of my Christmas for a long time and it never gets old. At the beginning, Frank Cross is so easy to hate. He is horrible to everyone around him and oblivious to the needs of others.

There are some aspects to the story that have been adjusted or added to this film which keeps it fresh.

There are some laugh out loud moments, some heart-breaking moments (Norman,) and by the end, I’m always humming along with the cast when they sing ‘Put A Little Love in Your Heart.’

For me, it’s one of the perfect Christmas films.

 

holidayThe Holiday (2006).

This film focuses on two women who need to get out of their comfort zone and decide to swap lives over Christmas.

Awwwww, I adore this film. The four main cast members are just fantastic in this festive film about two women who are looking to escape their every day life and prove that going somewhere else for a while can be the best thing you ever do.

I have completely fallen in love with both houses for a start and would be hard pushed to be able to pick one if I was told that I could live in either Rosehill cottage or Amanda’s house.

Jude and Jack make lovely heroes. It’s funny, this is my favourite role of Jack Black’s and it’s not the kind of role he usually takes. I wish there was more Miles and Iris in this movie.

Plus, it came out a year before I got married to the day so it will always be a little bit special.

 

nativityNativity (2009)

This stars Martin Freeman and is such a sweet film. I am always impressed that it was mostly improvised and some of the kids are hilarious. There is something very original about this film. I will always cry at the end no matter how many times I see it. I can’t help it.

This movie brings back memories of when I was an angel in my school nativity ( I know, strange casting decision right. Haha.)

This film above all makes me feel festive and can put me in the best of moods.

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