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Book Review: The Brazilian by Rosie Millard

brazilian covershotA lovely big hello to Rosie Millard who is here with the blog tour for her new book, The Brazilian (released by Legend Press on 14th June.)

Following a sensational scandal at one of London’s most desired postcodes, Jane and Patrick decide to escape the gossip with a family holiday to Ibiza, their eight-year-old son George in tow.

Also on the island that week is a TV reality show involving an eccentric artist, a horny It Girl, a Brazilian footballer and a famous magician.

As hapless celebrities are picked off one by one, Jane is desperate to be on the programme, leaving childcare in the not so capable hands of a teenager.

One lesbian escapade and an explosive row over hair removal later, the contestants of Ibiza or Bust leave the island with more than sand in places they never knew existed… 

My verdict: 

The Brazilian is the follow-up to Rosie’s previous novel, The Square.

Jane and Patrick want to escape scandal which has made them a subject of gossip in the Square – an exclusive little bunch of houses. They decide to take their son, George to Ibiza for a family holiday but with teenager (and fellow Square resident,) Belle in tow. Patrick just wants a quiet, relaxing holiday for him and for Jane.

At the same time and unbeknown to Jane, Phillip, the Square’s artist has decided to go on a reality TV show called Ibiza or Bust leaving his wife Gilda at home.
When he gets to the house, he causes a stir. Not to mention the fact that TV personality Alan is there too. And they are not the best of friends.

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Book Extract: Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa by Sun Chara

Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa 516MSZ3h2cLA lovely welcome today to Sun Chara and the blog tour for her new novel, Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa, which has just been published by HarperImpulse.

Tug-a-war between the sexes! Infamous Italian neurosurgeon, Peter Medeci, has a score to settle with his estranged wife: her reckless bid for independence has nearly destroyed his medical career.

Ellie, desperate to reassert herself as more than his bedroom playmate, flees the ‘fairytale’ for a gig in a Hollywood club until Peter comes looking for her. For her freedom, Ellie must spend the next three weeks being the ‘good doctor’s wife’ in public…and his mistress in private!

Thanks to Sun and Harper Impulse, I have an extract from Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa to share with you today. Enjoy.

 

Chapter 1

Peter saw her. And he saw men at the bar ogling her every curve.

The waitress scrap-of-nothing she wore accentuated the length and shape of her legs, clad in net stockings. How she managed to walk on stiletto heels was beyond his male comprehension. The flimsy froth of fabric barely covered her bottom and had her breasts nearly spilling from the Grand Canyon neckline, to the delight of every male eye in the smoke-filled room.

He brushed rain-damp hair off his brow, warring with his gut instinct to stride over, sling her across his shoulder, and take her home. Hot blood surged through him and his aorta boxed his chest. Home where she belonged, with him, and in his bed—

The crash of glass jolted him from plunging deeper into the erotic fantasy. Since she’d run out on him, his mind was set on replay…a constant rankling to his Italian pride.

A muscle assaulted his jaw.

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Competitions: All The Good Things Winners

Viking, June 2017

Viking, June 2017

It’s time to announce the winners from our All The Good Things competition. 

We had three copies of All The Good Things (which was released on 1st June by Viking Books) by Clare Fisher to give away.

Drumroll….well done to Jo Martin from North Yorkshire, Helen Yendall from the Cotswolds and Derek Norton from Co. Durham who have all won a copy of this fantastic book.

What if you did a very bad thing… but that wasn’t the end of the story? 

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

To read my review, click here.

 

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Book Review: Leopard At The Door by Jennifer McVeigh

May 2017

May 2017

Stepping off the boat in Mombasa, eighteen-year-old Rachel Fullsmith stands on Kenyan soil for the first time in six years. She has come home.

But when Rachel reaches the family farm at the end of the dusty Rift Valley Road, she finds so much has changed. Her beloved father has moved his new partner and her son into the family home. She hears menacing rumours of Mau Mau violence, and witnesses cruel reprisals by British soldiers. Even Michael, the handsome Kikuyu boy from her childhood, has started to look at her differently.

Isolated and conflicted, Rachel fears for her future. But when home is no longer a place of safety and belonging, where do you go, and who do you turn to?

Rachel spent her childhood in Kenya and has returned for the first time in six years having been educated at a boarding school in the UK.

When she arrives there is much that has changed. Her father has a new partner, Sara and even Michael, someone she has known for years is looking at her slightly differently.

This book is set in one of the most turbulent times in African history. Mau Mau violence against Kenyans and British people and the retaliation for this is getting worse. Rachel longs for the happier memories of her childhood.

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Competition: Win a Copy of All The Good Things by Clare Fisher

Viking, June 2017

Viking, June 2017

Hello to Clare Fisher and the blog tour for her novel, All The Good Things which was released on 1st June by Viking.

What if you did a very bad thing… but that wasn’t the end of the story? 

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

This competition is now closed.

We have three copies of this fantastic novel to give away. 

To enter, comment on this post. Tell us who you are and roughly where you are. The closing date for comments is Sunday 11th June 2017 at 23.59. The three winners will be picked at random from the entries and announced on the Novel Kicks blog on Monday 12th June 2017.

I will also contact the three winners via e-mail so please do check your junk folders. Open to UK only. (Prize coming directly from publisher so allow a few days for delivery.)

Good luck everyone.

 

My verdict on All The Good Things…. 

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June’s Novel Kicks Book Club: The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke

Harper, May 2013

Harper, May 2013

Welcome to the Novel Kicks Online Book Club.

I love books and I love chatting about them even more. Every month, I pick a new book for discussion. I will post a question to kick things off in the comments box below. A good thing about this book club is that everyone is welcome to take part. It’s open to all. You can read the book at any point in the month or if you’ve already read it, tell us what you think.

The best part… it’s all from the comfort of your armchair/sofa/bed/comfy place.

This month, it is the fantastic, The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke. 

Two sisters, one life-changing journey…

There are some currents in the relationship between sisters that run so dark and so deep, it’s better for the people swimming on the surface never to know what’s beneath . . .

Katie’s carefully structured world is shattered by the news that her headstrong younger sister, Mia, has been found dead in Bali – and the police claim it was suicide.

With only the entries of Mia’s travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life, and – page by page, country by country – begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death.

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The Vets at Hope Green by Sheila Norton – Extract and Review

Ebury Press, June 2017

Ebury Press, June 2017

A huge, lovely welcome today to Sheila Norton, whose book, The Vets at Hope Green was released in paperback on 1st June 2017 by Ebury Press.

Sam has always dreamed of working with animals…

But her receptionist job in a London vets is not hitting the spot.

Unsure whether a busy city life is for her, she flees to her Nana Peggy’s idyllic country village.

But despite the rolling hills and its charming feel, life in Hope Green is far from peaceful.

On first meeting Joe, the abrupt and bad-tempered local vet, Sam knows she must get him on side, but that is easier said than done…

With her dream close enough to touch, will she get there, or will events conspire against her…?

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, thanks to Sheila and Ebury, I have an extract from The Vets at Hope Green for you. Enjoy.

It was a beautiful, warm day at the end of May and the countryside on either side of the road was full of the promise of summer ahead.

I wound down the driver’s window of my little car and turned up the radio so that I could hear the music above the noise of the breeze as I whizzed along in the fast lane of the motorway.

Mile by mile, I felt myself relaxing. I felt my worries and uncertainties begin to melt away and my heart lifted with the anticipation of my destination.

Hope Green. The very name made me feel more optimistic. I sang along to the radio, remembering happy family holi­days on the Dorset coast when I was a child. Hope Green had hardly changed since those days, its age-old charm untouched by the increased pace of life elsewhere. It was somewhere I could unwind and be at peace, take stock of things and perhaps really find myself at last.

As I steadily increased my distance from my home on the outskirts of London, I could almost feel my old life slipping off my shoulders like a heavy coat that had been weighing me down – the crowded streets, the rush-hour crush on the Tube, the traffic fumes, the stress on people’s faces – I was leaving all this behind me, leaving it for a place where life still depended on the seasons, where people still had time to chat on street corners, where people picked blackberries and elderberries from the hedgerows instead of buying them in tiny plastic packets from the supermarket at ridiculous expense.

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Book Review: Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham

9780751566888 (1)A BLOODY MESSAGE
As DI Nicola Tanner investigates what appears to be a series of organised killings, her partner Susan is brutally murdered, leaving the detective bereft, and vengeful.

A POWERFUL ALLY
Taken off the case, Tanner enlists the help of DI Tom Thorne to pursue a pair of ruthless killers and the broker handing out the deadly contracts.

A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE
As the killers target their latest victim, Thorne takes the biggest risk of his career and is drawn into a horrifying and disturbing world in which families will do anything to protect their honour.

When I was asked to take part in this blog tour, I was very, very excited.

Love Like Blood is the latest outing for DI Tom Thorne and it is great to have him back. Thorne finds himself helping fellow officer Nicola Tanner who is investigating a series of organised crimes; ones that she feels could all be linked.

This book pushes you straight into the action. It doesn’t shy away from delicate subjects. For example, the overall theme of this book is one I found hard to read about. It focuses on honour killings.

There are some uncomfortable moments for sure. It confronts many current issues and there are some very intense moments (I gasped out loud in places.) There were also moments where I fought tears and of course, Thorne brings his own unique humour and insight.

 My sympathy was present for some characters and I immediately didn’t like others.

The plot itself has many twists and turns. I pretty much lost sleep because of this book. I couldn’t stop reading.

Mark Billingham is very good at planting many clues and questions throughout the novel and my suspicions fell on many of the characters throughout.

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Blog Tour: Spandex And The City by Jenny T. Colgan

LOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET

Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love.

She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.

But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.

Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

When I first got asked to read this book as part of the blog tour, I found the premise utterly intriguing although at the same time, not quite knowing what to expect. I’m a great fan of Jenny Colgan’s previous novels. I think it’s no exaggeration to say that I love her and her books, (for this novel, she’s writing as Jenny T. Colgan.)

This book is something very different not only for Jenny but also in general.

Holly hasn’t always been lucky in love and is under pressure from her friend to find someone when we meet her at the beginning of the novel.

When something happens that she’s not expecting, she meets Ultimate Man, the resident superhero.

Also, in the ensuing chaos following their meeting, Holly ends up experiencing her fifteen minutes of fame.

Fame and a new relationship with Ultimate Man and his alter ego is full of the ups and downs you’d expect when dating a superhero.

This book pretty much had me laughing from the beginning and I got drawn into it immediately. I couldn’t put it down.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: The Secret Mission

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 that secret mission.

You are carrying on your day as you normally do. You get up, have breakfast at the usual time and leave at 8.30am exactly.

However, as you pull out of your driveway, your car gets stopped by a black sports car. The passenger window opens.

‘Get in,’ says the stranger.

From there, you get pulled into a secret mission by accident and are forced to make up a new identity on the spot. Go!

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Blog Tour: Just For The Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

rp_Sue-Moorcroft-199x3001.jpg SuemoorcroftjustfortheholidaysI am very pleased and super excited to be welcoming the fabulous Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her new novel, Just For The Holidays, released today by Avon Books.

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

 

Mick has reviewed the book but first, Sue shares her top tips for surviving summer holidays. Over to you, Sue.

I love summer. I was brought up for several years in Malta and it’s there I think I must have developed my love of the sun. Here are my top tips for surviving summer holidays:
• Take plenty to read. Whether it’s your eReader, print books or magazines, just make sure everybody in your party has something. I know you’ve got your phones on which to browse the Internet or tablets to let you watch DVDs but airport delays or beaches lead to flat batteries, low signal or extortionate phone bills. I find a book a day a nice starting point. Loading my eReader for a trip is such a pleasure! And I generally take a magazine just in case something makes it impossible to read on my eReader and the app on my phone.

• Choose a holiday you actually want. This might sound like stating the flippin’ obvious but if you’ve browbeaten your holiday companions into going where you want, you may find that nobody has a good time – and that includes you if they remind you every five minutes and sulk. (Of course, if you’re the browbeaten one and you didn’t actually want to spend your holiday in a theme park, put your friends/family in a queue for a ride, find a sunny bench and take out your book …) Leah in Just for the Holidays allows her sister, Michele, to coax her into a holiday she doesn’t want and things go seriously wrong from the first. (It doesn’t help that Michele has a couple of secrets, including quite an important one that she hasn’t shared with Leah.)

Blog tour• If you can afford it, treat yourself to a pre-holiday pamper. Leg-waxing and gel nails can keep you feeling good all through your long-awaited holiday.

• Stay safe. It’s a shame we have to think this way but many a fabulous break has been ruined by theft of money and/or passports and returning to find the home ransacked. Be aware, use the hotel safe, visit one of the ‘information for travellers’ websites for advice pertinent to the place you’re visiting.

• Take at least one sweatshirt and a raincoat. Even hot countries have summer storms or freak weather.

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NK Chats To Marilyn Bennett About Her Book, Granny With Benefits

marilynHello Marilyn. Thank you so much for joining me today. Your book is called Granny with Benefits. What is it about and how did the idea originate?

Hi Laura, thank you very much for inviting me.

The book is about a 39 year old single woman called Grace. Her grandmother passes away and Grace volunteers to clear out her belongings from the Sheltered Accommodation, but really it’s an opportunity to get her sticky paws on some beautiful coats and jewels that her grandmother owned. Grace is dressed head to toe in her grandmothers clothing when a handsome man, who is looking for accommodation for his father, comes to view the room. They strike up a meaningful conversation about life and love, a discussion Grace believes would not have happened had he not thought she was an old woman. Grace decides that she will use her Granny alto ego to engineer a date for herself with the man, but things do not go according to plan.

The idea originated from two separate conversations that I had with friends of mine. The first conversation was with one of my best friends, who at the time was single and very reluctant to join Match.com. It made her feel exposed and she felt that it was a digital meat market. We had a long conversation about dating. We came to the conclusion that the men we were meeting wanted someone to look after them. They were basically looking for their mothers. This sparked the idea of men looking for their mothers when dating in my head.

The second conversation was with male best friend. I suggested to him that as we both had single friends we should set them up on blind dates. He agreed to speak to his friend and I was horrified when he advised that his friend had given him right of veto to vet my friends via photographs to decide if they were suitable for a blind date. He thought it was a perfectly reasonable suggestion. I thought the pair of them had a bloody cheek!

But it got me thinking. I made me think about the fact that some of us have a checklist that we can’t deviate from when looking for a partner. We aren’t open to surprises. It also made me think about the fact that when you meet someone are you really meeting the real them? Aren’t we all on our best behaviour when first dating?

The two conversations made me want to explore the idea of getting to know someone in a dating scenario without them realising it. What would they reveal about themselves? I also loved the idea of being able to look at the process of dating and aging. Grace gets the opportunity to become her ghost of Christmas Future through her Granny alter ego and it impacts on her present life.

 

If you were suddenly given the courage to do the one thing you’ve always wanted to do but have not yet done, what would you do?

I would walk a tight rope. I suffer from vertigo and only discovered this in my late twenties. Even the thought of a great height makes me dizzy! I can change a light bulb and put up curtains, basically anything three rungs up a step ladder, but any higher than that and you’re on your own!

 

What’s your writing process like? When writing this book, did you plan much and did you edit as you wrote or once you’d completed the first draft?

I discovered my writing process and the fact that I could write a novel by accident! I had planned to write a short film and whilst plotting it turned into the novel.

I wrote the entire novel by hand in notebooks, so there was no editing. I have a computer, so I have no idea why I did it this way. I think it was my subconscious not quite convinced that I could write a novel, so didn’t want to commit to it fully. When I typed up the novel that served as my first edit. Then when I read it back, that was the second edit.

I then came across an organisation called Spread the Word and they offered one to one Fiction Surgeries, so I booked one. It was invaluable. Based on the Writer Development Manager reading a 3000 word extract from the novel, I was given some top tips on where it wasn’t quite working. One of the books recommended at the session was Stephen King’s On Writing. It is an absolutely fantastic book for any writer, but particularly a new one like me. Once I read that I knew what I needed to do with the novel. I didn’t touch it for four months then I gave it a complete restructure and further edit.

At this point I knew I had got it in the best possible shape I could on my own, so I then found an Editor. We did one edit and a final read through and the book was done!

I was quite a long journey, but I now have it down pat, which made writing my second book a much more refined process. Plotting is the key for me. I plot from beginning to end before I write a single word on the manuscript.

 

Which authors do you admire and why?

I was a prolific reader as a child, but then I discovered film and so most of the authors I admire are from my childhood.

I loved Roald Dahl books. His imagination seemed boundless. He seemed to have a knack/genius for creating fantasy worlds that were comfortably inhabited by real children. Nothing seemed impossible, but simply magical.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Interview Questions and Answers

Novel Kicks Writing RoomFor today’s writing group exercise, you’ll be interviewing your character.

Create a bunch of interview questions for one of your characters – general CV stuff but also personal questions like likes, dislikes, fears etc.

Do this for a character you’re currently working on or if you’ve not got a character who is suitable, create one named Bob James.

Now interview your character, asking them these questions. It’s interesting to see how your character will answer.

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A Moment With: Kate Hughes; ‘My Self-Publishing Adventure.’

kateI’m pleased to be welcoming author, Kate Hughes to the blog today.

She chats to us about her self-publishing journey and what it was like for her. Over to you, Kate.

So I’d written a book. Now what?

All the advice I read said ‘Get an agent’. It all sounded so straightforward. So I diligently ordered the Writer’s Handbook and began to contact the relevant agents listed within its many pages. Email after email was sent but gradually after reading what felt like the millionth rejection message, it finally dawned on me that it was pretty unlikely that I was going to get any interest. I was unpublished, unknown and unimportant.

What to do? I’d invested so many hours in writing my precious book that I wanted at least a few people to read it. A friend of mine had just self-published his first novel and was having a lot of success, so he convinced me to give it a go. After sorting out all the formatting issues, which for a technophobe like me was extremely demanding, Amazon were pretty good at taking me through the self-publishing process. I had to upload the correct format of my book (finally it looked like a proper book with chapters and everything) then I had to design the cover. Again, Amazon have a handy cover creator which allows you to use pictures and text on their program. I know many authors pay to have their own covers designed and they look amazing, however as I had no idea whether I was actually going to sell any copies yet I was loathe to spend money I didn’t have! I have to say I was pretty pleased with the finished cover anyway. Just a few more boxes to fill in then…

I self-published my debut novel Mr Brown’s Suitcase in 2014. BUT and this is a big ‘but’ (hence the capitals) now the real work began.

The book is out there but, in order to sell any copies, people have to know. If you go through a traditional publisher they’ll sort all that out for you, but down the self-publishing route it’s all your responsibility. That for me has been the hardest part. The huge problem is that there are so many self-published authors out there. The competition to get your book noticed in a crowded marketplace is a challenge. I also work in a profession (teaching) which isn’t known for its expertise in self-promotion so it didn’t come easily! I had to advertise on all my social media accounts and encourage friends and family to share the news and a link to my book, use word of mouth (i.e. drop into the conversation at an appropriate time, “Did you know I’ve written a book?”), ask book bloggers to review my book (and hope it’s positive!) and contact relevant websites who I thought might be interested. Phew!

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Descriptive Alphabet

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-300x199-1-1-300x199.jpgToday, we are going to write a descriptive alphabet.

On a piece of A4 paper, write the alphabet down the left side of the page. Leave enough room between letters to write a little glossary.

Now, look around the room you are in and fill in each letter with an object you can see.

Once you’ve done that, give each object a description. Give as much detail as you can in the small space you have.

You could also do another alphabet but this time, you could make up the objects and then descriptions for them.

 

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