A big welcome to Emma Healey and the blog tour for her latest novel, Whistle in the Dark which was released by Viking on 10th January.
Jen has finally got her daughter home.
But why does fifteen-year-old Lana still feel lost?
When Lana goes missing for four desperate days and returns refusing to speak of what happened, Jen fears the very worst. She thinks she’s failed as a mother, that her daughter is beyond reach and that she must do something – anything – to bring her back.
The family returns to London where everyone but Jen seems happy to carry on as normal. Jen’s husband Hugh thinks she’s going crazy – and their eldest daughter Meg is tired of Lana getting all the attention. But Jen knows Lana has changed, and can’t understand why.
Does the answer lie in those four missing days?
And how can Jen find out?
I have reviewed the novel below but first, here is an extract. I hope you enjoy.
***** beginning of extract.*****
‘This has been the worst week of my life,’ Jen said. Not what she had planned to say to her fifteen-year-old daughter after an ordeal that had actually covered four days.
‘Hi, Mum.’ Lana’s voice emerged from blue-tinged lips.
Jen could only snatch a hug, a press of her cheek against Lana’s ‒ soft and pale as a mushroom ‒ while the paramedics slammed the ambulance doors and wheeled Lana into the hospital. There was a gash on the ashen head, a scrape on the tender jaw, she was thin and cold and wrapped in tin foil, she smelled soggy and earthy and unclean, but it was okay: she was here, she was safe, she was alive. Nothing else mattered.
Cigarette smoke drifted over from the collection of dressing-gowned, IV‑attached witnesses huddled under the covered entrance, and a man’s voice came with it.
‘What’s going off? Is that the lass from London?’
‘Turned up, then,’ another voice answered. ‘Heard it said on the news.’
So the press had been told already. Jen supposed that was a good thing: they could cancel the search, stop asking the public to keep their eyes open, to report possible sightings, to contact the police if they had information. It was a happy ending to the story. Not the ending anyone had been expecting.
The call had come less than an hour ago, Hugh, wrapped in a hotel towel, just out of the shower (because it was important to keep going), Jen not dressed and unshowered (because she wasn’t convinced by Hugh’s argument). They had never given up hope, that’s what she would say in the weeks to come, talking to friends and relatives, but really her hope, that flimsy Meccano construction, had shaken its bolts loose and collapsed within minutes of finding Lana missing.
Even driving to the hospital, Jen had been full of doubt, assuming there’d been a mistake, imagining a different girl would meet them there, or a lifeless body. The liaison officer had tried to calm her with details: a farmer had spotted a teenager on sheep-grazing land, he’d identified her from the news and called the police, she was wearing the clothes Jen had guessed she’d be wearing, she’d been well enough to drink a cup of hot, sweet tea, well enough to speak, and had definitely answered to the name Lana.by
I am happy to be welcoming Zoe May to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her novel, When Polly Met Olly.
Polly might spend her days searching for eligible matches for her elite list of clients at her New York dating agency, but her own love life is starting to go up in smoke.
Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about the very person she’s meant to be setting her latest client up with… surely it can’t get any worse!
But then Polly bumps into oh-so-handsome Olly, who heads up a rival agency, and realizes that perhaps all really is fair in love and dating war…
I have reviewed the book below but first, Zoe and HQ have shared an extract today.
***** beginning of extract*****
Surely, I’m not qualified to be a matchmaker?!
You’d think getting a job at a dating agency might actually require you to have found love, or at least be good at dating, but apparently not. I’ve been single for three years and I haven’t had a date for six months, yet I’m pretty sure I’m nailing this interview.
‘So, what kind of message would you send Erica?’ Derek asks, handing me a print-out showing a dating profile of a pretty, tanned brunette. Derek is the boss of To the Moon & Back dating agency, although with his nicotine-stained teeth, lurid purple shirt stretching over his giant pot belly and cramped city office, he’s not exactly what I imagine when I think of Cupid.
What kind of message would I sent Erica? When Derek says ‘you’, he doesn’t mean me, as in Polly Wood. He means me pretending to be 34-year-old bachelor Andy Graham, because that’s what my job as a matchmaker would involve. While Andy, and the rest of the busy singletons on the agency’s books, are out earning the big bucks, too busy to trawl internet dating sites looking for love, I’ll be sitting here with Derek, firing off messages on their behalf in the hope of clinching dates. It’s a little morally questionable I suppose, since the women will be chatting to me beforehand, and will no doubt become enamoured with my witty repartee and effortless charm, but to be honest, I haven’t really given the moral side of it much thought. According to Derek, it’s what all dating agencies do, and anyway, ethics somehow stop being so important when you really need cash.
I try to put myself in the mindset of Andy, while thinking up a message for Erica. I only know about him from reading a form he’s supposedly filled in, which Derek gave me to study five minutes earlier. According to the form, Andy is an ex-army officer turned property surveyor. He grew up in a small town in Ohio where his family still reside. His younger brother, aged 31, has already settled down with a wife and three kids, and reading in between the lines, I get the impression that Andy feels he’s beginning to lag behind. He works long hours, reads Second World War history books in his spare time, enjoys visiting aviation museums and likes to play tennis at the weekends. Oh, and he has a penchant for Thai food.by
Happy New Year everyone.
It’s lovely to be welcoming back Bella Osborne to Novel Kicks (we’ve missed you,) and the blog tour for the first part in a four-part serial, Wildflower Park: Build Me Up Buttercup.
Life’s not always a walk in the park…Escape the everyday with Part One of a brand-new four-part serial from the author of Coming Home to Ottercombe Bay.
Anna thought she’d found The One… until he broke off their engagement exactly one year before their wedding day. Now faced with a different type of countdown, Anna moves into her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park, hoping that a bit of greenery and a fresh start will do her the world of good.
With a little help from her good friend Sophie, a no-nonsense rescue cat and an attractive new work colleague, Anna is doing well moving on with her life… until her ex fiancé is hired into her team at work. But that proves to be the least of her worries, because she’s been swept off her feet by someone she really shouldn’t be falling for…
As much as she needs a new beginning, can Anna overcome her the difficulties in her past that prevent her from moving forward?
I have reviewed the novel below but first, Bella and Avon have shared an extract from part one of Wildflower Park: Build me up Buttercup. Enjoy.
***** beginning of extract*****
Seven o’clock came and Anna checked her mobile. She wanted this to be over. She wanted Liam to come in, take his things and go with as little small talk as possible. She was moving on with her life and this was a key milestone along her journey. The knock on the door made her jump and she shook her head at her own silliness.
‘Hi,’ she said, opening the door. Liam appeared relaxed and casual, the polar opposite of how she was feeling. ‘Come in.’
They walked through to the lounge and Anna pointed at the box of random items. ‘Here you go. I think that’s everything.’
‘This is nice,’ said Liam, having a good gawp around the room.
‘Thanks,’ said Anna. She wanted to pick the box up and thrust it at him but she wouldn’t be so rude.
‘So,’ said Liam, rubbing his hand across his chin. ‘Have you been okay?’
‘Yes, terrific, thanks.’ She said it too enthusiastically and Liam looked a little taken aback. Or was that hurt?
‘Oh, that’s good.’ He pursed his lips. Liam wasn’t paying attention; he was still inspecting the room and it annoyed her.
She wondered why he wasn’t just taking the box and leaving. He sat down on the sofa. Her sofa. Anna folded her arms. ‘Did you want a coffee or something?’ she asked out of politeness, which irritated her further. She was so British.
He smiled and she wondered why. ‘A coffee would be great – or something stronger. Have you still got the bottle of Châteauneuf you took?’
***** end of extract*****Continue reading by
A lovely Christmas welcome to Francesca Hornak and the blog tour for her latest novel, Seven Days of Us.
It’s Christmas, and the Birch family is gathering for the first time in years.
Olivia, the eldest daughter, has returned from treating an epidemic abroad and must go into quarantine for seven days. Her mother has decided it’s the perfect opportunity to spend some ‘special time’ together. Her youngest sister wholeheartedly disagrees. Her father isn’t allowed an opinion.
When no one can leave the house, seven days for the Birches feels like an eternity.
Especially when they’re all harbouring secrets. One of whom is about to come knocking at their door…
I have one copy of Seven Days of Us to give away (details on how to enter at the bottom of the post but first, Francesca has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy!
***** beginning of extract.*****
17 November 2016
Cape Beach, Monrovia, Liberia, 1.03 a.m.
. . .
Olivia knows what they are doing is stupid. If seen, they will be sent home – possibly to a tribunal. Never mind that to touch him could be life threatening. But who will see them? The beach is deserted and so dark she can just see a few feet into the inky sea. The only sound is the swooshing drag of the waves. She is acutely aware of the tiny gap between their elbows, as they walk down to the surf. She wants to say, ‘We shouldn’t do this,’ except they haven’t done anything. They still haven’t broken the No- Touch rule.
The evening had begun in the beach bar, with bottled beers and then heady rum and Cokes. They had sat under its corrugated iron roof for hours, a sputtering hurricane lamp between them, as the sky flared bronze. They had talked about going home for Christmas in five weeks, and how they both wanted to come back to Liberia. She told him about Abu, the little boy she had treated and then sobbed for on this beach the day he died. And then they’d talked about where they’d grown up, and gone to medical school, and their families. His home in Ireland sounded so unlike hers. He was the first to go to university, and to travel. She tried to explain how medicine represented a rebellion of sorts to her parents, and his eyes widened – as they had when she confessed to volunteering at Christmas, to avoid her family. She had noticed his eyes when they first met at the treatment centre – they were all you could see, after all, behind the visor. They were grey-green, like the sea in Norfolk, with such dark lashes he might have been wearing make-up. She kept looking at his hands, as he picked the label on his beer. Like hers, they were rough from being dunked in chlorine. She wanted to take one and turn it over in her palm.
By the time the bar closed the stars were out, spilt sugar across the sky. The night air was weightless against her bare arms. ‘Will we walk?’ said Sean, standing up. Usually she stood eye to eye with men, but he was a head taller than her. And then there was a second, lit by the hurricane lamp, when they looked straight at each other, and something swooped in her insides.
Now, ankle deep in the surf, their sides are nearly touching. Phosphorescence glimmers in the foam. She loses her footing as a wave breaks over their calves, and he turns so that she half-falls into him. His hands reach to steady her and then circle around her waist. She turns in his arms to face him, feeling his palms on the small of her back. The inches between his mouth and hers ache to be crossed. And as he lowers his head, and she feels his lips graze hers, she knows this is the stupidest thing she has ever done.
The Buffalo Hotel, Monrovia, Liberia, 2.50 p.m.
Sipping bottled water to quell her stomach (why did she have that last drink?), Olivia waits to Skype her family. It is strange to be in a hotel lobby, a little bastion of plumbing and wi-fi – though there is no air-con, just a fan to dispel the clingy heat. And even here there is a sense of danger, and caution. In the bathrooms are posters headed SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HAAG VIRUS, with little cartoons of people vomiting. The barman dropped her change into her palm without contact – guessing, rightly, that most white faces in Monrovia are here for the epidemic, to help with ‘Dis Haag Bisniss’. Another aid worker paces the lobby, talking loudly on an iPhone about ‘the crisis’ and ‘supplies’ and then hammering his MacBook Air with undue industry. He’s wearing a Haag Response T-shirt and expensive-looking sunglasses, and has a deep tan. He’s probably with one of the big NGOs, thinks Olivia. He doesn’t look like he’d ever brave the Haag Treatment Centre or a PPE suit – not like Sean. Last night keeps replaying in her mind. She can’t wait to see Sean on shift later, to savour the tension of No-Touch, of their nascent secret. Anticipation drowns out the voice telling her to stop, now, before it goes further. It’s too late to go back anyway.
Olivia realises she is daydreaming – it’s five past three and her family will be waiting. She puts the call through and suddenly, magically, there they are crammed onto her screen. She can see that they’re in the kitchen at Gloucester Terrace, and that they have propped a laptop up on the island. Perhaps it’s her hangover, but this little window onto Camden seems so unlikely as to be laughable. She looks past their faces to the duck-egg cupboards and gleaming coffee machine. It all looks absurdly clean and cosy.
Her mother, Emma, cranes towards the screen like a besotted fan, touching the glass as if Olivia herself might be just behind it. Perhaps she, too, can’t fathom how a little rectangle of Africa has appeared in her kitchen. Olivia’s father, Andrew, offers an awkward wave-salute, a brief smile replaced by narrowed eyes as he listens without speaking. He keeps pushing his silver mane back from his face (Olivia’s own face, in male form), frowning and nodding – but he is looking past her, at the Buffalo Hotel. Her mother’s large hazel eyes look slightly wild, as she fires off chirpy enquiries. She wants to know about the food, the weather, the showers, anything – it seems – to avoid hearing about Haag. There is a lag between her voice and lips, so that Olivia’s answers keep tripping over Emma’s next question.
Her sister Phoebe hovers behind their parents, holding Cocoa the cat like a shield. She is wearing layered vests that Olivia guesses are her gym look, showing off neat little biceps. At one point, she glances at her watch. Olivia tries to tell them about the cockerel that got into the most infectious ward and had to be stoned to death, but her mother is gabbling: ‘Have a word with Phoebs!’ and pushing Phoebe centre stage. ‘Hi,’ says Phoebe sweetly, smiling her wide, photogenic smile, and making Cocoa wave his paw.
Olivia can’t think of anything to say – she is too aware that she and her sister rarely speak on the phone. Then she remembers that Phoebe has just had her birthday (is she now twenty-eight or -nine? She must be twenty-nine because Olivia is thirty-two), but before she can apologise for not getting in touch, Phoebe’s face stretches into a grotesque swirl, like Munch’s Scream. ‘Olivia? Wivvy? Wiv?’ she hears her mother say, before the call cuts off completely. She tries to redial, but the connection is lost.
. 1 .
17 December 2016
The Study, 34 Gloucester Terrace, Camden, 4.05 p.m.
. . .
Subject: copy 27th dec
From: Andrew Birch <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 17/12/2016 16:05
To: Croft, Ian <email@example.com>
Copy below. If this one goes without me seeing a proof, I will be spitting blood.
The Perch, Wingham, Berkshire
By the time you read this, my family and I will be under house arrest. Or, more accurately, Haag arrest. On the 23rd my daughter Olivia, a doctor and serial foreign-aid worker, will return from treating the Haag epidemic in Liberia – plunging us, her family, into a seven-day quarantine. For exactly one week we are to avoid all contact with the out- side world, and may only leave the house in an emergency. Should anyone make the mistake of breaking and entering, he or she will be obliged to stay with us, until our quaran- tine is up. Preparations are already underway for what has become known, in the Birch household, as Groundhaag Week. Waitrose and Amazon will deliver what may well be Britain’s most comprehensive Christmas shop. How many loo rolls does a family of four need over a week? Will 2 kg of porridge oats be sufficient? Should we finally get round to Spiral, or attempt The Missing? The Matriarch has been compiling reading lists, playlists, de-cluttering lists and wish lists, ahead of lockdown. Not being a clan that does things by halves, we are decamping from Camden to our house in deepest, darkest Norfolk, the better to appreciate our near- solitary confinement. Spare a thought for millennial Phoebe, who now faces a week of patchy wi-fi.
Of course, every Christmas is a quarantine of sorts. The out-of-office is set, shops lie dormant, and friends migrate to the miserable towns from whence they came. Bored spouses cringe at the other’s every cough (January is the divorce lawyer’s busy month – go figure). In this, the most wonderful time of the year, food is the saviour. It is food that oils the wheels between deaf aunt and mute teenager. It is food that fills the cracks between siblings with cinnamon-scented nostalgia. And it is food that gives the guilt-ridden mother purpose, reviving Christmases past with that holy trinity of turkey, gravy and cranberry. This is why restaurants shouldn’t attempt Christmas food. The very reason we go out, at this time of year, is to escape the suffocating vapour of roasting meat and maternal fretting. Abominations like bread sauce have no place on a menu.
The Perch, Wingham, has not cottoned onto this. Thus, it has chosen to herald its opening with an ‘alternative festive menu’ (again, nobody wants alternative Christmas food). Like all provincial gastropubs, its decor draws extensively on the houmous section of the Farrow & Ball colour chart. Service was smilingly haphazard. Bread with ‘Christmas spiced butter’ was good, and warm, though we could have done without the butter, which came in a sinister petri dish and was a worrying brown. We started with a plate of perfectly acceptable, richly peaty smoked salmon, the alternative element being provided by a forlorn sprig of rosemary. The Matriarch made the mistake of ordering lemon sole – a flap of briny irrelevance. My turkey curry was a curious puddle of yellow, cumin-heavy slop, whose purpose seemed to be to smuggle four stringy nuggets past the eater, incognito. We finished with an unremarkable cheese- board and mincemeat crème brûlée which The Matriarch declared tooth-achingly sweet, yet wolfed down nonetheless. Do not be disheartened, residents of Wingham. My hunch is that you, and your gilet-clad neighbours, will relish the chance to alternate your festive menu. We Birches must embrace a week of turkey sandwiches. Wish us luck
Andrew sat back and paused before sending the column to Ian Croft – his least favourite sub-editor at The World. The Perch hadn’t been bad, considering its location. It had actually been quite cosy, in a parochial sort of way. He might even have enjoyed the night in the chintzy room upstairs, with its trouser press and travel kettle, if he and Emma still enjoyed hotels in that way. He remembered the owners, an eager, perspiring couple, coming out to shake his hand and talk about ‘seasonality’ and their ‘ethos’, and considered modifying the lemon sole comment. Then he left it. People in Berkshire didn’t read The World. Anyway, all publicity, et cetera.Read moreby
I’m glad I found you this Christmas – an uplifting sweet romance set against the magical backdrop of Christmas.
Maggie Coates is frustrated. Her longterm boyfriend, Dirk, recently moved to London to take a job she fears puts him out of her league. Despite the assurances of her best friend Renee, Maggie is convinced Dirk is slowly drifting away. All Maggie wants is to get married and settle down, but maybe Dirk has other ideas.
Convinced by Renee to make one last throw of the dice, Maggie books a romantic holiday for two in the quaint Scottish village of Hollydell. But will Dirk show up?
And if he doesn’t, what if there is a perfect man waiting for her among the Christmas magic of Hollydell’s snow-laden streets? What if Henry, the humble reindeer farmer with the kind smile, turns out to be the man of Maggie’s dreams?
I’m glad I found you this Christmas is a glowing sweet romance which will leave you feeling warm inside and buzzing with Christmas spirit.
I am very pleased to welcome the blog tour for the first Christmas novel by CP Ward. He has shared an extract from I’m Glad I Found You This Christmas today. Enjoy.
***** start of extract*****
In this excerpt, Maggie has just arrived in Hollydell.
The tall pines, some hung with strings of Christmas lights, were a polite distance back from the road to allay any fears of wolves or bears, just in case she wasn’t still in Scotland after all, but during her little doze the train had somehow flown all the way to Switzerland or Canada and deposited her somewhere with lots of extra dangers to worry about. The road curved through the trees, refusing to let her see too far ahead, but while there were no signs of cars, someone had at least cleared a line through the snow on the pavement to allow the wheels of her little bag to move freely. She was glad now that she had brought her new boots and jacket, because among the trees the temperature was a couple of degrees cooler than out in the open.
She was starting to wonder if the curving road wasn’t some sort of elaborate joke, winding back to the train station where Andrew would be waiting to take her back to Inverness with a mocking grin on his face, when it suddenly opened out, revealing the village up ahead.
It’s Friday and we have a treat today. A lovely big hello to Nicola Avery and the blog tour for her new novel, Within The Silence.
Jon Stone is a revered psychiatrist, doting husband, loving father. But he has many secrets.
Maddy Stone, Jon’s daughter, has her own secrets. But she can’t tell anyone.
Zara, Maddy’s stepsister and best friend, faces a race against time. Can she unearth the family’s dark secrets before a tragic history repeats itself?
Two girls: one living and lost, the other scarred and silent, must join forces to prevent the unspeakable…
I have reviewed the book below but first, Nicola has shared an extract.
***** start of extract*****
‘You’ve been swimming already!’ Pippa scolded.
‘Less of the attitude, missy,’ said Zara, unwrapping her towel just enough to envelop her wriggling, laughing sister.
‘Can we go swimming now?’ Pippa asked, her smiling face lifted towards her sister’s.
‘You can come in with me in a minute,’ answered Zara, acknowledging Jon’s presence on the pool terrace.
‘Morning, Zara,’ Jon said, moving towards her and kissing her on the cheek. ‘Did you sleep well? And where’s Gareth?’
Zara smiled. ‘Last time I looked he was flat on his back, catching flies and snoring loudly.’
‘Some of us don’t have such luck, do we?’ said Jon, pointedly looking at Pippa, who bounced off across the grass towards the pathway leading down to the beach.
‘Have you seen Maddy?’ called Pippa, looking out at the Phoenix.
‘No, I haven’t seen her yet,’ replied Zara, watching Pippa’s shoulders drop in disappointment. ‘Are you sure she’s not still asleep?’
‘Nope,’ said Pippa, returning to the patio. ‘Her bed’s made up, so she must be down on the beach or on her boat. Can I go down and get her? We’re going out to the secret beach today, and she’ll need a good breakfast. And I want to check if my stuff’s already on board.’
Zara laughed as she attempted to hold onto her excited sister. ‘Wait a moment, sweetie, you can’t go down in your PJs.’
‘Oh!’ Pippa exclaimed, laughing as she peeled off her favourite Frozen pyjamas and tossed them under the table before running to get her tiny red swimsuit which was hanging by the showers. ‘I forgot. Nearly ready,’ she shouted, wriggling into the tight costume.
‘Here, let me help you,’ Jon offered, moving towards her.
‘No thank you, Daddy. I can do it myself,’ she answered.
Zara smiled at her sister’s feisty independence – and the fact that her bathing costume straps were all twisted around one armpit. Quickly readjusting the tiny costume, Zara grinned. ‘Why don’t we leave Maddy for a bit? She could be sleeping on the beach; you know how she loves the early mornings down there. She’ll come up when she’s ready.’
‘But it’s late. We’ve got lots to do today. She told me. And I need to make sure she hasn’t forgotten our plans.’
Zara dropped to one knee, pulling Pippa towards her and kissing her on the nose. ‘It’s still early, especially after a party. I’m sure she hasn’t forgotten.’
Pippa moved away from Zara, standing perfectly still as she stared longingly out to sea. Then, turning back towards her sister, she tried again.
‘Please come with me, Zara. I can’t go down there on my own. You know Daddy’s rules …’ Pippa tilted her head in her father’s direction, then gave Zara one of her lopsided grins.
Hush Hush is the new novel from author Mel Sherratt and her blog tour rolls into Novel Kicks today.
A killer is on the loose, attacking people in places they feel most safe: their workplaces, their homes. It’s up to DS Grace Allendale to stop the murders, and prove herself to her new team.
All clues lead to local crime family the Steeles, but that’s where things get complicated. Because the Steeles aren’t just any family, they’re Grace’s family. Two brothers and two sisters, connected by the violent father only Grace and her mother escaped.
To catch the killer, Grace will have to choose between her team and her blood. But who do you trust, when both sides are out to get you?
Mel and Avon have shared an extract today. Enjoy.
***** start of extract*****
Grace slowed down to catch her breath, and her run became a jog.
The house she was renting was around five miles from Bethesda Police Station, depending on which road you took, in a part of the city called Weston Coyney. Caverswall Avenue was just through a set of busy traffic lights and near to Park Hall Country Park.
The house was a pre-war semi, tucked away at the top of a cul-de-sac. Phil and Becky Armstrong, who lived next door, had been relieved to see her moving in, telling her in much detail about the rowdy family who had been evicted. It explained why it was clean and recently decorated, with a newly fitted kitchen and bathroom. Everything had been trashed before the last tenants had left.
Making sure the sound of the machine couldn’t be heard through the walls of the adjoining house was the first thing Grace had checked with her neighbours. There was nothing worse than the drone and pounding of a treadmill, especially in the early hours of the morning. Luckily, she had space for it at the back of the house in the small conservatory, and the couple told her they couldn’t hear anything. They said they didn’t mind a bit of noise here and there after what they’d had to live with for the past six months.
The blog tour train rolls in today for Second Chances at the Log Fire Cabin by Catherine Ferguson.
It’s time to cosy up this winter…
When Roxy proposes to her boyfriend Mac in a moment of madness on live TV, she’s mortified when he rejects her. To escape the embarrassment, she takes a job working as cookery assistant at a Christmas house party at the idyllic Log Fire Cabin. Roxy hopes the new job will take her mind off Mac, because to her eternal annoyance, she hasn’t been able to stop thinking about him…
But when Mac turns up at the cabin in unexpected circumstances, things begin to go awry. Can Roxy heal her own heart this Christmas? Or is someone waiting in the wings to help her…?
Catherine and Avon have shared an extract from the book below. Let me know what you think in the comments.
***** start of extract*****
If I don’t find work soon, I might have to move back in with Mum and Dad. As much as I love them, the idea of returning to the little backwater town on the south coast, where I grew up, and sleeping in my old single bed is not an appealing thought. I’d be miles from all my friends in Surrey.
And miles from Jackson . . .
A log shifts in the grate and makes me start. I stare into the flames, lulled by the seasonal cheer of the blaze and the thought that it will soon be Christmas. Whatever happens on the jobs front, I’ll still be spending the festive season with Jackson. It will be our very first Christmas together!
It’s so snug in the room, I feel myself starting to drift off . . .
I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m choking.
My heart is thundering as panic flares inside me. The hands of a faceless stranger are squeezing my throat and pressing on my face, blocking my airways. Slowly suffocating me.
I’m desperate to escape from the room but the door is locked. Pulling on the handle, I try to call out for help, but no sound emerges. Grasping to pull the obstruction away from my face, I find to my horror that there’s nothing there. The so-called hands choking me are invisible.
A big hello to Simon Maree who is here to share an extract from his novel, The Mischief Maker.
He’s just a soul whose intentions are good… Oh Lord, please don’t let him be misunderstood…
Joe has a problem. He is falling in love with his new housemate. Nothing unusual there, except for Joe is a poltergeist and this sort of thing just shouldn’t happen. Joe is suffering an existential crisis of no small proportion.
The object of his misguided affections – a feisty and self-assured teenager named Harriet. Will he be able to save her from something much darker than himself that lurks in the shadows of the Brighton house they share? Will she be able to help him on his newfound quest for redemption?
***** start of extract*****
I’d been waiting for someone like her for a great while. I had no idea how long. I’d all lost track of time. It could have been years, decades or even centuries. If I was given to clichés, I could say that it felt like an eternity, but nobody knows what that’s like (although I’m learning, slowly; one day at a time).
I knew that she was the one before I even laid eyes on her. I could feel the energy sparking off her like tiny shooting stars even as she turned the corner onto Westall Avenue and strolled past the terraced houses, gazing out at the small, grey strip of English channel visible across the main road at the bottom of the street, her blue eyes blazing with righteous indignation beneath that bible black fringe with the purple streaks, and her pretty little head all full of candyfloss and pop stars.
Her mother strode beside her; a handsome, confident looking, auburn haired woman with high heels and a briefcase, but I felt nothing. I had no use for her, except perhaps as a stooge of some sort.
They slowed as they got nearer to the house, studying digits on doors, the older woman checking and double checking the paperwork in her hand, until they found what they were looking for, the magical number 33 that hung upon the portal to my own little kingdom.
The wrought iron gate gave it’s usual grating complaint as Mummy Dearest pushed it open, walked past the tiny and somewhat forlorn front garden, and approached the door, my brand new obsession in her expensively perfumed wake.
I stared out at them from the downstairs front room bay window. I could barely control my excitement as Mrs. Businesswoman put her ‘A to Z’ of Brighton into her case and glared at her state of the art smartphone.
A big hello to Tracy Corbett and the blog tour for her new novel, Starlight on the Palace Pier.
After an injury derails her dream of becoming a professional dancer, Becca Roberts heads home to Brighton in search of a fresh start.
And, when a part-time dance teacher role becomes available at The Starlight Playhouse, it seems like her stars are finally aligning. The crumbling old playhouse might need a bit of tender loving care (and a lick of paint!), but Becca is more than up to the challenge.
That is until Becca’s first love (and first heartbreak), Tom, waltzes into the Starlight Playhouse, and she realises life by the sea might not be as simple as she thought…
I have reviewed the book below but first, Tracy and Avon have shared an extract with us. Enjoy.
*****Beginning of extract.*****
Becca was suffering with her second hangover in the space of forty-eight hours. She’d met up with a couple of old school friends last night and had ended up at Patterns. Why had she drunk so much? Her head hurt, her eyes hurt, even her hair hurt. But most of all her knee hurt. Too many gin cocktails coupled with dancing in high heels until the early hours had aggravated her injury…again. If she carried on like this she might never make a full recovery. But it was hard to remain focused on her rehabilitation when she knew her dancing career was over.
Still, she didn’t want to walk with a permanent limp, so she needed to dial down the abuse and let her knee heal, which was why she was sitting in the kitchen with an ice pack balancing on her knee. Two paracetamols and two ibuprofens had dulled the pounding in her head, but she still felt battered.
It wasn’t the best preparation for an interview. But then, she wasn’t even sure she wanted the job. Teaching was certainly an avenue lots of dancers chose after retiring, but they were usually the ones who’d had successful careers and had taken teacher training courses. She hadn’t done any of that. She’d never considered herself the teaching type. On the other hand, she needed a job. And Jodi was desperate for an ally, so Becca had contacted Carolyn Elliot-Wentworth and applied for the position.
She drank another glass of water and forced down a slice of toast, but she knew fresh air would be the only real antidote. A walk up to Preston Park would do her good, plus it would help strengthen her thigh muscles, something the consultant said was necessary to protect her knee from future injury.
Yesterday’s clouds had blown away leaving a lovely September day. It was warm enough that she didn’t need a coat, so she headed away from the marina up towards Victoria Fountain, reacquainting herself with her home town. Once a place filled with cheap housing, hippies and squatters struggling to make a living, Brighton had been transformed into a thriving town full of artists and celebrities.
Hello to Joanne Sefton and the blog tour for her new novel, If They Knew.
I know who you are.
I’ve come to pay you back.
Nobody in Barbara Marsden’s family knows about her past, least of all her daughter Helen. But someone wants the truth to come out.
When Helen discovers a sinister note at Barbara’s house, she can’t understand who would want to threaten her mother. She’s determined to find out who sent it, but soon realises her search might hurt her own family and put Barbara at risk…
What really happened all those years ago? And who is going to end up paying the price?
Joanne and Avon have shared an extract with us today.
******start of extract******
What was that note that came in today, Mum? In the green envelope?’ She was making conversation as much as anything else.
‘Oh, that. It was a card from Jackie at work.’ Barbara nodded towards the fireplace.
‘Why didn’t you put it up?’
‘I did.’ Her tone was placid, bemused.
‘You can’t have. Those were both here when we came in. I looked at them when Alys was saying goodnight to you and Dad.’
‘It’s the one there with the irises. You must have made a mistake.’
‘You must have made a mistake, Helen.’
Barbara’s gaze met Helen’s: calm, but commanding nevertheless. She couldn’t push it any further. But then why should it even cross her mind to pick an argument over a missing card? It was odd, thought Helen, what coming home could do to you.
‘Did the doctor make Nana Barbara better?’ asked Barney, in the car after Helen had collected them from the Harrisons. She was taken aback that he’d remembered where she had been; her little boy was growing up so quickly.
‘Well,’ she began, ‘the doctor can’t make Nana Barbara better straight away. But he did explain everything they’re going to do to try to make her better. She’ll be having an operation soon. Do you know what that is?’
Barney shook his head solemnly.
A huge excited hello to Emma Dibdin. She joins me today with the blog tour for her new novel, Through His Eyes which is due to be released by Head of Zeus on 9th August.
Jessica Harris is a struggling Hollywood reporter hungry for her big break. When her editor asks her to profile movie star Clark Conrad, Jessica is sure her luck is on the turn. Clark is an A-lister with access to everyone. If Jessica can impress him, she’s made it.
When she arrives at Clark’s mansion in the Hollywood Hills, he is just as she always imagined. Charming, handsome yet disarmingly vulnerable. But then things take a darker turn. Clark’s world is not as straightforward as it seems and Jessica’s puff piece soon becomes something much more delicate – and dangerous. As Jessica draws herself deeper into Clark’s inner circle, events begin to spiral out of her control.
Emma and Head of Zeus have kindly shared an extract with us today. Enjoy.
**************start of extract***************
A silence, as Jackie exchanges a glance with the features editor, and I clench my fists under the table. There’s no way they will actually give this to me. It’s way above my pay grade, way above my experience level. How has some veteran profile-writer not already swooped in to take this? An interview with Clark Conrad is like a unicorn sighting in the world of movie journalism, for anyone, even for people who haven’t idolized him since puberty.
‘I’m not sure we should—’ the features editor whose name I can never remember begins, then cuts herself off. ‘Maybe we hold off on making a call on the writer. I have a couple of freelancers I’d like to run it past.’
‘We’re really down to the wire on this,’ Justin says. ‘How fast can you get a freelancer onboard?’
‘I’m a little confused as to why we still don’t have a writer assigned,’ says Jackie softly. She is the kind of woman who never raises her voice, never needs to, because people lean in to catch every word. She turns to the features editor. ‘Eleanor, could you clear this up for me?’
‘We had Jim Rothman assigned, but he pulled out when we told him about all the restrictions on questions, and it’s been hard to—’
‘Okay,’ Jackie interrupts. ‘I don’t need to hear excuses, I need a solution. The interview is happening this week, yes?’
‘Friday,’ Justin confirms
‘All right, Jessica. Let’s give you a shot. Send your notes and your transcript to Eleanor when you’re done, and the two of you can work together on the angle. Do you have any clippings of similar pieces that you’ve done before, anything long-form? In case Clark’s rep asks.’
We both know that this has nothing to do with his rep. They want to vet me, and though there’s a part of me that bristles, I know they’re right to do so. I’m a nobody being handed an absurdly huge assignment.
‘Definitely. I can send you some clips today. I’ve written interviews before.’ This is true, but only with studio executives, indie directors, the odd supporting actor. No one on the level of a Clark Conrad, not even close.
‘She’s a pro,’ Justin says. ‘You don’t need to worry, she’s way overdue for an assignment like this.’I glance gratefully at him.
Hello to Bella Osborne who is returning with the blog tour for Ottercombe Bay: Shaken and Stirred.
Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.
With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?
To celebrate the release of Ottercombe Bay Part Four: Shaken and Stirred, Bella and Avon have shared an extract. Enjoy.
**** Start of Extract.****
The warm spring weather had brought the trees to life, the seagulls were back in full chorus and as the holidaymakers returned the sleepy town was waking up. Daisy needed it to be a good season.
Locos was busy because Easter was fast approaching, the celebrations for which appeared to start early thanks to Daisy’s Singapore Sling cocktail promotion, and she was rushed off her feet.
The fabulous C.L Taylor joins me on the blog today. Her latest novel, The Fear was released by Avon on 22nd March 2018 and as part of the blog tour, C.L Taylor has shared an extract today.
Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…
When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.
Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.
But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…
**** Start of extract****
When the car finally pulls up on their street, Chloe sits tight, waiting for her dad to tell her that she can get out, then she runs up the path and into the house.
‘Mum!’ she calls. ‘I’m back!’
She pops her head into the living room to find Jamie sitting on the rug in front of the TV, the PS4 remote welded to his hands.
‘Jamie, where’s Mum?’
‘Having a lie-down. She’s got a migraine. Again.’
She takes the stairs two at a time, then gently pushes at her parents’ bedroom door. The curtains are drawn and the room is dark but she can make out the shape of her mother lying curled up on her side on the bed. She’s fast asleep. Chloe reaches into her back pocket for her phone and checks the time. 6.17 p.m.
She wonders if Mike will be home yet. Not that she knows where that is. When she asked him where he lived and if he had a family, he shook his head and said, ‘All you need to know is that my life is a lonely one. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I’ve got a feeling you can relate?’
The Clink Street Spring Reads 2018 event is back with Novel Kicks and I am happy to be welcoming Joe Treasure to the blog today. His novel, The Book of Air was released by Clink Street Publishing on 4th April 2018.
Joe and Clink Street have shared an extract today.
**** Start of extract****
Baptised in the river
In his teenage years, Jason, his mother and his younger sister Penny are part of a Christian community, travelling on the ‘ Jesus Bus’. When the decision is taken to settle permanently in a farmer’s field, Derek, their leader, sets about re-baptising everyone. Jason is the last.
Next day I sat with the others for breakfast. My mother brought me bacon and eggs and some black pudding, which she knew I liked. She gave me a pleading look. ‘Be a good boy, Jason. This is our future now.’
Derek stood up and said that everyone had been baptised except me, and today it was my turn. ‘From now on,’ he said, ‘you shall be called Tarshish.’
I knew he meant to humble me. I said, ‘Who’s Tarshish when he’s at home?’
And Derek said, ‘You know, Tarshish son of Javan son of Gomer son of Japheth son of Noah who built the ark and lived for nine hundred and fifty years.’
And I said, ‘B***** that, I’m not changing my name to Tarshish.’
And Derek got in a strop. ‘You wanna watch it son,’ he said. ‘I’ve had my eye on you, and I reckon you been pitching your tent towards Sodom.’
‘That’s a lie,’ I said, ‘a f******* lie and you know it.’
For a moment I thought he was going to hit me. But he closed his eyes and started praying. ‘Dear Lord Jesus Christ, if it be thy will, cleanse this child of his foul words and foul thoughts and whatever else he’s been getting up to.’ He took a deep breath, while the wind touched the leaves with a dry sound. Then he opened his eyes and said, ‘Come on Lester. Lloyd. Let’s get on with it.’
I turned to run, but Lloyd was standing in my way. I felt his meaty hands on me. Then my legs were lifted off the ground. I saw faces swing past – Granny Cheryl with one hand over her mouth, little Tiffany squirming on her lap, Penny frowning. I saw my mother’s eyes, large and sorrowful, before her head dropped. They carried me into the river and held me upright while I kicked about to find my footing.