Book News

Book Review: The Other Side of You by Amanda Craig

Abacus, February 2017

Abacus, February 2017

Will must run from the gang that controls the estate where he lives or die. He has witnessed the murder of his Aunty and so he is running for his life. He needs to find somewhere to hide

In doing this, he ends up in the area outside the estate he has known all of his life. It’s all very different. People don’t walk around looking over their shoulder and businesses thrive.
He finds shelter in what he calls a ‘glass house.’

Soon after that, he meets Padma and falls in love. He feels he could actually make his life better. Then his past catches up with him.
This book is based around/ is an updated version of Beauty and The Beast. When I started reading, I did wonder how this was going to be achieved. The story is so well-known. It’s all be integrated really well.

The description of the green house and the plants are so vivid. I felt as though I was there. The writing is fast paced and page turning.

I read this in pretty much one sitting (it’s a hundred pages long) but it drew me in. I even like how Amanda included the roses.

Will has been told he is one thing all of his life. He assumes that all he has ever known is all he will ever be. Escaping shows him a different path. You’ve just got to want it. Also, first impressions and appearances are not always to be trusted.

This is a great addition to the Quick Reads library. I enjoyed it very much.

 

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Blog Tour: The One by John Marrs – Review

The OneA big welcome today to John Marrs and the blog tour for his novel, The One which was published as an eBook in January with the paperback following in May 2017.

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

 

Chris’s verdict on The One:

Imagine a world where all it takes to find your prefect partner is a simple DNA test. Should you follow the science and seek out that person, or follow convention and see where your heart leads you?

The book follows the stories of several individuals who are drawn together because they have received a notice from the DNA match website identifying their match. The characters are a strange group – Intellectuals, officials and even a serial killer.

The One BannerI found that the book asks various questions; if you find your perfect match will you love them? If you fall in love with someone other than your match then will it, or can it, work out? And if you have met your perfect match will they love you despite your flaws?

The stories all occur simultaneously, following linear time though out the book, with individual chapters for each character which works wonderfully so as to draw you though the book as you always want to know what is going to happen to X or Y next.

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Book News: February Book Releases

neil gaimamA new month. We’re already reaching the end of the first week of February. How is that possible?!

There are some wonderful authors releasing books this month and I wanted to share a few of the ones I am looking forward to getting my hands on.

 

Norse Mythology is the latest release by Neil Gaiman and it sounds amazing. It’s released on 7th February by Bloomsbury.
I am fairly new to Neil’s books (although I loved Stardust when it was released as a movie.)
I am also interested in the subject matter of this book.

The norse myths are woven into our story telling. Neil Gaiman reaches back through time to the original source stories. Norse mythology is a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great norse tales; Ragnarok, Twilight of the Gods, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya. These are all irresistible in Neil’s latest book (although Tom Hiddleston as Loki is pretty irresistible already if I am honest.)

 

51bpCyyEV3LBackstabber by Kimberley Chambers is due for release on 9th February by Harper Collins. Kimberley’s books always sound like they would completely draw me in. I might have to pull this up the TBR pile a bit.

One of them has a gun to his head. Who will pull the trigger?

King of the underworld, Vinny Butler goes into business with respected villain, Eddie Mitchell. It’s a match made in East End legend.
Friends and Family are treated all, enemies like rats.
Then a mysterious package arrives; dead creatures and threats. Someone is out for revenge. Who the enemy is, no one knows. There are some people you should never cross, some who can’t forgive or forget.

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Book News: Galaxy Quick Reads Release Six New Books

Feel the fearSix exciting new Galaxy Quick Reads titles released on 2nd February.

These books are part of the annual campaign to improve adult literacy.

This is the seventh year Quick Reads has been sponsored by Galaxy and the second year it has been run by the Literary Agency.

One in six adults struggle with reading in the UK. This year, Quick Reads will continue its work to break down the barriers that prevent people from picking up a book.

From a re-imagining of Beauty and The Beast, to a road trip in search of Poldark, the titles include books from Jenny Colgan and a special edition of Feel The Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers.
There is also a crime collection featuring Harry Bingham, Clare MacKintosh and Mark Billingham.

The first Quick read is Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Released by Ebury, this is a specially adapted book drawing on the landmark self-help book by the late, Susan Jeffers. This is the first time a self-help book has been released in this series and what a great one to kick it off.

Everyone has fears and worries that stop them from progressing and going for the things they want in life. The simple life-changing exercises in this book will teach anyone to turn uncertainty into action.

Dead SimpleThe second, released by Orion is Dead Simple. This is a collection of short stories from some of the UK’s best crime writers.

Authors featured include Mark Billingham, Clare MacKintosh, James Oswald, Jane Casey, Angela Marsons, Harry Bingham, Antonia Hodgson and CL Taylor.

There are eight stories that will have many twists and turns; a man who attempts to commit the perfect murder, a widow who is about to lose more than her husband and a murderer who, when is he is about to be hanged realises that there could be worse things that happen to him.

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Book Review: The Girl on the Beach by Morton S. Gray

the girl on the beach

Death By Choc Lit, January 2017

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says …

But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.

 

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of reading some novels before their published date; my thanks to those who’ve been so generous to allow me to do so, you know who you are. Around two weeks ago, I was accorded the honour of being sent a copy of the author Morton S Gray’s debut novel ‘The Girl on the Beach’, published by Choclit.

I’ve read a few debuts over the years and obviously some are better than others. If you’re lucky, you’re left doing a passable goldfish impression with your mouth simply repeating, ‘OMG! OMG! OMG! Whilst some honestly leave you wondering how on earth they got published. This novel sits firmly, as in set-in-stone firmly, in the former category. I finished it last night and just sat there enjoying a special feeling…you know the one where you know, you just know that you’ve found a special author and you’re going to be ticking off the days on your calendar until their next release!

Those who read my reviews will know that I don’t tend to give much away about the plot, it spoils the twists and turns – and there are plenty here – that a good author will sprinkle around their work. Ms Gray’s story is as much ‘Suspense’ as ‘Romance’ and considering the subject matter, this is just as well. Because of this, I have to explain what I mean and tell you a little more of the story than I normally would. I prefer to concentrate on how the writer…um, writes.

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Blog Tour: Clare Swatman Talks About Her Debut Novel, Before You Go

Clare_SwatmanIt’s blog tour day for the brilliant debut novel, Before You Go by Clare Swatman. 

When Zoe’s husband Ed dies, her world caves in. But what if Zoe can get Ed back?

You find your soulmate . . . 

Some people stare love in the face for years before they find it. Zoe and Ed fumbled their way into adulthood, both on different paths – but always in the same direction. Years later, having navigated dead-end jobs and chaotic house shares, romance finally blossoms. Their future together looks set . . . 

Then the unthinkable happens.

One morning, on his way to work, Ed is knocked off his bike and dies. Now Zoe must find a way to survive. But she’s not ready to let go of the memories. How can she forget all of the happy times, their first kiss, everything they’d built together? Zoe decides she has to tell Ed all the things she never said. 

Now it’s too late. Or is it?

 

I’ve reviewed Before You Go below but first, I had a chat with Clare about her novel and her writing process. Hi Clare, thank you so much for joining me today. Your new book is called Before You Go. Could you tell me a little about it and what inspired it?

Thank you for having me. Before You Go is the story of Zoe and Ed. When Ed dies Zoe is left grieving and wishing she could go back and say all the things she didn’t say to him before he died. Then one day, after hitting her head, she wakes up as her 18 year old self, and realises that, for whatever reason, she’s back in the very first day she met Ed, and that she’s going to get the chance to see him again. Slowly, she realises she might even have been given the chance to change the past – and her future. It’s a story about enduring love, and regrets, and second chances.

Most of my ideas are inspired by people’s real stories. I was a true life magazine journalist for years and found that people’s real stories were actually a lot more interesting than anything you could make up! The spark for this came from a story I read about a woman who had an accident and when she woke up she thought she was 17 and didn’t know who her husband and kids were. Although this isn’t what Before You go is about, it got me thinking about what it would be like to wake up as a 17 year old again – and that sparked the idea for the book.

 

Which writers inspire you?

Margaret Atwood has always been one of my favourite writers. I love the way she writes really simply but conveys so much. I also adore Maggie O’Farrell. For me her stories just flow beautifully and her characters zing from the page. Her writing makes me want to be better. Last year I also really enjoyed the quirkiness of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon so I hope she becomes one of my favourite authors, and I love Kate Atkinson too; although her books require a bit of concentration, they’re worth it!

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Catherine Bennetto Shares Her Favourite Alternative Romantic Novels

catherine

How Not To Fall In Love Actually is the brilliant debut novel from Catherine Bennetto.

Emma has a job in television which is distinctly less glamorous and exciting than it sounds. She’s managed to claw her way up the ranks from Tea-Maker and Rubbish-Collector to 2nd Assistant Director (heavy on the ‘assistant’. Even heavier on the ‘2nd’).
 
So when she finds she’s accidentally very pregnant and at the same time accidentally very sacked (well, less accidentally: she did tell her boss to stick his job up his bum), she knows things are going to have to change.
 
Luckily she’s also accidentally the heir to a lovely cottage in Wimbledon, with a crazy Doberman-owning octogenarian as a neighbour and a rather sexy guy as an accidental tenant. But this baby is coming whether she likes it or not, and she needs to become the sort of person who can look after herself let alone another human being – and quickly.  

 

Catherine shares with us today her top ten alternative romantic novels. Over to you Catherine…

 

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

I’ve not seen the movie but you’d have to be living under a rock in Snezhnegorsk (Russia) to not know Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger played the main characters. And regardless of sexual orientation you’d be a fool, A FOOL I SAY, to turn either one of them down. Sadly, the written characters are much less lust worthily depicted…. But it’s a fabulous story with unique characters and a satisfyingly heart-wrenching conclusion.

 

Michael Joseph, 2012

Michael Joseph, 2012

ME BEFORE YOU

This book was so fascinating I read it in one day. A romance develops between two unlikely characters: Louisa; who is relatively normal, and Will, completely paralyzed, wholly dependant and with a very genuine, and not unwarranted, death wish. And oh how I wanted it to work out in the end! Couldn’t he just miraculously recover? But I’d have liked the story less and would have called it unrealistic and twee. So die he must, be sad she was, and cry I did.

 

BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY

Instead of the typical mid 20’s heroine working in advertising and wearing amazing shoes, meet Bridget; thirty-something with an average woman’s body and an average woman’s job, bumbling around London in big pants trying to hook up with the bad guy while accidentally falling in love with the geek guy. It was a refreshing change to the romantic comedy trope and I (along with scores of others) adored ridiculous, kind, forever-willing-to-dust-off-and-try-again Bridget.

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Book Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

flora banks

Released: 12th January 2017, Penguin

Flora is seventeen and longs to be like every other girl her age. However, Flora can’t remember anything past being ten for more than a few hours. She has anterograde amnesia ever since she was ten.

When she goes to a party, she ends up alone with her best friend’s boyfriend, Drake. They kiss and he leaves. When Flora wakes up, she remembers Drake, she remembers the kiss. Her first new memory for seven years.

She must be with Drake and so sets out to find him alone hoping that she will find him quickly and they can be together.

I found Flora to be such an interesting character. She had such an innocence about her that I felt the need to protect her, hoping that no one was going to take advantage. As far as all the other characters are concerned, I didn’t know who to trust much like Flora. She’s an inspirational character. Many could learn a lot from her.

As I read, I tried to put myself in her shoes – getting myself to a place and then waking up a while later having no idea how I got there. It was a terrifying thought and yet, she embraces the adventure. She forgets, starts again and keeps moving.

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Book Cover Reveal: The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

AlexandraEvening everyone.
I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend. It does tend to go too quickly.

It’s time for a cover reveal (we’ve not had one in a while.)

Today, Avon has revealed the cover for the latest book by Alexandra Burt. I really liked her novel, Little Girl Gone. I’m looking forward to reading this one. It sounds great.

It’s called The Good Daughter and it’s due to have its paperback release on 23rd February 2017 via Avon Books (you can follow all the lovely guys and girls at Avon on Twitter.)

Ta-dah. Here’s the cover for The Good Daughter. I think it already creates a pretty chilling backdrop. What do you think?

What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?

Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.

In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness.

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This Week’s New Book Releases – Jane Fallon, Danielle Steel and Jill Mansell

BeachcomberIt’s Friday. Yey!
I hope you’ve all had a great week and have lovely things planned for the weekend. If you’re looking for something to read over the next few days, there are some cracker titles out this week.

The wonderful Jill Mansell released her latest novel, Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay on 12th January 2017 by Headline Review.
There is love in the air in St Carys, not that you’d know it. The residents are good at keeping secrets.
The man that Clemency loves is in love with someone else. When she ropes into a friend to help, wires get crossed.
For the first time in Ronan’s life, his charms have failed him in getting him the woman he wants.
Belle seems to have the perfect boyfriend but something isn’t quite right. A secret is also rising to the surface. The truth has a funny way of revealing itself and when it does, St Carys will be very different.

The new book from Jane Fallon is called My Sweet Revenge and was also released on 12th January, this time by Penguin. To read my review, click here.
‘I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.’
My Sweet Revenge. bonefieldPaula put her own acting career on hold in order for her husband to have his own success. Robert is now a regular on a popular daytime TV show.
Despite that, Paula is pretty happy with her life. It feels perfect to her. Until she finds out that Robert is having an affair.
Before she tells him it’s over, Paula wants Robert to be reminded just what he’s sacrificing. Then once she has won him back, she wants to break his heart. It will be her greatest acting role.

Next up is The Bone Field by Simon Keruick which was released by Century on 12th January.
There is a missing girl, a ruthless crime gang and a man so evil he must be stopped at any cost.

DI Ray Mason and PI Tina Boyce begin a hunt for the truth that will take them into a dark and terrifying world. One of corruption and deadly secrets.

The bones of a 21-year-old woman are found in the grounds of an old catholic school. This girl went missing in Thailand in 1990.
Her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance is now a middle aged university lecturer. He comes forward to say that he knows what happened. He knows who killed Kitty.

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News: Winner Announced For The Costa Children’s Book Award 2016

Brian Conaghan

Bloomsbury Childrens, January 2017

Brian Conaghan has won The Costa Children’s Book Award 2016. He won for his third novel, The Bombs That Brought Us Together which was published by Bloomsbury Childrens. His win was announced earlier this month.

Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever. 

Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy. 

Charlie Law wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will. 

When asked by The Scotman, Conaghan said “the book is about how a big power can overwhelm a less powerful country. In some ways it is an imagining of what would happen if Scotland went independent and England just decided one day as a big superpower that they were going to take it back.”

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Book Review: My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

my-sweet-revenge

Penguin, 12th January 2017

I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.

Let me explain. This isn’t an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven’t been reading articles in old women’s magazines. ‘Twenty ways to keep your man’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he’ll care. He won’t just think, ‘Oh good’.

I want it to hurt.

Paula has had Robert’s back since they got together as drama students.
She gave up her dreams so he could make it.
Now he’s one of the nation’s most popular actors.
And Paula’s just discovered he’s having an affair.

She’s going to remind Robert just what he’s sacrificing.
And then she’s going to break his heart like he broke hers.
It will be her greatest acting role ever.

Revenge is sweet. 
Isn’t it?

Paula has been married to Robert for many years. They have a daughter who is about to become eighteen. Paula left her ambitions to be an actress to raise her daughter and to support Robert in his career. He’s a regular on a long running day time TV show.

Paula is pretty content with her life. She has no idea her marriage is anything but perfect. That is until she finds out he’s having an affair.

She decides to get revenge before she confronts him. She wants to make him fall back in love with her before she breaks his heart.

I loved Jane’s previous novels and I am a big fan of her style of writing. It is not hard to fall into her stories and this book was no exception. I was completely hooked.

There were many moments when my sympathy went from one character to another and back again. There were some chapters where I couldn’t believe the behaviour of some of the characters and I wasn’t quite sure how the end was going to go.

This book puts spotlight on the lack of communication within relationships. It will be a relatable plot in terms of how Paula deals with finding out her husband is having an affair.

It had me wondering what I would do in Paula’s situation. I am not sure if I am honest.

The plot and characters were engaging and there were a few twists and turns too. The writing is witty and I couldn’t put this book down to be honest. It certainly did not disappoint. As I was reading, I could see this making a good TV show or movie.
Well done Jane Fallon. Another great novel.

(My Sweet Revenge is due to be released on 12th January 2017 by Penguin. Will be available in UK bookshops and online. Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy.)

 

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Latest Book Releases – Sue Fortin, Julia Forster and Jessie Burton

sister-sisterA new year and new book releases. There are some great books out this week and I can’t wait to settle down and make my way through some of the books on this list.

Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin was released on Kindle on 6th January (the paperback version is due for release by HarperImpulse in April.)

This book is definitely going to be making its way up to the top of my to be read pile.
Alice is beautiful, kind, manipulative and a liar. Clare is intelligent, loyal, paranoid and jealous.
Clare thinks Alice is trying to steal her life. Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her return and place in the family. One is telling the truth, the other is a maniac Two sisters, one truth.
I can’t wait to read this one.

Also from HarperImpulse is the legacy of Lucy Harte by Emma Heatherington. Its Kindle release was on 6th January with the paperback due out next week. I think this is my favourite book cover this week. It is very pretty.

For fans of JoJo Moyes and Kelly Rimmer, this book focuses on Maggie. She knows better than most that life can change in a lucy-harte the-museheartbeat. Eighteen years ago, she got given the gift of a new heart and a second chance at life.
Maggie has never forgotten Lucy Harte, the girl who saved her life. As Maggie’s life begins to fall apart, she looses sight of everything she has to live for. Then an unexpected letter arrives which changes everything.

The Muse by Jessie Burton got its paperback release on 29th December by Picador. I am still totally in love with this cover. It’s a book that’s been on my pile of books to be read for a while and i am hoping I can pick this one up soon.

Odelle climbs the steps of the Skelton Gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change. Having struggled to find her place in the city, she’s been offered a job as a typist with Marjorie, who remains a mystery.
The Muse is a novel about aspiration, identity, love and obsession.

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Book Review: Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Carina, November 2015

Carina, November 2015

A few weeks before Christmas and a sudden blanketing of snow has closed the roads and brought public transport grinding to a halt, stranding Izzy miles from home and in desperate need of rescuing.

That doesn’t mean she’s looking to bump into Rob and spend a cosy weekend holed up in his swanky flat watching London become a winter wonderland! Because Izzy and Rob have history…

Six months ago, they were standing in the vestry of a beautiful country church, while best man Rob delivered the news that every bride dreads on their big day.

But at the time of year when anything is possible, can Rob and Izzy let go of the past and let Christmas work its magic? Or will this be one holiday wish that Izzy lets walk right out of her life…

 

My first thought was – ‘…and this is a debut novel?’

That should say about all you’d need to know how much I loved this book.

Maxi has crafted and woven a beautiful tale where you’re rooting for the two protagonists to get together from the first time we meet them on the pages. Izzy was jilted at the altar and promptly broke the nose of the Best Man when he came to break the bad news – pretty good considering she’s on the petite-side and Rob’s a strapping rugby-playing fellow.

As life has it, Izzy makes wedding dresses for a living and it’s through her business, and the fact that fate conspires to bring the pair together all the time, that ‘something’ begins to grow between the two of them. Life being what it is though, it’s never going to be that simple and there are many misunderstandings and false starts before love finally finds a way.

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Latest Book Releases (December)

The Gift by Louise Jensen

(Released on 16th December by Bookouture.)

The weather has definitely got colder over the past few weeks. Christmas trees are appearing in corners of living rooms and the festive scents of candles are filling the room.

It is certainly an excuse to set yourself up on the sofa or in a favourite armchair. Here are some new releases; suggestions on what you could be reading as we make the most of being warm against the cold.

The first book is The Gift by Louise Jensen.

This book sounds so good and it’s certainly being added to my TBR pile. Jenna is given a second chance when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie.

Jenna will always be eternally grateful to Callie and her family. She grows close to the family Callie left behind but discovers they are holding some dark secrets. Jenna feels that she is only getting half the story.

Callie’s sister, Sophie has been ‘abroad’ since Callie’s death but there is something about her absence that doesn’t add up for Jenna. Then she meets Callie’s boyfriend.

Jenna is determined to uncover the truth bit it could cost her everything in the process, including her sanity.

 

Next up is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander

(Released by Cornerstone Digital on 16th December, 2016.) 

(Released by Cornerstone Digital on 16th December, 2016.)

This is a novelisation of the film (due for release in cinemas on 15th December,) and features new scenes and expanded material. POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE MOVIE BEFORE KNOWING ABOUT THE BOOK, SKIP TO THE NEXT BOOK IN MY LIST.)

The shadows of the empire and deeply troubling rumours loom large across the galaxy. The rebellion learns of a sinister imperial plot to bring worlds to their knees. In empire domination space, a weapon of unbelievable destructive power is nearly completion – a threat that may be too great to overcome.

If the worlds that oppose the Empire have any chance, it lies with an unlikely band of allies; Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, Bodhi Rook, Chirrut Imwe, Baze Malbus and K-250.

They need to capture plans to the Empires new weapon but as they race toward their dangerous goal, the spectre of their enemy darkens the sky: the Death Star.

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

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