Extracts

Book Extract: Starlight on the Palace Pier by Tracy Corbett

Starlight on the palace pierA 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.

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Book Extract: If They Knew by Joanne Sefton

if they knew

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.’

If They Knew Blog Tour‘It’s the one there with the irises. You must have made a mistake.’

‘But—’

‘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.

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Book Extract: Through His Eyes by Emma Dibdin

Through His EyesA 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.

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Blog Tour: One Summer in Italy by Sue Moorcroft

one summer in italyA lovely big welcome to Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her latest novel, One Summer in Italy. 

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.

So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.

Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…

 

Mick Arnold has reviewed the novel, plus Sue has shared a recipe but first, an extract..

*** start of extract***

The next day, Sofia set out down the hill to visit Gianni at Hotel Alba, butterflies doing aerobics in her stomach and Via Virgilio’s crawling traffic loud in her ear. Her thoughts were on what lay ahead – getting to know her uncle’s family. Her family, in fact.

1D420D12-02B0-4A15-8790-97E4C3D82D76At the beginning of her journey she could see Hotel Alba on the facing slope but it was hidden from her view by a multitude of other buildings as she got down into the centre of Montelibertà. Traversing both Piazza Roma and Piazza Santa Lucia, busy with tourists and loud with as many English and American voices as Italian, she followed the route she’d memorised up Corso Musica, a street that, once past the theatre with a sort of bandstand outside, quickly narrowed. It wasn’t until she branched into Corso Sant’Angelo and rounded a sharp bend that Hotel Alba popped into view again.

Sofia paused to drink it in. Tall and white with the ubiquitous terracotta tiled roof, it was probably twice the size and twice the age of Casa Felice, and looked as if it was a cut above. Stonework framed the windows and arched like eyebrows over the doorways. Imposing urns set at intervals around the building were extravagantly planted with red, white and purple petunias. The road and pavement leading up to the hotel were cobbled, and the main doors stood welcomingly ajar.

Subduing an urge to retreat, if only to the nearest large window to check her appearance after a twenty-minute walk, Sofia strolled through the imposing doors, hoping her attack of nerves didn’t show. In the vaulted reception area, the ceiling was hung with impressive glass chandeliers. Walls and ceilings were painted white but the floor was glossy black marble, and the sofas dotted about were black too. Bureaus and side tables were painted a dull pewter. Paintings depicting busy market places and teeming cafés dotted the walls, bold splashes of colour standing out against the otherwise monochrome elegance.

Several guests sat around with either phones or tablets in their hands. Sofia guessed that the best free wifi was in this area.

***end of extract***

 

Sofia’s Lasagne

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Extract: Shaken and Stirred by Bella Osborne

shaken and stirredHello 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.

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Book Extract: The Fear by C.L Taylor

Cally TaylorThe 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!’

The FearShe 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?’

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Clink Street Spring Reads 2018: Extract from The Book of Air by Joe Treasure

Joe Treasure Final front cover onlyThe 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.

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Book Extract: The Zero and The One by Ryan Ruby

zero_one_high resZero and The One is the latest novel from Ryan Ruby. It was released by Legend Press on 15th March. Ryan and his blog tour join me today. 

 

A bookish scholarship student, Owen Whiting has high hopes of Oxford, only to find himself immediately out of place. Then he meets Zachary Foedern from New York. Rich and charismatic, Zach takes Owen under his wing, introducing him to a world Owen has only ever read about. 

From Oxford to the seedy underbelly of Berlin, they dare each other to transgress the boundaries of convention and morality, until Zach proposes the greatest transgression of all: a suicide pact. But when Zach’s plans go horribly awry, Owen is left to pick up the pieces and navigate the boundaries between illusion and reality to preserve a hold on his once bright future.

 

Thanks to Ryan and Legend Press, we have an extract to share with you today. 

 

******* Start of extract.*******

RITUALS OF SUSPENSION.— The ritual that can withstand the deadening weight of its own unbroken repetition has yet to be choreographed. Any ritual so rigid that it fails to include the means of its own periodic suspension is bound to go extinct. 

Pembroke is one of the smallest and poorest of Oxford’s colleges. The Cotswold stone buildings seem to turn inward, away from bustling St. Aldate’s, as if ashamed of the plainness of their features. The Old Quad, where I was given rooms, lies quite literally in the shadow of the fairer sister over the road. Tourists would come from round the world to visit Pembroke Square, only to turn their backs on our Porter’s Lodge so they could have a better angle from which to snap a photograph of Tom Tower, the lavishly ornamented gateway to Christ Church.

The college was old enough to have produced a few notable alumni, but the most famous of them, Samuel Johnson, was sent down after a year for a lack of funds. Today, its students are better known for the speed of their oars on the Isis than the speed of their pens in the Exam Schools. It is largely made up of those like me, who have what the Student Union euphemistically calls non-traditional backgrounds, and who were only able to attend the oldest university in England by grace of what the Bursar called, rather less euphemistically, hardship grants. (Mine in particular were nanced by the sale, a few years previously, of Man in a Chair, an early painting by Francis Bacon, a poster of which was the only decoration on the walls of my rooms.) Rounding out the Junior Common Room were the thicker products of the public schools, Erasmus scholars from the continent, and Americans on their year abroad.

Of this last group there were around twenty, paying American tuition fees to add English polish to their CVs. The reason for their presence at Pembroke was nakedly economic, a way for a college whose endowment consisted almost entirely of subsidies from its wealthier neighbours to generate a bit of additional revenue. They were lodged in the back staircases of the North Quad, on the main site, with the rest of us first years. Though they were only two years older than I, and though they were living, many for the first time, in a country not their own, this slight difference in age lent them an air of cosmopolitan sophistication; I certainly wasn’t the only one to regard the visiting students, as they were called, more as elders than as peers. For better or worse, they generally had the run of the place.

zero and the one Blog Tour Banner jpegZach was not long in distinguishing himself, mostly through skirmishes with various members of the college staff concerning the finer points of college etiquette. The first time I recall seeing him, he was being reprimanded by Richard Hughes, the Head Porter, a lean and sallow-faced man in his fifties, whose fingernails were worn longer than his sense of humour. I remember looking out my window to see what the fuss was about below. Zach, it seems, had walked across the immaculate square of lawn in the Old Quad on his way to the pantry. Not content to defer to authority — or local custom — he was demanding, in those at syllables I’d come to know so well, the explanation for such an absurd rule. The one he was given (“only fellows and newlyweds are permitted to walk on the lawn of the Old Quad”) didn’t satisfy him. He demanded another. The exasperated Head Porter told him that it was “out of respect for the sleep of the dead monks who are buried there.” To this he nodded, convinced and perhaps a tad impressed. But whenever he walked through the Old Quad, he made sure to toe the cobblestones near the edge of the lawn, not seeming to care, now that he had been reprimanded, that he was liable to pay a ne if he lost his balance.

A fortnight later, I was sitting alone at what had already become my regular seat at my regular table, reading whilst I waited for Formal Hall to begin. I was dressed subfusc— jacket, white bowtie (in my case poorly knotted), black commoner’s gown— the requisite attire. Zach arrived in the company of Gregory Glass, in the middle of a heated political debate.

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing!” Gregory was saying. The other visiting student from Columbia, Gregory was short and barrel-chested, with long curly brown hair that was held off his face, no matter what time of day, by a sporty pair of sunglasses. I’d already seen him several times at macroeconomics lectures, furiously scribbling away in the front row. That term, not a single lecture would conclude without Gregory raising his hand to ask a question, or rather, to give a meandering observation in an interrogative tone.

He asked me if they could sit at my table and, without waiting to hear my answer, continued talking to his friend. “Don’t tell me,” he said, in a voice that could be heard from one end of the hall to the other, “you’re going to throw your vote away on Nader!”

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Book Extract: 29 Seconds by T M Logan

29 SECONDS29 Seconds is the new novel from T M Logan and was released by Zaffre on 8th March. 

Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear . . .

When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid – in the only way he knows how.

He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.

All it takes is a 29 second phone call.

BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS A NAME TO GIVE. DON’T THEY?

 

TM Logan and Zaffre have shared an extract from 29 seconds today. Enjoy! 

******

This time Sarah couldn’t stop the tears. She stood with both hands on the back of her chair, head down, shaking with emotion as great racking sobs tore through her. This wasn’t happening. But crying was a luxury she couldn’t afford: she didn’t have the time. She found a tissue and wrenched her office door open, stumbling down the stairs, wiping at her eyes as she went. She ignored the concerned looks of two students in the front lobby, pushed through the double doors into the car park and almost bowled over Marie coming the other way.

‘Sarah,’ Marie said, taking a step back. ‘You OK? What happened?’

Sarah shook her head but kept on walking. ‘Fine. I have to go.’

‘You don’t look fine.’ ‘I have to get the kids.’

‘What did he say? Are you OK? I texted you.’ Sarah stopped and turned, still shaking with anger. ‘I think I’ve finally had enough. God, I hate him.’ Marie handed her a tissue.

‘You didn’t get the contract?’

‘No, I didn’t bloody get it!’ Her voice cracked as she tried to get the words out.

‘I’m sorry, Sarah.’

‘Sorry.’ She swiped angrily at fresh tears. ‘I’m not having a go at you.’

Marie placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

‘I know. I can’t believe it, though. What are you going to do?’ ‘No idea. I have literally no idea.’

‘D’you think he gave the contract to Webber-Smythe?’

‘I don’t know. I think so. Look, I have to pick up the kids from school.’

‘I’ll text you.’

Sarah nodded and turned away. She got straight into the driver’s seat of the car, shoved the phone into its cradle on the dashboard, and turned the key in the ignition. She reversed out and gunned the engine, weaving through groups of students as she headed down the hill.

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Book Extract & Review – Part Two of the Ottercombe Bay Series by Bella Osborne

Ottercombe Bay Part 2A lovely big hello to Bella Osborne who is returning to the blog today with the blog tour for Ottercombe Bay: Gin and Trouble, part two in a four-part serialisation. 

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 Gin and Trouble, Bella and Avon have shared an extract. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

 

**** Start of Extract.****

Jason was turning out to be a useful person to know. As the local bobby, everyone knew him and therefore he had a wide network he could tap into, particularly as he had a colleague with an uncle working in the local planning department. After a warm-up phone call from Jason he was happy to meet Daisy for a chat. She had made an effort, steered clear of both espresso and Bug’s furry patch on the sofa, and she felt ready for her meeting.

An older-looking gent with thinning hair and thick glasses collected her from the waiting area at the council offices and they did introductions.

‘Thanks for meeting me,’ said Daisy, starting to feel a little less prepared as she followed him into an office and saw a mountain of paper on his desk.

‘No problem but you will need to submit a formal application through the proper process. Anything discussed here today does not in any way constitute agreement of any changes to the property or land we are discussing. I hope you appreciate this?’

Daisy swallowed hard. With formal wording like that he would get on well with Great Uncle Reg’s solicitor. She hadn’t even suggested anything yet and she was being told off. ‘Yes, of course. I’m just looking for guidance. Some ballpark areas that may be worth exploring.’

‘This is the last application we received for the property,’ said the planning officer, passing Daisy a pile of papers. She had a quick flick through and spotted some blueprints – it looked like her grandfather had taken the whole thing seriously and spent some money in the process.

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Book Extract: The Extremist by Nadia Dalbuono

theextremistThe Extremist by Nadia Dalbuono is the fourth novel in the Leone Scamarcio series and I am pleased to be part of the blog tour today. 

When a group of terrorists carry out a series of attacks in Rome, Detective Leone Scamarcio gets an unexpected call ― the men, who appear to be Islamic extremists, say they will only negotiate with him.

Scamarcio is given just twenty-four hours to meet the terrorists’ demands, or their hostages will be killed, along with thousands more.

The only catch? He cannot involve the police or the security services.

Racing against both the clock and his own colleagues, Scamarcio must uncover the truth behind the attacks before it’s too late. But, as he begins to investigate, he finds that every question turns up five more … As usual for this son-of-a-Mafioso policeman, nothing is as it seems.

Nadia has kindly shared an extract from her new novel with us today. Here is a part of the first chapter. I hope you enjoy. 

The boy enters the McDonald’s. It is a relief to escape the cloying heat and its undercurrents of summer drains and tourist sweat. He wipes his forehead with the back of his hand, shrugs the bag off his shoulder, and looks around. He counts fifteen people queuing at the tills, most of them teenagers — clutching backpacks and squinting at iPhones. To his left, nearly all the tables are full — more students and a cluster of Japanese tourists. He takes in a few young families, kids no more than four or five. Panic is stirring in his gut, turning it liquid. He tastes acid on his tongue and wants to retch. He swallows, tries to take a breath.

To his right, the place is a little emptier — only four of the tables are occupied. His eyes settle on a group of schoolgirls in uniform, their checked skirts too short, their laughter too loud. Behind the girls is a dishevelled old man, probably a vagrant. He’s tearing the wrapper from a meagre burger, his eyes darting furtively as if he’s afraid someone will swipe it.

The boy feels sweat running down the back of his neck; he notices a tremor in his leg. He turns and sees his three companions standing in the doorway. Just the sight of them makes his heart hammer. He swallows again: his throat dry, his tongue bulky. He wishes he’d taken something like they’d suggested.

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Book Review and Extract – Close To Home by Cara Hunter

Carahunter close to homeClose To Home is the new novel from Cara Hunter and her blog tour is stopping by Novel Kicks today. 

HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?

Last night, eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a family party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows the nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.

That means someone is lying…
And that Daisy’s time is running out.

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Cara and Penguin have shared an extract from Close to Home. Enjoy! 

Phone interview with David Connor

20 July 2016, 6.45 p.m.

On the call, Acting DS G. Quinn and (listening)

DC C. Gislingham

GQ: Thank you for phoning, Mr Connor, and our apologies for disturbing your holiday.

DC: No problem – I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get back to you before. It’s such a shock, hearing what’s happened. My wife saw it on BBC World News in the hotel room.

GQ: Were you aware that the flower costume your daughter wore at the party was the one Daisy Mason should have been wearing?

DC: I wasn’t but it seems my wife was. Millie had some of her friends round after school the afternoon before –

GQ: So Monday afternoon?

DC: Er, was it Monday? Sorry – I’m a bit jet- lagged. You’re right, it must have been Monday. Anyway, Julia says they all brought their fancy dresses over and tried them on. And then tried each other’s on – you know what girls that age are like. It seems that at some point in the ensuing chaos Daisy decided that she preferred Millie’s costume, and Millie said they could swap.

GQ: Do you know if Daisy’s mother was aware the costumes had been switched?

DC: I have no idea. Let me ask Julia . . . [muffled noises] Julia says Daisy assured her that her mother wouldn’t mind. But obviously she doesn’t know if Daisy actually spoke to her about it.

GQ: We found the tights in a bin on the estate but the blood on them doesn’t match Daisy’s

DC: Ah yes, sorry about that. Millie fell over and as it was getting late and she was a bit whiny we decided to call it a day. The tights were a write-off so we just ditched them. Apologies if it caused you a problem.

GQ: What costume was your daughter originally going to wear, Mr Connor?

DC: A mermaid, so my wife tells me. I never saw it but apparently it had a flesh- Coloured top thing and a tail with shiny blue and green scales.

GQ: And any sort of headdress or mask?

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Book Extract and Review: That Girl by Kate Kerrigan

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘It’s only a virus,’ he promised.

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From Non-Fiction to Thrillers, Review and Extract: White Bodies by Jane Robins

whitebodiesWhite Bodies is the new novel from author, Jane Robins and is due to be released by HQ on 28th December 2017. 

‘He’s so handsome and clever and romantic. I just wished he hadn’t forced Tilda under the water and held her there so long.’

Callie loves Tilda. She’s her sister, after all. And she’s beautiful and successful.

Tilda loves Felix. He’s her husband. Successful and charismatic, he is also controlling, suspicious and, possibly, dangerous. Still, Tilda loves Felix.

And Callie loves Tilda. Very, very much.

So she’s determined to save her. But the cost could destroy them all…

Sometimes we love too much.

I’ve reviewed the book below and we also have an extract but first, Jane joins me to chat about going from narrative non-fiction to psychological suspense. Thank you for joining me, Jane. Over to you. 

When I was young (just out of university young) I thought ‘one day I’ll write a book’ and I think I had in mind a novel, though I’m not sure what type of novel. Then I shelved the idea for twenty years because, like most of us, I had to make a living. I became a journalist and worked for some great organisations including The Economist, the BBC, and The Independent. It was only when I found myself, in my early 40s, with a small child and wanting to work from home, that I allowed that dream of writing a book to resurface. At that stage I didn’t feel able to write fiction because I couldn’t afford two years or so, with no income, writing something that might sell for a very low sum, or not at all. It was simply too risky. With non-fiction you sell your book to a publisher on the basis of a proposal, and get a chunk of money up front.

Writers rarely talk about the financial side of their careers – the filthy lucre. But the truth is that most of us are not prepared to starve in a garret for our art. It’s not that we lack commitment, I think. It’s rather that we’re not convinced that we have a talent so almighty that it’s worth sacrificing everything else. Not just our income, but duties to our friends and families and duty to be a reasonably productive member of society.

So, when I was offered a contract to write historical non-fiction, I was thrilled. Money up front! Working from home! Over the following years I unlearned my punchy journalistic writing style and tried to write in a more relaxed and lyrical way, hoping that the reader would be happy to stay in my company over hundreds of pages. I found it a very different craft from that required to hold someone’s attention for a mere 600 or 800 words – the length of a newspaper article.

From the beginning, I thought a lot about structure and how to present my historical facts in such a way that the story had a strong narrative pull. I wanted to introduce as much suspense and tension as possible without distorting the underlying, factual story. All three of my non-fiction books have a natural narrative arc – ending in dramatic trials. The first is about the crazy life of Queen Caroline who was put on trial for adultery by her husband, King George IV (the silly Prince Regent in Blackadder.) The other two are about serial killers – George Smith, The Brides in the Bath murderer, who faced trial in 1915, and Dr John Bodkin Adams, an Eastbourne family doctor accused of killing hundreds of his patients. He was tried at the Old Bailey in 1957.

It took ten years to write these three books, and by the end I felt sufficiently confident of my storytelling skills to attempt a novel. At last! Money was still a problem, but with my son now a teenager at secondary school I was able to take a part-time job teaching at the London School of Economics. With that income in the bank, I could spend my spare time writing White Bodies.

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Extract: His Guilty Secret by Hélene Fermont

Guilty SecretHis Guilty Secret is the latest novel from Hélene Fermont. It was released by Fridhem Publishing on 27th November. 

Secrets & Lies Are Dangerous.

When Jacques’s body is discovered in a hotel room his wife, Patricia, suspects he has been hiding something from her.

Why was he found naked and who is the woman that visited his grave on the day of the funeral? Significantly, who is the unnamed beneficiary Jacques left a large sum of money to in his will and what is the reason her best friend, also Jacques’s sister, Coco, refuses to tell her what he confided to her?

Struggling to find out the truth, Patricia visits Malmö where her twin sister Jasmine lives and is married to her ex boyfriend. But the sisters relationship is toxic and when a family member dies shortly after, an old secret is revealed that shines a light on an event that took place on their tenth birthday.

As one revelation after another is revealed, Patricia is yet to discover her husband’s biggest secret and what ultimately cost him his life.

His Guilty Secret is an unafraid examination of the tangled bonds between siblings, the lengths we go to in protecting our wrongdoings, and the enduring psychological effects this has on the innocent…and the not so innocent.

 

For my stop on the blog tour today, Hélene and Fridhem Publishing have shared an extract from His Guilty Secret… 

 

“I’m sorry I frightened you but we need to talk.” Patrik’s frustration was building. “You may think we can just continue like we are but I’m not willing to live like this any longer. I want you to return home where we can decide what to do next.” Clearly, no matter how hard he tried to get close to her and understand what she wanted from him and their marriage, Patrik knew that unless she was willing to put their relationship first they may as well get a divorce. He’d loved her for too long to just give up on their future together.

Pulling the towel tighter around her naked body, Jasmine replied, “I’ll get dressed first, if that’s okay with you?”

“Sure, I’ll wait for you in the kitchen and make coffee.” He sighed with relief. Perhaps she’d concluded they couldn’t continue like this too.

Five minutes later she joined him at the kitchen table wearing a white top and torn jeans, her bare feet and damp hair accentuating her vulnerability. Pouring her a cup of coffee and watching her take a sip of the hot liquid, he said, “I want us to give our marriage another go. Please tell me if that’s what you want as well.”

He held out a hand and reached for hers, his touch making her tremble with desire for him… withdrawing her hand, she replied, “I want the same as you…But your sister seems to be of a different opinion. You know, she even accused me of having an affair! Matilda’s never approved of me from the start. She told me Ruben saw me with some man in a bar not so long ago, a client whose name escapes me. Since when do I answer to your sister?” Jasmine was terrified he’d believe Matilda over her.

“You don’t answer to anyone except yourself. The reason she and Ruben worry about me is because she knows how miserable I’ve been for quite some time.”

“Great! So you’ve confided in them behind my back?” Jasmine replied in an angry voice, livid they interfered in her personal life.

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