Extracts

Book Extract: Within The Silence by Nicola Avery

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.

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Book Extract: Hush Hush by Mel Sherratt

Hush HushHush 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.

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Book Extract: Second Chances at the Log Fire Cabin by Catherine Ferguson

second chancesThe 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 . . .

Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin Blog TourA 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.

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Book Extract: The Mischief Maker by Simon Maree

the mischief makerA 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.

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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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