mick arnold

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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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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Mick’s Musings: Felicitous Yuletide Greetings to you all!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgWell, here’s my final blog post of the year and it’s been a strange last couple of months. My personal writing has kind of ground to an unwilling halt for the last two months and I know the exact reason. I’ve transferred back to my old position at work and am often not getting home until nearly half seven in the evening and am simply too tired to pick up my laptop and write. I’m perfectly aware of what everyone, including myself, always tells anyone who wants to write – write at every opportunity etc… – but sometimes, that’s just not possible; especially when you don’t ‘like’ your day job that much

Which brings me onto my New Year’s Resolution; ignore the feelings above and WRITE!! Simple as that and I’ll do my best to hold myself to it. I was doing quite well with my writing for the first ten months of this year and I want to get back to how I was then. Here’s hoping for a better year at work.

So, what have I been doing if I haven’t been writing? Since I last wrote, I’ve devoted quite a lot of time to my reading specifically that of two FRC’s I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to read.

The first was the smash hit on Amazon by the wonderful Sue Moorcroft ‘The Christmas Promise.’ I’m fortunate enough to be a member of her Facebook Group #TeamSueMoorcroft and because of my participation in the promotion of her through Twitter and Facebook, I was given the opportunity to read a preview copy of this fantastic novel. In the weeks leading up to its release on Kindle, I sent out daily ‘Twitter-Teases’ about it and enjoyed myself immensely. If I’m lucky, perhaps I should now consider myself friends with Sue? I wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to assume that, but I would be honoured if this were true.

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Book Review: A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham

cornish-christmasNestled in the Cornish village of Cloudsea, sits Sea Cottage – the perfect place for some Christmas magic …

At last Ivy is looking forward to Christmas. She and her husband Stuart have moved to their perfect little cottage by the sea – a haven alongside the rugged cliffs that look out to the Atlantic Ocean. She’s pregnant with their much-longed for first baby and for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother, Ivy feels like things are going to be alright.

But there is trouble ahead and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever. 

To give away a huge spoiler or not to give away a huge spoiler, that is the question.

And it is! There’s one thing I never do in my reviews and that’s to give the main points of a plot away and I’m tying my fingers in knots to stop them typing something yes, huge, about this story and a postcard…there, that’s the spoiler alert over with. If you want to know what I haven’t told you, there’s one good way – buy the book and read it!

All I shall say about the story is…Ivy and her husband Stuart have been trying and failing to get pregnant and finally make a break from London and move down to Cornwall. The change of scene and pace of life make all the difference, plus they get away from Stuart’s controlling mother, though Ivy feels a constant ache, she misses her deceased mother so much.

With the aid of new friends and finally re-acquainting herself with her mother’s old ones, Ivy struggles to accept that their dreams of a child may finally come true. Whilst Stuart makes a surprising success from producing condiments from his smallholding, his sister Smudge brings her own troubles to the fold.

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Mick’s Musings: Time Flies When You…

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime flies when you’re having fun – and writing can be fun, though time flies in this case even if you’re not having fun. Of course, it can also behave as if you’ve got both feet stuck in quicksand.

This has actually got nothing to do with what I’m going to talk about today, it’s just something that’s been flitting around my mind for a while and I’m hoping that by laying it down on paper (so to speak) I’ll be able to get this wind-worm out of my head. Sorry if you’ve now got it.

Right, so what have I been up to since the last time I wrote?

For a start, there was the RNA Conference in Lancaster, probably the highlight of the writing year for me at the moment (at least until such a time as I get ‘that’ call) and as much fun as ever. My heartfelt, and belated, thanks to all who gave their time to present to everyone, word cannot be enough to express my thanks – quite ironic considering the purpose of the conference. Especially to Imogen Howsen for her ‘Speed Dating’ session. No, you did read correctly, though we didn’t come away with partners in that respect, but rather it was utilising the format to find Critique Buddies. I’ve come away with some terrific ladies – Lisa Hill, Elaina James, April Hardy, Sue Mackender, Samantha Bentall; Imogen has also foolishly looking at various attempts at my writing too and thanks out to Bernadette O’Dwyer as well for ‘being there’.

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Book Review: You And Me Always by Jill Mansell

Headline Review, June 2016

Headline Review, June 2016

Lily’s always been surrounded by love.

Ever since her mother died, she’s been cared for by friends who are as close as any family. 

Coral, her mum’s best friend; Patsy, her old babysitter – and even Dan, Patsy’s incorrigible younger brother – have always been there for her. 

But when she chance comes to meet the man who was the love of her mother’s life, Lily knows she has to take it. Getting to know him could change everything, and not just for Lily…

I really didn’t think it would be possible for this sparkling author to top ‘Three Amazing Things About You’. If you haven’t read that one of Jill’s yet, then make that the next one you read after ‘You and Me, Always’, before the movie comes out! Well, maybe not, but someone really should turn it into one.

Sorry, I digress. ‘You and Me, Always’ is top-notch writing and un-put-down-able reading. If, like me, you see a blurb that mentions a movie star or someone fleeing something, that always starts an alarm bell ringing, but no need to worry here. Jill’s characters are always well thought out and the character of Eddie is nicely believable, things don’t even veer towards pie-in-the-sky world when the story deals directly with the world of celebrities.

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Mick’s Musings: And It’s Goodnight From Him….

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgAnd it’s good night from him.

A simple line, but by gum, I wish I could have written it! So, another of the great entertainers takes their final curtain call in a year that so far, I for one wish we could do without. We’ve lost so many already this year. You’ll be missed Ronnie Corbett.

As writers, we’re always hoping to come up with that ‘killer’ line, those few words that, on their own don’t mean anything, but put them together in the right order and bam! Of course, it’s the 400th anniversary of a certain gentleman’s birth this year who’s become the go-to writer for killer lines. Yes, I am taking about the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, but don’t worry, this isn’t going to be another half-baked celebration, for a start, and please don’t tar and feather me, I’m not a huge fan. I can just about take some of his comedies, but any of his serious plays usually send me to sleep – sorry.

My point is simply that we use his killer lines in our everyday speech, most of the time without knowing it, and wouldn’t we all love to be quoted! In the good way of course. It’s only six words, ‘And it’s good night from him’, but so memorable. I think we could all quote scenes from our favourite novels, but most of us wouldn’t be able to quote a favourite line, or perhaps rather one that would stand out for longer than a few months in our minds.

Which brings me onto the update on my present WIP. I talked in my last Blog update about how hearing a radio interview had interrupted the flow of what I was writing at that time, if you recall. The new one, tentatively entitled ‘Three Little Words’ (but very likely to change. Not because I don’t like it, but because it’s already been taken a number of times), and as of the last few days, I have finished the first draft with the word count standing at 81,986 words. Deciding that I’d like to get about 10,000 words done from Monday to Friday kept me on track.

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Book Review: Is This Love? by Sue Moorcroft

Is This Love by Sue MoorcroftHow many ways can one woman love?

When Tamara Rix’s sister Lyddie is involved in a hit-and-run accident that leaves her in need of constant care, Tamara resolves to remain in the village she grew up in. Tamara would do anything for her sister, even sacrifice a long-term relationship.

But when Lyddie’s teenage sweetheart Jed Cassius returns to Middledip, he brings news that shakes the Rix family to their core. Jed’s life is shrouded in mystery, particularly his job, but despite his strange background, Tamara can’t help being intrigued by him.

Can Tamara find a balance between her love for Lyddie and growing feelings for Jed, or will she discover that some kinds of love just don’t mix?

Where to start? Are there enough superlatives to describe this story? No. there you go, one of the shortest book reviews you’ll ever see.

Seriously? Yes, seriously, I finished this book about half an hour ago and have since being thinking, cogitating and generally mulling over how to put into words my thoughts on this story. I’ll do my best, though for those other fans of hers, I doubt if anything I’m going to say will come as a surprise.

Ms Moorcroft doesn’t pick easy subject matter, that much you already know if you’ve read any of her other books, for this, she should be congratulated. No picking the tried, tested, or easy route for her and perhaps other writers in the Contemporary Romance genre would do well to take a leaf from her book.

There are three central characters in ‘Is This Love?’ Two conventional, Tamara and Jed, around whom the conventional love story is centred and then there’s Tamara’s elder sister Lyddie. Lyddie is the glue that binds Tamara’s family together; Lyddie is a kind, generous thirty-something woman; Lyddie is a kind, generous, thirty-something brain-damaged woman. That got your notice.

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Mick’s Musings: Authors Meet Up

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(L-R) Georgia Hill, Mick Arnold, Linn B Halton and Tora Williams

I went to an author/blogger meet up in Birmingham recently and I’d like to start by thanking the wonderful Kim Nash for not only taking the trouble to arrange it, but also for being such a gracious host; thank you Kim.

To those of you whom I didn’t get around to meeting, I’m sorry and, if like me, you’re down to go to the next one in London, I hope to at least be able to say hello and maybe share bookish experiences with you. I’ll be the one in the corner, looking not unlike a startled rabbit (but with slightly less hair).

Swift hello’s to a few that I did manage to meet, starting with the lovely Sue Moorcroft (always great to catch up) and the other members of her Facebook Team Moorcroft whose names I can recall. Louise Styles, hi and very good to meet and talk to you; Mark West, Sue told me about a short story you wrote (think it was yourself?) about someone with a foot fetish, thanks for the nightmares; Kim Nash, thanks again and very nice to put a person to the face. Bookaholic Holly, Georgia Hill, Janice Preston, Linn B Halton and undoubtedly others whose names I can only apologise for forgetting. Just think of a goldfish with amnesia and that’s me with names.

This was my first meet up of this kind and there are already two others this year that I’ve accepted the kind invitations to go to. If you’ve never been to one of these and you find an invite drop into your Facebook account, then I can honestly say that (assuming you’re either an author or blogger, or for that matter a keen reader) you won’t be in the company of such a warm and welcoming group of people – ever!

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Mick’s Musings: Fun! Fun! Fun!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgDoesn’t time fly when you’re having fun…now I need to find the time to have that fun.

When I’m writing, after the first few hundred words, so long as it’s flowing, it is fun. Characters I’ve created/am in the process of creating, stand up and wave their little paws at me (I like cats, heck knows why half the time, but my latest WIP has a quite prominent feline who seems to be making a bid for freedom) for attention and sit down to share a metaphorical cup of tea with me. Then there’s the (mostly) welcome appearance of a new character that I hadn’t even considered when the idea for the story first came to mind, and even after I’d actually done some planning!

With this WIP, it looks very much like it’ll now be starting at chapter three. So, what does that mean for the Prologue and the first two chapters? Well, not really wanting to throw anything away, I do believe that quite a bit can be incorporated into forthcoming chapters and I also have to admit, it does start off the story a lot better. It’s straight into mini-crisis, always a good way to start.

Thank you Kate T for the suggestion.

As far as these new characters? It’s a welcome to Tippy’s Posse. Okay, so she’s currently called Poppy, but I have a few too many characters whose names begin with the letter ‘p’, but I still like ‘Poppy’ so it’s really a case of watch this space.

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Book Review: Able Seacat Simon: The Wartime Hero of the High Seas by Lynne Barrett-Lee

51q5iv-ax6L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Simon is discovered in the Hong Kong docks in 1948 and smuggled on board the H.M.S Amethyst by a British sailor who takes pity on the malnourished kitten. The young cat quickly acclimates to his new water-borne home, establishing himself as the chief rat-catcher in residence while also winning the hearts of the entire crew.

Then the Amethystis ordered to sail up the Yangtze to take over the guarding of the British Embassy, and tragedy strikes as the ship comes under fire from Communist guns. Many of the crew are killed and Simon is among those who are seriously wounded. Luckily, with the help of the ship’s doctor, the brave cat makes a full recovery and is soon spending time with the injured men in the sick bay, purring and keeping their spirits up. News of Simon’s heroism spreads and he becomes famous world-wide – but it is still a long journey back to England for both the crew and the plucky little cat known as ‘Able Seacat Simon’…

To discover a new author is one of the joys still to be found in life, and that is exactly what I’ve just done having finished this new book by the very talented Ms Barrett-Lee.

Based on true events during the Chinese Civil war, in its continuation phase after the Second World War, this is told from the point of view of the cat in the title. If you’ve not heard the story of HMS Amethyst, then this is actually a very good introduction to this riveting episode in the history of the Royal Navy.

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Mick’s Musings: Time is an Abstract Concept

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime is an abstract concept, and I don’t even know where I was going to go with that, only that I was going to point out that when you have too much of it, you tend to waste it, and when there’s not enough, we moan that we don’t have enough. I guess what I’m trying to say, in a very roundabout way, is that I wish I could go back in time this year and start it off by writing what I’m currently writing about.

As (in my case still a ‘would-be-writer’ – I refuse to assign myself the title Author until such a time as I manage to get myself published) this year, I’m now on my third ‘Work-in-progress’ and so ran out of that precious commodity to be able to submit a completed, not even first draft, to the New Writers Scheme for the first time since I was fortunate enough to join the hallowed ranks of the Romantic Novelists Association. I’ve been metaphorically smacking myself over the head ever since the realisation that I’d ran out of time hit me as I left this year’s conference.

Slight aside – thank you to all who put together this year’s conference (if they may be reading) particularly Jan and John (hope that’s right), a now expected highlight of my year that well lived up to hopes and expectations.

So, back to my subject for this long overdue new blog entry, what caused me to make such a foobar? You know how it is when you get that light bulb moment, that idea pops into your head and you go, ‘I must write about that. There’s a story that’ll knock your socks off!’ I had that three times this year.

The first came in about January and was a pure children’s story, a bit like The Animals of Farthing Wood meets Harry Potter – damn, that’s a good elevator pitch! The trouble was, about three chapters in, it wasn’t flowing as nicely as it needs to and I decided to leave it before I got too bogged down. But I still intend returning to it, the title alone keeps coming back to me, especially when I’m skimming through my writing folders on the pc; The Four Hedgehogs of the Apocalypse shall ride again!

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Mick’s Musings: Looking for an Agent!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgOkay, first things first, let’s be polite. May I wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year and I hope you had a great Christmas too. So far as my Lady Wife and I are concerned, we’re still ploughing through the store of Christmas chocolate – it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it! As for writing, 2015 for me is going to begin with unashamed ‘pleas’ (right word/expression?) as I am now stepping up my search for an Agent.

So, to refresh thy memories, I’m now in my 3rd year as member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, New Writer’s Scheme (blurb just arrived to confirm in the post) and the tome I sent off to the Reader last year was deemed ready to send out to Agents, once the few amendments were made. It’s currently with 4 of these wonderful people and I did mean to send out for a few more prior to Christmas, but then I thought it wasn’t the best time at which to send it off, holidays on the way, parties etc., but now it’s time to hit the ‘Send’ button on my email and also get some ink for my printer. In the meantime, I’m going to put in the Synopsis below (resulting in a slightly longer blog post than normal.) Continue reading

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Spotlight: Our Favourites Reads of 2014.

Happy New Year. As we say hello to 2015, it’s time to say farewell to 2014 but before we do, we wanted to have a quick look at the books we enjoyed reading in 2014.

rp_Bella-185x3001.jpg Mad About the BoyFirstly Bella, our Bella’s Scribblings columnist talks about her favourite book of 2014:

My favourite book of 2014 was Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding. I was more than a little concerned before I started reading this as I had heard the spoilers and I totally loved the first two books. I had no need to worry. The writing was as superb as ever and so was Bridget. She is still an amazing character who is now coping as a single parent and trying to date again with expected hilarious results. The characters were all vividly drawn and I was quickly immersed in Bridget’s world. A terrific story and a top holiday read. Loved it!

About Mad About The Boy (Jonathan Cape, 2013.)

What do you do when a girlfriend’s 60th birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend’s 30th? Is it wrong to lie about your age when online dating? Is it morally wrong to have a blow-dry when one of your children has head lice? Does the Dalai Lama actually tweet or is it his assistant? Is technology now the fifth element? Or is that wood? Is sleeping with someone after 2 dates and 6 weeks of texting the same as getting married after 2 meetings and 6 months of letter writing in Jane Austen’s day? Pondering these, and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of single-motherhood, tweeting, texting and rediscovering her sexuality in what SOME people rudely and outdatedly call ‘middle age’.

Click here to read Bella’s Scribblings.

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Mick’s Musings: Jealous?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgJealous? Nope, not the right word. Envy? Getting closer, if I’m being honest, but certainly very happy and proud are correct words to describe what I’d like to chat with you about today. If you’re a regular, or even if you’re not, on this wonderful site, then you may be aware of my good friend Bella’s column, Bella’s Scribblings-http://www.novelkicks.co.uk/bellas-scribblings-christmas-shopping/  – click the link for updates folks! But the reason for my kind of cryptic start to this column is the wonderful news that she’s got a two book contract with Harper Collins and the first, ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ is set to go on sale in February next year. I first met Bella at the Romantic Novelist’s Association Convention in Sheffield last year. Two newbies to the New Writer’s Scheme, both nervous and not sure what was going on, nor what to do, but she’s become a good friend and now, if I may say, an inspiration to those of us still hoping to get published. She’s worked very hard on this novel and without giving anything away, I would put it on your wish lists for a nice Valentine’s Day (yes, I’m fully aware that Christmas hasn’t even come along yet) present to yourself. So, where does that leave me? Well, I’ve submitted to just seven Agents/Publishing companies so far and, sniff, the first rejection came through this week. I slightly surprised myself but not cracking up completely when that email came through; though it was tempting, but I didn’t think my boss would understand a teary bloke at work. It’s actually made me more determined to approach others. I still have a couple on the list I was given by the RNA, so will have to print (yep, I did say ‘print’) out a couple and see if I can get those off shortly. Continue reading

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