A lovely big hello to Rosie Millard who is here with the blog tour for her new book, The Brazilian (released by Legend Press on 14th June.)
Following a sensational scandal at one of London’s most desired postcodes, Jane and Patrick decide to escape the gossip with a family holiday to Ibiza, their eight-year-old son George in tow.
Also on the island that week is a TV reality show involving an eccentric artist, a horny It Girl, a Brazilian footballer and a famous magician.
As hapless celebrities are picked off one by one, Jane is desperate to be on the programme, leaving childcare in the not so capable hands of a teenager.
One lesbian escapade and an explosive row over hair removal later, the contestants of Ibiza or Bust leave the island with more than sand in places they never knew existed…
The Brazilian is the follow-up to Rosie’s previous novel, The Square.
Jane and Patrick want to escape scandal which has made them a subject of gossip in the Square – an exclusive little bunch of houses. They decide to take their son, George to Ibiza for a family holiday but with teenager (and fellow Square resident,) Belle in tow. Patrick just wants a quiet, relaxing holiday for him and for Jane.
At the same time and unbeknown to Jane, Phillip, the Square’s artist has decided to go on a reality TV show called Ibiza or Bust leaving his wife Gilda at home.
When he gets to the house, he causes a stir. Not to mention the fact that TV personality Alan is there too. And they are not the best of friends.
Stepping off the boat in Mombasa, eighteen-year-old Rachel Fullsmith stands on Kenyan soil for the first time in six years. She has come home.
But when Rachel reaches the family farm at the end of the dusty Rift Valley Road, she finds so much has changed. Her beloved father has moved his new partner and her son into the family home. She hears menacing rumours of Mau Mau violence, and witnesses cruel reprisals by British soldiers. Even Michael, the handsome Kikuyu boy from her childhood, has started to look at her differently.
Isolated and conflicted, Rachel fears for her future. But when home is no longer a place of safety and belonging, where do you go, and who do you turn to?
Rachel spent her childhood in Kenya and has returned for the first time in six years having been educated at a boarding school in the UK.
When she arrives there is much that has changed. Her father has a new partner, Sara and even Michael, someone she has known for years is looking at her slightly differently.
This book is set in one of the most turbulent times in African history. Mau Mau violence against Kenyans and British people and the retaliation for this is getting worse. Rachel longs for the happier memories of her childhood.by
Hello to Clare Fisher and the blog tour for her novel, All The Good Things which was released on 1st June by Viking.
What if you did a very bad thing… but that wasn’t the end of the story?
Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.
This competition is now closed.
We have three copies of this fantastic novel to give away.
To enter, comment on this post. Tell us who you are and roughly where you are. The closing date for comments is Sunday 11th June 2017 at 23.59. The three winners will be picked at random from the entries and announced on the Novel Kicks blog on Monday 12th June 2017.
I will also contact the three winners via e-mail so please do check your junk folders. Open to UK only. (Prize coming directly from publisher so allow a few days for delivery.)
Good luck everyone.
My verdict on All The Good Things….by
A huge, lovely welcome today to Sheila Norton, whose book, The Vets at Hope Green was released in paperback on 1st June 2017 by Ebury Press.
Sam has always dreamed of working with animals…
But her receptionist job in a London vets is not hitting the spot.
Unsure whether a busy city life is for her, she flees to her Nana Peggy’s idyllic country village.
But despite the rolling hills and its charming feel, life in Hope Green is far from peaceful.
On first meeting Joe, the abrupt and bad-tempered local vet, Sam knows she must get him on side, but that is easier said than done…
With her dream close enough to touch, will she get there, or will events conspire against her…?
I have reviewed the book below but first, thanks to Sheila and Ebury, I have an extract from The Vets at Hope Green for you. Enjoy.
It was a beautiful, warm day at the end of May and the countryside on either side of the road was full of the promise of summer ahead.
I wound down the driver’s window of my little car and turned up the radio so that I could hear the music above the noise of the breeze as I whizzed along in the fast lane of the motorway.
Mile by mile, I felt myself relaxing. I felt my worries and uncertainties begin to melt away and my heart lifted with the anticipation of my destination.
Hope Green. The very name made me feel more optimistic. I sang along to the radio, remembering happy family holidays on the Dorset coast when I was a child. Hope Green had hardly changed since those days, its age-old charm untouched by the increased pace of life elsewhere. It was somewhere I could unwind and be at peace, take stock of things and perhaps really find myself at last.
As I steadily increased my distance from my home on the outskirts of London, I could almost feel my old life slipping off my shoulders like a heavy coat that had been weighing me down – the crowded streets, the rush-hour crush on the Tube, the traffic fumes, the stress on people’s faces – I was leaving all this behind me, leaving it for a place where life still depended on the seasons, where people still had time to chat on street corners, where people picked blackberries and elderberries from the hedgerows instead of buying them in tiny plastic packets from the supermarket at ridiculous expense.by
A BLOODY MESSAGE
As DI Nicola Tanner investigates what appears to be a series of organised killings, her partner Susan is brutally murdered, leaving the detective bereft, and vengeful.
A POWERFUL ALLY
Taken off the case, Tanner enlists the help of DI Tom Thorne to pursue a pair of ruthless killers and the broker handing out the deadly contracts.
A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE
As the killers target their latest victim, Thorne takes the biggest risk of his career and is drawn into a horrifying and disturbing world in which families will do anything to protect their honour.
When I was asked to take part in this blog tour, I was very, very excited.
Love Like Blood is the latest outing for DI Tom Thorne and it is great to have him back. Thorne finds himself helping fellow officer Nicola Tanner who is investigating a series of organised crimes; ones that she feels could all be linked.
This book pushes you straight into the action. It doesn’t shy away from delicate subjects. For example, the overall theme of this book is one I found hard to read about. It focuses on honour killings.
There are some uncomfortable moments for sure. It confronts many current issues and there are some very intense moments (I gasped out loud in places.) There were also moments where I fought tears and of course, Thorne brings his own unique humour and insight.
My sympathy was present for some characters and I immediately didn’t like others.
The plot itself has many twists and turns. I pretty much lost sleep because of this book. I couldn’t stop reading.
Mark Billingham is very good at planting many clues and questions throughout the novel and my suspicions fell on many of the characters throughout.by
Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love.
She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.
But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.
Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?
When I first got asked to read this book as part of the blog tour, I found the premise utterly intriguing although at the same time, not quite knowing what to expect. I’m a great fan of Jenny Colgan’s previous novels. I think it’s no exaggeration to say that I love her and her books, (for this novel, she’s writing as Jenny T. Colgan.)
This book is something very different not only for Jenny but also in general.
Holly hasn’t always been lucky in love and is under pressure from her friend to find someone when we meet her at the beginning of the novel.
When something happens that she’s not expecting, she meets Ultimate Man, the resident superhero.
Also, in the ensuing chaos following their meeting, Holly ends up experiencing her fifteen minutes of fame.
Fame and a new relationship with Ultimate Man and his alter ego is full of the ups and downs you’d expect when dating a superhero.
This book pretty much had me laughing from the beginning and I got drawn into it immediately. I couldn’t put it down.by
I am very pleased and super excited to be welcoming the fabulous Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her new novel, Just For The Holidays, released today by Avon Books.
In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.
Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.
But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…
Mick has reviewed the book but first, Sue shares her top tips for surviving summer holidays. Over to you, Sue.
I love summer. I was brought up for several years in Malta and it’s there I think I must have developed my love of the sun. Here are my top tips for surviving summer holidays:
• Take plenty to read. Whether it’s your eReader, print books or magazines, just make sure everybody in your party has something. I know you’ve got your phones on which to browse the Internet or tablets to let you watch DVDs but airport delays or beaches lead to flat batteries, low signal or extortionate phone bills. I find a book a day a nice starting point. Loading my eReader for a trip is such a pleasure! And I generally take a magazine just in case something makes it impossible to read on my eReader and the app on my phone.
• Choose a holiday you actually want. This might sound like stating the flippin’ obvious but if you’ve browbeaten your holiday companions into going where you want, you may find that nobody has a good time – and that includes you if they remind you every five minutes and sulk. (Of course, if you’re the browbeaten one and you didn’t actually want to spend your holiday in a theme park, put your friends/family in a queue for a ride, find a sunny bench and take out your book …) Leah in Just for the Holidays allows her sister, Michele, to coax her into a holiday she doesn’t want and things go seriously wrong from the first. (It doesn’t help that Michele has a couple of secrets, including quite an important one that she hasn’t shared with Leah.)
• If you can afford it, treat yourself to a pre-holiday pamper. Leg-waxing and gel nails can keep you feeling good all through your long-awaited holiday.
• Stay safe. It’s a shame we have to think this way but many a fabulous break has been ruined by theft of money and/or passports and returning to find the home ransacked. Be aware, use the hotel safe, visit one of the ‘information for travellers’ websites for advice pertinent to the place you’re visiting.
• Take at least one sweatshirt and a raincoat. Even hot countries have summer storms or freak weather.by
I wanted to share six of the new book releases I’m excited about for April.
It’s April. Already four months into the year. It’s also great to finally see some sun, even if it’s only a glimpse. We need to make the most of it whilst we can.
Another month means another set of new book releases and this month has a cracker of a list of new novels.
First up is Night School by Lee Child (released by Bantam Press on 6th April.)
This is the twenty-first outing for Jack Reacher and this title gets its paperback release this month. This novel sees Jack Reacher go back to his army days but now he is not in uniform.
With Sergeant Frances Neagley at his side, he must carry the fate of the world on his shoulders.
Another series to see a new release is The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell (due to be released by Harper on 20th April.)
This is the tenth book in the Last Kingdom series and is also being released in paperback.
Britain is in a state of unease. Northumbria’s Viking ruler and Mercia’s Saxon Queen have agreed to a truce.
England’s greatest warrior, Uhtred has at last got a chance to take back the home his Uncle stole from him many years ago and is where his scheming cousin still lives.
However, enemies distract him from his dream and new ones enter the fight for England’s kingdoms. Uhtred is determined to reclaim his birth right but he will need all the knowledge he has gained to try.by
Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is the new release from the lovely and brilliant Carole Matthews and we HAVE ONE COPY TO GIVE AWAY.
This book is released today by Sphere and I am so happy and excited to be kicking off this very special blog tour.
Christie Chapman is a single mum who spends her days commuting to her secretarial job in London and looking after her teenage son, Finn. It’s not an easy life but Christie finds comfort in her love of crafting, and spends her spare time working on her beautiful creations. From intricately designed cards to personalised gifts, Christie’s flair for the handmade knows no bounds and it’s not long before opportunity comes knocking.
Christie can see a future full of hope and possibility for her and Finn – and if the handsome Max is to be believed, one full of love too. It’s all there for the taking. And then, all of sudden, her world is turned upside down.
Christie knows that something has to give, but can she really give up her dreams and the chance of real love? Will Christie find her happy ending in . . . Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses.
To celebrate the release of this gorgeous book, we are creating a paper chain of thanks.
This is a chance to win a copy of this book for someone you want to say thank you to. Maybe a parent or a friend? A teacher? A neighbour? It can be anyone you like. Maybe you want to simply say thank you to yourself for a job well done?
To enter – simply tell me in the comments below your name and the person you’d like to nominate to win this book whether it be you or someone else and why you think you or they deserve a copy of Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses.
Make a comment below by the closing date of Thursday 13th April 2017 at 23.59.
A winner will then be selected by me from the entries and announced on the Novel Kicks blog on Friday 14th April 2017.
(The person who entered will also be notified by e-mail. UK only.)
Our verdict on Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses…by
Hello and a big welcome to Trisha Ashley. Her new book, The Little Teashop of Lost and Found was released as an eBook on 9th March by Transworld Digital (with the paperback following in June and published by Black Swan.)
Alice Rose is a foundling, discovered on the Yorkshire moors above Haworth as a baby. Adopted but then later rejected again by a horrid step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking – the scent of cinnamon and citrus and the feel of butter and flour between her fingers – brings a comforting sense of home.
So it seems natural that when she finally decides to return to Haworth, Alice turns to baking again, taking over a run-down little teashop and working to set up an afternoon tea emporium.
Luckily she soon makes friends, including a Grecian god-like neighbour, who help her both set up home and try to solve the mystery of who she is. There are one or two last twists in the dark fairytale of Alice’s life to come . . . but can she find her happily ever after?
I’ve been a devoted follower of Trisha for a number of years now and was honoured to be selected to receive an ARC of her forthcoming novel and so settled down to enjoy a leisurely plod through her offering…so much for good intentions.
Before long (around about page um…3) I found myself immersed in the interwoven worlds that Trisha is so expert at fabricating and had to force myself to slow down, breathe in fact, or else I was sure to finish the book in one fell-swoop. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, I’ve read many a book in one long session before, although I wanted and was determined to savour this one. I’ve never hated myself so much! This turned out to be the right decision though, as by only allowing myself to read a single chapter a day, I made certain to take in each word that was written. Not one was wasted, by the way.by
Iris Parker has passed away. She’s left the large amount of money from the sale of her house to her three daughters; Rose, who is tight lipped, controlled and closed down, Dee (Daisy) who is sensitive and has a big heart and the youngest sister, Fleur who is the free spirit.
The catch of the inheritance is their mother’s kicking the bucket list. The girls have to get together every other month and take part in various tasks set out by their mother. These are six weekends where Iris wants her girls to bond.
The three sisters have been estranged for years. Neither of them understand the other and not one of them is happy about having to get together. Dee needs the money as the home she has rented for years is about to be sold, Rose is distant as she has her own tragedy to face and Fleur is more lonely than she is letting on.
Can they make it through the year and get to know one another again like their mother wants them to?
This book resonated with me on such a level that it was sometimes hard to read and I imagine it would be the same for anyone who has lost a parent. That was through no fault of the book that I found some passages difficult. I didn’t want to stop reading. I just spend most of it trying not to cry.
Each woman is fighting her own battle but none want to communicate it to the other two. There are moments where you want to bang their heads together.by
2017 is promising to be a fantastic year for new book releases, if my TBR pile is anything to go by anyway.
As I have not done a haul in a while, I wanted to blog about some of the fantastic books that my letterbox has received to review. I also haven’t been able to resist buying a load of books too (much to the boy’s complaints.)
The first book in this haul is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (released by Walker Books, May 2015.) I kept seeing the trailer for the film adaptation of this book at the end of last year and it is this that brought the novel to my attention. The imagery in the trailer looked absolutely stunning and the plot looked really intriguing. I knew it was a book I had to go and buy and one I very much look forward to reading. I want to read this before I see the movie. This looks like it would be a story that resonates with a lot of people.
Connor has the same dream every night; the one he’s been having ever since his mother fell ill and stopped having treatments that didn’t seem to be working. This one particular night is different though. When Connor wakes, there is a visitor at his window. Ancient and elemental, it’s a dangerous force of nature and it is wanting the truth from Connor.
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella was released by Bantam Press on 9th February. Becky Bloomwood is one of my favourite fictional heroines. However, I have a big soft spot for books outside of the Shopaholic series too; Can You Keep A Secret being one of my favourite books. This book looks as fantastic as you’d expect Sophie’s novels to be. The cover is incredibly cute and the subject matter does look very topical especially with Social Media seemingly taking over everywhere. This is currently sat on my pile of books to read (having brought it a couple of weeks ago,) and I am itching to read it.
Katie is living the perfect life. She has a glamorous job, a flat in London and a cool instagram feed. In reality, she rents a tiny room with no space, has to commute to a low paid admin job and what she shares on Instagram isn’t even hers. Then, to add insult to injury, she looses her job. Katie ends up moving back to Somerset to help her Dad with his glamping business. Her ex boss books in for a holiday and Katie sees her chance. Should she get revenge or try and get her job back? Also, is her boss living as perfect a life as she portrays?by
A big welcome today to Dinah Jefferies. Her new novel, Before The Rains was released by Viking in February (2017.)
1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband’s death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza’s only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she’s determined to make a name for herself.
But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince’s handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families – and society – think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what’s expected, or following their hearts. . .
Hello Dinah, thank you so much for joining me today. Your new novel, Before The Rains sounds great. Can you tell me about it and where the idea originated?
I read about and then visited a small palace where, in the past, the royal family had mortgaged the family jewels to pay for an irrigation project. That gave me the idea for the title and one of the themes of the book. I fell in love with Rajasthan and wanted the pages of Before The Rains to shimmer with spice and silk so that the beauty of India would shine through. It’s about an independent female character with an interesting job as a photo-journalist. But above all it’s a story of forbidden love, with an edge to it, and plenty of opposition from either side. I wanted the story to be life-enhancing, despite the mystery of what’s going in the dark recesses of the palace. And so I tried to bring to life the colour and immense luxury of a Rajasthan palace and contrast that with the raw emptiness of the desert that surrounds it. It’s a romantic story that offers something more.
What elements do you need in place prior to writing a novel? Do you need a comprehensive plan, do you edit as you go etc?
I usually prepare a fifteen-page synopsis and stick to it as much as I can as I write. Having said that, there will inevitably be changes, edits and shifts as I go along. Sometimes a new idea will come to me, sometimes I’ll need to take the story in a different direction, sometimes something doesn’t work, so I try to remain flexible throughout. I do loads of revisions and love the editing process once the first draft is done.
What writing rituals do you have?
I’m not really a ritual kind of a person, but I try to write in the mornings while my mind is still fresh. A cup of coffee is a must, as is a warm room. I have a lovely new garden room where I write now and that has made all the difference. I was in a cramped back bedroom before. I now have my den and I love it.
What’s your favourite word and why?
My favourite word at the moment is ‘cinnamon’ because it figures widely in the book I am currently writing. I also like the sound of the word and the smell of cinnamon, especially on a cake or pudding. Mmmm! Cinnamon buns and coffee. Now there’s a thought.
Best and hardest thing about being a writer?
The best thing is when you hold a finished book in your hand for the first time. I absolutely love that moment. It has usually taken a long process to reach that point and some of the hardest things happen on the way. The very worst thing is when a manuscript isn’t working as it should but you can’t figure out what’s wrong. Then it feels like you’re grappling with a wild beast intent on devouring you. That’s when your editor is fantastically useful.
Out of all your books, do you have a favourite passage/section?
I love the section on page 20 of The Tea Planter’s Wife when Gwen sees the tea plantation for the first time and describes the tea bushes as a tapestry of green velvet, where women tea pickers looked like tiny embroidered birds.by
Massive happy hellos to Caroline Lea and her stunning debut novel, When The Sky Fell Apart which has just been released by Text Publishing.
Jersey, June 1940: it starts with the burning man on the beach just after the bombs land, obliterating the last shred of hope that Hitler will avert his attention from the Channel Islands. Within weeks, 12,000 German troops land on the Jersey beaches, heralding a new era of occupation.
For 10-year-old Claudine, it means a re-education under German rule, and as she befriends one of the soldiers, she inadvertently opens the gateway to a more sinister influence in her home with devastating consequences.
For Maurice, a local fisherman, it means protecting his wife at all costs. He has heard the whispers from France of what the occupiers do to invalids like Marthe and he is determined to keep them away from her – even if it means endangering his own life.
Edith, the island’s unofficial homeopath, is a Jerriais through to her bones. She sees her duty as caring for those who need her in their darkest time, but even she can’t save everyone, no matter how hard she tries.
And as for English doctor Tim Carter – on the arrival of the brutal Commandant, he becomes the subject of a terrifying regime that causes the Jersey locals to brand him a traitor, unaware of the torment he suffers in an effort to save them.
It’s over to Caroline where she is chatting about her writing process and the magic of editing. I’ve also reviewed the book too.
I’ve always written, but it took having children to compel me to finish my first novel. Perhaps it was the escapism writing offered, or the fact that motherhood has shown me both that I am a huge control freak, and that parenting is hard (why didn’t someone warn me that my kids would have opinions, or that they might prefer fistfuls of sugar to steamed broccoli?). The result was WHEN THE SKY FELL APART, which was written in six months during my children’s nap-times. Children provided me with a useful time constraint—I always respond well to a deadline—and writing provided me with characters I could control, so that it mattered less when my children drew on their faces with sharpie marker pens.
There were many surprises along the road to publication, not least of which was the amount of criticism writers must be willing to accept. The key is to acknowledge it, struggle back up, dust yourself off and continue to write, ignoring the monkey on your shoulder, babbling that you’re a failure. Writers are masters of self-sabotage. It’s easy to sit in front of a blank screen, paralysed by the idea that, whatever you write, it won’t be good enough. At the other end of the spectrum is the eviscerating experience of writing something ‘good’, only to feel utterly shattered by critical feedback from an agent or editor. All this emotional battery can leave hopeful writers feeling like the end product might not justify the years of tears and crushed egos, but I think that the problem is often that we expect to be ‘good’ too soon: we don’t allow ourselves to write badly.
Bear with me. I’m not suggesting that you send out your first draft of poorly shaped plot, with under-developed characters (I tried this with the first draft of my second novel: the response from my wonderful and longsuffering agent was polite but brutal). But I am saying that good work often starts with ‘bad’ writing, and with forgiving yourself for writing badly, and then being ready to endlessly reshape, rework, edit and redraft. This is where the magic happens. Imagine that you’re a sculptor. The first, roughly hewn block of wood will look be underwhelming. You’ll spend hundreds of hours sawing, chiseling, sanding and varnishing it before you have anything worthy of display. On the other hand, there may be things that remain in your novel through all twenty redrafts: WHEN THE SKY FELL APART starts with a burning man on a beach, and the first sentence, which was the impetus for the whole novel, has never changed: When he was on fire, the man smelt bitter.by
A big welcome today to Beth Underdown and the blog tour for her novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister which is due to be released by Viking tomorrow (2nd March 2017.)
‘The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’
1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.
But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.
To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?
Based on the true story of the man known as the Witchfinder General, this exquisitely rendered novel transports you to a time and place almost unimaginable, where survival might mean betraying those closest to you, and danger lurks outside every door.
Alice has just lost her husband. With little option available to her and nowhere else to go, she has to return to the home of her brother, Matthew Hopkins, ‘the Witchfinder General.’
Many rumours are circulating about Matthew’s conduct. Alice doesn’t want to believe her brother is capable of these things. The longer she is around her brother, the harder it is to avoid the feeling that the rumours are true.
It was easy to sympathise with Alice. She is governed by her circumstances and isn’t really respected by the men around her. Most of all, her brother.by