Book Reviews

Book Extract and Review: That Girl by Kate Kerrigan

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘It’s only a virus,’ he promised.

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Book Review: Blackbird by ND Gomes.

HQ Young Adult, November 2017

HQ Young Adult, November 2017

Olivia disappeared the night the blackbird died.

It was New Years Eve the night that dead blackbirds descended, hours before fourteen year old Alex McCarthy’s sister Olivia went missing from a party.

Committed to finding out what happened to her sister, within the previously safe walls of their subarctic Orkney village, Alex knows that dishevelled, sometimes intoxicated Detective Inspector Birkens is her best shot.

Yet as they uncover the secrets behind Olivia’s last night, Alex starts to find things she may be better off never knowing…

Olivia disappears on New Years Eve. Orkney is a small community and the disappearance of a young woman puts everyone on edge.

Olivia’s younger sister Alex can’t rest until she knows what happened to her sister. The chaotic Detective Birkens may be her best shot at helping her piece together the events of the evening Olivia went missing.

The perspective of this novel is an interesting one. Rather than being told from the point of view of the police, it’s told from the point of view of the victim’s sister.

There is a mystery to solve (one of the aspects of the novel that appealed to me,) – what happened to Olivia and who was responsible but this is mostly looking at how Alex is dealing with the loss of her sister and how the event impacts her, the family and the community as a whole. This is really Alex’s story.

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Book Review: Recluse Millionaire, Reluctant Bride by Sun Chara

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HarperImpulse, 2017

Welcome to Sun Chara and the blog tour for her latest novel, Recluse Millionaire, Reluctant Bride which was released by Harper Impulse on 8th December 2017.

Stan Rogers, recluse millionaire, must negotiate a risky deal with Stella Ryan, the exotic beauty from his past, to gain custody of his son. But how can he close the deal with her, the one and only woman who flips his switches and pegs him as the enemy?

Martial artist Stella knows she should steer clear of Stan, the man who had shattered her heart and could still destroy her. Four years have passed since their hostile business deal, and now, the American financier is proposing holy matrimony…but she’s the reluctant bride wondering, what’s he up to?

Stella has no time for love. The love of her life is her business. When Stella is stopped by two men, put in the back of a van and taken to an unknown location she doesn’t know what to think. What she doesn’t expect is to be in the home of the man who financed her dream four years before. She quickly begins to question what is going on and why she’s there.

I didn’t completely know what to expect when I picked up this book to read and I wasn’t sure whether it would be my kind of book. Truth is, I couldn’t put this book down. For me, it is about how first impressions about someone aren’t always correct.

Stella is a strong fabulous female character. Sure, she is a workaholic and doesn’t really have time for a family which made me feel sad. She has her weaknesses (for Stan in particular,) but she’s a really likeable character.

The plot is paced well. The tone and setting at the beginning certainly drew me in. I wasn’t sure where the story was going to go and this made it exciting.

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Book Review: The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine

the last mrs parrishI am thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for The Last Mrs Parrish which is the latest novel from Liv Constantine. 

Amber Patterson is tired of being a nobody: an invisible woman who melts into the background. She deserves more. She deserves a life of wealth, luxury and leisure.

Daphne Parrish is the golden girl of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut. With her model looks, her picture-perfect mansion and her millionaire husband, Jackson, she has everything Amber wants.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive―if she didn’t have a plan. Before long, she has become Daphne’s closest friend, and is catching the eye of Jackson. But a skeleton from her past could destroy everything, and if discovered, Amber’s well-laid plan may end in disaster…

 

The Last Mrs Parrish intrigued me before I even picked it up to read and it definitely sounded like my kind of psychological thriller.

Amber is tired of being invisible and is desperate to escape her past. She doesn’t want to be a nobody anymore. She wants to be noticed. She wants a life of luxury. She wants Daphne’s life.
Daphne is married to Jackson Parrish and together they are the golden couple. Outwardly, they have the perfect marriage and Amber wastes no time in making sure she becomes a big part of their lives.

The Last Mrs Parrish blog tour bannerThe plot to this novel, in my opinion is very clever and is unveiled in a very compelling and exciting way and is paced extremely well.

I was unsure of where it was going to go and I didn’t see the end coming at all. I thought I knew what was going to happen and then the plot would go somewhere completely different.

From the beginning, you know that Amber isn’t what she seems. Her behaviour throughout the novel and the lengths she goes to are quite shocking.

I wasn’t won over by Amber but had sympathy with other characters which then changed over the course of the book.

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

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

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

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

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

And Callie loves Tilda. Very, very much.

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

Sometimes we love too much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Extract: The Perfect Victim by Corrie Jackson

The Perfect VictimA big welcome and hello to Corrie Jackson and the blog tour for her new novel, The Perfect Victim which was released by Zaffre on 16th November. 

Husband, friend, colleague . . . killer?

Charlie and Emily Swift are the Instagram-perfect couple: gorgeous, successful and in love. But then Charlie is named as the prime suspect in a gruesome murder and Emily’s world falls apart. Desperate for answers, she turns to Charlie’s troubled best friend, London Herald journalist, Sophie Kent. Sophie knows police have the wrong man – she trusts Charlie with her life.

Then Charlie flees. Sophie puts her reputation on the line to clear his name. But as she’s drawn deeper into Charlie and Emily’s unravelling marriage, she realises that there is nothing perfect about the Swifts. As she begins to question Charlie’s innocence, something happens that blows the investigation – and their friendship – apart.

Now Sophie isn’t just fighting for justice, she’s fighting for her life.

Corrie and Zaffre have kindly shared an extract from The Perfect Victim today. Enjoy!

 

CHAPTER 38

I wiped the rain from my eyes and lurched towards the hut nearest the forest. I ran my torch over the door; it was padlocked. I pressed my ear to the door but I couldn’t hear anything over the wind. I did a circuit of the building; no windows, no other way in except through the door. My fingers tightened around the rock; I’d have to bash open the padlock.

‘Kate!’ I raked the darkness with my torch but I couldn’t see her. My gaze fell on something on the ground and I crouched down for a closer look. Was that blood? I inched forwards, following the trail with my torch beam. It ran across the gravel, in the direction of the forest. I hesitated for a split-second then turned back towards the hut. As I did, my torch landed on a man, standing ten feet away from me, his hands jammed in the pockets of his waterproof.

‘What are you doing?’ The wind carried his gravelly voice towards me.

‘I – I’m looking for someone. A woman. I think she’s inside this hut.’

He edged towards me, on the tips of his toes. ‘That’s not possible, Miss. I’ve just been in that hut. Nothing but farming equipment in there.’

I tightened my grip round the rock and shone my torch in his face. I couldn’t see much; he was wearing a woolly hat, and his chin was buried in a scarf. ‘Then you won’t mind showing me.’

He cocked his head to one side. ‘And you are?’

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NK Chats To… Emily Harvale

I’m happy to be welcoming Emily Harvale to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her new Christmas themed novel, Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove. 

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Christmas is a time for family and friends, miracles and magic, falling snow and roaring fires, fun, laughter and festive feasts. In Snowflake Cove, it’s also a time for secrets to be revealed…

Evie Starr is hoping for more than a sprinkling of magic this Christmas. The family-run Snowflake Inn is virtually empty and the Starr’s financial future isn’t looking bright. But Evie’s gran, Jessie has a secret that might help.

Enigmatic, Zachary Thorn is every woman’s dream. He’s also ex-SAS, so his secrets are classified. The Christmas Special of his feel-good, TV show is set in Michaelmas Bay – until a phone call means he’s spending Christmas in nearby Snowflake Cove.

Evie’s best friend, Juniper thinks boyfriend Darren has a secret. Evie knows he does. And Evie’s niece, Raven is hiding feelings for Juniper’s brother – who has a secret crush of his own.

But the biggest secret in Snowflake Cove is the identity of Raven’s dad.

With snow falling thick and fast and secrets being revealed one after another, will everyone be snuggling up by the fire on Christmas Eve, or are some secrets best kept hidden…?

 

Hello Emily, it’s lovely to welcome you to Novel Kicks today. Your book is called Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove. Can you tell me a bit about it and what inspired the story.

Hello Laura, it’s great to be here. Yes, my new book, Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove is about 34-year-old Evie Starr and her family. Evie is single and lives in the family-run, Snowflake Inn with her parents and her gran. The book is set during the week leading up to Christmas Day and Evie’s 15-year-old niece, Raven is also staying for the holidays. The Starrs are struggling financially and Evie is hoping to persuade TV show host, Zachary Thorn to give the inn a plug during his live, Christmas Special. His show is being filmed nearby, but what Evie doesn’t know is that her gran, Jessie has a secret and when Jessie makes a phone call, it changes everyone’s plans. There are also several others with secrets in the tiny village of Snowflake Cove and one of the biggest secrets is the identity of Raven’s dad. With snow blanketing the village and secrets being revealed, it’s not going to be the quiet, family Christmas the Starrs were expecting, but it’s going to be one that changes people’s lives. And Evie may just get what she was hoping for this Christmas.

As to what inspired the story, I’m not really sure. I write a Christmas book each year and when it came time to write, Evie appeared and told me her story.

 

CSiSCfor KINDLEDid you plan much before writing this novel? How much planning do you feel is needed?

I never plan my novels. Lots of people do, I know, but that simply doesn’t work for me. I firmly believe there is no right or wrong way to write a novel. I do what feels right for me. A character pops up with an idea and I sit and type it. By the end of the first draft I know my characters well, and I do make notes about them along the way. Then I write a second draft. Sometimes I ‘plan’ an event or the ending – but that doesn’t always work out as I expect.

 

What elements do you feel make up good characters? 

Characters need to be believable. No one is perfect, so, like us, characters can have foibles. They should have a ‘strong voice’ – but that doesn’t mean they need to be strong. Sometimes the character with the biggest weakness is the most memorable. They need to be true to themselves. Doing something completely out of character should be as much of a shock to them, as it is to the reader.

 

When you came to edit, did you wait to have a full draft. How did you approach the editing (a chapter at a time?) 

I always edit as I write. I’ll finish a few chapters then the following day I’ll read them through and edit them before continuing. I like doing that because it gets me back into the flow of the story. Once I’ve finished the first draft, half my edits are done. I then read it through. Leave it. Read it again and edit it however many times I need to before it goes off to my editor. Then together, we may do more. I edited this book in the same way I edit all my books.

 

Do you believe plot or character is more important when writing a novel? 

I believe they are equally important – but it depends on the novel. Some stories are plot driven, some are character driven.

 

Are you working on anything at the moment that you can tell me about? 

I’m working on book two in this Michaelmas Bay series. It introduces new characters but we still get to spend some time with Evie and her family. All of my books can be read as standalones even if they are part of a series.

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NK Chats To: Kiltie Jackson

A Rock n Roll Lovestyle - Head Shot PiccieA Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle is the new novel from Kiltie Jackson and was released by WickedKilt Publishing in September 2017. 

I am pleased to welcome her to Novel Kicks today to chat about her writing routine, her favourite word and what Christmas song is essential.

 

Hi Kiltie, it’s lovely to have you in the blog today. Can you tell me about your debut novel, A Rock n’ Roll Lovestyle and what inspired it. 

Thank you so much for having me here today. My novel is focused on the issues of trust, friendship and how difficult it can be to live a life in the public eye. I was inspired on this topic through a life-long love of music coupled with the knowledge of how society puts superstars and celebrities on pedestals only to derive great enjoyment from watching them fall off. I am aware this has been the case for many decades but, in the 21st century, it seems to have escalated to ridiculous levels and I’m not convinced that it is good for society as a whole.

 

What’s your normal writing day like? Do you have rituals when writing?

I still have a 40hr a week day job so my writing days are not as tightly structured as I would like them to be. I currently do ‘writing stuff’ – that can be anything from writing my next novel to working on my blog or doing guest posts for fellow bloggers – on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, nearly all day Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Sometimes, if my husband is working overtime, or away on a trip, I have a treat of writing all day Sunday. The only hard-set ritual is that I will only drink my coffee from a little mug I bought in Salzburg. At the time of purchase it was full of mulled wine. As much as I would like that to still be the case, I suspect my writing may not fully benefit from it.

 

Are you much of a planner? 

I believe I am what is referred to as ‘a basher and fixer’ when it comes to writing. I have a pretty good idea in my head of how my storyline will unfold. I will know exactly how it starts, what is in the middle and how it will end. I then ‘bash’ away at the keyboard putting in the filling between these three points. Once I finish the first draft, I go back to ‘fix’ which entails editing, re-arranging, reading, re-arranging again and polishing up before sending off to my editor for him to sort out my appalling grammar and spelling.

In the rest of my day-to-day life, however, I am a total planner and everything is usually very organised.

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Book Review: Christmas at The Falling-Down Guesthouse by Lilly Bartlett

Christmas at the Falling Down Guesthouse coverGet ready to meet Britain’s Worst Innkeeper.

Put your feet up and tuck into the mince pies, because you won’t have to lift a finger to enjoy this Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse!

Too bad the same can’t be said for single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie. When her beloved Aunt Kate ends up in hospital just before Christmas, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter rush to rural Wales to take over her B&B. A picky hotel reviewer and his mad family are coming to stay, and without the rating only he can give them, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.

But Lottie can barely run her own life, let alone a hotel. How will she manage to turn the falling-down guesthouse into the luxurious wonderland the reviewer expects? And could the mysterious taxi driver, Danny, who agrees to help her, turn out to be the real gift this season?

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A Moment With: Patricia Furstenberg – Puppy, guess who’s coming to dinner?

PatriciaFurstenberg.Puppy.v2coverI’m happy to welcome children’s author Patricia Furstenberg to Novel Kicks. Her new book, Puppy: 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles has been released today. Patricia joins me to chat about which characters she’d like to have around to dinner. Over to you, Patricia.

I love having a festive dinner with my family and friends! Be it Thanksgiving, Christmas or a Birthday, there is always something special about good food, in a relaxed environment, shared with the ones you love.

But what would it be like if I would invite to dinner my favorite book characters? And since Puppy will be celebrating his Grande Release in the book world today, I thought that, to celebrate him, I’ll invite six of my favorite children’s book characters to dinner.

Right next to Puppy I’ll seat Winnie-the-Pooh. I think the “silly, old bear” will be a good table companion since he is friendly and very appreciative of food, especially “hunny!” and, although forgetful, he makes a gentle pack leader. Puppy would like this, as he is used to following and sharing his meals with his “human pup”. And if Pooh happens to forget… his table manners, Puppy won’t mind at all. A.A. Milne has instilled so much love and optimist into his Winnie-the-Pooh stories and, just like Christopher Robin, so many girls and boys around the world grew up to love and rely on this bear “of very little brain”, but with a big heart.

Just to put my mind at ease I think that near Pooh I’ll be seating one of the best and most clever nannies that ever walked the pages of a book, Mary Poppins. Perhaps that P.L. Traver’s book is not that well-known, talented Julie Andrews being the one to rather instill everlasting life into this book character, but this nanny surely made many parents smile and wish they could summon her, at the drop of a hat.  Besides, her typical British humor and rigor would keep any dinner plans running smoothly. Because: “just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”

That’s why near Mary Poppins I’ll be seating Astrid Lindgren’s most beloved, yet strong-minded Pippi Longstocking. I do admire this independent little girl so very much! Her contagious optimism and passion for true values are highly commendable, as are her many talents, from cooking to fixing the house – although using unorthodox methods at times. With her freckled, contagious smile and her unusual, red plaits, Pippi has shared her passion for animals and her idealistic visions on life with so many generations of children from around the world.

I think that Pippi, although outgoing, will be a good companion to quiet but intelligent Matilda Wormwood. I’m sure that the two girls will share the same passion for travel and for stories. Roald Dahl has also given Matilda a playful side and this is what helped her overcome some of the biggest challenges headmistress Miss Trunchbull had set out for her. And just like Pippi, Matilda’s determination and optimism as well as her imagination have helped her save the day.

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Book Review: The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft

The Little Village ChristmasWelcoming Sue Moorcroft back to Novel Kicks is a lovely way to kick off a Monday morning. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, The Little Village Christmas which has recently been released by Avon digitally with the paperback release following at the beginning of November. 

Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.

After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.

But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.

However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…

Christmas wouldn’t feel like Christmas, even in October, if there wasn’t a new Sue Moorcroft novel to enjoy – I was not disappointed.

Will that do? It should suffice as the line above should be all you need to know, assuming you’re familiar with the stories of Ms Moorcroft. If you’re not, then read on, but by the time you get to the end of this review and have then purchased the book, savoured the beautiful front cover and finally sat down to read said story, I’m certain you’ll be in agreement with my succinct review above.

Still not convinced? Very well, but be warned, if you want a more complete story outline, I suggest you go elsewhere. That’s not my style. I tend to give a brief overview of what happens, and concentrate on the writing style and characterisation, plus a small deal of procrastination thrown in for you fellow writers out there.

So, who do we have here? Our main characters are Alexia, an Interior Decorator who’s taking on one final project in her home village of Middledip (hurrah!) before, she hopes leaving for bigger things in London. However, as they do, the best laid plans fall apart when conmen steal all that’s worth stealing from The Angel Community Cafe she’s thrown into a steamy relationship with Ben, relatively new to the village who’d previously kept to himself for reasons that become clearer as the story progresses, that flounders and very nearly burns before it’s had time to get started.

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Book Extract: The Note by Zoë Folbigg

9781786698070The Note is the debut novel from journalist and editor, Zoe Folbigg. It was released digitally in September and is due to be released in paperback by Aira on 2nd November. 

One very ordinary day, Maya Flowers sees a new commuter board her train to London, and suddenly the day isn’t ordinary at all. Maya knows immediately and irrevocably that he is The One.

Every day they go through the same routine; he with his head in a book and her dreaming of their happily-ever-after. But eventually, Maya plucks up the courage to give Train Man a note asking him out for a drink.

And so begins a story of sliding doors, missed opportunities and finding happiness where you least expect it. Based on the true story that everyone is talking about, The Note is an uplifting, life-affirming reminder that taking a chance can change everything…

 

I’ve reviewed The Note below but first, thanks to Zoë and Aira, I have a pre paperback publication extract to share with you today. Enjoy! 

Chapter One

May 2014

Maya has done it. She has delivered three sentences and a friendly sign-off, and now it is out of her hands. She struggles to walk the incline of the seemingly uphill train carriage because her legs are shaking, her mouth is dry, and putting one foot in front of the other takes effort and focus her racing heart isn’t capable of at the moment.

Her legs buckle as Maya slumps into a seat on the other side of a grubby internal door. Which is just as well because she wanted to linger with the last straggles of bedraggled Train People disembarking reluctantly; to make herself invisible to all the commuters she just embarrassed herself in front of. So, Maya lies low with the sleepy people. The people who can’t stand their jobs. The people who are lost in someone else’s life, frantically turning or swiping pages to find out if the girl got the guy, the adventurer made it back to London or the heretic was burned at the stake.

Train Man isn’t a straggler. Every day Maya sees him stand up confidently at the same point on the track, somewhere between the football stadium and the tunnel, as the train snakes towards a new day and a new terminus. Equine legs, strong arms. He throws a grey backpack with two thin brown leather straps onto his back, stands in the doorway and, as the train comes to a stop and orange lights ding, he steps off with pace and purpose. Maya usually walks a healthy distance behind Train Man, tiny sparks flying from her heels, down the platform and through the barriers under the canopy of a reverse waterfall bubbling white and bright above them. The intimate huddle of a metal umbrella for thousands of people who don’t even look up. Train Man always walks straight through the station and Maya wonders what he’s listening to, trying to guess from his gait, not realising he was at four of the six gigs she went to in the past year. Every day she sees him turn right out of the station and walk swiftly, resolutely, into a mist of people down the road. Until she can’t keep up with his long stride, he in Converse, she in heels – or ballerina flats if she needs to be nimble and get to a meeting – and Maya tends to lose him around the big crossroads at the artery by the hospital. But not today. Today Train Man has long gone.

When Maya’s legs buckled and she fell into a dusty seat, she put distance between where Train Man had been sitting, where she had awkwardly stood over him, and into this sanctuary of a cringe-free carriage. Catching her breath, she waits for three minutes until she, Maya Flowers, is the last of the stragglers. Hot face. Thumping heart.

I did it!

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Competitions: Win a Signed Copy of Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews

christmas cakes and mistletoe nightsCarole Matthews is back with Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights which was released by Sphere on 19th October. 

Thanks to Carole and Sphere, we have ONE SIGNED COPY to give away to one lucky winner.

 

Fay and Danny are madly in love and it’s all Fay’s ever dreamed of. But she left everything – including the delightful cake shop she used to run – to be with Danny on his cosy canal boat The Dreamcatcher. And as she soon finds out, making delicious cakes on the water isn’t always smooth sailing!

Then Fay gets a call from her friends, a call that sends her back to her friends and the Cake Shop in the Garden. It will be hard being away from Danny but their relationship is strong enough to survive . . . isn’t it?

Fay soon falls happily back in love with her passion for baking – especially now she’s on dry land again! – and starts to wonder if she ever should have left. With Christmas around the corner, Fay is determined that her friends will have a very merry time, but does that mean even more time away from Danny?

 

How To Enter: 

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The Princess Bride is 30! Book vs. Film

Princess_Bride_DVD_2D_StickerCould it really be possible that The Princess Bride movie is thirty this year? A staple of my childhood memories, I used to love watching this film. Many a time I would quote lines from the movie. Even now, as I reach my late 30’s, it still remains one of my top films.

OK, so it is a little cheesy but it’s brilliant.

Before I go on, I feel I do have to give a spoiler alert.

The cast is amazing. Of course, I can’t see Cary Elwes without also shouting ‘because unlike other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent,’ as well as quotes from this film.

Mandy Pitinkin (Homeland) steals the movie with his turn as Inigo Montoya.

I remember always being a little fascinated by Andre The Giant.

Peter Falk (seriously, Colombo,) and Fred Savage who was well-known at the time for the Wonder Years. There were so many brilliant people in this movie.

I also can’t believe that this is the film that ‘introduced’ Robin Wright who is of course now kicking TV butt in House of Cards.

PrincessBride2The film has a whimsical feel to it that I loved even as a kid. Westley and Buttercup’s relationship was so romantic. I loved it. It had the sword fights yes but I adored it for the romance.

The movie is incredibly funny too. I watched it for the first time in a while and I still find it as comical as I did the first time I watched it.

When I think about my favourite element of it though, it has to be the quotable lines.

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Book Review: Cold Feet: The Lost Years by Carmel Harrington

Hodder & Stoughton, September 2017

Hodder & Stoughton, September 2017

Reeling from the sudden death of Rachel, his beloved wife, Adam has no time to grieve. He has to keep going, for the sake of their baby son.

Jenny moves back in with ex-husband Pete, eight and a half months pregnant with another man’s child. Can their relationship overcome past jealousies?

Karen and David agree to an amicable divorce – but that’s before he sleeps with the divorce lawyer . . .

 

Cold Feet is one of my favourite TV shows. It has been for a long time. I was so pleased when they announced they were bringing it back for a sixth and seventh season. Then once I realised that there was also a book, there was much excitement but also a little trepidation. Could the book live up to the greatness of the TV show? Would the characters feel the same?

In a nutshell, in my opinion. Yes.

The Lost Years focuses on the few months after Adam leaves Manchester with the baby, a suitcase and the memory of Rachel. He is with his Dad, not knowing what to do next.

Pete and Jenny are trying to navigate around their resurrected relationship and then the impending arrival of the new baby whilst Karen, David and Robyn are not sure what to make of their new dynamic.

I won’t go too much further into the plot but what I will say is that this book retains the charm.

I loved catching up with these characters. After five series I had become so invested in them. This book was like catching up with old friends and so I couldn’t put this book down to be honest.

I loved the fact that Rachel is still involved despite the fact that she isn’t technically around. The humour and warmth of the TV show still comes across. Also, like the TV show, there were moments when I was in tears.

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

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