Jane hasn’t lived anywhere for longer than six months since her son was born five years ago. She keeps moving in an attempt to escape her past. Now the idyllic coastal town of Pirriwee has pulled her to its shores and Jane feels as if she finally belongs. She finds friends in the feisty Madeline and the incredibly beautiful Celeste, two women with seemingly perfect lives – and their own secrets.
But at the start of a new term, an incident involving the children of all three women occurs in the playground, causing a rift between them and other parents. Minor at first but escalating fast, until the whispers and rumours become vicious and spiteful, and the truths blur into lies.
It was always going to end in tears, but no one thought it would end in murder . . .
I am a big fan of Liane’s novels but for some reason I didn’t read this novel until after the TV series came out which of course i couldn’t help myself and watched.
Normally, I can’t read a book after seeing an adaptation on the screen. However, this was not the case for this book.
From the moment I picked it up, I was hooked and I couldn’t stop reading.
It was good to see three main female characters. They are all very different and yet in some ways, similar. They are all hiding their own secrets and facing their own demons. They all become connected in a way they couldn’t imagine.
Celeste’s perfect life may not be as perfect as it seems. Madeline is never one to take anything lying down and is quite a positive person but even she isn’t completely happy. Jane is new to the area but there is a reason she’s there.by
The One That Got Away is the latest novel by Annabel Kantaria. It’s due to be released by HQ in paperback and eBook tomorrow.
Everyone has one. An ex you still think about. The one who makes you ask ‘what if’?
Fifteen years have passed since Stella and George last saw each other. But something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the invite to her school reunion.
There’s still a spark between them, and although their relationship ended badly, they begin an affair.
But once someone gets you back, sometimes they’re never going to let you go again…
Stella and George were a couple at school. However, when a big event occurs., George leaves and they end up not seeing one another for a few years.
The next time they do, it is at a school reunion. As soon as George sees Stella, all the old feelings come rushing back and they are soon having an affair.
Stella wants George back and she believes he wants the same thing.
This book is told from the point of view of both Stella and George so as I was reading, I did get a really good all round idea of what each of them felt and thought. It pulled me into the story very quickly. My allegiance switched between them many times throughout the novel. The narration and the plot really had me questioning what was going on pretty much all the time I was reading.
This meant that I couldn’t stop reading! Seriously, I was incredibly addicted to this book. It didn’t really leave my sight for the 24 hours that it took me to read it.by
Visualising your novel as a movie.
As I begin to put my first novel together, I am increasingly finding that sitting and visualising a scene in the book like a movie helps in describing the scene.
Pick a bit of your work in progress or a favourite passage from a book and not only tell it from someone else’s point of view within the scene but write it like a script for a film.
Visualise the setting, the weather, which characters are there. What they look like, what they are wearing. What are the characters talking about?
Try to get over as much information and detail as possible in your dialogue.by
Claire North is the author of The End of The Day which was released by Orbit in Paperback on 24th August.
Claire is with me today to chat about her five favourite fictional characters. Over to you, Claire.
Sam Vimes, from The Discworld Novels by Terry Pratchett
Sam Vimes starts in the gutter, and ends up more or less a superhero. By the time he’s a diplomat for the city of Ankh Morpork, he can swagger into any bar on the Disc, flick ash from his cigar, tip his helmet to the troll at the door and with a casual ‘easy, boys’ seize control of a situation by his sheer grim will and excellence.
He doesn’t have magic powers. But he is a copper. No – a copper’s copper. A policeman down to the soles of his worn-down boots, a loather of paperwork, a duke despite himself, a terrible politician and a seeker-after-of-truth/justice, no matter what gets in his way. And in Vimes, Terry Pratchett came to craft a character who’s superpower is exactly that – policeman as a magic unto itself.
Vimes is also blessed by being married to Lady Sybil Ramkin, a dragon-breeder and lady of an ancient house. It is a union that gave his character even more space to bloom, as his desire to pursue the truth of increasingly tangled and dangerous cases was pulled back from the edge of darkness by Lady Ramkin’s inevitable and necessary cry – “Don’t be ridiculous, Sam!” Separately, they were already cool characters; together they are incredible.
Lessa , from the Dragons of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
There is a great deal about Lessa that’s annoying. Arguably this is in response to provocation – having your family killed, your ancestral Hold stolen from you, hiding yourself in the kitchens of your conqueror for years while planning revenge would certainly help mould you into the headstrong bundle of rage, manipulation and exasperation that Lessa absolutely is.
She’s also the rider of a golden queen dragon, a great leader in the fight against the deadly Thread that rains down from Pern’s sky, and the first female character I ever read who was kick-ass excellent, and fully human, and totally indispensable. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a teenage girl who up to that time was still only really encountering books about heroic men doing heroic things while women need rescuing. Try now to imagine how your world explodes when finally – finally – you find a book where not only is the woman a flawed and brilliant character who evolves with the passage of time into someone even more awesome, but who is the irrefutable saviour of Pern despite herself and her flaws.
Lessa is far from the greatest character I’ve ever read; but as a teenage girl learning to love fantasy, her existence rocked my world.
Corwin, from the Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny
Corwin is arguably a far less pleasant character to spend time with than his sprog, Merlin. However, the ambition, vengeance and self-obsession that drives Corwin in book one to do some… really rather unwise things… gives way over time to one of the most interesting and evolved mostly-heroes of fantasy. With the ability to walk through reality – all realities, all that you can ever imagine – and over time acquiring responsibility for maintaining the balance between the universe’s two conflicting poles, Order and and Chaos, Corwin is a character who defies easy description, shares his feelings minimally with the reader, while providing gently humorous narrative on all he sees.
However, like all of Zelazny’s characters, responsibility doesn’t make Corwin pompous, or bad company. Like Sam in Lord of Light – a character who essentially becomes the Buddha in his quest to tear the technology of incarnation out of elitist hands – it’s excellent, go read – Corwin will spend a great deal of time enjoying whiskey and a cigarette while musing over the nature of existence, before wrapping up debate with a merry ‘that didn’t solve anything, but it was better than being impaled by a mad unicorn’. Huge ideas are gently caressed beneath the surface of Corwin’s dry wit, and Zelazny’s casually brilliant imagination.by
I am delighted to be saying hi to Liam Brown today and kicking off the blog tour for his new novel, Broadcast which was released by Legend Press on 15th September 2017.
The idea behind MindCast is simple. We insert a small chip into your skull and then every thought, every feeling, every memory is streamed live, twenty-four hours a day. Trust me – within a few months you’ll be the most talked about person on the planet.
When David Callow is offered the lead role in a revolutionary new online show, he snatches at the opportunity.
Rapidly becoming a viral sensation, David is propelled to stratospheric levels of celebrity. However, he soon realises the downside of sharing every secret with the world.
A prisoner to both his fame and his own thoughts, David seeks to have the chip removed, only to discover the chilling secret lurking at the heart of MindCast, and the terrifying ambition the show’s creator has for him.
Broadcast by Liam Brown follows David. He makes his living making videos and sharing every aspect of his life on the internet. When he is recruited to try a new technology that will take his videos to the next level, reluctantly he agrees.
Little does he know what he is letting himself in for and how much of himself he will reveal to the viewing public of the world.
The premise of this book interested me even before I started reading. It has been billed as a ‘Truman Show like nightmare for the You Tube generation,’ and that is a pretty accurate description.
This book explores the themes of the current social media obsession. The need to share aspects of our lives with strangers. When we meet him, David thinks he has the world at his feet. His videos make him a comfortable living and he seems to be happy sharing his life with the world.
Many of the characters in this book felt untrustworthy to me and like David, I didn’t know who was on his side. The doubt and confusion David feels comes across so well.
Like the internet, not a lot is as it seems. Broadcast also makes me think of the saying, ‘be careful what you wish for.’
Once he has signed himself up, it was intriguing to see how he copes with it and how much of his privacy he is really surrendering. This book, despite having finished it is one I just can’t get out of my head.by
Copycat is the latest novel from author, Alex Lake and I am pleased to be welcoming her blog tour to Novel Kicks today.
Imitation is the most terrifying form of flattery…
Which Sarah Havenant is you?
When an old friend gets in touch, Sarah Havenant discovers that there are two Facebook profiles in her name. One is hers. The other, she has never seen.
But everything in it is accurate. Photos of her friends, her husband, her kids. Photos from the day before. Photos of her new kitchen. Photos taken inside her house.
And this is just the beginning. Because whoever has set up the second profile has been waiting for Sarah to find it. And now that she has, her life will no longer be her own…
Thank you for joining me today, Alex. Your book is called Copycat. Can you tell me a little about it and the inspiration behind it?
It’s about a woman, a doctor with three young kids, who discovers that there’s a Facebook account in her name. When she looks at it, she’s shocked – the most recent post is a photo , from the day before, of her kids on the beach. And there are others: photos of her out with her friends, of her on a date night with her husband, of her kids’ school plays. It is an entirely accurate representation of her life.
But she had nothing to do with it, and, as she will soon discover, it is just the beginning of her problems.
The inspiration came from some conversations I’d with friends about the way we treat our digital lives. Social media is very public, and yet we seem happy to put all kinds of information out there which would once have been considered private – birthdays, middle names, current location – that leaves us vulnerable to hackers and the like. But what if someone didn’t want to just steal your money or your identity – what if they wanted to destroy your entire life, and the information you left online was just the means they used to do it?
What’s your writing day like and do you have any writing rituals?
I write early in the morning, before my three young kids are up and about. When I sit down I know what I’m going to write – what the scene is and how it fits into the rest of the book, and so I can really use the time. I normally plan it the evening before (in the bath, or on a walk).
I only write for about an hour and a half each day, which is normally around 1500 words – after that I start to lose the flow and it becomes a struggle. Then for the rest of the day I do all the other things I have to get done.
What’s the best and most challenging thing about being a writer?
The best is getting the first copy of your book. Each book starts as a vague idea in your head, then gets turned into notes, then conversations with friends over a drink, then a draft, another draft and then one day a parcel comes and it’s your book. It’s just thrilling.
I think the most challenging thing is the constant worry that whatever you’re working on isn’t good enough. I always have that feeling – I’ll be halfway through a first draft, and I find myself thinking that what I’m working on is no good, that the characters are flat and boring, that the plot is full of holes, that I need to scrap it and come up with a better idea. And there’s no one you can talk to – the book’s not done, so they can’t read it – so all you can do it carry on, convinced you’re going to end up with a disaster on your hands….
What elements, in your opinion, make a good thriller?
I think there are three broad areas: characters, plot and The Villain.
The characters need certain characteristics – they need to feel real, so readers can identify with them and care about them, they need to be in genuine peril, and the solution needs to be in their grasp. They can’t just be waiting for the end to resolve itself. They need to be fighting and struggling and helping themselves.
As for the plot – the thrillers I enjoy the most are the ones I could imagine happening to me. It’s that sense that the structure of our lives is just one step away from falling apart, that, hidden behind the closed curtains of a nearby house unspeakable things are going on, and they might spill over into all of our lives…
And then there’s the villain. What makes a good villain would need an entire blog post of its own, but the villain too needs to be real.
And the more real they are, the more terrifying they become…by
Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.
The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.
Today’s prompt: Haunted Accusations.
The scene is a courthouse. The weather outside is brisk and it threatens to rain. A crowd of people have gathered outside all waiting impatiently for the result.
Inside the courtroom, the happy go lucky guy sits as he waits for his trial to begin. He’s there because of a supposedly haunted object which he says carried out the crime he is being accused of.
Write this story.by
Today, I am happy to be welcoming Ellen Berry and the blog tour for her new novel, The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane which was released on 7th September 2017.
Growing up in a Yorkshire village, Roxanne Cartwright couldn’t wait to escape and make her place in the world. Now, thirty years later, she’s a fashion editor living a glamorous life of perennial singlehood in London – or so it seems to her sister Della. But when Roxanne finds her career under threat, she feels herself pulled back to the quiet village she’d been so desperate to leave.
As Roxanne reacquaints herself with life on Rosemary Lane, she slowly makes a surprising discovery: the people who live in Burley Bridge are, well, just people – different from the fashion set she’s used to, but kind and even interesting. Michael, a single dad trying to make a go of a small bakery, particularly so. Little by little, cupcake by cupcake, Roxanne and Michael fall into an unexpected friendship.
Could there be a life for Roxanne after all, in the place she’s spent years trying to escape?
I’ve reviewed The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane below but first, to celebrate the release of her new book, Ellen has written an exclusive short story. Enjoy.
Home Alone (Part 2) by Ellen Berry
The rest of the evening was lovely. The wine helped Jo to relax, and by the time they stepped back into the sleek, modern hotel, she had convinced herself that Hannah hadn’t noticed the missed call on her mobile. Maybe it was out of charge, she thought as they took the lift to their room. She’d try again in the morning, before they left. She was sure everything was okay.
Jo woke early with sunlight streaming in through the window. She felt silly now, being so worried last night. She looked fondly at Tom, who was still asleep, and gently kissed his cheek. As she slipped out of bed and pulled on a soft white robe, she wished their own home was neat and understated like this room. With Hannah’s friends constantly dropping by and strewing their coats and shoes about, their house was perpetually messy. What was Hannah doing now, she wondered? Having a lie in? Or getting stuck into that essay? She called home, then Hannah’s mobile – still no reply – and curled up on the bed beside Tom. “Morning, darling,” he murmured. “Have fun last night?”
“It was lovely,” she said.
“Fancy going to gallery or something after breakfast? Or we could go to the castle…”
“I’d rather head back,” she said.
Tom sat up and frowned at her. “We don’t need to you know. There’s loads to see and it seems a shame to waste the opportunity. I told Han we’d be back later afternoon…”
“Oh, I know,” Jo said, “but I’ve got a bit of a headache after all that wine last night. D’you mind if we just head back?”
“You’re joking,” Tom snapped.
“I’m not, Tom. It’s been lovely coming away with you but I really want to get back.”
Shaking his head, Tom climbed out of bed and headed for the bathroom, banging the door behind him. Hearing the shower surge into life, Jo perched on the edge of the bed. She didn’t want to be a killjoy, but she was ready to go home now. She showered as Tom dressed, and they were both subdued over breakfast.
“Want to let Hannah know we’re on our way?” Tom asked as they sped down the A1.
“Oh, let’s surprise her,” Jo said, wonder if she might start decluttering that very day. She thought of their beautiful hotel room and decided that it was time to pare things back at home. She smiled, feeling a surge of motivation. Perhaps the night away had done her good after all.
Tom’s mood lightened too, and by the time they arrived at the village, he was humming along to a jazz song on the radio. As he parked in front of their house, he turned and smiled at his wife. “Sorry I was a bit grumpy this morning,” he said. “I just felt as if you didn’t want to spend time with me.”by
Flora Phillips has an excuse for every disaster in her life; she was abandoned as a new-born on a doorstep one cold autumn night, wrapped in nothing but a towel. Her philosophy is simple: if your mother doesn’t want you – who will?
Now a thirty-year-old, without a boyfriend, a career or home she figures she might as well tackle the biggest question of them all – who is she? So, whilst everyone else enjoys their Christmas Eve traditions, Flora escapes the masses and drives to the village of Pooley to seek a specific doorstep. Her doorstep. But in Pooley she finds more than her life story.
She finds friends, laughter, and perhaps even a love to last a lifetime. Because once you know where you come from, it’s so much easier to know where you’re going.
For those that know me, you know that you won’t hear too much about the actual story from my reviews. If you want those, then there are plenty of other reviewers and other sites that will tell you all you need to know about the story. No, I believe in telling you my thoughts on the style of the writing etc.
I have made it a habit, a joy of life to follow debut authors from the Romantic Novelists Association and it was with great joy that I came across this young lady’s’ first release. Getting published is a very difficult thing to accomplish, believe me, I know, however when you come across a story of this quality you know that all the hard effort that the author has put in is worth it as we, the reader, get to enjoy the fruits of her labour.by
I have some lovely stationery items for this spotlight today.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I have an unhealthy obsession with stationery. I can always justify getting a new notebook despite the fact that there are a pile of new ones waiting at home which are just too nice to ruin. You can never have enough pens and who doesn’t like a pad of post-its?
Chronicle Books provide some of the cutest stationery and were kind enough to send me some items to review. Stationery and books being my favourite kind of post, I happily accepted. I wanted to share these with you. As Christmas coming up, all of these would make fabulous gifts for the writer in your life or a treat for yourself. After all, it is the rule of Christmas shopping that one thing needs to be for yourself.
First up is this fantastic Productivity Journal from Bright Ideas. Put together by Megan Lynn Kott, it has a sturdy blue cover and an exposed spine so it will open flat. I personally love this. Being left-handed, I always find that this is a helpful feature of any notebook.
This journal features a table of contents, numbered pages which are a combination of dotted and lined paper. Plus, it’s very colourful. Using this journal makes me smile.
For anyone who does or is looking into bullet journaling, I feel this would make a great Bullet Journal.
Bright Ideas also have this sticky tab tray. I am a sucker for any kind of post-it and sticky note. Therefore, this tray has become a permanent fixture on my desk.
Like the productivity journal, it’s very colourful. The tray features ten pads of sticky notes and it’s great if you’re writing, editing or if you’re a student.
The sticky notes have writing on them for example, ‘red hot ideas.’
As I use one notebook for my blog, writing and the day job, these are and have been very handy.by
If your character was told they only had a small amount of time left, what would they do with the time?
The concept of the bucket list is well-known. There will be things you’ve thought about doing whilst you still have time. I have a list.
What would your character have on their bucket list? Travel to the Great Wall of China? Be the star in the circus? Want to travel to the moon?
With no financial or practical restrictions, create a bucket list for the protagonist and antagonist in a work in progress. Are they similar? Do they differ greatly? Write two short stories where each of your character picks something off their list.
To those of you who were avidly following my previous blog post…are any of you still around? I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t, it’s been so long since I last wrote one. To you, I offer my humble apologies and even more so to Laura who gave me this opportunity in the first place. Sorry chuck!
So why haven’t I hardly done any posts this year? Have I been alive? Have I done anything? Has anything happened to me? In words as few as possible…YES!!!!
As you may recall from my first post and onwards, I’ve told you about what I’ve been doing so far as my quest to attain publication pertains (please note the use of complicated words!) and a few months, I managed to attain that holy grail. Well, kind of. I’m a born pessimist, so until the actual day, there’s still plenty of time for things to go pear-shaped.
Suffice to say, I’ve now signed my first contract and ‘The Season For Love’ is due to be e-published, on both sides of the Pond no less, around the beginning of December. I still can’t believe it! In fact, I could fill this whole post with exclamation marks, but in the hope that you’ll actually read this, I won’t…but I could! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.by
I follow many book related people on You Tube. One of my favourite types of video to watch are the tags. In my perusal, I came across the ‘My Life in Books’ tag.
It looked fun so I thought I would answer the questions myself. If you fancy having a go too then I’d love to read your choices in the comments. Tags like these fascinate me as everyone will have various answers and rarely will two be the same. OK, so here we go.
Find a book on your shelf for each of your initials.
I wasn’t sure whether this meant titles of books or the author so as it is for fun, I have done both. My initials are LEP (Laura Elizabeth.) Looking at my shelf, I have Lisa Jewell (the L) with 31 Dream Street. I loved this book when I read it. It’s very romantic and whimsical and the cover is beautiful.
For the ‘E’ initial, I have Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. I adored this book when I first read it. The behaviour of the characters (Rachel, Dex and Darcy,) are bad and yet I had sympathy for all of them. If you’ve not read this book (and the sequel, something Blue,) then I totally recommend them.
For P, I have The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory. I have seen the movie but am yet to read the book. I love this era of history and I know that it may not be completely accurate but I still love it.
For the book titles with my initials, I have Landline by Rainbow Rowell (which I still need to read. So many books, so little time.)
E. A novel by Matt Beaumont. It’s written in the format of e-mails. If you’ve ever worked in an office, then this book will have you recognising many of the characters. I love it. It’s hilarious.
Finally, I have P.S, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern. I love this book (the film was OK but the book had more charm.)
Count your age along your book shelf.
Which book is it? I had to count, cough, thirty-five steps. The book is Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. This was a book that I borrowed from my friend Michelle. I’ve not read it or returned it yet (sorry Michelle) but it’s been on my TBR list for a while. I’ve heard it’s similar to Event Horizon.
Book set in your city, state and county?
I am originally from Bournemouth and this was the question I am struggling most with as I couldn’t recall any books set in my county or town. Then I spotted A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke on my book shelf. A fantastic book that is partly set in Christchurch which is close enough to where I grew up. Another book I totally recommend.by
Beth Underdown’s debut novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister was released by Viking in March 2017.
Beth is with me today to talk about her approach to the research process and how important it is to find your own system. Over to you, Beth….
When I started my first novel, I didn’t have a clue what I was up to. I floundered about, making a start on this scene or that subplot, interspersing writing with what began as a fairly scatter-gun approach to research – one week a book of sermons, the next an illustrated herbal, the next a broad political survey of the whole century in which my story was set. As the book progressed, my approach to research changed, and became about looking for answers to specific questions the story had raised. But to start with, my research strategy might best have been described as random.
I like to think that now, starting my second novel, some of what I learned with the first one will save me a bit of time and heartache. I’m hoping, for instance, that I’ve sharpened my instinct for which scenes and which subplots will be needed in this next book – which should be developed, and which should be allowed to die quietly before they embarrass me any further.
But what hasn’t changed, I’m realising, is that scatter-gun approach to the first weeks of research. As it turns out, scatter-gun is what I need.
Last year, after finishing my first novel, I breathed a sigh of relief. Having made it through months of active writing, during which I’d been afraid to read other people’s fiction in case I lost a grip on the voice of my own narrator, suddenly I was free. I started to read some of the great fiction that was coming out at the time: The Essex Serpent. The North Water. His Bloody Project. I also got a teaching job, so I started to read and reread a bunch of classics, to help prepare my seminars: Madame Bovary. The Hound of the Baskervilles. The Talented Mr Ripley. But despite these literary riches, I felt a bit bereft, and I didn’t know why. I was reading everything (or as much of everything as I had hours in the day to accommodate). So why did it feel like something was missing?
What I wasn’t reading, I see now, were my scatter-gun books. My weird books. Books published in the sixties and since forgotten. Books consigned to the dustiest end of the library or the forsaken corner of a second-hand bookshop.by
Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.
The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.
Today’s prompt is We Could Be Superheroes.
When given some medication after giving blood, you develop a superpower. This superpower is not an ordinary super power. It is very easy for it to get misunderstood.
When you first discover you have this power, you’re in a public place. Write a story about what happens from a first person point of view.by