Book Review: The Art of Murder by Fiona Walker

I’m pleased to be welcoming Fiona Walker to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Art of Murder.

Welcome to the beautiful English village of Inkbury. Tucked deep in the North Wessex Downs, its only claim to fame is the picturesque riverside that once appeared in a Richard Curtis movie. That is, until the murder…

Former stand-up comic Juno Mulligan has been suffering a serious sense-of-humour failure. Not only has she lost the love of her life, but she’s having to relocate to the (admittedly idyllic) village of Inkbury to watch out for her elderly mother, who she’s genuinely worried might be marrying a wife-killer.

She hopes that her old friend, disgraced-journalist-turned-novelist Phoebe Fredericks can help her crack the case of whether her mother’s perma-tanned, iceberg-smiled, three-times-a-widower fiancé is hiding a murderous past.

But before they have a chance, the local art dealer washes up distinctly dead in the village’s famous river. His lover is in the frame, but Juno and Phoebe suspect that there is a deeper secret… One that relates to Phoebe’s own past and Juno’s present.

Will the unofficial Village Detective Agency solve the mystery before the killer strikes again? In sleepy Inkbury, as they soon discover, living one’s best midlife can be murder.

*****

Phoebe wants to be left alone, away from all the people who cancelled her and the need to keep up conversation. She finds the characters of the novels she writes far better company.

However, when old acquaintance and ex comedian Juno moves back to the area, she gives Phoebe no choice but to re-engage with the world, especially when they have a murder to solve.

Although Fiona Walker has mentioned on Novel Kicks before, for reasons I can’t understand, this is the first of her books I have read. I know, the shame. I loved the idea of her latest novel, The Art of Murder and was honoured to be invited into the blog tour.

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Book Review: A New Dawn at Owl’s Lodge by Jessica Redland

It’s a pleasure to be welcoming Jessica Redland back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her new novel, A New Dawn at Owl’s Lodge.

Could one chance meeting change your life forever?

Zara is at a crossroads in life. While she adores her job as a producer’s assistant working on hit TV shows, travelling around the country means she doesn’t truly feel that she has a home. With a fractured relationship with her family and unrequited love weighing heavily on her heart, she is torn about what her next step in life should be…

Snowy is hiding from the world. He’s devoted his life to home schooling his young son and caring for sick owls at his home, Owl’s Lodge, deep in the Yorkshire Wolds countryside. While he’s passionate about both, it’s a lonely existence and he’s starting to question his decisions. But how do you step back into a world you’ve pushed away for years…?

When Zara brings an injured owl to Owl’s Lodge, its frosty, reclusive owner is far from welcoming. Despite hostilities, there’s a connection that neither could ever have prepared themselves for. As they discover a shared passion, a new friendship blossoms, but both Zara and Snowy are used to shutting people out.

Can they both find the courage to open up and the strength to move on from their pasts? And what could this mean for their future happiness?

Escape to the world of Bumblebee Barn and Hedgehog Hollow with MILLION-COPY BESTSELLER Jessica Redland for this brand new feel-good romance of family, friendship and hope.

*****

As far as family goes, Zara has mostly felt invisible. However, she likes her job, has great friends. OK, so she’s in love with one of them, but she gets by. 

When her job puts her into the path of Snowy, things have the potential to become even more complicated. 

Things aren’t that simple for Snowy either. His past is forever present and he’s stuck. Can he and Zara find a new life together? 

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Book Review: Her Husband’s Lie by Amanda Reynolds

I’m excited to be welcoming Amanda Reynolds back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Her Husband’s Lie.

She thought she trusted her husband with her life; but a lot can happen in a week…

Handsome doctor Matthew Delaney and his wife Nicole have a perfect life. So when Matthew suddenly vanishes, Nicole is in shock.

As Nicole searches for answers, she uncovers a trail of deceit leading straight to the mysterious Glasshouse – a staggering palatial home constructed out of cut glass and icy granite, clinging to the hillside in a gravity defying show of power and wealth.

But the more Nicole learns about the Glasshouse and all its secrets, the more she begins to doubt her husband. Matthew’s words before he disappeared were so reassuring, but now they are simply chilling…

‘Trust me, Nic, I’ll fix this.’

*****

Nicole holds on tight to the life she has. Not surprising when she’s had various health issues, physical and mental. She adores her husband, Matthew and their daughter, Lilly. When money worries threaten the family, Matthew suggests he fake his death, Then, a few days later, her husband disappears. Nicole can only think one thing, has he gone through with it?

Having previously read The Screenwriter, I am a big fan of Amanda Reynolds so I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for Her Husband’s Lie.

Told from the point of view of Nicole and Matthew’s sister, Grace, it’s not long after starting that the reader is thrown into the mystery where there are twists and turns a plenty. The tension and suspense is built so well that it was very easy for me to get engrossed. The author does a really good job at throwing suspicion on everyone and I didn’t see the end coming.

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Book Extract: Whispers Through The Canvas by K.J. McGillick

I’m very pleased to be welcoming K.J. McGillick back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for Whispers Through The Canvas.

Murder… Across The Fractured Corridors of Time.

Plunged into a centuries-old conspiracy, unconventional art historian Rowan Southeil must race against time to stop an ancient evil from rewriting history. When a young artist is murdered in a chilling echo of medieval violence, Rowan finds herself drawn to a seemingly unrelated clue – a 16th-century painting drenched in arcane symbols. Aided by the victim’s haunting presence, Rowan delves into the painting’s mysterious past, uncovering a dark conspiracy that stretches back generations.

Teaming up with the pragmatic Detective Lancaster, the intuitive Rowan follows a daring journey through time, from the storied halls of 16th-century Tudor London to the secretive 17th-century Vatican. As she awakens powerful elemental forces within herself, Rowan must decipher the painting’s secrets – and the connection to the medieval-style murder – before Lev Rubilov, a dark centuries-old occultist, can harness its magic to rewrite history and restore a twisted vision of the past.

For fans of genre-blending thrillers like A Discovery of Witches and Outlander, this captivating novel weaves together mystery, the supernatural, and high-stakes time travel in a race against the clock to stop an ancient evil. Whispers Through The Canvas is a crime story, filled with action and adventure, within a historical fantasy milieu. If you love kick-ass heroines who have a bit of life experience and walk on the wild side of magic, this book is for you.

 

K.J. McGillick has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

“I would go out on a limb and say this wasn’t meant for public display. It would invite too much speculation. Whereas Tudor portraits functioned as propaganda, someone commissioned this for discreet viewing.”

Moving closer, I scrutinized the artist’s technique. “If Teerlinc indeed painted this, it’s exceptionally rare. She seldom ventured into full portraits.”

As I prepared to take another step forward, my movement halted abruptly when a subtle blue spark crackled across the painting. Was it a warning attempting to ward me off? Or an invitation to intrigue me further?

“I’m utterly captivated by the enigmatic subject of this portrait,” I murmured. “Observe how masterfully the artist captures her confidence, her poise. And let me draw your attention to her attire, which initially suggests an affiliation with the innermost circles of the royal court.

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NK Chats To… Eliza J Scott

Hello Eliza. Thank you so much for including Novel Kicks on the blog tour for your new novel. Can you tell me about Finding Love in Micklewick Bay and what inspired it?

Well, it’s book three in the Welcome to Micklewick Bay series and it tells Stella’s story. Living in the pretty seaside town of Micklewick Bay, successful barrister Stella Hutton is part of a fiercely loyal group of five friends who have stuck together through thick and thin. She’s never known her father; he left her mum when he found out she was expecting his child. From the moment Stella was born her mother instilled in her that she should be self-reliant, avoid relationships at all costs and, most importantly, keep men at arm’s length! Stella has followed this to the letter, until the tall, dark and extremely handsome Alex Bainbridge arrives in town and, much to her frustration, sets her heart fluttering in a way she’s never experienced before.

While she’s tackling these unfamiliar emotions, Stella becomes determined to find her long-lost father, but her discoveries quickly make her wish she’d left well alone.

 

What songs would make up a playlist for this book?

This really made me think! I’d say the following mix of songs that celebrate kick-ass women, friendship and love-at-first-sight would definitely make up part of a playlist:

Salute – Little Mix

Ain’t Your Mama – Jennifer Lopez

Independent Woman – Kelly Clarkson

Gift of a Friend – Demi Levato

Friends – Meghan Trainor

Love at First Sight – Kylie Minogue

You Had Me At Hello – Kenny Chesney

 

Which authors do you admire?

Ooh, this is a tricky one as there are so many wonderful authors out there. I’d have to start off with Milly Johnson, Cathy Bramley, Jessica Redland, Sharon Booth, Heidi Swain, Julie Caplin, Karen Swan, Veronica Henry and Daisy James. I’m also a fan of historical fiction and love Clare Marchant, Jenni Keer (I’ve just read The Legacy of Halesham Hall and it’s fabulous!), Callie Langridge, Hilary Mantel and Kate Mosse. Oh, goodness, I could go on forever but I’d better stop there!

 

Which book of yours is your favourite and why?

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Book Spotlight: Shoot Your Shot by Fiona Embers

I’m happy to be shining a spotlight on Shoot Your Shot, the latest novel by Fiona Embers.

Roxie Nowak is a former basketball player, with a great job in tech and her own swanky place. She doesn’t date, because what’s the point? Men always want someone petite, pillowy, and pastel—everything that Roxie isn’t—so she sticks to casual hookups, and life is good.

As a hot lawyer and a romantic to boot, Chris Dunn should have no trouble finding love. But a gaping hole at his center, left by childhood hurts, prevents him from having the type of relationship he seeks. He knew Roxie years ago, when her basketball career ended, and she inspired him to take the reins to his career.

When Chris moves back to town and into Roxie’s building, their friendship and mutual attraction deepen. They finally give in with blinding intensity, unaware just how combustible the mix of her avoidance and his insecurity can be—until one vindictive ex-lover lights a match.

 

Shoot Your Shot is book one in the Mad City Moments series. Click here to buy. 

 

About Fiona Embers –

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A Moment With… Juliet Greenwood

I’m pleased to be welcoming Juliet Greenwood to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Secret Daughter of Venice.

The paper is stiff and brittle with age as Kate unfolds it with trembling hands. She gasps at the pencil sketch of a rippling waterway, lined by tall buildings, curving towards the dome of a cathedral. She feels a connection deep in her heart. Venice.

England, 1941. When Kate Arden discovers a secret stash of drawings hidden in the pages of an old volume of poetry given to her as a baby, her breath catches. All her life, she has felt like an outsider in her aristocratic adoptive family, who refuse to answer any questions about her past. But the drawings spark a forgotten memory: a long journey by boat… warm arms that held her tight, and then let go.

Could these pictures unlock the secret of who she is? Why her mother left her? With war raging around the continent, she will brave everything to find out…

A gripping, emotional historical novel of love and art that will captivate fans of The Venice Sketchbook, The Woman on the Bridge and The Nightingale.

 

There’s a chance to win a signed copy of The Secret Daughter of Venice below but first, Juliet talks to us about the inspiration behind her novel. 

 

Finding Venice

The inspiration for The Secret Daughter of Venice came from my two visits to Venice. The first was when I was ten. It was part of a family holiday in an ancient VW campervan that had a habit of breaking down at inopportune moments, but managed to stagger to the campsite just outside the city without steam pouring ominously from the engine. It’s strange looking at those old photographs now. The memories of St Mark’s Square and travelling through the canals on a gondola are as vivid as if they were yesterday. That visit was just a few hours, but it always made me want to visit again.

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Book Extract: Friends For Life by Liz Murphy

I’m pleased to be welcoming Liz Murphy to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Friends for Life.

Kate, Rose and Pascalle are thrown together because they share one experience – they have each lost their husbands. Shocked and bewildered, all three try to work out what it means to be suddenly alone with no partner, no security and their entire future wiped out.

If that wasn’t enough, they are also faced with family conflict, elderly parents, and a support network that turns out to be sadly lacking. And for each woman, secrets from the past threaten to derail their attempts to move on.

*On the surface, Kate’s husband Jason was fun-loving and generous. Only she knows differently. In the months after his death, her attempts to rid her life of the things that trigger bad memories are also driving her son away. By keeping Jason’s secret is she in danger of losing her son as well?

*Rose and Richard were soul mates. Married straight out of university, they shared a career, a business and a love of the good life. Childless, they lived only for each other, or so Rose thought. That all changed the night Richard was killed in a car crash.

*Once spirited, vibrant and flamboyantly French, Pascalle is now a grey shadow of herself. Her husband Trevor’s death has left her so emotionally paralysed, she can’t accept that he’s gone. Then her daughter offers her a chance to create a new life for herself. But will past secrets emerge to hinder her decision?

We follow Kate and Rose through their first year without their husbands. As their friendship with Pascalle grows they encourage each other to be brave, to take control of their lives, and to begin to heal. They draw on past mistakes to help each other build new relationships with their families. And by trusting each other, they realise that true friendship can point the way to a new future.

 

Liz has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy it. 

Content warning: mentions of cancer.

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

Kate, Rose and Pascalle met at a drinks party where they were reluctant guests. All three have been struggling to cope with the deaths of their husbands, and each sees in the other women who understand exactly what they’re going through. Their developing friendship has helped Pascalle to finally come to terms with the loss of her Trevor. Tonight, she’s having a night out with Kate and Rose to celebrate their birthdays and as she’s getting ready fun Pascalle is starting to emerge…

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Novel Kicks Book Club: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

April Showers bring May Flowers and I’m so happy to be saying hello to May and this month’s book. 

I’ve been hearing so much about the A Court of Thorns and Roses series and well, it’s about time I read it. I’ll be reading book one in the series but if you’ve read any of the other novels in the series, I’d love to hear your thoughts.*

As usual, our book club is open to all whether you’ll be reading along with me or have already read the novel and want to discuss it. The best part is that you can join the conversation from the comfort of your sofa. You don’t even have to change out of your pyjamas if you don’t want to.

I’ve put a question in the comments section to kick off discussion and I am looking forward to seeing you there.

 

About A Court of Thorns and Roses – 

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Book Review: The Girls Next Door by Anita Waller

GirlsnextdoorPlease join me in welcoming Anita Waller to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Girls Next Door.

They keep each other’s secrets. They hide each other’s lies.

They were destined to be best friends. The four girls – all born that same hot summer. There was even a newspaper article after they were born. They said there must be something in the water on Larkspur Close. They predicted a safe and happy life for them all…

More than thirty years later, it’s more than an unbreakable friendship – it’s more like a sisterhood. It’s the girls who Jess reaches out to because she’s worried about her grandparents who’ve raised her since her mother disappeared, who Erin tells about her new business idea, who Melissa calls to say she’s desperate to escape her toxic job.

But then Chantelle messages saying she’s discovered her husband is having an affair. And everything changes.

Because then her husband is found dead… And only a few people knew about his secret.

Is it just a terrible accident? Or will someone stop at nothing to keep the girls of Larkspur Close safe and happy?

*****

Four girls, growing up on the same street, both months apart. They were destined to be friends, to become a sisterhood. They have each other’s backs.

With this bond comes secrets, some of which began before they were born. When murder comes into their lives, who is doing all they can to keep these four girls happy and is the murderer closer than they think?

One of the great things about running this blog is the chance to discover new authors and Anita Waller is one such example for me. I’m not sure how I’ve managed to miss her books until now. I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for The Girls Next Door.

There is a calm to the beginning of this novel that sets a tone of uncertainty. I knew something was going to come along to disrupt the equilibrium – the lives of these four women who, on the surface, seem to have perfect lives.

Chantelle has three-year-old twins. These girls are her life. Yes, it’s taken a toil on her marriage but when she discovers the secret her husband, Andrew is keeping, she doesn’t know what her next step would be. When he unexpectedly dies in an accident, she has to face the unknown. I couldn’t help but feel empathy for Chantelle. Becoming a widow, especially with young children is a situation no-one wants to find themselves in and I felt that, under the circumstances, she was a strong, relatable character.

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Book Review: High Rise by Vanessa Lee

An eye-opening book set on the Australian East Coast a few years from now. None of us know exactly when the sea level rises will start to force change – whole families moving en masse away from their coastal communities – but we know it will happen eventually.

This book traces two intertwined families as they can no longer ignore the impact of storms, king tides and erratic weather on their beloved home.

Constant storms have already damaged Bombora’s coastline and no end is in sight. When rising tides force Vaga, the beloved beachfront restaurant, to finally close it is seen as a grim omen. Community rifts deepen, old friends clash, and some flee the idyllic suburb for safer ground, while others stand firm, defying the increasingly erratic weather.

Mick, a charismatic local figure, faces a family crisis as he grapples with the impending threat. A chance encounter with Renata, an old schoolmate, and her son Guil, a local surfer, forges an improbable alliance. As a menacing storm looms on the horizon, Mick and Guil rally Guil’s surfer friends to form a ragtag “tinnie army.” When the tempest strikes with unrelenting force, it triggers a chain of events that will alter their lives forever.

*****

Bombora, once an idyllic seaside haven for surfers and the wealthy is now threatened by the changing weather and the ever increasing threat of climate change. Some decide to leave for safer ground but for the ones that choose to stay, life will never be the same.

When I was offered the chance to receive a copy of High Rise by Vanessa Lee to review, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The story is told from the point of view of multiple characters. Mick, a local businessman is doing all he can to hold on, even when his wife and children want to move away. I felt quite sorry for him as his heart seemed to be in the right place. I’m not sure what I would do in his position.

I did feel empathy for his wife, Sam. She has built her life around her husband’s business. However, when people start to move away, her life becomes very empty.

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NK Chats To… Margaret Amatt

Margaret Amatt Hello Margaret. Thank you so much for joining me and inviting Novel Kicks onto your blog tour. Can you tell me about your novel, Starting Over at the Crafty Bee Barn and what inspired it? 

Hi! The Crafty Bee story was inspired by an evening when I was looking at books on Amazon – for a change! – and I noticed how popular books about beekeepers were. It was at the same time that a friend of mine was talking about The Sewing Bee. Somehow the two ideas blended in my head and I though up the name Crafty Bee Barn. I wanted to do something that blended beekeeping and crafts. And the story developed from there.

 

What are the challenges you found when writing Starting Over at the Crafty Bee Barn?

This book had quite a few challenges. Probably the biggest issue was Lilah’s backstory. She’s had a tough upbringing and I wanted that to come through in the story without making it too dark, but at the same time not trivialising it or brushing over it. Aidan was also a challenge. He’s quite a gruff character who’s annoyed with himself for his past mistakes but I still needed to make him loveable and relatable.

 

What songs would make up a playlist for your book?

I always find this question really hard. I think I’ll have to leave it to someone else to choose after they’ve read it because I really don’t have a clue!!

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

This will probably sound very strange to most people but I like the name Demeter. I honestly have no idea why but I just love the sound of it!

 

Any other advice for aspiring writers? 

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Book Extract & Giveaway: Mysteries at Sea: The Royal Jewel Plot by A.M. Howell

I am so happy to be welcoming A.M. Howell back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her latest novel, Mysteries at Sea: The Royal Jewel Plot.

Alice and Sonny are excited for their summer trip, sailing on the luxurious yacht the Lady Rose. They’re even more excited when they find out the King of England is going to be onboard too!

There’s also a precious jewel on the boat – a rare opal, kept in a tank protected by a poisonous octopus.
Until one morning, Alice discovers that the opal and octopus are both missing. The search is on to retrieve the priceless gem, before the ship reaches its destination, and everyone on board finds themselves in serious trouble.

As Alice and Sonny’s investigations take them closer to the truth, they realise that everyone on the Lady Rose seems to have a secret, maybe even the king himself…

 

You have a chance to win a copy of Mysteries at Sea: Peril on the Atlantic (book one in the series), below but first, A.M. Howell has shared an extract from Mysteries at Sea: The Royal Jewel Plot. We hope you enjoy. 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

Chapter One

The Lady Rose

 

Alice glanced at her watch in dismay. They were going to be late for the king’s arrival! Tightening her grip on her suitcase as she hurried along the hot, dusty street, her head was full of the summer storms, landslides and train delays that had hindered their journey from England to the small port of Ăibenik on the Yugoslavian coast. A journey that should have taken two days had instead taken four.

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Book Review: Summer At The Santorini Bookshop by Rebecca Raisin

I’m very excited to be welcoming Rebecca Raisin to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, Summer at the Santorini Bookshop. Happy publication day, Rebecca. 

A Greek island holiday. A fake-dating pact. A chance at true love?

After losing her job as a book scout, hopeless romantic Evie needs a fresh start. So when she hears that her eccentric grandmother has just taken on a small bookshop in Santorini, Evie jumps at the chance to visit her.

But life on the island is not as idyllic as it first seems. Gran has a tempestuous relationship with her landlord and he’s threatening to take the bookshop away from her. So when Gran asks Evie to fake a romance with her landlord’s Greek God of a grandson, Georgios, to keep the family on side, she reluctantly agrees.

As the sun sets on Evie’s Greek holiday, can she save the bookshop – and fake date her way to love?

*****

When Evie loses her dream job as a book scout, she needs to find another one and fast. However, when she’s told to go to Greece to check on her Grandmother, Evie has no choice but to go and besides, she decides that a few days in the Santorini sunshine will do her the world of good. She’s soon embroiled in her Gran’s current predicament made even more complicated when she meets the handsome Georgios.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Rebecca Raisin and I was very happy to be invited onto the blog tour for Summer at the Santorini Bookshop. I couldn’t wait to get started.

First, the cover is very dreamy and makes me want to move to Greece and open a bookshop.

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Book Review: The Cottage in Sweet Meadow Park by Liz Davies

I’m very pleased to be welcoming Liz Davis to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her book, The Cottage in Sweet Meadow Park.

Enjoy a stroll in the park with this uplifting story of love, friendship and following your dreams.

When Molly Brown buys a derelict cottage in the middle of a rundown park, she hopes to return both the cottage and the park to their former glory. However, Molly soon begins to wonder whether she’s bitten off more than she can chew, especially when the good-looking guy from the council refuses to help.

In his role as Parks and Highways Officer, Jack Feathers doesn’t want to waste public funds on an overgrown, unloved park, no matter how gorgeous Molly is. But when he finds himself needing somewhere to live, Molly makes him an offer he can’t refuse – to move into her spare room, rent-free.

The catch? He has to help bring the park back to life.

It seems to be an ideal solution, until… Molly falls for Jack, the park is vandalised, and she realises he is still in love with his ex.

And soon Molly begins to regret letting Jack into her home, her life and her heart.

*****

Molly Brown has always harboured a dream and that is to live in the cottage within the grounds of Sweet Meadow Park. With the house very run down, she knows she has her work cut out. She isn’t just going to transform the house, she’s going to take on the park beyond too.

When she meets Jack, she doesn’t like him at first. However, when circumstances change and he ends up being her lodger, will it just be the house being transformed or her whole life?

I was very excited to be taking part in another blog tour with Liz Davis and going by the cover alone (which is so pretty,) I couldn’t wait to get started.

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Book Extract: How To Start A Riot In A Brothel In Thailand By Ordering A Beer And Other Lesser Known Travel Tips by Simon Yeats

I’m pleased to be welcoming Simon Yeats to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his book, How To Start A Riot In A Brothel In Thailand By Ordering A Beer And Other Lesser Known Travel Tips.

Book 1 of a hilarious series of travel misadventures and dubious personal introspection by Australian author Simon Yeats, who from an early age learned that the best way to approach the misfortunes of this world is to laugh about it.

Simon shares his comedic insights into the unusual and uproarious elements of living life as an Aussie ex-pat and having a sense of Wanderlust as pervasive as the Spanish Flu in 1918.

From how to keep yourself entertained when unwittingly forced to watch 11 hours of live sumo wrestling in Japan, to surviving heartbreak in India at the hands of a French flight attendant, to 48 hours spent in Nepal that qualify as the funniest most gut wrenching travel experience since Captain Bligh was set adrift in the Pacific, to his unsuccessful attempts at avoiding going to a brothel in Thailand.

Simon Yeats has gone into the world and experienced all the out of the ordinary moments for you to sit back and enjoy the experience without the need to break a leg or rupture a pancreas.

 

There’s a chance to win a set of all Three Books in Simon Yeats Lesser Known travel tips series in paperback and one set in ePub format below but first Simon has shared an extract from How To Start A Riot In A Brothel In Thailand By Ordering A Beer And Other Lesser Known Travel Tips. We hope you enjoy. 

Content warning: Language

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

If there is any unfulfilled wish in my life, and there is still a chance it could be fulfilled, it is this. This wish is for my old all boys’ high school in Brisbane to invite me to come and speak at the end-of-year graduation ceremony. Speech night, as we call it in Australia.

At these events, every guest speaker in history has droned on for 45 minutes about their achievements and accomplishments in business and how the current crop of graduating seniors is now ready to step out into the world and work their fingers to the bone to reach that same level of success in their lives.

I do not know why we did not just video tape the guy who spoke in my graduating year and replay that speech on a big screen every November after. It is always the same story. The same message. The same, do the same as every person who has gone before you has done.

But I am thinking of being a little different.

Prior to my speech, in front of alumni, parents, and students of my alma mater, the headmaster would cordially introduce me.

“I would like to introduce a former pupil who has gone on to achieve exactly zero success in his particular field of endeavor but who has graciously agreed to address us all tonight,” the headmaster would announce eloquently.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Video Game

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing flash fiction prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Don’t edit, just write. Once you’re done, you’re welcome to share in the comments but there’s no obligation. 

 

Today’s prompt: Video Game

Your character is very ordinary. However, when they enter what they think is a normal shop, they quickly find themselves inside their favourite video game.

Using the opening line below, carry on the story. What happens? Where are they? Who do they meet?

‘He/She/I jumped back, not believing what they/I was seeing. 

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Book Extract: Floored by Chrissie Harrison

I’m so pleased to be welcoming Chrissie Harrison to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for Floored.

FLOORED is a charming romantic comedy guaranteed to give you a lift.

Hannah and Drew work in the same office.

Hannah and Drew use the same elevator.

Hannah and Drew aren’t looking for love.

They haven’t even met.

Yet something is happening…

Amiable TV production accountant Drew has turned his back on love after the death of his fiancée, an incident which cemented his longstanding elevatophobia. When Drew moves towns and jobs for a fresh start, he hears a voice in the office lift telling him to “be careful”.

Is it his fevered imagination, the ghost of his fiancée, or someone playing a cruel prank? Quickly, he becomes desperate, foolish… and unexpectedly smitten.

Sweet and sassy Hannah wouldn’t mind finding love, but keeps choosing the wrong boyfriends. Her innate social anxiety, deepened by bad experiences with a preying boss, is a huge barrier to dating anyone new.

Yet, to expose her boss’ antics, she needs to be lucky as well as smart. However, talking to a sweet but hapless co-worker isn’t the answer… is it? After all, she could never imagine meeting him in person.

When Drew discovers the adorable girl behind the voice, a relationship blossoms alongside a shared determination to bring justice to their workplace, risking everything.

Will their daring plan succeed or will it jeopardize the happiness they’ve found with each other?

If you’re in the UK, there’s a chance to win a copy of Floored below. Chrissie has also shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

Content warning: Mention of Drugs.

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

Our sweet but hapless MC, Drew, has been hearing a voice in the office lift. Desperate to discover who’s behind it, he goes to subtly quiz the CEO Kevin’s PA, Lotus.

He has a crazy notion that Lotus fancies him – crazy because she’s out of his league. However, she is the best candidate, and Drew is oddly protective of her, especially as the CEO seems to be suspected of sexual harassment around the building.

 ***** 

At ten thirty, Drew strolled down one floor to Kevin Yates’ office like he didn’t have a care in the world. Inside, he was a bag of nerves.

Yates wasn’t really a “management by visibility” CEO. He was more of a “Friday is for golf” guy. Thanks to that stellar dedication to helming Park Productions, Lotus should be alone in the CEO’s anteroom.

She was. He took a deep breath. In for a penny.

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Book Review: Murder on the Dancefloor by Katie Marsh

I’m pleased to be welcoming Katie Marsh to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Murder on the Dancefloor.

They DID promise her a killer hen weekend…

Jeanie’s getting married, and – despite her completely impossible four sisters – her best friends Clio and Amber are determined to give her a bachelorette weekend to remember. They’re in matching pink T-shirts and the drinks are flowing…

But the night turns out to be unforgettable for all the wrong reasons when a girl turns up dead on the dancefloor. And – even though she’s a stranger – she is wearing one of Jeanie’s hen T-shirts.

Who is she? And why are the police convinced that the hens are involved? Can the newly-formed Bad Girls Detective Agency solve the murder? And in time to get Jeanie up the aisle?

Unputdownable mystery set on the English coast – perfect for fans of The Thursday Murder Club, Bad Sisters and How to Kill Your Family.

*****

The premise of this novel really appealed to me so I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for Murder on the Dancefloor, the latest novel in The Bad Girls Detective Agency series.

I haven’t read book one in the series but I found that this didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this novel. Enough background is given on both plot and characters.

The three main ladies are brilliant and I loved their dynamic and chemistry. My heart did go out to Jeanie and I so desperately wanted everything to be OK for her. Amber is a strong woman as is Clio. She just has to believe in herself. The supporting characters were also great and the author manages to develop all them well through the book.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Finding A Connection

I’m wishing you a Happy Wednesday and welcome back to the Novel Kicks Writing Room.

Today’s exercise is about bringing two stories together.

Pick two stories – genre is entirely up to you. Picking two books from different genres could be fun.

Pick a section from each. One or two pages is enough.

Now, spend a few minutes making notes about how you can bring these two stories together.

Now set a timer for 20 minutes and write your combined story.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Star and the Strange Moon by Constance Sayers

Hello April. 

So, Easter is almost done, the clocks have gone forward (yay to the lighter evenings,) and the sun is doing its absolute best to shine over Novel Kicks HQ.

I am very excited about the book I’ve chosen this month – The Star and the Strange Moon by Constance Sayers. 

It was released here in the UK on 28th March 2024 and the premise sounds very intriguing. I’m hoping you’ll join me in reading and discussing this book.

As usual, anyone can take part in our book club and can discuss the book of the month via the discussion box below and you can join in at any point in the month.

I’ve posted a question below to kick off discussion. Really hope to see you there.

 

About The Star and the Strange Moon – 

A vanished star. A haunted film. A mystery only love can unravel . . .

1968

Gemma Turner once dreamed of stardom, now she’s on the cusp of obscurity. When a radical new horror film offers her the leading role, her luck looks set to change. Until one dark night, Gemma disappears on set and is never seen again. But this is only the beginning… Gemma has been pulled into the film itself, where the script – and the horrors within it – are more real than she ever imagined, and she must play her role perfectly if she hopes to survive.

2007

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Book Extract: In the Shadow of War by Adrienne Chinn

Please join me in welcoming Adrienne Chinn to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, In the Shadow of War.

One war may be over, but their fight for survival continues…

For sisters Etta, Jessie and Celie Fry, the Great War and the hardships of the years that followed have taken a heavy toll.

Determined to leave her painful past behind her, Etta heads to the bright lights of Hollywood whilst Jessie, determined to train as a doctor and use her skills to help others, is hampered by the men who dominate her profession. On the vast, empty plains of the Canadian prairies, Celie and her small family stand on the brink of losing everything.

As whispers of a new war make their way to each sister, each must face the possibility of the unthinkable happening again…

 

Adrienne has shared an extract from her novel with us today. We hope you enjoy it. 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

The following excerpt from In the Shadow of War, takes place in July 1936 in  Barcelona, Spain, where middle Fry sister, Dr Jessie Fry Khalid, has joined her journalist friend, Ruth Bellico, for a short holiday before continuing on to London to join her daughter, Shani, at her mother’s. The People’s Olympiad is about to begin, and tourists and journalists have arrived in the city to attend, oblivious to the storm of war about to break throughout the country.

*****

Hotel Colon, Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona

Late that night, after an evening wandering with Ruth down the long pedestrian street of La Rambla past shops and buildings festooned with the red flags of the socialists, the red and black flags of the anarchists, and posters announcing the Olympiad, and chatting with tourists in the queues for the food stalls hawking golden tortilla de patatas, crunchy croquettes with creamy centres, or plates of crispy fried potatoes topped with spicy tomato sauce or garlic mayonnaise, Jessie stirs sleeplessly in the comfortable bed in her hotel room. She kicks off the sheet and wanders over to the glazed doors which she has left open in the hope of catching a breeze to cool the oppressive heat.

The night is moonless, and stars glitter in the black sky. In the plaza below, there is silence, the tourists sleeping off the evening’s beers, cavas, vermouths and sangrias. Despite the buzz of excitement in the air, she couldn’t help but notice the way La Rambla split the city in two – the medieval Gothic Quarter on the east side, with its towering churches and elegant hotels, restaurants, shops and clubs; and the shacks and tenements of the working class section of El Raval on the west side.

The tourists and athletes carried a thrum of excitement with them, but beyond that, leftist street corner orators espoused their beliefs, while locals debated the reports and rumours filtering into the city from the south. She’d experienced that same nervous energy before on the streets of Cairo. It had always been the precursor to violence. That energy was like a djinni released from a magic lamp. Once it had escaped, there was no getting it back in the lamp.

#

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Book Extract: Dying To Bake by Helen Golden

I’m pleased to be welcoming Helen Golden to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Dying To Bake.

Bake Off Wars is back! Get your aprons on and let the sleuthing begin!

Vera Bolt, Queen of Bakes, dies unexpectedly aged 66

In a shocking announcement this afternoon, Vera Bolt’s agent confirmed that the Bake Off Wars judge and national treasure died yesterday. Ms Bolt was in the process of filming the next series of the hugely popular television show at Francis Court, the home of the King’s sister and her family. It’s believed that the renowned pastry chef was stabbed in the heart, and the main suspect is rumoured new royal girlfriend, Summer York.

What am I supposed to do? Lady Beatrice has promised DCI Richard Fitzwilliam that she won’t get involved in the investigation into Vera Bolt’s death. But when her brother’s new love interest, Summer York, becomes the top suspect for Vera’s murder, Fred begs Bea to find out who the real killer is. In a race against time, can Bea navigate a labyrinth of secrets and lies, evade danger, and safeguard her friendship with Fitzwilliam? The answer may determine not only Summer’s innocence but also the fate of Bea’s and Fitzwilliam’s burgeoning feelings for each other.

 

Helen has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy it. 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

The hugely popular television show Bake Off Wars is being filmed on site at Francis Court and everyone is buzzing. Everyone, that is, except for amateur royal sleuth Lady Beatrice who is more interested in overseeing the refurbishment of her home, The Dower House. In contrast her best friend and business partner, Perry Juke, is gossip central when it comes to the show. But all is not well on set. Following the exit at the end of last season of the well-liked judge, Mark Jacobs, the remaining judge and national treasure, Vera Bolt, has been making herself unpopular with her critical snipes at both the crew and the new presenters. Insiders report that tensions are running high, and the atmosphere is toxic.

After Vera Bolt was found on set stabbed to death, Bea is confident that Detective Chief Inspector Richard Fitzwilliam, who is recuperating in a cottage on the estate after being shot during their previous case together, will be assigned to the case. She gets a call to come and ‘meet’ the DCI assigned to the case and assumes it’s Rich playing a little joke on her, but when she gets there it’s not Rich…

*****

Daisy, seeing a new person, rushed over to greet him, but he carried on walking, not even acknowledging the little dog. Bea frowned. What sort of person ignores a dog who wants to say hello? She lifted her chin and stiffened. Studying the stocky man in front of her, she realised he looked familiar. Hold on, isn’t he the surly sergeant who investigated the failure of the security system at The Dower House a couple of months before James died? She remembered him because, after he’d left, she and James had joked that he looked more like a criminal than a PaIRS officer, with his very short hair, bulging muscles, and a menacing scowl on his face.

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Book Review: The Mistress by Valerie Keogh

I’m pleased to be welcoming Valerie Keogh to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Mistress.

She wants what you have…

Hannah Parker is a woman who always gets what she wants.

When her current husband discovers she has been lying to him – again – she knows it’s time to move on and find someone who can give her the life she desires… The life she knows she deserves…

But who will be the lucky man?

When her eye catches a glimpse of an old flame in a photograph, she’s sure it’s a sign. Mark Shepherd has always been in her thoughts – they’d been happy once, he’d adored her, but she’d made a mistake and let him get away. She won’t make the same mistake again….

Hannah is older now and wiser. She knows what men want and she knows how to keep them happy.

So what if Mark is happily married with a family of his own?

All good things must come to an end…

*****

Hannah is used to getting what she wants or what she thinks she wants. So what if men fall over themselves to buy her things, to give her money? 

When her marriage comes to an end, Hannah looks back to a time in her life where she was close to happy. She will do whatever she can to be with the man responsible for that happiness, no matter what it costs him. 

Susan has been happily married to Mark for years. Although she’s suffering from empty nest syndrome, she thought that she could at least depend on her husband… or can she? 

I am such a big fan of Valerie Keogh and so was super excited to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest novel, The Mistress. 

The author doesn’t waste any time in throwing the reader into the action and the mind games that follow. 

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Ten Sentences

Hello Wednesday and welcome to all of you. 

For today’s writing room, I wanted to explore a creative prompt.

You can either pick a WIP of your own, use a favourite story or your own life story.

Whatever you choose, try to write the story in ten sentences.

If you’re feeling brave, I’d love to see your writing in the comments.

Have fun.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Family Matters

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing flash fiction prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Don’t edit, just write. Once you’re done, you’re welcome to share in the comments but there’s no obligation. 

 

Today’s prompt is: Family Matters

You’ve been trying to escape the strange myths surrounding your family for many years but you soon realise that you can’t outrun your past forever.

When you inherit the family business from one of your family members, you decide to go back to put these old rumours to bed but when you are getting the shop ready for sale, something strange happens.

Continue the story….

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Conjuring Images

Hello all. Welcome back to Wednesday’s Writing Room here on Novel Kicks. 

For today’s activity, we are going to be using the photo below as a prompt. What does it immediately make you think of?

Set a timer for five minutes and make notes on everything this image conjures.

Once you’re done, have a look through your notes. Is there anything that stands out? The makings of a story? A theme? A strong character?

Set an alarm for another twenty minutes. Start to write this story but when you begin, start right in the middle of the action. You could even try and write purely in dialogue if you like.

Don’t stop. Don’t think too much about the quality of your writing. Just write and see what you come up with.

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Book Spotlight: Murder in Moscow by Kelly Oliver

I’m pleased to be welcoming Kelly Oliver to Novel Kicks. Today, we are shining a spotlight on her latest novel, Murder in Moscow.

Journey into the heart of 20th Century Russia in this fun and funny historical mystery, perfect for fans of Verity Bright and Helena Dixon.

1918 Moscow

Will following her heart mean losing her head? It could mean losing her job.

Fiona Figg trails her nemesis Fredrick Fredricks to Moscow. But when she arrives at the grand Metropol Hotel, the bounder has vanished.

After Fiona doesn’t show up for work at the War Office, Kitty Lane raises a red flag and tracks her to Russia. Seeking haven at the British Embassy, Kitty and Fiona become embroiled in a plot to overthrow the Bolshevik government.

But the plot turns deadly when Fiona goes undercover as a governess in the household of Iron Viktor, the Bolsheviks’ Head of Secret Police. And when Viktor turns up dead in his study, Fiona finds herself wanted for murder and on the lam.

Can Fiona and Kitty find the real killer and escape the Kremlin before it’s too late? Or will this dangerous game of Russian roulette be their last?

 

*****

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Book Spotlight: At The Stroke Of Midnight by Jenni Keer

I’m so happy to be welcoming Jenni Keer to Novel Kicks. We are shining a book spotlight on her latest novel, At the Stroke of Midnight.

It’s 1923 and in a decade that promises excitement and liberation, Pearl Glenham and her father are invited to a mysterious country house party on the Dorset coast, by a total stranger.

Her father claims not to have any prior association with Highcliffe House, but upon arrival, it is apparent that he has a shared history with several of the guests, although he won’t admit it. Belatedly discovering that her father was blackmailed into attending, Pearl’s worries are compounded when their host fails to arrive…

Intimidated by everyone at the party, she escapes to the nearby cove and stumbles upon a mysterious mercury clock hidden in a cave. This strange encounter sets in motion a series of events that will culminate in an horrific house fire, claiming the lives of all the guests, including Pearl herself.

But then Pearl wakes up back in the cave, seemingly destined never to live past midnight. She can repeat the day. But can she change its outcome?

 

At The Stroke Of Midnight was released by Boldwood Books on 12th March 2024. Click to buy on Amazon and Waterstones

 

*****

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Book Spotlight: Time Waits for No One by M W Arnold

I’m beyond excited to be welcoming M W Arnold back to Novel Kicks. Today, I’m shining a spotlight on his latest novel, Time Waits for No One, book five in the Broken Wings series. 

It’s April 1944, England is preparing to take the war back into Europe and the girls of the Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery Club become mixed up in a desperate fight to save a dear friend from forces who would threaten the very existence of the country.

The girls find solace in their deep friendship, even though the presence of a Nazi spy ring threatens their essential war work and their very lives.

Can love blossom through a fortunate meeting, and will they survive a period where life seems determined to put them in mortal danger? The girls find the strength to battle through all the war throws at them, whilst still keeping a stiff upper lip, a witty repartee, and unbreakable spirit.

*****

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Book Spotlight: The Other Wife by Danielle Ramsay

I’m pleased to welcoming Danielle Ramsay to Novel Kicks. Today, we are shining a light on her novel, The Other Wife.

The wife is always the last to know…

What if everything you believed was a lie?
Your life…your marriage…your very existence.

What if the person lying to you is your husband, the man who claims to love you more than anything in the world?

Isolated in his remote Scottish ancestral home on the pretext that you are psychologically fragile and recovering from a breakdown, this home has become a prison. As the days slip by in a haze of confusion and a cocktail of drugs administered by a loyal housekeeper, you begin to piece together the fragments of your life and stumble on a terrifying secret.

What if you discover you weren’t his first wife, and nor will you be the last?
That he plans to replace you, to make you disappear – just like the first wife.
Just how far would you go to save your life and prove your husband’s a murderer?

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Book Spotlight: Can You Keep a Secret? by Jo Lovett

I’m pleased to be welcoming Jo Lovett to Novel Kicks. We are shining a light on her novel,  Can You Keep a Secret?

One New Year’s Eve, Georgie James and her friends come up with a genius plan to help them stick to their resolutions… They all write down secrets, seal them in envelopes and then post them to each other. The secrets will be revealed at the end of the year if they haven’t kept their resolutions.

It’s perfect. Except…

Georgie’s secret is BIG… and revealing it could destroy their friendships. She has no idea why she chose that one to write down. There are plenty of innocent things she could have said – even admitting she finds newcomer Raf incredibly annoying would have been better.

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Book Spotlight: Lean on Me by Beth Moran

I’m so happy to be welcoming Beth Moran back to Novel Kicks. Today, we are shining a spotlight on her latest novel, Lean On Me.

As Faith tries on her future mother-in-law’s wedding dress in preparation for her own wedding, her tears are not of joy. The hideous frock is nicknamed ‘The Ghost Web’ by Faith’s best friend Marilyn, who can’t understand why Faith would even consider wearing it. But there’s a lot Marilyn doesn’t know about Faith – not the least of which is that Faith is just the latest of the names she has called herself.

Faith and her brother Sam survived a traumatic childhood which included having to change their names to hide from the past, but surviving has left scars. Faith’s generous fiancé Perry doesn’t just promise to be a partner, he offers freedom and security, and enough kindness to keep Faith squashing down any doubts on what ‘being in love’ really means.

It’s not until she meets an extraordinary group of women at the Grace Chapel choir, that things start to become crystal clear. As choir-leader extraordinaire, the indomitable Hester, holds a mirror up to her ragtag group of singers, all with their own burdens and insecurities, and teaches them to see how magnificent they are, so Faith can dare to dream of a future where she and Sam can stop running and she might even be ready to accept the love that she deserves.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Welcome To…

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing flash fiction prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Don’t edit, just write. Once you’re done, you’re welcome to share in the comments but there’s no obligation. 

Today’s prompt is ‘Welcome To…’

You’ve been driving for hours. You’re tired and you need to stop.

Eventually, you pass a sign. You pull the car over to read what it says.

‘Welcome to……’

Name the town.

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Book Review: The Other Gwyn Girl by Nicola Cornick

I’m so happy to be welcoming Nicola Cornick back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Other Gwyn Girl.

1671 – London

The Civil War is over and Charles II, the ‘Merry Monarch’, is revelling in the throne of his murdered father and all the privileges and power that comes with it. Sharing the spoils is his favourite companion, the celebrated beauty, actress Nell Gwyn. Beloved of the English people, Nell has come a long way from selling oranges and a childhood in a brothel, but as her fortunes have turned, her sister Rose has taken a different path. Marriage to a feckless highwayman has left Rose in the grim Marshalsea prison and now she needs her sister’s mercy to help get her out. But Nell needs Rose too. A plot to steal the Crown Jewels has gone tragically wrong, and Nell’s future with her protector King is at risk. If Rose can’t solve the riddle of the jewels both Gwyn sisters will head straight to the Tower.

Present Day

Librarian and history enthusiast Jess Yates has hit rock bottom. With her ex behind bars for fraud, Jess needs to lay low – easier said than done with a celebrity sister. But Tavy has her uses. Her latest TV project involves renovating Fortune Hall, and she needs a house sitter while she’s jetting around the world. The opportunity is too good to miss, especially when Jess discovers that Fortune Hall has links to the infamous Nell Gwyn.

Slowly the house begins to reveal its mysteries, and secrets that have laid buried for centuries can no longer be ignored. Jess hears echoes from a tragic past and as she struggles to understand her sister, Jess feels ever closer to Rose Gwyn, the sister forgotten by history but who had the fate of her family in her hands.

*****

It’s 1671. Charles II is on the throne and enjoying all that comes with it, including mistress Nell Gwyn. She’s come a long way from the poverty she experienced as a child. Her sister Rose on the other hand has needed to forge a different life.

When a failed attempt to steel the Crown Jewells puts her into the path of Sir Guy Forester, it has the potential to change her life forever.

In the present day, Jess is also struggling with scandal and living in the shadow of her famous sibling. When her sister suggests she look after Fortune Hall, Jess is excited especially when she finds a connection to a Gwyn sister.

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Book Review: Thor’s Revenge by Donovan Cook

I’m pleased to be welcoming Donovan Cook back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his novel, Thor’s Revenge.

A kingdom without a crown.

A boy forsaken by his God.

A warrior bent on revenge.

After the bloody Battle of Jelling, Denmark’s throne lies empty and chaos reigns as Jarls jostle for power.

Sven survives the bloodshed only to return home to find Ribe sacked by those he trusted and Charles, a pawn in a much bigger political game, kidnapped.

Consumed by the loss of Charles, Sven is shocked by the arrival of the Abbess Hildegard, daughter of his nemesis King Louis of East Francia, who seeks the whereabouts of Charles, her son, and also the cross of Charlemagne.

But whilst others want revenge for the chaos Sven has caused, Denmark burns and Sven must stand in the shield wall one more time if he is to survive and rescue his grandson.

Outnumbered and outmaneuvered, Sven and Charles must put their fate in the hands of the gods if they ever want to see each other again.

*****

Thor’s Revenge continues the journey of Sven the Boar, his grandson, Charles, and the gold cross which Charles escaped to Denmark with.

Following a disastrous battle outside of Ribe, young Charles believes many of his friends to be dead and is in the custody of his grandfather’s enemies. Meanwhile Sven, reeling from the loss of his grandson, is drinking himself into a stupor. Charles must stay strong in the face of great uncertainty, of both his future and his faith as he feels that God has abandoned him.

All the while French agents are circling, having determined that the cross of Charlemagne has been taken to Demark, and they will do anything to recover it and see the empire of France rebuilt.

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Book Review: The Graveyard Killings by Wes Markin

I’m happy to be welcoming Wes Markin to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his novel, The Graveyard Killings.

A decades old case….

When the body of a young girl is found exhumed from her grave, DCI Emma Gardner knows there’s more to this grisly find than just misadventure. Penny Maiden was killed in a hit and run accident forty years ago, and her killer was never found…Could someone be trying to right an old wrong?

A DI on the rails…

Determined to bring a dangerous gang of drug dealers to justice, DI Paul Riddick is trying hard to play by the rules. After his previous reckless actions, he knows this is his last chance to stay in the job he loves. But when his private life takes an unexpected turn, Riddick begins to lose control again.

Emma needs Paul to help her with her case, especially when more bodies are found in the same graveyard. But hurt badly by Riddick once before, Emma’s not sure she can trust him again.

But as Paul’s behaviour begins to spiral even more, Emma worries she may have left it far too late to save her old friend Riddick from his own destruction…

*****

DCI Emma Gardner is still reeling from the death of a colleague but is determined to keep going. When the victim of an old case is found on the grave of another person, Emma needs to find out what’s going on and fast. What makes it even more complicated is her ex friend, DI Paul Riddick, who is dealing with ghosts and demons of his own.

This is the first novel I’ve read from author, Wes Markin but as I like a good crime/psychological thriller, I was so pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for The Graveyard Killings, book four in the Yorkshire Murders book series.

If, like me, you’ll be picking up the series from this point, don’t fear. There’s enough information given to be able to keep up with the story. However, I did also feel that reading the previous novels would have enriched the story. They have definitely been added to my list.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Lost Bookshop by Evie Woods

Hello March. 

Well, we’ve said goodbye to Valentine’s Day, Pancake Day and the Leap Day and welcome the month of the first signs of spring (I say hopefully as I look out the window at the rain,) St Patricks Day and a very early Good Friday.

This month, I wanted to pick a book that has been catching my eye a lot but one I’ve not actually read. There was something about it that pulled me in just by reading the blurb. Plus, the tag line is amazing and the cover is beautiful.

That book is The Lost Bookshop by Evie Woods. The title sounds very whimsical and the idea of finding a Lost Bookshop just seems so wonderful.

 

How to take part – 

Anyone can take part in our book club whether you’ve already read the novel or will, like me, be picking it up for the first time. I post a question in the comments below to start the discussion and the best part is that you can take part from the comfort of home. I am really looking forward to discussing this book with you.

 

About The Lost Bookshop – 

‘The thing about books,’ she said ‘is that they help you to imagine a life bigger and better than you could ever dream of.’

On a quiet street in Dublin, a lost bookshop is waiting to be found…

For too long, Opaline, Martha and Henry have been the side characters in their own lives.

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Book Extract: Hazard Night by Laura Vaughan

I’m pleased to be welcoming Laura Vaughan to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Hazard Night.

Cleeve College is not for everyone…

When Eve’s husband is appointed housemaster at his old boarding school, Cleeve College, she gives up her life in London to join him. But the isolation and loss of autonomy threaten both her happiness and her marriage.

The arrival of Fen, an enigmatic artist and wife of the new Classics teacher, is a welcome distraction. Fen doesn’t play by the rules, and she and Eve enter into a game of escalating dares, disrupting the delicate balance of school life.

Then, the morning after Hazard Night, a tradition that allows the students to run wild and play pranks for one day, a body is found. Someone has been murdered. And it seems everyone has something to hide…

 

Laura has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy it. 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

ALICE

I think I knew from the start that the new beard at Wyatt’s was a hopeless case.

(Beards are what the boys call the campus wives. Gogs – as in pedagogues – are the teaching staff. God is the name for my father, the chaplain. Fishface is what they call me.)

I’d been roped in to help on the Winslows’ first Arrivals because the kitchen was short-staffed and so Pat B – head of catering – asked if I’d lend a hand at Wyatt’s welcome tea. These teas are always served in the housemasters’ gardens, and although the kitchen staff do most of the baking and serving, it’s a tradition that the housemaster’s wife makes her own contribution. When Mrs Winslow unveiled her Tupperware boxes of gingerbread men, she flushed defensively. ‘I’m not much of a cook,’ she said, attempting a laugh, ‘but icing covers a multitude of sins.’

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NK Chats With… Fran Clark

Hello Fran. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your novel, Holding Paradise and what inspired it?

Holding Paradise is women’s fiction novel seen from the viewpoint of both West Indian matriarch, Josephine, and her first generation daughter, Angelica. It’s a moving story of family, loss and deceit that explores identity, belonging and the resilience of the human spirit. It was inspired by stories that my mother used to tell us about her times spent in the West Indies and what it was like raising her family in 1950s London. I wanted to honour her memories so created characters who had stories of their own to tell based around that time in history.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you have any writing rituals?

My writing day depends on the stage of the book I’m in. When it’s a new book I tend to devote the mornings to writing at my desk and spend the rest of my day thinking about the plot as I do the other things like answering emails etc. During editing I change desks and put my fold up table by the big French windows where I think I’m seeing the novel with fresh eyes just because I’ve set up in a different place. I know it sounds crazy but it works for me.

 

What are the challenges you found when writing your novel?

First novels are always the ones that you write from the heart and mean everything to you. I had to try to make sure it wasn’t a rambling biography of pouring my heart out. That’s how it started off. I had to keep myself in check and put myself in the position of the reader. I needed to make it an interesting and entertaining read and after quite a few versions of this book, I think I finally got there. But the readers will be the judge, I guess.

 

Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?

Can I pick more than one? If it’s in literature, then probably Jo March from Little Women. She’s just such an inspiring person and a writer who had to be so determined to become a writer in a time in history when it was so difficult for women. I’d hope that being around her might rub off on me and I could get some of her grit and determination. For on screen characters, I’d love to live in Stars Hollow with The Gilmore Girls. I’d love a coffee shop like Luke’s to hang out where I could catch up on the local gossip and and have a place to write.

 

From idea to finished book, what’s your writing process like and how long does it typically take you?

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