Cover Reveal: The Banjo Book Two by Elaine Spires

I am so excited to be one of the blogs revealing the cover for The Banjo Book Two. This is the latest novel from Elaine Spires. 

Before we reveal the cover, here’s a little about the book…

 

The 1970s. Zany fashions brought the Decade That Taste Forgot. Change is in the air. Decimal currency; the Common Market; widespread strikes; the Winter of Discontent; IRA bombings; the sale of Council houses and quickie divorces make their mark on the whole country including the community of the Banjo.

The eight households who live in Cromwell Close experience births, deaths, marriages, shocks and surprises but as the 70s become the 80s and beyond Dagenham undergoes great transformation. The once close-knit Community is changing.

 

OK, without further ado, here’s the cover. One..two…three…. 

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Book Extract: A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss by Laura Briggs

A big lovely welcome to Laura Briggs. Today, she’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss. This is book six in the Little Hotel in Cornwall series. 

Weeks after boarding a train to Paris in pursuit of her writing dreams, aspiring novelist Maisie Clark is right back where she started: on the idyllic shores of Port Hewer in Cornwall, luggage in hand and heart filled with anticipation for what lies ahead. Except that nothing seems the same as Maisie left it, from her place among the staff at the hotel Penmarrow to her budding romance with groundskeeper Sidney Daniels, who isn’t quite ready to overlook the painful consequences of her sudden departure.

Losing Sidney would be unbearable, but Maisie can’t help fearing it might be true if the rift between them proves too deep to heal. She knows her feelings for him are unchanged, but whether he feels the same remains to be seen—particularly since she stopped him from expressing them in the first place. And to make matters worse, her position at the Penmarrow has been filled by another, there’s nowhere for her to live in the village, and her savings are finally dwindling to a pathetic number – with her book still unpublished after her startling discovery about the author helping guide her towards success.

But one thing which hasn’t changed is the drama and excitement at the hotel Penmarrow, where the staff is awaiting inspection from the dreaded owner Ms. Claypool. Stirring up trouble in the meantime is the owner’s special guest ‘Mad Ludwig’, an eccentric architect whose demands are definitely driving everyone on the staff a little crazy. And then there’s the hotel’s mysterious new desk manager, whose behavior ignites Maisie’s suspicions and causes her to become entangled in yet another form of intrigue—one that could unwittingly jeopardize the future of the Penmarrow and everyone who works there, unless Maisie can find a way to undo the harm.

With everything that matters to her most at stake this time, Maisie faces her biggest challenges yet…and her deepest question of the heart as she confronts the reason she returned to Cornwall and the Penmarrow in the first place.

 

I’ve got an extract from the novel to share with you today so, without further ado, over to you, Laura. 

 

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

 

A huge thank you to Laura for this chance to share an extract from my romance read A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss. The sixth book in my current series, it continues the adventures of amateur writer Maisie Clark at the historic hotel by the sea. In the following scene, Maisie learns more about the hotel’s impending sale as she chats with its current owner, Ms. Claypool.

*****

The teapot was still warm and so were the muffins, with thick butter and blueberry preserves, so I helped myself to one last bite. Katy was doing the same in the empty dining room as she texted her current boyfriend, giving me a quick grin before giggling over his latest reply.

She glanced up, and quickly disappeared without saying anything, to my surprise. Then Ms. Claypool seated herself at the window table with her assistant, a briefcase, and the long roll of paper that constituted Ludwig’s blueprints. The assistant scurried away to fetch a fresh pot of tea, leaving the hotel mogul to study some reports and glance out the window at the flowers in bloom.

She noticed me as I swept my muffin crumbs onto my plate. “I didn’t realize you were still a guest here,” she said. “You are the young woman I met on the patio a few days ago — the one who was interested in the plans for the new resort?”

“That would be me,” I said. “But today’s my last day, so I’m bidding goodbye to the dining room before I go.”

“Ligeia is quite the culinary artist,” said Ms. Claypool. “If I thought I could steal her away for my personal chef at the new resort, I would. But I’ll have to make to do with a Michelin star culinary genius to please my investors.” To my surprise, she rolled her eyes slightly. “Sometimes I think I’ll defy them and do it anyway. What can they do to stop me from hiring whatever chefs I please?”

“Probably nothing.” Not unless they had more money than the woman in question.

“Exactly what I want them to say, too,” answered Ms. Claypool, with a pleased smile. So maybe Riley wasn’t exactly wrong about her.

“Tell me,” I said, trembling a little inside. “What’s happening to this hotel?” I was afraid what I might hear in reply, but that wouldn’t stop it from being true.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: I Remember

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

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: I Remember…. 

 

You wake up one morning and discover a world without books.

You ask people about them and no one knows what you’re talking about. In fact, you’re the only one that remembers them. You are the only one that owns books.

Write about what happens when your small selection of books is discovered. Are you seen positively or otherwise?

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NK Chats To… Don Waitt

Hi Don, thank you for joining me for a chat today. Can you tell me a little about your book, The Revelation of Chester Fortunberry and what inspired the book?

You come into this world alone and you leave this world alone, which got me thinking about whether that world even existed before I came into it and will it exist after I leave it.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you prefer silence? Lots of coffee?

I like to write in the afternoon. I prefer total silence, no distractions. I write on a desktop computer with a huge screen. Can’t do it on a laptop.

 

How do you approach the writing process, from idea, to planning, to final draft? How much prep do you feel you need to do before you feel ready to start writing?

For me, it all starts with the first paragraph of the book. Once I get that down on paper, then it’s off to the races. As all authors know, I don’t write the book; the book writes itself and goes in whatever direction it wants to. Kind of like a runaway train.

 

What is your favourite word and why?

Really. It’s a noun and a verb and an adjective and even an exclamation point.

 

What songs would feature on a playlist for your novel?

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: The Middle of the Action

Welcome back to the Novel Kicks Writing Room.

Today, I wanted to do some free-writing but focused around beginning the story in the middle of the action.

Using dialogue as your starting line, write up to 500 words of an action scene that puts the reader in the middle of the action. Continue to use dialogue as much as you can.

For example, ‘You need to jump. Now.’

Who your character is in terms of age and background is up to you.

You are welcome to use my example if you like.

Let me know in the comments if you try this and how you found it. What was easy or difficult about it?

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Book Review: Under A Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

One summer to change her life…

Wanda Williams has always dreamed of leaving her wellies behind her and travelling the world! Yet every time she comes close to following her heart, life always seems to get in the way.

So, when her mother ends up in hospital and her sister finds out she’s pregnant with twins, Wanda knows that only she can save the crumbling campsite at the family farm.

Together with her friends in the village, she sets about sprucing up the site, mowing the fields, replanting the allotment and baking homemade goodies for the campers.

But when a long-lost face from her past turns up, Wanda’s world is turned upside-down. And under a starry sky, anything can happen…

 

I have to be honest, this is not the kind of book I usually read. I am normally more of a crime/mystery/scfi kind of person.

All that said, I loved this book and read it from start to finish in one 7 hour stint!

The story follows Wanda Williams, a girl who has always dreamed of travelling but has never managed to leave due to family constraints.

I found the characters exceedingly well developed and I formed very clear images of them in my mind.

On several occasions, I found myself getting choked up or laughing out loud.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Freaky Friday

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

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: Freaky Friday

You have a chance encounter with the person you envied in school. You have always wanted to know what it was like to be them.

When you wake up the following day, you discover you and this person have swapped bodies. They are now you, you are now them.

Write about your day and how you attempt to make things right? Are things as great as you imagined?

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Freewriting Objects

Happy July everyone. 

For the writing room today, I thought we could do some free writing.

First, write down the first four objects that come to your mind.

You are looking under your bed for something.

At the very back, behind some bags, is a shoebox. It is dusty. It’s not been touched for a while. It’s a box you’ve never seen before and you didn’t put it there.

You open it and discover….

Set a timer – ten minutes per object. Write about finding each one.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: Never Greener by Ruth Jones

Black Swan, May 2019

Hello July. How are you?

A new month means a new book to discuss.

This month, I have picked a book I have wanted to read for ages – Never Greener by Ruth Jones.

If you like Gavin and Stacey, you will be familiar with Ruth Jones. I am a huge fan of that TV show and so I am intruiged about this book. I hope you will join me in reading and discussing this novel.

Anyone can join in at any time in the month. I have posted a question below to kick off the discussion. Hopefully see you in the comments below.

 

About Never Greener… 

The past has a habit of tracking us down. And tripping us up.

When Kate was twenty-two, she had an intense and passionate affair with a married man, Callum, which ended in heartbreak. Kate thought she’d never get over it.

Seventeen years later, life has moved on – Kate, now a successful actress, is living in London, married to Matt and mother to little Tallulah. Meanwhile Callum and his wife Belinda are happy together, living in Edinburgh and watching their kids grow up. The past, it would seem, is well and truly behind them all.

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Cover Reveal: The Christmas Killer by Alex Pine

I am so pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal for The Christmas Killer, the latest novel from Alex Pine, due to be released by Avon in October.

I know it’s only July but I feel it’s never too early. The Christmas Killer is the first in a new crime series and if you love writers like Val McDermid and Ross Greenwood, then you’ll love this new thriller.

Here’s a little more about the book…

 

DI James Walker is ready for a quiet family Christmas in the sleepy village of Kirkby Abbey.
But when he opens an early Christmas present left on his doorstep, he soon realises it is no gift.

Inside is a gruesome surprise, and a promise – twelve days, twelve murders. Not long after, the first body is found, half frozen in the snow.

As the blizzards descend, panic spreads through the remote Cumbrian village – there’s a killer amongst them, and with eleven more victims to go, anyone could be next….

Can James stop the killer before they strike again?

 

OK, time to reveal the cover. Ready? Drumroll…. 

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Book Review: The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker

Robyn Bloom thought Ash Barnes was the love of her life – until one day he announced he was leaving her to fly halfway across the world.

Months later, Robyn is struggling to move on – but then she has a brainwave: The Never Have I Ever Club. Her handsome next-door neighbour Will helps her bring their fellow Yorkshire villagers together for some carpe-diem-inspired fun.

From burlesque dancing to Swedish massages, everyone has plenty of bucket-list activities to try, but it doesn’t take long for Robyn to realise what – or who – her heart truly desires: Will.

There’s just one problem: he’s Ash’s twin brother.

Make that two problems: Ash is moving home… and he wants Robyn back.

Mary Jayne Baker is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors.

Once I started reading, I fell in love with the endearing town of Kettlewick and its wonderful inhabitants. I couldn’t even really dislike Ash. He certainly has the charm everyone alludes to.

Will sounds perfect. Even though I couldn’t figure out which twin brother was going to get the happy ending, I was very much Team Will. I am saying no more about that.

Robyn is a great lead character. She shows a loving, caring side to her that makes her incredibly likeable.

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Book Review: Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly

Over a decade ago, Heidi was the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her younger sister missing, and her best friend dead.

But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her friends and family and no recollection of the crime.

Now, it’s all starting to come back.

As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in.

When the truth is worse than fiction, is the past worth reliving?

 

(Trigger warning – Monstrous Souls dives into the troubling world of child abuse and coverups.)

Monstrous Souls is the debut novel from Rebecca Kelly and is a throughly good read. It follows the aftermath of a traumatic event which left its one known survivor with a fractured life and fractured memory.

Fifteen years after the event, fragments of memory start to align and the lid is slowly lifted on a system of organised abuse of children, covered up and hidden at the highest levels.

At times the book can be hard to read, as the subject matter is disturbing, but the author does a wonderful job of drawing you though the story.

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Book Review: How To Save A Life by S.D. Robertson

You can’t have a rainbow, without a little rain…

When a stranger saves Luke’s life, he knows he’s been given a second chance. He’s going to make it count – and, determined to live each day to its fullest, he starts by saying yes to everything life has to offer.

Slowly but surely, Luke learns that a little bit of blue-sky thinking can go a long way, and things start to look up.

But when Luke’s new resolve is tested, will he return to his old ways? Or can one fateful moment truly save a life?

 

If any of S.D. Robertson’s previous novels are anything to go by, I knew that How To Save a Life was going to be an emotional rollercoaster before I even began. And yes, it was.

Oh Luke. He’s such a complex and compelling character. On the first few pages, he’s not the most likeable of characters. He reminded me a little of Scrooge in that he is cynical, a loner and has no interest in the world around him.

The author throws the reader straight into Luke’s life and the more I got into the story, the more empathy I felt for him. As you start to get to know his history, you begin to understand his choices and his demeanour. Also, as a character, he really does develop and evolve over the course of the novel.

The supporting characters are also strong, Meg and Nora especially. I felt so sorry for Rita. Grief presents itself in so many different ways and I had nothing but sympathy for her.  There were moments I could empathise with and parts I could relate to.

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Book Review: Agony Auntics by Julie Butterfield

As an agony aunt, Fliss Carmichael should have all the answers but when her own marriage begins unravelling at the seams, she hasn’t a clue where to start.

After a simple mistake causes an unintended role swap, she becomes the one seeking advice from an unlikely source!

When reading the blurb, I was immediately drawn to the premise of this novel and indeed, from the first page, I was drawn into the plot.

This book, told as narrative and a series of e-mails, focuses on Fliss and Ellie. I like how it’s told from the point of view of both and it goes between the two effortlessly.

Fliss is an agony aunt. It is not what she dreamed of being. It’s more a profession she fell into but, having been married for eighteen years, she has always believed that the sacrifices she made in her own career was worth it in exchange for her happy marriage.

However, when she gets an e-mail from Ellie, a woman who asks for advice in talking to the man she loves but has never spoken to, it forces Fliss to take a look at her own relationship with her husband, Jasper. She realises things are not so perfect.

I felt an enormous wave of love and empathy for both characters but especially Fliss. I’ve never really considered that this stranger offering advice is also a human being with their own complexities. Their lives can be as messy and beautiful. I had never considered that side of the coin before.

These women are at different stages in life and I liked the juxtaposition of the two. Most of all, I loved the relationship that developed between these two women and that it begins through the written word.

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Book Review: Tell That To My Heart by Eliza J. Scott

Jemima Dewberry wears her heart on her sleeve. Her weakness for bad boys, coupled with her track record for making bad decisions has led to endless heartbreak. The only trouble is, she can’t seem to kick the habit.

On top of that, her “dream” job at Yorkshire Portions magazine hasn’t turned out to be what she’d hoped, and she seems to have developed the knack of annoying her boss without even trying. It doesn’t help that the new girl seems to have taken an instant dislike to her. All that’s keeping her there are her best friends Anna-Lisa and Aidey, who have picked up the pieces of her shattered heart more times than they care to remember.

When Jemima’s latest boyfriend turns out to be no better than the rest, the hurt and humiliation is almost unbearable. She declares she’s finally through with love, and swears off men for life. But when charismatic Caspar De Verre walks into the office with his dangerous good looks and mesmerising smile, she’s utterly captivated, and her promises to Anna-Lisa and Aidey not to let her heart rule her head are soon forgotten.

But is Caspar all he seems? Anna-Lisa and Aidey have their doubts. And Herbert, the happy-go-lucky black Labrador Jemima’s looking after, doesn’t seem to like him either.

As Jemima falls for Caspar’s charms she finds herself being forced to confront the struggle between her head and her heart. But which one will prove the most powerful?

And will Jemima get the happy-ever-after she so desperately craves?

 

Tell That To My Heart is the first novel in the Heartshaped series. I loved Eliza’s previous series, Life on the Moors, so I have been looking forward to getting stuck into a new book from her.

Mim Dewberry should be enjoying the fact that she has the job of her dreams. In reality, she hates where she works. Also, having had her heart broken by her ex, she has sworn off men. Well, that’s until Casper begins work at her office. Even when her friends, Anna and Aidey share their misgivings about him, she doesn’t listen to their advice. Whether it’s advice she should heed, I am hoping you’ll find out for yourself.

This book was full of the same warmth and heart that I have come to love from Eliza’s books and I devoured this, not able to stop reading.

Mim felt like a sister and I became very protective of her. I wanted to hug her. Casper gave me a Daniel Cleaver/Jasper from The Holiday vibe and, like Herbert, I couldn’t quite decide if I liked him.

The plot is paced well and I couldn’t figure out how it would end. As normal, I am not going to say much more about the plot and what happens as I don’t want to spoil it but what I will say is that there are some very bad characters in this book. There was one in particular that I didn’t even try to like.

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