Audible Audiobook Review: The Road to Cromer Pier by Martin Gore

Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after forty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits.

The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning.

 

I was excited to be invited onto the Audible review tour for The Road to Cromer Pier by Martin Gore.

The narrator is clear speaking and entertaining. Her welsh accent is particularly good. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook due to both Penny Scott-Andrews’s narration and Martin Gore’s story.

I’ve never been to Cromer but having grown up in a town with a pier, I could very easily picture the surroundings and setting. I love the feel of seaside towns and this novel captures the atmosphere of them perfectly. As I was listening, I was right there, by the sea. It brought back some lovely memories.

There is such a mixture of personalities in this novel and all of them seemed believable. There are quite a few of them introduced over the course of the book but they are pretty easy to keep up with.

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Cover Reveal: The Mystery of Montague House by Emma Davis

I am excited to be helping reveal the cover for The Mystery of Montague House, the latest novel from Emma Davis. This is the first book in the Summer & Winter mysteries series. 

Here’s a little about the book…

When Summer meets Wynter…

With enough rooms to fill a Cluedo board several times over, Montague House has often been the subject of rumour and gossip. Tales of strange goings on, an owner who disappeared one day and was never seen again, not to mention the treasure that rumour has it lies at its heart… But now the present owner has died and the house is to be sold. It looks as if the opportunity has come to finally settle the stories once and for all.

Clodagh Wynter doesn’t believe in ghostly goings on and tall tales of secrets. She has her feet very firmly on the ground and, tasked with the job of valuing and cataloguing the house and all its contents, she’s simply looking forward to working in such a glorious setting. And if she happens across a priceless painting, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

Andie Summer is a Finder of Things and desperately needs this job; she’s down to her last few tins of baked beans. So looking for hidden treasure sounds right up her street, even if there was something very fishy about the mysterious Mr Mayfair who hired her. Because it’s just like she said to her faithful Basset Hound, Hamish; I saw something out of the corner of my eye as I was leaving, and you know what that means. It’s never good news when I see something out of the corner of my eye…

As the unlikely pair are thrown together, it soon becomes very clear however that they are not the only ones searching for the treasure. And they’re going to need all their ingenuity, resourcefulness, not to mention chocolate biscuits, if they’re ever going to untangle the web of secrets that surrounds Montague House. One that reaches even further than they ever thought possible…

 

OK, so are you ready to see the cover? Three… Two… One…. Ta-dah! 

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NK Chats To… M W Arnold

Hello Mick. I am so very pleased and proud to be welcoming you to Novel Kicks. What’s the experience been like so far compared to your first novel, ‘The Season for Love’?

Hi Laura, it’s wonderful to be back celebrating my second novel, I’m delighted to be here. It’s never easy to obtain a contract for a book, and for some reason, in my opinion, if it’s not already in place, obtaining that second one is always the most nerve-shredding. When the email offer came through for this one, it was like a weight lifting from my mind.

 

Can you tell me a little about your first historical saga, ‘A Wing and a Prayer’ and what inspired the story?

Because of ill health, I hadn’t been writing, I’d wanted to but it hadn’t been working. My author friends had all been encouraging me to try, so when a friend suggested I try something new rather than to pick up an unfinished project, it was like a serendipitous moment. I was watching a program on tv called, Spitfire Women, about the lady pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary in WW2. Before I was even aware I was doing it, I found myself scrolling around the internet and the beginning of a story idea reared its head. For this prod up the proverbial, I have two excellent authors and good friends to thank; best-selling romance author Sue Moorcroft and historical saga author par excellence, Elaine Everest. Also, after finding out so much about the brave women and men of the ATA, I wanted to write a kind of tribute to them. I hope I’ve done so.

 

What are the challenges of setting your novel in WWII?

Getting your facts right. Well, that’s only partially true, as in this day and age of the internet, you really shouldn’t be getting anything wrong, though it does happen. The other part, at least so far as I’m concerned, is making sure your characters behave and talk as they did back then. Compared to my romance, which was set in contemporary times, this was initially much harder to write until I got into the swing of it and now, it’s quite natural. Now I’m well into writing the third book in the series, writing as if my mind is back in the 1940’s seems natural. My main issue is, and will probably remain, writing in US English, as my publisher is based in the USA and prefers this. It still looks strange to me.

 

What’s your writing process like from first idea to final draft? Are there any challenges when writing a book series?

A lot of my ideas, when I first tried my hand at writing, came from listening to Radio. I’d hear a song and that would spark an idea. I still have a folder with about 20 idea for stories, some are brief outlines, a few lines, some are up to 6 or 7 pages, quite full of detail, a few even with a start, a middle and an end. I’d like think I can get back to some of those at some point. For this saga series, once the idea came, I was able to start writing pretty fast. I like to begin a story as soon as the idea hits me and as I’m more of a panster than a planster, I can get the first draft down pretty quickly, even taking into account that my first drafts are more akin to between a second and third draft, as I edit as I go along; each chapter has to read right before I can move on to the next one. I also keep each chapter as its own file, as I find it much easier to go to what I need to if, well, I need to.

So far as writing a series is concerned, this is my first series as ‘The Season for Love’ was a standalone romance, I’m kind of learning my own way as I go along. I’m sure everyone who writes a series has their own ways, so there may be an easier way than the one I’m using, but so far, it works for me. I like to, if it’s possible, to leave each chapter on a cliffhanger. That’s not possible with a series of books, so far as the end of the book is concerned. I’d like to, but each book has to be able to be read as a standalone too, so that’s out of the question. What I have to do is give the reader an enjoyable reading experience, whilst making them want to find out what the characters get up to next. It’s a nice feeling to know that I’ll be coming back to these characters again too.

 

You are a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association  Do you feel that the RNA New Writers’ Scheme is worth joining if you’re wanting to start writing a novel?

My route to publication was through this esteemed scheme so, yes, very much so. I know so many authors who became published by joining the NWS scheme of the Romantic Novelists Association. It’s one of the hardest things to accomplish, having a book published and the support which this scheme provides is invaluable. I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to become an author.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

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NK Chats To… Emily Carpenter

Hi Emily, thank you so much for joining me today. What’s your typical writing day like and do you have any pre-writing rituals, for example, needing coffee? Silence?

Thanks for having me! It’s funny, I don’t seem to have a typical writing day, which is something I actually enjoy. I will say, I’m not an early morning writer. Not a morning person in the least. I like to wake up, drink coffee and eat, get my son off to school and then exercise. Then I’m ready to sit down at the computer. I don’t really have rituals, but I do like to have the TV running in the background – a show or movie that I’ve seen before or don’t have to pay attention to. For some reason my brain likes multi-tasking in that way. Recently, I’ve been re-watching Peaky Blinders and it’s nice to, every once in a while, look up and go, “Oh, hello, Cillian Murphy, how’s the crime going?” I do firmly believe in hitting a minimum word count every day while I’m drafting a new novel. But if I don’t get my words, or I go weeks without writing, it’s fine. I kind of trust my creativity to lead the way and ask for what it needs.

 

Can you tell me about your novel, Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters and what inspired the story?

I had just finished my fourth book UNTIL THE DAY I DIE, which was an adventure-thriller, and I was feeling the need to get back to my Southern gothic, family focused work. I decided to write a sequel or follow up to my first book “Burying the Honeysuckle Girls” because there was still so much I wanted to explore with those characters. I toyed with some ideas, but it was when an author friend of mine said to me that this story was really about Dove Jarrod from “Honeysuckle Girls”, that it all came together.

The story is about Eve Candler (Dove’s granddaughter) who is in charge of administering her grandmother’s family foundation when she discovers that Dove may have been a con woman, thief and possibly a murderer. She has three days in Alabama to clear her grandmother’s name and protect her family’s legacy.

 

What elements do you feel make a good story?

Something unusual, that I haven’t seen before. I want a main character who’s dealt with very specific troubles from her past and who’s up against a really unique and specific problem in the present. You need the suspense and ticking clock and a vivid setting, yes, but unless your character and their problem isn’t specific, I find myself bored. I think it’s so fascinating how, the more unique those elements are, the more universal the story ends up being.

 

What were the biggest challenges you faced whilst writing Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters?

It was challenging to make the character of Eve, who’s living a quite unusual life, feel realistic and relatable. Eve’s a young woman but her job is maintaining her grandmother’s legacy as a beloved, famous tent evangelist / tent healer / miracle worker from the 1930s and 40s. Eve isn’t personally religious, doesn’t even believe that her grandmother actually ever worked a miracle, but she’s surrounded with people, like her mother, and all these donors who are true believers—and also it’s her job to raise money for the foundation. She doesn’t want to be disrespectful, but she’s dying to escape. She wants to fly – go to graduate school, have a romance, be a normal twenty-something. But she’s got to be this cheerleader for the memory of an old-time religious preacher.

 

Which authors do you admire and why?

Oh. So many writers today are just brilliant and creative and then, on the business side, just impress me daily with their marketing savvy. I think Ruth Ware tells epic stories. Riley Sager has his finger on the pulse of what people want to read. Shannon Kirk writes these vivid, incredibly poetic horror books that have created a fictional network of uber-rich American families whose descendants get away with murder.

 

How do you approach the writing process, from idea to final draft and how long does it typically take you to write and edit a book?

Different books have different journeys. Some books take a lot of thought before I write. Some I’ll start writing the minute I have the idea. I am a bit superstitious about not talking about a book until it’s written. It’s taken me anywhere from a year to six months to one month to write different books.

 

Which fictional world would you like to visit and why?

Well, I say I’d like to visit 18th century Scotland like in Outlander but only if Jamie is there and also, honestly, I’d probably end up complaining about the lack of hot running water and electricity and constant danger.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

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Book Extract: Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter by Laura Marchant

I am very happy to be welcoming Laura Marchant to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her book, Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter

Hilarious and heart warming true stories of a Pet Sitter.

​Laura takes us on her journey describing the immense joy that the animals have brought into her life. But it’s not all fun and games. With sometimes as many as ten dogs around her home, things can get a tad hectic. Not to forget the every day challenges faced in keeping the pets happy and safe when out walking. Luckily she is not alone in her quest; her unusually dominant Golden Retriever ‘Brece’ is always by her side. Brece earns her keep by convincingly playing the part of the alpha female, ensuring harmony amongst the pack.

​At times, the responsibility that Laura faces becomes overwhelming. She may think she has everything covered but that hand of fate could quite easily swoop down, creating havoc for her and the dogs. Laura has endured many close calls and teetered on the precipice of disaster may a time. The longer she continues with her pet sitting enterprise, the more likely hood that total disaster will actually strike. Is she tempting fate?

Laura Marchant is the Bridget Jones of the pet sitting world!

 

Laura has shared an extract from her book today so find that comfy seat, grab that cup of tea, and enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

This is an extract from a third of the way into the book. Here I start to write about ‘the gang’,  a selection of my daily regulars that I walk. I pick 5 dogs to talk about in detail. (some of whom are pictured on the front page). This section is about Rocky, a young, crazy out of control English Pointer, but never the less, a dog that I love.

Picking up Rocky was an arduous task and that was just the prelude to the walk. Putting the leash on him did not abate his excitement, in fact, it exacerbated it, as he knew he was one step closer to his walk and freedom. Once trussed up we made our way to the front door. Trying to lock it behind me whilst keeping hold of the uncontrollable animal was an incredibly difficult task, but with gritted determination, I just about managed it. Outside the house, door successfully locked he then hoicked me all the way down the drive to where his chariot awaited. He pulled with such force that I literally thought that my arms would be wrenched out of their sockets. It took every ounce of strength in my body to hang onto that dog. If he managed to escape from his lead, it was a given that he would run onto the busy road, that would be it, we were dicing with death.

By now I had managed to get him leashed, out of the house, locked the door, before being whisked all the way down the driveway. God! I must have been completely mad in those early days. All I had to do now was get him in the boot of the car; this part was a breeze. He was more than happy to jump into the dog-mobile, he knew next stop was the beach. Whilst I sat in the driver’s seat I usually took a couple of minutes to compose myself. After checking out my new cuts, bruises and jarred joints I was ready to drive off to our destination. It was always a stressful journey. Having Rocky in the boot of my car was like having a wild Gazelle travelling with us. He remained on his perpetual trampoline but added a touch of strident hollering and squealing to help us along on our way. Once finally at our destination, the beast was unleashed. This was what he had been waiting for: now his fun could begin.

Hurling himself out of the boot, he charged off to do his own thing. There was no way I could keep him on the lead, anything I did to try to hang on to him was ineffectual, as was berating him. With no choice in the matter, I just had to let him go and wait with the other dogs by the sea wall while he charged around.

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Book Review: The World of Peter Rabbit – The Complete Collection of Original Tales

The classic gift set collection of Beatrix Potter’s original Peter Rabbit books.

This beautiful gift box contains all 23 original Peter Rabbit books by Beatrix Potter. Each tale is presented in its iconic white jacket and features a publisher’s note describing how the story came to be.

Ever since I was a small child, I have loved the Beatrix Potter stories, from Peter Rabbit to Jemima Puddleduck, to Tom Kitten, I have adored escaping into these classic, wonderful and beautifully illustrated tales.

This stunning box contains hardbacks of all 23 original stories. The box and books are great quality. It really is in keeping with Potter’s drawings and I can tell a lot of care has been put into creating this boxset.

The exterior has both whimsical colour and monotone illustrations of characters including Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Jeremy Fisher as well as elements belonging to Mr McGregor’s garden and I adore it. As you can see, it looks amazing on a book shelf. Yes, I know, I shouldn’t be caught up with how it looks but if I do say so myself, it looks pretty.

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Book Review: Christmas at Aunt Elsie’s by Emily Harvale

A distant relative. A blizzard. A Christmas of surprises.

Lottie Short isn’t looking forward to Christmas. Her boyfriend has dumped her and she’s also lost her job. Lottie and her beloved spaniel, Merry, are facing the festive season – and a bleak future, alone.

But a Christmas card and round-robin letter give Lottie hope. And as the first snowflakes fall, she’s on her way to the tiny seaside village of Seahorse Harbour to visit her distant aunt. She’ll stay in a cosy B&B and get some bracing, sea air. That might lift her spirits.

What she doesn’t plan for is a blizzard, her aunt taking a fall, or the dramas unfolding all around her. But at least there’s a warm welcome at Aunt Elsie’s cottage … and a roaring log fire in the village pub.

That’s not all that might bring a rosy glow to Lottie’s cheeks. Asher Bryant, the local vet is pretty hot, and Lottie also hits it off with another visitor to Seahorse Harbour. This festive season might be better than she hoped.

And when Lottie gets more than one surprise this Christmas, perhaps she and Merry won’t be spending the New Year on their own.

I was so pleased to be invited onto the one day blog blitz for Christmas at Aunt Elsie’s by Emily Harvale.

Reading Emily’s novels is like being under a warm blanket with a hot chocolate. Bliss. Although, maybe not Elsie’s hot chocolates. Those things sound lethal. LOL.

I’ve become such fan of Emily’s novels over the last couple of years and so I couldn’t wait to curl up with this latest book. The first in the Seahorse Harbour series, Summer at my Sisters is one of Emily’s books I’d not got around to reading (an oversight that will soon be rectified,) but I didn’t feel like I was playing catch up as Christmas at Aunt Elsie’s can be read as a standalone.

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Book Extract: Number 10 by C.J. Daugherty

I am happy to be welcoming C.J Daugherty to Novel Kicks today and her new book, Number 10. 

Eight months ago, Gray Langtry’s mother became prime minister… now someone wants her dead

Gray’s life has been in turmoil ever since her mother was chosen to lead the country. They had to leave their home and move into the prime minister’s official residence at Number 10 Downing Street. Everywhere she goes, she must be accompanied by bodyguards. The media won’t leave her alone — she’s on the cover of every tabloid, and her behaviour, her appearance, the length of her skirts… everything is constantly judged.

Worse, the scars from her parents’ divorce and her mother’s abrupt remarriage are still raw. She doesn’t like her stepfather. She doesn’t like this life. None of it was her decision.

When she’s photographed drunk outside a London nightclub, it makes headlines. Gray is grounded and given new bodyguards – younger, cooler, and harder to fool than the last batch.

It’s Julia, the new bodyguard, who tells her that a new terrorist organisation issued a threat, and the threat is credible. They say they’re going to kill her mother and Gray. When Gray tries to find out more though, no one will tell her. Her mother never mentions it and her bodyguard is forbidden to say more. Locked up in Number 10 night after night, Gray decides to find answers. If someone wants to kill her, she deserves to know why.

One of the few people who understands what’s happening is Jake McIntyre — the son of her mother’s political enemy. Convinced he’s working for his father, her mother forbids her to spend time with him. But Gray believes he might be able to help her learn the truth.

One night, while sneaking through dark government halls, she gets far more than she bargained for. She realises the situation is much worse than even her mother’s security team suspects. But will anyone believe the prime minister’s wild child daughter?

Afraid for herself, her mother, and her country, Gray is determined to find proof. But she must move fast.

The clock is ticking. 

 

C.J has shared an extract today. It sound great so enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Gray wasn’t going to drink any more alcohol. The cold bottle felt good against her overheated skin, though, and she held it up to her face, pressing the glass against her cheek.

‘Gray.’ Jake’s northern accented voice was unmistakable.

She spun around to see him a few feet away, his expression dripping disapproval. ‘What do you want?’ she asked.

His brow lowering, he glanced from the bottle in her hand back to her face. ‘Maybe you should go easy on that. You don’t look so great.’

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Book Review: About Last Night by A.S. Kelly

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Tyler Hayes, and I’m a fireman.

Sorry to already disappoint you, but I’m not the person you think I am.

My charming uniform and seductive smile have caused nothing but trouble, and my not-so-honourable reputation, which I used to be so proud of, has kept me away from the one person I wanted to spend the rest of my life baking cookies for; my sweet, beautiful, slightly crazy Miss White.

I guess now I need to tell the whole story.

At forty years old, following years of self-sabotage, I’ve suddenly found myself admitting that I know absolutely nothing. Maybe my friend Niall was right when he told me to accept the process and just grow up. And now it’s too late; I’ll never be able to keep her close to me. All that’s left to do is watch helplessly – but deservedly – as my world comes tumbling down around me.

 

I was very pleased to be invited on the blog tour for About Last Night.

This was the first novel I have read by this author so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The premise in general intrigued me and although it took me a while to get into the book, once I did, I couldn’t put it down.

I warmed to Holly pretty much straight away. I admire her pushing herself out of her comfort zone but I also had the feeling early on that there was more to her and the move to Ireland. I felt she was holding something back. I had a couple of theories as I read. I could sense a mystery and this was a great incentive to read on.

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Book Review: Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft

Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.

But fate is keeping them apart…

As soon as Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after.

When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?

I have just had the honour of reading the latest novel by Amazon #1 author, Sue Moorcroft, ‘Christmas Wishes’.

I’m a strong believer that there comes a time in every author’s career where they bring out ‘That’ story. ‘Christmas Wishes’ is ‘That’ story.

I’ve been left, in particular order – breathless, doubled-over in laughter, in tears, seething with anger. I don’t think I’ve ever ‘seethed with anger’ at a character? Wait until you meet Albin!

This story has a detectibly simple premise (IMHO) – can Hannah ever trust another man? More to my opinion, can any man deserve her trust, let alone her love? Is Nico, her Swedish protaganist, that man?

Wonderfully written from start until finish and chock full of storylines you will find in few other romance authors lexicon. Food and alcohol disorders, substance abuse, you name it, it’s pretty much here.

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Audible Book Review: Wild Sky by Lexi Rees

I am pleased to be welcoming Lexi Rees back to Novel Kicks with her novel, Wild Sky, the second book in the Relic Hunters series. 

After delivering the pearl, Finn and Aria thought life would return to normal.

But with the survival of the clans still in peril, they must continue their quest.

Can they find the next relic before the forces of evil?

Not everyone is who they appear to be, and time is running out …

 

Finn and Aria are no ordinary siblings. They are on the verge of gaining very powerful magic. They are also being hunted by Sir Waldred, who will do everything he can to stop them. The race is on for them to complete their quest before time runs out.

The premise of the Relic Hunters series intrigued me so I jumped at the chance to be a part of the blog blitz for Wild Sky.

Having not read book one, Eternal Seas, prior to being invited on the tour for its sequel, I made sure to read the first book. I am pleased I did as it meant that I could jump straight into the story and jump right in is what you do, as Wild Sky picks up exactly where Eternal Seas left off.

There is immediate tension and mystery for Finn, Aria, their parents and Pippin.

Lexi Rees does a really great job of creating a believable and exciting world for children but I think adults will get a lot out of the plot/story too as the main characters set out to find the air-rider relic.

There are plenty of twists and turns, along with an introduction to some new characters, such as Rahfi. I was also pleased that we got to know Pippin a little bit more. I related to her… I am also clumsy. Haha. Oh and I want Hobnob the cat to come live with me.

There is such an appeal to the Relic Hunters series. It has both strong characters in Finn and Aria but also has its fair share of sinister characters like Sir Waldred.

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Book Review: All Your Little Lies by Marianne Holmes

Hello to Marianne Holmes and the blog tour for her new novel, All Your Little Lies. 

When everything you say is a lie, can you even remember the truth?

Annie lives a quiet, contained, content life. She goes to work. She meets her friend. She’s kind of in a relationship. She’s happy. Not lonely at all.

If only more people could see how friendly she is — how eager to help and please. Then she could tick “Full Happy Life” off her list. But no one sees that side of Annie, and she can’t understand why.

That all changes the night Chloe Hills disappears. And Annie is the last person to see her.

This is her chance to prove to everybody that she’s worth something. That is, until she becomes a suspect.

Drenched in atmosphere and taut with tension, All Your Little Lies takes a hard look at why good people do bad things.

All Your Little Lies was one of those thrillers that immediately drew me in from the first page. There was a tension that grew and grew the further I got into the book. I felt as though I was there, in that little town, with all of it going on around me.

Annie is a complicated character. She is hard to like but at the same time, I knew that there must be a reason behind her behaviour and I was desperate to learn more about her so I could at least begin to understand her.

As the search for the missing girl continues, Annie gets drawn further into the investigation. Her lies grow larger and more complicated. The mystery, both surrounding Annie’s past and Chloe’s fate had me wanting more.
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Book Extract: A Village Vacancy by Julie Houston

Hello to Julie Houston and the blog tour for her novel, A Village Vacancy. 

As the Yorkshire village of Westenbury mourns the loss of one of their own, the women can’t help but contemplate who will fill the vacancy in one handsome widower’s life…

Grace Stevens has decided it’s time to move on without her husband. He’s off gallivanting around Devon in search of a new life, and good riddance. It’s time to go back to teaching, so Grace returns to Little Acorns and takes on an unruly class of pre-teens.

As she deals with disasters in – and out of – the classroom including an accidental dalliance with her most troublesome pupil’s dad, helping track down a drug ring and keeping up with her closest girlfriends, Grace begins to wonder more and more about the sparkle in David’s eyes and the sparking chemistry between them.

Could Grace be the one to fill this village vacancy?

 

Julie and Aria have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

‘Can you believe this, Harriet?’ Grace wiped her eyes once more as, forty minutes later, the cortege retraced its steps back up the nave towards the main entrance of the church, taking Mandy Henderson on her final journey to the churchyard. ‘You know, that Mandy is actually… I can’t even say the words… no longer here with us anymore?’

‘No.’ Harriet Westmoreland, Grace’s best friend since school days, shook her head, for once short of words. ‘How long have we known Mandy?’ she finally asked. She paused to think, screwing up her eyes as she did the maths and answering her own question. ‘Over thirty years. Do you remember your first glimpse of her at Midhope Grammar? I do.’

Grace tutted. ‘Of course I do, Harriet. You know I do. I fell in love with her in our very first assembly as she sat with the other fifth and sixth-formers on that long bench in front of the teachers. God, they were a rum lot, weren’t they?’

‘Miss Clarke, the young PE teacher was OK,’ Harriet mused, casting her mind back. ‘I quite liked her, but how the pair of us ever became teachers with that motley crew as our only example, I’ll never know.’ Harriet shook her head again, reaching out a restraining hand to Pietronella who was eager to be off now she’d spotted David Henderson, Mandy’s widowed husband and her own much adored adopted grandpa, before glancing round the church at the remaining mourners. ‘Is Juno here? Or any other of the Sutherland sisters? I thought Pandora at least might have shown up?’

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Book Extract & Review: An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins

I am pleased to be welcoming Fiona Higgins to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, An Unusual Boy which has been released today by Boldwood Books. 

Meet Jackson – a very unusual boy in a world that prefers ‘normal’…

Julia Curtis is a busy mother of three, with a husband often away for work, an ever-present mother-in-law, a career, and a house that needs doing up. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Milla, has fallen in love for the first time, and her youngest, Ruby, is a nine-year-old fashionista who can out-negotiate anyone.

But Julia’s eleven-year-old son, Jackson, is different. Different to his sisters. Different to his classmates. In fact, Jackson is different from everyone. And bringing up a child who is different isn’t always easy.

Then, one Monday morning, Jackson follows his new friend Digby into the school toilets. What happens inside changes everything; not only for Jackson, but for every member of his family. Julia faces the fight of her life to save her unusual boy from a world set up for ‘normal’.

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Fiona and Boldwood Books have shared an extract. 

 

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

 

‘Shhh! You’ll wake her up!’

Stifled laughter, the tinkling of a tea bell and the pungent smell of burnt toast drift beneath the bedroom door. Our three children are whispering outside, impatient to sneak in and surprise me. My hand slides across the mattress, reaching for Andy’s, before the crushing realisation swamps me.

He’s not here. Again.

A cold, hard nub of loneliness lodges in my chest. Andy’s overseas trips are an unavoidable by-product of his smashing career success; New York this quarter, London next, Tokyo in the spring. I should be used to it by now, but the thought of spending Mother’s Day solo makes me want to curl up under the covers and refuse to come out. For the sake of the children, however, I can’t. It’s my job to create magic on Mother’s Day now.

I stare at the paint flaking off the ceiling above our bed. Recalling the early, easy years with Andy, before there were any Mothers’ Days at all. All that spare time spent sleeping and strolling and staring into each other’s eyes. Two languid years of mutual adoration, before my body endured three pregnancies, two breastfed babies and the singular exertions of gravity itself. Back when Andy and I still saw each other, somehow.

Something clatters to the floor beyond the door.

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Book Trailer Reveal: Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

I am so pleased to be helping Eleanor Ray reveal the new book cover for her upcoming novel, Everything is Beautiful, due to be released in February 2021. 

Sometimes it’s impossible to part with the things we love the most…

When Amy Ashton’s world came crashing down eleven years ago, she started a collection. Just a little collection, just a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been.  

Now her house is overflowing with the objects she loves – soon there’ll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery long buried, and Amy’s carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she’d lost still be hers for the taking? 

So without further ado, here’s the trailer. Enjoy.

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