Book Extract: One Night in Beartown by Nick Jones

I am very pleased to be welcoming Nick Jones to Novel Kicks today. He is here with his new picture book, One Night in Beartown (illustrated by Si Clark.)

From the award-winning duo that brought you Sarah’s Shadow comes another magical adventure…

When bear-mad schoolgirl Sandy Lane has her beloved teddy bear Berisford confiscated at school, she dreads the thought of going a whole night without his cuddles.

Little does she know that a bear-rilliant night awaits her, involving Berisford, a bear statue and many other wonderful friends!

 

Nick has shared an extract with us today. This book looks so adorable and is for ages 4-8.

 

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

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Night We Met by Zoë Folbigg

As a man holds his wife’s frail hand, he recounts a journey like no other…

Daniel and Olivia are destined to be together. At least, Daniel thinks this the night he sees Olivia across a sea of people. As he backpacks through Australia, Daniel and Liv continue to cross paths, yet never speak. Until one night, Liv joins Daniel for a drink. And that night everything changes.

Back in London, stuck in a monotonous routine, Daniel finds himself daydreaming of the woman with green eyes and fiery hair. Armed with only a name he vows to find her, yet with every passing moment, Daniel’s hopes begin to disappear. What if it wasn’t meant to be?

But then fate steps in, and Daniel and Olivia’s story can truly begin…

This is a tale of serendipity, missed chances and the power of love.

I had really enjoyed Zoë’s previous novel, The Note so I was looking forward to reading her latest book, The Night We Met and being a part of the blog tour.

A special mention needs to be given to the cover. It’s so dreamy and pretty.

Daniel and Olivia are two people who are very easy to become invested in and attached to.

From the first page, I found their story compelling. It was an emotional rollercoaster. You will need tissues.

It is told from the point of view of both Daniel and Olivia as the former looks back on their lives and love story. It does time jump but it’s easy to keep up with.

Zoë has such a great talent for telling beautiful but realistic stories. This is the kind of novel I’d love to write. She is able to create relatable, likeable characters whilst still including conflict and the twists that life can throw at you.

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Book Review: Smoke by Joe Ide

Happy publication day to Joe Ide. His latest novel, Smoke, has been published by W&N. 

Isaiah is no longer IQ, the genius of East Long Beach. A man on the road and on the run, he is hiding in a small Northern California town when his room is broken into by a desperate young man on the trail of the state’s most prolific serial killer.

Isaiah’s former sidekick Dodson has also had to change life, in an attempt to keep his wife and child. His devil’s bargain is an internship at an LA advertising agency, where it turns out the rules of the street have simply been dressed in business casual. The ageing company’s fortunes may well rest on their ability to attract a younger demographic and Dodson – ‘the hustler’s hustler’ – just may be the right man for the job.

Both Isaiah and Dodson are at a crossroads, but can they leave their former lives behind for good?

Having not read anything by this author, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Smoke. I was a bit concerned, with it being book five in the IQ series, that I would struggle to keep up with the evolved backstory and established characters.

Previous events are touched upon lightly in this book but it can stand on its own. I felt it didn’t hold me back too much in terms of enjoyment.

The plot overall was classic crime thriller but what made this stand out was how it dealt with themes of racial tension, equality and stereotypes. I felt it opened my eyes to situations that I’ve not been exposed to and its handling of these subjects was done well.

It was well written and the story, pace and tension good. I didn’t at any point feel that it dragged its feet. It would be a perfect holiday read (if we were allowed to do that of course.)

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Book Review: The Good Wife by Eleanor Porter

I’m very pleased to be welcoming Eleanor Porter to the blog today and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Good Wife. 

Where will her loyalty lead her?

Once accused of witchcraft Martha Spicer is now free from the shadow of the gallows and lives a safe and happy life with her husband, Jacob. But when Jacob heads north to accompany his master, he warns Martha to keep her healing gifts a secret, to keep herself safe, to be a good wife.

Martha loves Jacob but without him there to protect her, she soon comes under the suspicious eye of the wicked Steward Boult, who’s heard of her talent and forces her to attend to him. If she refuses, he promises to destroy the good life she has built for herself with Jacob.

Desperate and alone, Martha faces a terrible decision: stay and be beholden to Boult or journey north to find Jacob who is reported to have been killed.. The road ahead is filled with danger, but also the promise of a brighter future. And where her gifts once threatened to be her downfall, might they now be the very thing that sets Martha free…?

The brilliant follow-up to Eleanor Porter’s first novel of love, betrayal, superstition and fear in Elizabethan England. A story of female courage, ingenuity and determination , this is perfect for fans of Tracy Chevalier.

 

Having not read The Wheelwright’s Daughter, the previous novel in this series, I was a little worried that I would struggle to keep up with the events of The Good Wife. As it was, I didn’t need to worry. There is a good balance of backstory without slowing down the current plot.

Elizabethan history has always fascinated me and it was great to see a different point of view away from the Royal Court. Eleanor Porter does a really great job of setting the scene and placing you at the centre of Martha’s world.

I found Martha an intriguing character. She’s much stronger and has more courage than she gives herself credit for – something we can all relate to in some way.

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Book Review: Who Took Eden Mulligan? by Sharon Dempsey

‘They’re dead. They’re all dead. It’s my fault. I killed them.’

Those are the words of Iona Gardener, who stands bloodied and staring as she confesses to the murder of four people in a run-down cottage outside of Belfast.

Outside the cottage, five old dolls are hanging from a tree. Inside the cottage, the words “WHO TOOK EDEN MULLIGAN?” are graffitied on the wall, connecting the murder scene with the famous cold case of Eden Mulligan, a mother-of-five who went missing during The Troubles.

But this case is different. Right from the start.

Because no one in the community is willing to tell the truth, and the only thing DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey can be certain of is that Iona Gardener’s confession is false….

 

This was my introduction to Sharon Dempsey’s books and immediately, the novel drew me in.

Danny and Rose make a great duo; bouncing off each other well. I wanted to know more about them and right from the start, I rooted for them. I hope it’s not the last we see of these two characters.

I also liked that fact that the POV not only switches between Danny and Rose, but also the events of the past so you really get a comprehensive picture on what’s happening and how they are feeling.

The plot itself is very intriguing and you’re pulled directly into the action, from the moment Iona Gardener runs into the police station, saying she’s hurt her friends. It’s clear that there’s more to the story.

The novel overall deals with various themes in a sensitive but compelling way.

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Events: Portsmouth BookFest 2021

Portsmouth BookFest is celebrating 10 years this year and, despite the current restrictions, is running online until 7th March.

Portsmouth has a strong literary heritage including Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle and the BookFest is continuing that tradition.

There are many online events happening over the next few weeks including author talks and writing workshops.

Events being held include ‘Stories from Lore’ with Dawn Nelson, an interview with Mark Billingham, ‘Helping you finish your book and know what to do with it,’ ‘Writing Crime Fiction’ with Carol Westron, ‘Poetry for Wellbeing,’ with Kathryn Bevis and ‘Writing for Competitions,’ with Jackie Green and Christine Lawrence.

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Book Extract and Review: The Juggle by Emma Murray

Happy publication day to Emma Murray. She is here today with her novel, The Juggle. 

Here’s a little about the book…

‘You can have it all,’ they said. ‘Happy children, happy marriage, great career – no problem,’ they said…

Mother-of-one Saoirse is just about holding it all together – combining part time work with the school run, while her husband David gets to focus on his career. But when David loses his job, everything has to change.

With no hesitation, Saoirse suggests she takes on the role of main breadwinner. After all, how hard can it be? And when a new client offers her a life-changing sum of money, Saoirse can look the other over-achieving Woodvale school-run mums in the eye with pride.

But there’s a problem with keeping too many balls in the air – eventually one is bound to drop. And when that happens – well, who knows what the consequences could be…

Laugh-out-loud funny, achingly relatable, but with a heart of gold, and warmth running through every page. This is the perfect read for anyone who has way too many balls in the air! The novel may or may not have been inspired by real life…

 

I have reviewed the novel below but first, to celebrate the publication of The Juggle and to help start the blog tour, Emma and Boldwood Books have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

My four-year-old daughter Anna has been at school for two weeks now, and frankly I’m already having second thoughts. For starters, I appear to always be late for pick-up and today is no exception. I grab my raincoat and keys and shut the door behind me. Two seconds later, I let myself back in again. I have forgotten to bring Anna’s snack. Last week I forgot her snack and she started screaming at me in the middle of the playground. The mortification was endless. I have lived in fear of a repeat of ‘snackgate’ ever since. So, I open the ‘cupboard of crap’, as my husband David likes to call it, and grab a packet of those flavoured cheesy cracker things that flight crew sometimes give you on the plane. I can’t even think of them now without feeling airsick.

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Book Review: Take A Chance On Me by Beth Moran

Meet Patrick Cooper – desperately down on his luck, and head-over-heels in unrequited love with his best friend Bridget.

Meet Bridget’s sister, Emma Donovan –  eternally single maker-of-cakes for many a happy couple, whilst never making it down the aisle herself.

Emma has four younger sisters, all of whom are married or getting married, and an Italian mother who can’t understand what is ‘wrong’ with her eldest daughter, who seems to be stranded on the shelf.  Despairing of her own ability to find a suitable husband, Emma agrees to be part of a compatibility project to get married at first sight. 

Meanwhile Cooper is struggling to get over his crush on Bridget and seems destined to stay firmly on the shelf too. Perhaps it’s time his fate was taken out of his hands…

Is happily-ever-after just about daring to take a chance, or do you need some extra magic to make love last?

Join Beth Moran, Cooper and the Donovan sisters on this life-affirming and uplifting tale of love, family, friendship, and risking it all for happiness. 

Cooper has been in love with Bridget Donovan since the met at College. He even moved so that he didn’t have to see her with someone else. Now he’s back and finds himself helping her with a marriage compatibility study. He’d do anything to help her succeed. He’d even volunteer.
Meet Bridget’s older sister, Emma. She’s had her share of disastrous first dates and decides to volunteer for her sister’s study. They both decide to get married at first sight. What could go wrong?

With the subject of blind date weddings being quite topical right now, I love that Beth Moran has found a unique way to approach it and I found myself quickly and completely engrossed in this book with no idea how it was going to end. In fact, it kept me guessing all the way through.

Emma is instantly likeable as is her entire family. I love the relationship and bond she has with her sisters. Family and its importance is one of the key themes running through the heart of this novel and the Donovans are all likeable, realistic and relatable in their different ways.

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New Releases: Preserved by Fiona Sherlock

Happy publication day to Fiona Sherlock. Her novel, Preserved, has been released today by Poolbeg Press. 

She’s stuck in the past, the killer wants to immortalise his future. When a local farmer announces on social media that he has discovered a bog body in Ardee, the world’s historians are keen to explore the secrets of the life and grisly death of the victim. Antique journalist January Quail is fighting to keep her newspaper job and uncovers far more than she bargained for.

The victim is actually a recent murder, and January uses her nose for the truth to investigate the County Louth town. From shopkeeper to the publican, everyone is a suspect, but when the Gardai can’t find the killer, can January?

Once she sets down the liqueur glass, January gains the confidence of the lead garda investigator. Within days, the case unravels into a much more dangerous situation with a killer on the loose.

Despite the risk, January is electrified that this newest discovery has come at the perfect time to inject some colour into her flailing career. January relinquishes her old ways to fight for survival, abandoning her antiques column and vintage corsets to solve a cryptic crime that has the experts puzzled. This woman who longs to lives in the past must now fight for her life in the present.

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Book Review: Stormy Days On Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke

London 1950

Peggy Ronoscki is happily settling into life running her guesthouse on Mulberry Lane, surrounded by close friends and family. Life just seems too good…

But then disaster strikes.

Pip, her beloved son is left in a coma following a devastating car crash and a young girl collapses in the market leaving Peggy no option but to nurse her back to health.

As things begin to go awry, Peggy worries she has brought trouble to her doorstep?
Can her life ever return to normal? Or has Peggy’s good nature led her astray?

 

Not only is this the first book I’ve read by Rosie Clarke, it is my first introduction to the Mulberry Lane series.

It did take me a couple of chapters to settle in as I was getting my head around who’s who but once that happened, I was so eager to find out what happened to these women.

Peggy is such a wonderful, strong character who wants to see the best in people – even a stranger she finds collapsed in the street. I didn’t know what to make of Gillian and I hoped that she wasn’t going to cause any harm as I had very quickly grown so fond of Peggy and Able.

Shirley was also a character I immediately clicked with and I almost became an overprotective parent, having to remind myself that she was fictional. That’s what’s fantastic about this book; the settling and the people within feel so vivid and real. It’s as though you’re stepping into a existing London street and watching it all unfold.

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Book Review: Just Bea by Deborah Klee

Sometimes you have to stop trying to be like everyone else and just be yourself.

Bea Stevens and Ryan O Marley are in danger of falling through the cracks of their own lives; the only difference between them is that Bea doesn’t know it yet.

When her world is shaken like a snow-globe, Bea has to do what she does best; adapt. Homeless man Ryan is the key to unlocking the mystery of her friend Declan’s disappearance but can she and Ryan trust one another enough to work together? 

As the pieces of her life settle in new and unexpected places, like the first fall of snow, Bea must make a choice: does she try to salvage who she was or embrace who she might become?

Just Bea takes the reader on a heart-warming journey from the glamour of a West End store to the harsh reality of life on the streets and reminds us all that home really is where the heart is.

 

Bea feels like her life is on track. She has a London flat and is on the verge of getting a promotion at one of the most prestigious department stores in the city. She is about to get everything she thinks she wants.

When things begin to unravel, Bea meets Ryan. As they get to know each other, she may come to realise that there is much more to life than what she had planned.

This book was my introduction to Deborah Klee. It did take me a couple of chapters to settle into the story but once this happened, I couldn’t put the book down.

At the beginning, I didn’t know what to make of Bea. She was someone who very much played by the rules and she didn’t seem to respond to much around her. She felt very closed off. However, the further into the novel I got, the more I started to like her and find her relatable. She began to open up and it’s interesting to see how she develops as the story went on.

Told from the point of view of both Bea and Ryan, I liked how you got to see the story from a duel point of view. I also found it interesting that these two people, seemingly in different circumstances, find that they are not that different and how one decision or event can change the course of your life. Plus, it can happen so quickly. However, you are in charge of your own destiny and it’s not about what happens to you but how you deal with it.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Two Lives of Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen

Hello February.

I know I say this a lot but I can’t believe we are through January already.

This means that we’re reading a new book.

This month, I have chosen The Two Lives of Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen.

I am a huge fan of this author and I am looking forward to reading this novel.

If you are new to the book club, here’s how it works.

Anyone can join in, whether you’ve already read the book or if you read it through the month of February. I have posted a question below to start off the discussion. I am looking forward to discussing this novel with you.

A little about the book…

Two people.
Two lives.
One chance to see the same world differently.

Louis and Louise are the same person born in two different lives. One was born female, and one male.

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Cover Reveal: When’s The Wedding by Olivia Spring

I am very happy to be part of the cover reveal for When’s The Wedding by Olivia Spring. It’s the sequel to her novel, Only When It’s Love.

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

She’s found the perfect man. Will she get her perfect proposal?

Dog hotel marketing manager Alex has always dreamed of having a fairy-tale proposal: the glorious sunset, iconic backdrop and rose petals – the whole shebang. She’s found her Mr Right, and life with sexy paediatrician Miles is wonderful, except for one thing. Despite saying that he’s ready for marriage, Miles seems no closer to putting a ring on it.

After a romantic getaway to Paris ends in more disappointment and Alex receives news that sends her world into a spin, she decides that her dream proposal won’t just fall into her lap. So she hatches a plan.

Although she’s convinced her methods will lead to Miles popping the question faster than she can say ‘I do’, Alex’s friends warn her it will end in disaster. But a little bit of hint dropping can’t hurt, right?

Will Alex get her happily-ever-after, or is there a reason why Miles is dragging his feet?

Order this fun romantic comedy now and join Alex on her exciting adventures as she attempts to speed up the proposal process, with hilarious results!

When’s The Wedding? is the sequel to Only When It’s Love. It can also be read as a standalone novel.

 

OK, so, are you ready? Drumroll!

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Book Review: The Mystery of Montague House by Emma Davis

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…

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. Has the opportunity 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 self-styled Finder of Things (dead bodies mostly), and 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 that they are not the only ones searching for the treasure. And they’re going to need all their ingenuity and resourcefulness 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…

Andie has a gift for finding things. She’s also able to see things that other people don’t.

Clodagh on the other hand doesn’t believe in ghosts or stories or rumours. She prefers her feet on the ground and loves her job, valuing and cataloguing antiques. These two very different women are pulled together when the mysterious owner of Montague House passes away. Can they work together to find out what secrets this strange house holds?

The Mystery of Montague House is not only the first book in the Summer & Wynter Mystery series, it was my introduction to Emma Davis.

Right from the beginning, I knew I was not only going to love this book but I found both main characters incredibly relatable and likeable albeit in their different ways. I love the sound of Andie’s job – finding things that are lost. There is something magical about the thought of it. I also liked both these women together. I think they made an excellent team and Emma Davis does well to deal with themes including love, loss and betrayal in a sensitive but compelling way.

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Book Extract: Deadly Whispers in Lower Dimblebrook by Julie Butterfield

I’d like to give a lovely welcome to Julie Butterfield and the blog tour for her latest novel, Deadly Whispers in Lower Dimblebrook.

When Isabelle Darby moves to the delightfully cosy village of Lower Dimblebrook, she’s searching for peace and quiet as well as a chance to escape from heartbreak. After making friends with Fiona Lambourne, another newcomer to the village, Issie is left reeling when tragedy strikes and Fiona is murdered, the second wife Anthony Lambourne has lost in unfortunate circumstances.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the local gossips insist that Fiona had been embroiled in an affair before her death, something which Issie knows not to be the case.

Determined to clear her friend’s reputation and solve the mystery of the rumours, Issie takes on both the gossips and the handsome but stern DI Wainwright, making both friends and enemies along the way!

 

Julie has shared an extract with us today so grab that tea/coffee, comfortable chair and enjoy. 

 

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

 

Introduction

Living in a village on the edge of the Cotswolds, it was easy to imagine life in Lower Dimblebrook and the characters are all the sort of people I would like to meet myself – with the exclusion of the murderer of course! As a lifelong fan of Miss Marple and Poirot, I could imagine the keystones of the village being the vicar and those residents who were have lived in the same houses for generations and know every nook and cranny of their village. I decided to dispense with the vicar in Deadly Whispers but I definitely needed a vicar’s wife, one of those kind-hearted, totally dependable women who provide a rock of support for anyone who asks.

 

For a moment Issie thought she had found the house empty until she detected a snuffling noise approaching ever closer and the door flew open, two over-excited dachshunds tumbling out to sniff her feet and ankles with all the focus of bloodhounds. A pink-cheeked face appeared a few seconds behind them and Miriam Hollier wiped her hands on her flour-covered apron and tilted her head enquiringly in Issie’s direction.

‘Hello, Isabelle isn’t it? Do come in. Flounder … Scuttle come along now,’ and Issie found herself herded in the direction of a warm kitchen, rich with the scent of baking and with scones and cakes covering every surface.

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