Laura

I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts. I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

Book Review: Let Me Love You by Lasairiona E. McMaster

Jilted by the only woman he’s ever loved, Jeremy Lewis is a man on a mission to be a renowned player – both on and off the ice. Who needs monogamy anyway?

But when he falls during a game, Jeremy finds himself laid-up with a potentially career-ending injury and his support network, suddenly gone. His best friend, AJ, is busy in a new relationship, his teammates are pursuing their own dreams of hockey stardom, and Jeremy is left frustrated, broken and alone.

Will their friendship survive AJ’s new relationship? Are Jeremy’s feelings for Chelsea truly a thing of the past? And can he persevere through his recovery to get back on the ice?

 

Jeremy has dreams of being in the NHL. However, a fall on the ice means that he now has to take a step back from the game he loves and allow himself to heal. His parents are gone, he’s estranged from his brother and the woman he loves doesn’t want to be with him. Jeremy finds that he has to heal in more ways than one.

This is the second novel in the Jeremy Lewis series. Having not read the first book, I did wonder if I was going to struggle to keep up with what was going on but this was not the case. I immediately fell into the story.

I have to admit, what first drew me to this novel was the fact that he was a Ice Hockey player. I do like my Ice Hockey but once I started to read, I got drawn into Jeremy’s story. He is a tragic, complicated character who is so much more than the ‘tough guy’ exterior he projects to the world. He’s a much deeper character than that and the further I got into the book, the more I wanted to give him a hug. In-fact, I didn’t want to put this book down as I wanted to know he was OK.

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NK Chats To… Kate Ryder

Hi Kate, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your book, Beneath Cornish Skies and what inspired it? 

Hello, Laura, and thank you for inviting me to be on your blog.

Cornwall has always inspired me.  As a teenager, I holidayed on the North Cornish coast in a thatched cottage with impressive, uninterrupted views over a wooded valley down to the cliffs and the sea beyond. It made a huge impression and it’s this cottage that features in my fourth novel with Aria.

I like to write books that have a message; hopefully, readers will think Beneath Cornish Skies delivers.  It’s not simply a contemporary romance, but also a story about a young woman’s journey in finding herself, with a little help from friends, nature, ancient magic and spirits in the landscape.

 

What’s your typical writing day like?

I like to be at my desk by 9am, working through to lunch when I meet up with my husband (who also has a home office).  In the afternoon I catch up on any writerly loose ends, social media posts, etc., or if I have a WIP I concentrate on that.  Our kitten-cat regularly visits and, having been turfed off the keyboard on numerous occasions, she settles on the printer and watches out for any pieces of paper to attack!

 

How do you approach the process from first draft to final edit and how has this changed since writing your first novel?

I’d like to be a plotter, but as my characters develop I’m often put in the pantser camp!  I think I may be a plantser – a little of both.

Hopefully, the first draft is an unhindered stream of imagination.  I’ve worked as a proof-reader, copy-editor and writer, so, at the final edit I put on my objective ‘editorial’ hat and heavily prune, removing any superfluous words and anything that hinders the story’s momentum.

Since writing my first novel there have been no major changes to the process, apart from having a keener idea about deadlines and pacing myself.  I don’t panic so much and approach each ‘challenge’ a word at a time.

 

What, in your opinion, is the most common mistake made by aspiring authors?

Many people believe writing a novel is easy.  You put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and a publisher will soon snap you up and success will follow… but that couldn’t be further from the truth!  To write, you have to master self-discipline, even when the words refuse to flow.  It’s a hard way to make a living, but if you’re drawn to writing you cannot deny it.  At the start of my writing journey, a more experienced author gave me this advice: ‘Have patience.  Each novel is your apprenticeship.’

 

Do you feel character or plot is more important? Why?

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Book Review: When the Children Come by Barry Kirwan

Nathan, emotionally scarred after three tours in Afghanistan, lives alone in Manhattan until New Year’s Eve, when he meets Lara. The next morning, he notices something strange is going on – a terrified kid is being pursued by his father, and a girl, Sally, pleads with Nathan to hide her from her parents. There is no internet, no television, no phone coverage. 

Nathan, Lara and Sally flee along the East Coast, encountering madmen, terrorists, the armed forces, and other children frightened for their lives. The only thing Nathan knows for sure is that he must not fall asleep…

I will be the first to admit that I don’t read a lot of books in this genre so I wasn’t expecting to like it.

When The Children Come is also my first introduction to Barry Kirwan. My first thought when I finished this novel was WOW!

Right from page one, this had me drawn in, asking questions and wanting to turn the page to find out what was going on. Why can’t Nathan fall asleep? How has a man who doesn’t want children end up being responsible for over two hundred? I just had to find out.

Nathan is a broken character and so you wonder whether he is going to step up when it counts. However, saying that, he is someone you immediately root for.

The author is good at threading doubt and fear for both the situation and the people in it. Who can Nathan, Lara and Sally trust? Can we even rely on them?

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Product Review: Pixel Scrapper – Digital Scrapbooking

Hello 2021. It’s lovely to see you. Another national lockdown for the UK… not so much.

I don’t know about you but, even with everything going on, I felt so relieved when 2020 came to an end. It felt like we could turn a page on a horrible year and even though we are still locked down, I am feeling a little bit more hopeful. Maybe ‘normal’ will return in some shape or form this year. I am trying to stay focused and positive as we progress into January.

This brings me to the subject of today’s review.

I have suffered with anxiety for many years and so for me, finding ways to maintain good mental health is so important. Digital planning and scrapbooking has been something I have been doing for about 3 years. It’s one of the best things to keep myself calm and allows me to keep things clear in my head. I find this hobby very relaxing. It is also a good place to make lists and me, I love a good list.

With digital planning and scrapbooking, comes decoration. One of the best sites I have discovered since starting is Pixel Scrapper. I have really come to rely on this site.

It has something for everyone and there are many graphics covering many themes. For example, I wanted to decorate my week with cats. Once I had searched this theme on the site, the only problem I had was picking from the vast selection of stickers and graphics that are available on Pixel Scrapper. I think it turned out really nicely.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Hello 2021.

A new year means a new book for January.

This month, it’s The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

I have to admit, I picked this book as much for the cover than I did for the story which sounds so intriguing. I can’t wait to start reading and I hope you will join me.

As always, anyone is welcome to read along and once you’re done feel free to put any comments or discussion points in the comments box below. I look forward to talking about this book with you. I have posted a question to get the discussion going.

 

About the book..

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Book Review: The Flipside by James Bailey

It’s love . . . what could go wrong?

When Josh proposes in a pod on the London Eye at New Years’ Eve, he thinks it’s perfect.

Until she says no.

And they have to spend the next 29 excruciating minutes alone together.

Realising he can’t trust his own judgment, Josh decides from now on he will make every decision through the flip of a coin.

Maybe the coin will change his life forever.

Maybe it will find him find the girl of his dreams . . .

Josh has big plans for the future when he gets on the London Eye with his girlfriend on New Year’s Eve. By the time the wheel does a turn and he disembarks, he has no girlfriend, no job and no place to live.

When he finds a discarded fifty pence piece, he makes the decision to spend the next year letting the coin decide his fate. What could go wrong?

I loved the idea of this book from the moment I read the premise so I was excited to get going.

Oh Josh! I seriously have never wanted to reach into a novel and give a character a hug more than I did with him at the beginning of this book. I was heartbroken for him. I immediately loved Josh. He’s just one of those likeable people and I found it good to see the story unfold from his point of view.

The supporting characters are wonderful. His Dad was a total liability. Haha.

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NK Chats To… Owen Knight

Hello Owen, thank you for joining me today. Your book is called Another Life. Can you tell me about it and what inspired the story? 

I had an idea for a character who, despite trying to do the best for everyone he encounters, feels his life to be one of disappointment and failure. Eventually, we discover that his decisions and actions have had a profound, beneficial effect on the lives of others. You could say it’s a modern-day interpretation of the film ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’.

I am also intrigued by quests and the twilight world of things that may or may not be. I am a great admirer of David Lynch and his ability to suggest that things are not as they seem was influential.

As for the story, it’s set in a secretive, hidden corner of Middle England, combining folklore, legends and ancient beliefs with the contemporary issue of what it means to be human in an increasingly technological world.

Thirty years ago, Oliver Merryweather is intrigued by a woman who waves to him from the window of a house in a village he discovers by accident.

In the present day, Oliver believes his life to be a series of failures and regrets. When the same woman appears to him in a dream, Oliver embarks on an obsessive quest to find her. With the village inexplicably absent from all maps, all he has to go on is the unusual mark on her wrist.

Journeying back into his past, Oliver finds himself inextricably drawn into a decades-old mystery involving missing children, pagan beliefs and the Green Man of folklore, while coming face to face with the disappointments and tragedies of his own life. As the story draws towards its unexpected and uplifting conclusion, the line between reality, dreams and memory begins to blur and Oliver gains an insight into the true purpose of his existence.

 

 

What were the challenges you faced whilst writing Another Life? 

The bringing together of disparate ideas presented several difficulties. The biggest challenge was how to link my protagonist’s ordinary family life to the idea of the myths and legends associated with the Green Man.

The border between dreams and reality is a key theme in Another Life. This needed care, to avoid confusing the reader. There is the suggestion that something on the edge of the supernatural may be involved. It was essential to keep this as no more than a possibility in the mind of the reader. I’m not interested in writing pure fantasy – there has to be a grounding in reality, the possibility that the weirdest of events has a rational explanation. This was also important in creating a hidden community in Middle England, where the normal rules do not apply. I addressed this using a combination of geography and historical fact.

Finally, there was the challenge of the resolution: how to explain the mysteries and strange events encountered by the protagonist. Two-thirds of the way through the book the reader encounters a major change that makes sense of what comes before.

In summary, Another Life combines elements of family life, myths and legends, a quest and cutting-edge science. These elements are introduced in a natural, uncomplicated way, avoiding technical explanations, so as not to alienate the reader.

 

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you need things like coffee? Do you prefer to write in silence?

I’m an early morning person, whether it be writing and related activities, walking, running, photography. Writing comes first; it’s a passion that can never fully be satisfied.

A typical pattern is revision of the previous day’s work, followed by new words, including necessary research and then more research, finishing with a review of the current day’s progress.

I have to work in silence, other than birdsong. Music is too distracting. Any breaks have to be at a time of my choosing, usually ten minutes out of every hour. The exception is when I’m engaged in a long passage that’s going well. You have to take advantage of those occasions.

 

 

What’s your favourite word and why? 

Apricot. I like the falling rhythm of the three syllables with a pause between the first and second. It’s like a musical phrase, sensuous, as is the shape and texture of the fruit.

 

 

How do you approach a writing project from idea to final draft and how long does it typically take you to get from the beginning of the process to the end? 

A new book begins with a lot of thinking. A primordial soup of apparently unrelated ideas seeking to connect with the ideal partner. I write a few experimental passages, in isolation, to test whether they work, or at least have promise. Even at this early stage, I’m keen to ensure I can write engaging prose and believe in the idea. Much research follows until I’m happy that there is a story, a voyage embracing change. It is good to have an early idea for one or more endings. Much more important to let the characters lead you on a journey.

A new book takes me between nine and twelve months, including long periods of revision, particularly in the latter stages.

 

 

Which fictional world would you like to escape to for a while and why? 

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Book Extract: One Snowy Week in Springhollow by Lucy Knott

Hello to Lucy Knott and the blog tour for her book, One Snowy Week in Springhollow.

Tomboy Scarlett thought Devon would be her best friend forever. He was the only person in Springhollow who supported her ambitious artist dreams. But then one winter, Devon and his parents disappear without warning to start a new life in NYC and a devastated Scarlett is left alone to face her high-school bullies and overbearing mother.

Fast-forward ten years: Scarlett is playing it safe in her childhood village with a dull PA job and a wardrobe that passes her mother’s old-fashioned standards. Meanwhile, Devon is a Hollywood heartthrob, starring in the latest superhero blockbuster. And he’s finally coming home for Christmas…

Scarlett can’t help blaming her former best friend for the way her life has turned out, but Devon’s cheeky charm and gorgeous smile prove difficult to resist. Devon always did make her feel on top of the world, but Scarlett knows her heart isn’t racing just because she has her friend back – is it mistletoe madness, or is she seeing Devon in a completely new light?

Scarlett hasn’t taken a risk in years… but this Christmas of second chances could finally be her time to shine.

 

Lucy and Aria have shared an extract today so you know what to do.. grab that drink and that chair and enjoy.

 

 

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

 

Springhollow being such a small village, Hope and I had applied to work at the magazine right out of college at the ripe old age of eighteen. Hope had always dreamt of being a journalist and overseeing the magazine one day, whereas I loved spending time with Hope and thought maybe a job at our village’s only magazine would appease my creative aspirations and my mother. I could focus on sophisticated pieces of writing, report the news and leave my silly dreams to professionals more suited to it than me. However, my previous boss didn’t quite take to my writing style, for some reason. I tended to add my own twist and inspiration when it came to facts and what was going on in our small village; that may have included the odd alien or magic power.

Giving me the top stories or putting me out in the field was not on his agenda. I was better suited for making coffee and seeing to it that the photocopier never ran out of toner, is what I was told. I take a deep breath and open up my emails. It’s better these days, I’ve gotten used to organising meetings, scheduling appointments and helping Hope assign writers to their suited articles.

Since landing our jobs here at The Village Gazette, Hope has worked her way up from editing other people’s articles to manager and she is a businesswoman to be reckoned with. I on the other hand have remained the coffee runner, only now I’m getting to do it for Hope and not Alfred, an older man who always wore a grey suit to match his grey hair, and didn’t much care for my creative flair. So really, I could take that as a win, maybe even say it was somewhat of a promotion, right?

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Book Extract: Christmas at the Marshmallow Café by CP Ward

I am pleased to be welcoming CP Ward to Novel Kicks today and the one day blog blitz for Christmas at the Marshmallow Café.

When downtrodden checkout assistant Bonnie Green receives a letter from a mysterious uncle, she can hardly believe her eyes.

Gifted a hundred-year lease on a famous cafe situated in the middle of a mythical theme park, Bonnie sets off with her best friend Debbie on an adventure to a hidden valley in the Lake District where they will find new friendship, love, and happiness, all set against the magic of Christmas … and more marshmallows than they can possibly eat….

 

CP Ward has shared an extract today. Hot drink? Check. Comfortable chair? Check. Festive Lights? Check. Enjoy.

 

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

 

Bonnie & Debbie

Bonnie hasn’t had the easiest of lives, as Debbie has a tendency to point out. However, things are about to change …

The DVD had loaded up its start screen, a little dog icon hovering over START MOVIE. Debbie swigged from her can of Guinness and sighed.

‘Honestly, sometimes I’m envious of you,’ she said, swinging her head to look at Bonnie, who hadn’t yet opened her can. ‘I mean, you’re what? Fifty-five, single, a homeowner, your kids leave you alone—’

Bonnie lifted a hand. ‘Just to make a couple of clarifications there … I’m fifty-two. Yes, I’m single, but I’m also divorced, which is like having a medal around your neck with “worthless” written on it. My husband ran off with a hat saleswoman he met when he was buying me a hat for Christmas because he didn’t like my hair and wanted something to cover it on the rare occasions we ever went out. I’m a homeowner only because he took all our savings in the divorce in exchange for letting me keep the house … and the mortgage I can barely pay on my pathetic Morrico salary. And both my kids took his side. Said I should have dressed better. I’m lucky if I get a card for my birthday now.’

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NK Chats To… Mari Jane Law

Hi Mari Jane, thank you for joining me today. Can you tell me about your novel, Love and Pollination and what inspired the story? 

Hi Laura, thank you for inviting me to Novel Kicks and giving me this opportunity to talk about my book.

Love & Pollination is about an extremely naïve young woman called Perdita whose Catholic education and convent upbringing did not prepare her for having an intimate relationship. Being so innocent, she makes mistakes – and she ends up pregnant. Then she loses her job – and her home. But she’s optimistic and makes the best of things despite the intrusion of Saul Hadley into her life. She thinks that she can get the better of him – and readers will have to see if she succeeds!

The story was inspired by the fact that faith schools in the UK are not required to have Sex and Relationship Education (the government has now changed it to Relationship and Sex Education as they probably realised the revised word order was more appropriate for young people). So students in religious schools can end up being pretty ignorant about the birds and the bees – and how to spot a no-good womaniser.

I thought it would be fun to have a character who was brought up by nuns in an orphanage attached to a convent – and who had a Catholic convent education – to explain her innocence. And the plot set-up relies on her naïveté as do many of the jokes. That aside, she is still a unique character as you will see if you read the book – she has an interesting approach to problem-solving.

 

 

How long did it take you to write Love and Pollination and what’s your process like from idea to final draft? 

I began the idea of the book about thirty years ago – I tried for Mills & Boon and had no luck. I worked on other things and, on and off, came back to this novel. But it wasn’t until about eight years ago that I decided to completely re-write it and change the tone of my writing. Then something seemed to click – and I started to make people laugh at the writers’ group I’d recently joined. I decided the plot worked far better as a comedy.

I bought some books on writing comedy, and I watch a lot of comedy on TV. But I didn’t labour on the book continuously over the eight years – I had other comedy romance ideas and began work on those. It took a great deal of slog to get Love & Pollination to the stage where it was finally published and I’m incredibly grateful to DuBois Publishing for giving me the opportunity to present my book to the world. I am hoping that I will be quicker getting my next book out. I just have to find a publisher…

 

 

You were a member of the Romantic Novelists’ New Writers’ Scheme. How did that help you write your novel? Is this something you’d recommend to new writers? 

I belong to a writers’ group – we read out a piece of our work for ten minutes and get feedback for another ten minutes or so. This is very valuable but people giving feedback in a writers’ group can only see snippets of the novel at a time. The great thing about the New Writers’ Scheme is that the entire novel gets read by one person and they give a comprehensive critique. This gives feedback on plot and character development and can identify problems that a writers’ group can’t.

I recommend the NWS unreservedly. I think it’s fantastic. The membership fee is small compared to what it would cost to have someone from, for example, a critique company read the book – it makes getting personalised help much more affordable.

 

 

What’s your typical writing day like? 

I don’t have a typical day – my writing is erratic. Sometimes I go through a fertile period and make a great deal of progress and then I can go for weeks with not being able to work on my manuscript at all for one reason or another.

 

 

What elements do you feel make a good story? 

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Book Review: Scavenger Art by Lexi Rees

Scavenger hunts are fun.

Drawing is fun.

Put them together for ★ SCAVENGER ART ★

This unique art-based activity book includes 52 scavenger hunts designed to

✓ encourage curious minds
✓ spark creativity
✓ practise mindfulness
✓ develop drawing skills

Perfect for ages 6 to 12.

Scavenger Art consists of a variety of drawing challenges around a selection of themes. For example, it asks the child to stand in the middle of a room, slowing turning. As they go, they are encouraged to make a list of everything they see, for example, a lamp, a chair, a bookcase.

Each section in the book comes with a page where there are nine drawn boxes. This is where they can draw their interpretation of what they have seen in the room.

This book combines two of my favourite things; a scavenger hunt and drawing (I must admit, I am much better at the former.)

Scavenger Art encourages children to not only be more creative and curious but to become more aware and mindful of their world around them and to maybe notice things that they may not have noticed before.

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Book Review: A Kiss in the Snow, Little Duck Pond Café by Rosie Green

After a cruel twist of fate sends her hurtling into a black hole of despair, Carrie is absolutely dreading the festive season – especially with sister, Krystle, being even more demanding of her time and energy than usual.

But then friend Maddy offers Carrie a lifeline: the chance to get away from it all in a holiday cottage in the gorgeous little village of Silverbells. Deciding that a few weeks of tranquillity – reading, baking and going for long walks in the countryside – might just restore her mood, Carrie is quick to take up the offer. But on arriving, it very soon becomes clear that this break is going to be anything but peaceful!

An unwelcome houseguest proves unsettling enough – especially one who whistles loudly first thing in the morning and is far too cheerful for his own good – but finding herself drawn into the spooky mystery of her missing neighbour means there really isn’t much time for personal reflection. And then love comes knocking, and Carrie is forced to decide exactly where her heart lies.

Will this festive season be the disaster Carrie predicted? Or will Santa be good to her and deliver her heart’s desire? One thing’s for sure – this will be a Christmas Carrie will never, ever forget…

Carrie needs to get away from her life for a few days and more importantly, she needs time away from her sister and the man who broke her heart.

When a friend offers her a cottage in Silverbells for a few days, Carrie jumps at the chance. It isn’t long before she’s fallen in love with the village. What she wasn’t counting on was the creepy house next door and a housemate named Ronan.

I am delighted to be taking part in the one day blog blitz for A Kiss in the Snow, Little Duck Pond Café. This is the thirteenth book in the Little Duck Pond Café series and was my introduction but I didn’t feel like I was playing catch up. It can be read as a standalone if you’re looking for a festive pick me up.

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Book Review: The Spark by Jules Wake

Jess is falling for Sam.

Sam is falling for Jess.

But it seems life will do whatever it takes to make them fall apart.

When Jess and Sam lock eyes at a party, a spark ignites. The spark. But love at first sight isn’t like the movies, especially when Sam’s ex, Victoria, is determined to make their honeymoon period a living hell.

Is love at first sight enough?

Jess sees Sam across a crowded garden and immediately feels the spark. When they begin to talk, they just click in a way that she’s never clicked with someone before.. but… he has a girlfriend. Jess is sad but she knows he is now off limits and she needs to forget about him.

When he calls a month later saying that there’s no longer a girlfriend, Jess starts to believe that there could be a future beyond the spark with this man. Is she right?

From chapter one, I immediately knew that I was going to like this book. There was something about these characters that drew me in.

Jess is a wonderful character and I warmed to her straight away. She’s kind and level-headed. I wanted her to be OK. Sam also seems like a lovely guy who does try to do the right thing. As far as the other people in this book are concerned, there were some I adored. Gladys was hilarious and there were some I took a while to warm to or didn’t like at all – Victoria. What Jules Wake manages to do well though is to show all sides to a story. Nothing is black and white, despite behaviour to the contrary.

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Book Review: Nomit and Pickle Go Shopping by C.E. Cameron

Nomit and Pickle Go Shopping is an illustrated adventure where the two featured characters go to the shops. 

Nomit and Pickle’s story is something children can relate to. It’s an endearing story of working as a team and the art of compromising to find a good outcome.

It’s aimed at 5-7 year olds. There are a few words they may struggle with but overall, it’s fine. I am certainly not the target age for this book but even as an adult, I found it charming and I feel it portrays a lovely message.

The illustrations are lovely, adorable, bright and engaging.

With Christmas coming up, this would make a wonderful stocking filler.

Nomit and Pickle Go Shopping is published by Clink Street Publishing. Click to view Amazon UK

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Book Extract: Mistletoe and the Mouse by Elsa Simonetti

I am very happy to be welcoming fellow Disney lover Elsa Simonetti to Novel Kicks today and the mini blog blitz for her novel, Mistletoe and the Mouse. 

Can a magical Christmas melt a frozen heart?

Join Belle and James as they visit Mickey Mouse for a sparkling holiday season at Disneyland Paris.

Belle has been numb since her mother died, and she can’t face Christmas at home without her. Instead she books a surprise holiday to her “happy place” – the Magic Kingdom. But her boyfriend James has problems of his own. He doesn’t “do Disney” and what will his mother think of him missing their family Christmas to go to Disneyland with Belle?

A festive romance with a sprinkling of Pixie Dust.

 

Elsa has shared an extract with us today so grab that hot chocolate and that chair by the Christmas Tree and enjoy… 

 

 

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

 

Introduction:

Belle has recently lost her mother, and faces her first Christmas without either of her parents. James, her boyfriend, has invited her to his family home for Christmas, but Belle has other ideas and has booked them a surprise holiday to Disneyland Paris. James isn’t sure how his mother will react to the news that they won’t be coming for Christmas, and they travel north to Edinburgh to break the news to her. Mrs. Buchan “upright, uptight, frigidly, rigidly efficient,” listens carefully to their plans before she pronounces judgement.

 

Extract:

‘So, where exactly is it that you’re going on holiday?’ she asked politely. ‘James said that you would want to tell me about it. Somewhere that your mother loved, I believe?’

‘To Disneyland Paris,’ Belle told her.

‘Oh! Really! Oh goodness! How … nice …’ Mrs. Buchan said with a tinkling laugh that sounded like teaspoons in china cups. ‘So, you’ll be off to Disneyland, James? To meet Mr. Michael Mouse himself?’

‘Belle likes it there,’ he said through a mouthful of biscuit crumbs.

‘It was my mum’s happy place. And mine too.’ Belle said warmly. ‘To go at Christmas would have been a dream come true for Mum and me. She’d saved for it for years. That’s why I want to go.’

‘But, aren’t you both rather grown up for roundabouts and giant mice?’ Mrs. Buchan said, in that tone; her mouth forming her own unique moue of disdain. ‘Isn’t that kind of thing best left for children? Wouldn’t you rather go somewhere more authentic? I understand that you’ve hardly travelled at all, dear, so wouldn’t you prefer to broaden your horizons? Morocco is amazing, or even South America? Wouldn’t you rather experience a wee slice of culture? See the real world rather than a child’s theme park?’

Belle shook her head. ‘It not only for children; honestly it isn’t, it’s for the young at heart. Imagination is for everyone, isn’t it? That’s what Walt Disney thought, after all. Mum thought so too.’ Mrs. Buchan set her lips tightly together as she often did when Belle mentioned her mum.

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