Mick Arnold

Mick reviews books and will also be chatting about his experience as a male author in the romantic genre. Mick is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, New Writers Scheme. He lives in Northamptonshire and is the proud keeper of two cats, Gus and Elphaba. When he’s not trying to write books, Mick has a deep-seated love of reading that he’s brought from his teens to the current day with no signs of waning. He’s also mad on the music of the Beach Boys and enjoys the theatre and humouring his Manchester United supporting wife. Mick can be followed on Twitter: @mick859

Book Review: The Best Christmas Ever by Karen King

Lexi Forde adores Christmas. She’s especially looking forward to it this year as it’s the first Christmas with her boyfriend Ben and her older brother is visiting from Canada with his family.

They’ll all be spending Christmas at her parents’ house in Devon.

But when Lexi surprises Ben at work, she sees him kissing someone else and discovers he’s been having an affair. Devastated, she travels to Devon alone.

She’s determined not to let her break-up spoil her family Christmas. But when she arrives, Lexi discovers the council won’t allow the Christmas tree on the green to be decorated this year; it’s too dangerous and has to come down. Lexi is desperate to save their favourite family tradition and make this Christmas extra special.

Can she save the tree and mend her broken heart in time for Christmas?

*****

The first Christmas book I read this year is a…cracker! Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

This is a multi-generational story set in a charming village in Devon.

Lexi is back home for the holidays but not with whom she thought was a wonderful boyfriend in tow.

With a Christmas-mad family (including a Grandma who she’s worried will get arrested at any moment), a new hunky man on the block looking for a new start whilst trying to keep a nutty but sweet pooch on the leash (I’ll stop), this was a book I found very difficult to put down.

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Book Review: Under The Italian Sun by Sue Moorcroft

A warm, sun-baked terrace.

The rustle of verdant green vines.

The sun slowly dipping behind the Umbrian mountains.

And the chink of wine glasses as the first cork of the evening is popped…

Welcome to Italy. A place that holds the answer to Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers’ many questions. Not least, how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.

When Zia discovers that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was, she realises the time has come to search out the Italian family she’s never known.

However, as she delves into the secrets of her past, she doesn’t bargain on having to think about her future too. But with local vineyard owner, Piero, living next door, Zia knows she has a serious distraction who may prove difficult to ignore…

This summer, join Zia as she sets out to uncover her past. But can she find the future she’s always dreamed of along the way?

Want to know what love feels like? Read a Sue Moorcroft novel!

‘Under the Italian Sun’ is the forthcoming novel by this Amazon and Sunday Time best-selling author. When I get my hands upon the new novel, I’m all a quiver as I know I’m in for an exciting, but above all else, romantic ride. This novel didn’t disappoint in any way.

A little about the book, as I hate giving out too much if anything at all about the plot, if I can help it. This is the story of Zia and her journey to find her family; it’s not an easy one. Dumping her cheating boyfriend – a rotter of the highest order, I may add – she goes off to Italy with her best friend (also going through man problems) to see if she can find out more, especially about the father she never knew.

Zia isn’t prefect, making as much trouble for herself as she finds herself in, and that’s the beauty of her character. It’s not easy to write someone who you love, yet at the same time, feel like shouting at the screen, “Wake up woman!” Ms. Moorcroft is the master of this. I also loved her love interest, Piero and the fire between them burns as hot and cold as you could wish for.

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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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Book Review: Summer on a Sunny Island by Sue Moorcroft

This summer, sparks are flying on the island of Malta…

When Rosa Hammond splits up from her partner Marcus, her Mum Dory suggests a summer in Malta. Not one to sit back and watch her daughter be unhappy, Dory introduces Rosa to Zach, in the hope that romance will bloom under the summer sun. But Rosa’s determined not to be swayed by a handsome man – she’s in Malta to work, after all.

Zach, meanwhile, is a magnet for trouble and is dealing with a fair few problems of his own. Neither Rosa or Zach are ready for love – but does fate have other ideas? And after a summer in paradise, will Rosa ever want to leave?

What better way to prepare for the coming summer than the latest Sue Moorcroft novel, ‘Summer on a Sunny Island’.

As the title states, such is the content.

Set on the glorious and stoic island of Malta, located in the Mediterranean Sea, this is the perfect foil to put you in the mood for a holiday, even though we can’t right now. This book will certainly help you pretend you’re there.

I’ve been to Malta, a good while ago admittedly, but I was transported back to happy memories of when I’d only recently been married.

Sue has the gift of being able to describe a location and to make you feel as if you are in the centre of the action. This is integral cog in her stories. I can still feel the Maltese sun on the back of my neck the day after finishing this novel.

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Book Review: Taking a Chance on Love by Erin Green

One question can change everything.

Meet Carmen, Polly and Dana – all happy and successful women, with very different views on relationships.

Carmen has made a life with Elliot for the past eight years. She’s ready for the next step but a proposal seems to be as far away as ever.

Polly is devoted to her family. But after her parents’ bitter divorce, she’s wary of marriage – even after sharing twenty years and one son with Fraser.

Single mother Dana longs for companionship, despite her dedication to raising her son Luke. Finding the right person to bring into their lives feels impossible – until a unique way to select a potential Mr Right comes along.

With 29th February fast approaching, will they each take the chance this Leap Year to take control of their fates?

The perfect feel-good book for a Leap-Year; albeit, with a twist.

This is the tale of three women, Carmen, Polly and Dana, all with different expectations on their relationships with their men.

We are taken on a roller-coaster of a ride with all having to endure unexpected complications along their journeys.

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Book Review: A Convenient Marriage by Jeevani Charika

Chaya is a young woman torn between her duty to family and her life in the UK. While her traditional Sri Lankan parents want her to settle down into marriage, what they don’t know is that Chaya has turned away the one true love of her life, Noah, terrified of their disapproval.

Gimhana is hiding his sexuality from his family. It’s easy enough to pretend he’s straight when he lives half a world away in the UK. But it’s getting harder and harder to turn down the potential brides his parents keep finding
for him.

When Chaya and Gimhana meet, a marriage of convenience seems like the perfect solution to their problems. Together they have everything – friendship, stability and their parents’ approval. But when both Chaya and Gimhana find themselves falling in love outside of their marriage, they’re left with an impossible decision – risk everything they’ve built together, or finally follow
their heart?

Will they choose love, or carry on living a lie?

 

Featuring a subject that is obviously close to the heart of the author, ‘A Convenient Marriage’ has, at its centre, two main themes; arranged marriages and a couple of LGBT characters.

Let’s get the wee bit about the story out of the way (for more details…buy the book!)

Getting married to satisfy the expectations of family and society, Gim and Chaya are two of the most satisfying, realistic characters I’ve come across for a good while. The way the author has drawn them and the culture they come from really touched me.

This is a novel where the power of culture and family are central to all that’s wrong with large parts of some societies and because of that, all down to this readers upbringing, I did find that a little hard to understand. However, in the end, this is a novel about friendship and all that should be important.

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Book Review: Let It Snow by Sue Moorcroft

A big welcome to the fantastic Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her latest novel, Let it Snow. 

Family means everything to Lily Cortez and her sister Zinnia, and growing up in their non-conventional family unit, they and their two mums couldn’t have been closer.

So it’s a bolt out of the blue when Lily finds her father wasn’t the anonymous one-night stand she’d always believed – and is in fact the result of her mum’s reckless affair with a married man.

Confused, but determined to discover her true roots, Lily sets out to find the family she’s never known; an adventure that takes her from the frosted, thatched cottages of Middledip to the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland, via a memorable romantic encounter along the way…

 

It may be October but it’s never too early for a Sue Moorcroft Christmas novel.

To add the topping to the cake, we’re welcomed back to the village of Middledip, Sue’s wonderful setting for quite a few of her stories. Because of this, we get a smattering of the inhabitants we’ve grown to love and this gives the novel an atmosphere of a family christmas.

Say hi to Lilly Cortez and Isaac O’Brien, out main protagonists, along with Doggo of course, a very friendly Dalmatian.

Fans of Sue will be familiar too with Tubb the Pub who has a central role in the main story. It’s very nice, this reviewer believes, that this much-loved character has more than a peripheral part in this story. In fact, this novel is chock full of wonderful, rounded, well-written characters, including Carola who’s a particular favourite of mine from Middledip.

Switzerland bounds to life off the pages to such a degree that you feel like you’re walking in the snow-clad towns, villages and fields of this Alpine country. It certainly made me wish that I could go for a visit. Here, you have a roadtrip combined with a love story that will have you silently screaming for a happy ending!

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Book Review: A Perfect Cornish Christmas by Phillipa Ashley

Christmas in Cornwall is just around the corner…

But after last Christmas revealed a shocking family secret, Scarlett’s hardly feeling merry and bright. All she wants this Christmas is to know who her real father is.

So Scarlett heads to the little Cornish town of Porthmellow, where she believes the truth of her birth is hidden. She just didn’t bargain on being drawn into the Christmas festival preparations – or meeting Jude Penberth, whose charm threatens to complicate life further.

Everything will come to a head at Porthmellow’s Christmas Festival … But can Scarlett have the perfect Christmas this year, or are there more surprises on the way?

Firstly, Phillipa has created the type of village that I think we’d all love to live in…or maybe that’s just this reviewer?

In our second visit to the Cornish village of Porthmellow, we are treated to the ime after Scarlett’s worst Christmas ever, and how her sister Ellie and her deal with the fall-out. This is so much a family story, though with more twists and turns than a snake!

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Book Review: The Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest

It is early 1940 and World War Two has already taken a hold on the country. Rose Neville works as a Lyon’s Teashop Nippy on the Kent coast alongside her childhood friends, the ambitious Lily and Katie, whose fiancé is about to be posted overseas in the navy. As war creates havoc in Europe, Rose relies on the close friendship of her friends and her family.

When Capt. Benjamin Hargreaves enters the teashop one day, Rose is immediately drawn to him. But as Lyon’s forbids courting between staff and customers, she tries to put the handsome officer out of her mind.

In increasingly dark and dangerous times, Rose fears there may not be time to waste. But is the dashing captain what he seems?

 

After becoming a fan of Ms. Everest’s writing with her ‘The Woolworth Girls’ series of novels, I was delighted to hear that this author had a new series coming out, centred around the famous Lyons teashops. Please say hello to the central cast of Rose and her mother Flora, their friends Lily and Katie, Mildred a mother cum father figure whom I can’t wait to find out more about. The icing on the cake is a delightful Polish immigrant named Anya.

Set around two teashops in Margate and Ramsgate, the novel begins prior to the Dunkirk evacuation of June 1940 with our protagonist’s literarily on England’s frontline and indeed, this is emphasised to full emotional effect by the writer a number of times. The descriptions of both during and post an air-raid are amongst the most vivid and real that this reader has seen and I must congratulate the author on this.

Seaview is the guesthouse that Flora runs and as well as the teashops, is the main location for the action. There is an eclectic mix of characters that are present here and together with the inclusion of an Army love interest for Rose, makes this an engaging, thrilling novel that should bring not only keep Ms. Everest’s long-standing readers happy, but should bring her a whole new tranche of devotees.

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Book Review: Written From The Heart by Trisha Ashley

Tina Devino makes more money teaching people to write than writing herself. A middling romance novelist who dreams of penning a bestseller, she’s increasingly forced to compete with younger, blonder debut authors for her publisher and agent’s attention.

Feeling forgotten, Tina realises the only way up is to take her career and destiny in hand and build her own happy ending; which is perfect because, for a romance writer, Tina isn’t the most traditional of women… Although she does see her long-term partner lover friend, Sergei, once a week which is ‘quite enough, thank you very much’. But her uncomplicated love life might soon need some unravelling when a mysterious Tube Man, unwelcome ex-husband and a shadowy figure in a butterfly mask waltz into the picture.

Only Tina can work through the drama and claim the life she’s always wanted… but will she succeed?

 

Previously released and long out of print, as ‘Happy Endings’, this is nevertheless a very well told story. As an example of a best-selling author’s evolving style and confidence, it is invaluable.

The characterisation is wonderful, with Tina (IMHO) a terrific amalgam of a lot of Romance Writers I know, which make it a very personal read (for me at least).

I would give the writing a Five Star, though I would have to agree with a couple of the other reviews in that the abrupt ending is well, abrupt and you do find yourself wondering about a few loose threads not being tied up.

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Book Review: A Gift From Woolworths by Elaine Everest

As the war moves into 1945 the lives of the women of Woolworths continue.

When store manager, Betty Billington, announces she is expecting Douglas’s baby her future life is about to change more than she expects.

Freda has fallen in love with the handsome Scottish engineer but will it end happily?

Maisie loves being a mother and also caring for her two nieces although she still has her own dreams. When her brother appears on the scene he brings unexpected danger to the family.

Meanwhile Sarah dreams of her husband’s return and a cottage with roses around the door but Woolworths beckons.

Will our girls sail into times of peace, or will they experience more heartache and sorrow? With a wedding on the horizon, surely only happiness lies ahead – or does it?

A Gift from Woolworths is a gift from the wonderful Elaine Everest.

As the 5th and (so far?) last of the Woolworth novels from this author, we are left with a fitting final chapter to the story of Betty, Freda, Maisie, Sarah and all the ensemble cast. Though possible to read as a stand alone, it’s no less enjoyable for that, this is a series that asks to be read in order.

This Wonder of Woolies (yes, I had to get that in here somewhere) is a book that’s full of wonderful characters, searingly tense situations and scenes that will have you crying. Showing the skill of an author who will be long-followed, this is a book that should be devoured with relish, or a bar of your favourite chocolate.

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Book Review: A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft

a christmas giftA big lovely welcome back to Sue Moorcroft. We are very happy to be the first stop on blog tour for her new novel, A Christmas Gift which has been released today by Avon. 

Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.

To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?

Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

Welcome to a Middledip Christmas! Yes, it’s ‘that’ time of year again and we can rejoice with the release of the latest novel from Amazon and Sunday Times best-selling author, Sue Moorcroft. And, even better, for long-standing fans, she’s taken us back to Middledip! Don’t worry if you’re new to reading this author, by the time you’ve finished reading this book, you’ll be dying to check her back catalogue to discover more of this enchanting village she has created.

So, what do we have here? Well, I’ll start by stating that you won’t get too much about the story itself from me, as I don’t believe in giving too much away (you’ll find that on other reviews), I prefer to concentrate on other things.

A Christmas Gift Blog Tour - NovA wee snippet of story – Georgine France isn’t having the best of times since her boyfriend walked out on her, leaving her to deal with his debts, and when her sister comes to stay after splitting with her husband for reasons she doesn’t quite reveal, the prospect of producing the Christmas Play for the Performing Arts College she works for, suddenly turns into more work than she’d like. Throw in a blast from the past in the form of the enigmatic Joe Blackthorn, who has more than a few secrets of his own to sort through and you’ve got the enthralling tale of the year!

Sue is a (and I hope she’ll pardon me the choice of word) mistress of emotion, and she takes us through the wringer here, to be sure (Georgine’s father is not in the best of health either). All the main characters are beautifully rounded and, as is always the case with Sue’s novels, she has some of the best secondary characters that could be written. I always feel like I’ve been introduced to a new family by the time I’ve finished reading a Sue Moorcroft story, and that is just the same here.

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Mick’s Musings: A Catch-Up

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgI shall start by saying, sorry; then sorry; then sorry again. Sorry for not having written for a long, long time. I’ll start by explaining, a little, why that’s been the case.

Just after last New Year, I fell ill, and fell hard. I’m still trying to recover and there’s no date when I can think that will be the case yet. Because of this, I’ve hardly done any writing, though I’ve been advised by my many author friends that if I can, this would be a helpful thing…I’ll see what I can do and you’ll find out the results here. I’ll really try to make that before too long.

So, what have I been doing these long months? And they have been long, believe me. I don’t think I’d have made it this far without all the kind thoughts and support that I’ve had from too many individuals to thank here. Hopefully though, you’ll know who you are, but again, you don’t know how much you’ve all meant to me.

Basically, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and I mean a lot, though not doing as many reviews as perhaps I should. I’ve seen a few movies too, not anything heavy as I can’t take that right now. I’ve watched the entire series of Star Trek Enterprise and found it was much better than I remembered. So there’s a recommendation for you.

I’ve watched as friends of mine from the Romantic Novelist’s Association have gained their first contracts and releases as well, and I couldn’t be happier for them. You’ll have to forgive my memory as I can’t remember you all, but a shout out to you: Tora Williams for ‘Bound to Her Blood Enemy’. Also a forthcoming Christmas novella, ‘The Gift of Time’.

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Book Review: Spring on the Little Cornish Isles: The Flower Farm by Phillipa Ashley

Spring on the little cornish islesJess has lived at the idyllic flower farm on the Isles of Scilly her whole life, but when her boyfriend Adam leaves without explanation, Jess discovers that even her little slice of Cornish heaven can be lonely.

For the first time in Will’s life, he’s met someone he can’t stop thinking about. But nothing is simple when the woman of your dreams is working for you.

Gaby is running away from painful memories, and where could be more perfect than a remote island off the Cornish coast? But to put the past behind her, she must keep moving … however much she might want to stay.

Here we are with the second book of Phillipa Ashley’s second series to be set around Cornwall, in this case, we are based on the Scilly Isles, the Cornish Isles of the title. For this title, we focus on Jess and Will who run the Flower Farm of the title. Twins whom we met in Book 1, both were obligated to give up growing up dreams when their father ran off and so have made the best of the situation to run a very successful business. Despite the normal sibling arguments, both are devoted to the farm and each other.

Basic rundown – Jess is dumped by Adam, the man she hoped to marry whilst Will’s world is turned upside down by the arrival from the mainland of a whirling dervish of a lady, Gaby, who is hiding demons in her own life she’s trying to work through, that he fights so hard to resist. The path of true love can never run smooth in stories (or they’d be very short), such is the case here as we follow the twins fencing with their prospective partners, with Jess being wooed by a visiting businessman. Characters from the first book in the series, especially Jess’ best friend Maisie crop up through this story, nicely linking the series.

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Book Review: The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley

46609AD3-25CC-48D2-BEE5-592DE50F425BIt’s Sunday. It’s snowing. Therefore it’s the perfect time to snuggle up with a Trisha Ashley novel and it’s lovely to welcome Trisha and the blog tour for her latest book, The House of Hopes and Dreams to Novel Kicks today. 

When Carey Revell unexpectedly becomes the heir to Mossby, his family’s ancestral home, it’s rather a mixed blessing. The house is large but rundown and comes with a pair of resentful relatives who can’t be asked to leave.
Still, newly dumped by his girlfriend and also from his job as a TV interior designer, Carey needs somewhere to lick his wounds. And Mossby would be perfect for a renovation show. He already knows someone who could restore the stained glass windows in the older part of the house…

Angel Arrowsmith has spent the last ten years happily working and living with her artist mentor and partner. But suddenly bereaved, she finds herself heartbroken, without a home or a livelihood. Life will never be the same again – until old friend Carey Revell comes to the rescue.

They move in to Mossby with high hopes. But the house has a secret at its heart: an old legend concerning one of the famous windows. Will all their dreams for happiness be shattered? Or can Carey and Angel find a way to make this house a home?

 

As a long time follower of Trisha’s novels, I was delighted to receive a copy of her new novel from the publisher. I had intended taking my time, rationing myself, savouring each page so the experience would take a week or so, so much for good intentions as I started this on a Friday and was finished on Sunday evening.

What to tell you about the story? Well, as little as I can get away with, as I don’t like giving away too much.

Angel Arrowsmith’s life is thrown into confusion by the sudden death of her partner, causing her to lose her home and livelihood. Her best friend Carey Revell is recovering from a bad accident that lost him his job when he is bequeathed a slightly run down ancestral home.

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Book Review: The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft

The Little Village ChristmasWelcoming Sue Moorcroft back to Novel Kicks is a lovely way to kick off a Monday morning. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, The Little Village Christmas which has recently been released by Avon digitally with the paperback release following at the beginning of November. 

Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.

After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.

But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.

However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…

Christmas wouldn’t feel like Christmas, even in October, if there wasn’t a new Sue Moorcroft novel to enjoy – I was not disappointed.

Will that do? It should suffice as the line above should be all you need to know, assuming you’re familiar with the stories of Ms Moorcroft. If you’re not, then read on, but by the time you get to the end of this review and have then purchased the book, savoured the beautiful front cover and finally sat down to read said story, I’m certain you’ll be in agreement with my succinct review above.

Still not convinced? Very well, but be warned, if you want a more complete story outline, I suggest you go elsewhere. That’s not my style. I tend to give a brief overview of what happens, and concentrate on the writing style and characterisation, plus a small deal of procrastination thrown in for you fellow writers out there.

So, who do we have here? Our main characters are Alexia, an Interior Decorator who’s taking on one final project in her home village of Middledip (hurrah!) before, she hopes leaving for bigger things in London. However, as they do, the best laid plans fall apart when conmen steal all that’s worth stealing from The Angel Community Cafe she’s thrown into a steamy relationship with Ben, relatively new to the village who’d previously kept to himself for reasons that become clearer as the story progresses, that flounders and very nearly burns before it’s had time to get started.

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Book Review: A Christmas Wish by Erin Green

Aria, August 2017

Aria, August 2017

Flora Phillips has an excuse for every disaster in her life; she was abandoned as a new-born on a doorstep one cold autumn night, wrapped in nothing but a towel. Her philosophy is simple: if your mother doesn’t want you – who will?

Now a thirty-year-old, without a boyfriend, a career or home she figures she might as well tackle the biggest question of them all – who is she? So, whilst everyone else enjoys their Christmas Eve traditions, Flora escapes the masses and drives to the village of Pooley to seek a specific doorstep. Her doorstep. But in Pooley she finds more than her life story.

She finds friends, laughter, and perhaps even a love to last a lifetime. Because once you know where you come from, it’s so much easier to know where you’re going.

For those that know me, you know that you won’t hear too much about the actual story from my reviews. If you want those, then there are plenty of other reviewers and other sites that will tell you all you need to know about the story. No, I believe in telling you my thoughts on the style of the writing etc.

I have made it a habit, a joy of life to follow debut authors from the Romantic Novelists Association and it was with great joy that I came across this young lady’s’ first release. Getting published is a very difficult thing to accomplish, believe me, I know, however when you come across a story of this quality you know that all the hard effort that the author has put in is worth it as we, the reader, get to enjoy the fruits of her labour.

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Mick’s Musings: I’m Celebrating…

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTo those of you who were avidly following my previous blog post…are any of you still around? I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t, it’s been so long since I last wrote one. To you, I offer my humble apologies and even more so to Laura who gave me this opportunity in the first place. Sorry chuck!

So why haven’t I hardly done any posts this year? Have I been alive? Have I done anything? Has anything happened to me? In words as few as possible…YES!!!!

As you may recall from my first post and onwards, I’ve told you about what I’ve been doing so far as my quest to attain publication pertains (please note the use of complicated words!) and a few months, I managed to attain that holy grail. Well, kind of. I’m a born pessimist, so until the actual day, there’s still plenty of time for things to go pear-shaped.

Suffice to say, I’ve now signed my first contract and ‘The Season For Love’ is due to be e-published, on both sides of the Pond no less, around the beginning of December. I still can’t believe it! In fact, I could fill this whole post with exclamation marks, but in the hope that you’ll actually read this, I won’t…but I could! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.

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Book Review: Confetti at the Cornish Café by Phillipa Ashley

Confetti at the cornish

Maze, May 2017

Cal and Demi are preparing to launch their beloved Kilhallon Resort in Cornwall as a wedding venue. With the cliff-top setting and coastal views, it’s the perfect place for a magical ceremony.

But their first clients are no ordinary couple. The bride and groom are internationally famous celebrities Lily Craig and Ben Trevone. As secrets surface and truths are told, can Demi and Cal ensure that Kilhallon’s first wedding is a success? One thing’s for sure, this will be a Cornish celebration to remember . . .

It’s always a sad moment when you come to the end of a beloved series. Harry Potter, the original Star Wars Trilogy, and my latest – ‘Confetti at the Cornish Café’ is the third and final book in the ‘Cornish Café’ trilogy; unless Phillipa can be persuaded to keep them going? But would that be a good thing? All good things come to an end, is a very true saying and some things go on way past their sell-by-dates. This is not the case here.

I have enjoyed, to say the least, Ms Ashley’s tales of Demi and Cal and the third, unusual but certainly important character, Kilhallon (the estate in Cornwall where the story is mainly set). There are many books where the location is important, but few that earn the right to be counted as a character in their own right (Mandalay in Rebecca comes to mind). I want to visit Cornwall again now to try and search it out, but know that despite the beauty of the county, I’d be disappointed.

Ms Ashley has been extremely clever with her pacing of these novels as hints have been dropped about the cause of Cal’s behaviour, which were revealed in ‘Christmas at the Cornish Café’, but here we finally get to meet the little girl from his past that has so affected him, and the way it was written brought tears to the eyes of this reviewer. But what about Cal and Demi you ask? Do they finally get together?

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Book Review: The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley

Little TeashopHello and a big welcome to Trisha Ashley. Her new book, The Little Teashop of Lost and Found was released as an eBook on 9th March by Transworld Digital (with the paperback following in June and published by Black Swan.) 

Alice Rose is a foundling, discovered on the Yorkshire moors above Haworth as a baby. Adopted but then later rejected again by a horrid step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking – the scent of cinnamon and citrus and the feel of butter and flour between her fingers – brings a comforting sense of home.

So it seems natural that when she finally decides to return to Haworth, Alice turns to baking again, taking over a run-down little teashop and working to set up an afternoon tea emporium.

Luckily she soon makes friends, including a Grecian god-like neighbour, who help her both set up home and try to solve the mystery of who she is. There are one or two last twists in the dark fairytale of Alice’s life to come . . . but can she find her happily ever after?

I’ve been a devoted follower of Trisha for a number of years now and was honoured to be selected to receive an ARC of her forthcoming novel and so settled down to enjoy a leisurely plod through her offering…so much for good intentions.

Before long (around about page um…3) I found myself immersed in the interwoven worlds that Trisha is so expert at fabricating and had to force myself to slow down, breathe in fact, or else I was sure to finish the book in one fell-swoop. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, I’ve read many a book in one long session before, although I wanted and was determined to savour this one. I’ve never hated myself so much! This turned out to be the right decision though, as by only allowing myself to read a single chapter a day, I made certain to take in each word that was written. Not one was wasted, by the way.

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Mick’s Musings: Remembered How To Write

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgAt last, I’ve picked up my metaphorical pen and started writing again. After a couple of months of reading some very good books, especially some nice proofs (thank you Rosie Marguessen), I decided that it was about time I picked up my writing hat again. This was helped by the results of an online Pitch Event in the USA that I attended back in February.

The results were as good as could be hoped for, a couple of agents after mixed bags of both my current books; including two who asked for the complete manuscript!

Can anyone guess the problem there? Though one is as finished as it can get, the one’s that wanted the complete m/s for wasn’t. Or rather it was but only up to the second draft. Very clever bod that I am. So, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks going through two more drafts until it’s at such a state I felt I could send it off. Fortunately, both agents in their replies state that it’s ok to say if I’m a first time author and seeing as I’m not published, I took that as an okay to say I was; so I did. What will happen from these, who can tell, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

These two weeks of hectic writing, reading, re-writing, re-reading (you get the picture) has also reminded me to send this latest off to the RNA’s NWS scheme. I didn’t last year, which is kind of a waste, but as I didn’t feel it was worth sending off a half-finished effort, I didn’t trouble the readers. However, the bug is BACK!!!! So that’s going to go off shortly, today if I get my finger out.

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Book Review: Paper Hearts & Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews

Sphere, December 2016

Sphere, December 2016

Christie Chapman is a single mum who spends her days commuting to her secretarial job in London and looking after her teenage son, Finn. It’s not an easy life but Christie finds comfort in her love of crafting, and spends her spare time working on her beautiful creations. From intricately designed cards to personalised gifts, Christie’s flair for the handmade knows no bounds and it’s not long before opportunity comes knocking.

Christie can see a future full of hope and possibility for her and Finn – and if the handsome Max is to be believed, one full of love too. It’s all there for the taking. And then, all of sudden, her world is turned upside down.

Christie knows that something has to give, but can she really give up her dreams and the chance of real love? Will Christie find her happy ending in . . . Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses.

 

Knowing this story is based on a real-life person (Christie Chapman – look her up and also read her review on Amazon.co.uk) added a slice of intrigue to my reading. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t pretend to know any of Christie’s actual story, but if it was as heart-rending and inspiring as PH&SK portrays, then all hats should be doffed to the lady and her son.

Our main characters are Christie and her son Finn and it’s through Christie’s eyes that we see her struggle to support her son, whilst bringing him up as a single parent, not made any easier by the constant worry caused by Finn’s mysterious headaches, which never go away and keep him off school. Her parents are a wonderful source of support and when Christie finds herself jetting off to the USA for a crafting course by an up and coming US-based company, this is thanks to her mother.

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Book Review: The Girl on the Beach by Morton S. Gray

the girl on the beach

Death By Choc Lit, January 2017

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says …

But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.

 

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of reading some novels before their published date; my thanks to those who’ve been so generous to allow me to do so, you know who you are. Around two weeks ago, I was accorded the honour of being sent a copy of the author Morton S Gray’s debut novel ‘The Girl on the Beach’, published by Choclit.

I’ve read a few debuts over the years and obviously some are better than others. If you’re lucky, you’re left doing a passable goldfish impression with your mouth simply repeating, ‘OMG! OMG! OMG! Whilst some honestly leave you wondering how on earth they got published. This novel sits firmly, as in set-in-stone firmly, in the former category. I finished it last night and just sat there enjoying a special feeling…you know the one where you know, you just know that you’ve found a special author and you’re going to be ticking off the days on your calendar until their next release!

Those who read my reviews will know that I don’t tend to give much away about the plot, it spoils the twists and turns – and there are plenty here – that a good author will sprinkle around their work. Ms Gray’s story is as much ‘Suspense’ as ‘Romance’ and considering the subject matter, this is just as well. Because of this, I have to explain what I mean and tell you a little more of the story than I normally would. I prefer to concentrate on how the writer…um, writes.

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Book Review: Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Carina, November 2015

Carina, November 2015

A few weeks before Christmas and a sudden blanketing of snow has closed the roads and brought public transport grinding to a halt, stranding Izzy miles from home and in desperate need of rescuing.

That doesn’t mean she’s looking to bump into Rob and spend a cosy weekend holed up in his swanky flat watching London become a winter wonderland! Because Izzy and Rob have history…

Six months ago, they were standing in the vestry of a beautiful country church, while best man Rob delivered the news that every bride dreads on their big day.

But at the time of year when anything is possible, can Rob and Izzy let go of the past and let Christmas work its magic? Or will this be one holiday wish that Izzy lets walk right out of her life…

 

My first thought was – ‘…and this is a debut novel?’

That should say about all you’d need to know how much I loved this book.

Maxi has crafted and woven a beautiful tale where you’re rooting for the two protagonists to get together from the first time we meet them on the pages. Izzy was jilted at the altar and promptly broke the nose of the Best Man when he came to break the bad news – pretty good considering she’s on the petite-side and Rob’s a strapping rugby-playing fellow.

As life has it, Izzy makes wedding dresses for a living and it’s through her business, and the fact that fate conspires to bring the pair together all the time, that ‘something’ begins to grow between the two of them. Life being what it is though, it’s never going to be that simple and there are many misunderstandings and false starts before love finally finds a way.

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Book Review: A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham

cornish-christmasNestled in the Cornish village of Cloudsea, sits Sea Cottage – the perfect place for some Christmas magic …

At last Ivy is looking forward to Christmas. She and her husband Stuart have moved to their perfect little cottage by the sea – a haven alongside the rugged cliffs that look out to the Atlantic Ocean. She’s pregnant with their much-longed for first baby and for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother, Ivy feels like things are going to be alright.

But there is trouble ahead and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever. 

To give away a huge spoiler or not to give away a huge spoiler, that is the question.

And it is! There’s one thing I never do in my reviews and that’s to give the main points of a plot away and I’m tying my fingers in knots to stop them typing something yes, huge, about this story and a postcard…there, that’s the spoiler alert over with. If you want to know what I haven’t told you, there’s one good way – buy the book and read it!

All I shall say about the story is…Ivy and her husband Stuart have been trying and failing to get pregnant and finally make a break from London and move down to Cornwall. The change of scene and pace of life make all the difference, plus they get away from Stuart’s controlling mother, though Ivy feels a constant ache, she misses her deceased mother so much.

With the aid of new friends and finally re-acquainting herself with her mother’s old ones, Ivy struggles to accept that their dreams of a child may finally come true. Whilst Stuart makes a surprising success from producing condiments from his smallholding, his sister Smudge brings her own troubles to the fold.

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Mick’s Musings: Time Flies When You…

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime flies when you’re having fun – and writing can be fun, though time flies in this case even if you’re not having fun. Of course, it can also behave as if you’ve got both feet stuck in quicksand.

This has actually got nothing to do with what I’m going to talk about today, it’s just something that’s been flitting around my mind for a while and I’m hoping that by laying it down on paper (so to speak) I’ll be able to get this wind-worm out of my head. Sorry if you’ve now got it.

Right, so what have I been up to since the last time I wrote?

For a start, there was the RNA Conference in Lancaster, probably the highlight of the writing year for me at the moment (at least until such a time as I get ‘that’ call) and as much fun as ever. My heartfelt, and belated, thanks to all who gave their time to present to everyone, word cannot be enough to express my thanks – quite ironic considering the purpose of the conference. Especially to Imogen Howsen for her ‘Speed Dating’ session. No, you did read correctly, though we didn’t come away with partners in that respect, but rather it was utilising the format to find Critique Buddies. I’ve come away with some terrific ladies – Lisa Hill, Elaina James, April Hardy, Sue Mackender, Samantha Bentall; Imogen has also foolishly looking at various attempts at my writing too and thanks out to Bernadette O’Dwyer as well for ‘being there’.

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Review: The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

Avon, December 2016

Avon, December 2016

I am now a Master Milliner…well, perhaps not, but I know a whole lot more about hat creation than I ever did before. They go on your head. Correct?

Here I am, fresh from having survived the new Sue Moorcroft novel, The Christmas Promise. Don’t get worried, by survived, I mean that Sue’s stories are always emotional roller-coasters, she’s that good.
Lucky enough to obtain an advance copy of this novel, I settled down to immerse myself, knowing that my attention would never be allowed to wander, no chance of skipping even a word here and I wasn’t disappointed.

All wrapped up in a snowy cover, don’t be fooled. Sue is a master of emotions and here, you’re going to be pulled left, right and centre before the conclusion; actually, afterwards too however, you’ll need to read the book for that little Easter egg.

Ava is to a degree, damaged emotionally, as are all good characters and we follow her in a journey of trust, who to trust, how much to trust them, learning to trust herself even. She dislikes Christmas due to her parents attitude to it when she was growing up and now finds herself caught up as the victim of Revenge Porn. Riding to her rescue is Sam. Ah, to have his qualities would be wonderful…I digress. Stumbling into each other, attraction is mutual but Sam is just as traumatised as Ava in his own way and so we watch them bond over his mother’s cancer struggle, Ava’s feelings of perceived guilt over those pictures, getting close but neither feeling able to make that final step that will enable them to become the couple we know they should be.

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Book Review: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by J.K Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Little, Brown, 31st July 2016.

Little, Brown, 31st July 2016.

This is the review that I’ve titled ‘Harry Potter and the Underwhelmed Reviewer’

Hands up who amongst us have waited with baited breath for a new Harry Potter story? That’s pretty much every one of us. Now, hands up all those who think that this is that story…don’t be so hasty. Yes, this is Harry Potter, and at the same time, no it’s not.
I was so excited when I heard that they were releasing a script-book of the stage-play (I’ve tickets for this for May 2017) that I was determined to drop all my other reading as soon as it arrived. This I did and being a script, it didn’t take as long to read as one of the canon novels we’re used to. It didn’t help that I read it in two sittings, at least that’s no fault of the book itself.
To the bread and butter question; is it any good?

Not an easy thing to answer actually. After so long in between official releases, those of us fans who’ve taken to getting our fix from some of the excellent fan fiction out there were perhaps always going to be the most critical, I’m certainly one of those. I can only give this 3 stars as I think the problem the author(s) came up against was trying to please everyone and when you try and do that, you generally end up pleasing no-one. It’s not quite as bad as that seems, as I did enjoy it. I did come away dis-satisfied though.

Why? Because of the above. Now, I don’t go in for spoilers/telling about the story, if I can at all help it in my reviews, so I’ll do my best here. But some of the things that happen to drive the story along are so contrived, that I’d really like to know who came up with the story? Whose idea was it and who fleshed it out? Characters act out of well, character, to what we’ve come to know about them (except when not in the canon universe – nearest I’ll come to having to give a spoiler alert), things happen that (nothing to do with the capabilities of magic here) are obviously just devices to drive the story along and I found myself saying out loud, ‘Puleeese….’

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Book Review: You And Me Always by Jill Mansell

Headline Review, June 2016

Headline Review, June 2016

Lily’s always been surrounded by love.

Ever since her mother died, she’s been cared for by friends who are as close as any family. 

Coral, her mum’s best friend; Patsy, her old babysitter – and even Dan, Patsy’s incorrigible younger brother – have always been there for her. 

But when she chance comes to meet the man who was the love of her mother’s life, Lily knows she has to take it. Getting to know him could change everything, and not just for Lily…

I really didn’t think it would be possible for this sparkling author to top ‘Three Amazing Things About You’. If you haven’t read that one of Jill’s yet, then make that the next one you read after ‘You and Me, Always’, before the movie comes out! Well, maybe not, but someone really should turn it into one.

Sorry, I digress. ‘You and Me, Always’ is top-notch writing and un-put-down-able reading. If, like me, you see a blurb that mentions a movie star or someone fleeing something, that always starts an alarm bell ringing, but no need to worry here. Jill’s characters are always well thought out and the character of Eddie is nicely believable, things don’t even veer towards pie-in-the-sky world when the story deals directly with the world of celebrities.

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Mick’s Musings: RNA Conference 2016 is coming!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgIt’s rapidly approaching one of my favourite times of the year, and if Coke can have their own tune and felt of glittery trucks as it comes to theirs, then why can’t we RNA’ers have the same? Instead of trucks, why not a line of sparkly shoes dancing across a vista of wine bars, to the accompaniment of ‘These Boots Were Made for Walking? Devil in Your Shoes? Diamonds in the Soles of Her Shoes – that’s probably the best one and the one least likely to get me murdered in my sleep at the conference.

I hasten to add that this doesn’t apply to me – I just couldn’t find a pair to match my eyes!

Now I’ve completely alienated myself for the weekend…yes, it’s that time of year again. The Annual Romantic Novelist’s Association Conference is being held in Lancaster this weekend 9/10th July. A time to catch-up with people we probably haven’t seen since last year’s. Gossip will abound, congratulations will ensue to those who’ve secured a Publishing Deal and/or an Agent and those of us still endeavouring to get the same will bite our ‘stiff upper’ lips and come away all the more determined to be amongst this group by the next year.

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Book Review: Is This Love? by Sue Moorcroft

Is This Love by Sue MoorcroftHow many ways can one woman love?

When Tamara Rix’s sister Lyddie is involved in a hit-and-run accident that leaves her in need of constant care, Tamara resolves to remain in the village she grew up in. Tamara would do anything for her sister, even sacrifice a long-term relationship.

But when Lyddie’s teenage sweetheart Jed Cassius returns to Middledip, he brings news that shakes the Rix family to their core. Jed’s life is shrouded in mystery, particularly his job, but despite his strange background, Tamara can’t help being intrigued by him.

Can Tamara find a balance between her love for Lyddie and growing feelings for Jed, or will she discover that some kinds of love just don’t mix?

Where to start? Are there enough superlatives to describe this story? No. there you go, one of the shortest book reviews you’ll ever see.

Seriously? Yes, seriously, I finished this book about half an hour ago and have since being thinking, cogitating and generally mulling over how to put into words my thoughts on this story. I’ll do my best, though for those other fans of hers, I doubt if anything I’m going to say will come as a surprise.

Ms Moorcroft doesn’t pick easy subject matter, that much you already know if you’ve read any of her other books, for this, she should be congratulated. No picking the tried, tested, or easy route for her and perhaps other writers in the Contemporary Romance genre would do well to take a leaf from her book.

There are three central characters in ‘Is This Love?’ Two conventional, Tamara and Jed, around whom the conventional love story is centred and then there’s Tamara’s elder sister Lyddie. Lyddie is the glue that binds Tamara’s family together; Lyddie is a kind, generous thirty-something woman; Lyddie is a kind, generous, thirty-something brain-damaged woman. That got your notice.

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Mick’s Musings: Strange and exciting things are a happening!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgYou may recall my telling you about my ‘current WIP’ and a certain feline that was in the process of taking over the story? That’s still ongoing, but I haven’t actually added to the word count since the middle of January – naughty Mick. But, I have an excuse and it’s a good one, but not so good in that I’ve had to put a temporary halt to this story. So, please put on your ‘understanding-type’ hats.

In the middle of January, I was driving back from a hospital appointment, the radio was on and as I hadn’t dropped dead from the tests, it was turning out to be a pretty good day. Then IT happened again. There was an interview being broadcast and two lines embedded themselves in my mind. Ah! There’s a good idea for a short story, I thought. So, quickly pulling over, I entered the lines into my phone and set off back for home.

Upon arrival, I kissed the Lady Wife hello, snaffled a hug off her and then, upon doing the husbandly checks to see if there was anything I could do, booted up the laptop, brought up a fresh page in Word, and scribbled down the two lines. They were perfect for the opening hook (well, in my humble opinion anyway) and then, I started to hammer out what I envisioned as a short story of about 2,000 words…and typed…and typed…and…you get the picture.

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Mick’s Musings: Authors Meet Up

100_2844

(L-R) Georgia Hill, Mick Arnold, Linn B Halton and Tora Williams

I went to an author/blogger meet up in Birmingham recently and I’d like to start by thanking the wonderful Kim Nash for not only taking the trouble to arrange it, but also for being such a gracious host; thank you Kim.

To those of you whom I didn’t get around to meeting, I’m sorry and, if like me, you’re down to go to the next one in London, I hope to at least be able to say hello and maybe share bookish experiences with you. I’ll be the one in the corner, looking not unlike a startled rabbit (but with slightly less hair).

Swift hello’s to a few that I did manage to meet, starting with the lovely Sue Moorcroft (always great to catch up) and the other members of her Facebook Team Moorcroft whose names I can recall. Louise Styles, hi and very good to meet and talk to you; Mark West, Sue told me about a short story you wrote (think it was yourself?) about someone with a foot fetish, thanks for the nightmares; Kim Nash, thanks again and very nice to put a person to the face. Bookaholic Holly, Georgia Hill, Janice Preston, Linn B Halton and undoubtedly others whose names I can only apologise for forgetting. Just think of a goldfish with amnesia and that’s me with names.

This was my first meet up of this kind and there are already two others this year that I’ve accepted the kind invitations to go to. If you’ve never been to one of these and you find an invite drop into your Facebook account, then I can honestly say that (assuming you’re either an author or blogger, or for that matter a keen reader) you won’t be in the company of such a warm and welcoming group of people – ever!

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Mick’s Musings: Fun! Fun! Fun!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgDoesn’t time fly when you’re having fun…now I need to find the time to have that fun.

When I’m writing, after the first few hundred words, so long as it’s flowing, it is fun. Characters I’ve created/am in the process of creating, stand up and wave their little paws at me (I like cats, heck knows why half the time, but my latest WIP has a quite prominent feline who seems to be making a bid for freedom) for attention and sit down to share a metaphorical cup of tea with me. Then there’s the (mostly) welcome appearance of a new character that I hadn’t even considered when the idea for the story first came to mind, and even after I’d actually done some planning!

With this WIP, it looks very much like it’ll now be starting at chapter three. So, what does that mean for the Prologue and the first two chapters? Well, not really wanting to throw anything away, I do believe that quite a bit can be incorporated into forthcoming chapters and I also have to admit, it does start off the story a lot better. It’s straight into mini-crisis, always a good way to start.

Thank you Kate T for the suggestion.

As far as these new characters? It’s a welcome to Tippy’s Posse. Okay, so she’s currently called Poppy, but I have a few too many characters whose names begin with the letter ‘p’, but I still like ‘Poppy’ so it’s really a case of watch this space.

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Book Review: Able Seacat Simon: The Wartime Hero of the High Seas by Lynne Barrett-Lee

51q5iv-ax6L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Simon is discovered in the Hong Kong docks in 1948 and smuggled on board the H.M.S Amethyst by a British sailor who takes pity on the malnourished kitten. The young cat quickly acclimates to his new water-borne home, establishing himself as the chief rat-catcher in residence while also winning the hearts of the entire crew.

Then the Amethystis ordered to sail up the Yangtze to take over the guarding of the British Embassy, and tragedy strikes as the ship comes under fire from Communist guns. Many of the crew are killed and Simon is among those who are seriously wounded. Luckily, with the help of the ship’s doctor, the brave cat makes a full recovery and is soon spending time with the injured men in the sick bay, purring and keeping their spirits up. News of Simon’s heroism spreads and he becomes famous world-wide – but it is still a long journey back to England for both the crew and the plucky little cat known as ‘Able Seacat Simon’…

To discover a new author is one of the joys still to be found in life, and that is exactly what I’ve just done having finished this new book by the very talented Ms Barrett-Lee.

Based on true events during the Chinese Civil war, in its continuation phase after the Second World War, this is told from the point of view of the cat in the title. If you’ve not heard the story of HMS Amethyst, then this is actually a very good introduction to this riveting episode in the history of the Royal Navy.

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Mick’s Musings: Time is an Abstract Concept

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime is an abstract concept, and I don’t even know where I was going to go with that, only that I was going to point out that when you have too much of it, you tend to waste it, and when there’s not enough, we moan that we don’t have enough. I guess what I’m trying to say, in a very roundabout way, is that I wish I could go back in time this year and start it off by writing what I’m currently writing about.

As (in my case still a ‘would-be-writer’ – I refuse to assign myself the title Author until such a time as I manage to get myself published) this year, I’m now on my third ‘Work-in-progress’ and so ran out of that precious commodity to be able to submit a completed, not even first draft, to the New Writers Scheme for the first time since I was fortunate enough to join the hallowed ranks of the Romantic Novelists Association. I’ve been metaphorically smacking myself over the head ever since the realisation that I’d ran out of time hit me as I left this year’s conference.

Slight aside – thank you to all who put together this year’s conference (if they may be reading) particularly Jan and John (hope that’s right), a now expected highlight of my year that well lived up to hopes and expectations.

So, back to my subject for this long overdue new blog entry, what caused me to make such a foobar? You know how it is when you get that light bulb moment, that idea pops into your head and you go, ‘I must write about that. There’s a story that’ll knock your socks off!’ I had that three times this year.

The first came in about January and was a pure children’s story, a bit like The Animals of Farthing Wood meets Harry Potter – damn, that’s a good elevator pitch! The trouble was, about three chapters in, it wasn’t flowing as nicely as it needs to and I decided to leave it before I got too bogged down. But I still intend returning to it, the title alone keeps coming back to me, especially when I’m skimming through my writing folders on the pc; The Four Hedgehogs of the Apocalypse shall ride again!

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Book Review: Magic Sometimes Happens by Margaret James

Magic Sometimes HappensBook 5 in the Charton Minster Series, London-based PR and promotions consultant Rosie Denham has just spent a year in Paris where she’s tried but failed to fall in love. She’s also made a big mistake and can’t forgive herself.

American IT professor Patrick Riley ‘s wife has left him for a Mr. Wonderful with a cute British accent and a house with a real yard. So Patrick’s not exactly thrilled to meet another Brit who’s visiting Minnesota, even if she’s hot.

Pat and Rosie couldn’t be more different. She’s had a privileged English upbringing. He was raised in poverty in Missouri. Pat has two kids, a job that means the world to him and a wife who might decide she wants her husband back.

So when Pat and Rosie fall in love, the prospects don’t seem bright for them.

But magic sometimes happens – right?

Who doesn’t like a story with an opening scene that grips you and won’t let go!

This is my second Margaret James novel (the wonderful ‘The Wedding Diary’ was my first) and being a dedicated Choc-Lit follower I had a pretty good idea of what to expect and was certainly not disappointed, being up to the exacting standards set by the first novel I read by this lady.

Moving swiftly along from one viewpoint to the next, the pace of the story never gives up. With the added bonus of revisiting past members of the Dehham family, this is like curling up on the sofa with familiar friends and enjoying a cost night in.

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Mick’s Musings: Would You Call This ‘Procrastination’?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgArguably the most important part of any book written is the first chapter, in particular, the first page. Get this wrong, not only would you lose the reader, but more likely, you wouldn’t have had the novel published in the first place.

Now, for the latest story I’m writing I’m on the third different opening/prologue/first chapter. What this says about me as a prospective writer, I don’t know, but I suspect that it’s more of a common problem than I’m making it out to be. Have I hit on the opening? I don’t know. Two of my lead characters though are suddenly opening the book whereas before it was looking like they wouldn’t be making an appearance until at least the third chapter. But it feels right!

Does it read right though? Actually, yes and even more surprising since I had to decipher the scribbled notes I made before going to bed on Friday night! My Lady Wife is always saying I should have been a doctor, the state of my hand-writing. It’s short, just shy of 1,200 words, but just because it’s short, doesn’t mean to say it isn’t right. But, this is only a first draft, so undoubtedly there will be changes as the story progresses. At least it’s nice to meet these guys sooner rather than later.

So why did I bring up the dreaded ‘P’ word? Because it’s taken me a while to start up writing again. Yes, I know the old adage that you should write at each and every opportunity, no matter how rubbish it may come out. Continue reading

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Review: The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft

wedding proposalElle Jamieson is a private person, in relationships as well as at work – and for good reason. But then she’s made redundant and with no ties to hold her, Elle heads off to sunny Malta.

Lucas Rose hates secrets – he prides himself on his ability to lay his cards on the table and he expects nothing less in return. He’s furious when his summer working as a divemaster is interrupted by the arrival of Elle, his ex, all thanks to his Uncle Simon’s misguided attempts at matchmaking.

Forced to live in close proximity, it’s hard to ignore what they had shared before Lucas’s wedding proposal scared Elle away. But then a phone call from England allows Lucas a rare glimpse of the true Elle. Can he deal with Elle’s closely guarded past when it finally comes to light?

Let’s get things straight from the start. There is only one thing wrong with this book – it has an ending!

Sue weaves her charms on this charming love story set mainly in Malta. Taking me back to my honeymoon in style, we follow Elle and Lucas as life and misunderstandings and sometimes misplaced pride try their best to keep the two of them apart. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings: Jealous?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgJealous? Nope, not the right word. Envy? Getting closer, if I’m being honest, but certainly very happy and proud are correct words to describe what I’d like to chat with you about today. If you’re a regular, or even if you’re not, on this wonderful site, then you may be aware of my good friend Bella’s column, Bella’s Scribblings-https://www.novelkicks.co.uk/bellas-scribblings-christmas-shopping/  – click the link for updates folks! But the reason for my kind of cryptic start to this column is the wonderful news that she’s got a two book contract with Harper Collins and the first, ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ is set to go on sale in February next year. I first met Bella at the Romantic Novelist’s Association Convention in Sheffield last year. Two newbies to the New Writer’s Scheme, both nervous and not sure what was going on, nor what to do, but she’s become a good friend and now, if I may say, an inspiration to those of us still hoping to get published. She’s worked very hard on this novel and without giving anything away, I would put it on your wish lists for a nice Valentine’s Day (yes, I’m fully aware that Christmas hasn’t even come along yet) present to yourself. So, where does that leave me? Well, I’ve submitted to just seven Agents/Publishing companies so far and, sniff, the first rejection came through this week. I slightly surprised myself but not cracking up completely when that email came through; though it was tempting, but I didn’t think my boss would understand a teary bloke at work. It’s actually made me more determined to approach others. I still have a couple on the list I was given by the RNA, so will have to print (yep, I did say ‘print’) out a couple and see if I can get those off shortly. Continue reading

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