Avon Books

Book Review: Who Took Eden Mulligan? by Sharon Dempsey

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

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

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

But this case is different. Right from the start.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Cover Reveal: The Christmas Killer by Alex Pine

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

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

Here’s a little more about the book…

 

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

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

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

Can James stop the killer before they strike again?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Book Review: When Life Gives You Lemons by Fiona Gibson

Sometimes life can be bittersweet . . .

Between tending to the whims of her seven-year-old and the demands of her boss, Viv barely gets a moment to herself. It’s not quite the life she wanted, but she hasn’t run screaming for the hills yet.

But then Viv’s husband Andy makes his mid-life crisis her problem. He’s having an affair with his (infuriatingly age-appropriate) colleague, a woman who – unlike Viv – doesn’t put on weight when she so much as glances at a cream cake.

Viv suddenly finds herself single, with zero desire to mingle. Should she be mourning the end of life as she knows it, or could this be the perfect chance to put herself first?

When life gives you lemons, lemonade just won’t cut it. Bring on the gin!

I am very excited to welcome Fiona Gibson back to Novel Kicks and was so happy to be asked to be involved with the blog tour for her latest novel, When Life Gives You Lemons.

Viv is so busy going between looking after her husband, Andy and their seven-year-old daughter, Izzy that she doesn’t have much time to herself. Add a demanding boss, there are not enough hours.

When she finds out that Andy has been lying to her, she is suddenly single, menopausal and has no interest in finding someone else. Is this the time to put herself first?

One of the main things I loved about this book is that yes, a traditional love story appears in the novel but it’s mostly about the love and respect Viv needs to develop for herself and how important that is, especially with the demands in her life.

This novel is about Viv rediscovering who she is and I adored this aspect. She is a character I think women of all ages can empathise with. Add to this that she is a very likeable woman who ultimately isn’t afraid to be who she is and take risks, and you have a fantastic, well-rounded, inspiring character.

The supporting cast was also great, Penny especially. I would love to see a book based on her life. It sounds fascinating. I could really picture her in my mind.

As I said, a realistic love story is present but I found the plot so much more than that.

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Cover Reveal: Never Saw You Coming by Hayley Doyle

I am so pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal for Never Saw You Coming, the new novel from Hayley Doyle. 

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

Zara Khoury believes in love – so much so that she flies from Dubai to Liverpool to be with a man she barely knows. It’s a risk, but she’s certain that uprooting her life for Nick is the new start she needs.
 
Jim Glover is stuck. Since his Dad died, he’s put his dreams aside and stayed at home in Liverpool to care for his mum. Trapped in a dead-end job, he’s going nowhere – that is, until he gets a phone call that just might change his life..
 
Zara and Jim aren’t supposed to meet. But then fate steps in, and when their worlds – and cars! – collide, the real journey begins…
 
A gorgeous tale about taking risks and living life to the full – perfect for fans of Beth O’Leary and Josie Silver.

OK, are you ready for the cover? 

Drumroll…. Ta-dah!

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Book Review: The Afternoon Tea Club by Jane Gilley

I am pleased to be welcoming Jane Gilley and the blog tour for her latest book, The Afternoon Tea Club. 

Marjorie, Stacy, Raymond and Dora each hold a different story to their chest – lost loves, abandoned dreams, crippling self-confidence issues, and simply feeling invisible. For each of them, the thought of letting those stories out is almost as terrifying as letting strangers in, and that makes for a very lonely life indeed.

But when these four strangers who have struggled to “fit in” end up on the same table for an event at their local community centre, little do they know that their lives are about to be entwined and changed forever because of an Afternoon Tea club.

Cue an unexpected journey of self-discovery, some unlikely new companions, and plenty of tea and biscuits along the way…

 

This novel had me at the title. Tea is one of my favourite things. There’s a lot more to it than that though.

The Afternoon Tea Club focuses on Marjorie, Dora, Raymond and Stacy.

All vary in ages but all are harbouring their own secrets and insecurities. These four characters are also lonely in their own ways.

When The Afternoon Tea Club is announced in their local area, each of our main characters goes although some are more reluctant than others. Dora, Raymond, Marjorie and Stacy are four unique characters who have more in common than they realise. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because, as normal, I hope you will decide to discover this book.

Marjorie carries a lot of learned behaviour and has much emotional baggage tied into the relationship with her husband.

Dora also has a lot of hurt from her past and it’s been something she’s been running from for a long time.

Raymond is probably one of the sweetest fictional characters I have come across. He’s a simple man who is still in love with his wife ever after her death.

Stacy is missing so many aspects of love from her life and she almost has to hit rock bottom to find herself again.

I think out of all of the characters, I related to Stacy the most. She and I don’t share life experiences but there was just something about her. Although, I think she may be a little braver than me.

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Book Review: Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

I am pleased to be welcoming Ellen Berry and the blog tour for her new novel, Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane.

 

Last winter she had a plan.

Lucy fell in love with tumbledown Rosemary Cottage as a child. So thirty years on, when she loses her city job and discovers the cottage is for sale, it feels like fate. She’ll raise her children in Burley Bridge and transform the cottage into a B&B with her husband.

But a year can change everything . . .

Now Lucy is juggling two children and a B&B, but on her own. Christmas looks set to be their last on Rosemary Lane – until she meets James, a face from her past and someone who might offer a different kind of future . . .

Should Lucy leave the cottage behind? Or could this winter on Rosemary Lane be the start of something new?

 

I am not crying, I have something in my eye…. OK, I am crying.

It was hard not to reach for the tissues with the latest book by Ellen Berry.

It focuses on Lucy, who after losing her job in Manchester, makes the decision with her husband Ivan to move to the picturesque village of Burley Bridge. It is not all plain sailing for Lucy and her family and there are many ups and downs along the way. Lucy wonders whether Rosemary Cottage is her forever home after all?

It’s not hard to feel love and empathy for Lucy especially as things happen for her pretty early on in the novel.

James, like Lucy is dealing with issues that I think a lot of people would be able to relate to. He and Lucy have many layers to them. I liked them both a lot.

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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: We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

Hello to Rosie Curtis and the blog tour for her latest book, We Met in December. 

What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away?

This December, unlucky-in-love Jess is following her dream and moving to Notting Hill. On the first night in her new house-share she meets Alex, the guy in the room next door. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but there’s still a spark that leaves Jess imagining how they might spend the year together – never mind the house rule against dating…

But when Jess returns from her Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started seeing Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into the man of her dreams – and, apparently, the woman of his.

Jess is determined to move on and spend the year falling in love with London, not Alex – but what if her heart has other ideas?

 

We Met in December tells the story of Jess and Alex.

Jess has just moved to London after breaking up with her boyfriend. She is looking to go after the career she has always wanted.

Alex was a successful lawyer and has now given that up to re-train as a nurse. He has made a promise to himself that, after a break up with his fiancée, he would focus on his career. He did not count on meeting Jess.

First, I am completely in love with this cover. It is so beautiful.

We Met in December is told from the point of view of both Alex and Jess. I liked this as it gave me a better overall idea of what each were thinking. It’s proof that misunderstandings and assumptions can be the cause of many problems between people that’s for sure.

These two were both wonderful, compelling characters and I came to care for them a lot. I found them to be characters I really liked and want to spend time with in real life.

I also loved the supporting characters, especially Nanna Beth, Rob and Becky. I want to know more about their lives.

I became so invested in this story. I want to be a roommate in this house. It’s like a rom-com movie and I could see it as such.

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Book Extract: Mummy Needs a Break by Susan Edmunds

A lovely hello to Susan Edmunds and the blog tour for her latest book, Mummy Needs a Break. 

 

With a devilish toddler and baby number two on the way, Rachel’s big dream is to one day go to the toilet on her own. So, she’s surprised to discover that her husband has found the time to have an exciting affair while she’s been bringing up their family.

Suddenly, Rachel is left wrangling with a child who will only eat crackers and a 35-week bump. She knows even Mumsnet isn’t going to solve this.

What Rachel needs is a handsome, good-with-children, single man. But she can barely leave the house without a stain on her top and child on her hip. How on earth can she claim her life back, let alone thinking about dating?

 

Susan and Avon have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

It was after 4 a.m. when I heard a key rattle in the lock as Stephen returned. I was still sitting on the couch, staring blankly at the almost-silent television, tracing patterns in the textured fabric of the cushions. I held my breath as he neared the living room door. The light was on – he would know I was inside. He paused briefly but then the door to the spare room clicked shut. I sat on the couch, my fingers tracking the movement of blood through my temples.

 

Questions were stomping around in circles in my mind: Was she someone I knew? What was going on? What the hell was I going to do?

 

I knew our relationship had changed. But whose doesn’t, when you have children? Years ago, I had a stash of hugely impractical, very skimpy lingerie that I brought out every night he stayed at my place. I crept out of bed sometimes before he woke to put make-up on and would go to a yoga class every night after work and twice at the weekends, coming home relaxed and stretchy. It had been a long time since I had crawled into our bed in anything other than my faded grey favourites and my yoga was now done most often in front of my laptop, with Thomas imitating alongside me, until he got bored.

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Book Extract: Truth or Die by Katerina Diamond

I am welcoming Katerina Diamond to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her latest novel, Truth or Die.

Their darkest secrets won’t stay buried forever…

The butchered body of a professor is found in a private office of Exeter University. It is the first in a spate of horrific murders that shakes the city to its core.

Who would target a seemingly innocent man, and why? DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles turn to his students for answers, but their investigation turns up no leads. Someone must know more than they’re letting on…

As the body count rises, the police have to look into the past to uncover the person responsible before it’s too late.

But are they brave enough to face up to the truth?

 

Katerina and Avon have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

‘No, someone from the DCI’s old area. I think they wanted an outsider, someone who wasn’t caught up in any of the local shit,’ Adrian reassured her. Imogen herself had transferred from Plymouth under a bit of a black cloud and so he knew she wouldn’t appreciate working with any of her former colleagues.

‘Yet.’

‘Apparently she personally endorsed his transfer. The DCI has worked out all right. Maybe it’s a good move.’

‘Him? Is he hot?’

‘Why are you asking me?’

‘You can’t objectively say whether a man is attractive? Are you worried that I might think . . .’

‘Don’t finish that sentence. His face is very symmetrical, which suggests he is probably quite good-looking.’ Adrian smiled at her.

‘Wow. I’d hate to hear how you describe me.’ She gathered up her things to go.

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Book Review: A Walk in Wildflower Park by Bella Osborne

Welcome back to Bella Osborne who is here today with the blog tour for her new novel, A Walk in Wildflower Park.

Life’s not always a walk in the park…

When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves in to her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?

Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.

Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

A Walk in Wildflower Park was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

 

Anna thought she had found the one in Liam until he broke off the engagement.

Hoping a change of scenery will do her good, she moves into a place of her own on the edge of the beautiful Wildflower Park.

With the help of her friend and neighbour, Sophie, a temperamental elderly man named Bert and a cat named Maurice, Anna quickly settles in and vows to put her career first.

A handsome new American colleague and texts from a mystery man don’t make her new plan easy.

Is this the beginning of something great for Anna?

A new novel from Bella is like catching up with a friend you’ve not seen for ages and yet pick up where you left off which starts with a warm hug – comforting but also exciting.

Told from duel point of views, Anna and Sophie, it was interesting to see the opposites when it comes to the lifestyles of these women. Their friendship was lovely to read about and the kind everyone wants.

As well as Anna and Sophie, other characters were great too. These included the handsome Hudson, the clueless yet loveable Dave and the brilliant Bert who added additional humour to an already funny novel.

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NK Chats to… Jenni Keer

Jenni Keer

Hi Jenni, it’s great to be welcoming you back to Novel Kicks.

Thank you so much for having me back. I can’t believe my second book is out already. I had a real thrill ride with The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker. The book had so many amazing reviews and I was delighted to get an Amazon bestseller flag. Let’s hope The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadowsis as enthusiastically received.

 

Which fictional character would you like to spend the day with? What would you do?

This is such a hard question. In fact, I left answering it until the end because there are so many characters I could have chosen. I considered people from historical novels where I would get the opportunity to spend some time in an exciting period of history – perhaps with a Regency lady or a certain Victorian cotton mill owner *wink*. I thought about characters with special powers, like Harry Potter and various superheroes (flying through the air with Superman would be a blast). I considered the simple rural idyll that would be spending a day with Anne Shirley at Green Gables, or Miss Marple in her beloved St Mary Mead. Perhaps I could pamper myself and spend the day with someone wealthy or influential, perhaps party with Jay Gatsby, or Holly Golightly? So many fabulous characters, so many choices…

In the end (wait for it…) it’s a toss up between Mr Daydream (who could give my imagination a boost and therefore some fabulous material for my novels) and Mr Impossible (so I can do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING) from the fabulous Mr Men. These were the very first books I read by myself and they have a special place in my heart. I’m sure I could have some up with something more intellectual but I’m embracing my inner child. Besides, I’m curious to see how they mange to drink a cup of tea with those stumpy little arms (Mr Tickle being the obvious exception).

 

Which songs would be on a playlist for The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows?

This is quite an easy question because Theo, who works with Maisie at the auction house, has a particular penchant for the 1980s. Although he is an expert in modern design (i.e. post-war) that’s the decade that really interests him, and this is reflected in his music taste. He plays a lot of The Jam, The Police, The Clash (late Seventies/Eighties) so a soundtrack would have to include these bands. This contrasts with the flamboyant Johnny (Maisie’s boss) who has more classical tastes, so perhaps some Mozart and a sprinkling of Shostakovich (as it is mentioned in the book). And then, to keep the author happy, I’d have to throw in a few recent dance tracks – which is largely what I listen to when I write. So it would be quite an eclectic mix.

 

How did your writing process differ from your previous novel?

In many ways it was quite similar. I’m a pantser, not a plotter, so apart from the bare bones of the story and a definite idea of the ending, I do tend to launch myself in rather randomly, not even writing chronologically. However, for Maisie I had to produce a synopsis for the publisher before I began writing and this did help me focus my ideas a bit more. There was also a time pressure for Maisie, whereas Lucy was written before I had a publishing deal so I had longer to play about with it. However, deadlines are Good Things. They help you focus.

The only thing I really did differently was a mid-book plan. I always refer to my first draft as the Bowl of Dropped Spaghetti stage – because in my head that’s what it feels like. After that, I need to pick all the jumbled spaghetti up and sort it out. Writing Maisie was the first time I’d produced a coherent plan but it was only at this post first-draft stage. I put all the scenes I’d written on Post-it notes and then planned the book – a bit backwards but it worked. My clever techie son set me up with two screens and I simply pulled across sections in order onto a blank document. I am at the Bowl of Dropped Spaghetti stage with Book 3 now so shall employ this method again.

 

Which authors have inspired you?

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Book Extract and Review: Stolen by Paul Finch

Hello Friday! It’s almost the weekend and what better way to celebrate its arrival than a visit from Paul Finch and the blog tour for his new novel, Stolen. 

How do you find the missing when there’s no trail to follow?

DC Lucy Clayburn is having a tough time of it. Not only is her estranged father one of the North West’s toughest gangsters, but she is in the midst of one of the biggest police operations of her life.

Members of the public have started to disappear, taken from the streets as they’re going about their every day lives. But no bodies are appearing – it’s almost as if the victims never existed.

Lucy must chase a trail of dead ends and false starts as the disappearances mount up. But when her father gets caught in the crossfire, the investigation suddenly becomes a whole lot more bloody…

 

I’ve reviewed the novel below but before that, Paul and Avon have shared an extract. 

 

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

 

Lucy was still in the thick of the action, though it was mostly over. On all sides, cautions were being issued, and the responses, mainly f-words and other more imaginative profanities, being recorded on dictaphone as the jostling, cuffed men were frogmarched to the farm cottage wall and held there, each by his individual arresting officer, while others commenced searching them. One resisted more than the rest, kicking out and spitting, and was given a backhander across the mouth for his trouble. Lucy wasn’t worried. When the evidence was finally presented, she doubted there was a magistrate in the land who’d be swayed by farcical complaints about police brutality.

Quite a bit of that evidence was on display inside the barn itself, when she went in there. The centrepiece was a purpose-built pit, squarish in shape, about ten yards by ten, dug to a depth of five feet and lined with brick, with a steel ladder fixed in one corner and a camera mounted on a tripod overlooking it, alongside an upright chalkboard scribbled with betting information. 

Two dogs still occupied the pit. One, an American pit bull, charged crazily back and forth, jumping up to snap and snarl at the officers, despite the excessive blood dabbling its jaws and jowls. The other one, whose breed was uncertain, lay in a quivering, panting heap, gashed and torn and spattered with gore.

‘We need one of the vets in here,’ Lucy said to a PC at her shoulder. ‘And a handler . . . to control the other one, yeah?’

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Book Extract & Review: A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft

I can’t think of a better way to start a Monday than a visit from Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her new novel, A Summer to remember.

 

WANTED! A caretaker for Roundhouse Row holiday cottages.

WHERE? Nelson’s Bar is the perfect little village. Nestled away on the Norfolk coast we can offer you no signal, no Wi-Fi and – most importantly – no problems!

WHO? The ideal candidate will be looking for an escape from their cheating scumbag ex-fiancé, a diversion from their entitled cousin, and a break from their traitorous friends.

WHAT YOU’LL GET! Accommodation in a chocolate-box cottage, plus a summer filled with blue skies and beachside walks. Oh, and a reunion with the man of your dreams.

PLEASE NOTE: We take no responsibility for any of the above scumbags, passengers and/or traitors walking back into your life…

GET IN TOUCH NOW TO MAKE THIS A SUMMER TO REMEMBER!

 

Mick has reviewed the book but first, Sue and Avon have shared an extract with us all today. 

 

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

Surprised into rising and facing the direction the voice had come from, Clancy had to grab the back of the bench as her head swam anew. A short, rotund woman with a dandelion clock of white hair and a sweet smile shuffled around the house. ‘Are you are our new Evelyn? I’m Dilys, from number two. I thought I’d say hello.’ By now Dilys was standing in front of Clancy, daisy-strewn wellies peeping from beneath a rose-splashed skirt. Her eyebrows bobbed enquiringly.

‘I’m taking the caretaker’s job, yes.’ It was impossible not to return Dilys’s smile; it was so twinkly and warm. ‘I was just wondering where I could find a supermarket. Or furniture shops. Aaron had to rush off before he could tell me.’ She supposed she was lucky that she had money in the bank but she hadn’t really bargained for the hassle of furnishing the Roundhouse when she decided to launch herself towards Nelson’s Bar.

Dilys’s grey eyes twinkled as she turned and let herself down stiffly onto the bench beside Clancy. ‘Furniture? I expect he’ll just bring the other stuff back. They stored it up at De Silva House – Aaron’s parents’ place – because Evelyn had her own.’

Clancy suppressed a wriggle of hurt that Aaron hadn’t mentioned something that, clearly, would make her life easier. Evidently, he didn’t want her here. So what? She’d been unwanted by people much closer and more important to her than Aaron De Silva. Her ex-fiancé and work colleagues, for example. And with her parents it had always only been fifty-fifty.

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Book Extract & Review: Tick Tock by Mel Sherratt

You made it everyone. It’s the weekend. Today, I am pleased to welcome back Mel Sherratt and the blog tour for her new book, Tick Tock. 

 

TICK…

In the city of Stoke, a teenage girl is murdered in the middle of the day, her lifeless body abandoned in a field behind her school.

TOCK…

Two days later, a young mother is abducted. She’s discovered strangled and dumped in a local park.

TIME’S UP…

DS Grace Allendale and her team are brought in to investigate, but with a bold killer, no leads and nothing to connect the victims, the case seems hopeless. It’s only when a third woman is targeted that a sinister pattern emerges. A dangerous mind is behind these attacks, and Grace realises that the clock is ticking…

Can they catch the killer before another young woman dies?

 

Mel and Avon have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

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

‘Robert?’ Perry queried.

‘Robert Carmichael. He’s the PE teacher. The classes get very competitive and it gives the pupils a good workout in the fresh air.’

‘Who owns the field where Lauren was found?’ Grace questioned.

‘Arthur Barrett and his family – a local farming generation. The school have been using it with their permission for over twenty years.’ Nathan shook his head in disbelief. ‘I hope I don’t have to suspend Robert for not watching them all.’

‘He can’t have eyes in the back of his head,’ Perry said.

‘I guess. But it only takes one person to blame him. And me.’ Nathan ran a hand through his hair and swallowed.

‘Although, according to some of the pupils, he shouted at them to hurry up a few times.’

‘We need a list of the pupils who took his class, too,’ Grace said. ‘We’ll have to speak to them all over the course of the next day or two. If there aren’t enough teachers spare to sit with the pupils, or if any parents or guardians specifically want to be with their children when we speak to them, we’ll arrange appointments. Whatever happens, everything will be dealt with in a sensitive manner.’

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Book Review: Sleep by C.L.Taylor

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

Anna is in a car accident which kills two of her colleagues and severely injures another.

In order to try and move on with her life, Anna splits with her boyfriend, Alex and ends up working at a hotel on the remote island of Rum in Scotland.

When tragedy strikes further, she and the guests discover they are cut off from the rest of the Island.

Messages for Anna begin to appear. Each one is more sinister than the last. She soon realises she has nowhere to hide.

I am a fan of C.L. Taylor’s novels. I tend to start reading and before I know it, I’ve reached the end and it’s 2am in the morning. I have not wanted to put it down. It was certainly the case with Sleep.

C.L. Taylor has such a unique way of drawing you into her novels. The beginning of this book is a prime example.

The tension is built at a great pace. I thought I had it sussed and then something else would soon happen to debunk my theories. I couldn’t see the end coming.

Anna is a damaged character. She has been through a lot. I felt sorry and protective of her as she tries to move on from her life.

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Book Extract: My Sister’s Lies by S.D. Robertson

I’m happy to welcome S.D. Robertson back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his new novel, My Sister’s Lies. 

For a decade, Hannah’s life has been pretty close to perfect – she has a great job, she’s married to Mark, and her child-free existence means she’s free as a bird. The only sadness in her life is a fall-out with her sister Diane, who hasn’t spoken to her in over ten years. But now Diane is on her doorstep – and this time, she’s got her teenage daughter Mia in tow.

When Diane asks if Mia can stay with Hannah and Mark for a few days, Hannah is glad of the chance to get to know her niece. But as the days turn into weeks and Diane doesn’t return, Hannah begins to worry. Why hasn’t her sister been in touch?

Diane is carrying a devastating secret that will destroy Hannah’s carefully constructed life. But how much is she willing to reveal – and when will she pick her moment?

 

S.D Robertson has shared an extract with us today. 

 

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

He was a stubborn man, Frank Wells, so she couldn’t imagine he would have breached his vow to reveal this one particular piece of news. While she could only assume he was the person who’d given Diane her address, this was no doubt with the intention that it might lead to their reconciliation.

As Hannah had lost herself for a moment in these thoughts, her guests had also kept quiet, leading to the first long, awkward silence of their visit. Suddenly aware of it and uncomfortable, she’d responded by taking the bull by the horns and attempting to get to the bottom of Diane’s shock return.

‘You said something before about needing to see me,’ she’d said, squeezing her palms together and raising her eyebrows. ‘That it was important?’

‘Yes, that’s right, but can we talk about it later?’ Diane had replied. ‘How’s Mark, by the way? He’s still at work, I assume.’

‘He’s fine, thank you. He should be home before too long.’

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Book Extract: Wildflower Park Part 3 – Oopsy Daisy by Bella Osborne

Yey, Bella is back. Welcome to Bella Osborne and the blog tour for Oopsy Daisy. This is part three of her four-part serial for Escape to Wildflower Park. 

Escape to Wildflower Park with Part Three of a brand new four-part serial from bestselling author Bella Osborne.

Life’s not always a walk in the park…

When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves in to her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?

Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.

Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

 

Bella and Avon Books have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

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

‘Who do these belong to?’ said a grinning Sophie, waving aloft a pair of men’s Spider-Man underpants as Anna dashed into the kitchen to avoid the downpour outside.

‘What?’ said Anna, glancing at the swinging underwear. She kicked off her heels and sighed with relief. It had been a very long day. She gave her toes a wriggle. Maurice was lying in the hall stretched out like a furry road bump.

‘Who is Mr …’ Sophie paused to study the label ‘… large?’ asked Sophie.

‘Who’s who?’ asked Anna, starting to feel a tiny bit irritated by the silly conversation and the stupid pants.

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Book Extract: Wildflower Park – Part Two: A Budding Romance by Bella Osborne

Welcome back to Bella Osborne and the blog tour for part two of a four-part serial, Wildflower Park. This part is called A Budding Romance. 

When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves in to her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?

Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.

Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

 

Bella has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy! 

 

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

Once out of the canoes there was lots of congratulatory blokey back slapping, a few playful remonstrations and lots of Karl shaking his wet head over people like a naughty puppy. When he knew Liam was watching, Hudson leaned into Anna’s ear.

‘Nice job, honey,’ he whispered, making her shudder.

She hoped Hudson assumed her squirming was all part of the act. If you weren’t gay, you would make an excellent boyfriend, she thought. If she wasn’t careful she’d soon be suffering from Sophie’s complaint.

As the victors they were first to eat lunch, which was a barbecue by the water’s edge.

‘You okay?’ Anna asked Sophie who was munching down a large hamburger overflowing with salad.

‘Starving and a bit knackered but I had fun this morning and the lie-in was bliss. It’s lovely not to be woken by someone jumping on your bladder.’

‘You should stop Dave doing that,’ said Anna drily and Sophie gave a smirk.

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Upcoming Books Releases: May

the burning chambersHello May. 

I am not entirely sure how we’re already in May. The weather doesn’t help. It’s very confused right. To help escape this weather or enjoy basking in the sunshine (I can hope,) the list below is a few of the new releases coming this month.

 

The first book I want to feature is The Burning Chambers which is the new book from Kate Mosse. I haven’t read any of her books (and I am not sure why,) but this book is a great reason to start. 

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.

Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power . . .

(Released 3rd May by Mantle.) 

 

the castThe second upcoming release on my list is The Cast by Danielle Steel. It is due to be released by Macmillan on 31st May. 

Kait Whittier has built her magazine column into a hugely respected read followed by fans across the country. She loves her work and adores her grown children, treasuring the time they spend together. But after two marriages, she prefers to avoid the complications and uncertainties of a new love.

Then, after a chance meeting with television producer Zack Winter, everything changes. Inspired by the true story of her own grandmother, Kait creates the storyline for a TV series. Within weeks, Kait is plunged into a colourful, star-studded world of actors and industry pros who will bring her vision to life, from the reclusive grand dame to LA’s hottest bad boy actor.

As secrets are shared and revelations come to light, friendships deepen. But in the midst of this charmed year, Kait is forced to confront the greatest challenge a mother could ever know and this unforgettable cast becomes more important to her than she ever could have imagined.

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NK Chats To… Catherine Ferguson

CatherineHi Catherine, it’s lovely to welcome you and the blog tour for your new book Love Among The Treetops to Novel Kicks today. What is your typical day as a writer?

I work best in the early mornings, so I like to reach for my laptop (and lots of tea) almost as soon as I wake up. On a good day, I’ll write five hundred words before breakfast, and to make it easier to face that blank page every day, I like to make rough notes on the next part of my story the night before. I usually write between 500 – 1500 words a day and I aim to finish by ‘lunch-time’, which can be anything from midday to mid-afternoon! By then, I find all the emotion of living the story with my characters has taken a bit of a toll on my energy levels. (I’m always amazed by how exhausting it can be, writing on emotional subjects – particularly when your main character has hit rock bottom. You feel all the see-saw emotions she’s going through and it’s almost as if you’ve been through it yourself.)

 

What inspired Love Among the Treetops?

I live near a place called Alnwick Garden in Northumberland. It’s incredibly magical and they have a beautiful restaurant in a fairytale tree house. I wanted an unusual setting for my café in this book, and I suddenly thought what a romantic setting a tree house would be!

 

How do you pick your names in a novel?

For my heroine, I like to choose a name that really appeals to me – and if it can be that little bit different (therefore memorable), then so much the better. Sometimes the name just slots into my head when I’m dreaming up the character. It just seems to fit. And that’s what happened when I was imagining my main character in Love Among the Treetops. The name ‘Twilight’ came to me and it was perfect!

 

Is plot or character more important?

With me, what tends to happen is I have a basic idea at the start of what’s going to happen in my book and a rough idea of my main character’s personality. So at that point they’re equally important. But then I think character takes over and to some extent dictates the way the story progresses. Once I’m immersed in seeing things through the eyes of my heroine, surprising plot twists seem to happen. That’s why I never start out with a plot that’s set in stone because it always changes – I have to obey my main character!

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Claudia Carroll: Starting to Write a New Novel…

Claudia Our Little Secret JacketThe blog tour train is here. Today, Claudia Carroll joins me to talk about her process when writing a new book. Her latest novel, Our Little Secret was released by Avon on 8th February. 

Over to you, Claudia.

Before starting any new book, I’d write out a pitch for it first, just a page or so, nice and short. Then I send it to my agent and editor and see what they think. If I get the thumbs up from them, one of my little tips is to write it out as a short story first, nothing that’ll ever see the light of day, it’s just an exercise for me really, to see if the story idea has legs. Sometimes, I’ll start the short story and the fizz will run out of it, in which case I know that it’s back to the drawing board for me. But if the short story leaves me feeling there’s so much more I want to write, but don’t have room for, then I know I’m onto something.

When it comes to plot, I’m a planner and I think every author is, really. I always think that starting off a novel without a plan is like getting into a car without knowing where you’re going…you’ll just end up driving round in circles.

Once my editor, agent and I have agreed on a pitch, then I do a skeleton outline of any new story before I’d even sit down to write a line. It makes life so much easier later on, on the days when I find I’m a bit stuck. It takes me quite a long time to get to really know my characters, so I’d begin by writing out a rough biography for everyone of them, to try to make them as three dimensional as possible, it helps me hugely.

A reader will quickly lose interest if they just don’t like the hero or heroine. You really have to try to layer them carefully so that they really jump off the page. Remember at the start of a new book, you’re asking a reader to go on a 400 page journey with your characters, and particularly your leading lady, so it’s vital to get character right early on.

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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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NK Chats to…. Bella Osborne

Bella Osborne

Bella Osborne

Avon Books, August 2017

Avon Books, August 2017

Hi Bella. It’s lovely to have you back on Novel Kicks. Your book is called Escape to  Willow Cottage. Can you tell us a little about it?

Hi Laura. I’m so happy to be back, I love you guys!
Escape to Willow Cottage is the story of Beth who is running away from a bad relationship and Carly who is trying to secure the future of hers.
Beth has her young son, Leo, to protect when she impulsively buys Willow Cottage at auction. When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

 

What’s your writing process like? How has your writing process changed since writing your first novel?

My writing process is very structured. I am a project manager by profession so it feels natural to me to apply the same approach to my writing. I spend a lot of time getting to know my characters and working out my plot and story threads before I start to write. There are always lots of post-it notes involved!
It has changed in that I know a bit more about what I’m doing now whereas with the first book I just happily bumbled along and then did lots of editing later on.

 

If you were able to go back and give yourself advice when you were a new writer, what would you say/tell yourself?

Start writing a whole novel NOW! I have always written but it took until 2013 for me to challenge myself to write a full-length novel and I wish I had done this years ago because I enjoy it so much.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

Shenanigans – it makes me smile.

 

Novel Kicks picWhat are your ideal writing conditions? Any writing rituals? 

Somewhere warm with custard creams – that pretty much covers my requirements. I use our spare bedroom as my writing room but if I win the lottery I would really like a shepherd’s hut – oh well, a girl can dream. I don’t have any writing rituals, as such, but I like to celebrate finishing a novel with a glass of fizz (basically any excuse to pop a cork).

 

What’s the best and also most challenging aspect of being a writer?

The best thing about being a writer is … writing. I know that sounds dumb, but to be able to sit down and write the story that’s in your head is what I was always meant to be doing. If books were banned tomorrow I’d still need to write. When readers enjoy my books that’s the cherry on the cake.
The thing I find most challenging is maintaining focus and not being distracted by new ideas. This was what used to stop me from finishing stories in the past, I would be derailed by a new shiny story that just had to be written. To try to pigeonhole my thoughts I have a file on my computer called ‘Random Thoughts’ where I jot down ideas – it currently stands at twelve thousand words!

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Blog Tour: Just For The Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

rp_Sue-Moorcroft-199x3001.jpg SuemoorcroftjustfortheholidaysI am very pleased and super excited to be welcoming the fabulous Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her new novel, Just For The Holidays, released today by Avon Books.

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

 

Mick has reviewed the book but first, Sue shares her top tips for surviving summer holidays. Over to you, Sue.

I love summer. I was brought up for several years in Malta and it’s there I think I must have developed my love of the sun. Here are my top tips for surviving summer holidays:
• Take plenty to read. Whether it’s your eReader, print books or magazines, just make sure everybody in your party has something. I know you’ve got your phones on which to browse the Internet or tablets to let you watch DVDs but airport delays or beaches lead to flat batteries, low signal or extortionate phone bills. I find a book a day a nice starting point. Loading my eReader for a trip is such a pleasure! And I generally take a magazine just in case something makes it impossible to read on my eReader and the app on my phone.

• Choose a holiday you actually want. This might sound like stating the flippin’ obvious but if you’ve browbeaten your holiday companions into going where you want, you may find that nobody has a good time – and that includes you if they remind you every five minutes and sulk. (Of course, if you’re the browbeaten one and you didn’t actually want to spend your holiday in a theme park, put your friends/family in a queue for a ride, find a sunny bench and take out your book …) Leah in Just for the Holidays allows her sister, Michele, to coax her into a holiday she doesn’t want and things go seriously wrong from the first. (It doesn’t help that Michele has a couple of secrets, including quite an important one that she hasn’t shared with Leah.)

Blog tour• If you can afford it, treat yourself to a pre-holiday pamper. Leg-waxing and gel nails can keep you feeling good all through your long-awaited holiday.

• Stay safe. It’s a shame we have to think this way but many a fabulous break has been ruined by theft of money and/or passports and returning to find the home ransacked. Be aware, use the hotel safe, visit one of the ‘information for travellers’ websites for advice pertinent to the place you’re visiting.

• Take at least one sweatshirt and a raincoat. Even hot countries have summer storms or freak weather.

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Blog Tour: Christmas Cheer (Willow Cottage) by Bella Osborne – Extract and Review

Bella OsborneOK, I admit it, I already have the Christmas songs playing and if I could get away with it, I would already have my tree up. I adore this time of year. I love the songs, the lights and any excuse to dig out the Christmas films whilst eating mince pies.

One of the things I love the most are the Christmas themed novels. I am very excited to say that Bella Osborne is with Novel Kicks today (welcome back, Bella,) with the blog tour for her latest Christmas themed novel, Christmas Cheer which is the second book in the Willow Cottage series.

Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric!

A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

Thanks to Bella and Avon, we have an extract from Christmas Cheer. Enjoy…

‘Carly!’ said Beth, her voice sharp.

Carly spun in Beth’s direction with an exaggerated movement. With slow blinks she looked at Beth until something registered.

‘Beth! This is … um … what was your name again?’ She swung precariously back towards Jack who stopped her falling on him with one hand whilst holding the pub table steady with the other.

‘I know who it is.’ Beth was trying to suppress the annoyance that was rapidly developing within her.

‘He’s lov-erly,’ cooed Carly whilst she stroked his arm in a deliberate action.

‘I’d like to know what he’s planning on doing with my drunk friend?’ Beth retorted. Jack let go of

Carly as if she were a lit firework.

As the accusation slowly registered, Carly looked hurt. ‘I’m not dunk!’ she protested as she slowly slid towards the floor.

Jack was looking blindly from one woman to the other as if he’d just been teleported there. ‘I was just …’

‘For someone that wasn’t looking for a relationship a few hours ago you’ve sure as hell come round to the idea quick!’ Beth stepped forward and grabbed Carly by one arm and hauled her into a standing position. ‘Come on! We’re leaving now.’

Carly wobbled on unsteady legs, grinned inanely at Jack and was towed away.

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Bella’s Scribbling’s: Shelfies

rp_Bella-185x300111111-185x300-185x300.jpgYou may have noticed that a well known UK Superstore is now stocking my novel – ‘It Started At Sunset Cottage’ and if you haven’t then I suggest you hot foot it down to the store where ‘Every Little Helps’ to check it out for yourself. To be honest I’m guessing most folk are not quite as excited as I am to see it on a shelf (I could stand there staring at it for hours but apparently they’re not very keen on that, or so the nice security guard man said as he showed me out).
So how did this happen? (Grab a cuppa and I will update you).

Apparently my lovely editor at Harper Impulse, Charlotte Ledger, has been encouraging everyone she knows to read my book and one of the people she offered it to was Caroline Kirkpatrick from Avon (no not the curly paged magazine that gets poked through your door and then an odd-looking man comes to demand it back a few days later – not that. This Avon is another imprint of Harper Collins and thankfully has no curly pages or odd-looking men). Luckily Caroline enjoyed the story and this is where I get a little hazy as to what happened next, so I may have to make bits up.

After various discussions deep within the nooks and crannies of the News building in London they decided to repackage my novel and make it ‘supermarket friendly’. I wondered if this meant it would have a sell by date and come with two packets of custard creams (well, a girl can dream). Apparently, the supermarkets are very specific about what they want and what their experience tells them will sell. So with that in mind my cover was tweaked – it gained some bunting and the cottage was thatched but sadly we lost the dog in the handbag and the pineapples hidden in the floral arrangements. But overall the revised cover was definitely striking.

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Blog Tour: Creature Comforts by Trisha Ashley

CreatureComfortsI am excited to be welcoming Trisha Ashley back to Novel Kicks. Her latest novel, Creature Comforts was released by Avon on 26th February and as part of the blog tour for the book, Trisha and Avon have shared an extract with us. Enjoy.

When we first met, it felt so right that I thought falling in love with him must be part of my preordained destiny. Even though my best friends, Lulu and Cameron, teased me about my conviction that I had a near-death experience and went to Heaven while I was in a coma after the accident, and was sent back only because I had some important purpose to perform in life, I knew it was real. Since then I just had to tune inwards to the voice of my guardian angel from time to time to check I’d taken the right turning … only with Kieran, I think I must have fallen for him so hard that I misread the message.

My path through life had appeared clearly marked till then, for after studying Textiles and Design, I’d accepted a job with the Women’s World Workshops Foundation, which sent me on assignments all over the world, though the majority were in India. The pay was minimal, but the job satisfaction immense: discovering the skills and artistic heritage of each area and finding ways of utilising them in the making of beautiful garments, the sale of which could transform the lives of the local women involved in the scheme and, through them, those of their families and even their whole communities.

And all the time I was amassing a huge portfolio of colours, designs, patterns, ideas and contacts, ready for the day when I would finally go home for good to Halfhidden, the small village in west Lancashire where I grew up, and set up my own business selling retro-inspired clothes.

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Blog Tour: Review – Creature Comforts by Trisha Ashley

CreatureComfortsIzzy has broken off her engagement to her feckless fiancée Kieran and returned to her childhood home – the sleepy village of Halfhidden.
She soon realizes that life in the village is anything but peaceful – for one thing she’s living with her mad aunt Debo and her pack of dogs, and for another, Izzy has a lot of unanswered questions.

When she was a teenager, Izzy was involved in a terrible accident, involving various inhabitants of Halfhidden. As she sets out to discover what actually happened on the night of the accident, she realizes that her painful past is actually standing in the way of her future happiness. So when a handsome stranger comes to Halfhidden will she let love back into her life?

I have loved Trisha’s previous novels and I was excited to receive a review copy of her new novel, Creature Comforts. I always find a warmth and humour in Trisha’s novels and this one was no exception.

Izzy is a lovely character and I liked her from the beginning. She has a relatable quality to her and I wanted her to be OK throughout the course of the book. She simply wants to get on with her life and the only way she can do this is to find out what happened the night of the accident she was involved in when she was sixteen. She is a lovely girl but is not someone who is going to be walked over and I loved this about her.

The other characters are endearing. I loved Debo and Judy and I loved Lulu and Cameron together. I did not warm to Dan or Kieran at all but I think that was the point. Rufus was a great character and I knew from the beginning that he wasn’t going to be what he seemed or as horrible as people made out. I felt quite sorry for him actually – with all of the things he was having to deal with.

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