Blog Blitz

Book Extract: Christmas at the Marshmallow Café by CP Ward

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Bonnie & Debbie

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

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

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

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

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Book Review: Scavenger Art by Lexi Rees

Scavenger hunts are fun.

Drawing is fun.

Put them together for ★ SCAVENGER ART ★

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

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

Perfect for ages 6 to 12.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Extract: Mistletoe and the Mouse by Elsa Simonetti

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

Can a magical Christmas melt a frozen heart?

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

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

A festive romance with a sprinkling of Pixie Dust.

 

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

 

 

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

 

Introduction:

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

 

Extract:

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

‘To Disneyland Paris,’ Belle told her.

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Review: You Never See Rainbows at Christmas by Elaine Spires

Like a rhinestone Miss Havisham Eloise plans to spend Christmas alone, lying on the settee, crying her eyes out and listening to Dolly Parton’s Greatest Hits. 

But a fall in the sleet two nights before Christmas lands her at the feet of rough sleeper Adam who is fighting his own demons. 

Limping, cut and bruised, she has no alternative but to accept his offer of help. And instead of rejection and solitude there’s friendship and company and the festive season suddenly seems brighter.  Eloise’s never seen a rainbow at Christmas… Until now.

 

Eloise plans to spend Christmas alone as she nurses a broken heart. However, a fall outside a corner shop results in her meeting Adam, a rough sleeper who, like Eloise, is fighting events in his past.

Before she knows it, she’s accepted his offer for help and friendship develops. Eloise has never seen a rainbow at Christmas… yet.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, then you know I love a Christmas themed novel so I jumped at the chance to be included in the one day blog blitz for You Never See Rainbows at Christmas by Elaine Spires.

I have to mention this beautiful cover. It’s so pretty and it sets the tone for the story well.

There are two very complex and deep characters at the centre of this book, Eloise and Adam.
Both are fighting, trying to deal with aspects from their past and both running away from facing it. These events caused hurt, pain, grief and shame and I really felt for both these characters. I wondered what could have happened to Eloise and Adam prior to this point. Nothing is ever black and white.

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

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

Hilarious and heart warming true stories of a Pet Sitter.

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Extract: One Hundred Views of NW3 by Pat Jourdan

It’s my pleasure to be taking part in the one day blog blitz for One Hundred Views of NW3 by Pat Jourdan.

Arriving in London with £5, Stella rapidly begins hopping from one disastrous job, bedsit and boyfriend to another.

All the time she is trying to paint pictures and write poetry. At last she gets a place in Hampstead but various men distract her from reaching the goal of holding an exhibition. An ever-changing group of friends moves her along from place to place.

After each drawback Stela moves on, disaster after disaster, while the tally of of pictures shrinks to 36. Set in the heady days of 1960s Swinging London, this vividly charts one girl’s track through the untidy years at its height.

 

Pat has shared an extract today so find that comfortable spot to sit, grab that drink and enjoy.

 

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

The group of Liverpool friends are excited when someone they knew back home appears as a sculptor, with an exhibition in a proper London gallery. However, he gets drunk and destroys his own show.

*****

Gloria called round. She was excited – Fred was in town.

“He’s having an exhibition, and we’re invited to the private view. Remember him?” This was the life Stella wanted, after all, one private view after another. Harry would meet them at the gallery straight from work, it was not far from St Martin’s College of Art.

Glasses of red and white wine were being offered as if from a fountain and Fred had indulged happily and was obviously already drunk. He was glad to see them and introduced them to his girlfriend, Anna. She was at least half his age, almost as tall and blonde. She assured Stella that she was going to be an art critic, that was her plan.

A beautiful Spanish man with soulful dark eyes and his equally good-looking boyfriend decided to buy one of the sculptures.

“We don’t quite understand that piece, though. Why is it called ‘Soldat’?” He pointed to a small brass coal scuttle standing under a spotlight.

“Soldat? It’s German for Soldier. It’s a German helmet! Thought that would be obvious!” Fred said brusquely, dismissing the questioner. However, the man moved away to a crucifixion piece and decided after a confab with his companion to buy it instead. It was a representation of Calvary made from three forks set into a block of wood. The forks’ tines had been pressed apart to form the arms of the crosses and the figures of Christ and the two thieves were made from spilt solder, splashed silver ghostly figures that appeared if the onlooker used their imagination.

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