Blog Tour

Book Review: The Island by C.L Taylor

Welcome to The Island.

Where your worst fears are about to come true…

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island.

But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re becoming a reality.

Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret.

Who will make it off the island alive?

Jessie, Jefferson, Milo, Meg and Honor have been going on annual holidays together for as long as they can remember. This year, they have been treated to a survival weekend on a small private island in Thailand.

To begin with, their adventure is fun but when they find themselves suddenly alone with no way of getting back to the mainland, their time there soon turns into something more sinister.

I am such a big fan of C L Taylor and so I was excited to have a chance to read The Island. From the beginning, the tension and suspense builds and this compelling novel kept me reading well into the night. Time just seemed to disappear.

I liked the fact that it was told from both the point of view of Jessie and Danny. Everyone became less reliable as the story progressed. I continuously tried to figure out what was going on and who was responsible. I didn’t see the end coming.

Each of these characters are in some way relatable and C.L Taylor doesn’t shy away from dealing with some tough subjects including grief, loss, bullying and mental health. It wasn’t hard for me to empathise with these six teenagers.

It has also made me realise that I never want to go to a private Island or jungle. Ever! The setting is described so vividly, I did feel as though I was there with them. This book would transfer to being a movie very well. I could see each scene as it played out.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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NK Chats To… Kate Ryder

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

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

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

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

 

What’s your typical writing day like?

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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Book Review: When the Children Come by Barry Kirwan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Review: The Flipside by James Bailey

It’s love . . . what could go wrong?

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

Until she says no.

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

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

Maybe the coin will change his life forever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Extract: One Snowy Week in Springhollow by Lucy Knott

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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Book Review: Scavenger Art by Lexi Rees

Scavenger hunts are fun.

Drawing is fun.

Put them together for ★ SCAVENGER ART ★

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

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

Perfect for ages 6 to 12.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Review: Chroma by Oscar Wenman-Hyde

When Riley watched Chroma, the latest movie by Armani Manora, he had no idea how much his life was about to change.

Riley’s parents, Jean and Paul, are currently getting divorced, and they have managed to keep the situation hidden from Riley, until now. 

They were unaware of the effects this was having on Riley’s emotional and mental well-being, and as tensions rose at school and at home, he was visited by a voice in his bedroom. Before too long, he began a journey that was not only dangerous, but eye opening. 

Chroma explores the rapidly changing family dynamic throughout divorce, and how a child’s imagination can take them to unknown places. It is emotional, insightful and a moving story which not only teaches us how to be an adult, but how to be a child.

 

This book focuses on a family where the parents are separating. In the middle of that is their young son, Riley. Whilst his parents do their best to keep the worst of the divorce away from him, Riley escapes into the world of movies, regardless of whether they are suitable.

One night he starts to hear a voice in his bedroom and when he discovers things he doesn’t want to face, he runs away and ends up alone in the woods.

For me, it took a little while to settle into this book but once I did, I found that I wanted to keep reading to find out how it ended for Riley.

It is clear that Riley is a very lonely, vulnerable character. He’s a child who only has one best friend and so I felt that his escape into the movies he watches gives him the friendships he doesn’t have in reality. He doesn’t have much beyond his family life which is falling apart around him.

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Book Review: The Spark by Jules Wake

Jess is falling for Sam.

Sam is falling for Jess.

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

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

Is love at first sight enough?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The illustrations are lovely, adorable, bright and engaging.

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

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

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Book Extract: Mistletoe and the Mouse by Elsa Simonetti

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

Can a magical Christmas melt a frozen heart?

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

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

A festive romance with a sprinkling of Pixie Dust.

 

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

 

 

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

 

Introduction:

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

 

Extract:

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

‘To Disneyland Paris,’ Belle told her.

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Review: Olga’s Egg by Sophie Law

When Fabergé specialist Assia Wynfield learns of the discovery of a long-lost Fabergé egg made for the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, daughter of the last Tsar of Russia, she appears to be the only person with misgivings.

On travelling to St. Petersburg to see the egg, Assia moves among Russia’s new rich but finds herself pulled back into a family past she would rather forget.

With news that a friend is missing, Assia starts to dig deeper. But does she really want the answers to the questions she is asking?

Set in today’s glamorous world of Russian art with glimpses into the lives of the last Romanovs as their empire crumbled in the wake of the Russian Revolution.

It’s the second stop for me on the 12 Days of Clink Street Publishing blog tour and today, I am reviewing Olga’s Egg by Sophie Law.

The story of the Romanovs has always fascinated me so I was already intrigued by this novel before I even began to read. From page one, it immediately drew me in and I very quickly got to the point where I couldn’t put it down.

I felt such an empathy for Assia. She starts as such a vulnerable and tragic character. I really wanted to reach in to the book and give her a hug and tell her that it was alright. There are many ways in which she is a relatable character.

There is a big mystery that drives this novel forward as Assia tries to figure out what has happened to a family friend. Like her, I wanted to solve this puzzle. There is certainly more going on in this book than first appears that’s for sure.

I felt that, as the reader, I was getting pulled further into the world created and the mysterious circumstances Sophie Law has created.

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Book Review: Texts From Dad: The Coronavirus Chronicles by Peter Barber

Texts From Dad: The Coronavirus Chronicles is an hilarious account detailing 57 days of corona virus lockdown by way of daily texts to his daughter that ended up going viral.

Bringing a smile by taking a different view. Introducing humour and leading the reader through a slow realisation that we have all been affected in the funniest ways if only we would stop to think about it.

Written by A technophobic old fart that has trouble programming a dishwasher who was pushed into writing a blog using modern technology during forced isolation. Funny, or insane? You decide.

Laugh at him, or with him. Either way, you will probably end up laughing at yourself too.

It’s always a sign that Christmas is coming when the 12 Days of Clink Street Publishing blog tour arrives and today, I am reviewing Texts From Dad: The Coronavirus Chronicles by Peter Barber.

This book details Peter’s life as he, along with the rest of the country, tries to navigate his way through the first national lockdown. With it being about this subject, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

My first thought was how relatable I found it.

Peter is really great at commentating the thoughts of a nation. He has an interesting point of view and he is a natural story teller.

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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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