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Book Review: Clover Cottage by Christie Barlow

Hello and welcome to Christie Barlow and the blog tour for her new novel, Clover Cottage. This is the third novel in the Love Heart Lane series. 

Love Heart Lane – where friends are there for you no matter what.

When Vet Rory Scott inherits ramshackle Clover Cottage in the quaint village of Heartcross, Allie MacDonald just knows this is their happy ever after. A place to call home with the man she loves – it’s her dream come true!

Until Rory drops a bombshell. He loves Allie but he has dreams of his own to follow – to live and work in Africa. Clover Cottage will have to wait just a little longer…

Allie can’t imagine life without Rory, but she loves him too much to hold him back. And as he embarks on his adventure, Allie begins to rethink her own plans. She loves Rory and knows she wants him in her life, but maybe she can follow her own dreams too?

And always there, nestled in the beautiful village of Heartcross, surrounded by the people she loves, will be the place that will always bring them back to each other. Their forever home, Clover Cottage.

 

Allie has lived in Heartcross for most of her life and with Rory, the local vet, she feels as though she has met the love of her life. When he inherits Clover Cottage, she begins to picture the potential happy life for them both. When Rory drops a bombshell and opportunities threaten to pull them apart, Allie can feel the happiness slip away.

This is the third installment in the Love Heart Lane series and although I had not read the previous two books, this can be read as a standalone. There are characters that cross between the novels, but I didn’t feel as though I was playing catch up. I do want to eventually make my way through the first two books in the series though as I have quickly fallen in love with the residents of Heartcross.

All of these characters add something wonderful to the story and to me, feel real and relatable, even Zach, the visiting celebrity. I like how he was incorporated into the story. It wasn’t how you’d expect. I didn’t guess how it was going to go and it didn’t end the way I thought. There were a few surprises that kept the pace up well.

This was told from Allie’s point of view. I liked her. She displays a rollercoaster of emotions and I became invested in the relationship between Allie and Rory.

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Book Extract: How Not To Be A Loser by Beth Moran

Beth Moran joins me on Novel Kicks today as the blog tour for her latest novel, How Not To Be A Loser, continues.

 

Here’s a little about the novel…

Amy Piper is a loser. She’s lost her confidence, her mojo and her way.

But one thing she has never lost is her total love for her thirteen-year-old son Joey, and for his sake she knows it’s time for a change. But first she has to be brave enough to leave the house…

What she needs are friends and an adventure. And when she joins a running group of women who call themselves The Larks, she finds both. Not to mention their inspiring (and rather handsome) coach, Nathan.

Once upon a time Amy was a winner – at life, at sport and in love. Now, with every ounce of strength she has left, she is determined to reclaim the life she had, for herself and for Joey. And who knows, she might just be a winner again – at life, sport, and love, if she looks in the right places…

 

Beth and Boldwood Books have shared an extract from How Not To Be A Loser today. Cup of tea or coffee? Check. Biscuit? Check. Comfortable chair? Check. Right, all set. Enjoy.

 

 

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

 

Stop Being a Loser Plan

Day One

It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t get woken up by my phone alarm blaring, spring out of bed and decide today was the day. I didn’t open up Facebook and one of those irritating quotes – embrace the rain if you want to dance under the rainbow – actually inspired someone for the first time ever to change something. After cajoling my son, Joey, out of bed, I didn’t gaze at his beautiful face as he poured a second giant bowl of cereal, raving about the school football match coming up, and in a surge of love and regret suddenly experience the pivotal moment in a decade of non-moments.

In fact, apart from the invitation that arrived in the morning post, most of the day went precisely as expected. Which was, in summary, exactly the same as pretty much every other weekday. I waved Joey off to school, reminding him to hand in the form about the meeting that evening and cleared away the breakfast dishes. I worked at my desk in the kitchen, breaking the monotony of writing about corporate social responsibility policies by swanning off to eat lunch in the living room, because that’s the type of wild and crazy woman I am.

I rescued Joey’s football kit from festering on his bedroom floor and stuck it in the wash, because despite telling myself on a daily basis that it’s time he learnt the hard way, circumstances dictate that I also live with an extra-large pile of parental guilt, so I make life easier for him where I can.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room – Dear Me

I often wonder what my future and past self would tell me if I were to receive a letter from them.

What advice would I give myself? What would my ten-year old self talk about that is different to my older self?

I find this thought fascinating.

That is why I have chosen this exercise today. Write a letter to you, from yourself ten years in the future. Also write a letter from the point of view of your ten-year old self.

Obviously the advice and content would be slightly different but are there recurring themes?

Set the timer for about ten minutes for each one. Try not to edit, just write.

Now repeat the exercise but for one of your characters.

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NK Chats To… Hilary Grossman

Hi Hilary. It’s so nice to welcome you to Novel Kicks today. Your latest novel, Mom Genes has just been released. Can you tell me a little about it? 

Hi Laura! Thank you so much for having me! I am so excited to “chat” with you. Mom Genes, which is my fifth novel, is currently available on all eBook platforms and has been published today (March 24th.)

It is the second book in my Forest River PTA series, but it’s a completely standalone story. Mom Genes is a heartwarming and hilarious book about a PTA mom, Claire Conroy, who is searching for a fresh start while struggling to survive suburban backstabbing and parental politics

 

What songs would be on a playlist for this novel? 

Oh my, this is a hard question, but a few songs come to mind.

The first would be Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” because Claire is faced with quite a few problematic situations in the book. First, she returns home from a trip to Italy gearing up to separate from her husband of thirteen years. Then the meddling mothers spread rumors about the “real reason” for her divorce.

The second would be “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge because Claire’s family plays such an essential role in this story, especially her hysterical grandmother, Gigi.

The last would be “Take Me Back To The Night We Met” by Lord Huron because thanks to a chance encounter, Claire reconnects with someone from her past.

 

Hilary’s writing space

What’s your writing process like, from idea, to first draft and then to final edit? 

I’m pretty impulsive, so as soon as an idea pops into my head, I start writing. I don’t plot out my books. I let the story take its twists and turns. I often to run to my laptop fresh out of the shower, dripping wet, because one of my characters “told me something funny.

After I finish the first draft, which is always pretty rough, I read it over and polish it, and add a lot to the story. Then I send it to my editor. She has a keen eye and incredible insights, and I pretty much end up writing the book over again.

 

What has your route to publication like and, in your opinion, what’s the most common mistake new writers make when looking to be published? 

My route to publication has been like a roller coaster. I self-published my first book, Dangled Carat. Then a few months later, I secured a publisher who then published my second novel, Plan Bea. Right before they were about to publish my third book, Plan Cee, they went out of business. As soon as I received my rights back, I self-published all of my books, and have been self-publishing ever since.

I think the most common mistakes new writers make when looking to be published, they don’t have a complete understanding of the industry and the process. There is so much to know. It is overwhelming. However, I have found the author community is the most generous group of people. Everyone is always so eager to help each other out and share their experiences and knowledge.

 

Which author has impacted you the most as a writer? 

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Book Review: The River Home by Hannah Richell

Hello to Hannah Richell and the blog tour for her latest novel, The River Home.

The river can lead you home. Or it can take you under…

In their ramshackle Somerset home, its gardens running down to the river, the Sorrells have gathered for a last-minute wedding.

Lucy is desperate to reunite her fractured family. Eve is fighting to keep her perfect life together. Their mother, Kit, a famous author whose stories have run dry, still seethes with resentment towards her youngest child. And Margot, who left home eight years ago under a black cloud, is forced to come face to face with her darkness…

As the family come together for a week of celebration and confrontation, their relationships are stretched to breaking point. But can you ever heal the wounds of the past?

 

Eve, Lucy and Margot may be sisters but they are all very different.

Eve is the stoic older sister. On the outside, she has the perfect marriage and two children.

Lucy is the free spirit, the one who just wants her family back together.

Margot is the mysterious, closed off sister who has done all she can to put miles between herself and her childhood home and Kit, their mother who is struggling to finish her best-selling series of books.

When Lucy announces that she’s getting married, Margot heads home and back to the past she has wanted to escape from.

One word for this novel… WOW.

This is the first of Hannah’s books I have read but I am fast becoming a fan.

Immediately, I was drawn into this compelling novel, right from the first page. I could picture Windfalls, the river and the surrounding areas. It all felt so vivid.

The characters are all strong, complicated women who, through a lack of communication, miss out on so much with one another. It made me sad. I got emotionally involved with all these women. Each of them has such a distinct, unique voice. They are each holding their own secrets and there was a small part of me that wanted to shake them all. I grew so fond of them throughout the course of the book.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Talk to Animals?

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

 

Today’s prompt: What if I could talk to the animals? 

You have been stuck inside for a few days now. You are on your own with only your pet for company.

One morning, a voice you don’t recognise brings you out of sleep.

Your pet is on the bed with you but there is no one else there.

That is until you hear the voice again.

You turn toward your pet…

Continue the story.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: The Same But Different

Today, I thought we could look at different points of view. 

You have three characters standing together in the same spot.

They are all looking at the same thing. It could be the sky, a building, a pier, another group of people. The situation and gender of your characters are up to you.

Set the timer for ten minutes each character.

Write three different pieces of prose, describing what they are looking at but from each person’s point of view, voice and opinions.

How do they differ?

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Book Review: The Five Year Plan by Carla Burgess

Orla is a trainee reporter with a five-year plan: work her way up the career ladder, move to London and secure a job on a big national newspaper. She doesn’t want a boyfriend, he’s only going to hold her back anyway.

Aiden spends his life travelling the world and living in a tent. He knows his goal: to photograph animals and raise awareness of global warming and wildlife conservation. He’s definitely not looking for a relationship past the odd casual hook-up!

So when Orla and Aiden’s lives collide, they do everything to not fall for each other – with the opposite effect. But they stick to their plans, and go their separate ways…

Five years later, they meet again…

 

Orla has a five year plan. Advance in her journalism career, move to London and work at one of the national papers. What she didn’t count on was Aiden.

He’s a wildlife photographer who spends his life traveling the world. They don’t plan to fall in love but they do.

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Book Extract: Surviving Me by Jo Johnson

Hello to Jo Johnson and the blog tour for her novel, Surviving Me. 

Jo has shared an extract with us but first, here’s a little about the book.

Deceit has a certain allure when your life doesn’t match up to the ideal of what it means to be a modern man.

Tom’s lost his job and now he’s been labelled ‘spermless’. He doesn’t exactly feel like a modern man, although his double life helps. Yet when his secret identity threatens to unravel, he starts to lose the plot and comes perilously close to the edge.

All the while Adam has his own duplicity, albeit for very different reasons, reasons which will blow the family’s future out of the water.

If they can’t be honest with themselves, and everyone else, then things are going to get a whole lot more complicated.

This book tackles hard issues such as male depression, dysfunctional families and degenerative diseases in an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way. It focuses particularly on the challenges of being male in today’s world and explores how our silence on these big issues can help push men to the brink.

 

Grab that hot drink, biscuit, chair and enjoy. 

 

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

 

This excerpt features a conversation with my main character, Tom and his best friend, Harry, a doctor. Tom has recently lost his job and is too afraid to tell his wife as she’s desperate to start expensive fertility treatment. They talk about Harry’s new job but then Harry encourages his friend to tell his much younger wife about his predicament. Adam, is his brother-in-law, the other main character.

 

Harry and I can spend long periods without saying much. Eventually he describes his new job. ‘It’s exciting, Tom. I will actually get to know my patients and the staff.’

‘Explain what’s wrong with them?’

‘Neurological disorders like MS, brain injury and stroke; they will come to us for a few weeks or months for rehab.’

‘A care home?’

‘Not at all; they will be under sixty-five, most younger. The brain injuries are often blokes in their twenties. They will be stable, so not dependent on nursing care, and stay Monday to Friday. I will get weekends off and more evenings.’

‘I haven’t heard you talk about work like this for a while, all fired up with medical-student passion.’

‘I know. I was getting more and more disillusioned, which I didn’t like. This will give me more control and I have the freedom to work as I see fit. I intend to stay for years so no more moving from pillar to post.’

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Book Extract: The Chapel by Jess B. Moore

I hope you’re all having a good Saturday? I am happy to be welcoming Jess B. Moore to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel,  The Chapel.

Here’s a little about the book.

Mallory Johansen has nearly given up on thinking she’ll get her act together – the one where she plays the part of an adult – by the time she hits thirty. As it is she’s desperate and depressed. Her only friend is leaving town, she’s paired to work with a man who can’t stand her, and she finds herself homeless. Definitely hasn’t mastered being a grown-up yet. 

Otis Bell wants nothing more than to play his guitar, book acoustic bands to perform at his upcoming music venue, and be in charge of his own life. Instead, he’s working full time in his family’s auto shop. He only owns half the supposed music venue, which stands as an abandoned church and needs more than a little work. When his best friend moves away, he’s paired with an aloof girl he’s never liked as partner, and stretches himself thin working too many hours. 

The Chapel is the little music venue that could. Full of potential. Full of ugly carpet, peeling paint, and exhausting work. Mallie and Otis navigate their way through a fledgling partnership, trying their darnedest to get the place up and running, while trying pretty hard not to fall in love in the process.

 

Jess B. Moore has shared an extract with us today so grab the drink of your choice, that chair and enjoy.

(Warning – strong language.)

 

 

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

 

This scene from The Chapel is taken from the first chapter, introducing Mallie, her cousin Tyler, and setting up the story which will unfold. The book starts with Tyler dropping a bomb on Mallie and throwing her life into a tailspin!

 

The thing about being in your late twenties is that you’re supposed to have it all figured out. The career, the house, the long term relationship, the life plans sprawling out before you.  You’re expected to have your shit together.

I don’t have a career. Not really.  I’m still figuring out what I want to do with my life.  I take photos and I’m good at it, but I don’t enjoy wedding photography or infant photography or running wild toddler photography.  I haven’t found a way to make money doing nature or still life or anything else with my camera.  I help at my Aunt Violet’s vintage shop that barely brings in enough revenue to keep me on the payroll.

No house. Not one that’s mine.  Not one I want to live in for any length of time.  The place I rent is small, smells bad, and the landlord is suspect.  The neighbors are loud and disrespectful of my desire to sleep during the nighttime hours.

I have never had a long term relationship. I can’t imagine one will crop up before I hit my thirties.  The guys I’ve dated have been few and far between and never serious.

My life plans are vague at best. Dismal and depressing at worst.

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Cover Reveal: The Summer Island Swap by Samantha Tonge

I love it when I get to reveal the cover for a brand new novel.

Today, it’s the turn of Samantha Tonge and her new novel, The Summer Island Swap which is due to be released by Aria on 4th June.

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

Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…

After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.

But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.

So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.

OK, here we go… drumroll…..

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: What Curfew?

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

 

Today’s prompt: What curfew? 

A curfew has been put in place all over the city where you live. There are patrols everywhere. There’s not a lot that will get by them.

You find yourself defying the curfew to deliver a message on the other side of the city. You must do this by morning.

Write about the journey. Do you and your message make its destination in time and in one piece?

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New Book Releases: March 2020

Tinder Press

If there was ever a time to stay in, curl up in a comfortable chair and find a good book, this is it.

So, without further ado, I wanted to share some upcoming March releases with you all.

The first one up is one I am very excited for and that is Hamnet, the latest from Maggie O’ Farrell.
The plot sounds right up my street. It goes something like this.

On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl falls ill. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches for help but there seems to be no one home.

Their mother is a mile away in her garden which is full of medicinal herbs. Their father is in London. Neither parent know that one of their children will not survive the week.

This is due to be released on 31st March.

 

Orion

The second book on my list is Tiny Pieces of Us by Nicky Pellegrino.

You know when you read the blurb of a book and you know it’s something you have to read but it is also going to make you cry. This is one of those books for me.

Also due for release on 31st March, Tiny Pieces of Us focuses on Vivi Palmer. She knows what it’s like to live life carefully. She was born with a heart defect and although she’s now had a heart transplant, she’s not dared to make the most of it.

When she comes face to face with Grace, the donor’s mother, she wants Vivi to help her find the other people who have pieces of her son.

Vivi may just find a whole new world waiting for her.

 

The next book on the list is The Silence by Daily Pearce. This book was released on 1st March (you can read my interview with Daisy here,) and it sounds amazing.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: The Torn Piece

Happy Wednesday everyone. Today, I wanted to do some more free writing.

The amount of time and word count is up to you.

Today, imagine that you’ve found a torn piece of paper.

It appears to be the end of a letter; a love letter from someone named Paul.

There’s no sign of the first piece.

It says “even though what we have is gone, I would not change the decision I made for you, regardless of the consequence for me. I will love you forever. Paul”

Write the first part. Try and put in as much detail as you can.

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Book Review: A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

There is a stranger outside Caroline’s house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aidan, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aidan for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aidan’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

 

Caroline sees a stranger outside her new beach house. Her house that reflects her outwardly perfect life.

Her husband however is lying to her and everything in her life is turning upside down.

So, when Aiden shows up, a bartender at the party where she has a very public row with her husband, she turns to him for comfort… and revenge.

Although their brief fling means nothing to Caroline, Aiden becomes obsessed.

Then Caroline’s husband goes missing and her life descends into chaos where she is suspected of her own husband’s murder.

I’d not read any of Michele’s novels so this was my introduction. It did not disappoint.

This novel pretty much had me on the edge of my seat all the way through.

It’s a rollercoaster of suspense, tension and an ending that blindsided me.

The style of writing was interesting. It jumps around but I was soon completely into the story.

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