Book Extract

Book Extract: Keeping up with the Kershaws by Helen Buckley

A lovely big welcome back to Helen Buckley. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, Keeping up with the Kershaws.

What do you do when your life becomes more dramatic than reality TV?

As the devoted carer for famous antique expert Harold Kershaw, Karrie Morgan was always happy to keep a professional distance from his four spoilt grown-up children, who rarely made time for their father.

But then a surprise involving Harold’s Will means Karrie is flung headlong into a press scandal, and into the chaotic world of the surviving Kershaws.

With the support of her trusted childhood friend Andrew, mild-mannered Karrie must face down ruthless ice queen Portia, master manipulator Gabriel, Botox fanatic Arabella, and ladies’ man Rafe, star of reality TV show Raised in Richmond … although perhaps not as fake and flashy as he initially seems?

As vicious rumours circulate and Karrie’s past comes back to haunt her, she struggles to know who to trust. Can she keep up with the Kershaws’ schemes?

 

Helen has shared an extract from Keeping up with the Kershaws with Novel Kicks today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

In this extract, Karrie is about to face the fury of the four Kershaw siblings, who have found out that she has inherited their father’s millions.

Karrie shuddered with nerves as she paused outside the library, wondering if this was all just some awful nightmare that perhaps she would wake up from. She blinked hard and pinched her hand just to make sure, but she didn’t wake up. It was real and this was really happening, as much as she wished it weren’t. She took a breath, squared her shoulders, and pushed open the door.

The library was once her favourite room in the Kershaw house. The ornate wallpaper was largely obscured by the towering bookcases, made of specially ordered English Cherry, and filled with collectibles and rare books. The room had always smelled of old paper, particles of dust gently floated in the sunlight; a room of knowledge and peace.

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Book Extract: Sign of the Times by Susan Buchanan

I’m pleased to be welcoming Susan Buchanan to Novel Kick today. She is here with the blog tour for her book, Sign of the Times. 

Sagittarius – Travel writer Holly heads to Tuscany to research her next book, but when she meets Dario, she knows she’s in trouble. Can she resist temptation? And what do her mixed feelings mean for her future with her fiancé?

Gemini – Player Lucy likes to keep things interesting and has no qualms about being unfaithful to her long-term boyfriend. A cardiology conference to Switzerland changes Lucy, perhaps forever. Has she met her match, and is this feeling love?

Holly is the one who links the twelve signs. Are you ready to meet them all?

A tale of love, family, friendship and the lengths we go to in pursuit of our dreams.

 

Grab that comfortable chair, a cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate and enjoy this extract from Sign of the Times that Susan has shared today. 

 

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

 

Czeslawa, her husband and daughter have just moved from a bit of a slum in Edinburgh, to a tiny village about ten miles from Glasgow. This is the first time the whole family has seen the village and they’ve arrived right in the middle of the gala day.

 

Czeslawa slipped her hand into her husband’s and they followed their daughter through the thronging crowds. There were stalls selling local produce, bring and buy stands, a tombola and face painting. Everything she’d expected a village fair to offer. Angelika ran ahead shouting, ‘Look, Mummy, look, Daddy, they are painting their faces. Look, Mummy, there are carts.’ Wojciech and Czeslawa smiled and made all the appropriate noises to Angelika’s exclamations.

‘Daddy, I want one of those teddies,’ Angelika said, pointing to prizes at a hoopla stall.

‘We need to start talking to her in English,’ Czeslawa said.

‘Then you’ll have to learn English, and I’ll have to improve,’ said her husband, putting his arm around her.

‘Mummy, can I run in the race?’

Wojciech and Czeslawa exchanged a glance, then Czeslawa said, ‘Go on.’

‘On your marks, se-e-et–’ the starter blew his whistle ‘–go!’

‘C’mon, Lika, you can do it!’ her parents shouted, in Polish, which attracted a few stares. She finished second. Two minutes later, she took part in her first awards ceremony. They hadn’t seen inside their new home yet, but their daughter had already won a medal, already a part of the community.

 

Angelika stared open-mouthed at the young girl with the golden curls, wearing the pretty dress, looking like a bridesmaid at a wedding. The official slipped the sash reading ‘Kings River gala queen’ over her head. An important-looking man, perhaps the local councillor, placed a sparkly tiara on her head and a bouquet of mixed blooms in her hands. The crowd cheered, then the marching band played a few numbers before the crowd dispersed, some parents being dragged to the face-painting stand, others trawling their children to the ever-popular raffle. After a pleasant two hours of wandering around, they decided it was time to go and meet their new home.

 

‘It’s beautiful,’ said Czeslawa. It was a four-in-a-block terraced house, with a UPVC door, red tiled roof and pebbled walls. The long hall led to a kitchen on the left-hand side after an adequate bathroom, with new-looking three-piece suite. The lounge was at the end of the hall and very spacious, although had no real room for a dining table. The two bedrooms were on the right and she was pleasantly surprised at their size. She would be able to set up a little desk in the corner over there, with a computer. She hugged her husband. Angelika barrelled into her as she returned from racing around the house, eager to explore her new surroundings.

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Book Extract: Falling For The Competition by Jen Smith

I am pleased to be welcoming Jen Smith to Novel Kicks today with the blog tour for her novel, Falling for the Competition.

It’s going to be the best summer ever for ambitious, overachieving Quinn. A huge history buff, not only has she landed her dream job interning in the archives department of the local castle, but her best friend will be working there too.

However, Quinn isn’t the only one to be working in Archives this summer; Quinn’s academic rival, Patrick, is sharing her office in Muniments. They’re competing for the Letter of Recommendation (singular) from the research historian that Quinn needs to get her dream future placement.

Their emotionally-loaded and competitive rivalry turns into a reluctant friendship, as they spend every day working together in silence (and sharing the occasional Twix). Until the Re-Enactors arrive. Between Patrick and Harry – the Golden Knight of the jousting team – Quinn’s carefully planned summer is thrown into complete disarray. Meanwhile, her best friend’s relationship may look perfect on the outside, but Quinn is starting to realise that there’s more going on than there seems.

Although Quinn is determined and single minded about planning every detail of her sparkling future, she comes to discover that the best things in life are the spontaneous ones – and that some people are more important than any Letter of Recommendation (singular) could ever be.

 

Jen has shared an extract today. Grab a hot drink, a comfy spot on the sofa and enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

One thing that you need to know about Frankie is that she’s kissed exactly two boys (Nathan and Jack) and has had exactly one boyfriend (Jack). People always make out that she’s had loads of boyfriends and has shagged around a bit. But she hasn’t. People make judgements on what other people wear and it’s not fair. I tell Frankie that those bitches in our year started saying those things because they’re jealous that she does her own thing. So what if she likes to wear short shorts, or massive heels, or pillar box red lipstick, and doesn’t care what other people think?

And also, because Kristy McGovern liked Nathan Peterson in year nine and Nathan Peterson kissed Frankie and not Kristy at Jenna Johnstone’s birthday party.

“Oh yeah, I suppose they are friends.” I hadn’t really thought about Patrick having friends. He is just an academic machine to me. An annoying pomaded academic machine.

“So he’s working in archives too?”

“Yeah,” I nod, taking a bite of my chicken sandwich, and I tell her quickly about how annoying he has been already this morning, telling me what to do, sucking up to Lisa.

Frankie sits up and squints at me through the sunlight, ripping her eyes away from a vehemently arguing couple. “So, what’s your plan then?” She says dramatically.

“What plan? Plan for what?”

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Book Extract: Lady Ludmilla’s Accidental Letter by Sofi Laporte

I am so pleased to be welcoming Sofi Laporte and the blog tour for her novel, Lady Ludmilla’s Accidental Letter. 

A resolute spinster. An irresistible rake. One accidental letter… Can love triumph over this hopeless muddle in the middle of the London season?

Lady Ludmilla is mortified. Though the spinster extraordinaire knows it is foolish, she has fallen head-over-heels for the amiable man with whom she’s been secretly corresponding, and that cannot be. When she sets out to uncover his identity, her world shatters. For her best friend Addy turns out to be none other but London’s worst rogue—the man who has ruined her engagement to someone else ten years earlier.

Lord St.Addington is perturbed. The wicked Viscount is developing a marked tendre for a spinster, and that cannot be. She might be mistaking him for someone he is not, or, what is worse, know precisely who he is. As London’s worst hellrake, he has a role to maintain, a charade to play. A depraved heart like his surely can’t be falling in love…least of all with a plain, outspoken spinster.

Determined to discover the truth behind the man she loves, Lu does what she does best: she sits down and writes a letter…

If you crave a humorous romp with witty banter and surprising twists, you will love Sofi Laporte’s charming masquerade.

 

Sofi has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

Excerpt from Lady Ludmilla’s Accidental Letter by Sofi Laporte:

When Lady Ludmilla sets out to uncover the identity of the man she loves, her world shatters. For Addy turns out to be none other but London’s worst rakehell, who has already crossed her path and ruined her a long time ago. When she encounters him again, she cannot help but challenge him:

 

“I dare you.” Lu thought she must be stark raving mad, even as she heard the words herself. “I dare you to kiss the homeliest Windmere woman with your eyes open.” She tilted up her chin defiantly.

His gaze dropped from her eyes to her lips. “Dare accepted.”

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Book Extract: Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons by Patsy Trench

I am pleased to be welcoming Patsy Trench to Novel Kicks today along with the blog tour for her novel, Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons.

London, 1905. A show. A stuttering romance. Two squabbling actresses.

Is it Shakespeare? Is it Vaudeville?

Not quite. It is Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons, a satirical play about suffragettes which its creators – friends and would-be lovers Robbie Robinson and Violet Graham – are preparing to mount in London’s West End.

It is the play rival actresses Merry and Gaye would kill to be in, if only they hadn’t insulted the producer all those years ago.

For Robbie and Violet however the road to West End glory is not smooth. There are backers to be appeased, actors to be tamed and a theatre to be found; and in the midst of it all a budding romance that risks being undermined by professional differences.

Never mix business with pleasure?

Maybe, maybe not.

 

Patsy has shared an extract with us today so enjoy! 

 

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

 

Extract from Chapter 24 of ‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’- Mrs Santenoy goes to gaol.

It is 1905.  Mrs Santenoy is an elderly suffragist in the early days of the suffrage movement, before Mrs Pankhurst appeared on the scene and when the demand for votes for women were largely peaceful. The protest Mrs Santenoy took part in was perfectly orderly until the police moved in on horseback to disperse it, and a handful of the lady protesters were rounded up and sent to prison for two weeks.

*****

When Mrs Santenoy arrived at Holloway Prison she was in a state of high excitement. For a woman from what society termed ‘a privileged background’, married for nearly forty years, the experience of going to prison was without question the most extraordinary event in the sixty-eight years of her life. Even as she was lined up against a wall with her fellow protestors and given a rudimentary medical examination, Mrs Santenoy still felt the strangest thrill of adventure. She saw herself as an actress in a play, going through the rudiments of being sent to prison without any idea of what lay ahead of her.

On instruction from the prison wardress she was made to undress – ‘Completely?’ – ‘Completely’ – and given some old, stained underclothing, brown woollen stockings and a green serge dress that really was stamped all over with broad arrows. She hunted for but did not find a matching pair of shoes to wear from a huge basket, after which, laden with sheets, a towel, a mug of water and a thick slice of rough bread she was shown to her cell. Even then it all felt quite unreal and startlingly melodramatic. She sank exhausted onto the hard wooden bed and closed her eyes and, surprisingly, slept.

The following day, having requested some reading matter she was given the Bible and an atlas of the world. She embarked on the first with interest and glanced through the second. During the obligatory hour’s exercise in the prison yard she kept her head held high and, as instructed, avoided contact with her fellow prisoners. She managed to keep this up for two whole days without too much pain.

It was around the third day that the excitement faded. It was not until then that she became fully aware of a kind of sour, stale odour seeping through the walls from centuries of poor ventilation and prevailing damp. Her cell was both stuffy and cold. She sensed the presence of something that moved and scuffled. She dare not leave what food she was given on the floor lest her fear of mice and rats became real.

In the exercise yard she observed her fellow detainees with dulled curiosity. Apart from the suffragettes, whom she recognised only vaguely by sight, the women kept their eyes on the ground, and she was struck by the thought that many if not most of them had possibly spent more of their lives in prison than out; that a good half of them were no more than girls, and that there was a kind of resigned doggedness to the way they walked, shoulders slumped, feet dragging, as if tramping mindlessly in a circle was all they knew how to do or would ever do in the future. There were very few outbreaks, or protests; they didn’t seem to have the energy.

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Book Extract: Brown Eyes by Frances Ive

I am pleased to be welcoming Frances Ive to Novel Kicks today with the blog tour for her book, Brown Eyes. 

A watchful eye as a marriage falls apart. The phone call, the rows, and the split are all observed by the family Labrador. He knows the habits and senses the moods of his beloved family members. Seeing them unhappy and hurting each other is unbearable. Where did his perfect life go?

Her marriage to Phil in crisis, two children at the challenging teenage stage, and a close friend in peril, Meriel’s world is falling apart. She finds solace in the arms of another man, but is this the answer for her? It is her stubbornness that threatens the family’s future together, until a major loss has a life-changing effect on her. A sliver of hope returns.

Like a fly on the wall, Benji the dog sees it all.

Narrated by both the dog and Meriel, Brown Eyes is a novella (a short read) written by the author of Finding Jo and Give and Take with a Capital G & T.

 

Frances has shared an extract from Brown Eyes today. We hope you enjoy! 

 

 

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

 

Can a marriage be saved?

In many countries including the UK the divorce rate is very high – between one in two or three marriages ends in a split.  Sometimes relationships break down because of extreme behaviour, but others are often just lacking communication and appreciation. The route from problems like infidelity to splitting up is sometimes very fast.

For those couples who seek couples counselling it can sometimes be avoided if both partners want it to work. Meriel and Phil were jogging along in their relationship when one of them strayed off the path. Almost immediately they were splitting up and the children and the family Labrador were distraught. Could therapy save their marriage?

 

Extract from the point of view of Jane, the counsellor. Starting with Phil speaking.

‘I didn’t think it happened quickly. I had liked Meriel for a long time, but she always seemed to be with a boyfriend. I used to wonder how we could get together, and so I just took a risk and rang her. And thank goodness, it worked.’

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Book Extract: The Helsingør Sewing Club by Ella Gyland

Ella Gyland joins me today with the blog tour for her novel, The Helsingør Sewing Club.

Inspired by the incredible true story of how the people of Denmark saved their Jewish neighbours during WW2

Helsingør, Denmark, 1943

In the midst of the German occupation during World War Two, Inger Bredahl joins the underground resistance and risks her life to save members of Denmark’s Jewish community and help them escape to Sweden.

Copenhagen, 2018

Inger’s granddaughter, Cecilie Lund, is mourning her death when a mysterious discovery while cleaning out Inger’s flat leads past and present to intersect. As long-held secrets finally see the light of day, Cecilie learns the story of her grandmother’s courage and bravery, and of the power of friendship, love, and standing for what’s right…even when you have everything to lose.

An inspiring tale of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of community.

 

Ella has shared an extract from The Helsingør Sewing Club with us today. Enjoy! 

 

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

 

The main character’s cousin Gudrun has just returned home from having dinner with her fiancé, Niels the fisherman, and his family, where the topic of conversation was whether to smuggle black market goods back from Sweden or not, with Niels strongly against it and his father in favour of it. This scene is from Gudrun’s point of view.

*****

When she returned home, her parents, Inger, and Jens were listening to Radio London in the parlour. She poured herself a cup of coffee from the blue enamel pot on the stove in the kitchen, and joined her family, squeezing onto the settee next to her brother.

Huddled around the radio, they listened to the news that the Russian army had recaptured a port city on the Black Sea from the Germans, and that the recently overthrown Italian dictator, Mussolini, had been restored to power.

Gudrun’s mind wasn’t really on the news. Instead she focused on the coffee substitute she was drinking. She’d almost, but not quite, got used to the taste of it – not like Inger who hated it – but knew Niels’s father had been right when he’d insisted people would pay for anything if they wanted it enough, and had the money.

At my wedding lunch we’re going to have proper coffee, she thought. Another reason for her and Niels to wait.

The calm, quiet mood in her parents’ parlour was interrupted by a sudden rap on the window at the front of the house. Jens quickly switched off the radio, and her mother draped an embroidered tablecloth over it. Listening to the radio wasn’t forbidden, but the Germans took a dim view of broadcasts from the BBC, and it was better to be safe than sorry in case they confiscated it.

Her father turned off the lights and opened the door, with Gudrun and his wife almost right behind him.

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Book Extract: Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen

I am very pleased to be welcoming Bjørn Larssen and the blog tour for his novel, Storytellers.

Would you murder your brothers to keep them from telling the truth about themselves?

On a long, cold Icelandic night in March 1920, Gunnar, a hermit blacksmith, finds himself with an unwanted lodger – Sigurd, an injured stranger who offers a story from the past. But some stories, even those of an old man who can barely walk, are too dangerous to hear. They alter the listeners’ lives forever… by ending them.

Others are keen on changing Gunnar’s life as well. Depending on who gets to tell his story, it might lead towards an unwanted marriage, an intervention, rejoining the Church, letting the elf drive him insane, or succumbing to the demons in his mind. Will he manage to write his own last chapter?

Bjørn Larssen’s award-winning, Amazon #1 best selling novel is an otherworldly, emotive Icelandic saga – a story of love and loneliness, relief and suffering, hatred… and hope.

 

Bjørn has shared an extract today. Grab that hot drink, a comfortable chair and enjoy. 

 

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

 

Like most writers, I have certain subjects that are dear to my heart. Three of them are neurodivergence, mental illness (not the same thing), and addiction.

My protagonist, Gunnar, is on the autism spectrum and has a generalised anxiety disorder accompanied by depression, self-medicated with alcohol. He is also living in the year 1920, before the word “depression” came into use at all. He’s an uneducated blacksmith in a society where showing feelings – revealing that you had them – outside your diaries or poems you wrote was impossible. It wasn’t seen as cynical to say there was no time for grief or melancholy. It was simply the truth. There was too much work to be done.

It’s not just the external world that doesn’t understand Gunnar’s different mind. He has no words to express how he feels. All he knows is that he “shouldn’t” be like this, that “normal people” aren’t. During Icelandic prohibition, the only way to acquire alcohol was to visit a doctor and get it “prescribed” – Gunnar’s whisky is, ostentatiously, medication for his non-existent lung problems. A bottle of whisky a week isn’t enough anymore, though, so he makes moonshine… which is, of course, illegal, which makes his anxiety worse. There’s only one way he knows to feel better – he carries a flask wherever he goes.

There was a time in my life when I went through a long period of depression. Everything was grey. I didn’t even remember how to laugh. I was ashamed of admitting it. I “knew” that depression was a made-up thing that the educated members of the middle-class came up with to justify their laziness. Gunnar doesn’t have the words to express that, but if he could, he’d be thinking the same. There was one medication that calmed me down, even sent me into euphoria. It came in bottles.

*****

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Book Extract: A Stranger’s Revenge by K.J. McGillick

A big welcome to K.J. McGillick and the blog tour for her novel, A Stranger’s Revenge.

When art law attorney Abigail Clarke is mistaken for the murdered twin sister she never knew existed, will she be able to outwit a man determined to kill every member of her treacherous family.

Thirty years ago, during a thunderstorm, on an isolated street in South Boston, an unidentified two-year-old girl was discovered, abandoned, shot, barely clinging to life. After a thorough investigation, the case was eventually designated to the cold case files until Abigail Clarke, now an astraphobic art law attorney, is mistaken for the murdered twin sister she never knew existed.

What the FBI Art Crime Division cannot determine is if Abigail is an innocent bystander or a co-conspirator in her sister’s art fraud crimes.

Compelled to uncover all her family’s secrets, nothing prepares Abigail for the disastrous meeting with her murderous brother and crime boss father. Her life is irreversibly changed the more she becomes mired in her family’s treachery. She soon finds herself drawn into a game of cat and mouse by the vengeful killer who methodically plans to execute every member of her family, holding each one of them ultimately responsible for the murder of his own family thirty years ago.

 

K.J. McGillick has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

Warning: Language.

 

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

 

March 2021

An explosive streak of white lightning splayed its arthritic fingers across the gray sky, threatening to snatch me through my windows. However, it was the explosive thunder bomb which shook my windows that almost sent me under my desk. Shot and then left for dead when I was two years old, thunderstorms still scared the hell out of me and left me paralyzed with fear. Maura called it astraphobia. I called it self-preservation.

“Abigail Clarke, you are not listening to a word I’m saying,” Maura said, slapping her chair to get my attention. “I could use a little legal help here.”

“Of course, I am listening. I just want to scream at the top of my lungs that Clarisse Taylor is batshit crazy. Can we at least agree that she is a master manipulator well versed in the art of gaslighting? You’ve asked my legal opinion. I can’t help it if it’s not what you want to hear.”

Was it wrong of me to hope right now a bus was plowing into Clarisse, leaving her splattered on some street like roadkill?

“I have to admit that in the last two months, her stories have become more laced with violence.” She sighed.

“There you go. What if this is just an attention-seeking device? I know as a psychiatrist, head games and personality puzzles fill your day. Please don’t think I am minimizing your concern. But maybe this is one of those moments that you can’t see the forest for the trees.”

“No, this time it was different. You had to see her wickedly satisfied expression as she boasted she stabbed him fifteen times.”

As if channeling Clarisse, Maura gritted her teeth and slowly lifted her arm, then plunged an imaginary knife up and down. As her arm arched back, I could not help but visualize the drops of blood, as they must have sprayed across the walls with each fresh assault. The room must have looked like a Jackson Pollock canvas, splattered in various hues of reds and browns as the blood dried. That visual did the trick of interrupting my obsession with the storm.

She suddenly sprang to her feet, almost dazed, glanced at the floor, and then at me.

“And, Abby, she said that the puddle of blood looked like an oil slick. It was so widespread that when she tried to stand, she slipped in it and bashed her head against a table. Slipped… In… His… Blood…”

“Oh, for the love of God, enough.” I raised my hand for her to stop. I had reached my limit.

She dropped back into the chair and took a deep breath.

“Okay, take a minute, and let’s walk through this. Did you see any signs of an injury to her head to corroborate the story?” I asked, determined to debunk this lunatic’s musings.

“Yes. Well… she had a bandage across the corner of her forehead. Whether there was an injury there or it was for show, I don’t know. However, she never came to the office before with even a Band-Aid.”

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Book Extract: That Certain Spark by Isobel Hart

I am very happy to be welcoming Isobel Hart to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her book, That Certain Spark. 

A one-bedroom apartment with creeping damp.

Depressed cat, complete with litter tray.

Neither was part of Claire’s five-year plan.

Nor, for that matter, was divorce.

Left with a comfort eating habit that’s costing her a small fortune in ice-cream, and panic attacks flooring her in front of the supermarket meals-for-one, Claire turns to her mum and Mindfulness in the hope that one of them can help her find real happiness.

She thinks she’s cracked it… but then her past comes creeping back.

Now she has to work out what really makes her happy or risk a life where Ben & Jerry are the only men who matter.

 

Isobel has shared an extract with us today. So, grab that blanket and drink of choice and enjoy. 

 

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

 

Claire has chosen to go on a Power Walk during a stay at a rejuvenating health spa with her mum. It turns out to be a little more arduous than she anticipates.

By the time I get to the top I have tunnel vision, a red mist reducing my ability to see more than my own feet. I want to curl up and sleep in a bush. And maybe die. Death feels preferable to this, right now. “That’s it, you’re doing brilliantly,” Carl says. He’s circling me like a sheepdog, nipping at my ankles every time it looks like I might stop. “You’ve done better than most people. Most the guests turn back when they realise how fast we walk.”

I’d forgotten that was even an option. Why the hell didn’t I turn back?

The other ladies are still chatting. “Do. They. Ever. Stop. Talking?” I gasp in slow stilted words to Carl between attempts to suck air back into my lungs.

He laughs. “No, I’m afraid not.”

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Book Extract: A Nose For Mischief by K.T. Lee

I’m saying a big hello to K.T. Lee. She is here with the blog tour for her latest novel, A Nose for Mischief, book one in the Riverbend K-9s series. 

When materials engineer Zoey Butler lands her dream job at Future State Energy, she believes her research in renewable energy will make headlines. Unfortunately for her, she’s right. Zoey is working on her latest experiment when FBI Special Agent Alexis Thompson and her K-9 partner, Waffle, raid Future State and arrest the head of the development for fraud. Zoey helps the FBI find answers in the aftermath, but she soon finds herself jobless and unemployable. Desperate and out of options, she reaches out to Alexis, the one person who knows Zoey was duped like everyone else.

Liam Graham is an FBI special agent and instructor at Riverbend K-9 Academy. When Alexis brings in a new recruit with an unusual background, Liam pairs her up with Tasha, a dog in need of a handler to stay in their competitive program. Zoey is thrilled to put her past behind her and give the mischievous rescue dog her own second chance. However, shortly after she arrives, the FBI realizes the Future State case is far from closed. And Zoey may be the key to solving it.

Zoey offers to go back to Future State to help the FBI end things once and for all. Only this time, she’ll have Liam and Tasha for backup. But, the problems at Future State are more explosive than any of them suspect.

 

K.T. Lee has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy.

 

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

 

When materials engineer Zoey Butler lands her dream job at Future State Energy, she believes her research in renewable energy will make headlines. Unfortunately for her, she’s right. Zoey is working on her latest experiment when FBI Special Agent Alexis Thompson and her K-9 partner, Waffle, raid Future State and arrest the head of the development for fraud. Zoey helps the FBI find answers in the aftermath, but she soon finds herself jobless and unemployable. Desperate and out of options, she reaches out to Alexis, the one person who knows Zoey was duped like everyone else.

Liam Graham is an FBI special agent and instructor at Riverbend K-9 Academy. When Alexis brings in a new recruit with an unusual background, Liam pairs her up with Tasha, a dog in need of a handler to stay in their competitive program. Zoey is thrilled to put her past behind her and give the mischievous rescue dog her own second chance. However, shortly after she arrives, the FBI realizes the Future State case is far from closed. And Zoey may be the key to solving it.

Zoey offers to go back to Future State to help the FBI end things once and for all. Only this time, she’ll have Liam and Tasha for backup. But, the problems at Future State are more explosive than any of them suspect.

 

This excerpt takes place as Zoey is struggling with her job search.

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Book Extract: Daughter of the Sea by Elisabeth J. Hobbes

I am very happy to be welcoming Elisabeth J. Hobbes to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her new novel, Daughter of the Sea. 

On a windswept British coastline the tide deposits an unexpected gift…

It was the cry that she first noticed, the plaintive wail that called to her over the crash of winter waves. Wrapped only in a sealskin, the baby girl looks up at Effie and instantly captures her heart. She meant only to temporarily foster the young orphan but when news reaches Effie that her husband has been lost at sea, and months pass without anyone claiming the infant, she embraces her new family – her son Jack and her adopted daughter Morna.
 
Effie has always been an outcast in her village, the only granddaughter of a woman people whisper is a witch, so she’s used to a solitary existence. But when Midsummer arrives so too does a man claiming to be Morna’s father. There’s no denying Lachlan is the girl’s kin and so Effie is surprised when he asks her to continue looking after his daughter, mysteriously refusing to explain why. She agrees, but when he returns six months hence she pushes him for answers. And Lachlan tells a story she never anticipated … one of selkies, legend, and the power of the sea…

 

Elisabeth has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

Effie Cropton has been gathering seaweed on the beach at Allendale Head. While there she rescues a basket floating out to sea and discovers a baby girl. She returns to the village and, after a brief conversation with her friend Walter, goes to visit her grandmother and collect her son.

 

“Effie, is that you?” Alice called from inside the pantry. “Wrap the seaweeds in the damp dishcloth will you?”

Effie did as she was asked, keeping some back for herself. Alice used it for her poultices and ointments. Effie liked to paint it.

“Why are you wearing Walter Danby’s coat?” Alice asked, as she bustled into the kitchen. Her sharp eyes narrowed suspiciously as she looked at Effie. “Your husband is away and I didn’t think you the type to carry on with another man.”

“I’m not carrying on with Walter and you know it,” Effie said indignantly. “I’ve been faithful to John for our whole marriage.”

John Cropton was ten years older than his wife and had been a bachelor longer than many thought he should, given his looks. He was shy and particular in his ways, and it had surprised everyone in the village when he asked Effie to marry him. People were perhaps less surprised at why when Effie’s belly began to swell after too few months of wedded bliss for the numbers to add up.

Whether Effie had trapped John or John had trapped Effie into marriage was the subject of some debate among those who enjoyed speculating. Perhaps neither of them had intended to trap or be trapped, but the end result was the same. The man whom the village had believed would end his days a bachelor found a wife, and Effie had fallen from the middle to the working class.

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Book Extract: A Not So Quiet Christmas by Suzie Tullett

Please help me welcome Suzie Tullett to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her festive novel, A Not So Quiet Christmas. 

A solo getaway at an English country cottage is a pleasant way to spend the holiday—but it takes two to really make things merry . . .

Antonia prefers a quiet Christmas. She’s happy to spend it on her own, watching Hallmark holiday movies in her pyjamas, eating what she wants, when she wants.

Antonia’s friend Jules, on the other hand, loves a big Christmas celebration and plans on travelling to the Yorkshire Dales for a festive break. But when Jules breaks her leg, she persuades Antonia to make the trip on her behalf. Arriving at the little cottage, Antonia meets the handsome property agent Oliver. But she can’t escape the weird locals—or avoid embarrassing situations like mistaking a cow for a burglar.

As Christmas approaches, the attraction between Oliver and Antonia grows. She could choose to return to the bustling city and spend it alone. Or she could choose love and have a not so quiet Christmas . . .

 

Suzie has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy! 

 

 

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

 

Letting agent, Oliver Chase, offers to show confirmed city girl, Antonia, the local sights. He fails to mention that she’ll be seeing everything in one hit. From the top of a mountain…

 

Chapter Nine

With my cheek squashed against the icy rockface, I clung to the mountainside like a limpet as if my life depended on it. I didn’t know who or what howled the loudest – me or the swirling winds that whipped around my already contorted face. As the gusts threatened to rip me from what little security I had, flying without wings was not how I’d imagined my final moments. “Tell Jules I’m sorry for ruining her Christmas,” I said while I still had the chance, voice raised and mid-wail.

“I’m the one who’s sorry, Antonia,” Oliver said, calling up from the ledge below. “If I’d have known your legs weren’t long enough…”

“I know, I know. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing!”

“Are you sure you can’t go any higher? There can’t be much more than a metre left.”

“If I could, don’t you think I’d be up by now?” Peeling my cheek off the rock, I carefully glanced about me. Double checking all the nearby indents and protruding rocks, it was no good. They were all out of my reach. I tilted my chin and looked down to see Oliver’s concerned expression and Frank’s head poking out of the man’s rucksack. As tears rolled down my face, I couldn’t believe Oliver had suggested I go first. The other way around and he could have shimmied up with Frank, then reached down and yanked me the rest of the way.

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Book Extract: A Winter Wedding at Mistletoe Gate Farm by Helen J Rolfe

I am delighted to be welcoming Helen J Rolfe to Novel Kicks today. She’s here with her latest novel, A Winter Wedding at Mistletoe Gate Farm which has been published today. 

It’s almost Christmas in Heritage Cove – the village tree is all lit-up, the bakery is full of festive treats, the tea rooms and waffle shack are welcoming locals inside out of the cold, and for some of the residents of the Cove, snow might not be the only thing they’re wishing for this year…

Tilly is overjoyed when an estranged relative comes to Heritage Cove wanting to make amends. But as she lets him in to her life and Tilly’s Bits ‘n’ Pieces – the shop she owns and loves – her friends aren’t so sure whether everything is quite as it seems.

Benjamin’s parents run Mistletoe Gate Farm, selling Christmas trees, wreaths and mistletoe. Benjamin has always thought his family was as firmly rooted in the ground as the rows of Norway Spruce and Fraser Firs. But when he finds a letter that rocks his world he realises he may not be able to do anything to prevent the changes coming their way.

Benjamin and Tilly have been falling for one another since the summer but will family complications put an abrupt stop to what is looking like a burgeoning romance?

With festive cheer weaving its way through the Cove as two local favourites plan their wedding, there’s more than one relationship that could receive a little Christmas magic…

 

Helen has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy as we head to Heritage Cove. 

This extract is taken from a scene at Mistletoe Gate Farm as Benjamin thinks about Tilly and begins to worry about what is going on at home with his own family…

 

 

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

 

He wandered over to the trees closest to where he was. These were the Nordmann firs in heights ranging from three to eleven feet. They were fatter at the bottom than some of the other varieties, with excellent needle retention. He reached out to touch the rounded needles of one and then another, and the one after that. Any of them could have a place in Tilly’s cottage – she’d be spoilt for choice. They’d all look spectacular with their dense foliage and deep, rich colour, and nothing beat that farm-fresh smell of citrusy pine that came with every tree. He wondered how she was getting on. She’d been flustered last night, unable to think straight when she’d got the call about the break-in at her parents’ house. She didn’t have the sturdiest of relationships with her mum and dad, by the sounds of it, and some people might have used that as a reason not to leap to attention in their hour of need, but not Tilly. She thought of others and put them first whenever she could. It was one of the things he loved and admired about her the most.

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Book Extract: Christmas at Snowflake Lodge by CP Ward

I am very happy to be welcoming CP Ward back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his novel, Christmas at Snowflake Lodge. 

Plumber Jessica Lemond is determined not to follow in her parents footsteps by living off her famous grandfather’s fortune.

However, when the old timer himself elopes to Scotland with suspicions over the recent death of his much younger third wife hanging over his head and a private detective on his tail, it is left to Jessica to follow and clear up the mess. Happy to escape from her nightmarish lodger Doreen, she heads to the remote Snowflake Lodge with her young trainee Kirsten in tow.

However, Snowflake Lodge – with its oddball staff and very dodgy plumbing – is not how it appears in the brochure. Among the beautiful Scottish scenery, and with more hot chocolate and mince pies than she can possibly handle, can Jessica find something she didn’t even know she was looking for?

 

CP Ward has shared an extract from his novel with us today. Enjoy! 

 

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

With suspicions over the death of his ex-wife growing, Grandpa Lemond has fled to Scotland. However, his son is too busy with an upcoming cruise, so it is left to poor Jessica to track the old man down.

 

‘Jess, is that you?’ came Benjamin’s voice. ‘What happened? Are you in hospital or something? A car accident?’

‘My phone battery died. What’s up? Your message said to call you urgently. Have they found Grandpa yet?’

She could almost hear Dad umming on the other end of the line, wondering what to say. With Grandpa having gone on the run from police and been missing for two weeks now, both Jessica and her mum were convinced Mavis’s death had been murder. Doreen was certain old Ernest Lemond, a famous TV comedian from the nineteen-fifties, was set to kill again. Dad, however, wouldn’t hear of it. While Mavis had been a tyrant, a fitness freak with a penchant for spending her elderly husband’s money, Grandpa, in his advanced years, had held her in something like affection, even if the rest of the family despised her. And in any case, Mavis had outweighed him by twenty kilograms. There was no way he could have pushed her off that ladder.

‘No … the police haven’t found him.’

‘Okay. Is that good or bad?’

‘It depends on how you look at it. However, a postcard arrived yesterday.’

‘A postcard?’

‘Yes. From Scotland.’

Jessica lifted an eyebrow, her genetically inherited sense of humour unable to miss the opportunity for a bad joke. ‘Really?’ she said. ‘I didn’t know you and Scotland were such good friends.’

‘Jess … you’d put the old man into his grave with something as poor as that,’ Benjamin said, squeezing out a reluctant laugh. ‘From your grandfather in Scotland.’

‘What’s he doing there?’

‘Evading the police. And he told me he’s got a job over the Christmas season as the in-house comedian at a ski lodge.’

‘Do they have ski lodges in Scotland? I didn’t realise they had that much snow.’

‘Obviously his postcard didn’t contain much detail, but it seems they must do. Especially if they’re in a position to hire a professional comedian, even if he is ninety-two.’

‘Well, good luck to him.’

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Book Extract: The Custard Corpses by M J Porter

The Custard Corpses, a delicious 1940s mystery.

Birmingham, England, 1943.

While the whine of the air raid sirens might no longer be rousing him from bed every night, a two-decade-old unsolved murder case will ensure that Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is about to suffer more sleepless nights.

Young Robert McFarlane’s body was found outside the local church hall on 30th September 1923. But, his cause of death was drowning, and he’d been missing for three days before his body was found. No one was ever arrested for the crime. No answers could ever be given to the grieving family. The unsolved case has haunted Mason ever since.

But, the chance discovery of another victim, with worrying parallels, sets Mason, and his constable, O’Rourke, on a journey that will take them back over twenty-five years, the chance to finally solve the case, while all around them the uncertainty of war continues, impossible to ignore.

 

M J Porter has kindly shared an extract from The Custard Corpses with us today so grab that tea and biscuit and enjoy! 

 

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

 

Chief Inspector Mason is about to meet the mother and father of the murdered boy whose case he thinks might be so similar to that of Robert McFarlane

Sam paused, watching the slow progress of the woman. She was so bent; it was almost as though her nose scraped the ground. He swallowed heavily, but perhaps this was too good an opportunity to miss. Especially as an upright man followed behind, his steps slow, but his eyes focused on Sam and Higham. It was evident he’d noticed their interest in the monument.

“Good day,” Sam took the initiative, startling the woman, if not the man.

“Who are you?” the man’s accent was rough, the sound like a stone being pulled over cobbles.

“My name’s Chief Inspector Mason, from Erdington Police Station.”

Two sets of tired eyes settled on him, and he knew whatever he said next might spark hope in them. Could he be so cruel when so much was as yet unknown?

Mrs McGovern puffed through her cheeks, and he noticed the fine hairs above her lip in an unwelcome flash of late sunlight. Her lip quivered, and in her hand,  she clutched yet more bright red flowers for the graveside.

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Book Extract: Partner Pursuit by Kathy Strobos

When a workaholic lawyer meets a fun-loving music marketing executive for opposites attract, friends-to-lovers adventures, which partnership will she choose?

Workaholic lawyer Audrey Willems is not going to take any chances with her bid to become a partner at her New York law firm—especially with only six months until the decision.

Until she bumps into Jake—her new neighbor. Jake is a fun-loving music marketing executive who might just be The One.

He’s funny, caring, supportive—and able to kill water bugs in the bathroom.

But Jake will never date a woman married to her job. His father was a workaholic lawyer who never had time for family.

And she’s just got the case of a lifetime—the one she needs to win to make partner.  Working 24/7 at the office may not even be enough hours to pull off a victory.

If only she had not met him now.

Audrey is determined to prove that she can juggle work and romance—even if managing court cases, candlelit dinners, and bike rides around Manhattan is a lot harder than it looks.  She keeps canceling dates for yet another case crisis.

But when making partner is like a game of musical chairs and the last seat is a business-class alone, which partnership will she choose?

 

Kathy has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

Excerpt: Pride & Prejudice

As they reached the green subway entrance in the traffic island in the middle of 72nd Street, Jake asked, “This is your subway, right? The daycare is over on West End Avenue a few blocks down, so we’ll make it in time.”

She nodded reluctantly.

“Say goodbye to Audrey,” he said to Luna.

Luna hugged her. Audrey loved those little arms holding onto her.

Then Luna said, “You should marry this one. Mommy says that if you marry, I might get cousins I can play with.”

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Book Extract: The Landlord of Hummingbird House by Jane Harvey

I’m pleased to be welcoming Jane Harvey to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest, novel, The Landlord of Hummingbird House.

When April moves into Hummingbird House, she is intrigued by her mysterious landlord, Dai.

With a bruised heart and a distinct lack of furniture, she spends the summer getting to know the other occupants. As she smartens up her home and makes peace with her recent past, she befriends Paul, a solitary ex-chef, and Betty, an elderly lady who lives in the basement flat.

But Hummingbird House holds many secrets, and the relationships of the tenants are not as straightforward as they seem. April learns some shocking truths one eventful night, and realises that victims and villains can look the same.

The Landlord of Hummingbird House is a contemporary novel exploring unlikely friendships, unexpected love interests, and family relationships. Here, everyone is in need of a second chance – and appearances can be deceptive.

 

Jane has kindly shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

April (a 32-year-old Primary School teacher) has had to move to a new home following the break-up of her long-term relationship. Immediately before this scene, April and her sister are working away to improve her new rental home. As she works, April starts to dwell on how she renovated her last home, which leads to reflections on the end of the relationship. She has just described how she and Tom seemed to be drifting further apart, and how he was working long hours, following a promotion.

 

Eventually, he invited her to a black-tie do, for his work. April knew the date off by heart for weeks, building this one evening into something special, something that would help to salvage things. Take them back to how they were. They would have a wonderful time. They would laugh and eat and drink. Maybe dance.

She had no idea what to wear at first, and ended up having to get a new dress, and buying sparkly sandals when she couldn’t find heels that she could walk in. She had always had a problem with shoes. They both dressed up: physically pressed and booted; emotionally crumpled and tired. It was the first time they’d been out together in months.

When they were seated, April struggled to make conversation with his colleagues and acquaintances – her work stories revolved around little Jamie’s lost trousers after P.E rather than how the office intern had nearly lost them half a million. She felt like someone’s little sister. Like she’d been asked along by mistake, or out of pity, with her costume jewellery and too-tight Spanx.

It struck her that there was a time when they would have been accomplices at these events – saving each other from dire conversations with dribbling, drunken Non-Executive Directors, or giggling behind menus, thick as thieves. But Tom was off, working the room, and chatting amiably to everyone. It was expected, he said. He had to show his face.

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Book Extract & Review: Lips Like Strawberries by Michael Stephenson

I am pleased to be welcoming Michael Stephenson to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for his novel, Lips Like Strawberries.

Here’s a little about the novel…

For some, it’s the eyes. For others, the heart. But for Ara Lake, the thing that first made her fall in love… was the taste of his lips.

Ara Lake has always thought of herself as living a normal life. She works a regular job, lives in the city and, like any single 30-year-old, fantasizes about finding someone to spend her life with that isn’t her best friend Latre Simms. There’s only one problem. She hasn’t left her apartment since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Three years later, her agoraphobia hasn’t fully kept her walled off from the outside world. She can thank her abnormal abilities for that! Ara’s superpower allows her to sense the world through someone else’s senses for 12 hours. Everything changes when her powers introduce her to a man whose lips taste succulent, juicy, and sweet, like her favorite fruit.

Now, she must embark on a journey of love, strength, and self-discovery that she never expected and isn’t fully sure will end well. But she has to learn to trust her own senses and, in a post-coronavirus world, give herself over to love at first kiss as she ventures to find the one with Lips Like Strawberries!

A romantic comedy for the modern era, Lips Like Strawberries will make you laugh, cry and acknowledge the strength it takes just to fall in love. A perfect beach read to cure our collective lockdown blues, get a taste for love today!

 

I have reviewed the novel below but first, Michael has shared an extract with us. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

“Oh, sorry about that,” Ara said, apologizing for the over-touch.

The woman smiled, then let her face droop back into its resting mug. There it was again: a sullen, sad, almost depressing look, as if she knew profound sorrow. Very distracting. Not only did Ara have these powers, she was also an empath. The pain of others magnetized her to try to do something good for them. But because she didn’t know what to do, she simply stopped and stared at the woman walking down the hall.

The elevator arrived and the woman got on, only then breaking Ara’s trance. “Wait,” Ara called. “You didn’t tell me your…” The doors closed. “… name.” Ara looked down at the metal barrier between her apartment and the hallway. Her affliction was so bad that she couldn’t even enter the hall, let alone go outside. If she wanted to know that woman’s name, chasing after her was out of the question. “Eh! Maybe I don’t need to know your name.” It was always nice to know whose senses she shared, but not necessary. She closed her door and went to the kitchen for dinnerware.

She counter-ed the food and said, “Alright, let’s see what I get tonight. What sense are you gonna share with me… delivery girl.” She closed her eyes and focused on her abilities. This was the only way she knew how to activate and deactivate her powers. Holding her eyes shut tight, she raised her hands and crossed her fingers for something good and…

She suddenly tasted the distinctive flavor of cinnamon. Smacking her jaws up and down, she worked her tongue from cheek to cheek, then lamented, “Taste? What? Oh, come on!” She started unpacking the food, turned to get herself a plate, shuffled across the kitchen to the utensils drawer and even grabbed a bottle of water off the top of the fridge, all while complaining. “Taste. That’s great. That’s lovely. I get the sense of taste from a girl that works in a Chinese restaurant, the very Chinese restaurant that I just ordered from. Gosh! I wonder if I’m going to be tasting any Chinese food at any point in the night? So stupid!”

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Book Extract: The Diary of a Nagging Wife by Donna Mensah

It’s my pleasure to be welcoming Donna Mensah to Novel Kicks today with the blog tour for her new novel, The Diary of a Nagging Wife. 

Here’s a little about the book:

A hilarious story of the ups and downs of a overtired and overworked mother, two needy children and an overbearing husband the perfect laugh-out-loud story

The diary of a nagging wife is a hilarious journey of the up’s and downs of the life of Annie a 39-year-old mother to a chatty toddler and a newborn, going from a high roller financial manager to being boggled down with two children is no easy picnic, throw in an overbearing obnoxious husband to the mix equals a disaster.

Written in the form of a diary, join Annie as she begins to wonder whether there is more to life than swollen breasts and picking up her husbands dirty laundry from of the floor. Can Annie truly figure out what she wants from her life?

 

Donna has very kindly shared an extract with us today. We both hope that you enjoy reading. 

 

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

 

As much as Annie loves being with the family, her idea of doing something nice as a family is more  like a nice picnic, or a quiet stroll in an forest. Not a 2 hour trek to Colchester with the kids screaming in the back seat only to arrive at a mud infested camping site.

‘Isabelle,’ I call out from the hallway. ‘It’s time to go come down please.’ Matthew had put Joshua in his car seat and I remembered to pack the camping gear, food plus fishing rods. We decided to head over to a country park this weekend.

Matthew is such an adventurer. Before me and the kids he would often be found hiking some trail across Europe, or climbing some skyscraper mountain, now he settles for the occasional golf and camping sites, which unfortunately we are obliged to attend. I’m not one for pitching up a tent and walking in mud, but Isabelle loves it; she has her dad’s love for adventure, so she’ll be more than happy to help her father string bait onto the fishing rod, while I’m trying my very best not to gag from the pungent smell of fish guts.

I strap Isabelle into her seat and we make our way out to Colchester, which means I have two hours to sit in the car listening to Isabelle repeat, ‘Are we there yet?’ every fifteen minutes, Joshua crying to get out of his car seat which he absolutely loathes plus Matthew ranting on about his new state of the art self-inflating sleeping bed.

‘I thought this was a self-inflating sleeping bed?’ I find myself saying to Matthew in anger as our state-of-the-art bed wasn’t self-inflating at all – in fact it was completely flat.

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Book Extract: Blood Loss by Kerena Swan

A big hello to Kerena Swan. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, Blood Loss. 

Sarah

With one eye on the rear view mirror and the other on the road ahead, Sarah is desperate to get as far away from the remote Scottish cabin as she can without attracting attention. But being inconspicuous isn’t easy with a black eye and clothes soaked in blood…

… and now the fuel tank is empty.

DI Paton

When a body is discovered in a remote cabin in Scotland, DI Paton feels a pang of guilt as he wonders if this is the career break he has been waiting for. But the victim is unidentifiable and the killer has left few clues.

Jenna

With the death of her father and her mother’s failing health, Jenna accepts her future plans must change but nothing can prepare her for the trauma yet to come.

Fleeing south to rebuild her life Sarah uncovers long-hidden family secrets. Determined to get back what she believes is rightfully hers, Sarah thinks her future looks brighter. But Paton is still pursuing her…

… and he’s getting closer.

Kerena Swan’s brilliant novel explores how honest mistakes and human frailty can have terrifying and long-reaching consequences. It’s a tale of family ties and loyalty, revenge and redemption that you won’t want to put down.

 

Kerena has shared an extract today. Enjoy.

(CW: May be unsuitable for young children/scenes relating to a body.)

 

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

 

I was inspired to write this novel after reading a news article about people who undertook DNA tests to find out more about their heritage with shocking results.

Blood Loss is book one in a series featuring DI Paton and his son Tommy, a boy with Down’ Syndrome. After writing Who’s There? I was asked many times to write a sequel with the main character, Arnold. Tommy is a reincarnation of Arnold with a few subtle differences. You can discover the characters in a free novella available on my website. www.kerenaswan.com

 

DI Paton

Blue police tape fluttered across a rutted road to the right and three people, hunched in thick coats, stamped their feet nearby. ‘Bloody press,’ Paton muttered. ‘Come to feast while the body’s still warm. Who tipped them off?’

They rushed forward as Paton and Cheryl walked towards the police officer guarding the outer cordon.

‘Can you tell us what happened?’ a man asked, a watery drip wobbling under his red nose.  He grabbed a tissue from his pocket and rubbed it away.

‘Do we know who the victim is?’ A woman in a fur-trimmed hood stood in front of Paton, notebook at the ready, her fingers blue with cold.

‘You probably know more than me at this stage. Excuse me,’ Paton said. Stepping around her, he strode away with Cheryl following.

They gave their names to the officer who wrote them in the crime scene log. Behind him a man in a white suit was taking photographs of the mud and stones, swearing as the snow obliterated his evidence.

‘You need to get suited and booted, and take a spare pair of shoe covers for indoors,’ the officer said, running a finger around his collar and hunching his shoulders as large snowflakes melted against his neck. ‘Are you both on the fingerprint and DNA databases?’

They nodded.

‘When you’re ready, follow the path marked out by the tape.’

Paton was puffing by the time they reached the cabin at the top of the hill.

‘Maybe you should join my gym,’ Cheryl said.

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Book Extract: Pluto’s in Uranus! by Patrick Haylock

I am pleased to be welcoming Patrick Haylock to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his novel, Pluto’s in Uranus!

This Christmas Jupiter and Saturn will become closer to each other than they have been for almost 800 years. It is an event that has set the world astrological community abuzz with the possible consequences of such an alignment and its potential impact on global leaders and world events.

But what happens when an even rarer conjunction between Pluto and Uranus occurs and what affect does it hold in store for the lives of everyday ‘ordinary folk’?

Well, it’s something that Dave from the post room is about to find out. Pluto is in Uranus and for him this indicates that everything is about to come up smelling of roses or so he thinks!

Dave suffers from OCF, Obsessive Compulsive Fatalism, and his Achilles heel is his daily horoscope, which is about to become dramatically affected by the historic planetary alignment.

The lucky omens predicted will compel him to take uncharacteristic chances, cross paths with a hotchpotch of larger than life characters who get him embroiled in situations with hilarious outcomes that are way beyond his control and  out of his comfort zone

Pluto’s In Uranus is written by globally unrecognised no award-winning Essex author Patrick Haylock.

 

Patrick has shared an extract from Pluto’s in Uranus! today. Enjoy! 

 

 

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

 

There are plenty of cars that I would love to own, but I’m afraid to say that a BMW is not one of them, although, I wouldn’t turn one away as a gift.

My main reasoning for excluding this vehicle from my motoring bucket list, is based upon experience, observation, and the fact that you need a set of unique driving skills to own a BMW.

Persistent overtaking, undertaking and the ability to maximise the visibility of your registration plate in the rear-view mirror of any vehicle that refuses to move out of your way are key attributes to successfully driving a Beamer!

Erratic headlight flashing and ownership of outside motorway lanes are also useful assets to possess.

Sadly, not being blessed with any of these talents would mean that a BMW would be wasted on me.

However, just prior to calamity it seems Dave begs to differ, because he wishes to own a BMW, have a great adventure and to feature in a book ending with the word pancake. His goals in life are mediocre but achievable.

Up to now his life had been stagnating, as were his attempts to fulfil his aspirations. Every day always began the same: an alarm call, a nature call, a shower, and a shave.

He would skip breakfast, dash to the newsagent’s, run after the bus, sprint for the train, then crawl to his boss for late arrival –yet again!

His habitual lateness was due to OCF – Obsessive- Compulsive Fatalism which he attributed to being born on December 25th.

This syndrome made it imperative for him to read his online horoscope prior to leaving home every day. After many years of failed predictions, todays were going to prove the spectacular exception, because Pluto was in Uranus!!

Even his computer seemed to be in a more optimistic mode, as, far quicker than usual, it launched Dave’s horoscopic homepage.

The colours seemed more vibrant, and the information as clear, precise, and positive… and today, without doubt, it was addressing him personally.

Capricorn

‘Pluto has moved into Uranus, indicating revolution, a time of rebirth, new thinking, and the sweeping out of old ways.

The risk-averse should abandon their fears and take a leap of faith, as an uncharacteristic decision will turn out well!

Those with names that contain an E D A or V should be extra vigilant, as many surprising, and unexpected, opportunities are about to come your way.

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Book Extract: Girl With Secrets by Carol Rivers

I’m happy to be welcoming Carol Rivers to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her book, Girl With Secrets. 

1938, East London. Nine year old Daisy Purbright is a country girl at heart and together with beloved brother Bobby, they’ve enjoyed the endless freedoms of rural England.

But when her father gambles the family’s fortunes on a speculative investment in London’s docklands, Daisy and her family are swept up into the intrigue, danger and excitement.Desperately the Purbrights attempt to settle to a new life in the East End, but the whisperings of war grow louder.

Then, one late afternoon in September 1940, Adolf Hitler conducts a paralysing bombardment on London and war tightens its grip. Life changes dramatically and closely guarded secrets threaten the Purbrights’ happiness.

Can Daisy and her family survive one of the most fateful events of the 20th century?

Perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries, Pam Howes, Rosie Clarke and Dilly Court.

 

Carol has shared an extract from Girl With Secrets so grab that drink, the comfy chair and enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Cheer up, ducks, you look as though you’ve lost a pound and found a penny.’ Mrs Hayes steered the rattling trolley towards the canteen at a rate of knots.

‘No, I haven’t found anything. Well, not really.’ Daisy trotted beside the tea lady trying to keep up, listening to the tea-stained mugs clink violently against each other. A quick manoeuvre to the left swerved them down another walkway in the opposite direction to the offices.

‘Either you have – or you haven’t,’ the tea lady objected. ‘Speak now or forever hold your peace.’

Daisy was not certain how – or even if – she should reveal what she had seen. If she was to tell anyone at all, it would be Mrs Hayes or even Bobby, but was there really something to tell?

Perhaps she had imagined Aunt Betty standing close to Mr Calder? Had peering through one eye with the other closed distorted their figures? The more she thought, the more she was uncertain. Yet still the imprint of what she had witnessed remained in her mind. Just like Matt and Amelia’s almost-kiss.

Mrs Hayes launched the trolley into the doors of the canteen, where the scarred and dented flaps flew open. Once safely into the deserted room filled with stout wooden tables and chairs, smelling strongly of the cleaning agent that was used to kill the roaches and mice, the trolley was abandoned.

‘There now, all done,’ sighed Mrs Hayes, planting her hands on her hips as she studied Daisy. ‘Did you find your aunt?’

Daisy hesitated. ’Yes, but I didn’t actually speak to her.’

‘Why not?’

‘She was with – she had – a visitor.’

Mrs Hayes screwed up her eyes. ‘Who was that?’

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Book Extract: Dating The It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager

I’d like to welcome Krysten Lindsay Hager to Novel Kicks and the birthday blog tour for her  novel, Dating the It Guy. Happy book birthday. 

Emme starts dating a popular high school student who happens to be from a famous political family. It seems like everyone at school either wants to be Brendon Agretti or date him.

Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture-perfect ex seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti.

Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend dumped her and her whole world is off kilter with her grandparents’ health issues. Life suddenly seems easier pushing Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her.

Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses.

Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work?

Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the It guy.

 

To celebrate the birthday for her novel, Dating the It Guy, Krysten Lindsay Hager has shared an extract with us today. Over to her to introduce it. 

 

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

 

I love this scene because we see the pressures Brendon has on him from growing up in a political dynasty family and it’s also the scene where he and Emme have their very sweet first kiss!

 

Everyone thought Brendon and his last girlfriend would get married in the future because they were both high achievers with perfect looks and backgrounds. It was like the daughter of the peanut butter dynasty being promised to the jelly tsar’s son.

“People always try to map out my life for me,” he said. “They assume I’m going to follow in my father’s footsteps: get married young, run for office, work my way up the ladder, have the perfect family—only unlike my dad, they assume I’ll eventually run for President. Although I think my old man’s still got designs on the Oval Office.”

“So is any of that what you want?” I asked.

He blinked. “I don’t even know what I want. It’s hard to explain, but when you grow up in a family where your dad and your grandpa were known for something, it’s like everyone assumes you’ll pick up the baton and finish the race. I know it sounds like, ‘oh, poor little rich kid crying because his family has connections,’ but it’s overwhelming.”

“Wow, I never thought about it that way. I guess I just assumed you had all these doors open to you, and your life was, well, planned. But also like you had it made—you were set.”

“That’s what most people think, and in some ways it’s true, but is it what I want? I honestly don’t know.”

“What would you do if you didn’t have any family pressure on you?” I asked.

“You’ll laugh at me.”

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Book Extract and Review: The Village of Lost and Found by Alison Sherlock

A big digital hug and welcome to Alison Sherlock. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, The Village of Lost and Found which is the second book in the Riverside Lane series. 

Scandal hit party girl Lucy Conway needs to leave London fast, so she packs her bags and escapes to the sleepy village of Cranbridge to take care of her beloved Uncle Frank.

But the country village isn’t quite as idyllic as she remembers. To make matters worse, her Uncle’s pride and joy, The Cranbridge Times, is close to going out of business.

Editor-at-Large Tom Addison is having a crisis of confidence and needs help if the newspaper is going to survive. 

With time on her hands, can Lucy work some magic and together save the family newspaper?
Over a long, hot summer, friendships are made and hearts begin to heal. And, with the help of a stray dog, perhaps Lucy and Tom can find their very own new beginning…

 

I have reviewed the novel below but first, Alison and Boldwood have shared an extract. Grab that hot drink, biscuit and comfy place and enjoy. 

 

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

 

As Lucy drove across the countryside in her Ford Fiesta, she found herself singing along to the radio.

She knew she should be feeling more miserable than she did at that moment. After all, she had no career to speak of. Her ex-lover had turned out to be married. Plus her parents were still upset about her so-called ‘affair’ ending up on the front pages of the newspapers and the paparazzi were still camped out on the street outside their home.

And yet, despite all of that, Lucy felt happier than she had done all week. Spending a night away from her home to stay in a hotel near to the hospital meant that she hadn’t had to endure her parents’ disapproving silence over an awkward dinner and could relax. Uncle Frank had been told that he was likely to be discharged from hospital in the next few days. She felt relieved that it had not been anything more serious although he would be heading home with a large boot to protect the small fracture in his foot and would need some help getting around. Lucy was thankful that she had the time to step in and assist him in his recovery.

As she drove further into the countryside, her mood lightened even more. It was the middle of June and the air coming through the gap in the car window that she had opened was both fresh and warm. When the song on the radio finished, the sound of birdsong filled the air instead.

This particular journey always brought a smile to her face. Each school holiday, her parents had carried on working and hadn’t wanted her under their feet so she had been packed off to stay with her aunt and uncle in Cranbridge. The summers had been particularly special. She remembered paddling in the shallow river that ran through the middle of the village. Ice cream melting down onto her sticky fingers. The smell of home cooking and freshly made cakes just out of the oven. Hugs from her Aunt Jane. Laughter with her uncle.

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Book Extract: One Night in Beartown by Nick Jones

I am very pleased to be welcoming Nick Jones to Novel Kicks today. He is here with his new picture book, One Night in Beartown (illustrated by Si Clark.)

From the award-winning duo that brought you Sarah’s Shadow comes another magical adventure…

When bear-mad schoolgirl Sandy Lane has her beloved teddy bear Berisford confiscated at school, she dreads the thought of going a whole night without his cuddles.

Little does she know that a bear-rilliant night awaits her, involving Berisford, a bear statue and many other wonderful friends!

 

Nick has shared an extract with us today. This book looks so adorable and is for ages 4-8.

 

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

 

 

 

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Book Extract and Review: The Juggle by Emma Murray

Happy publication day to Emma Murray. She is here today with her novel, The Juggle. 

Here’s a little about the book…

‘You can have it all,’ they said. ‘Happy children, happy marriage, great career – no problem,’ they said…

Mother-of-one Saoirse is just about holding it all together – combining part time work with the school run, while her husband David gets to focus on his career. But when David loses his job, everything has to change.

With no hesitation, Saoirse suggests she takes on the role of main breadwinner. After all, how hard can it be? And when a new client offers her a life-changing sum of money, Saoirse can look the other over-achieving Woodvale school-run mums in the eye with pride.

But there’s a problem with keeping too many balls in the air – eventually one is bound to drop. And when that happens – well, who knows what the consequences could be…

Laugh-out-loud funny, achingly relatable, but with a heart of gold, and warmth running through every page. This is the perfect read for anyone who has way too many balls in the air! The novel may or may not have been inspired by real life…

 

I have reviewed the novel below but first, to celebrate the publication of The Juggle and to help start the blog tour, Emma and Boldwood Books have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

My four-year-old daughter Anna has been at school for two weeks now, and frankly I’m already having second thoughts. For starters, I appear to always be late for pick-up and today is no exception. I grab my raincoat and keys and shut the door behind me. Two seconds later, I let myself back in again. I have forgotten to bring Anna’s snack. Last week I forgot her snack and she started screaming at me in the middle of the playground. The mortification was endless. I have lived in fear of a repeat of ‘snackgate’ ever since. So, I open the ‘cupboard of crap’, as my husband David likes to call it, and grab a packet of those flavoured cheesy cracker things that flight crew sometimes give you on the plane. I can’t even think of them now without feeling airsick.

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Book Extract: Deadly Whispers in Lower Dimblebrook by Julie Butterfield

I’d like to give a lovely welcome to Julie Butterfield and the blog tour for her latest novel, Deadly Whispers in Lower Dimblebrook.

When Isabelle Darby moves to the delightfully cosy village of Lower Dimblebrook, she’s searching for peace and quiet as well as a chance to escape from heartbreak. After making friends with Fiona Lambourne, another newcomer to the village, Issie is left reeling when tragedy strikes and Fiona is murdered, the second wife Anthony Lambourne has lost in unfortunate circumstances.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the local gossips insist that Fiona had been embroiled in an affair before her death, something which Issie knows not to be the case.

Determined to clear her friend’s reputation and solve the mystery of the rumours, Issie takes on both the gossips and the handsome but stern DI Wainwright, making both friends and enemies along the way!

 

Julie has shared an extract with us today so grab that tea/coffee, comfortable chair and enjoy. 

 

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

 

Introduction

Living in a village on the edge of the Cotswolds, it was easy to imagine life in Lower Dimblebrook and the characters are all the sort of people I would like to meet myself – with the exclusion of the murderer of course! As a lifelong fan of Miss Marple and Poirot, I could imagine the keystones of the village being the vicar and those residents who were have lived in the same houses for generations and know every nook and cranny of their village. I decided to dispense with the vicar in Deadly Whispers but I definitely needed a vicar’s wife, one of those kind-hearted, totally dependable women who provide a rock of support for anyone who asks.

 

For a moment Issie thought she had found the house empty until she detected a snuffling noise approaching ever closer and the door flew open, two over-excited dachshunds tumbling out to sniff her feet and ankles with all the focus of bloodhounds. A pink-cheeked face appeared a few seconds behind them and Miriam Hollier wiped her hands on her flour-covered apron and tilted her head enquiringly in Issie’s direction.

‘Hello, Isabelle isn’t it? Do come in. Flounder … Scuttle come along now,’ and Issie found herself herded in the direction of a warm kitchen, rich with the scent of baking and with scones and cakes covering every surface.

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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 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 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 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 Extract: Number 10 by C.J. Daugherty

I am happy to be welcoming C.J Daugherty to Novel Kicks today and her new book, Number 10. 

Eight months ago, Gray Langtry’s mother became prime minister… now someone wants her dead

Gray’s life has been in turmoil ever since her mother was chosen to lead the country. They had to leave their home and move into the prime minister’s official residence at Number 10 Downing Street. Everywhere she goes, she must be accompanied by bodyguards. The media won’t leave her alone — she’s on the cover of every tabloid, and her behaviour, her appearance, the length of her skirts… everything is constantly judged.

Worse, the scars from her parents’ divorce and her mother’s abrupt remarriage are still raw. She doesn’t like her stepfather. She doesn’t like this life. None of it was her decision.

When she’s photographed drunk outside a London nightclub, it makes headlines. Gray is grounded and given new bodyguards – younger, cooler, and harder to fool than the last batch.

It’s Julia, the new bodyguard, who tells her that a new terrorist organisation issued a threat, and the threat is credible. They say they’re going to kill her mother and Gray. When Gray tries to find out more though, no one will tell her. Her mother never mentions it and her bodyguard is forbidden to say more. Locked up in Number 10 night after night, Gray decides to find answers. If someone wants to kill her, she deserves to know why.

One of the few people who understands what’s happening is Jake McIntyre — the son of her mother’s political enemy. Convinced he’s working for his father, her mother forbids her to spend time with him. But Gray believes he might be able to help her learn the truth.

One night, while sneaking through dark government halls, she gets far more than she bargained for. She realises the situation is much worse than even her mother’s security team suspects. But will anyone believe the prime minister’s wild child daughter?

Afraid for herself, her mother, and her country, Gray is determined to find proof. But she must move fast.

The clock is ticking. 

 

C.J has shared an extract today. It sound great so enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Gray wasn’t going to drink any more alcohol. The cold bottle felt good against her overheated skin, though, and she held it up to her face, pressing the glass against her cheek.

‘Gray.’ Jake’s northern accented voice was unmistakable.

She spun around to see him a few feet away, his expression dripping disapproval. ‘What do you want?’ she asked.

His brow lowering, he glanced from the bottle in her hand back to her face. ‘Maybe you should go easy on that. You don’t look so great.’

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Book Extract: A Village Vacancy by Julie Houston

Hello to Julie Houston and the blog tour for her novel, A Village Vacancy. 

As the Yorkshire village of Westenbury mourns the loss of one of their own, the women can’t help but contemplate who will fill the vacancy in one handsome widower’s life…

Grace Stevens has decided it’s time to move on without her husband. He’s off gallivanting around Devon in search of a new life, and good riddance. It’s time to go back to teaching, so Grace returns to Little Acorns and takes on an unruly class of pre-teens.

As she deals with disasters in – and out of – the classroom including an accidental dalliance with her most troublesome pupil’s dad, helping track down a drug ring and keeping up with her closest girlfriends, Grace begins to wonder more and more about the sparkle in David’s eyes and the sparking chemistry between them.

Could Grace be the one to fill this village vacancy?

 

Julie and Aria have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

‘Can you believe this, Harriet?’ Grace wiped her eyes once more as, forty minutes later, the cortege retraced its steps back up the nave towards the main entrance of the church, taking Mandy Henderson on her final journey to the churchyard. ‘You know, that Mandy is actually… I can’t even say the words… no longer here with us anymore?’

‘No.’ Harriet Westmoreland, Grace’s best friend since school days, shook her head, for once short of words. ‘How long have we known Mandy?’ she finally asked. She paused to think, screwing up her eyes as she did the maths and answering her own question. ‘Over thirty years. Do you remember your first glimpse of her at Midhope Grammar? I do.’

Grace tutted. ‘Of course I do, Harriet. You know I do. I fell in love with her in our very first assembly as she sat with the other fifth and sixth-formers on that long bench in front of the teachers. God, they were a rum lot, weren’t they?’

‘Miss Clarke, the young PE teacher was OK,’ Harriet mused, casting her mind back. ‘I quite liked her, but how the pair of us ever became teachers with that motley crew as our only example, I’ll never know.’ Harriet shook her head again, reaching out a restraining hand to Pietronella who was eager to be off now she’d spotted David Henderson, Mandy’s widowed husband and her own much adored adopted grandpa, before glancing round the church at the remaining mourners. ‘Is Juno here? Or any other of the Sutherland sisters? I thought Pandora at least might have shown up?’

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Book Extract & Review: An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins

I am pleased to be welcoming Fiona Higgins to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, An Unusual Boy which has been released today by Boldwood Books. 

Meet Jackson – a very unusual boy in a world that prefers ‘normal’…

Julia Curtis is a busy mother of three, with a husband often away for work, an ever-present mother-in-law, a career, and a house that needs doing up. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Milla, has fallen in love for the first time, and her youngest, Ruby, is a nine-year-old fashionista who can out-negotiate anyone.

But Julia’s eleven-year-old son, Jackson, is different. Different to his sisters. Different to his classmates. In fact, Jackson is different from everyone. And bringing up a child who is different isn’t always easy.

Then, one Monday morning, Jackson follows his new friend Digby into the school toilets. What happens inside changes everything; not only for Jackson, but for every member of his family. Julia faces the fight of her life to save her unusual boy from a world set up for ‘normal’.

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Fiona and Boldwood Books have shared an extract. 

 

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

 

‘Shhh! You’ll wake her up!’

Stifled laughter, the tinkling of a tea bell and the pungent smell of burnt toast drift beneath the bedroom door. Our three children are whispering outside, impatient to sneak in and surprise me. My hand slides across the mattress, reaching for Andy’s, before the crushing realisation swamps me.

He’s not here. Again.

A cold, hard nub of loneliness lodges in my chest. Andy’s overseas trips are an unavoidable by-product of his smashing career success; New York this quarter, London next, Tokyo in the spring. I should be used to it by now, but the thought of spending Mother’s Day solo makes me want to curl up under the covers and refuse to come out. For the sake of the children, however, I can’t. It’s my job to create magic on Mother’s Day now.

I stare at the paint flaking off the ceiling above our bed. Recalling the early, easy years with Andy, before there were any Mothers’ Days at all. All that spare time spent sleeping and strolling and staring into each other’s eyes. Two languid years of mutual adoration, before my body endured three pregnancies, two breastfed babies and the singular exertions of gravity itself. Back when Andy and I still saw each other, somehow.

Something clatters to the floor beyond the door.

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Book Extract: The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge

Welcome back, Samantha Tonge. Today, the blog tour continues for her fantastic novel, The Winter We Met. 

When charming, mysterious, Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.

As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her Grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. With the help of Nik, and her best friend Oliver, Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen! But time is running out and Oliver isn’t the only one who has suspicions about charismatic Nik’s intentions.

Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?

 

Samantha and Aria have shared an extract today. As this is set at Christmas, grab that hot chocolate, a comfy chair and play that Christmas song. I won’t tell, I promise. Enjoy! 

 

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

 

‘So, you’ve been to England before?’ I asked and took a sip.

‘Yes. It’s only the last few years or so that I’ve been going to the trade fairs on my own. I joined the company straight from university and Mum and Dad have been teaching me the ropes ever since, taking me on work trips abroad.’ He ran a finger around the mug’s rim. ‘They brought me here as a teenager though, on holiday to see the sights. Mum and Dad went backpacking during university holidays and always said there was nothing quite like travel for broadening the mind. They liked discovering unusual places. We travelled the length of the country, from Newcastle to Bournemouth.’

‘Wow. Any favourite places?’

‘Stonehenge was amazing – so atmospheric. And we rented a cottage in the Cotswolds for a few days, in a quiet little village. It looked like a picture off a chocolate box and ducks visited the back garden – Mum fell in love with it. Manchester was pretty cool with trendy independent coffee shops and warehouse stores. We had to visit the Cavern Club in Liverpool as Dad had always been a massive fan of The Beatles and we also took a wonderful steam engine trip through Norfolk. We only spent one day in the capital so I don’t really know London.’

‘It sounds as if you’ve seen more of my home country than I have. So what got your parents interested in toy manufacturing?’

‘Mum was studying a degree in arts and Dad a design degree with modules in consumer engineering. He was left some money from his grandparents – enough to start the business. Also both of their families are big and even in their twenties, between them, Mum and Dad had lots of nephews and nieces and loved entertaining them and Grams and Grandpa – Mum’s parents – would often talk about how Mum was always making her own toys as a child out of food packaging and scraps of materials or plastic.’ He smiled. ‘She encouraged me as a boy. I used to love crafting with the week’s leftover cereal boxes and plastic butter tubs. I guess that passed the passion onto me.’

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Book Extract: Coming Home to Penvennan Cove by Linn B Halton

A big welcome to Linn B Halton and the blog tour for her latest novel, Coming Home To Penvennan Cove. 

Can Kerra’s Cornish hometown offer the fresh start she needs?

When Kerra left the quiet Cornish town of Penvennan Cove for the bright lights of London she didn’t look back. But after the death of her mother, she’s decided it’s time to face her past and return to the place she called home. Her father needs her, and perhaps she needs him more than she’s willing to admit?

Tackling town gossip, home renovations and a flame from her past, it’s not quite smooth sailing for Kerra. Ross is the bad boy she was meant to forget, not a man who still sets her heart aflutter. As he helps bring her dream home to life, they begin to break down the barriers that have been holding them back and in the process learn things about themselves they never thought possible.

As friends old and new come together, the future in Penvennan looks bright.

 

Linn and Aria have shared an extract from Coming Home to Penvennan Cove. Enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

When Mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I travelled home every weekend so we could all be together during those final few months. We laughed, we cried and we reminisced. But it’s a mean beast and although she was ready to go when the time came, we weren’t ready to let go of her. What it did for me, was put everything into perspective.

Going back is never easy; going forward was all I knew, until now.

It eased my conscience a little to see my team through the transition, giving them time to adjust to the new regime. It was meant to be a period in which we’d all feel proud of what we’d achieved and I’d leave them with a sense of excitement about their future. But the last few months have been a blur of activity and, naturally, upheaval.

And now, Sy is right—I feel like a deserter, walking away as if I can’t already see the problems beginning to stack up on the horizon. Big business is fierce and while it was all smiles and handshakes at the start, it’s now deadpan faces and long emails detailing the new procedures. Did they really want the business, or just the ready-made audience to add to their already huge database? Equally as soul-destroying is the fact that I’m beginning to feel I’ve been disloyal to our customers, too. The press release put a very positive spin on it, of course, but some of the benefits seem one-sided to me. I’m hoping I’m proved wrong.

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Book Extract: I Don’t Do Mondays by Colette Kebell

I am very happy to be welcoming Colette Kebell to Novel Kicks today. She’s here with the blog tour for her book, I Don’t Do Mondays. 

Lawyer Mia’s picture-perfect dream life in New York is imploding. Her job has become too stressful, she’s exhausted from carrying her friends and what’s up with her striking, wealthy fiancé?

But when life-changing decisions force her to move to Maine, where she’ll face her often critical father and hard truths about what truly matters in life, she re-discovers a passion of her youth.

What begins as a low moment in her life quickly pushes her to consider what she genuinely wants and leads her down a new path where she must embrace the future and let go of the past.

Will this move help Mia to fix her life, once and for all, and will she finally find true love?

 

Colette has shared an extract today. Grab that drink, comfy chair and enjoy. 

 

***** beginning of extract***** 

 

Chapter 1

‘I don’t do Mondays.’

The woman was Amanda Parker, a beautiful twenty-three-year-old blonde who was lying naked on the bed in the master suite at the Waldorf Astoria. Her family had old money, and they made it clear she wouldn’t see a single penny of it. Her primary occupation was to party, doing the occasional modelling, and hoping to have another spot in a celebrity magazine. Which one, was not important.

‘How come? It’s not that you have to get up and go to work.’ Carlton Allerton, owner of Allerton Groceries, and worth several billion in assets, although mostly made by his grandfather, was the man sharing her bed.

‘I don’t know. People always disappear, rushing to go to work. Monday morning is dead. Too quiet for my liking.’

People have to work for a living, albeit most of us, but he didn’t say it out loud. The last thing he wanted was to start a quarrel. Amanda could be temperamental.

Instead, he said, ‘What about having a shower together? We’ve been lying here doing nothing since six.’

‘Nothing since sex, you mean. Are you checking the time?’ Amanda asked.

‘Not at all, but I’m getting hungry, and I still need to fully wake up.’

‘You didn’t seem asleep when we were making love,’ she teased him.

‘Give me a break, Amanda. You know very well this is borrowed time. We can’t keep going like this.’

The woman suddenly looked him straight in the eye, her voice now firm and sharp. ‘Then do something about it.’ It wasn’t the first time they’d touched that topic, and most likely not the last one.

‘It’s not so easy, and you know it.’

Carlton sat on the bed and turned the television onto Bloombergto see the latest news on the Asian market. A man in a suit and a yellow bow tie was explaining why the Nikkei had slipped, reversing early gains from the past few weeks. The Federal Reserve meeting was due in a few days, and the investors were cautious.

‘I know you care more about your money than me.’ Amanda’s expression stiffened. ‘And don’t give me that crap that you have to work this morning. You’re dodging the issue. This is you; always avoiding confrontation whenever you can.’

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Book Extract: Eternal Forever by Syl Waters

A big lovely welcome today to Syl Waters who is here with the blog tour for her novel, Eternal Forever.

 

Fame, glory and… foul play!

Jessie was a shop worker dreaming of the big time, then YouTube found her. But staying in the limelight requires meticulous management: pop stars are made not born.

With awards night approaching, the pressure’s on for Tito, Jessie’s manager, to whip her into shape. Getting so close wasn’t in the contract, but then neither was him being murdered in Spain.

Alone and scared of the negative publicity, Jessie turns to Mack, her account manager at Eternal Forever, the UK’s first digital legacy management agency. But Mack’s got his own issues: the company’s fast running out of cash, his key developer’s on the turn and a blogger’s suicide looks suspicious.

With the assistance of J-Pop, Mack’s assistant and wannabe reality TV star, Jessie turns sleuth. But in a world where everybody’s watching, it’s hard to escape. Reputation is everything and some people will do anything to protect it.

 

Syl has shared an extract today. I have to say, this book sounds brilliant. Don’t just take my word for it though. Read on and enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Context: Duncan, a key developer and co-founder at Eternal Forever, is getting angsty about the upcoming investor meeting. His fellow directors are putting pressure on him to sell more shares and it’s making him feel uncomfortable.

 

The problem was, he knew five million wasn’t going to cut it long-term, not if they really intended to go big (which he did). Tech cost, and there was a very good reason why Twitter could rake in billions and still not be profitable. Start-ups were ravenous, insatiable beasts akin to a giant black hole. Making money was a long-term goal, not an overnight shopping basket filled to the brim with cash.

Not that he’d admitted as much to Fran or Mack. It was bad enough how much he was having to give up now, without them seizing on this opportunity to rob him of even more shares. But he knew their revenue growth for the foreseeable future looked slim. They might’ve boosted user growth recently, but until people started paying more, it wouldn’t be long before they’d need more money and soon. Unless people started dying, they’d be dead.

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Book Extract: Love Me Like You Do by Aimee Brown

A lovely hello to Aimee Brown. She’s here with the blog tour for her new novel, Love Me Like You Do. 

A runaway bride. A handsome stranger. Two pasts to put behind them.

Parker is ready to marry the man of her dreams. But he isn’t ready to marry her. It would be helpful if he didn’t choose their wedding day to tell her this. But as she flees from the travesty behind her, she literally runs into the arms of a handsome stranger. The southern drawl, the dreamy eyes, she can’t fall for another man after being left at the altar – can she?

When Liam agreed to go to go on a date he didn’t expect to leave with the bride. Nor did he expect to take her the emergency room. Immediately he’s drawn to her fiery spirit, her kind heart and beautiful smile. Liam’s got a whole host of problems and a past that keeps coming back, now can’t be the time to fall in love, but Parker might just be the one to break down his barriers and let him live a little – if she’ll let him in.

Will these two strangers allow serendipity to put them together, or will their fears keep them apart?

 

Aimee and Aria has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy! 

 

 

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

 

‘He’s a stranger to me.’ She pleads her case while the nurse adjusts her pants. ‘We just met an hour ago and I don’t even remember his name.’

I raise a single eyebrow as I look over at her.

She pinches her lips together as she rolls her eyes. ‘OK fine, I remember his name, Liam, but I don’t know him. I swearit. We weren’t having sex. I just got dumped for Christ’s sake!’

‘Let’s go to x-ray,’ the nurse says avoiding the subject entirely. Her face is blank and it would appear that she’s tucked her emotions away and they aren’t coming out even for the girl who walked in wearing a wedding dress.

When Parker comes back into the room from having her x-rays, she sits on the bed, her feet now in her incredibly high heels dangling over the side of the bed. I laugh to myself at the ridiculousness of her new outfit.

‘What?’ she asks sharply.

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