Book News

Book Extract: Hazard Night by Laura Vaughan

I’m pleased to be welcoming Laura Vaughan to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Hazard Night.

Cleeve College is not for everyone…

When Eve’s husband is appointed housemaster at his old boarding school, Cleeve College, she gives up her life in London to join him. But the isolation and loss of autonomy threaten both her happiness and her marriage.

The arrival of Fen, an enigmatic artist and wife of the new Classics teacher, is a welcome distraction. Fen doesn’t play by the rules, and she and Eve enter into a game of escalating dares, disrupting the delicate balance of school life.

Then, the morning after Hazard Night, a tradition that allows the students to run wild and play pranks for one day, a body is found. Someone has been murdered. And it seems everyone has something to hide…

 

Laura has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy it. 

 

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

 

ALICE

I think I knew from the start that the new beard at Wyatt’s was a hopeless case.

(Beards are what the boys call the campus wives. Gogs – as in pedagogues – are the teaching staff. God is the name for my father, the chaplain. Fishface is what they call me.)

I’d been roped in to help on the Winslows’ first Arrivals because the kitchen was short-staffed and so Pat B – head of catering – asked if I’d lend a hand at Wyatt’s welcome tea. These teas are always served in the housemasters’ gardens, and although the kitchen staff do most of the baking and serving, it’s a tradition that the housemaster’s wife makes her own contribution. When Mrs Winslow unveiled her Tupperware boxes of gingerbread men, she flushed defensively. ‘I’m not much of a cook,’ she said, attempting a laugh, ‘but icing covers a multitude of sins.’

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NK Chats With… Fran Clark

Hello Fran. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your novel, Holding Paradise and what inspired it?

Holding Paradise is women’s fiction novel seen from the viewpoint of both West Indian matriarch, Josephine, and her first generation daughter, Angelica. It’s a moving story of family, loss and deceit that explores identity, belonging and the resilience of the human spirit. It was inspired by stories that my mother used to tell us about her times spent in the West Indies and what it was like raising her family in 1950s London. I wanted to honour her memories so created characters who had stories of their own to tell based around that time in history.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you have any writing rituals?

My writing day depends on the stage of the book I’m in. When it’s a new book I tend to devote the mornings to writing at my desk and spend the rest of my day thinking about the plot as I do the other things like answering emails etc. During editing I change desks and put my fold up table by the big French windows where I think I’m seeing the novel with fresh eyes just because I’ve set up in a different place. I know it sounds crazy but it works for me.

 

What are the challenges you found when writing your novel?

First novels are always the ones that you write from the heart and mean everything to you. I had to try to make sure it wasn’t a rambling biography of pouring my heart out. That’s how it started off. I had to keep myself in check and put myself in the position of the reader. I needed to make it an interesting and entertaining read and after quite a few versions of this book, I think I finally got there. But the readers will be the judge, I guess.

 

Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?

Can I pick more than one? If it’s in literature, then probably Jo March from Little Women. She’s just such an inspiring person and a writer who had to be so determined to become a writer in a time in history when it was so difficult for women. I’d hope that being around her might rub off on me and I could get some of her grit and determination. For on screen characters, I’d love to live in Stars Hollow with The Gilmore Girls. I’d love a coffee shop like Luke’s to hang out where I could catch up on the local gossip and and have a place to write.

 

From idea to finished book, what’s your writing process like and how long does it typically take you?

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Book Review: The House Sitter by Elizabeth Drummond

I’m pleased to be welcoming Elizabeth Drummond to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The House Sitter

His house. Her rules. But who’s in charge?

Pippa Munro had everything planned for her perfect wedding. What she did not have planned, was for her boyfriend to break up with her. Or sell her beloved farm. So instead of being blissfully engaged, Pippa finds herself jobless, homeless and loveless. Things couldn’t be going better…

Wolfie Squires needs someone to look after his family’s ancient house. He’s too busy with his hot shot city job to deal with a country manor several hundred miles away.

The perfect solution? Find someone to house sit.
The less-than-perfect candidate? Pippa Munro.

Pippa is more comfortable working on a farm than dusting a chandelier, and definitely not the ideal choice for the job.

As tempers fray, ideas clash, and secrets are spilled, Pippa and Wolfie might realise they have the same ambitions for the house, if only they could stop arguing long enough to find out…

*****

Piper Monro has put years of her life into her boyfriend’s farm in her beloved Hurst Bridge yet, on the night she is hoping he will finally propose, she is given a big surprise.

She needs a new job and fast. When she hears that Squires House needs a house sitter, she finds herself applying for it.

It’s here that she runs into Wolfie Squires, a man she’s not seen since she was a teenager. From what she can see, he’s the same unfriendly person she remembers. Can she and Wolfie find a way to work together?

This is the first novel I’ve read from Elizabeth Drummond. The premise intrigued me so I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for The House Sitter.

Piper is strong and brilliant and a little frustrating when it comes to her long term boyfriend, Alex but this book teaches us that time, space and hindsight are very important. She’s a force of nature and I loved that about her.

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Book Review: The Lost Letters of Evelyn Wright by Clare Swatman

I’m so happy to be welcoming Clare Swatman back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her new novel, The Lost Letters of Evelyn Wright.

Starting over can be hard to do…

So when mum of two Beth moves out of her beloved marital home and into an unloved and unkempt cottage, she can’t help but feel demoralised. Faced with months of DIY and dust, her children Jacob and Olivia aren’t impressed either. But when Beth finds a box of letters while she’s clearing out the children’s room, things start to look up.

The correspondence is decades old, between agony aunt Evelyn and those in need of solace. Intrigued as to why the letters have been kept safe all these years, Beth can’t resist reading them, and as the wisdom and kindness of Evelyn falls off the pages, so Beth starts to feel she has a friend and champion in this woman she has never met.

Good advice doesn’t age, and as life starts to look brighter, Beth begins to wonder if she could track down Evelyn and thank her for her help. But as Beth uncovers more about Evelyn’s story, it becomes clear that everything is not as it seems. And now Beth is determined to bring peace to Evelyn as she has to her.

*****

Beth had it all – the marriage, the wonderful house and two children. 

Now, she’s a single mother in a ramshackle house that needs a lot of work, her husband is living with the woman he was having an affair with and she has never felt more lonely. 

When she finds some old agony aunt letters, she decides to reply. After all, it’s something to do. However, these letters open up her world to more than she ever imagined. 

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Book Extract: Dark Days at the Beach Hotel by Francesca Capaldi

I’m pleased to be welcoming Francesca Capaldi to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Dark Days at the Beach Hotel.

Can Helen save the hotel… and her reputation?

Helen Bygrove is managing the hotel, now that her husband has been conscripted. Against all expectations, Helen and her team are doing marvellously, despite the shortages brought by war. Even the exacting Lady Blackmore agrees. But then the calm is shattered when poison pen letters are sent to prominent townsfolk and Helen finds herself the target of a police investigation.

Is someone trying to ruin Helen, and the Beach Hotel? And can she rely on the handsome but taciturn Inspector Toshack to help her? When her husband, Douglas, is invalided out of the war he is determined to take back control of the hotel and things go from bad to worse.

How can she ever escape his bullying? Is she a fool to hope that she may have a second chance at love?

 

Francesca has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy it. 

 

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

Helen Bygrove has taken over as manageress of the Beach Hotel after her husband is conscripted. There have been libellous letters sent to many people in the town, and much of the focus has concentrated on the hotel. Detective Inspector Toshack has now turned up at the hotel, with several police officers.

 

*****

‘What are they doing?’ said Helen.

‘Carrying out a search.’

‘But my children are up there, with Vera, their nursemaid.’

‘I’m sure WPC Lovelock will escort them elsewhere. Constable, you search the office, down this passageway on the left.’

Twort performed a short salute before obeying the command.

‘Why are you doing this, Inspector?’ Helen asked. ‘Why would anyone here use the hotel writing paper for anonymous letters?’

As she finished the sentence, the door to the stairs opened once more, and Vera appeared, with Elsie in her arms. Dorothy and Arthur came just behind her.

‘Shall I take the children into the staff dining room, madam?’

‘That would be best.’

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Book Review: The Year That Changed Us by Helen Rolfe

I’m happy to be welcoming Helen Rolfe back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Year That Changed Us.

A warm-hearted and gripping story of community, secrets and the family we choose that will captivate fans of Lucy Diamond, Cathy Bramley and Jessica Redland.

As young women, Lise and Emma had the kind of friendship people dream about. While Lise’s own family was distant and disengaged, Emma’s was welcoming and warm, and for the first twenty-six years of their life, growing up together in a close-knit community, the duo were inseparable. But when they decide to spend one year living together in Paris, what starts as the adventure of a lifetime becomes a disaster that changes everything. And when Emma returns to Bath the following summer, Lise stays behind in France, their friendship in tatters.

Now, sixteen years later, Lise has come back to their hometown, determined to put things right. But to do so, she’ll have to face up to the truth about what happened in Paris. And with Emma refusing to talk to her, can she get close enough to share her secret?

*****

From the time they were in primary school, Lise and Emma have been the best of friends, even when Lise is sent to boarding school. 

When it is time for them to spread their wings, they decide to spend time in Paris. They are excited about their adventure. However, when the two women fall out and Emma returns home without Lise, their friendship seems forever broken. 

Can they repair what was lost or is their bond broken forever? 

Having previously read Christmas Nights at the Star and Lantern and loved it, I was excited to have the opportunity to take part in the blog tour for Helen Rolfe’s latest novel,  The Year That Changed Us. 

First, I want to give a shout out to the cover. It’s so pretty. The plot also sounded interesting and so I couldn’t wait to get started. 

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Book Review: The Summer of Lies by Louise Douglas

I’m pleased to be welcoming Louise Douglas back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Summer of Lies.

The summer is the hottest yet in the Brittany coastal town of Morranez, but when a new case lands on the desk of the Toussaints detective agency, there can be no time to relax. As wild fires bear down on the town, the alert goes out for a missing girl.

Nineteen-year-old Briony Moorcroft has seemingly been taken from her sleepy Welsh village and brought to France. Her parents are baffled and scared – Briony needs her life-saving medicine or this case will become even more sinister, and with the police dragging their heels, the Moorcrofts are relying on Mila Shephard and Carter Jackson’s sleuthing skills.

Meanwhile there are mysteries troubling Mila’s life too. Two years after the accident that swept her sister Sophie and brother-in-law Charlie away and left their daughter Ani in Mila’s care, new evidence resurfaces that makes Mila doubt everything.

Can Carter and Mila find Briony before it’s too late? And is the truth about Sophie and Charlie finally about to be revealed…

*****

Mila is not looking forward to the responsibility of organising a celebration for her mother’s birthday – a thought that gives her anxiety rather than joy. A case soon takes her mind off her mother and onto an unwell nineteen-year-old girl who has seemingly been taken from her home in Wales to France. Can Mila and Carter find Briony Moorcroft before it’s too late?

I’m so happy to be back in Morranez with Mila, Carter, Cici and Ani. Having enjoyed The Lost Notebook, I was excited to catch up with these characters. It was like catching up with old friends.

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Book Extract: A Deadly Portrayal by LM Milford

I’m excited to be welcoming LM Milford to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, A Deadly Portrayal.

When local crime reporter Emma Fletcher is asked to help identify her friend’s blackmailer, she discovers a link to the recent death of a teacher at Allensbury Dance and Drama School.

Meanwhile, a police investigation is uncovering some dark secrets, and it is clear that someone is seeking revenge for past wrongs.

As Emma’s list of suspects continues to grow, the discovery of a second body puts her in the killer’s sights.

Warned off the investigation by the police for her own safety, Emma decides the best way to save herself is to find the culprit first.

With the help of fellow news reporter Dan Sullivan, Emma must work out who is targeting Allensbury Dance and Drama School before the killer strikes again.

 

LM Milford has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy it. 

 

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

 

The story so far… dancer Natasha Kent has received an email threatening to ruin her life if she doesn’t admit to what she’s done. Then teacher Travers McGovern, who has been watching Natasha in a dance rehearsal, is found dead in his office. News reporter Emma Fletcher attends the scene to get information for a story.

**

Students were streaming out of the doors of the school as Emma arrived. As she headed towards the entrance, she felt like a salmon desperately trying to swim upstream. She was almost knocked off her feet by a burly male student carrying a sports bag. He gripped her arm to prevent her falling, apologising, leaving Emma just enough time to detain him and ask if he knew what was happening.

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Book Extract: When We Were Us by Patricia Caliskan

I’m pleased to be welcoming Patricia Caliskan to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, When We Were Us.

Is it ever too late to start again…?

Erika Forde has always played second fiddle to her husband David, the famous novelist. But since their son, Matt, left home for university, cracks have started to show in their marriage.

Erika has long had a nagging suspicion that David may not always have been faithful, and now his latest books are starting to wane in popularity causing erratic moods that are affecting Erika.

But while David’s career starts to dip, Erika’s advertising agency is on the up.

Erika’s creative genius wins the agency a huge client in Stable Denim, but her life is thrown into turmoil when one of the models cast for the campaign turns out to be her ex-boyfriend, Enzo.

Has Enzo been sent back into Erika’s life for a reason? Is it time for her to reevaluate her marriage?

Or should some things be left in the past…?

WHEN WE WERE US is a second chance love story, that shows the ups and downs of family life with buckets of humour and wit.

 

Patricia has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

Erika Forde has always played second fiddle to her husband David, the famous novelist. But since their son, Matt, left home for university, cracks have started to show in their marriage.

While David’s career starts to dip, Erika’s advertising agency is on the up. Erika Forde’s creative genius wins her creative advertising agency a huge client in Stable Denim, but her life is thrown into turmoil when one of the models cast for the campaign turns out to be her ex-boyfriend, Enzo Morelli.

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Book Extract: Death on the High Seas by Anna Legat

I’m pleased to be welcoming Anna Legat to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Death on the High Seas.

Maggie and Sam take a break from the murder and mayhem of Bishops Well and embark on a relaxing mid-winter cruise across the northern seas. The brochure promises smooth sailing, good food and dazzling entertainment. Sam is hoping to sprinkle the mix with romance.

But nothing goes to plan.

Maggie runs into an old lover, the mesmerising Benedict Rawbotham, who goes out of his way to sweep her off her feet. Sam is left seething with jealousy.

A mayday signal sent by a fishing boat forces the cruise liner off course. But there is something fishy about the rescued crew and Maggie insists that two young women have died on that boat. Alas, no one believes her.

Soon one of the alleged fishermen is also dead and so is one of the cruise passengers. Cordelia Conti Lang, nicknamed the Bitcoin Queen, with links to London’s criminal underworld, is found in her cabin, stabbed to death.

In pursuit of the killer, Maggie hurtles from one disaster to another and Sam begins to fear for her life. Has he taken her on a cruise to hell? 

 

Anna has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

A quick introduction to Sam’s rival vying for Maggie’s affections: Benedict Rowbotham

The show was about to start. The lights were dimmed and the stage was hit with bright spotlights. The compere announced the grand entrance of Maestro de Norte – or Morte, Sam couldn’t quite make that out.

The Maestro burst onto the stage in a puff of white smoke. He was wearing a top hat and a cape, and altogether resembled Count Dracula. He was tall and lean, with sharp but handsome features. His hair was uncannily black – probably dyed. The hair and the heavy eye makeup rendered the man creepy, in Sam’s opinion. Even more so after he noticed that Maggie was utterly hypnotised by him. She stiffened in her seat, pushed her chin forward, squinted and gaped like a possessed groupie.

‘Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to a night of magic and mayhem!’ De Norte spoke in a deep baritone. ‘Let me introduce my glamorous assistant, Mademoiselle Coco.’

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Book Extract: Last Seen in Havana by Teresa Dovalpage

Please join me in welcoming Teresa Dovalpage to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Last Seen in Havana.

A Cuban American woman searches for her long-lost mother and fights to restore a beautiful but crumbling Art Deco home in the heart of Havana in this moving, immersive new mystery, perfect for fans of Of Women and Salt.

In 2019, newly widowed baker Mercedes Spivey flies from Miami to her native Cuba to care for her ailing paternal grandmother. Mercedes’s life has been shaped by loss, beginning with the mysterious unsolved disappearance of her mother when Mercedes was a little girl. Returning to Cuba revives Mercedes’s hopes of finding her mother as she attempts to piece together the few scraps of information she has. Could her mother still be alive?

33 years earlier, an American college student with endless political optimism falls deliriously in love with a handsome Cuban soldier while on a spontaneous visit to the island. She decides to stay permanently, but soon discovers that nothing is as it seems in Havana.

The two women’s stories proceed in parallel as Mercedes gets closer to discovering the truth about her mother, uncovering shocking family secrets in the process . . .

 

Teresa has shared an extract from Last Seen in Havana today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

Short intro: This is how the novel starts. Mercedes’ mother, Tania, has been missing since Mercedes was three years old. As a girl, Mercedes waited in vain for her to return home. Now she is thirty years old, living in Miami, and has decided to try again to find her runaway mom.

The Ashen Hour

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Book Review: Sword of Vengeance by Peter Gibbons

We’re pleased to be welcoming Peter Gibbons back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his book, Sword of Vengeance.

In the aftermath of the great battle of Maldon, justice is demanded and vengeance will be served!

992AD

King Aethelred’s the Unready’s army has been defeated at the historic Battle of Maldon by Viking invaders led by Olaf Tryggvason and King Sweyn Forkbeard.

The strategic turning point of the battle was when Godric, an East Saxon Thegn, fled the battlefield taking with him the Saxon army, leaving behind his brothers to be massacred in a welter of blood and Norse axe blades.

Saxon warrior Beornoth emerges from the ashes of defeat with his heart aflame with vengeance and when King Aethelred sends for Beornoth with orders to punish those traitors responsible for the crushing defeat, he heeds the king’s call.

With a small band of loyal warriors, Beornoth embarks on an unforgiving journey across the perilous landscape to seek out Godric and exact his bloody revenge. They must fight their way through a world teeming with political intrigue, shifting alliances and the ever-present threat of the Vikings.

Can Beornoth triumph over insurmountable odds in this pulse pounding quest for retribution?

*****

In the fourth instalment of the Saxon Warrior series, Godric has fled the battlefield with the Saxon army, leaving King Aethelred and the remaining solders to be defeated by the Vikings, led by Olaf and King Sweyn Forkbeard.

Saxon Warrior, Beornoth hears King Aethelred’s call and seeks vengeance against those who deserted the battle. Will he succeed in this quest?

Having read previous novels in this series, I was intrigued to see what was next for the vast array of characters. Once again, I was pulled into a rich, well-developed story where I became engrossed quickly.

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Book Review: Stranger in the Village by Kate Wells

I’m so happy to be welcoming Kate Wells back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Stranger in the Village.

Where there’s a body in Malvern End, there are secrets to be uncovered…

Jude Gray has worked hard to bring a steady equilibrium to life on Malvern Farm and things are going well.

The only fly in the ointment is the foul addition of a new face in the village: staunch townie and chauvinistic sleaze, Des Smith. Jude has nothing but sympathy for his caring, patient wife, Loretta, who has become a regular visitor to the farm for a cup of tea and a chat.

But things take a turn for the worse when a hit and run outside The Lamb brings death once again to the village. Is it an accident or is something more sinister afoot?

Perhaps the answer lies in the stranger with red trainers who’s been seen wandering through the village and through Jude’s fields at night. Following the clues, Jude desperately hopes she will find the right answers, because the murderer being someone she knows is unfathomable…

*****

Jude has settled into life working on her farm. With Noah and Lucy by her side, she feels like things are getting back to normal. However, when a hit and run occurs in the village, it sets off a chain of events. Can everyone figure out what’s going on before someone else gets hurt?

I was so excited to be invited onto the blog tour for Stranger in the Village. Having enjoyed the previous novel, Murder on the Farm, I was intrigued to see what was next for Jude, Noah and Lucy.

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Book Review: The Last Days of You and Me by Debbie Howells

I’m pleased to be welcoming Debbie Howells back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Last Days of You and Me.

They didn’t know – when Winter gave way to Spring that year – that their lives were all about to change…

Marnie didn’t realise – when she stormed into a bookshop one day, demanding a self-help book – that she was about to make a new best friend.

Bookshop-owner Rae didn’t know she had been living like a shadow since her parents died. But then Marnie exploded into her life. And suddenly she realised things had to change… more so when she meets handsome nurse, Jack.

And when Forrest’s life is turned upside down by a fatal car crash, he knew he was being given a second chance, but didn’t know why. He thinks Marnie might just be the woman he’s destined to be with. But – as she discovers that she has an illness she may never recover from – what if it’s too late for them?

Can it ever be too late though? To make friendships that change everything. To grow, to change, to start again. Even – for two unlikely new best friends to find love at last…?

*****

Marnie feels stuck. She’s come to Arundel to help look after a friend’s hotel. It’s the last place she wants to be. However, it’s not the only thing she doesn’t want to face.

Forrest is questioning everything about his life after a tragedy. When he meets Marnie, he feels like he’s getting a second chance.

Rae runs the local bookshop. Ever since the loss of her parents, she’s hidden herself away. New friends could bring her back to life.

Jack is used to dealing with death but grief holds him back. Rae may be a good reason to move on.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Last Days of You and Me by Debbie Howells

Welcome February.

At last, we can say goodbye to January, widely agreed to be the longest month of the year and say hello to the shortest, despite this year being a leap year.

The book I’ve picked for this month is, in my opinion, a wonderful tale of love and taking a leap of faith – The Last Days of You and Me by Debbie Howells.

Anyone can take part in our book club, whether you’ve already read the book or plan to read through the month. The best part, you can do it from the warmth and comfort of home. I’ve posted a question in the comments below to start discussion.

I am really looking forward to discussing this book with you.

 

About The Last Days of You and Me

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Book Review: Driven to Murder by Debbie Young

I’m very excited to be welcoming Debbie Young to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Driven To Murder. 

A perfect cosy crime for fans of M C Beaton’s Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series.

Change is coming to Wendlebury Barrow – and not everyone is happy about it…

When the local bus company announces it will be stopping its route through their quaint Cotswold village, the people of Wendlebury Barrow are up in arms. Not least Sophie Sayers, whose driving lessons with her boyfriend Hector get off to a bumpy start.

But the locals’ peaceful protests against the decision turn deadly when a body is discovered on the Number 27. No one can work out how Janice Boggins met her demise, let alone how the driver didn’t notice. While the police wait for the post mortem results, Sophie immediately suspects foul play, and launches her own investigation.

Can she solve the murder before another passenger is hurt?

*****

Sophie Sayers and her boyfriend, Hector are in a good place as they prepare to expand his bookshop in the Cotswolds village of Wendlebury Barrow.

The only sticking point is the fact that Sophie learning to drive would help the running of the business and she’s terrified of the prospect. As she considers her next move, a body is discovered on the number 27 bus. Can Sophie once again solve the mystery?

The premise of this book sounded great so I was pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for Driven to Murder, the ninth book in the Sophie Sayers cozy mystery series.

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Book Review: Baby One More Time by Camilla Isley

I’m so happy to be welcoming Camila Isley back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, Baby, One More Time. 

Driven and smart, Marissa Mayer has worked her way to COO at a major Fintech startup as well as launching her own successful app on the side. Now what she wants more than anything is a baby. And having given up on love after her heart was broken by the boy next door, she’s prepared to do it alone.

Recently returning to New York from LA, Dr John Raikes is an expert in his field of neonatal medicine. But when John introduces himself as Marissa’s doctor, sparks fly, and not in a good way. Because Dr John Raikes is no stranger: he’s her teenage sweetheart all grown up.

Marissa knows she should keep John at arm’s length, lest she have her heart broken again… But there’s something about a man in a white coat. And with John determined to show Marissa he’s changed, can she keep saying no when her heart is saying yes?

A gorgeously funny enemies-to-lovers, second-chance rom com, perfect for fans of Sarah Adams, Lynn Painter and Jo Watson.

*****

Marissa has decided that she wants to become a mother and so embarks on IVF alone. What she doesn’t count on is a Doctor at the clinic being the man who broke her heart when she was 18.

When they are brought together in more ways than one, can Marissa let John back into her life?

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Book Extract: All Grown Up by Catherine Evans

allgrownupcatherineevansI’d like to give a big hello to Catherine Evans. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, All Grown Up.

Neveah is fifteen. A schoolkid. With a secret life. She’s a digital freelancer, and is having an affair with her biggest client.

Giles is married. He thinks Neveah is twenty-two.

She’ll do just about anything to stop him from finding out her true age. But secrets have a way of spilling out.

With devastating consequences.

 

Catherine has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

(Warning: Strong Language.) 

 

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

 

CONTEXT: Neveah (pronounced Ner-vay) is a 15-year-old schoolgirl having an affair with a married man, Giles, who believes her to be an independent woman of 22. Neveah is bright and ambitious, and works as a freelance digital marketer. Giles is her biggest client. Neveah lives with her single mother, Marie. Marie is completely obsessed with her own issues, and has no idea how her daughter earns money or who she is involved with. The affair with Giles is necessarily secret, not only because of his marital status but also because of her age. Nevertheless, Neveah has confided in her best friend, Sharna, who is also 15.

Neveah and Sharna are making their way to the swimming pool. Sharna’s on a weight loss kick, and has roped Neveah in. Neveah doesn’t mind. She knows it won’t last. Besides, she likes the pool.

‘We’ll swim for half an hour, yeah?’ says Sharna. ‘Then we can grab a MackyD?’

‘I thought you wanted to lose weight.’

‘Oh, come on. We’ll deserve it after burning all them calories. D’you wanna stay over tonight?’

‘Yeah sure.’ Neveah never has to ask permission. She’s a totally free agent. Marie works nights except for Tuesdays, and even then she’s not fussed if Neveah isn’t home.

‘So you’re not seeing Mister Loverman then?’

‘Seeing him tomorrow.’

allgrownupcatherineevans‘D’you love him?’ Sharna suddenly asks.

Neveah can’t answer immediately ‘I like being with him, if that’s what you mean.’

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Book Review: The Girl in Seat 2A by Diana Wilkinson

Girlin2AI’m so pleased to be hosting the blog tour for The Girl in Seat 2a, the latest novel by Diana Wilkinson. 

Funny how one lie can spiral…

One thing about me: I HATE flying. It’s my worst nightmare.

That’s why I book seat 2A every time I fly. Since my big win, I’ve been booking seats 2B and 2C as well. They’re my comfort seats, they cushion the claustrophobia, and at last I can afford them.

I am now determined to live the life of luxury. I deserve it, after all.

How to Live Like a Millionaire is the book I’m reading on this flight. When it lands on the floor, a handsome guy hands it back to me. I know he clocks the title, because he’s totally charming and talks to me as if I’m one of the Marbella Millionaire set.

When I land in sunny Spain, I’ll be acting like a millionairess, that’s for sure – even if it’s stretching the truth, just a bit. We all know that money talks, and I intend to talk my way into a better life.

Who knows… maybe this guy, the one who had the cheek to sit down in seat 2C, might be someone special. He has an air of danger, but who cares?

*****

Jade is heading to Spain. She’s enjoying herself after having a windfall. Why shouldn’t she live the highlife? On the plane, she meets Issac. Good looking, protective and rich. Is he too good to be true?

Having enjoyed Diana’s previous novel, One Down, I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest novel, The Girl in Seat 2A.

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Book Extract: Shadows in the Ashes by Christina Courtenay

Please join me in welcoming Christina Courtenay to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Shadows In The Ashes.

Brimming with romance, adventure and vivid historical detail, Christina Courtenay’s gripping dual-time novel travels from the present day to the fires of ancient Pompeii.

The sunlight caught her gold bracelet, sending a flash that almost blinded her.

She closed her eyes, but jumped when the earth started shaking and there was an almighty boom behind her.

Present Day

Finally escaping an abusive marriage, Caterina Rossi takes her three-year-old daughter and flees to Italy. There she’s drawn to research scientist Connor, who needs her translation help for his work on volcanology. Together they visit the ruins of Pompeii and, standing where Mount Vesuvius unleashed its fire on the city centuries before, Cat begins to see startling visions. Visions that appear to come from the antique bracelet handed down through her family’s generations…

AD 79
Sold by his half-brother and enslaved as a gladiator in Roman Pompeii, Raedwald dreams only of surviving each fight, making the coin needed to return to his homeland and taking his revenge. That is, until he is hired to guard beautiful Aemilia. As their forbidden love grows, Raedwald’s dreams shift like the ever more violent tremors of the earth beneath his feet.

The present starts eerily to mirror the past as Cat must fight to protect her safety, and to forge a new path from the ashes of her old life…

 

Christina has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

Prologue

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Book Review: Murder at Merewood Hospital by Michelle Salter

I’m pleased to be welcoming Michelle Salter back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, Murder at Merewood Hospital.

The patients survived the Great War only to face a new danger…

In 1916, Sister Helen Hopgood was sent with a team of nurses to care for wounded soldiers at Merewood Farm, a temporary military hospital in Hampshire.

Now the war is over, only five patients remain – and she is the only nurse. The last ward must close, and Helen is doing all she can to find new homes for the injured servicemen.

Joseph Wintringham has to sell the farm to keep Merewood Manor. But since the murder of Nurse Taplin, locals believe the place is cursed – perhaps by the doomed nurse or by the patients who perished from their war wounds.

Is the hospital haunted? Or is someone very real behind the unnatural deaths that begin on Midsummer’s Night 1919?

Can Helen discover the truth before it’s too late..?

*****

World War One has ended and soon the temporary hospital at Merewood Farm will have to close.

Nurse Helen Hopgood wants to make sure that the injured servicemen that remain in the ward have been moved and are OK, However, someone else has other plans and soon one of her patients is murdered. With everyone seemingly under suspicion, can the perpetrator be found before someone else gets hurt?

I’n such a big fan of Michelle Salter. I was not only excited at the release of this new mystery but was very happy to be part of the blog tour around its release.

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Book Review: The Screenwriter by Amanda Reynolds

I’m pleased to be welcoming Amanda Reynolds to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Screenwriter.

Every screenwriter knows the best stories come from the truth…

But the truth can be terrifying

Marnie thought she’d left behind her days of writing ‘celebrity’ tell-all memoirs, but when her big break as a screenwriter turns to dust she’s forced to take another ghost writing job.

Except this time it’s for someone who is actually famous. Or rather, infamous. Blythe Hopper. A reclusive former Hollywood star who recently murdered her screenwriter husband.

And Marnie has her own reasons for wanting to meet Blythe, not least because of an email she received from Blythe’s husband, sent two days after he was shot dead.

But Marnie soon learns Blythe is not a woman to be messed with.

Dark secrets lurk at the Hoppers’ palatial London home – secrets long buried, which Marnie is determined to unearth. At any price.

Because this isn’t just about Blythe’s past.

It’s about Marnie’s too.

*****

With her screenplay about to go into production, Marnie Wilde thought she could finally say goodbye to her career as a ghostwriter but when that falls through, she has no choice but to return to being a ghost. However, needing the job is not the only reason she has decided to help write Blythe Hopper’s memoir. She wants answers but will she find them?

This is the first novel I have read by Amanda Reynolds and I really didn’t know what to expect. The premise for The Screenwriter intrigued me and so I was so excited to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest novel.

Marnie is an interesting yet mysterious character. I like how she was written. There is a slight dark humour to her voice which I loved and it made me warm to her.

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Book Review: An Enchanted Moment on Ever After Street by Jaimie Admans

I’m so excited to welcome Jaimie Admans back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, An Enchanted Moment on Ever After Street, book two in the Ever After Street Series. 

A picture-perfect town, a place where dreams come true. Welcome to Ever After Street…

A tale as old as time…

Since her mum’s death, Marnie Platt has shut herself away from everyone who cares about her. Worse, her beloved bookshop on Ever After Street is suffering too. With sales down and the shop’s garden falling into disrepair, Marnie risks losing the very last thing she loves. Until a chance encounter with her surly and reclusive neighbour….

Dark and brooding, Darcy O’Connell likes to keep himself to himself. But when he hears Marnie needs help, he can’t turn his back on her. Soon they are spending most evenings together in her enchanted garden and a friendship starts to bloom…

With the help of old and new friends on Ever After Street, Marnie’s bookshop begins to thrive again, and with Darcy’s kindness, she starts to get her sparkle back too. She just can’t understand why Darcy continues to shut himself away – especially from her. Can she convince him it isn’t too late to embrace life, and maybe love, again?

Because every story, even theirs, deserves a happy ending….

*****

Marnie runs the A Tale As Old As Time bookshop on Ever After Street but after the death of her mother, everything feels as though she is simply treading water and even that is hard going.

When she receives a letter threatening to take away the only thing she has left, she doesn’t know what to do. However, a chance conversation with her ‘scary neighbour’ sends her life into a direction she never thought possible.

When a book features a bookshop named A Tale as Old as Time that is themed around Beauty and the Beast and a cat named Mrs Potts, you’ve pretty much drawn me in to be honest.

It’s evident to see how lonely Marnie is and I wanted to make her a cup of tea, give her a big hug and sit and talk books with her. She felt so relatable to me and someone I would be friends with.

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Book Spotlight: Zero Kill by M.K. Hill

Please join us in welcoming M.K. Hill to Novel Kicks. We are putting a spotlight on his latest novel, Zero Kill. 

Meet Elsa Zero: Bad neighbour. Single mother. Ex-deep cover agent.

And right now, the most dangerous person on Earth.

When Elsa’s dull but dedicated boyfriend proposes in a packed restaurant, she doesn’t think her evening can get any worse. But as the clock strikes midnight, her world is turned upside down.

Suddenly Elsa is running for her life, trying to keep her children safe, and desperate to discover what the hell is going on.

Every intelligence agency in the world wants her dead because she’s in possession of a deadly secret – she just has to stay alive long enough to figure out what it is.

But this is Elsa Zero we’re talking about. And it’s a very bad idea to get on her wrong side.

Bursting with tension, twists and humour, this is a brilliantly unique action-thriller perfect for fans of Killing Eve, Lee Child and people who loved watching Nobody and Hunted.

*****

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. 

Zero Kill was released by Head of Zeus – an Aries Book. Click to buy on Amazon UK and Waterstones

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Book Extract: The Chameleon Killer Mystery by Gina Cheyne

Please join me in welcoming Gina Cheyne to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Chameleon Killer Mystery.

Who is the Chameleon Killer?

When you are having a really bad day, drink yourself legless, abuse everyone around you, pass out and try again tomorrow.

Trouble is; every day is bad in Rupert Fletcher’s world. He threatens his ex-wife, mocks his girlfriend, abuses his neighbours, and gets into a fight in the pub.

Next day, he is found dead.

Who’d want to kill him? Well, almost everybody, but it looks like only one person did. The police arrest his ex-wife’s therapist, Anthony.

Anthony’s family claim he is innocent and employ the SeeMs Detective Agency to find the real killer.

Cat, Miranda, and Stevie uncover clues that point them back to an intricate web of family injuries and an unexpected connection between the victim and his killer.

Could Rupert’s murderer be The Chameleon Killer, who has already killed before and is bent on revenge? They need to act fast before the killer strikes again.

*****

 

Gina has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy.

 

 

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

 

This extract is about the anti-hero Rupert. His girl-friend Drina has just bought him some food (he has spent all his money on booze). Instead of eating it he goes in to see his neighbour, an old woman.

 Once the car boot was full of bags of food, Drina drove Rupert round to his flat. As she dropped him outside, she repeated, ‘OK, so stay off the booze and get some sleep. And start looking for a job.’

Rupert inclined his head politely. He watched her drive off round the corner, making sure she was well out of sight before he picked up the bags of food. Grinning impishly, he headed for a flat on the ground floor at the back of his block. He knocked and yelled loudly through the door.

‘Hello. Mrs Cartwright. How are you today?’

After a long wait he heard a dragging sound in the flat, as though someone was heaving a heavy parcel. Eventually, after extensive clunking, the door opened a slit, and an old woman peered out, her face looking anxious.

‘Who is it?’

‘Hello, Mrs Cartwright. It’s me, Rupert. I brought you the shopping you wanted.’

He lifted the bags and waved them so she could see them through the slit.

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Book Review: The Glass Woman by Alice McIIroy

theglasswomanI’m pleased to welcome Alice McIlroy to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Glass Woman. 

When you wake up without your memories, who can you really trust?

Pioneering scientist Iris Henderson chose to be her own first test-subject for an experimental therapy, placing a piece of technology into her brain. At least, this is what everyone tells her. Trouble is, Iris is now without her memories so she doesn’t know what the therapy is or why she would ever decide to volunteer for it.

Everyone warns her to leave it alone, but Iris doesn’t know who to trust. As she scratches beneath the surface of her seemingly happy marriage and successful career, a catastrophic chain of events is set in motion. Secrets will be revealed that have the capacity to destroy her whole life, but Iris can’t stop digging.

*****

Iris wakes up in a hospital bed with no idea how she got there. Her memories are gone.

A man named Marcus claims to be her husband. She’s been told that she’s part of a pioneering therapy that inserts a piece of technology into her brain. When she can’t remember anything, who can she trust and who would do this to her?

Wow. That’s the first thing I want to say. It’s going to be hard to talk about this novel without spoilers. I will do my best but proceed with caution.

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Book Review: A Breath of Fresh Air by Jessica Redland

BreathoffreshairjessicaredlandPlease join me in welcoming Jessica Redland back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, A Breath of Fresh Air.

Rosie feels like there’s something missing in her life. She loves her job as the manager of Willowdale Hall Riding Stables, caring for the horses and teaching children to ride, and she loves the home she shares with her mother in the beautiful Lake District. But she can’t help wondering how her life might look if things had been different. What if her father had been around to help care for her mother? And what if she’d found someone special herself?

When Hubert Cranleigh – the owner of Willowdale Hall – is taken ill, his son Oliver steps into the breach. Brooding and distant, Rosie is furious when he claims not to know who she is. Especially when they have a history.

Rosie’s life is about to be turned upside down, but with the New Year comes new opportunities. What Rosie feels is missing from her life might be closer than she thinks, and with more significant consequences than she could ever have imagined…

Take a breath of fresh air and escape to the Lake District with million-copy bestseller Jessica Redland, for an uplifting story of family, friendship and love.

*****

Rosie feels she has a pretty good life. She lives with her Mum and runs the Willowdale Hall Riding Stables. She loves teaching children to ride horses. However, when her boss, the mostly grumpy Hubert Cranleigh has an accident, she finds herself facing the one person she had never wanted to see again and their arrival threatens not only her livelihood but also her home.

I have quickly grown to love the worlds that Jessica Redland creates. There is something a little magical about them. A Breath of Fresh Air is the second in the Escape to the Lakes series. I have not read the first book (not sure how this happened,) and if you find yourself in the same situation, A Breath of Fresh Air can be read as a standalone.

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Book Review: Clash of Kings by MJ Porter

We are so pleased to be welcoming MJ Porter back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour to their novel, Clash of Kings.

The next bloody and thrilling instalment in MJ Porter’s The Brunanburh Series.

Can the Norse and the Scots exact their revenge over the mighty King Athelstan of the English?

AD937

After the slaughter field of Brunanburh, a defeated Olaf Gothfrithson of the Dublin Norse and Constantin of the Scots narrowly escaped with their lives. In their kingdoms, failure has left them demoralised and weak.

Olaf licks his wounds in Dublin, whilst Constantin and the Welsh kingdoms who defied King Athelstan, are once more forced to bend the knee. As Athelstan’s reputation grows stronger day by day, their need to exact revenge on the overmighty and triumphant Athelstan has never been greater.

Olaf sets his sights on reclaiming the lost kingdom of Jorvik only for tragedy to strike at the heart of England and a reluctant new King, Edmund steps in the fray.

While England mourns the death of their warrior King, her enemies gather on her borders and England stands alone against the might of the Norse, Welsh and Scots.

Can the new King be victorious and banish her enemies once and for all or will England, and its king lose all that’s been gained and succumb to a new pretender? 

An epic tale of kinsmanship, greed and power, perfect for the fans of Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom series.

*****

After the battle of Brunanburh there exists an uneasy period of in-activity – not peace as such, but a time for repairs to be made and wounds to heal.

King Athelstan presides over England until his sudden death, bringing Edmund reluctantly to power.

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Book Extract: A Cocktail To Die For by Helen Golden

I’m so pleased to be welcoming Helen Golden back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, A Cocktail To Die For.

Cocktails, chaos, and an unexpected twist. Can Perry and his hens unveil the truth before time runs out?

Death at Prestigious Hotel and Spa, Chasingham House

We are hearing reports that a young woman has been found dead at Chasingham House, the exclusive venue in the Cotswolds. She has not been named, and the cause of death is unknown at this time. This will no doubt cast a cloud over the bachelor weekend being hosted there by Lady Beatrice (36), the Countess of Rossex, for her business partner Perry Juke (34) ahead of his wedding to bestselling author and celebrity chef Simon Lattimore (40). Also staying at Chasingham House are top models Camile Redmaine (35) and Mel Parks (35), who are celebrating newly-single Cammy’s birthday with a group of friends.

When one of the birthday girls is found dead in her room, it’s clear Bea plans for her, Perry, and their friends to chill around the pool, have a few treatments, and generally relax, seem to have gone down the drain. When the local police are quick to dismiss the death as an accident, Bea is determined to help investigate anyway, along with the rest of Perry’s party.

Can Perry and his hens catch the killer before the weekend is over and the trail goes cold?

 

Helen has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

Lady Beatrice and her business partner Perry Juke are at Chasingham House, an exclusive hotel and spa in the peaceful Cotswolds, for his bachelor weekend. Among Perry’s hens is DCI Emma McKeer Adler from PaIRS and they are all looking forward to a relaxing weekend. But when the dead body of a guest is discovered, the hotel manager asks Emma if she will step in and secure the crime scene until the local CID arrive…

“It’s okay, chief inspector. I’ll take over from here.”

Em looked up and found herself face to face with a bald man of about fifty who was only a few inches taller than her.

“Detective Chief Inspector Alan Rivers from Chase CID.” He held out his hand.

Em took it, trying not to recoil when her hand found itself in a clammy grip.

Meed stepped forward. “We were just—”

Rivers held up his hand, and Meed fell silent. “I’m here now, sergeant, so I’ll decide what you do next. Understand?”

Rude!

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NK Chats To… Lesley Cookman

Hi Lesley, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your latest novel, Murder by Christmas?

Thank you for inviting me! Murder by Christmas is the 25th in the Libby Sarjeant series. Libby is in the final throes of pantomime rehearsals, when she and her friend Fran become involved in the investigation into a local brewery. This involves visits to many pubs – naturally!

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you have any writing rituals?

I write as soon as I can get into the office – any time between 10 and 1pm and for as long as I can before the cats need feeding again.

 

What are the challenges you found when writing this novel and does writing a series present challenges? 

The challenge of this one was the short time (3 months) in which I had to do it.  And writing a series is definitely a challenge – trying to come up with different plots and not repeat myself.

 

Which songs would make up a playlist for your book?

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Novel Kicks Book Club: Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! 

December is my favourite month. I get to put up the Christmas tree, decorate the house and put on my Christmas playlist on repeat.

It also means Christmas themed novels.

For this month, I thought I would go with something a little different and that is Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.

I have seen the TV adaptation of this but never read the novel. I am told from a reliable source, my husband who adores this series, that despite this being book 20 in the Discworld series, enough information is given in order to keep up. Whether that’s true… well, let’s find out.

As usual, I have put a question in the comments to kick off discussion. Anyone can join our book club, whether you’ve read the novel already or, like me, you’ll be reading it for the first time. You can take part from the comfort of your sofa so grab the book, a hot chocolate or any drink you fancy and enjoy.

*****

 

About Hogfather – 

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Book Extract: Spread: Tales of Deadly Flora

Please join me in celebrating the publication of Spread: Tales of Deadly Flora – ten speculative tales. It’s been edited by R.A. Clarke. 

Green thumbs beware. Plants are beautiful, peaceful, abundant, and life-sustaining. But what if something sinister took root in the soil, awakening to unleash slashing thorns, squeezing vines, or haunting greenery that lured you in?

Perhaps blooms on distant planets could claim your heart, hitch a ride to Earth on a meteor, or simply poison you with their essence. Imagine a world where scientists produced our own demise in a lab, set spores free to infect, even bred ferns to be our friends only to witness the privilege perverted.

When faced with botanical terror, will humanity fight to survive, or will they curl and wither like leaves in the fall? Read ten speculative tales ripe with dangerous flora to find out.

 

Josephine Queen has very kindly shared an extract from her story, The Koi Pond. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

The Koi Pond by Josephine Queen. A mother and son escape their troubled home life, taking a stroll through a garden that devolves into horror around them.

 

There was something Thea had forgotten. Something vital. But she put it aside for the moment and stared at the painting. Vivid green leaves crowded together on the concrete strut in front of her, intricate graffiti standing at least tenmetres high. There were more struts beyond this one, more paintings, each one as gorgeous as the next, but this one had captured Thea’s attention. Felix leaned against her, his head tilted back to see to the top of the painting. His weight against her legs warmed her, even in the shadowed enclave beneath the highway bridge.

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Book Extract: The Silent House of Sleep by Allan Gaw

Please join me in welcoming Allan Gaw to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for The Silent House of Sleep.

‘No one likes death. It just happens to be our business.’

Nobody who meets Dr Jack Cuthbert forgets him. Tall, urbane, brilliant but damaged, this Scottish pathologist who works with Scotland Yard is the best the new DCI has seen. But Cuthbert is a man who lives with secrets, and he still battles demons brought back from the trenches.

When not one but two corpses are discovered in a London park in 1929, Cuthbert must use every tool at his disposal to solve the mystery of their deaths. In the end, the horrifying truth is more shocking than even he could have imagined.

As he works the case, Cuthbert realises that history rarely stays in the past. And even in the final moments, there is still one last revelation that leaves him reeling.

 

Allan has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

This is the opening section of the novel where we meet the protagonist, the Scottish pathologist Dr Jack Cuthbert, for the first time as he rises to give his expert testimony in an Old Bailey murder trial.

London: December 1928

The rich, oak-panelled room with its high vaulted ceiling of white stucco was designed both to impress and intimidate. High above the courtroom on the domed roof was the gilded figure of a Greek goddess, Themis. Her golden arms outstretched, she bore her sword in one hand and her scales to balance justice in the other. But, contrary to common belief, she wore no blindfold. Justice in this courtroom was delivered with open eyes, and the judge presiding had his fixed firmly on Cuthbert as he rose from the seats in the well of the court to take the stand.

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Book Extract: The Asymmetric Man by Alex Rushton

I’m pleased to be welcoming Alex Rushton to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for The Asymmetric Man.

Embark on a gripping journey of sacrifice and self-discovery in The Asymmetric Man, a thrilling tale set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Vietnam War.

Follow Blake, a young recruit turned undercover agent, as he navigates the treacherous world of espionage, survival and forbidden love.

From war-ravaged Saigon to seemingly impenetrable jungle and the tranquillity of a Buddhist monastery, this riveting novel explores the power of recognising and embracing one’s true calling, no matter the cost.

 
 
Alex has shared an extract from The Asymmetric Man today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

In this extract Blake Carter, undercover MI6 agent in Vietnam in 1967, makes contact with Tranter, who is to supply him with the names and details of Blake’s Viet Cong assassination targets.

 

Chapter 5

Blake decided it was time to make contact with Tranter, using the recognition protocol described in the file he had found in Coulter’s flat. He was aware of the risk; the file might have been found, decoded and replaced for Blake to find, in which case tonight’s meeting would be a trap. However, he had no choice. To approach Tranter in any other way than the one agreed would only raise his suspicions. Blake entered El Paraiso bar on the first Wednesday in June. As before, it was thick with cigarette smoke and smelling of alcohol. Blake stood at the bar. He had a drink and surveyed the area, again evaluating possible escape routes.  He immediately recognised Tranter from Coulter’s description, a portly, balding man in a crumpled soiled white suit, with a cigarette between his fingers. The only other people were a few locals, absorbed in conversation. It seemed like as good a time as any. Blake took a deep breath and seized the moment.

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Book Extract: A Christmas Carol with Grandfather Time by Rose English

I’m pleased to be welcoming Rose English to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her book, A Christmas Carol with Grandfather Time. It’s been illustrated by Pablo Rodriguez.

A modern lyrical re-telling of the Charles Dickens classic for children of all ages. Young Ebenezer hates sharing and is not very caring. Can a magical clock and a ghost puppy help him mend his ways?

#SharingIsCaring

**At least £1 from every book purchased will go towards donating a book to each child in Hereford County Hospital over the Christmas Season 2023**

 

Rose has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy and consider buying the book for the young book lover in your life. 

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Book Review: Christmas at the Cabin by Rebecca Boxall

I’m pleased to be welcoming Rebecca Boxall to Novel Kicks. Today I’m reviewing her latest, festive novel, Christmas at the Cabin.

A festive, coming-of-age tale about an Oxbridge candidate and a young homeless man who find themselves in the bittersweet predicament of falling in love with exactly the right person at exactly the wrong time.

Well-to-do Jed never imagined he’d end up homeless, but family circumstances have made it his only option. Local vicar, Ben, tries to help him but there’s an element of self-punishment to the homelessness that makes Jed continue to put up with his situation – until disaster leads him to re-consider the vicar’s offer of a place to stay.

Hattie is on the cusp of adulthood, frantically trying to persuade her mum that she doesn’t want to attend an elite university, preferring the idea of pursuing her love of art and textiles. When she meets Jed, she badly wants to understand his circumstances and why, when she has everything at her fingertips, he doesn’t.

Hattie’s mum, Christine, has had a hard life and is desperate for more for her only child. When she meets Ben, the vicar who’s trying to help Jed, she finds an unlikely ally, and the two heartbroken souls find themselves drawn to each other. Until they find their relationship suddenly tested to the limit.

One thing’s for certain: none of these characters is looking forward to Christmas. It’s the worst time of year for each of them, for different reasons. But perhaps this year, the festive season could defy all expectations.

*****

Hattie first sees him from the library window, sitting in the doorway of an abandoned shop. When she approaches him and starts a conversation, it changes both of their lives, forever.

Even from the blurb for this novel, I felt there would be a little magic about this book and I wasn’t wrong.

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NK Chats To… Chris Wade

Hi Chris, thank you for joining me and welcome back to Novel Kicks. You’ve recently written a mystery thriller, Three Days in the Rain. Can you tell me about it and what inspired it? 

Hi Laura. Well, one day I just started writing this scene that popped into my head. It involved a private investigator sitting in a man’s office. You could tell the man was rich, powerful, maybe a bit ruthless, and I had this image of the gentleman passing a photograph across the table to the investigator of a very beautiful woman. I remember that the story just came to me right there as I was doing that first chapter, the entire thing began to map out in my head. It sort of grew organically, but quickly. In short, it’s about this investigator who gets hired by a wealthy business man to follow his much younger girlfriend, who he is suspicious of. At first the detective thinks the old man is paranoid and actually a bit of a tyrant, a jealous man and control freak. As he starts to follow the girl though, he learns more and more about her, but hardly any of it is what it seems and as the story goes on, more and more mysteries are revealed. I had such fun writing it, presenting riddles and new twists and turns. It was one of the most enjoyable writing experiences I’ve ever had.

 

What was your writing process like for Three Days in the Rain, how long did it take you from idea to publication, how did you approach the planning process and has it changed much since you first started writing? 

I honestly worked like a mad man on it, doing 12 to 15 hour days, maybe even more. The book is about 200 pages long but if I am honest it took a few weeks in all, including the edit. It was so smooth and fun, and it helped that all the story was just there waiting in my head, ready to come out on to the page. Nothing changed either, apart from a couple of tiny details at the very end. It was fully formed. I just kept following this very strong image of this beautiful dark haired woman who the main character becomes obsessed with, and it all just came out. I’d write a chapter a day and then I edited it all non-stop over and over for a couple of weeks. It was hard in a way, tiring too, but also extremely satisfying.

 

You’re also known for non fiction projects including works featuring James Woods and Oliver Stone. Does your writing process differ when writing fiction compared to non fiction? 

Writing about films is just really fun. You obviously have to structure the film essays and make sure you ask decent questions when interviewing an actor or director, but you use a different kind of energy doing non-fiction, for sure. When I am writing fiction, the imagination is on overdrive, it’s basically running wild, and I am trying to keep myself in line and all the ideas in keeping with the story. It’s really liberating too. Writing these film books is just a treat, and they are actually a dream come true as well. As a kid in the 1990s I just loved films, and people like Sharon Stone, James Woods, Oliver Stone, and all those Hollywood legends were idols to me. Getting to work with them and interview them today as an adult just seems unreal. So the non-fiction and the fiction are totally different, and I love going from one to the other. That way I never get bored or even slightly frustrated.

 

What challenges did you face when approaching a fictional novel compared to the non-fiction books? 

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Book Review: Always The Bridesmaid by Laura Carter

I’m so happy to be welcoming Laura Carter back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the latest novel in the Brits in Manhattan; Always the Bridesmaid.

A cheeky chappy comedian

Charlie is most comfortable playing the funny man in front of boisterous crowds in London’s comedy clubs. But he’s about to be swapping his routine for wedding speeches. And his new acquaintance Sarah, thinks he is anything but amusing.

The woman who’s got it covered

Weddings are always a difficult time for widower Sarah, but you would never tell – she’s too focused on making the week of her best friends’ wedding as perfect as possible. She definitely has no time for the grumpy and surly Charlie, who it’s clear her friends are trying to set her up with.

And only one room left at the rental…

When a drunken invitation adds more people to the pre-wedding holiday house than Sarah organized for, she finds herself spending A LOT more time with Charlie than she intended. If only they could both let their guards down, they might find they have more in common than they think.

*****

I loved the last book I’d read in the Brits in Manhattan series, Two to Tango and so I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for book four in the series, Always The Bridesmaid.

If you’ve not read any of the books in this series, don’t worry. This can be read as a standalone. I felt there was enough information to keep up. However, I am going to be reading the books I’ve missed as soon as I can.

This novel focuses on Charlie and Sarah, as their friends, Jake and Jess prepare to get married.

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Book Extract: To Kill a Consul by Robert M. Kidd

I’m pleased to be welcoming Robert M. Kidd to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his novel, To Kill a Consul.

217 BC. The Gauls are restless. Where is the wealth, plunder and lands they were promised? Hannibal’s army has become little more than a burden to be fed and quartered … as welcome as a plague of locusts. Assassination plots abound as Hannibal is driven to take desperate measures to evade the assassin’s knife.

If Hannibal is to appease the Gauls he must act fast. The invasion of Italia must not be delayed – his very life depends on it – but as that winter of winters fades into memory he is faced with a stark choice. Should he strike east towards the plains of Umbria and face consul Gnaeus Servilius Geminus’ legions holed up inside the unassailable walls of Ariminum? Or strike westwards into the plunder-rich lands of Etruria?

Consul Gaius Flaminius’ legions guard the western approaches. If any man can fire the bellies of Gauls with loathing it’s Flaminius. But there is one other whose blood runs cold at the mention of the name. Flaminius ordered the brutal murder of Sphax’s parents and Sphax has sworn a sacred oath to seek revenge. Can Hannibal trust the leader of his Numidian cavalry, or will this blood feud cloud his judgement? Sooner or later Sphax will have to face his inner demons.

*****

 

Robert has stared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

Spring 217 BC – For days Hannibal’s invading army have been trekking wearily westwards over the mountain passes of the Apennines with Sphax and his Numidians scouting ahead. Their aim is to reach the flat coastal plain bordering the Tyrrhenian (Mediterranean) sea where thy will turn south for Arretium (modern Arezzo).

But first they have to cross something the army has been dreading for weeks: the Arno marshes. Today, all that’s left of these vast wetlands west of Florence is the Fucecchio Marshlands, north of San Maniato (it’s still Italy’s biggest inland marsh!). In 217 BC it was a vast watery graveyard for unwary travelers!

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Book Review: My Best Friend’s Secret by Danielle Ramsay

I’m pleased to be welcoming Danielle Ramsay to Novel Kicks and the blog tour to her novel, My Best Friend’s Secret.

Five women; pretty, privileged, perfect, and ultimately protected… but not for long…

It was ‘their’ dark secret. For twenty-two-years ‘they’ kept it buried. Time hasn’t healed my wounds. Instead, they’ve festered. Their actions went unpunished. Until now…

Shamed, scarred, and shunned, I watched, waited and plotted how to shatter ‘their’ enviable lives. Now, finally, they will suffer as I did in ‘their’ cruel hands that fateful night.

Time’s up. I am here for you, Dr Claudia Harper. But first, you’ll witness your childhood friends, one by one, beg for mercy.
And I’ve saved the best ‘til last, so watch your back; I’m closer than you think. I’m here to expose your best friend’s secret. The one you’ve all kept hidden…until now.

A tale of betrayal, dark, twisted lies and long-awaited retribution. 

*****

Claudia has just lost her best friend. The biggest question she has is why did Jaz take her own life? Her own life begins to unravel. Who is set on ruining everything Claudia holds dear?

This is the first novel I’ve read by Danielle Ramsay. The premise of the novel intrigued me, so I was so pleased to invited onto the blog tour for My Best Friend’s Secret.

This book caught my attention quickly. It really was impossible to put down and as the questions mounted, I needed to know what was going to happen, especially as things begin to happen in Claudia’s life.

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