Book Releases

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 Review: The Lily Garden by Barbara Josselsohn

When Caroline left Lake Summers thirty years ago, she thought she’d never go back to the place where she lost her parents.

But when she finds out that the town’s lily garden lovingly built by her mother is going to be destroyed, she knows fate is calling. Dropping everything at her office in Chicago, she knows she is the only person who can save the garden.

Caroline and her daughter Lee are welcomed home by the warm smile of her mother’s best friend Maxine, and piles of pancakes at her cozy little restaurant in town. And Caroline soon learns that she isn’t the only person invested in saving her mother’s legacy, when she meets handsome historian Aaron. As she gets to know him, strolling along the sparkling lakeshore, she can’t imagine anywhere else she’d rather be.

But then Caroline learns a terrible secret about the day her mother died. And soon the real reason Aaron is in Lake Summers comes to light. Will the truth about the people she loves force her to give up a future with Aaron, and the beautiful town that has always been in her heart?

Caroline left Lake Summers thirty years ago after she lost both of her parents and has not been back.

When she gets a note informing her that her Mother’s beloved garden is due to be destroyed, she knows she finally has to return. She has to try and save the Lily Garden.

This was my introduction to Barbara Josselsohn’s novels. The premise intrigued me and I couldn’t wait to start reading.

It was pretty easy for me to feel warmth for Caroline. It was obvious to me from the beginning that she was in an environment to which she didn’t belong. There seemed to be a whimsical feel to her that didn’t fit with the corporate atmosphere. I knew there was more to her story than meets the eye.

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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 Review: The Good Wife by Eleanor Porter

I’m very pleased to be welcoming Eleanor Porter to the blog today and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Good Wife. 

Where will her loyalty lead her?

Once accused of witchcraft Martha Spicer is now free from the shadow of the gallows and lives a safe and happy life with her husband, Jacob. But when Jacob heads north to accompany his master, he warns Martha to keep her healing gifts a secret, to keep herself safe, to be a good wife.

Martha loves Jacob but without him there to protect her, she soon comes under the suspicious eye of the wicked Steward Boult, who’s heard of her talent and forces her to attend to him. If she refuses, he promises to destroy the good life she has built for herself with Jacob.

Desperate and alone, Martha faces a terrible decision: stay and be beholden to Boult or journey north to find Jacob who is reported to have been killed.. The road ahead is filled with danger, but also the promise of a brighter future. And where her gifts once threatened to be her downfall, might they now be the very thing that sets Martha free…?

The brilliant follow-up to Eleanor Porter’s first novel of love, betrayal, superstition and fear in Elizabethan England. A story of female courage, ingenuity and determination , this is perfect for fans of Tracy Chevalier.

 

Having not read The Wheelwright’s Daughter, the previous novel in this series, I was a little worried that I would struggle to keep up with the events of The Good Wife. As it was, I didn’t need to worry. There is a good balance of backstory without slowing down the current plot.

Elizabethan history has always fascinated me and it was great to see a different point of view away from the Royal Court. Eleanor Porter does a really great job of setting the scene and placing you at the centre of Martha’s world.

I found Martha an intriguing character. She’s much stronger and has more courage than she gives herself credit for – something we can all relate to in some way.

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New Releases: Preserved by Fiona Sherlock

Happy publication day to Fiona Sherlock. Her novel, Preserved, has been released today by Poolbeg Press. 

She’s stuck in the past, the killer wants to immortalise his future. When a local farmer announces on social media that he has discovered a bog body in Ardee, the world’s historians are keen to explore the secrets of the life and grisly death of the victim. Antique journalist January Quail is fighting to keep her newspaper job and uncovers far more than she bargained for.

The victim is actually a recent murder, and January uses her nose for the truth to investigate the County Louth town. From shopkeeper to the publican, everyone is a suspect, but when the Gardai can’t find the killer, can January?

Once she sets down the liqueur glass, January gains the confidence of the lead garda investigator. Within days, the case unravels into a much more dangerous situation with a killer on the loose.

Despite the risk, January is electrified that this newest discovery has come at the perfect time to inject some colour into her flailing career. January relinquishes her old ways to fight for survival, abandoning her antiques column and vintage corsets to solve a cryptic crime that has the experts puzzled. This woman who longs to lives in the past must now fight for her life in the present.

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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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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

September’s book is one I am very excited about. 

This month, I have picked a novel that I have been wanting to read since it was released. The premise intrigues me and I can’t wait to read.

I have chosen The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. 

As usual, I have posted a question below to start of the discussion. Anyone can take part in our book club and it’s from that comfortable sofa of yours. I am looking forward to discussing this book with you in the comments.

 

About The Midnight Library…

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

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Book Extract and Review: The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn by Freya Kennedy

A big lovely welcome today to Freya Kennedy. She’s here with the blog tour for The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn. Here’s a little about the book…

 

Libby Quinn is sick and tired of being sensible.

After years of slogging her guts out for nothing at a PR company, she finds herself redundant and about to plough every last penny of her savings into refurbishing a ramshackle shop and making her dream of owning her own bookshop become a reality.

She hopes opening ‘Once Upon A Book’ on Ivy Lane will be the perfect tribute to her beloved grandfather who instilled a love of reading and books in her from an early age.

When her love life and friendships become even more complicated – will Libby have the courage to follow her dreams? Or has she bitten off more than she can chew?

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Libby and Boldwood Books have shared an extract today. I hope you enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Libby knew the bag for life at her feet, crammed with cleaning products, would be just as woefully inadequate for the task ahead as a spoonful of Calpol would be to a woman in labour, but still she insisted on bringing it with her. She’d use everything in it, and more – much more – over the coming months, but bringing it with her gave her a sense of making the place her own before she even picked up the keys. Her plan, after all, was to move into the flat upstairs as quickly as possible so that she could work on the refurb morning, noon and night. A teeny, tiny, hopelessly optimistic part of her held on to a glimmer of hope that the flat would be a stylish time capsule of a home, ready to move in to bar the flick of a duster and a quick spray of Zoflora.

‘Are you sure we can’t come with you?’ her dad asked as they sat around the breakfast table. Just like Libby, both Jim and Linda Quinn had been unable to lay on in their beds and had been fizzing with a sense of shared excitement.

‘I need to put on my big-girl knickers and do this myself,’ she told them. Which wasn’t exactly true. Her boyfriend of eight months, Ant O’Neill, was going with her to pick up the keys from her solicitor’s office. An accounts manager for a nationwide banking chain, he exuded an air of calm and professionalism which none of the Quinn family seemed to be in possession of at that moment. He would be able to help her keep her emotions in check and not sob all over the young solicitor who had finalised the paperwork for her. ‘You can meet us there in a bit,’ she said. ‘When I’ve had a moment to adjust. Maybe eleven or so?’

Jim nodded. ‘Of course, pet,’ he said. ‘Your grandad would be very proud, you know,’ he said, his voice cracking, and Libby was forced to wave him away, unable to say anything else for fear of her own floodgates opening.

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Book Extract: Little White Secrets by Carol Mason

A big welcome to Carol Mason. She is joining me as her latest novel, Little White Secrets has been published today.

Here’s a little about the book…

A daughter pushing the limits. A marriage ready to crack. A secret that can break them.

For Emily Rossi, life may not be perfect, but it’s pretty close. She has a great career, a house in the country, a solid marriage to Eric and two wonderful children—tennis superstar Daniel and quiet, sensitive Zara. But when her fourteen-year-old daughter brings home a toxic new best friend, Emily’s seemingly perfect family starts to spiral out of control.

Suddenly Zara is staying out late, taking drugs and keeping bad company. And just when Emily needs Eric to be an involved father, he seems too wrapped up with his job in London to care. What’s more, he’s started drinking again.

When a dark secret from the past emerges, Emily’s life is turned upside down. Struggling to protect the people she loves, can she save her damaged family? Doing so may mean keeping a secret of her own…

 

To celebrate publication day for Little White Secrets, Carol and Lake Union Publishing have shared an extract with us. Comfortable? Got that drink? Biscuit? Excellent. Enjoy.

(Language warning.)

 

 

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

 

Emily Rossi’s life was just fine, until her daughter Zara brings home a new best friend. Emily senses that Bethany Brown is trouble from the very minute she finds Bethany all cosy with Zara in her kitchen – just a couple of weeks after Bethany came door-to-door collecting with her mother, for a domestic violence charity. But, in the spirit of not wanting to judge her just because she comes from the other side of the tracks, Emily invites them both for dinner. And while it feels like the evening from hell, little does she know it’s nothing compared to what’s to come…

 

‘As I was saying to Charlotte, until you’ve been a single mother, you really have no idea. Bethany was a nightmare from the day she drew her first breath. But you’ve got no choice, have you? No part-time options for you.’

I stop and look at her now as she stares out at the garden, thinking how blithely she just referred to my friend by name as though we were a cosy little trio of pals. ‘So no help at all from Bethany’s father, then?’

She makes a disdainful sound effect. ‘You know what men are like. They tend to think that supporting their kids is your right but their option.’

‘But surely he has to pay child support?’

‘You’re never going to get blood out of a stone. Or out of a man when he wants to be a bastard.’ She stares at our wedding picture on the sideboard for a moment or two, then looks me straight in the eyes. ‘You know, I’m a good person. I don’t want to cause him harm. He’s got his problems and I did once love him . . . A part of me has only ever wanted him to wake up and realise his responsibilities.’ She looks off, solemnly, into the distance. ‘I always say to Bethany, “Treat people how they treat you. And if people want to walk away from you, you have to let them walk.” But then on the other hand, if they owe you something, they should pay up, shouldn’t they? Then you need to hunt them down the rabbit hole.’

‘How true,’ I say, suddenly thinking, God, you wouldn’t want to get on her wrong side, would you? Despite her words, she doesn’t seem malicious, though; more like actively dejected.

‘I don’t know why it never works out for me . . . All I ever wanted was a kind, reliable man. Like you have. But they always treat me like I’m just a nothing with no feelings, like I’m not a real person . . .’

‘You must have some nice friends in the store,’ I say. Anything to be a bit more upbeat.

‘It’s mostly men in accounting. Married men. And – oh! – keep me away from the randy wedded letch . . . I mean, if single ones are the misery they always are, why would I want one that has a wife in tow? And the sales associates are really just a pack of hens. You think they’re your friend one minute, and then one day you see the judgement in their eyes. And you think, Hmm . . . I wonder what terrible crime I’ve supposedly committed now?’

I let out a tight sigh.

‘Oh, they think they’re better than you, because they own their own homes and have solid marriages, and model children. They think it’s because they made good choices and you made shitty ones, but it’s not as simple as that, is it? Sometimes people just land on their feet, whatever they do.’ She is back to looking around our house again, appraising our stuff like it’s up for auction.

I pull the casserole out of the oven and contemplate putting my head in there instead. ‘Where did you live before here?’ I ask her.

‘Preston for years. Then when Bethany was ten I decided to move back nearer to my parents, Harrogate way. I just thought, What am I doing? I’d got nobody to pick her after school or do anything to give me a break, given her dad just decided he could take what he wanted from me then slope off.’ She absently fingers the fringe on a green velvet cushion. ‘Bethany had to change schools a few times. People were never very appreciative of what she had to offer. They only looked for the bad, as people will do.’

‘Where do your parents live, then?’

‘In heaven.’ She looks at me bluntly.

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

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

 

Here’s a little about the novel…

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Stop Being a Loser Plan

Day One

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

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

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

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New Book Releases: March 2020

Tinder Press

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

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

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

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

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

This is due to be released on 31st March.

 

Orion

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Book Extract: The Widow’s Mite by Allie Cresswell

I don’t think there’s a better way to begin a new week than to welcome Allie Cresswell to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Widow’s Mite. 

Minnie Price married late in life. Now she is widowed. And starving.

No one suspects this respectable church-goer can barely keep body and soul together. Why would they, while she resides in the magnificent home she shared with Peter?

Her friends and neighbours are oblivious to her plight and her adult step-children have their own reasons to make things worse rather than better. But she is thrown a lifeline when an associate of her late husband arrives with news of an investment about which her step-children know nothing.

Can she release the funds before she finds herself homeless and destitute?

Fans of ‘The Hoarder’s Widow’ will enjoy this sequel, but it reads equally well as a standalone.

 

Allie has shared an extract today. Grab that cuppa, a comfortable chair, a biscuit and enjoy. First, Allie gives us a little introduction. 

 

Allie: Writing a novel about bereavement brought all kinds of issues into the limelight. Apart from exploring the emotional corollaries – what does grief feel like, how and when does it strike? – death brings practical consequences that had to be studied. How does being, suddenly, alone feel and what differences does it entail in day-to-day life? There must be a hundred small divergences that impact everything from the ironing pile to the shopping list, the signing of birthday cards, holiday choices,  TV viewing.

Then there are the landmark occasions, previously shared, but that now must be faced alone.

Here, a group of single women discuss their plans for Christmas

 

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

 

‘What are you all doing for Christmas?’ Gloria asked, helping herself to the last sausage roll.

‘We always do a Christmas lunch at church,’ Gwen said, gathering the dirty plates and tea cups back onto the tray, ‘for those who find themselves alone. Last year there were twenty or so of us – we barely had enough turkey. The helpers get there early to start the prep, and then there’s the meal and the clearing up afterwards. It was gone four by the time I got home, so the whole day had gone by pretty well.’

Minnie felt the familiar swell of sadness press her throat and behind the eyes. She had not thought about Christmas. Last year she and Peter had spent it at a hotel in the country. Lots of log fires and mulled wine. Artfully decorated trees in every room. A local choir singing carols on Christmas Eve. Then, on Christmas day, a big breakfast followed by a brisk walk. An exquisite lunch at a table for two. The chef had dressed up as Santa – she had glimpsed the chequerboard pattern of his kitchen trousers beneath the furred hem of his cloak. Peter had given her a gold watch set with diamonds round the face. Her hand pushed back her cardigan cuff to reveal it. She had not sold it although she was sure it was worth several hundred pounds. She could not believe that this year she would be reduced to lunch in the draughty church hall with the rest of the lonely old souls who were not wanted elsewhere. The very thought of it made her eyes well. In and of itself it was so pitiful, but in comparison to last Christmas it was tragic. Dolly [her dog], always so sensitive to Minnie’s emotional compass, made a whimpering sound. Thankfully Gloria had followed Gwen out of the room to help with the dishes so Minnie was able to wipe her eyes and pull herself together before the others reassembled.

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Book Review: Taking a Chance on Love by Erin Green

One question can change everything.

Meet Carmen, Polly and Dana – all happy and successful women, with very different views on relationships.

Carmen has made a life with Elliot for the past eight years. She’s ready for the next step but a proposal seems to be as far away as ever.

Polly is devoted to her family. But after her parents’ bitter divorce, she’s wary of marriage – even after sharing twenty years and one son with Fraser.

Single mother Dana longs for companionship, despite her dedication to raising her son Luke. Finding the right person to bring into their lives feels impossible – until a unique way to select a potential Mr Right comes along.

With 29th February fast approaching, will they each take the chance this Leap Year to take control of their fates?

The perfect feel-good book for a Leap-Year; albeit, with a twist.

This is the tale of three women, Carmen, Polly and Dana, all with different expectations on their relationships with their men.

We are taken on a roller-coaster of a ride with all having to endure unexpected complications along their journeys.

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Book Extract: The Other You by J.S. Monroe

Welcome today to J.S. Monroe and the blog tour for his latest novel, The Other You. 

 

Kate used to be good at recognising people. So good, she worked for the police, identifying criminals in crowds of thousands. But six months ago, a devastating car accident led to a brain injury. Now the woman who never forgot a face can barely recognise herself in the mirror.

At least she has Rob. Young, rich, handsome and successful, Rob runs a tech company on the idyllic Cornish coast. Kate met him just after her accident, and he nursed her back to health. When she’s with him, in his luxury modernist house, the nightmares of the accident fade, and she feels safe and loved.

Until, one day, she looks at Rob anew. And knows, with absolute certainty, that the man before her has been replaced by an impostor.

Is Rob who he says he is? Or is it all in Kate’s damaged mind?

 

J.S. Monroe and Head of Zeus have shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

Kate glances across at Rob’s smooth, sleeping body and slips quietly out of bed, wrapping a cotton dressing gown around her as she steps out onto the terrace. It’s a warm August evening and no one can see her here. The isolated house, all glass and oak and concrete, is cut deep into the Cornish hillside and faces out to sea, which is empty tonight, apart from the winking lights of tankers moored in the distance off Falmouth. 

‘You OK?’ Rob calls out.

She swings around. It’s too dark in the bedroom to see him properly. 

‘I couldn’t sleep,’ she says, turning back towards the bay, where a ribbon of moonlight has been laid across the water. 

A moment later, his arms are wrapped around her from behind. ‘Come back to bed,’ he whispers in her ear. 

She can feel him against her, a familiar swelling. She rests her hand on his smooth forearm and thinks again about the necklace he gave her earlier, his insensitive response to her squeal of pain. It still niggles.

‘Thank you for the present,’ she says. He must have just been tired. Hardly surprising after a long week at work and then the flight down.

‘Not too tight?’ he asks.

‘It’s perfect.’

Back inside the bedroom, they snuggle up in the darkness. In all other respects, he’s played it well this evening. He ran her a bath with Moroccan rose oil and brought in two glasses of chilled champagne. Her exhaustion of earlier slipped away. Afterwards, he was the one who fell asleep almost instantly, like a laptop closing.

‘Talk to me,’ she says now, quietly. ‘Tell me about your week.’ 

She still doesn’t understand exactly what Rob does in London. One of the articles she read about his meteoric career described him as a serial ‘techpreneur’, the youngest ever founder of a British ‘unicorn’ company and a pioneering champion of something called ‘direct neural interface’ technology – the interaction between brain and machine. She likes the sound of unicorns. The ‘disruptive’ tag is less appealing. He also runs a charity on the side that puts on art shows in hospitals, which is how they met.

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Book Review: The Last Day of Winter by Shari Low

It’s a pleasure to be welcoming Shari Low back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her novel, The Last Day of Winter. 

One December wedding. One runaway bride. One winter’s day to bring everyone together again.

Today is the day Caro and Cammy are due to walk up the aisle. But Caro’s too caught up in the trauma of her past to contemplate their happy ever after.

Stacey’s decision to return from L.A. is fuelled by one thing – telling Cammy how she feels, before it’s too late.

Wedding planner, Josie, needs to sort the whole mess out, but she’s just been dealt some devastating news. Can she get through the day without spilling her secret?

On a chilly winter’s day, they have twenty-four hours to prove that love can lead the way to a brighter future…

 

The Last Day of Winter focuses on an ensemble of characters on a day just before Christmas. On the day Caro and Cammy are meant to go down the aisle, Caro’s past makes her doubt that this is her happy ever after.

The fate of the wedding is further put into question when Stacey returns to LA to tell Cammy how she feels about him.

Josie, the wedding planner needs to sort this out despite being given some devastating news.

Can love find its way within these 24 hours?

Shari, you made me cry again! I am not too proud to admit it either.

Oh, this novel.

First, the amazing characters. Each of them have their own, complicated feelings. All were developed well and nothing with any of them was black and white. Even where Caro is concerned, I felt enormous sympathy and empathy. This is a terrific ensemble of different personalities and they all fit together so well.

Plot wise, a lot is placed within the 24 hours in which it’s set but nothing feels rushed. The description of Glasgow sounds so incredible and it’s set at Christmas so it gave me all the early festive feels.

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October: Recent and Upcoming Releases

Bantam Press

I am excited to be writing about a whole load of new novels being released soon and there are some fantastic sounding titles in my list this week.

Coming out on 29th October is the latest Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child. It’s called Blue Moon.

Two rival criminal gangs are competing for control. They have not counted on Jack Reacher.

He is trained to notice things; like the elderly man sitting near him on the Greyhound bus with an envelope full of money and the other passenger hoping to get rich. He had not counted on Jack Reacher either.

I have to put my hands up and admit that I have not read a Jack Reacher novel but I may have to start as this sounds brilliant.

I saw the movie and didn’t hate it as I know a few people did. Are you a fan of Jack Reacher?

Let me know why and which book I should start with in the comments below.

 

Headline

From Lee Child to the Queen of crime novels. The latest novel from Martina Cole, No Mercy has been released this week.

This is another author I don’t know a lot about which is strange considering I love my crime novels but my Mum loved her books.

In No Mercy, Diana Davies has been head of the family business since her husband died. She’s a woman in a man’s world but no one would dare mess with her.

Her only son is about to enter the business and even though he a born criminal, this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have to earn his mother’s trust along with everyone else.

His blind spot is his wife and three children. He has a painful truth to learn.

 

The Puzzle of You is the latest novel from author, Leah Mercer and is due to be released on 1st November and is a book that sounds totally up my alley.

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Book Extract: One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot

I am happy to be welcoming back Mandy Baggot. She is here with the blog tour for her novel, One Christmas Star. 

 

Emily Parker is set to have the worst Christmas ever!

Her flatmate’s moved out, she’s closed her heart to love and she’s been put in charge of the school original Christmas show – with zero musical ability.

Disgraced superstar, Ray Stone is in desperate need of a quick PR turnaround.

Waking up from a drunken stupor to a class of ten-year-olds snapping pics and Emily looking at him was not what he had in mind.

Ray needs Emily’s help to delete the photos, and she needs his with the show.

As they learn to work together they may just open their hearts to more than a second chance…

 

To celebrate the release of One Christmas Star, Mandy and Aria have shared an extract today. 

 

 

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

‘Tangfastic?’

Before Emily had a chance to reply, the sharing-size bag of Haribos was pushed under her nose by Dennis Murray, the forty-something teacher of the Year Five class. He shook the plastic and all manner of gum, sugar, sweet and sour flew into Emily’s sinuses in one mammoth rush. She picked out a sweet simply to get the bag away from her nose. Popping it into her mouth, the bitterness hit her taste-buds straight off, contorting her expression. She watched, one eye squinted, as Dennis put five sweets into his mouth at once, double-chin wobbling. He was a walking, talking pick ‘n’ mix addict but still his capacity for sugary sweet treats astounded her. Simon had liked sweets – Maltesers, Minstrels, Mars Bites, all the chocolate. Simon had liked chocolate the way Emily liked cheese…

‘So, what do you think the budget meeting is going to be about this time?’ Dennis asked, nudging Emily’s arm as the other teachers joined them in the main hall used for assemblies, performances, lunch and meetings such as these. ‘Christmas cancelled? No unnecessary expense until we’re back in January?’

‘I don’t know,’ Emily answered. ‘But no matter what it is, I can’t protest.’ She lowered her voice and leant a little into Dennis’s personal space. ‘Susan caught me giving Jayden Jackson help with his project this morning and I bought him a bagel because I know he isn’t getting breakfast at home.’ She wasn’t getting breakfast at home herself, but only because the cupboards always seemed to be bare now Jonah had gone. Plus, really strong coffee almost counted as a meal, didn’t it?

Dennis sucked through his teeth, bits of gum crushed between his canines. ‘A double-whammy.’

‘I know,’ Emily said with a sigh. ‘I only narrowly managed to avoid the proverbial third thing because the Sellotape on the Christmas stars held out just long enough until Susan had closed the door behind her.’ But she knew she was under scrutiny and it made her nervous. She pulled at the sides of her maroon corduroy skirt, shifting her bottom on the too-small chair. Had she picked one of the children’s chairs and not a grown-up one. That was exactly how her luck was right now…

‘Definitely no extra baubles for the Year Six Christmas tree this year then,’ Dennis remarked, chewing on more sweets.

Emily’s phone erupted, tweeting like a bird, from inside her all-colours vintage carpet bag. It had been a bargain. Well, actually it had been quite expensive, but it was a genuine 1950s artifact. And she’d been quite emotional on that particular visit to the antique boutique. Emotion and her love of vintage were a heady mix…

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Upcoming Novel Releases

Chatto & Windus, Sept ’19

Autumn is on its way (even though the weather can’t quite make up its mind.)

What this does mean is a great list of fantastic novel releases and here is my first list of the books I am looking forward to reading.

The first book on my list has already come out but it is one I am incredibly excited about. It’s one I’ve been waiting years for… The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

Ever since I read the Handmaid’s Tale when I was sixteen, I have been wanting to know what happened next. The TV show has been great for that but there is something for me about a novel straight from the original author that makes it extra special. I am also interested to read it having had the perspective from the TV show and the continued development of the characters from that. I have heard such good things about this book.

Released on 10th September, The Testaments picks up fifteen years after the end of the first book, Gilead maintains its power but there are signs that it’s beginning to crumble from within. Three women’s lives converge with explosive results.

 

HarperCollins, Sept ’19

The second novel in the list is another book I have been waiting so long for and that is Postscript by Cecelia Ahern. I have been fortunate enough to get an advanced copy and I am planning on reviewing soon.

I adored PS I Love You and so the sequel had a lot to live up to. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. The first one had such a unique plot. How was the story going to carry on?

I won’t say too much now about my thoughts at this stage but a summary of the plot is that Postscript starts seven years after the end of PS I Love You and six years after Gerry’s last letter.

A group contacts Holly. They call themselves the PS I Love You club and they are asking her for help. She begins a relationship with the group and is soon finding herself drawn back to the feelings she thought she had left behind.

It has been released today (19th September) so is available to read now.

 

A Patchwork Family: Taking Chances by Cathy Bramley is part three in a four-part serial and is due to be released on 3rd October.

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Book Review: A Cornish Affair by Jo Lambert

I am very happy to finally be welcoming Jo Lambert back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her new novel, A Cornish Affair. 

Here’s a little about the book…

In the close-knit community of Carrenporth in Cornwall everyone knows everyone else’s business. Luke Carrack is only too aware of this. He’s been away for two years but nothing has changed – from the town gossips who can’t see past the scandal of his childhood, to the cold way he is treated by some of his so-called family.

The only person who seems to understand is local hotelier’s daughter Cat Trevelyan, although even Luke’s new friendship with her could set tongues wagging.

But Carrenporth is about to experience far bigger scandals than the return of Luke Carrack – and the secrets unearthed in the process will shake the sleepy seaside town to its core …

 

Luke Carrack is back in Carrenporth after a couple of years away.

He soon discovers that in the two years he has been away, not much as changed. There are still the village gossips and his Aunt and Cousin don’t like him much.

There is only one person he seems to connect with, Cat, who is the daughter of the local hotelier.

This book immediately pulled me in. This is partly down to the writing style and how it so easily got me absorbed into the story. Told from both Luke and Cat’s point of view, I really got an idea of what each one was thinking and feeling. The setting also sounds beautiful. I could see myself in this little Cornish town.

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Book Extract and Review: Stolen by Paul Finch

Hello Friday! It’s almost the weekend and what better way to celebrate its arrival than a visit from Paul Finch and the blog tour for his new novel, Stolen. 

How do you find the missing when there’s no trail to follow?

DC Lucy Clayburn is having a tough time of it. Not only is her estranged father one of the North West’s toughest gangsters, but she is in the midst of one of the biggest police operations of her life.

Members of the public have started to disappear, taken from the streets as they’re going about their every day lives. But no bodies are appearing – it’s almost as if the victims never existed.

Lucy must chase a trail of dead ends and false starts as the disappearances mount up. But when her father gets caught in the crossfire, the investigation suddenly becomes a whole lot more bloody…

 

I’ve reviewed the novel below but before that, Paul and Avon have shared an extract. 

 

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

 

Lucy was still in the thick of the action, though it was mostly over. On all sides, cautions were being issued, and the responses, mainly f-words and other more imaginative profanities, being recorded on dictaphone as the jostling, cuffed men were frogmarched to the farm cottage wall and held there, each by his individual arresting officer, while others commenced searching them. One resisted more than the rest, kicking out and spitting, and was given a backhander across the mouth for his trouble. Lucy wasn’t worried. When the evidence was finally presented, she doubted there was a magistrate in the land who’d be swayed by farcical complaints about police brutality.

Quite a bit of that evidence was on display inside the barn itself, when she went in there. The centrepiece was a purpose-built pit, squarish in shape, about ten yards by ten, dug to a depth of five feet and lined with brick, with a steel ladder fixed in one corner and a camera mounted on a tripod overlooking it, alongside an upright chalkboard scribbled with betting information. 

Two dogs still occupied the pit. One, an American pit bull, charged crazily back and forth, jumping up to snap and snarl at the officers, despite the excessive blood dabbling its jaws and jowls. The other one, whose breed was uncertain, lay in a quivering, panting heap, gashed and torn and spattered with gore.

‘We need one of the vets in here,’ Lucy said to a PC at her shoulder. ‘And a handler . . . to control the other one, yeah?’

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Book Extract & Review: The Family by P.R. Black

It’s the weekend, the sun is shining (mostly,) and P.R. Black is here with the blog tour to his latest novel, The Family. 

 

The best way to catch a killer? Offer yourself as bait.

Becky Morgan’s family were the victims of the ‘crimes of the decade’. 

The lone survivor of a ritualistic killing, Becky’s been forever haunted by the memories of that night.

Twenty years later, with the killer never found, Becky is ready to hunt them down and exact revenge. But the path to find the murderer is a slippery slope and she finds herself opening up some old wounds that should have been left sealed. 

Will Becky avenge her family or join them? 

 

I’ve reviewed The Family below but first, P.R. Black and Aria have shared an extract. 

 

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

‘Let’s turn to the perpetrator – who is it we’re looking for?’

‘I’m afraid that clues are few and far between, which is why it’s taken so long to find him. He never showed his face, but what we can say is that the man we’re looking for was around six feet tall or more, well-built, and probably aged between 25 and 40 – certainly a young, fit man. That means he’d be between 45 and 60 today, of course. He had a strong accent – not English, and, we think, not French, but perhaps Eastern European.’

The presenter faced the camera. ‘I apologise to viewers in advance, as this is a particularly distressing detail. But we have to talk about the mask.’

Becky looked away. 

‘Yes,’ said Inspector Hanlon. ‘As far as we can tell, it was this mask.’

‘We should stress, this is an artist’s interpretation,’ the presenter added.

‘Yes. This object seems to have been created by the killer himself. We believe it’s made of real bone, attached to some dark cloth. It’s nothing that was available in fancy dress shops, but it is just possible that someone, somewhere, might remember a man buying this mask from a specialist shop.’

‘It’s difficult to imagine what that poor girl must have gone through.’ 

Becky toasted the TV screen. ‘Don’t have nightmares,’ she said, remembering the final words uttered by the presenter who hosted an earlier series of Crimewatch.

On-screen, the presenter said, ‘Inspector, what more can you tell us about what the killer was wearing?’

‘When he arrived at the cottage, he wore all-black clothing. The only other clue we have is that he had size-fourteen feet, going by footprints left at the scene. He was wearing these shoes…’

The man beside Becky said, ‘I bet he wasn’t wearing all-black clothing when he got going. He might have kept his shoes on, though, for a quick getaway.’

She glanced at him for a moment – and then he was wearing her G&T. 

Rivulets meandered down his jowls like tears, and a sliver of lemon clung to his chin like a slug on a bannister losing its fight with gravity. 

‘What do you think you’re doing?’ he spluttered.

‘Hey.’ The barman pointed at her. ‘You’ve had enough, love. Out.’

‘I was just going. Love.’ Becky lurched to her feet, clinging to the counter until her shoes found purchase, and then strode out the door. 

The bar was set in the basement of a refurbished tenement block, and Becky had got halfway up the stairs to street level when the man who’d sat beside her gripped her shoulder. She gasped and clung onto the railings to avoid falling backwards.

The man’s hair was still plastered to his forehead with her gin. He looked like a young boy grotesquely groomed by his mother for church. 

‘I dunno who you think you are, freak,’ he snarled, ‘but you’re lucky I don’t kick you up and down this street.’

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Book Extract: The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green

Hello and welcome to Linda Green. Her novel, The Last Thing She Told Me has been released today. 

Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface…

Moments before Nicola’s grandmother dies, she whispers in her ear that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.

Nicola’s mother claims she was talking nonsense, however when a bone is found in the garden, it’s clear that something sinister has taken place and there’s a family secret to be unearthed that has the power to tear the family apart.

This is an incredibly emotional and page-turning novel set in Yorkshire, bridging the gap between domestic noir and up-lit that deals with generations of families and the secrets they keep.

 

To celebrate publication day for The Last Thing She Told Me, Linda and Quercus have shared a chapter. Enjoy. 

(content warning. Potentially distressing for some readers.) 

 

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

 

For all the women and girls who have been made to feel shame

It was the shame, you see. The shame I brought on my family. Sometimes it is easier not to believe than to accept something so awful could have happened. That is why people bury things far beneath the surface. Deep down, out of sight and out of mind. Though not out of my mind. I carry the shame with me always. The shame and the guilt. They do not go away. If anything, they weigh heavier on me now than they did back then. Dragging me down, clawing at my insides. And when people say that what’s buried in the past should stay there, they mean they don’t want to have to deal with it. They’re scared of the power of secrets to destroy lives. But keeping secrets can destroy you from the inside. Believe me, I know. And even the best-kept secrets have a habit of forcing their way to the surface.

1
The house appeared to know that its owner was about to die, shrouded, as it was, in early- morning mist, the downstairs curtains closed in respect, the gate squeaking mournfully as I opened it.
If there was such a thing as a nice house in which to end your days, this certainly wasn’t it. It was cold, dark and draughty, perched high on the edge of the village, as if it didn’t really want to be part of it but was too polite to say so. Behind it, the fields ‒ criss-crossed by dry-stone walls ‒ stretched out into the distance. Beyond them, the unrelenting bleakness of the moors.
I shivered as I hurried up the path and let myself in.
‘Grandma, it’s me.’ The first thing I thought when I didn’t hear a response was that maybe I was too late. She’d been weak, drifting in and out of sleep when I’d left the previous night. Perhaps she hadn’t made it through till morning.
But when I entered the front room – in which she’d lived, eaten and slept for the past year – she turned her face to give me the faintest of smiles.
‘Morning,’ I said. ‘Did you manage to get some sleep?’
She nodded.
‘It’s not too late to change your mind, you know. We could get you to hospital, or the hospice
said we could call them at any time.’

She shook her head. She’d remained adamant she would leave the house only in a coffin. She’d also refused medication to relieve the pain. It was as if she thought she somehow had a duty to suffer.
‘Well, at least let me stay over tonight. I hate the thought of you being on your own.’
‘I won’t be here tonight.’ Her words were faint and difficult to understand. She’d taken her teeth out several weeks previously and refused to put them back in since.
‘Come on. You’ve been saying that for weeks.’
‘I’m tired. It’s time to go now.’
There was something about the look in her eye as she said it that told me she meant it. I sat
down on the end of her bed and took her hand. Her skin was paper-thin, revealing the bones and blue veins beneath it. She’d once said she liked me coming to visit because I was the only one who let her talk about death without getting upset or pretending it wasn’t going to happen.
‘Is there anything I can get to make you more comfortable?’
She shook her head again. We sat there for a while saying nothing, listening to the ticking of the clock and her shallow breaths. I tried to imagine what it must be like knowing you are about to die. I would want my family around me, I knew that.
‘Do you want me to give Mum a call?’ I asked. She managed to raise her eyebrows at me. It was as near as I’d get to a telling off at this point. She had always been very accepting of their distant relationship. It was me who struggled with it.
‘I could ask James to bring the girls over.’
She shook her head again and whispered, ‘I don’t want to upset them. They’re good girls. Anyway, I’ve got them with me.’

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Blog Tour: The Summer Holidays Survival Guide by Jon Rance

8652DD56-1A0A-4349-8002-E1CB8927B139The brilliant Jon Rance is back with his new novel, The Summer Holidays Survival Guide (perfectly timed for the approaching summer holidays.) 

Two parents. Three children. One senile grandad. Six weeks. How bad could it possibly be?

For teacher, Ben Robinson, the school summer holidays mean one thing – spending six weeks with his kids. This year, however, he also has his father and one very angry wife to contend with. The name of the game is simple: survive.

Ben embarks on a summer of self-discovery that includes, amongst other things, becoming besotted by a beautiful Australian backpacker, an accidental Brexit march and a road rage attack. There’s also the matter of saving his marriage, which is proving harder than he imagined, mainly due to an unfortunate pyramid scheme and one quite large bottom.

But when Ben learns his father has a secret, it takes the whole family on a trip to Scotland that will make or break their summer – and perhaps Ben’s life.

On the last day of his blog tour, Jon has joined me today to talk about his evolution as a writer. Welcome Jon. Over to you. 

Hello! A huge thank you to Novel Kicks for having me on their blog. It’s exciting to be here! So, my new book, The Summer Holidays Survival Guide, is out and just 99p for a limited time! Today, the last stop on my blog tour, I’m going to be talking about my evolution as a writer. Let’s get started!

For those of you who don’t know me, The Summer Holidays Survival Guide, is my seventh novel. It all started way back in the heady days of 2011! We had our daughter in 2009 and our son was on the way, and I was a stay-at-home dad. I chose to be a stay-at-home father so I could write. I’d written a couple of unpublished novels, but then I suddenly got my big break. My self-published novel, The Thirtysomething Life, unexpectedly shot up the charts and broke into the Kindle top ten. I was as shocked as anyone. On the back of that success, I got a two-book publishing deal with Hodder and Stoughton and then an agent. My novels are usually comedies that deal with issues like marriage, family, parenting, falling in love, growing up or as it says on my website – author of contemporary novels about life, love, and all the icky bits in-between. I think, to be fair, it’s usually the icky bits in-between I’m most interested in.

2A7B6CE2-B8AE-4242-8001-7A1CEB51920D

So, now you know a bit about me, let’s talk evolution. My first novel, This Thirtysomething Life, was a diary about one man, Harry Spencer, early thirties, trying to get through the pregnancy and birth of his first child. My latest book, The Summer Holidays Survival Guide, is the diary of one man, Ben Robinson, 44, trying to get through the summer holidays with his family. Evolution? Well, yes. I wrote my new book because I realised last summer, as I was on a six-week holiday with my own family through England and Scotland, how far we’ve all come and how much has changed. I wrote, The Summer Holiday Survival Guide, as an update on my first book. It’s what happens down the line when the kids are older, the parents are older, and all the complications that come with that. It was as much a reflection on my own life as anything else.

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Upcoming Books Releases: May

the burning chambersHello May. 

I am not entirely sure how we’re already in May. The weather doesn’t help. It’s very confused right. To help escape this weather or enjoy basking in the sunshine (I can hope,) the list below is a few of the new releases coming this month.

 

The first book I want to feature is The Burning Chambers which is the new book from Kate Mosse. I haven’t read any of her books (and I am not sure why,) but this book is a great reason to start. 

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.

Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power . . .

(Released 3rd May by Mantle.) 

 

the castThe second upcoming release on my list is The Cast by Danielle Steel. It is due to be released by Macmillan on 31st May. 

Kait Whittier has built her magazine column into a hugely respected read followed by fans across the country. She loves her work and adores her grown children, treasuring the time they spend together. But after two marriages, she prefers to avoid the complications and uncertainties of a new love.

Then, after a chance meeting with television producer Zack Winter, everything changes. Inspired by the true story of her own grandmother, Kait creates the storyline for a TV series. Within weeks, Kait is plunged into a colourful, star-studded world of actors and industry pros who will bring her vision to life, from the reclusive grand dame to LA’s hottest bad boy actor.

As secrets are shared and revelations come to light, friendships deepen. But in the midst of this charmed year, Kait is forced to confront the greatest challenge a mother could ever know and this unforgettable cast becomes more important to her than she ever could have imagined.

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Book Review: Ivy & Abe by Elizabeth Enfield

Ivy & AbeIvy and Abe were inseparable as children until an accident tore them apart. Several decades later, when both are in their seventies, a chance encounter reunites them. But time is not on their side.

What if they’d met in a different time and place?

In another life, Ivy and Abe meet in their forties, when both are married already. Unable to resist the attraction between them, they embark on a passionate affair.

In yet another, they marry young, with a bright future ahead of them – only for a dark shadow to threaten their happiness.

Throughout various incarnations of their lives, they come together and go their separate ways, fall in and out of love, make or break promises.

In every universe, Ivy and Abe are meant to meet. But are they meant to be?

Ivy & Abe is the story of this couple who can only be described as soul mates. This book focuses on these people in a series of parallel universes. At the beginning of the book, they are in their seventies having not seen one another since children. In another, they are married with children whilst in another they barely meet for five minutes.

In each one, it was interesting for me to see how they interact with one another and how there are common themes and events that tie these universes together. How, in whatever version, certain things will happen regardless of what comes before and after.

Also, it was compelling how two people who are so destined to be together are capable of hurting one another so much. This was a bittersweet aspect. Continue reading

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Cover and Chapter Reveal: The Things We Need To Say by Rachel Burton

Rachel BurtonIt’s a very good day here at Novel Kicks. I was very happy when I was asked to take part in an exciting cover and first chapter reveal for The Things We Need To Say which is the upcoming release from Rachel Burton.

Sometimes the things we never say are the most important.

Fran loves Will with all her heart. They had a whirlwind romance, a perfect marriage and a wonderful life. Until everything changed. Now Fran needs to find her way again and teaching a yoga retreat in Spain offers her just that. Leaving behind a broken marriage she has some very important decisions to make.

Will needs his wife, he needs her to open up to him if they’re to ever return to the ways things once were. But he may have damaged any possibility he had of mending their relationship and now Fran is in Spain and Will is alone.

As both Fran and Will begin to let go of a life that could have been, fate may just find a way of bringing them back together.

OK, first, the cover. Drumroll…….

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Book Releases: January Book Haul

After the snowBooks, books and books.

That’s what I love about January. It is a brand new year, a brand new reading challenge and lovely new books to discover. I have brought and received some great books over the past few weeks and I thought it was about time I did another book haul. So here we go.

After The Snow by Susan Constantine. (HQ, 2nd November 2017.)

I am very intrigued by this debut fiction novel by TV presenter, Susannah Constantine. I got sent this just before Christmas. The cover is all festive and beautiful. I love it. I know we’ve past Christmas but this book sounds so interesting.

Esme only wants one thing for Christmas. She wants her Mum to be on one of her good days. When she finds some wet towels and dirty plates in her stocking, she’s happy that Father Christmas remembered to stop by at all.

Later that day, Esme’s mother disappears and only one person seems to know where she is. Esme soon realises that life will never be the same after the snow.

 

The Cactus by Sarah Harwood.

(Released by Two Roads, 25th January 2018.)

I received this book from the publisher a few days ago. The cover includes embossed writing and a rose gold spine and it’s just  beautiful. It’s one of those books you’ll want to permanently display on your bookshelf.

The CactusThis book has been compared to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and the main character Susan has been likened to Don Tillman from Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project and I will always have a huge soft spot for Don Tillman.

This debut novel focuses on Susan Green. People are not sure what to make of Susan. She makes sense to herself and to her, that’s all that matters. She has a London flat, a job she loves and a more personal arrangement providing cultural and more intimate benefits.

At forty-five, she thinks her life is perfect provided she avoids her brother, Edward.

When she’s faced with some life changing events though, she realises she’s loosing control. When she has to prove something about her brother, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.

 

Twelve Nights by Andrew Zurcher.

(Due to be released by Puffin, 5th April 2018.)

The cover designers are really out-doing themselves at the moment. I got sent this novel and from the moment this stunning book twelve nightsarrived wrapped in pretty paper, I wanted to read it and I look forward to doing so.

The premise of this novel seems so interesting too and completely up my street.

Kay and Eloise’s father is working late. Fed up with his absence, their mother bundles them into the car and drives to her husband’s Cambridge College to collect him. When they arrive, the staff claim no-one by his name has ever worked there.

Instead of anger, her mother’s reaction of silent tears confuses Kay. There is also a strange card waiting on the pillow when they get home.

Kay is then woken by voices outside her window. Voices belonging to something she shouldn’t be able to see…. but she can.

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Book Extract and Review: That Girl by Kate Kerrigan

Kerrigan_THAT GIRLHello and welcome to Kate Kerrigan and the blog tour for her new novel, That Girl which was released by Head of Zeus on eBook on 1st January 2018. 

You can escape a place. But you can’t escape yourself.

Hanna flees the scene of a terrible crime in her native Sligo. If she can just vanish, re-invent herself under a new name, perhaps the police won’t catch up with her. London seems the perfect place to disappear.

Lara has always loved Matthew and imagined happy married life in Dublin. Then comes the bombshell – Matthew says he wants to join the priesthood. Humiliated and broken-hearted, Lara heads to the most godless place she can find, King’s Road, Chelsea.

Matthew’s twin sister, Noreen, could not be more different from her brother. She does love fiance John, but she also craves sex, parties and fun. Swinging London has it all, but without John, Noreen is about to get way out of her depth.

All three girls find themselves working for Bobby Chevron – one of London’s most feared gangland bosses – and it’s not long before their new lives start to unravel.

 

I’ve reviewed the book below but first, Kate and her publishers have kindly shared an extract from That Girl. I hope you enjoy! 

A year passed and Hanna turned from thirteen to fourteen. She became more independent and began to speak her own mind. She was glad that her mother had Dorian to focus on, instead of just her, and she came to trust him. While she knew her stepfather would never be a replacement for the father she so deeply loved, Hanna grew fond of him as time went by. Dorian Black loved her mother, there was no doubt about that, and he made her happy. Hanna also understood that he had been kind and generous regarding her as well. As the nuns pointed out to her in school, ‘It’s not every man would take on another man’s child.’

Dorian never patronised her, or talked to her like she was a poor child, as so many people did since her father died. He treated her as an equal, and she liked that. Dorian allowed her to call him by his first name. When she first did it, her mother tutted, insisting she call him father to show him proper respect. But Dorian had been on Hanna’s side. ‘Don’t push the child, Margaret,’ he said. ‘I am not her natural father. There is no reason she should look on me as such. Hanna is old enough to make up her own mind about the role I play in her life.’

Margaret became worried that Hanna was moving away from her, that she was losing her. Dorian was as wise and reassuring as ever. ‘Hanna is becoming a fine young woman,’ he told her. ‘She is not your little girl any more, Margaret. Sooner or later you’ll have to accept that she’s an adult.’

Margaret pursed her lips and remained silent on the subject. Hanna could tell she didn’t like it but it was important that her mother understood she wasn’t a child any more. Dorian was right, she was becoming a ‘young woman’ and her mother just had to get used to it. United in that understanding, a bond grew between stepfather and stepdaughter that felt to Hanna like friendship, or maybe even love.

Then, as Dorian and Margaret Black were coming up to their second wedding anniversary, Margaret came down with a nasty bout of flu. At first it seemed not to be serious but then her symptoms worsened with lethargy and headaches. Weeks passed and Margaret remained bedridden. With little appetite and no energy to lift herself from the bed, it appeared that there was something more serious underlying the illness. Hanna was worried and asked Dorian if there was anything more they could do. He reassured her that her mother’s recovery was just around the corner.

‘It’s only a virus,’ he promised.

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Extract: Recluse Millionaire, Reluctant Bride by Sun Chara

Recluse MillionaireRecluse Millionaire, Reluctant Bride by Sun Chara has been released today by HarperImpulse. 

Is his reluctant bride a business risk or a personal necessity?

Stan Rogers, recluse millionaire, must negotiate a risky deal with Stella Ryan, the exotic beauty from his past, to gain custody of his son. But how can he close the deal with her, the one and only woman who flips his switches and pegs him as the enemy?

Martial artist Stella knows she should steer clear of Stan, the man who had shattered her heart and could still destroy her. Four years have passed since their hostile business deal, and now, the American financier is proposing holy matrimony…but she’s the reluctant bride wondering, what’s he up to?

 

To celebrate the release of her new book, Sun Chara and HarperImpulse have shared an extract. Enjoy!

Chapter 3

“Doesn’t look like snow to me, not by a long shot,” she said again. “At least not for another couple of months.”

“We like to be prepared in case it’s early this year.” He hauled himself off the sofa and reached out for the blanket and pillow.

She clutched them tighter, like a protective device. “What about trekking to the limo and driving from there?”

“Not in this darkness, unless it’s an absolute emergency,” he said, tone flat. “Dangerous, especially if you’re not familiar with the trail.”

“To me, this is an emergency.”

“Not enough to risk a broken leg in a pot hole? Be serious, Ms. Ryan.” He raised a brow. “What’s one more day going to matter? You could leave early tomorrow without risk.”

What he said made sense, but she didn’t have to like it. She certainly didn’t want to stay shacked up with him, miles from anywhere. It was time to be proactive, and get her own ticket outa this sticky mess.

“You’re invited for dinner. Minni ’ll—”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Fine.”

His indifference infuriated…then she glanced down at the bedding in

her hands. Odd, she hadn’t had them when she first lay down by the fireside.

She frowned, and an image pushed its way to the forefront of her mind. Somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, she’d felt a gentle hand lift her head and slip the pillow beneath…cover her with the blanket. She thought she’d been dreaming but—

“Did…uh…you bring the blanket?”

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Extract: The Perfect Victim by Corrie Jackson

The Perfect VictimA big welcome and hello to Corrie Jackson and the blog tour for her new novel, The Perfect Victim which was released by Zaffre on 16th November. 

Husband, friend, colleague . . . killer?

Charlie and Emily Swift are the Instagram-perfect couple: gorgeous, successful and in love. But then Charlie is named as the prime suspect in a gruesome murder and Emily’s world falls apart. Desperate for answers, she turns to Charlie’s troubled best friend, London Herald journalist, Sophie Kent. Sophie knows police have the wrong man – she trusts Charlie with her life.

Then Charlie flees. Sophie puts her reputation on the line to clear his name. But as she’s drawn deeper into Charlie and Emily’s unravelling marriage, she realises that there is nothing perfect about the Swifts. As she begins to question Charlie’s innocence, something happens that blows the investigation – and their friendship – apart.

Now Sophie isn’t just fighting for justice, she’s fighting for her life.

Corrie and Zaffre have kindly shared an extract from The Perfect Victim today. Enjoy!

 

CHAPTER 38

I wiped the rain from my eyes and lurched towards the hut nearest the forest. I ran my torch over the door; it was padlocked. I pressed my ear to the door but I couldn’t hear anything over the wind. I did a circuit of the building; no windows, no other way in except through the door. My fingers tightened around the rock; I’d have to bash open the padlock.

‘Kate!’ I raked the darkness with my torch but I couldn’t see her. My gaze fell on something on the ground and I crouched down for a closer look. Was that blood? I inched forwards, following the trail with my torch beam. It ran across the gravel, in the direction of the forest. I hesitated for a split-second then turned back towards the hut. As I did, my torch landed on a man, standing ten feet away from me, his hands jammed in the pockets of his waterproof.

‘What are you doing?’ The wind carried his gravelly voice towards me.

‘I – I’m looking for someone. A woman. I think she’s inside this hut.’

He edged towards me, on the tips of his toes. ‘That’s not possible, Miss. I’ve just been in that hut. Nothing but farming equipment in there.’

I tightened my grip round the rock and shone my torch in his face. I couldn’t see much; he was wearing a woolly hat, and his chin was buried in a scarf. ‘Then you won’t mind showing me.’

He cocked his head to one side. ‘And you are?’

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Book Extract: Sun, Sea & Sex by Greta Horwood

Sun Sea Sex CoverA big hello to author Greta Horwood and the blog tour for her novel, Sun, Sea & Sex which was released by Author House UK in August. 

About Sun, Sea & Sex:

The book tells of the trials and tribulations of Zeeta, who has overcome many obstacles and survived different relationships. A loving marriage led to a horrendous one. Her second marriage was to a man with a depraved sexual appetite.

The sunny parts were when everything was going well. There were choppy seas between when things were not going right, not just in a relationship but in general life.

Also there were times when the sea was calm and all three women were coping well. The sex within relationships was, in the most part, good to excellent. In Zeeta’s second marriage, sex was a nightmare.

She endured and suffered.

Happy ever after on a Caribbean island. Zeeta survived with the help of two friends—one from her school days, Sheila, and the second one was Peggy, her boss and a very good friend. Their relationships and stories are part of this book.

 

Greta has very kindly shared an extract from Sun, Sea & Sex with us today. Here’s a brief introduction to the scene; 

Zeeta was at college, a new life full of new experiences.  A chance accident where Zeeta was pushed to the floor, by a revolving door, led to an unlikely friendship with an Arabian Prince, Armaan.  He was to advise her about men and gave her a sex education without the actions.  Her time with Armaan left her wanting more, but she did not know what more meant.  Being kissed by Armaan led to more feelings of wanting more.  It left Zeeta confused.  He abruptly stopped his kissing, that led to more confusion, he was pushing her away.  Zeeta could not understand, she loved him, but having no experience of love, she could only guess the feelings she had were love.

Armaan appears throughout the book, during other relationships.  Meeting him at these other times, Zeeta knew she loved and wanted him.

The Extract….

(Warning: Adult content.)

Armaan was back.  I can’t explain my feelings in seeing him.  I was overwhelmed by them.  Yes I missed him, but what I was feeling was more than that.  We continued with our easy friendship and he said he was delighted to be back.  He was now married and his wife was expecting their first child.  He was a different person now, I think the worry of not having a wife was bothering him, but now he was married, life had suddenly became enjoyable.  He said he enjoyed my company and although he was 14 years older than me, I was not empty headed like the gigglers.  We continued our friendship and I often felt he was preparing me for the life I would eventually lead.  He said my blue eyes and personality would attract many man, but I would know who was right for me.  He said beware of false promises, men will say they love, but often it is a way to easy sex, so beware of false promises.

He said he had stones cast for my future and these foretold of a happy life with two children.  He said choose a husband older than myself, he would be considerate.  That happened my husband was  older than me and he was considerate.

We had many of these talks, he was the perfect gentleman and I loved him.  Well I thought these feelings I had for him were love, I had never felt like this.  I had limited experience, but hoped the feelings I was having, were love, they were very pleasant.

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Book Review: I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

I Heart ForeverHappy publication day Lindsey!

I am so happy and excited to be a part of the blog tour for her new novel, I Heart Forever which has been released today by HarperCollins. 

The day her husband Alex picks up a backpack and goes travelling, Angela Clark promises to stay out of trouble and keep both Louboutins on the ground.

So when her best friend’s boyfriend confides in her, it can’t hurt to help him pick out a ring at Tiffany’s surely?

And when her fashion magazine announces major changes, being terminally late and arguing with your boss isn’t that bad, is it?

Then suddenly there’s another big secret Angela’s got to keep – and the man she loves is still thousands of miles away. As the wedding of the year looms, and Manhattan switches on its Christmas lights, Angela is going to need her friends by her side as her old life looks set to change forever.

First, I want to take a moment to bask in the glory of this beautiful cover. It’s giving me the festive feels. One of my favourite covers of the year for sure.

I have long been a fan of the I Heart series so the idea that this could be the last one (a rumour I am hoping isn’t true,) makes me very sad. If this is the last we are seeing of Angela though, I personally was quite satisfied with the ending. That’s all you’re getting from me though in relation to the end of the novel. I don’t want to give too much away.

It’s been so great to catch up with Angela Clark. She’s like that old friend you don’t see for a while but when you do you’re immediately picking up the conversation where it left off. It was also excellent to see the supporting cast too- Jenny, Alex and Erin.

Angela is a flawed, funny, wonderful heroine to which many people will identify with. A character I’ve loved and will miss.

I Heart Forever sees Angela in New York (one of my favourite cities FYI,) working at Gloss Magazine and seeing Alex, her husband go off travelling for a while. Add to this a whole load of changes at work and Angela has a lot on her plate. She then has to keep a secret that is going to change her life. Angela certainly faces many challenges in this novel.

Lindsey’s writing seems so effortless and has such great humour that it was so easy for me to lose a day to this book, which I pretty much did. I couldn’t put it down. It’s the seventh book in the series so it is advantageous to have read the previous novels. However, you can read it prior to the others if you can’t wait as enough background information is given.

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NK Chats To… Jon Rance

Jon RanceI am very happy to be welcoming Jon Rance to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for his new novel, About Us.

Rosie Willis isn’t happy. Her once perfect marriage to husband, Pete, is falling apart, her mother is dying, and her three children are starting to feel like strangers.

At forty she feels like she’s stuck, but then she meets handsome widower, Mark Hornby, at the school gates and he makes her feel alive again. As she drifts further from Pete, she gets closer to Mark, but approaching Christmas she realises she needs to try to save her marriage and keep her family together.

Despite her feelings, she can’t have an affair. Unfortunately, Pete has news of his own that throws everything into doubt. Rosie must choose a new life.

There’s Pete, Mark, or going it alone. It isn’t easy when you’re forty, when you have three kids, when you feel past it, when your mother is dying, but life isn’t meant to be easy.

 

Hi Jon, thank you very much for joining me today. Congratulations on your new book, About Us. Can you tell me a little about it and how the idea originated?

Hello! It’s a pleasure to be here and yes, of course, I’d love to tell you all about my new novel, About Us. About Us, is the story of Rosie Willis and her husband, Pete. It’s the story of they meet, fall in love, get married, have children, and then how it all falls apart. It’s set over twenty years from university until their early forties. It’s a dramatic romantic comedy.

The idea evolved over time – as they tend to do. After my last novel, Dan And Nat Got Married, I knew I wanted to write something a big different and I had this idea for a novel. Originally it was going to be a story of a marriage from both sides, but then I decided to write the whole thing from Rosie’s perspective and that’s when it really took off.

 

About UsWhat’s your writing routine like (where do you like to write, do you need silence etc.) How has your routine changed since writing your first book?

Well now I have both children in school full-time I actually have a routine! When I wrote, This Thirtysomething Life, I was a stay at home dad so writing was done around that. I squeezed it in when I could. Now I sit at my desk at around 8:30-9am and work in silence until about 1-2pm and just write. Sometimes I listen to music and sometimes I don’t. I drink tea, coffee, try and eat healthy snacks and always have a break for lunch!

 

How do you approach writing a novel? Planner or a Panster?

I was thinking about this the other day. I always thought of myself as a bad planner, but I realised that I do plan, but generally over long periods of time. I usually start the ideas process maybe a year before I start writing a novel. I jot down ideas, characters, plotlines etc. so usually by the time I start writing, I have a decent idea what I’m doing. I don’t write extensive notes, but I do have whole pages on characters, storylines etc.

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Blogival: Extract of The Expansion by Christoph Martin

The Expansion CoverIt’s August and the first day of Blogival; a month of bloggers and authors combining to offer reviews, guest posts and more. I am very happy to be part of this fantastic online event. 

Today, I welcome Christoph Martin, author of The Expansion to Novel Kicks.

In politics and big business, truth is a matter of opinion.

Straddling the storyworlds of Panama, Washington and London, The Expansion follows British-born geomatic engineer Max Burns, whose revolutionary water-saving system wins him the esteemed position of head engineer for one of the 21st century’s most politically contested megaprojects: the expansion of the Panama Canal.

For Max it is a dream come true: not only is he able to work closely with construction giant and old high-school friend Godfredo Roco in one of the most beautiful tropical environments, but it’s the kind of job Max has been working toward his entire career.

Yet in the arena of global trade and diplomacy, stakes are high, and when a senior official of the Panama Canal Administration is found dead, Max finds himself in the frame for sabotage and murder, and at the centre of a web of political intrigue and betrayal that reaches far beyond the idyllic shores of Central America. The only person Max can trust is his new-found love, Karis Deen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Except Karis herself holds a secret that could not only destroy Max, but could change the entire balance of world power.

 

Today, thanks to Clink Street Publishing and Christoph, I have an extract from The Expansion to share with you. Enjoy!

N.B: This is the scene that changes Max Burns life forever! Losing his parents and with them also the family fortune and a very comfortable and prosperous future.

They had reached a flying altitude of three thousand feet.

His fingers found what they were searching for: the smooth, plastic sheath that guarded the engine’s idle shut-off valve.

It would only take a moment.

Numb, he turned to his wife. She had covered her lips with her hand, and he heard a sob. In the darkness, the diamonds at her throat had lost their fire.

“It’s the best way. I can’t let them put you in jail,” he said. “Max will be able to make a clean start. One day, I hope he’ll forgive me—”

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Book Review: Confetti at the Cornish Café by Phillipa Ashley

Confetti at the cornish

Maze, May 2017

Cal and Demi are preparing to launch their beloved Kilhallon Resort in Cornwall as a wedding venue. With the cliff-top setting and coastal views, it’s the perfect place for a magical ceremony.

But their first clients are no ordinary couple. The bride and groom are internationally famous celebrities Lily Craig and Ben Trevone. As secrets surface and truths are told, can Demi and Cal ensure that Kilhallon’s first wedding is a success? One thing’s for sure, this will be a Cornish celebration to remember . . .

It’s always a sad moment when you come to the end of a beloved series. Harry Potter, the original Star Wars Trilogy, and my latest – ‘Confetti at the Cornish Café’ is the third and final book in the ‘Cornish Café’ trilogy; unless Phillipa can be persuaded to keep them going? But would that be a good thing? All good things come to an end, is a very true saying and some things go on way past their sell-by-dates. This is not the case here.

I have enjoyed, to say the least, Ms Ashley’s tales of Demi and Cal and the third, unusual but certainly important character, Kilhallon (the estate in Cornwall where the story is mainly set). There are many books where the location is important, but few that earn the right to be counted as a character in their own right (Mandalay in Rebecca comes to mind). I want to visit Cornwall again now to try and search it out, but know that despite the beauty of the county, I’d be disappointed.

Ms Ashley has been extremely clever with her pacing of these novels as hints have been dropped about the cause of Cal’s behaviour, which were revealed in ‘Christmas at the Cornish Café’, but here we finally get to meet the little girl from his past that has so affected him, and the way it was written brought tears to the eyes of this reviewer. But what about Cal and Demi you ask? Do they finally get together?

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Book Review: The Brazilian by Rosie Millard

brazilian covershotA lovely big hello to Rosie Millard who is here with the blog tour for her new book, The Brazilian (released by Legend Press on 14th June.)

Following a sensational scandal at one of London’s most desired postcodes, Jane and Patrick decide to escape the gossip with a family holiday to Ibiza, their eight-year-old son George in tow.

Also on the island that week is a TV reality show involving an eccentric artist, a horny It Girl, a Brazilian footballer and a famous magician.

As hapless celebrities are picked off one by one, Jane is desperate to be on the programme, leaving childcare in the not so capable hands of a teenager.

One lesbian escapade and an explosive row over hair removal later, the contestants of Ibiza or Bust leave the island with more than sand in places they never knew existed… 

My verdict: 

The Brazilian is the follow-up to Rosie’s previous novel, The Square.

Jane and Patrick want to escape scandal which has made them a subject of gossip in the Square – an exclusive little bunch of houses. They decide to take their son, George to Ibiza for a family holiday but with teenager (and fellow Square resident,) Belle in tow. Patrick just wants a quiet, relaxing holiday for him and for Jane.

At the same time and unbeknown to Jane, Phillip, the Square’s artist has decided to go on a reality TV show called Ibiza or Bust leaving his wife Gilda at home.
When he gets to the house, he causes a stir. Not to mention the fact that TV personality Alan is there too. And they are not the best of friends.

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Book Extract: Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa by Sun Chara

Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa 516MSZ3h2cLA lovely welcome today to Sun Chara and the blog tour for her new novel, Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa, which has just been published by HarperImpulse.

Tug-a-war between the sexes! Infamous Italian neurosurgeon, Peter Medeci, has a score to settle with his estranged wife: her reckless bid for independence has nearly destroyed his medical career.

Ellie, desperate to reassert herself as more than his bedroom playmate, flees the ‘fairytale’ for a gig in a Hollywood club until Peter comes looking for her. For her freedom, Ellie must spend the next three weeks being the ‘good doctor’s wife’ in public…and his mistress in private!

Thanks to Sun and Harper Impulse, I have an extract from Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa to share with you today. Enjoy.

 

Chapter 1

Peter saw her. And he saw men at the bar ogling her every curve.

The waitress scrap-of-nothing she wore accentuated the length and shape of her legs, clad in net stockings. How she managed to walk on stiletto heels was beyond his male comprehension. The flimsy froth of fabric barely covered her bottom and had her breasts nearly spilling from the Grand Canyon neckline, to the delight of every male eye in the smoke-filled room.

He brushed rain-damp hair off his brow, warring with his gut instinct to stride over, sling her across his shoulder, and take her home. Hot blood surged through him and his aorta boxed his chest. Home where she belonged, with him, and in his bed—

The crash of glass jolted him from plunging deeper into the erotic fantasy. Since she’d run out on him, his mind was set on replay…a constant rankling to his Italian pride.

A muscle assaulted his jaw.

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Book Review: Leopard At The Door by Jennifer McVeigh

May 2017

May 2017

Stepping off the boat in Mombasa, eighteen-year-old Rachel Fullsmith stands on Kenyan soil for the first time in six years. She has come home.

But when Rachel reaches the family farm at the end of the dusty Rift Valley Road, she finds so much has changed. Her beloved father has moved his new partner and her son into the family home. She hears menacing rumours of Mau Mau violence, and witnesses cruel reprisals by British soldiers. Even Michael, the handsome Kikuyu boy from her childhood, has started to look at her differently.

Isolated and conflicted, Rachel fears for her future. But when home is no longer a place of safety and belonging, where do you go, and who do you turn to?

Rachel spent her childhood in Kenya and has returned for the first time in six years having been educated at a boarding school in the UK.

When she arrives there is much that has changed. Her father has a new partner, Sara and even Michael, someone she has known for years is looking at her slightly differently.

This book is set in one of the most turbulent times in African history. Mau Mau violence against Kenyans and British people and the retaliation for this is getting worse. Rachel longs for the happier memories of her childhood.

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Competition: Win a Copy of All The Good Things by Clare Fisher

Viking, June 2017

Viking, June 2017

Hello to Clare Fisher and the blog tour for her novel, All The Good Things which was released on 1st June by Viking.

What if you did a very bad thing… but that wasn’t the end of the story? 

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

This competition is now closed.

We have three copies of this fantastic novel to give away. 

To enter, comment on this post. Tell us who you are and roughly where you are. The closing date for comments is Sunday 11th June 2017 at 23.59. The three winners will be picked at random from the entries and announced on the Novel Kicks blog on Monday 12th June 2017.

I will also contact the three winners via e-mail so please do check your junk folders. Open to UK only. (Prize coming directly from publisher so allow a few days for delivery.)

Good luck everyone.

 

My verdict on All The Good Things…. 

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The Vets at Hope Green by Sheila Norton – Extract and Review

Ebury Press, June 2017

Ebury Press, June 2017

A huge, lovely welcome today to Sheila Norton, whose book, The Vets at Hope Green was released in paperback on 1st June 2017 by Ebury Press.

Sam has always dreamed of working with animals…

But her receptionist job in a London vets is not hitting the spot.

Unsure whether a busy city life is for her, she flees to her Nana Peggy’s idyllic country village.

But despite the rolling hills and its charming feel, life in Hope Green is far from peaceful.

On first meeting Joe, the abrupt and bad-tempered local vet, Sam knows she must get him on side, but that is easier said than done…

With her dream close enough to touch, will she get there, or will events conspire against her…?

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, thanks to Sheila and Ebury, I have an extract from The Vets at Hope Green for you. Enjoy.

It was a beautiful, warm day at the end of May and the countryside on either side of the road was full of the promise of summer ahead.

I wound down the driver’s window of my little car and turned up the radio so that I could hear the music above the noise of the breeze as I whizzed along in the fast lane of the motorway.

Mile by mile, I felt myself relaxing. I felt my worries and uncertainties begin to melt away and my heart lifted with the anticipation of my destination.

Hope Green. The very name made me feel more optimistic. I sang along to the radio, remembering happy family holi­days on the Dorset coast when I was a child. Hope Green had hardly changed since those days, its age-old charm untouched by the increased pace of life elsewhere. It was somewhere I could unwind and be at peace, take stock of things and perhaps really find myself at last.

As I steadily increased my distance from my home on the outskirts of London, I could almost feel my old life slipping off my shoulders like a heavy coat that had been weighing me down – the crowded streets, the rush-hour crush on the Tube, the traffic fumes, the stress on people’s faces – I was leaving all this behind me, leaving it for a place where life still depended on the seasons, where people still had time to chat on street corners, where people picked blackberries and elderberries from the hedgerows instead of buying them in tiny plastic packets from the supermarket at ridiculous expense.

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