Book Spotlight

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

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

Here’s a little about the book:

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Review: Take A Chance On Me by Beth Moran

Meet Patrick Cooper – desperately down on his luck, and head-over-heels in unrequited love with his best friend Bridget.

Meet Bridget’s sister, Emma Donovan –  eternally single maker-of-cakes for many a happy couple, whilst never making it down the aisle herself.

Emma has four younger sisters, all of whom are married or getting married, and an Italian mother who can’t understand what is ‘wrong’ with her eldest daughter, who seems to be stranded on the shelf.  Despairing of her own ability to find a suitable husband, Emma agrees to be part of a compatibility project to get married at first sight. 

Meanwhile Cooper is struggling to get over his crush on Bridget and seems destined to stay firmly on the shelf too. Perhaps it’s time his fate was taken out of his hands…

Is happily-ever-after just about daring to take a chance, or do you need some extra magic to make love last?

Join Beth Moran, Cooper and the Donovan sisters on this life-affirming and uplifting tale of love, family, friendship, and risking it all for happiness. 

Cooper has been in love with Bridget Donovan since the met at College. He even moved so that he didn’t have to see her with someone else. Now he’s back and finds himself helping her with a marriage compatibility study. He’d do anything to help her succeed. He’d even volunteer.
Meet Bridget’s older sister, Emma. She’s had her share of disastrous first dates and decides to volunteer for her sister’s study. They both decide to get married at first sight. What could go wrong?

With the subject of blind date weddings being quite topical right now, I love that Beth Moran has found a unique way to approach it and I found myself quickly and completely engrossed in this book with no idea how it was going to end. In fact, it kept me guessing all the way through.

Emma is instantly likeable as is her entire family. I love the relationship and bond she has with her sisters. Family and its importance is one of the key themes running through the heart of this novel and the Donovans are all likeable, realistic and relatable in their different ways.

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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: The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows by Sharley Scott

I am pleased to be welcoming Sharley Scott to Novel Kicks today along with the blog tour for her novel, The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows. 

Maddie Meadows adores her family and loves her work. But she has good reason to keep them separate.

For single mum Maddie, home is a flat on a run-down estate. And family consists of an excitable toddler, a lonely Dad and a younger brother mired in a love triangle.

Meanwhile, professional Madeleine balances a tricky day job, made worse by a jealous colleague. No one at work knows about her other life, and she needs to keep it this way: one of the bosses has made his feelings very clear about single parents and the people on her estate.

Thank goodness for her fun-loving and loyal friends – although Maddie wishes they’d believe her when she insists she has no time for love. Or so she tells herself as she fights to quell her hidden feelings for her gorgeous colleague, Oliver, who comes from the posh part of town.

When her friends line up their ideal man for her – Sean, more beanstalk than Bean – Maddie wishes she’d told them the truth. It’s hard enough juggling two lives. But, with all the added complications, how long will be it be before Maddie’s carefully created world comes crashing down?

 

Sharley has shared an extract today so grab that coffee, comfy chair and enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

It’s the first week of Maddie Meadows’ new job working for the Neighbourhood team at a local council, where she is known as Madeleine. She’s trying to make a good impression but the best-laid plans never work out with a young child in tow. Josh, her son, has had an accident at nursery followed by a tantrum when he didn’t want to leave. So, when Madeleine leaves her laptop at work, it is with a sinking heart that she has to return to collect it.

 

“I thought you’d be back.” Emma swivelled around in her chair and caught sight of Josh. “Hello, little one! That’s a nasty bump.”

Josh rewarded her with a vacant stare.

“Actually, while you’re around, do you mind if I check a few things with you ahead of your meeting tomorrow?”

“If it’s not a problem with Josh being here.”

She shrugged. “He looks a lovely, quiet boy.”

I didn’t mention the earlier episode, but popped him on the floor with a pen and a sheet of paper.

“After you left, I had a phone call. It turns out the group’s chairman won’t be at the meeting. The new person who’s chairing it is one to watch. I’ve tried to shuffle my diary around so I could attend, but I can’t.”

While Emma ran through the list of queries she needed me to raise, I kept a watchful eye on Josh, who seemed subdued after his outburst.

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Book Extract: The Casanova Papers by Kate Zarrelli

A big welcome to Kate Zarrelli. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, The Casanova Papers. 

Ellie Murphy takes a contract teaching English at a school in Venice. There she meets the sexy, enigmatic Professor Piero Contarini, from an ancient Venetian family, and agrees to help him in his work curating a new edition of the memoirs of the famous seducer, Giacomo Casanova. T

aking their task seriously, they start to enact his adventures with each other, ecstatically revealing their own kinks as they do so. But who is watching them from the shadowy alleyways of Venice?

 

Kate has shared an extract with us today so sit back and enjoy. 

(Content warning: adult themes.)

 

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

 

Ellie, a young English teacher working in Venice, has agreed to help the enigmatic Professor Contarini curate his definitive edition of the writings of Casanova….

 

Piero walked her through the maze of alleys and passageways with such confidence that Ellie thought he could probably have done so blindfolded. Shortly after they had crossed the Grand Canal at the Accademia Bridge, she lost her bearings completely. Sometimes they would emerge into a piazza bright with lights and laughter, only to plunge into a dimly lit gap between high, dark buildings, in which all that could be heard was the sound of their footsteps. Often the narrowness of the path meant he was right at her shoulder—he’d indicate where to turn by a hand gently at her elbow guiding her over a little bridge across a darkly-glittering canal. Later, the hand came to rest more proprietorially in the small of her back. I’m completely in his power. If I turned and ran away from him now, all he’d need to do is stand and wait, as I’d be bound to go round in circles and meet him again.

“First stop,” he said, coming to a halt in a little square. He pointed up at a plaque. “Casanova was born right here,” he said, “the son of two actors, but he was brought up by his grandmother, perhaps the only woman he ever really loved.”

Ellie looked up at him. “I wondered about that, too, reading his life. Always after the next conquest, never satisfied—like he was searching for something he never really found.”

“You’ve got him, Ellie. I think he was a lonely man at times, even though there were plenty of women who wanted to love him. He ruined their lives in some ways—who’d be satisfied with another man after he’d had them, the greatest lover of them all? Yet he got close to none of those women. He thought he was in love for a while, and then his head would be turned by someone new.”

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Book Extract: Running Haunted by Effrosyni Moschoudi

I am very happy to be welcoming back Effrosyni Moschoudi to Novel Kicks. Her latest novel, Running Haunted was released on 5th May. 

Kelly ran a marathon… and wound up running a house. With a ghost in it.

Kelly Mellios is a stunning, athletic woman, who has learned–the hard way–to value herself. Having just finished her first marathon in the alluring Greek town of Nafplio, she bumps into Alex, a gorgeous widower with three underage children, who is desperately looking for a housekeeper.

The timing seems perfect, seeing that Kelly aches to start a new life, and Nafplio seems like the ideal place to settle down. She accepts the position on the spot, but little does she know that Alex’s house has an extra inhabitant that not even the family knows about…

The house is haunted by Alex’s late wife, who has unfinished business to tend to. By using the family pet, a quirky pug named Charlie, the ghost is able to communicate with Kelly and asks her for help. She claims she wants to ensure her loved ones are happy before she departs, but offers very little information about her plans.

Kelly freaks out at first, but gradually finds herself itching to help. It is evident there’s room for improvement in this family… Plus, her growing attraction towards Alex is overpowering…

Will Kelly do the ghost’s bidding? How will it affect her? And just how strange is this pug?

 

To celebrate the release of her new book, Effrosyni has shared the first chapter of Running Haunted. Enjoy! 

 

 

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

 

Chapter 1

Kelly gave a luxurious sigh as she took a seat at a seafront café with her best friend, Efi. The girls had a view to the fort of Bourtzi, the magnificent landmark of the historical town of Nafplio. Under the strong sunshine, it looked as if it floated gently in the serene sea like a resting, off-white bird.

Leaning back in her comfortable chair, Kelly felt the pained muscles all over her body sing with relief. Thinking back to her amazing feat, she couldn’t help but give a cheer. ‘I’ve just finished my first marathon! I can’t believe it!’

Efi, who sat beside her, beamed at Kelly for a few moments, then said, ‘You’d better believe it, girl! I’m so proud of you! You’ve come so far to get this medal, and I don’t just mean the forty-two kilometres you just ran.’ She winked and hooked her mouth to the side.

Kelly gave a huge sigh, a shadow crossing her face. Instinctively, to hide it from her friend, she looked the other way and said with regret, ‘I know. Please don’t remind me…’

‘Hey, what’s this? It’s been over a year, Kelly… Let it go. Besides, you just proved you’re not the same girl any more. You’ve left all that misery behind you for good.’

‘You’re so right, Efi. And, from now on, I just want to look ahead, you know?’

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Book Extract: My Greek Island Summer by Mandy Baggott

A big lovely welcome to Mandy Baggott and the blog tour for her twentieth novel, My Greek Island Summer. 

Two weeks. One unforgettable trip to Corfu. A chance to change her life.

Becky Rose has just landed her dream job house-sitting at a top-end villa on the island of Corfu. What could be better than two weeks laying by an infinity pool overlooking the gorgeous Ionian waters while mending her broken heart.

Elias Mardas is travelling back to Corfu on business whilst dealing with his own personal demons. Late arriving in Athens, Becky and Elias have to spend a night in the Greek capital. When they have to emergency land in Kefalonia, Becky’s got to decide whether to suck up the adventure and this gorgeous companion she seems to have been thrown together with or panic about when she’s going to arrive at Corfu…

Finally reaching the beautiful island, Becky is happy to put Elias behind her and get on with her adventure. Until he turns up at the villa…

 

To celebrate Mandy’s twentieth book, she and Aria have shared an extract with us today. Grab that coffee/tea and the comfy chair. I am hoping that, like here, the sun is shining and enjoy. #mandybaggott20

(Language warning.) 

 

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

 

‘She’s going to take everything, isn’t she? Because that’s what they do, isn’t it? It’s all whispered sexual promises and home-cooking at the beginning, and then it’s commands about DIY and M&S meals you have to microwave yourself. And then… then it’s bitter accusations that you’ve been ignoring their needs, when really you’ve been negotiating million-dollar contracts so they can carry on having spa weekends with their friends where they go all-in for facials and Watsu, but complain about how terrible their lives are and how their husbands are nothing but unreasonable bastards who haven’t been able to find their erogenous zones since the honeymoon. Well, Elias, I challenge any man to find Kristina’s erogenous zone when the hedges haven’t been cut for a decade. Do you get what I’m saying? But, of course, it’s all my fault, isn’t it? Everything is always my fault.’

Solicitor Elias Mardas sat back in the hotel meeting room chair and regarded his client, Chad. Hair flecked with silver, wearing a navy suit from Moss London, this businessman would usually be the epitome of calm and controlled. Chad was used to negotiating hard with counterparts across the globe and here the man was, unravelling in a hotel in Central London. Not that Elias was surprised. This was what usually happened. Most of his clients became a shadow of their former selves, when it came to the topic of divorce. And that’s where Elias came in. It was his job to control this whole process, legal and emotional, to ensure that his client dealt with the inevitable fall-out and arrived at Destination Decree Absolute in the best possible position. Matrimonial law might not have been his legal area of choice when he’d first qualified – originally he had intended to deal with property and real estate – but circumstances had changed and he had changed and this was his niche. His company, working alone, picking and choosing his clients. He excelled at it and it was lucrative. What more could you want from a career?

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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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Spotlight: Words & Kisses Subscription Box

Words & Kisses is a subscription service/online book club for people who like their books with happy endings.

I am a sucker for a happy ending. I am a proper romantic and I love subscription boxes so when I was approached by the lovely Amy at Words & Kisses about reviewing her book subscription box, she didn’t have to ask me twice.

My book arrived beautifully wrapped in pink tissue paper with a lovely note.

It was like Christmas had come early as I couldn’t help but tear the wrapping open to reveal the surprise inside.

I received The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai. One read of the description and it was clear the right choice had been made for me. It is a great way to discover novels you may not have read or picked up otherwise.

How it works is so simple. Visit wwww.wordsandkisses.com.

*Subscriptions are three months for £34.99, six months for £69.99 or a twelve month subscription for £139.00. Alternatively, you can pay a recurring monthly subscription of £11.99 if you want to try it out first. If you live in the UK, postage is included.

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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 Review: Let It Snow by Sue Moorcroft

A big welcome to the fantastic Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her latest novel, Let it Snow. 

Family means everything to Lily Cortez and her sister Zinnia, and growing up in their non-conventional family unit, they and their two mums couldn’t have been closer.

So it’s a bolt out of the blue when Lily finds her father wasn’t the anonymous one-night stand she’d always believed – and is in fact the result of her mum’s reckless affair with a married man.

Confused, but determined to discover her true roots, Lily sets out to find the family she’s never known; an adventure that takes her from the frosted, thatched cottages of Middledip to the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland, via a memorable romantic encounter along the way…

 

It may be October but it’s never too early for a Sue Moorcroft Christmas novel.

To add the topping to the cake, we’re welcomed back to the village of Middledip, Sue’s wonderful setting for quite a few of her stories. Because of this, we get a smattering of the inhabitants we’ve grown to love and this gives the novel an atmosphere of a family christmas.

Say hi to Lilly Cortez and Isaac O’Brien, out main protagonists, along with Doggo of course, a very friendly Dalmatian.

Fans of Sue will be familiar too with Tubb the Pub who has a central role in the main story. It’s very nice, this reviewer believes, that this much-loved character has more than a peripheral part in this story. In fact, this novel is chock full of wonderful, rounded, well-written characters, including Carola who’s a particular favourite of mine from Middledip.

Switzerland bounds to life off the pages to such a degree that you feel like you’re walking in the snow-clad towns, villages and fields of this Alpine country. It certainly made me wish that I could go for a visit. Here, you have a roadtrip combined with a love story that will have you silently screaming for a happy ending!

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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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Novel Kicks Book Club: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Happy October.

October is one of my favourite parts of the year.

Not only is it my birthday month, it’s also Halloween so, for the book club, I wanted to pick something gothic and this one has been on my list for a while.

This month’s book is called, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by Chris Riddell.

Although it’s marketed at 9 -10 year olds on Amazon, for me, it has an interesting premise and is totally suited to the countdown to 31st October. The fact that there is a black cat on the cover had nothing to do with my decision. Cough. Haha.

 

Here’s a little about the book.

There is something strange about Coraline’s new home. It’s not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves.

It’s the other house – the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there.

And they want her to stay with them. For ever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back.

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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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Novel Kicks Book Club: One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly

Lake Union Publishing, February 2019

Hello May. 

Here we are, into May already. This month, I have chosen One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly as the focus for our book club.

Harriet Greenleaf dreams of spending the summer in a beautiful ancient priory on the Somerset coast with her two best friends—but her dream is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s a chance to reconnect three lives that have drifted apart; on the other, she has a devastating secret to share that will change everything between them forever.

First to arrive is Audrey—the workaholic who’s heading for a heart attack unless she slows down and makes time for herself. Then Lisa, the happy-go-lucky flirt who’s always struggled to commit to anyone—or anything. Ever the optimist, can Harriet remind them of the joy in their lives and the importance of celebrating good friendship before it’s gone?

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Novel Kicks Book Club: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

a discovery of witchesOctober is here. Autumn is arriving, the clocks go back and of course, Halloween is approaching. 

It’s one of my favourite months (although I am a little biased with it being my birthday in October.) I am sad to be saying goodbye to summer but at the same time, I love the colder nights. It’s a great reason for the warm blankets, tea and books. Not that I’ve needed an excuse.

Our book club is open to everyone. It’s online so no need to step out of the warm socks or comfy sofa. I’ve posted a question below to get the discussion going. I hope you can join me.

This month, the featured book we shall be reading is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I have been really excited to read this book especially having watched some of the new tv series that is based upon it.

Diana and Matthew – the forbidden love at the heart of it.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires.

Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist.

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A Moment With…Dean Mayes

Artisan heartA big Novel Kicks welcome today to Dean Mayes. His novel, The Artisan Heart is due to be released by Central Avenue Publishing on 1st September.

“Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant pediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organised by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.

A chance encounter with a precocious and deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter, Genevieve, and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.

As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.”

 

Dean is himself an Intensive Care nurse and he is with us today to talk about how he portrays Medicine in fiction. 

It is often said that, as a writer, our best writing comes from what we know. I’ve tried to buck that trend over the course of my published works, but there’s an inevitable truth I’ve come to accept – that maxim definitely holds true.

Having been an Nurse for over two decades now – with most of my career focused in Intensive Care – both Adult, pediatric and Neonates – along with Accident & Emergency – I’ve seen things and gained experiences as a clinician that translate well into the realm of gritty fiction. There’s compelling character moments to be found and situations that offer high drama. At the same time, I have to be mindful that I’m writing for a general audience who may not be well versed in the minutiae of medicine. There’s definitely a high wire act to master in writing engaging scenes.

My soon to be released novel “The Artisan Heart” is probably the most comprehensive example of me using my career experience to craft characters and situations.

In the story, we are introduced to Hayden Luschcombe, a brilliant pediatric emergency doctor who has an uncanny ability in diagnosing his patients quickly, efficiently and accurately. He has saved many lives as a result and, as a clinician, he is held in high regard – even if, as a person, he is seen as socially awkward and “on the spectrum” as some colleagues point out in their interactions with him. In one scene, early in the novel, Hayden’s acute sense of observation proves to be life saving for a new-born baby who presents with a stricture of the intestine. In another powerful moment, further on, Hayden correctly suspects a child has been deliberately scalded in boiling water by her parents. During the scene there is a highly charged confrontation between the child’s step father and Hayden that serves to illustrate the variation in presentations to the department and the dramatic circumstances that can spill off from those presentations.

While I won’t blow my own trumpet here and compare myself to Hayden Luschcombe, I did I craft Hayden as an amalgam of my own clinical experiences, working in a busy, inner city children’s emergency department. There are probably two or three other doctors in Hayden, medicos who I’ve worked alongside and watched over the past 10 years. The two examples I cited above are based on real clincial presentations, the latter of which was indeed as emotionally charged as it appears in the novel.

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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 Extract & Review – Part Two of the Ottercombe Bay Series by Bella Osborne

Ottercombe Bay Part 2A lovely big hello to Bella Osborne who is returning to the blog today with the blog tour for Ottercombe Bay: Gin and Trouble, part two in a four-part serialisation. 

Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

To celebrate the release of Gin and Trouble, Bella and Avon have shared an extract. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

 

**** Start of Extract.****

Jason was turning out to be a useful person to know. As the local bobby, everyone knew him and therefore he had a wide network he could tap into, particularly as he had a colleague with an uncle working in the local planning department. After a warm-up phone call from Jason he was happy to meet Daisy for a chat. She had made an effort, steered clear of both espresso and Bug’s furry patch on the sofa, and she felt ready for her meeting.

An older-looking gent with thinning hair and thick glasses collected her from the waiting area at the council offices and they did introductions.

‘Thanks for meeting me,’ said Daisy, starting to feel a little less prepared as she followed him into an office and saw a mountain of paper on his desk.

‘No problem but you will need to submit a formal application through the proper process. Anything discussed here today does not in any way constitute agreement of any changes to the property or land we are discussing. I hope you appreciate this?’

Daisy swallowed hard. With formal wording like that he would get on well with Great Uncle Reg’s solicitor. She hadn’t even suggested anything yet and she was being told off. ‘Yes, of course. I’m just looking for guidance. Some ballpark areas that may be worth exploring.’

‘This is the last application we received for the property,’ said the planning officer, passing Daisy a pile of papers. She had a quick flick through and spotted some blueprints – it looked like her grandfather had taken the whole thing seriously and spent some money in the process.

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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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February’s Novel Kicks Book Club: Dream a Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher

dream a little dream

Penguin, June 2015

Well hello to you February. It’s good to see you.

I don’t know about you but I found January seemed to go on forever!

February is finally here. I always feel that February is quite a romantic month because of Valentine’s Day.

This month, I have chosen a book that has romance galore and it’s Dream a Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher. Even the cover is romantic. Aww, I love it.

Sarah is doing just fine. Sure she’s been single for the last five years, and has to spend an uncomfortable amount of time around her ex-boyfriend, his perfect new girlfriend and all their mutual friends. And yes, her job as a PA to one of the most disgusting men in London is mind-numbingly tedious and her career is a constant disappointment to her mother. But it’s really okay. She’s happy (ish).

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Book Review and Extract – Close To Home by Cara Hunter

Carahunter close to homeClose To Home is the new novel from Cara Hunter and her blog tour is stopping by Novel Kicks today. 

HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?

Last night, eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a family party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows the nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.

That means someone is lying…
And that Daisy’s time is running out.

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Cara and Penguin have shared an extract from Close to Home. Enjoy! 

Phone interview with David Connor

20 July 2016, 6.45 p.m.

On the call, Acting DS G. Quinn and (listening)

DC C. Gislingham

GQ: Thank you for phoning, Mr Connor, and our apologies for disturbing your holiday.

DC: No problem – I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get back to you before. It’s such a shock, hearing what’s happened. My wife saw it on BBC World News in the hotel room.

GQ: Were you aware that the flower costume your daughter wore at the party was the one Daisy Mason should have been wearing?

DC: I wasn’t but it seems my wife was. Millie had some of her friends round after school the afternoon before –

GQ: So Monday afternoon?

DC: Er, was it Monday? Sorry – I’m a bit jet- lagged. You’re right, it must have been Monday. Anyway, Julia says they all brought their fancy dresses over and tried them on. And then tried each other’s on – you know what girls that age are like. It seems that at some point in the ensuing chaos Daisy decided that she preferred Millie’s costume, and Millie said they could swap.

GQ: Do you know if Daisy’s mother was aware the costumes had been switched?

DC: I have no idea. Let me ask Julia . . . [muffled noises] Julia says Daisy assured her that her mother wouldn’t mind. But obviously she doesn’t know if Daisy actually spoke to her about it.

GQ: We found the tights in a bin on the estate but the blood on them doesn’t match Daisy’s

DC: Ah yes, sorry about that. Millie fell over and as it was getting late and she was a bit whiny we decided to call it a day. The tights were a write-off so we just ditched them. Apologies if it caused you a problem.

GQ: What costume was your daughter originally going to wear, Mr Connor?

DC: A mermaid, so my wife tells me. I never saw it but apparently it had a flesh- Coloured top thing and a tail with shiny blue and green scales.

GQ: And any sort of headdress or mask?

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Extract: In The Dark by Andreas Pflüger

In the DarkA big lovely welcome to author Andreas Pflüger and the blog tour for his latest novel In The Dark which was released by Head of Zeus on 2nd November. 

She lost her sight, but she can still see the truth…

Jenny Aaron was once part of an elite police unit tracking Germany’s most dangerous criminals. She was the best. Until it all went wrong. A disastrous mission saw her abandon a wounded colleague and then lose her sight forever.

Now, five years later, she has learnt to navigate a darkened world. But she’s still haunted by her betrayal. Why did she run?

Then she receives a call from the unit. They need her back. A prison psychologist has been brutally murdered. And the killer will only speak to one person…

 

Thanks to Andreas and Head of Zeus, we have an extract from In The Dark. Enjoy. 

 

‘How old was Dr Breuer?’

The murder victim’s colleague has been crying a lot. Her voice is hoarse, dull, empty. ‘Thirty-three. Her birthday was in December. She invited all her colleagues to go to the cinema.’

‘How long had she been working in the correctional facility?’

‘Three years. We knew each other from university. Then I started here, for a bit of security. Melly always wanted her own practice. But it didn’t work. She waitressed part-time, it wasn’t a life. When the job here came up I was on at her until she applied.’

Tears start to come, but get stuck in her throat.

‘Did she like the job?’

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The Princess Bride is 30! Book vs. Film

Princess_Bride_DVD_2D_StickerCould it really be possible that The Princess Bride movie is thirty this year? A staple of my childhood memories, I used to love watching this film. Many a time I would quote lines from the movie. Even now, as I reach my late 30’s, it still remains one of my top films.

OK, so it is a little cheesy but it’s brilliant.

Before I go on, I feel I do have to give a spoiler alert.

The cast is amazing. Of course, I can’t see Cary Elwes without also shouting ‘because unlike other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent,’ as well as quotes from this film.

Mandy Pitinkin (Homeland) steals the movie with his turn as Inigo Montoya.

I remember always being a little fascinated by Andre The Giant.

Peter Falk (seriously, Colombo,) and Fred Savage who was well-known at the time for the Wonder Years. There were so many brilliant people in this movie.

I also can’t believe that this is the film that ‘introduced’ Robin Wright who is of course now kicking TV butt in House of Cards.

PrincessBride2The film has a whimsical feel to it that I loved even as a kid. Westley and Buttercup’s relationship was so romantic. I loved it. It had the sword fights yes but I adored it for the romance.

The movie is incredibly funny too. I watched it for the first time in a while and I still find it as comical as I did the first time I watched it.

When I think about my favourite element of it though, it has to be the quotable lines.

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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: Broadcast by Liam Brown

Broadcast_High Res CoverI am delighted to be saying hi to Liam Brown today and kicking off the blog tour for his new novel, Broadcast which was released by Legend Press on 15th September 2017.

The idea behind MindCast is simple. We insert a small chip into your skull and then every thought, every feeling, every memory is streamed live, twenty-four hours a day. Trust me – within a few months you’ll be the most talked about person on the planet.

When David Callow is offered the lead role in a revolutionary new online show, he snatches at the opportunity.

Rapidly becoming a viral sensation, David is propelled to stratospheric levels of celebrity. However, he soon realises the downside of sharing every secret with the world.

A prisoner to both his fame and his own thoughts, David seeks to have the chip removed, only to discover the chilling secret lurking at the heart of MindCast, and the terrifying ambition the show’s creator has for him.

Broadcast by Liam Brown follows David. He makes his living making videos and sharing every aspect of his life on the internet. When he is recruited to try a new technology that will take his videos to the next level, reluctantly he agrees.

Little does he know what he is letting himself in for and how much of himself he will reveal to the viewing public of the world.

The premise of this book interested me even before I started reading. It has been billed as a ‘Truman Show like nightmare for the You Tube generation,’ and that is a pretty accurate description.

This book explores the themes of the current social media obsession. The need to share aspects of our lives with strangers. When we meet him, David thinks he has the world at his feet. His videos make him a comfortable living and he seems to be happy sharing his life with the world.

Many of the characters in this book felt untrustworthy to me and like David, I didn’t know who was on his side. The doubt and confusion David feels comes across so well.

Like the internet, not a lot is as it seems. Broadcast also makes me think of the saying, ‘be careful what you wish for.’

Once he has signed himself up, it was intriguing to see how he copes with it and how much of his privacy he is really surrendering. This book, despite having finished it is one I just can’t get out of my head.

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Book Review: A Christmas Wish by Erin Green

Aria, August 2017

Aria, August 2017

Flora Phillips has an excuse for every disaster in her life; she was abandoned as a new-born on a doorstep one cold autumn night, wrapped in nothing but a towel. Her philosophy is simple: if your mother doesn’t want you – who will?

Now a thirty-year-old, without a boyfriend, a career or home she figures she might as well tackle the biggest question of them all – who is she? So, whilst everyone else enjoys their Christmas Eve traditions, Flora escapes the masses and drives to the village of Pooley to seek a specific doorstep. Her doorstep. But in Pooley she finds more than her life story.

She finds friends, laughter, and perhaps even a love to last a lifetime. Because once you know where you come from, it’s so much easier to know where you’re going.

For those that know me, you know that you won’t hear too much about the actual story from my reviews. If you want those, then there are plenty of other reviewers and other sites that will tell you all you need to know about the story. No, I believe in telling you my thoughts on the style of the writing etc.

I have made it a habit, a joy of life to follow debut authors from the Romantic Novelists Association and it was with great joy that I came across this young lady’s’ first release. Getting published is a very difficult thing to accomplish, believe me, I know, however when you come across a story of this quality you know that all the hard effort that the author has put in is worth it as we, the reader, get to enjoy the fruits of her labour.

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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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Book Review: The Choir on Hope Street by Annie Lyons

choironhopestreet

HQ, April 2017

Nat’s husband has just said the six words no one wants to hear – ‘I don’t love you any more’.

Caroline’s estranged mother has to move into her house turning her perfectly ordered world upside down.

Living on the same street these two women couldn’t be more different. Until the beloved local community centre is threatened with closure. And when the only way to save it is to form a community choir – none of the Hope Street residents, least of all Nat and Caroline, expect the results…
Nat’s husband has just told her that he doesn’t love her anymore. She is left alone in the family home with their son. Her life is an organised chaos and she is not sure what she is going to do next.

Caroline’s life is well-ordered until her estranged mother comes to visit and turns Caroline’s life upside down.

Nat and Caroline couldn’t be more different and under normal circumstances, their paths wouldn’t cross. These women are not the most compatible of friends. They are thrown together when the local community centre is threatened with closure.

The question is, can they put their differences aside for the greater good?

Nat and Caroline both have their own struggles and both are very quick to judge the other – something I’ve certainly been guilty of in the past.

This story is told from both the point of view of Nat and Caroline so you get a real insight into thoughts and emotions of these characters and the world in which they inhabit. I quickly became attached to them.

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August’s Novel Kicks Book Club: The Other Side of You by Amanda Craig

Abacus, February 2017

Abacus, February 2017

It’s August (although the weather doesn’t always want to catch up,) and it’s time for a new book club title. 

I love books and I love chatting about them even more. For August, the book I have chosen for us is The Other Side of You by Amanda Craig. Who wants to join me? This book is based on Beauty and The Beast (an updated version.)

I have posted a question to kick things off in the comments box below. A good thing about this book club is that everyone is welcome to take part. It’s open to all. You can read the book at any point in the month or if you’ve already read it, tell us what you think.

The best part… it’s all from the comfort of your armchair/sofa/bed/comfy place.

Will must run, or die. He’s seen a murder, and the gang on his estate are after him.

Hurt, hungry and afraid, he comes to an abandoned house in a different part of the city. Behind its high fences is a place of safety. Here, he can hide like a wounded beast. He can find food, and healing – and learn how to do more than survive.

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Book Review: The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara

SummerofSerendipityI want to give a big, lovely welcome to Ali McNamara and the blog tour for her new novel, The Summer of Serendipity which has recently been released by Sphere. 

One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there’s a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.

‘The Welcome House’ is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there’s always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor.

While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she’s remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.
But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious ‘Welcome House’? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

Serendipity Parker is a property seeker. Finding the perfect home for her client is her priority. When she finds herself in the small Irish town of Ballykiltara, she thinks her search is going to be easy. The Welcome House seems perfect. The problem is, no one knows who owns it.
As Ren begins to research the house and the myths and stories surrounding it, she wonders if she will ever find out who owns this house that seems to always be open to all who need it.

From the title alone, I knew I was going to enjoy this book. Serendipity is one of my favourite words and the title just conjured up the feeling of sun, adventure and romance (the cover lends itself to the romantic feeling of the novel.)

I’ve been a big fan of Ali Mcnamara since her first novel, Notting Hill with Love Actually. I also loved Breakfast at Darcy’s (if you’ve read that, Dermot and Darcy make a small reappearance.)

It was lovely to go back to Tara and the area I loved from that novel and to be honest, it all sounds so charming and picturesque, I am about ready to pack my bags and move there. I can tell that Ali has a real love with Ireland by the way she describes it. The prose is so rich.

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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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Book Review: Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham

9780751566888 (1)A BLOODY MESSAGE
As DI Nicola Tanner investigates what appears to be a series of organised killings, her partner Susan is brutally murdered, leaving the detective bereft, and vengeful.

A POWERFUL ALLY
Taken off the case, Tanner enlists the help of DI Tom Thorne to pursue a pair of ruthless killers and the broker handing out the deadly contracts.

A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE
As the killers target their latest victim, Thorne takes the biggest risk of his career and is drawn into a horrifying and disturbing world in which families will do anything to protect their honour.

When I was asked to take part in this blog tour, I was very, very excited.

Love Like Blood is the latest outing for DI Tom Thorne and it is great to have him back. Thorne finds himself helping fellow officer Nicola Tanner who is investigating a series of organised crimes; ones that she feels could all be linked.

This book pushes you straight into the action. It doesn’t shy away from delicate subjects. For example, the overall theme of this book is one I found hard to read about. It focuses on honour killings.

There are some uncomfortable moments for sure. It confronts many current issues and there are some very intense moments (I gasped out loud in places.) There were also moments where I fought tears and of course, Thorne brings his own unique humour and insight.

 My sympathy was present for some characters and I immediately didn’t like others.

The plot itself has many twists and turns. I pretty much lost sleep because of this book. I couldn’t stop reading.

Mark Billingham is very good at planting many clues and questions throughout the novel and my suspicions fell on many of the characters throughout.

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Blog Tour: Spandex And The City by Jenny T. Colgan

LOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET

Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love.

She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.

But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.

Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

When I first got asked to read this book as part of the blog tour, I found the premise utterly intriguing although at the same time, not quite knowing what to expect. I’m a great fan of Jenny Colgan’s previous novels. I think it’s no exaggeration to say that I love her and her books, (for this novel, she’s writing as Jenny T. Colgan.)

This book is something very different not only for Jenny but also in general.

Holly hasn’t always been lucky in love and is under pressure from her friend to find someone when we meet her at the beginning of the novel.

When something happens that she’s not expecting, she meets Ultimate Man, the resident superhero.

Also, in the ensuing chaos following their meeting, Holly ends up experiencing her fifteen minutes of fame.

Fame and a new relationship with Ultimate Man and his alter ego is full of the ups and downs you’d expect when dating a superhero.

This book pretty much had me laughing from the beginning and I got drawn into it immediately. I couldn’t put it down.

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New Book Releases in April

lee childI wanted to share six of the new book releases I’m excited about for April.

It’s April. Already four months into the year. It’s also great to finally see some sun, even if it’s only a glimpse. We need to make the most of it whilst we can.

Another month means another set of new book releases and this month has a cracker of a list of new novels.

 

First up is Night School by Lee Child (released by Bantam Press on 6th April.)

This is the twenty-first outing for Jack Reacher and this title gets its paperback release this month. This novel sees Jack Reacher go back to his army days but now he is not in uniform.

With Sergeant Frances Neagley at his side, he must carry the fate of the world on his shoulders.

 

bernard cornwellAnother series to see a new release is The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell (due to be released by Harper on 20th April.)

This is the tenth book in the Last Kingdom series and is also being released in paperback.

Britain is in a state of unease. Northumbria’s Viking ruler and Mercia’s Saxon Queen have agreed to a truce.

England’s greatest warrior, Uhtred has at last got a chance to take back the home his Uncle stole from him many years ago and is where his scheming cousin still lives.

However, enemies distract him from his dream and new ones enter the fight for England’s kingdoms. Uhtred is determined to reclaim his birth right but he will need all the knowledge he has gained to try.

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Book Review: The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley

Little TeashopHello and a big welcome to Trisha Ashley. Her new book, The Little Teashop of Lost and Found was released as an eBook on 9th March by Transworld Digital (with the paperback following in June and published by Black Swan.) 

Alice Rose is a foundling, discovered on the Yorkshire moors above Haworth as a baby. Adopted but then later rejected again by a horrid step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking – the scent of cinnamon and citrus and the feel of butter and flour between her fingers – brings a comforting sense of home.

So it seems natural that when she finally decides to return to Haworth, Alice turns to baking again, taking over a run-down little teashop and working to set up an afternoon tea emporium.

Luckily she soon makes friends, including a Grecian god-like neighbour, who help her both set up home and try to solve the mystery of who she is. There are one or two last twists in the dark fairytale of Alice’s life to come . . . but can she find her happily ever after?

I’ve been a devoted follower of Trisha for a number of years now and was honoured to be selected to receive an ARC of her forthcoming novel and so settled down to enjoy a leisurely plod through her offering…so much for good intentions.

Before long (around about page um…3) I found myself immersed in the interwoven worlds that Trisha is so expert at fabricating and had to force myself to slow down, breathe in fact, or else I was sure to finish the book in one fell-swoop. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, I’ve read many a book in one long session before, although I wanted and was determined to savour this one. I’ve never hated myself so much! This turned out to be the right decision though, as by only allowing myself to read a single chapter a day, I made certain to take in each word that was written. Not one was wasted, by the way.

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Postbox: An Updated Book Haul

A Monster Calls2017 is promising to be a fantastic year for new book releases, if my TBR pile is anything to go by anyway.

As I have not done a haul in a while, I wanted to blog about some of the fantastic books that my letterbox has received to review. I also haven’t been able to resist buying a load of books too (much to the boy’s complaints.)

The first book in this haul is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (released by Walker Books, May 2015.) I kept seeing the trailer for the film adaptation of this book at the end of last year and it is this that brought the novel to my attention. The imagery in the trailer looked absolutely stunning and the plot looked really intriguing. I knew it was a book I had to go and buy and one I very much look forward to reading. I want to read this before I see the movie. This looks like it would be a story that resonates with a lot of people.

Connor has the same dream every night; the one he’s been having ever since his mother fell ill and stopped having treatments that didn’t seem to be working. This one particular night is different though. When Connor wakes, there is a visitor at his window. Ancient and elemental, it’s a dangerous force of nature and it is wanting the truth from Connor.

not so perfect lifeMy Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella was released by Bantam Press on 9th February. Becky Bloomwood is one of my favourite fictional heroines. However, I have a big soft spot for books outside of the Shopaholic series too; Can You Keep A Secret being one of my favourite books. This book looks as fantastic as you’d expect Sophie’s novels to be. The cover is incredibly cute and the subject matter does look very topical especially with Social Media seemingly taking over everywhere. This is currently sat on my pile of books to read (having brought it a couple of weeks ago,) and I am itching to read it.

Katie is living the perfect life. She has a glamorous job, a flat in London and a cool instagram feed. In reality, she rents a tiny room with no space, has to commute to a low paid admin job and what she shares on Instagram isn’t even hers. Then, to add insult to injury, she looses her job. Katie ends up moving back to Somerset to help her Dad with his glamping business. Her ex boss books in for a holiday and Katie sees her chance. Should she get revenge or try and get her job back? Also, is her boss living as perfect a life as she portrays?

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