Extracts

Book Extract: The Heartpine Recipes by L.C. Fields

Please join me in welcoming L.C. Fields to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for their novel, The Heartpine Recipes.

It’s more than southern storytelling. It’s southern storytelling with a side of biscuits.

When Grace Collier comes back to Heartpine, Tennessee, she’s thinking about endings. The end of her job. The end of her engagement. Instead, she finds a new beginning. A journey of discovery that will reconnect her to her home place…as well as her own past.

Like so many southern tales, this one starts out in the kitchen. Grace’s Aunt Jess – the wise, loving woman who raised her after her parents passed – is collecting recipes for a new community cookbook. It’s not long before Grace finds herself an honorary member of the cookbook committee; and next thing she knows, she’s busy gathering up all the rich stories that come with those recipes. All the surprises, all the mysteries, all the memories. Along the way, she gets to know a townful of unforgettable characters. Stirs up a few old secrets. And comes to terms, finally, with her own legacy of loss.

It’s about the recipes, yes. But more than that, it’s about the relationships. It’s a journey that links families and generations. A journey of homecoming and redemption.

And just for fun, every chapter includes an iconic southern recipe – so you can cook them up yourself and see what all the fuss is about. From cornbread to collards, from pulled pork to pineapple casserole, you’ll find them here. There’s even a never-fail recipe for the best sweet tea you’ve ever tasted (not that a true southern cook would need a recipe for that, heaven knows!).

Touching, positive and uplifting, The Heartpine Recipes is a generous serving of warmth, humor and heart.

 

L.C. Fields has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

The next morning, we marshaled our bowls and beaters and measuring cups and racks, like generals preparing the order of battle. The kitchen was cleared of other clutter, and the stand mixer was moved front and center. This was serious business.

Oh, I know. All we were doing, when you reduced it down to the barest facts, was making a cake. But trying to reclaim anything that’s been lost, to drag it back out of the maw of oblivion? That’s not an easy thing.

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Book Extract: A Farewell To Imperial İstanbul by Ayşe Gülnev Osmanoğlu

I’m excited to be welcoming Ayşe Gülnev Osmanoğlu to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel,  A Farewell To Imperial İstanbul. 

Set against the majestic backdrop of Imperial Istanbul in the aftermath of the First World War, A Farewell To Imperial Istanbul is a captivating tale of family, duty and the resilience of the human spirit.

İstanbul, 1922: As the Ottoman Empire crumbles in the wake of the Great War, the fate of the Imperial capital and the House of Osman come under threat. Emboldened following their victory in the Turkish War of Independence, the Turkish Nationalist Government in Ankara abolishes the Ottoman Sultanate, marking the end of over six centuries of Ottoman rule. The Ottoman Caliphate endures for now, but Istanbul, stripped of its Imperial mantle, mourns its lost glory. Prince Nihadfears for the nation and the fate of the Imperial family, while his son, Prince Vâsıb, envisions a hopeful future defined by peace following the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne.

As the new Republic of Türkiye emerges from the ashes of the once-mighty Ottoman Empire, Istanbul and the Ottoman Dynasty confront the crossroads of history, their destinies entwined with the shifting tides of the Bosphorus. Yet, amidst these perilous currents that separate East and West, where the deep waters threaten to engulf the city’s Imperial past and sweep away its soul embodied by the Imperial family, the Ottoman Dynasty must navigate a new and uncertain course.

The history of the Turks and their vast and powerful Empire has been intertwined with the Ottoman Dynasty for over six hundred years. But can the Imperial family survive the tempest of change as the world enters a new era?

 

There’s a chance to win a A Farewell To Imperial İstanbul bundle but first, Ayşe Gülnev Osmanoğlu has shared an extract from her novel today. We hope you all enjoy. 

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Book Extract: The Blood Promise by Liz Mistry

I’m pleased to welcoming Liz Mistry to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Blood Promise. 

A deadly gift

Imogen Clark wakes up on her 16th birthday to find her parents dead at the breakfast table, along with a message from their killer.

A twist of fate

Detectives Jazzy Solanki and Annie McQueen join the investigation, but the more they discover, the more Jazzy suspects that the killing is a twisted message for her. Jazzy shares the same birthday as Imogen, and believes that this is more than a coincidence.

A race to catch a killer

When Jazzy discovers the connection between the killer and the stalker who has been following her for years, she is forced to confront the dark past she was desperate to keep hidden. She must stop at nothing to solve the case, before she becomes the next victim…

Liz has shared an extract for us today. We hope you enjoy. 

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

Detectives Jazzy Solanki and her partner Annie ‘Queenie’ McQueen have been demoted from detective sergeants to detective constables for separate incidents. They haven’t worked together before but, as a punishment they have been thrust together to do an overnight surveillance on a pub in a small isolated village known for its distrust of the police. Whilst Queenie sleeps, Jazzy reflects on her situation until something quite scary happens …

Extract

Discordant snuffles followed by seconds of blissful silence, abruptly broken by rough guttural snorts played on repeat. It did Jazzy’s head in and she was beginning to regret offering to keep watch whilst Queenie slept. If the sounds from her mouth were bad, the ones from her backside were the real killer. She took farting to a whole new level, filling the police car with noxious fumes, forcing Jazzy to crack the windows every so often. She was gross. At least if Queenie was sleeping, she wasn’t hassling Jazzy, which was why she hadn’t wakened her yet. Besides, she wouldn’t sleep. No matter how knackered she was, Jazzy couldn’t snooze on a stakeout. It was part of her overzealous nature. A symptom, according to her therapist, of her past experiences and one that she needed to work on if she ever wanted to form meaningful trusting relationships.

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Book Extract: Love Beyond Lindisfarne by Kimberley Adams

I’m very pleased to be welcoming Kimberley Adams to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Love Beyond Lindisfarne.

Take a spring to summer trip to magical Northumberland and find love and laughter in this feel-good novel, which will transport you to the iconic island of Lindisfarne and beyond…

Ellie, and Zen with the coffee-bean eyes, met at Christmas when she came to Northumberland to look after rescue animals. They are taking their first tentative steps into a love-at-first-sight relationship and all in their spring garden should be wonderful.

When Lady Grace becomes ill, life at the castle changes overnight, and not for the better. The new custodian and his fiancée have plans, and the islanders are far from happy. When the filming of a reality show means the animals must move out of their yard due to the Queen of the Castle production company taking over, it’s the final straw.

Amongst all the drama, Love Beyond Lindisfarne is a story of love, intergenerational friendships, camaraderie, and oodles of the warmth and humour found in this very special corner of the world.

 

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

 

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

 

This piece is spoken by the narrator Ellie, who is one of the lead characters in the book, a romantic comedy set in Northumberland. It gives a flavour of what’s to come in the pages and an idea of some of the people and animals that we meet along the way in this the second trip to Lindisfarne and beyond!

Prologue

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Book Extract: Whispers Through The Canvas by K.J. McGillick

I’m very pleased to be welcoming K.J. McGillick back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for Whispers Through The Canvas.

Murder… Across The Fractured Corridors of Time.

Plunged into a centuries-old conspiracy, unconventional art historian Rowan Southeil must race against time to stop an ancient evil from rewriting history. When a young artist is murdered in a chilling echo of medieval violence, Rowan finds herself drawn to a seemingly unrelated clue – a 16th-century painting drenched in arcane symbols. Aided by the victim’s haunting presence, Rowan delves into the painting’s mysterious past, uncovering a dark conspiracy that stretches back generations.

Teaming up with the pragmatic Detective Lancaster, the intuitive Rowan follows a daring journey through time, from the storied halls of 16th-century Tudor London to the secretive 17th-century Vatican. As she awakens powerful elemental forces within herself, Rowan must decipher the painting’s secrets – and the connection to the medieval-style murder – before Lev Rubilov, a dark centuries-old occultist, can harness its magic to rewrite history and restore a twisted vision of the past.

For fans of genre-blending thrillers like A Discovery of Witches and Outlander, this captivating novel weaves together mystery, the supernatural, and high-stakes time travel in a race against the clock to stop an ancient evil. Whispers Through The Canvas is a crime story, filled with action and adventure, within a historical fantasy milieu. If you love kick-ass heroines who have a bit of life experience and walk on the wild side of magic, this book is for you.

 

K.J. McGillick has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

“I would go out on a limb and say this wasn’t meant for public display. It would invite too much speculation. Whereas Tudor portraits functioned as propaganda, someone commissioned this for discreet viewing.”

Moving closer, I scrutinized the artist’s technique. “If Teerlinc indeed painted this, it’s exceptionally rare. She seldom ventured into full portraits.”

As I prepared to take another step forward, my movement halted abruptly when a subtle blue spark crackled across the painting. Was it a warning attempting to ward me off? Or an invitation to intrigue me further?

“I’m utterly captivated by the enigmatic subject of this portrait,” I murmured. “Observe how masterfully the artist captures her confidence, her poise. And let me draw your attention to her attire, which initially suggests an affiliation with the innermost circles of the royal court.

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Book Extract: Friends For Life by Liz Murphy

I’m pleased to be welcoming Liz Murphy to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Friends for Life.

Kate, Rose and Pascalle are thrown together because they share one experience – they have each lost their husbands. Shocked and bewildered, all three try to work out what it means to be suddenly alone with no partner, no security and their entire future wiped out.

If that wasn’t enough, they are also faced with family conflict, elderly parents, and a support network that turns out to be sadly lacking. And for each woman, secrets from the past threaten to derail their attempts to move on.

*On the surface, Kate’s husband Jason was fun-loving and generous. Only she knows differently. In the months after his death, her attempts to rid her life of the things that trigger bad memories are also driving her son away. By keeping Jason’s secret is she in danger of losing her son as well?

*Rose and Richard were soul mates. Married straight out of university, they shared a career, a business and a love of the good life. Childless, they lived only for each other, or so Rose thought. That all changed the night Richard was killed in a car crash.

*Once spirited, vibrant and flamboyantly French, Pascalle is now a grey shadow of herself. Her husband Trevor’s death has left her so emotionally paralysed, she can’t accept that he’s gone. Then her daughter offers her a chance to create a new life for herself. But will past secrets emerge to hinder her decision?

We follow Kate and Rose through their first year without their husbands. As their friendship with Pascalle grows they encourage each other to be brave, to take control of their lives, and to begin to heal. They draw on past mistakes to help each other build new relationships with their families. And by trusting each other, they realise that true friendship can point the way to a new future.

 

Liz has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy it. 

Content warning: mentions of cancer.

 

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

 

Kate, Rose and Pascalle met at a drinks party where they were reluctant guests. All three have been struggling to cope with the deaths of their husbands, and each sees in the other women who understand exactly what they’re going through. Their developing friendship has helped Pascalle to finally come to terms with the loss of her Trevor. Tonight, she’s having a night out with Kate and Rose to celebrate their birthdays and as she’s getting ready fun Pascalle is starting to emerge…

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Book Extract & Giveaway: Mysteries at Sea: The Royal Jewel Plot by A.M. Howell

I am so happy to be welcoming A.M. Howell back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her latest novel, Mysteries at Sea: The Royal Jewel Plot.

Alice and Sonny are excited for their summer trip, sailing on the luxurious yacht the Lady Rose. They’re even more excited when they find out the King of England is going to be onboard too!

There’s also a precious jewel on the boat – a rare opal, kept in a tank protected by a poisonous octopus.
Until one morning, Alice discovers that the opal and octopus are both missing. The search is on to retrieve the priceless gem, before the ship reaches its destination, and everyone on board finds themselves in serious trouble.

As Alice and Sonny’s investigations take them closer to the truth, they realise that everyone on the Lady Rose seems to have a secret, maybe even the king himself…

 

You have a chance to win a copy of Mysteries at Sea: Peril on the Atlantic (book one in the series), below but first, A.M. Howell has shared an extract from Mysteries at Sea: The Royal Jewel Plot. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

Chapter One

The Lady Rose

 

Alice glanced at her watch in dismay. They were going to be late for the king’s arrival! Tightening her grip on her suitcase as she hurried along the hot, dusty street, her head was full of the summer storms, landslides and train delays that had hindered their journey from England to the small port of Ăibenik on the Yugoslavian coast. A journey that should have taken two days had instead taken four.

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Book Extract: How To Start A Riot In A Brothel In Thailand By Ordering A Beer And Other Lesser Known Travel Tips by Simon Yeats

I’m pleased to be welcoming Simon Yeats to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his book, How To Start A Riot In A Brothel In Thailand By Ordering A Beer And Other Lesser Known Travel Tips.

Book 1 of a hilarious series of travel misadventures and dubious personal introspection by Australian author Simon Yeats, who from an early age learned that the best way to approach the misfortunes of this world is to laugh about it.

Simon shares his comedic insights into the unusual and uproarious elements of living life as an Aussie ex-pat and having a sense of Wanderlust as pervasive as the Spanish Flu in 1918.

From how to keep yourself entertained when unwittingly forced to watch 11 hours of live sumo wrestling in Japan, to surviving heartbreak in India at the hands of a French flight attendant, to 48 hours spent in Nepal that qualify as the funniest most gut wrenching travel experience since Captain Bligh was set adrift in the Pacific, to his unsuccessful attempts at avoiding going to a brothel in Thailand.

Simon Yeats has gone into the world and experienced all the out of the ordinary moments for you to sit back and enjoy the experience without the need to break a leg or rupture a pancreas.

 

There’s a chance to win a set of all Three Books in Simon Yeats Lesser Known travel tips series in paperback and one set in ePub format below but first Simon has shared an extract from How To Start A Riot In A Brothel In Thailand By Ordering A Beer And Other Lesser Known Travel Tips. We hope you enjoy. 

Content warning: Language

 

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

 

If there is any unfulfilled wish in my life, and there is still a chance it could be fulfilled, it is this. This wish is for my old all boys’ high school in Brisbane to invite me to come and speak at the end-of-year graduation ceremony. Speech night, as we call it in Australia.

At these events, every guest speaker in history has droned on for 45 minutes about their achievements and accomplishments in business and how the current crop of graduating seniors is now ready to step out into the world and work their fingers to the bone to reach that same level of success in their lives.

I do not know why we did not just video tape the guy who spoke in my graduating year and replay that speech on a big screen every November after. It is always the same story. The same message. The same, do the same as every person who has gone before you has done.

But I am thinking of being a little different.

Prior to my speech, in front of alumni, parents, and students of my alma mater, the headmaster would cordially introduce me.

“I would like to introduce a former pupil who has gone on to achieve exactly zero success in his particular field of endeavor but who has graciously agreed to address us all tonight,” the headmaster would announce eloquently.

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Book Extract: Floored by Chrissie Harrison

I’m so pleased to be welcoming Chrissie Harrison to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for Floored.

FLOORED is a charming romantic comedy guaranteed to give you a lift.

Hannah and Drew work in the same office.

Hannah and Drew use the same elevator.

Hannah and Drew aren’t looking for love.

They haven’t even met.

Yet something is happening…

Amiable TV production accountant Drew has turned his back on love after the death of his fiancée, an incident which cemented his longstanding elevatophobia. When Drew moves towns and jobs for a fresh start, he hears a voice in the office lift telling him to “be careful”.

Is it his fevered imagination, the ghost of his fiancée, or someone playing a cruel prank? Quickly, he becomes desperate, foolish… and unexpectedly smitten.

Sweet and sassy Hannah wouldn’t mind finding love, but keeps choosing the wrong boyfriends. Her innate social anxiety, deepened by bad experiences with a preying boss, is a huge barrier to dating anyone new.

Yet, to expose her boss’ antics, she needs to be lucky as well as smart. However, talking to a sweet but hapless co-worker isn’t the answer… is it? After all, she could never imagine meeting him in person.

When Drew discovers the adorable girl behind the voice, a relationship blossoms alongside a shared determination to bring justice to their workplace, risking everything.

Will their daring plan succeed or will it jeopardize the happiness they’ve found with each other?

If you’re in the UK, there’s a chance to win a copy of Floored below. Chrissie has also shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

Content warning: Mention of Drugs.

 

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

 

Our sweet but hapless MC, Drew, has been hearing a voice in the office lift. Desperate to discover who’s behind it, he goes to subtly quiz the CEO Kevin’s PA, Lotus.

He has a crazy notion that Lotus fancies him – crazy because she’s out of his league. However, she is the best candidate, and Drew is oddly protective of her, especially as the CEO seems to be suspected of sexual harassment around the building.

 ***** 

At ten thirty, Drew strolled down one floor to Kevin Yates’ office like he didn’t have a care in the world. Inside, he was a bag of nerves.

Yates wasn’t really a “management by visibility” CEO. He was more of a “Friday is for golf” guy. Thanks to that stellar dedication to helming Park Productions, Lotus should be alone in the CEO’s anteroom.

She was. He took a deep breath. In for a penny.

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Book Extract: In the Shadow of War by Adrienne Chinn

Please join me in welcoming Adrienne Chinn to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, In the Shadow of War.

One war may be over, but their fight for survival continues…

For sisters Etta, Jessie and Celie Fry, the Great War and the hardships of the years that followed have taken a heavy toll.

Determined to leave her painful past behind her, Etta heads to the bright lights of Hollywood whilst Jessie, determined to train as a doctor and use her skills to help others, is hampered by the men who dominate her profession. On the vast, empty plains of the Canadian prairies, Celie and her small family stand on the brink of losing everything.

As whispers of a new war make their way to each sister, each must face the possibility of the unthinkable happening again…

 

Adrienne has shared an extract from her novel with us today. We hope you enjoy it. 

 

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

 

The following excerpt from In the Shadow of War, takes place in July 1936 in  Barcelona, Spain, where middle Fry sister, Dr Jessie Fry Khalid, has joined her journalist friend, Ruth Bellico, for a short holiday before continuing on to London to join her daughter, Shani, at her mother’s. The People’s Olympiad is about to begin, and tourists and journalists have arrived in the city to attend, oblivious to the storm of war about to break throughout the country.

*****

Hotel Colon, Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona

Late that night, after an evening wandering with Ruth down the long pedestrian street of La Rambla past shops and buildings festooned with the red flags of the socialists, the red and black flags of the anarchists, and posters announcing the Olympiad, and chatting with tourists in the queues for the food stalls hawking golden tortilla de patatas, crunchy croquettes with creamy centres, or plates of crispy fried potatoes topped with spicy tomato sauce or garlic mayonnaise, Jessie stirs sleeplessly in the comfortable bed in her hotel room. She kicks off the sheet and wanders over to the glazed doors which she has left open in the hope of catching a breeze to cool the oppressive heat.

The night is moonless, and stars glitter in the black sky. In the plaza below, there is silence, the tourists sleeping off the evening’s beers, cavas, vermouths and sangrias. Despite the buzz of excitement in the air, she couldn’t help but notice the way La Rambla split the city in two – the medieval Gothic Quarter on the east side, with its towering churches and elegant hotels, restaurants, shops and clubs; and the shacks and tenements of the working class section of El Raval on the west side.

The tourists and athletes carried a thrum of excitement with them, but beyond that, leftist street corner orators espoused their beliefs, while locals debated the reports and rumours filtering into the city from the south. She’d experienced that same nervous energy before on the streets of Cairo. It had always been the precursor to violence. That energy was like a djinni released from a magic lamp. Once it had escaped, there was no getting it back in the lamp.

#

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Book Extract: Dying To Bake by Helen Golden

I’m pleased to be welcoming Helen Golden to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Dying To Bake.

Bake Off Wars is back! Get your aprons on and let the sleuthing begin!

Vera Bolt, Queen of Bakes, dies unexpectedly aged 66

In a shocking announcement this afternoon, Vera Bolt’s agent confirmed that the Bake Off Wars judge and national treasure died yesterday. Ms Bolt was in the process of filming the next series of the hugely popular television show at Francis Court, the home of the King’s sister and her family. It’s believed that the renowned pastry chef was stabbed in the heart, and the main suspect is rumoured new royal girlfriend, Summer York.

What am I supposed to do? Lady Beatrice has promised DCI Richard Fitzwilliam that she won’t get involved in the investigation into Vera Bolt’s death. But when her brother’s new love interest, Summer York, becomes the top suspect for Vera’s murder, Fred begs Bea to find out who the real killer is. In a race against time, can Bea navigate a labyrinth of secrets and lies, evade danger, and safeguard her friendship with Fitzwilliam? The answer may determine not only Summer’s innocence but also the fate of Bea’s and Fitzwilliam’s burgeoning feelings for each other.

 

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

 

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

 

The hugely popular television show Bake Off Wars is being filmed on site at Francis Court and everyone is buzzing. Everyone, that is, except for amateur royal sleuth Lady Beatrice who is more interested in overseeing the refurbishment of her home, The Dower House. In contrast her best friend and business partner, Perry Juke, is gossip central when it comes to the show. But all is not well on set. Following the exit at the end of last season of the well-liked judge, Mark Jacobs, the remaining judge and national treasure, Vera Bolt, has been making herself unpopular with her critical snipes at both the crew and the new presenters. Insiders report that tensions are running high, and the atmosphere is toxic.

After Vera Bolt was found on set stabbed to death, Bea is confident that Detective Chief Inspector Richard Fitzwilliam, who is recuperating in a cottage on the estate after being shot during their previous case together, will be assigned to the case. She gets a call to come and ‘meet’ the DCI assigned to the case and assumes it’s Rich playing a little joke on her, but when she gets there it’s not Rich…

*****

Daisy, seeing a new person, rushed over to greet him, but he carried on walking, not even acknowledging the little dog. Bea frowned. What sort of person ignores a dog who wants to say hello? She lifted her chin and stiffened. Studying the stocky man in front of her, she realised he looked familiar. Hold on, isn’t he the surly sergeant who investigated the failure of the security system at The Dower House a couple of months before James died? She remembered him because, after he’d left, she and James had joked that he looked more like a criminal than a PaIRS officer, with his very short hair, bulging muscles, and a menacing scowl on his face.

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Book Extract: Hazard Night by Laura Vaughan

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

Cleeve College is not for everyone…

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

ALICE

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

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

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

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

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

Can Helen save the hotel… and her reputation?

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

*****

‘What are they doing?’ said Helen.

‘Carrying out a search.’

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

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

Twort performed a short salute before obeying the command.

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

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

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

‘That would be best.’

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Book Extract: A Deadly Portrayal by LM Milford

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

**

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

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Book Extract: When We Were Us by Patricia Caliskan

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

Is it ever too late to start again…?

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

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

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

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

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

Or should some things be left in the past…?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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Book Extract: Death on the High Seas by Anna Legat

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

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

But nothing goes to plan.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Book Extract: Last Seen in Havana by Teresa Dovalpage

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

The Ashen Hour

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Book Extract: All Grown Up by Catherine Evans

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

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

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

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

With devastating consequences.

 

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

(Warning: Strong Language.) 

 

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

 

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

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

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

‘I thought you wanted to lose weight.’

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

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

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

‘Seeing him tomorrow.’

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

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

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Book Extract: Shadows in the Ashes by Christina Courtenay

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

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

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

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

Present Day

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prologue

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Book Extract: The Chameleon Killer Mystery by Gina Cheyne

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

Who is the Chameleon Killer?

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

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

Next day, he is found dead.

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

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

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

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

*****

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

‘Who is it?’

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

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

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Book Extract: A Cocktail To Die For by Helen Golden

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

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

Death at Prestigious Hotel and Spa, Chasingham House

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Meed stepped forward. “We were just—”

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

Rude!

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Book Extract: Spread: Tales of Deadly Flora

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Book Extract: The Silent House of Sleep by Allan Gaw

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

London: December 1928

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

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Book Extract: The Asymmetric Man by Alex Rushton

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Chapter 5

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

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

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

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

#SharingIsCaring

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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Book Extract: The Last Train from Paris by Juliet Greenwood

I’m pleased to be welcoming Juliet Greenwood to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Last Train from Paris.

For Iris, each visit to her mother in St Mabon’s Cove, Cornwall has been the same – a serene escape from the city. But today, as she breathes in the salt air on the doorstep of her beloved childhood home, a heavy weight of anticipation settles over her. Iris knows she’s adopted, but any questions about where she came from have always been shut down by her parents, who can’t bear to revisit the past.

Now, Iris can’t stop thinking about what she’s read on the official paperwork: BABY GIRL, FRANCE, 1939 – the year war was declared with Nazi Germany.

When Iris confronts her mother, she hits the same wall of pain and resistance as whenever she mentions the war. That is, until her mother tearfully hands her an old tin of letters, tucked neatly beside a delicate piece of ivory wool.

Retreating to the loft, Iris steels herself to at last learn the truth, however painful it might be. But, as she peels back each layer of history before her, a sensation of dread grows inside her. The past is calling, and its secrets are more intricate and tangled than Iris could ever have imagined.

The year is 1939, and in Paris, France a young woman is about to commit a terrible betrayal… 

A beautifully written and addictively compelling historical novel about the terrible choices ordinary people were forced to make in the horrors of World War Two. If you loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Alice Network and The Nightingale, you will devour this book.

 

Juliet has shared an extract from the novel with us today. We hope you enjoy! 

 

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

 

This is from fairly near the beginning of the novel. In France, Sabine has sent one of her twin girls to London with her friend Nora, in a desperate bid to save the baby’s life. Now with her remaining twin, Sabine has refused to go into the heart of Nazi Germany with her ambitious husband Emil, only to find herself having to suddenly flee her ancient family home just outside Paris with her mother and grandmother (Mémé) as the invading German army advances towards them…

 

Sabine, France, 1940

How do you pack a life in a few minutes? How do you pack for survival, for as long as you might need it? Sabine’s brain froze at the enormity of the task. She could see from the pallor of her mother’s face that she felt the same.

First things first.

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Book Extract: Out of Sight by Anna Legat

Please help me to welcome Anna Legat to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Out of Sight. 

On the morning after his thirtieth wedding anniversary Stewart Harding is found dead. He was an arrogant and thoroughly unpleasant man and there is no shortage of suspects, but all of them have firm alibis. In any case, everything points towards it being an opportunistic killing linked to a robbery.

Newly promoted DI Mark Webber is assigned as the SIO with Gillian Marsh overseeing the investigation. However, when her mother dies, she takes leave of absence and lets Webber continue on his own.

Webber is making good progress until his colleague – and secret lover – DC Erin Macfadyen disappears without trace. Webber’s world falls apart.

DCI Marsh cuts her bereavement leave short to take over the investigation into Stewart Harding’s death and to track down her missing officer.

There is no doubt that she will find Harding’s killer, but will she find Erin and are the two cases connected?

 

Anna has shared an extract from her novel, Out of Sight today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Webber glowed like a firefly. He reciprocated Erin’s soppy look, his eyebrow magnanimously elevated. How he fancied himself the god-father figure, the sod! These days he even looked like Marlon Brando’s version of Corleone with threads of grey highlights in his swept-back hair. It suited him, like the DI label. It would go with his expensive taste in clothes. Not to mention that at last he had been empowered to lead. He would be good at it. Gillian may just delegate some of her newly-acquired responsibilities to him – to let him have a go.

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Book Extract: The Sardinian Story by Francesca Scanacapra

Please join me in welcoming Francesca Scanacapra back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, The Sardinian Story.

Apennine Mountains, Italy, 1965

Leonora Bacchetti was once a happy child. But at the age of seventeen she has become a wild and rebellious young woman who leaves her parents in despair when she runs away from home with a group of itinerant travellers.

In the eyes of their friends and neighbours in the tight-knit village of Montacciolo, her parents’ good name is ruined.

At first, Leonora keeps in touch with her mother and father, sending letters and postcards from different countries until, very abruptly, her correspondence stops. The girl has vanished.

Vague, unreliable rumours of her fate abound, but newspaper appeals, police and private investigations reveal nothing.

Until, eighteen years later, in the midst of a snowstorm, a stranger from Sardinia knocks on the door of Leonora’s father’s little mountain house.

Now a widower, he has come to terms with never knowing what happened to his daughter. But everything changes when the unexpected visitor claims that he has new information.

The two men quickly bond and gradually begin to piece together the truth about Lenora, provoking deep questions about her life and how they have lived their own – questions about love, loyalty, honesty and what being a family really means.

The Sardinian Story is a novel of exquisite power and deep emotion which will live long in the memories of its readers.

 

Sit back and enjoy as Francesca shares an extract today. 

 

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

This extract is taken from Chapter 1. Dante Bacchetti is going through his daily routine in his tiny house on a mountainside. It’s cold outside and he’s hungry, and he is preparing his meal when he is interrupted by a knock at the door. A visitor at this time is a huge shock…

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Book Extract: Wait For You by Lianne La Borde

I’m pleased to be welcoming Lianne La Borde to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Wait For You. 

Three years after their brutal breakup she shows up on Dylan’s driveway the day he’s moving in with his new fiancée. He doesn’t know why she left him, or why she’s now appeared out of the blue, but he does know he never stopped loving her.

Time heals all, or so they say, but a row about the past ends in a horrific car crash. With his soulmate’s life hanging in the balance, Dylan leaps back in time to the turning points of their relationship.

Given the chance to do things differently, can he make the one change that will save her?

Dylan’s engaged.

He’s moved on, and April vowed he’ll never know the real reason she fled to San Francisco – he’d never forgive her. But now she’s lying in a coma. Stuck in the past, reliving their intense love story and unable to stop him from discovering her secrets.

How did two lovers end up here?

Trapped in a terrifying moment, can they ever find their way back to each other?

 

Get that drink and find that comfortable chair as Lianne has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

April went quiet, resting her head on my shoulder as we leant on the bridge, breathing in a concoction of exhaust fumes and sea air.

‘I wanted to call you, Dylan,’ she sighed, staring down into the choppy, dark water. ‘More than anything. But I just… couldn’t.’

‘OK, well that question has been killing me for three years, so please, put me out of my misery.’

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Book Extract: The Promise Tree by Elisabeth J. Hobbes

I’m happy to be welcoming Elisabeth J. Hobbes to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, The Promise Tree. 

When does a story begin?

For Edwin Hope, it begins with a childhood dare and a forbidden tree. It begins with him falling … in more ways than one.

Called home from his studies by the grandfather who has always hated him, eighteen-year-old Edwin is once again trapped in a house that is colder than the winds whipping across the fields. Seeking sanctuary, he escapes into the untamed beauty of the Peaks and meets a woman who sparks an old memory. A memory of the sycamore that broke him, and the little girl who saved him.

Drusilla has had many acolytes over the centuries but none like Edwin. With the Great War looming and Edwin’s future uncertain, she knows the right thing to do is to set him free from her spell, but can she do so if it means breaking her own heart?

 

Elisabeth has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

After more than a decade of living with his aunt and uncle in Yorkshire Edwin has been summoned back (unwillingly) to Cheshire by his grandfather to begin learning about the family silk business.  His grandfather is not there when he arrives so he goes to visit his parents’ graves in the local churchyard and on the way back he sees the sycamore tree that he had been obsessed with as a child.

There was the sycamore tree that stood alone on the top of the mound. This was the tree he had climbed and from which he had fallen. He remembered now how fascinated he had been by it and his pulse fluttered briefly. He was barely conscious of the decision to detour and walk via the tree before returning to the house through the meadow, but he found himself taking that route. Stanley, the old horse, was standing in the centre of the field, head down and grazing. He lifted his head and regarded Edwin solemnly before turning away and walking down to his stable.

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Book Extract: A Scottish Island Surprise by Holly Wyld

I’m pleased to be welcoming Holly Wyld to Novel Kicks and the blog tour to her book, A Scottish Island Surprise – a Primrose Island Novella. 

“Far as I’m aware–” Joe said, dropping his head briefly, the better to compose his features, “–far as I’m aware, Miss, we’ve no rabies in the Hebrides at the moment.”

Rose Mackie has inherited a house on a far-flung Scottish island from her curmudgeon of a father who wanted nothing whatsoever to do with her.

So she lands on Primrose Island with the intention of packing up the old beach house, selling it to the first person who’ll make an offer, and moving firmly on. But Joe Fraser, her late father’s neighbour, has some inconvenient news for her on that front.

Rose prepares for battle – only to find that the longer she spends on Primrose Island, and the more time she spends around Joe in particular, the more she begins to question everything she thought she knew…

 

Holly has shared an extract with us today. You know what to do – grab that drink, the comfortable chair and enjoy. 

 

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

 

The Island Castle – Book 5, Primrose Island Novellas

The spectacular Dornie Castle across the tidal causeway from Primrose Island has a trio of new owners: the Hansen brothers from Norway.

The brothers won the castle in a dubious bet – but unfortunately for the old castle, none of them are remotely serious about becoming its custodians.

Hackles are raising and feathers are ruffling all over the island. But none of that is going to stop Elspeth McGillicuddy from embarking on a match-making frenzy. Because if Elspeth McGillicuddy can find each of these bachelor brothers a romantic match on Primrose Island?

Well, they might very well decide to stick around… mightn’t they?

Extract: Chapter One

 The room was sombre and dimly lit and redolent with the masculine scent of leather and cigars.

And tonight, this sombre masculine room – it had been their grandfather’s study – was rendered all the more solemn because their grandfather, Lars Hansen, one of Norway’s wealthiest shipping titans, the founding father of HansenLine International – was dead.

Four men in black suits, their expressions heavy with grief, were seated around a table in the dead man’s study.

The man’s son.

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Book Extract: Under a Gilded Sky by Imogen Martin

I am pleased to be welcoming Imogen Martin to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her novel, Under a Gilded Sky.

In this epic and unforgettable love story, set in the wilds of Missouri and the glamour of high society Boston at the dawn of the Gilded Age, one woman’s life changes forever the day that a stranger turns up on her doorstep.

Missouri, February 1874: The last thing struggling homesteader Ginny needs is a scandal on her hands. But when a badly injured drifter arrives at Snow Farm in desperate need of medical attention, Ginny’s kind nature and good upbringing means she has no choice but to treat his wounds and care for him until he’s back on his feet, no matter the danger he might pose.

Ginny’s been running the farm and looking after her fourteen-year-old sister Mary-Lou since their papa died two years ago, each morning pulling on his old leather coat and pushing her feet into stout boots that come up to her knees, before heading out to tend to the cattle. She’s determined to hold onto the one thing that connects them to memories of their parents – whatever the cost. And when their uninvited guest – Lex – is well enough he offers his help, and she surprises herself by accepting it.

But not long after Lex moves on, Ginny realises that her heart has gone with him. And when the farm’s fortunes take a turn for the worse, she faces her hardest test yet. Can she save the only home she’s ever known, and everything she holds dear? And what if doing so means risking a chance at love and happiness she never expected to come her way?

 

Imogen has shared an extract with us today so you know the drill – coffee/tea, comfortable chair and enjoy. 

 

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

 

Intro:

This is part way through the second chapter. Mary Lou has brought an injured man to their isolated rural homestead. Ginny is concerned that her 14-year-old sister doesn’t understand the danger this man might bring them, given it is just the two of them who live there.

 

Snow Farm, Missouri—February 1874

 

Ginny lifted out a screw-top jar and some bandages. “This is comfrey and elder salve. It will take down the swelling.”

The man nodded his approval and Ginny massaged the milky-colored gel into his ankle. The astringent smell filled the room.

“Sir, when d’you last eat?” Mary Lou asked.

He looked up at her, as if remembering there was a second young woman in the room. “Not for a few days.”

“I’ll get you something.” Mary Lou glanced at Ginny for approval to return to the kitchen and Ginny nodded.

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Book Extract: Dating Little Miss Perfect by Cassandra O’Leary

Dating Little Miss PerfectPlease join me in welcoming Cassandra O’Leary to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Dating Little Miss Perfect.

On an anonymous online dating app, LittleMissPerfect meets HotAussie007 and it’s love at first click. In real life, a smart but spiky woman in STEM, research scientist, Dr Eden, meets a laid-back Aussie marketing manager, Finn, at the big pharma company where they both work in California. They’re forced to compete for special projects funding, and both their jobs are on the line.

Eden just wants to win at science and in life. It’s not happening! She can’t stand Finn’s too-cool-for-school, nice guy act, or his delectable forearms that keep invading her space. While Finn is stupidly attracted to Eden, when she’s not telling him off, he isn’t free to pursue her. He’s stuck in the worst position in his professional life, and doesn’t see a clear way out. He can’t tell her the whole truth about what’s going on at work or in his personal life. . . or it could all blow up in his face.

When they realise the truth about their online alter egos, dating is off the table. Can they ignore their inconvenient attraction, and work together to take down their unethical boss? Or will intense rivalry cause their IRL work lives and online love lives to collide and explode like a science experiment gone wrong?

 

 

Cassandra has shared an extract with us today so grab that drink, those biscuits, a comfy chair and enjoy. 

 

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

 

The following excerpt is from Chapter Two of Dating Little Miss Perfect, © Copyright Cassandra O’Leary, 2023. Reproduced and shared with permission of the author.

This chapter starts in the hero, Finn’s, point of view. He’s just received the latest in a series of flirty online messages from LittleMissPerfect, an anonymous prospect on the dating app he’s using. They are yet to meet in real life. But it’s his cranky work rival, Dr Eden, who is on his mind. And later, we find out Finn is on Eden’s mind too! They work in a big pharma company in California, and they’re being forced to compete for special projects funding and to collaborate, to a certain extent.

LittleMissPerfect: Where are you taking me on our date, big shot? Downtown?

Finn stared at his phone in the palm of one hand while rubbing the back of his neck with the other. LittleMissPerfect’s opening gambit was a tease. Normally, he’d fire back, saying he’d love to take her downtown. Get down and dirty. But today? Another woman occupied his thoughts like an invading army.

Cupcakes? Doctor Eden bakes cupcakes?

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Book Extract: The Accidental Housemate by Sal Thomas

I am pleased to welcome Sal Thomas to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Accidental Housemate.

Cath Beckinsale is in a jam. She’s a single mum of three, with her 40th birthday in sight and a precarious hold on employment. And she can’t quite let go of her late husband Gaz, whose ashes are still in an urn on the kitchen table.

To make ends meet a student lodger seems like the perfect solution – after all, what’s one more child in the house? But when Dan flies in from the US, complete with guitar and chest hair on display, it’s immediately clear that he’s no teenager, but someone who quickly sends life in an unexpected direction.

 

Sal has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy it. 

(Warning: Language.) 

 

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

 

Widower and mum of three Cath has agreed to take in a student lodger to help make ends meet. Recommended him by a colleague, she spends a tipsy evening with best friend Sindy looking up the American teenager she thinks she’s getting, as well as ogling over a same-name-but-different-state guy. However, a misunderstanding about Kansas vs Arkansas means she’s in for a surprise….

Of course, it’s only the following weekend as I’m on the way to the airport that the full force of what I’ve let myself in for comes rushing at me like a tidal wave of WTAF? I’ve left Jack and Eric at home with Sindy, who assured me that inviting someone I know barely anything about to come and live in my house, without so much as having had a conversation with him, is a great idea. I guess it happens all the time on Airbnb, right? Still, my stomach is doing all manner of odd things as I pull into the car park.

Minutes after I get to the gate a stream of people starts to emerge from the exit, their weary faces lighting up as they spot waiting relatives. I check the photo of Dan I saved to my phone. No sign yet, but he’s probably slowly lolloping his way from the plane, peering through his hair curtains and taking in a brand-new country. As I’m watching it all unfold, a man, I’d say in his mid-thirties, emerges from the exit carrying a large rucksack and a guitar. He’s over six-feet tall and archetypically handsome, a mop of loose brown curls framing an elfin face rescued from femininity by a defined jaw and strong straight brows. His cheeks dimple as he smiles at the striking young air stewardess walking alongside him. I can’t make out what he’s saying, but she is lapping it up as she overtly throws her head back in amusement and lightly touches him on the arm.

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Book Extract and Review: Mysteries at Sea: Peril on the Atlantic by A.M. Howell

I am pleased to be welcoming A.M. Howell to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, Peril on the Atlantic, part of the Mysteries at Sea series. 

July, 1936. As the Queen Mary sets sail across the Atlantic, Alice can’t wait for the summer of adventure that lies ahead. She’s excited to explore the huge ship, with its shops, animals and even celebrities on board.

As Alice’s sailor father focuses on winning a prestigious race, she witnesses a shocking attack. Alice and her new friend Sonny start to uncover a dark plot to sabotage the race, and as they investigate gold bars, anonymous notes and lost silk gloves, secrets in their own lives come to the surface.

While fog threatens the boat’s journey, and dangerous enemies show themselves, Alice and Sonny are in their own race to solve all the mysteries unfolding. But what they discover might change both their lives forever…

 

I have reviewed the book bel0w but first, here is an extract from the book. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

A buzz of anticipation and excitement made Alice’s fingers tingle, as she stepped away from the station platform and onto the dock. Grey smoke puffed lazily from the red and black-tipped funnels of the Queen Mary into the hot July air, like three simmering pots preparing to boil. She sucked in a breath of awe. It was the largest vessel she had ever seen, its riveted hull so tall it blotted out the sun. Her father had said that, if the ship was placed vertically from bow to stern, it would even be taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris!

Looking around, Alice saw that the other passengers from the train she had travelled on to Southampton docks had already hurried off to the baggage hall, leaving her alone. She glanced at her watch. Her father had promised to meet her from the train and he was late. As she looked for him, the clamour of noise was like a discordant band as motor cars expelled expectant passengers, and giant cranes with claw-like feet sent packages cocooned in rope nets into the ship’s cavernous hold.

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Book Extract: The Mystery of the Homeless Man by Gina Cheyne

Please join me in welcoming Gina Cheyne to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Mystery of the Homeless Man, book three in the SeeMS Detective Agency series. 

Why would an airline pilot exchange a world of comfort for life on the streets?

In 2006, Miranda meets an itinerant in the wood, she takes him home. He refuses to stay, desperate to return to the streets. Miranda gives him some money and forgets the incident.

Fifteen years later, the SeeMs Detective Agency is investigating an abandoned house and discovers a homeless man was found there: murdered.

No one knows who the dead man is or how he died, and, with one hundred and fifty unidentified street deaths per year, no one has time to find out.

But, the SeeMs Detectives have both time and a client.

Their investigation takes them into a surprising world of aviation, night-clubs and the homeless.

What they discover threatens one of their team. Can they save their colleague before the homeless man’s killer strikes again?

*****

 

Gina has shared an extract from The Mystery of the Homeless Man with us today. Enjoy! 

 

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

 

Stevie is interviewing Amy as a possible suspect for the Neil (homeless man) ’s death. This extract is Amy, who is an airline pilot, describing her engagement to Neil and why she broke it off.

‘Poor Neil.’ Amy blew out heavily. ‘OK. He had a lot of charm,’ she added, almost as though she was talking to herself. ‘He did have something, but, you know, once a drunk always a drunk. He was dangerous. He would drive drunk. I’d never do that.’

Her hand automatically moved to the little scar on her hairline. Stevie wondered if she got that from Neil, but Amy was still talking.

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Book Extract: End Game by Liz Mistry

I am so pleased to be welcoming Liz Mistry to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, End Game.

Four dead bodies. One missing person. Let the game begin.

When an anonymous tip-off leads Detective Nikki Parekh and DS Sajid Malik to the sprawling Salinger estate, Nikki’s senses are on high alert. The brutal murder of all four members of the Salinger family has shocked the sleepy Bradford village to the core.

A mother, father, daughter, and son. . .  all killed in exactly the same way – whilst sat around the coffee table, playing a game of monopoly.

But Nikki notices that there are five pieces on the board. One of the players is missing… Did they manage to escape the killer, or was the killer part of the game?

 

Liz has shared an extract today so grab that drink, find that comfy chair and enjoy! 

(warning: language.)

 

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

 

Prologue

Then: Marnie

It is the hottest day of the summer yet. That shimmering heat idling just above the grass. Even in my shorts and strappy T-shirt, just looking at it makes me feel sticky and tired. I want to laze under the massive spreading oak tree with my colouring books. Just sit quietly, with my own thoughts. Starting high school after the summer holidays preys on my mind. Such a big step. Such a massive change. I’ll be leaving my friends behind because, despite my arguments, they’ve decided the local comprehensive school isn’t good enough for me. I don’t get it. If it’s good enough for my friends then why isn’t it good enough for me? Do Mum and Dad think I deserve more than Alice or Fiona? That feels wrong to me.

Anyway, this was day five of my war against the parents. I’d tried arguing, I’d tried pleading and nothing had worked. Today I was trying silence. The only problem is my annoying little sister Jilly. Why can’t she just find something to do that doesn’t involve annoying me? God she is soooo lame. Sooooo annoying. There she is trundling out the back door, a plastic bag filled with picnic stuff hanging off her wrist and a smile as wide as one of those arches on the viaduct we’d visited the other week. I edge my way round the foot of the tree till I am out of view of the kitchen window and tuck my legs out of sight.

‘Marnie. Marnie. I know you’re there. I saw you crawl behind the tree. I’ve brought snacks.’

Aw shut up, Jilly. The heat is making me mardy and Jilly always brings out the worst in me. She’s always there. If she isn’t harping on at me about something, she’s following me and my pals around like a stupid collie dog desperate for a pat. I hate her sometimes. Sometimes I really, really hate her.

‘I know today’s your “not speaking to anyone day”, but you still got to eat, Marn. I’ve got ice lollies.’

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Book Extract: The Starlight Stables Gang by Esme Higgs and Jo Cotterill

I am so happy be welcoming Esme Higgs and Jo Cotterill to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for The Starlight Stables Gang – book one in a brand new series. 

Summer has always loved horses but she never thought she’d be able to learn how to ride them – not with money being so tight at home. Then she discovers the Starlight Stables where she meets a new gang of friends and learns how to ride in return for helping-out with the horses. It’s a dream come true!

Summer falls in love with life at the stables and especially with Luna, a beautiful dapple-grey pony. But one day, Summer arrives at the stables to find that Luna has been stolen in the night. It’s up to the Starlight Stables Gang to follow the clues and rescue Luna before it’s too late!

Full of fun, friendship and and mystery, this is the first book in the brand-new Starlight Stables Gang series. Beautifully illustrated by Hannah George.

*****

I’ve reviewed the novel below but first, Esme and Jo have shared an extract from The Starlight Stables Gang with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

I start to wash my hands, scanning the row of basins. I can’t see two girls talking to each other about horses. Have they already gone? My heart is beating fast. I wonder if I should dash out into the corridor to search for them. And then I get a grip of myself. For goodness’ sake, Summer! What would you do, anyway? Throw yourself on them and sob, ‘I love horses too, can I come rind ride yours?’

And then, while I’m standing there, soap on my hands, paralysed with indecision and embarrassment — a couple of girls are looking at me weirdly — I hear the second voice again. ‘Jessie? You still in here?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Me too.’

They giggle. And then two cubicle doors open at the same time and the girls come out, and I know instantly which one is Jessie because I’ve seen her in assembly. She has long black hair and she sometimes wears lip gloss, which is totally illegal in school but I think she gets away with it.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but my heart sinks a little because Jessie looks exactly like the kind of girl who would have her own pony.

The other girl is short and stocky and has a cloud of orange hair. I don’t know her name. My school is so big. ‘Are you going there again after school today?’ she asks Jessie as they come over to the basins and plonk down their bags.

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Book Extract: Mrs Bambi Knows by Chris Mason

I am pleased to be welcoming Chris Mason to Novel Kicks. He’s here with the blog tour for his novel, Mrs Bambi Knows.

In a small town in Oregon, everyone wants to kill the local advice columnist, Mrs Bambi. If only they knew who she was.

Mrs Bambi’s advice is so snarky that people have long since stopped asking for it. Instead she eavesdrops on conversations and writes the letters herself. The readers would lynch her, but no one knows who she is.

In fact, Mrs. Bambi is not a woman. The column is written by Richard, a quiet widower with a young daughter.
The uneventful part of Richard’s life is nearly over: he begins dating Pam, a well-known realtor and a sports addict. When people begin to learn the identity of Mrs. Bambi, Richard is threatened and humiliated in public. Despite the pleas of his editor, his friends, and Pam, he refuses to stop writing the column.
The only thing that can prevent disaster is for the town to finally learn the whole truth about Richard, which is much larger than the simple mystery of Mrs. Bambi.

Set in 1995, Chris Mason’s skillful storytelling brings a tale of humour and romance – and not a little peril – charmingly to life in the mind of the reader.

 

Chris has shared an extract today. Enjoy! 

 

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

 

The advice (agony aunt) column in a small town newspaper is written by a widower using the alias Mrs. Bambi. Because no one will ask him for advice anymore, he eavesdrops on peoples’ conversations and writes the questions and the answers himself. Every chapter in the book begins with one of the advice columns. Here’s an example.

Dear Mrs. Bambi:

My mother is sick, but not as sick as she thinks she is. She’s an incurable hypochondriac, and I think it’s going to kill me.

Last week her vision went blurry. She called me at one in the morning, hours after I’d gone to bed, to tell me she had an eye tumor. I drove over and cleaned her glasses for her.

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