Quick Spotlight

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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?’

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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?

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Book Review: The Last Day of Winter by Shari Low

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Can love find its way within these 24 hours?

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

Oh, this novel.

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

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

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Book Extract & Review: Tick Tock by Mel Sherratt

You made it everyone. It’s the weekend. Today, I am pleased to welcome back Mel Sherratt and the blog tour for her new book, Tick Tock. 

 

TICK…

In the city of Stoke, a teenage girl is murdered in the middle of the day, her lifeless body abandoned in a field behind her school.

TOCK…

Two days later, a young mother is abducted. She’s discovered strangled and dumped in a local park.

TIME’S UP…

DS Grace Allendale and her team are brought in to investigate, but with a bold killer, no leads and nothing to connect the victims, the case seems hopeless. It’s only when a third woman is targeted that a sinister pattern emerges. A dangerous mind is behind these attacks, and Grace realises that the clock is ticking…

Can they catch the killer before another young woman dies?

 

Mel and Avon have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

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

‘Robert?’ Perry queried.

‘Robert Carmichael. He’s the PE teacher. The classes get very competitive and it gives the pupils a good workout in the fresh air.’

‘Who owns the field where Lauren was found?’ Grace questioned.

‘Arthur Barrett and his family – a local farming generation. The school have been using it with their permission for over twenty years.’ Nathan shook his head in disbelief. ‘I hope I don’t have to suspend Robert for not watching them all.’

‘He can’t have eyes in the back of his head,’ Perry said.

‘I guess. But it only takes one person to blame him. And me.’ Nathan ran a hand through his hair and swallowed.

‘Although, according to some of the pupils, he shouted at them to hurry up a few times.’

‘We need a list of the pupils who took his class, too,’ Grace said. ‘We’ll have to speak to them all over the course of the next day or two. If there aren’t enough teachers spare to sit with the pupils, or if any parents or guardians specifically want to be with their children when we speak to them, we’ll arrange appointments. Whatever happens, everything will be dealt with in a sensitive manner.’

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Cover Reveal: The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War by Elaine Roberts

Roberts_Elaine original_previewThe Foyles Bookshop Girls at War by Elaine Roberts is the second book in the Foyles Girls series.

I am excited to be part of the cover reveal for The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War. Here is a bit about it…

Swapping books for the bomb factory takes courage – and could be dangerous.

Working at the Foyles bookshop was Molly Cooper’s dream job. But with the country at war she’s determined to do her bit. So Molly gathers her courage, and sets off for the East End and her first day working at Silvertown munitions factory…

It’s hard manual labour, and Molly must face the trials and tribulations of being the ‘new girl’ at the munitions factory, as well as the relentless physical work. The happy-ever-afters Molly read about in the pages of her beloved books have been lost to the war. And yet the munitions girls unite through their sense of duty and friendships that blossom in the most unlikely of settings…

So, here is the cover. Ready?

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Book Extract: Through His Eyes by Emma Dibdin

Through His EyesA huge excited hello to Emma Dibdin. She joins me today with the blog tour for her new novel, Through His Eyes which is due to be released by Head of Zeus on 9th August. 

Jessica Harris is a struggling Hollywood reporter hungry for her big break. When her editor asks her to profile movie star Clark Conrad, Jessica is sure her luck is on the turn. Clark is an A-lister with access to everyone. If Jessica can impress him, she’s made it.

When she arrives at Clark’s mansion in the Hollywood Hills, he is just as she always imagined. Charming, handsome yet disarmingly vulnerable. But then things take a darker turn. Clark’s world is not as straightforward as it seems and Jessica’s puff piece soon becomes something much more delicate – and dangerous. As Jessica draws herself deeper into Clark’s inner circle, events begin to spiral out of her control.

 

Emma and Head of Zeus have kindly shared an extract with us today. Enjoy.

**************start of extract***************

 

A silence, as Jackie exchanges a glance with the features editor, and I clench my fists under the table. There’s no way they will actually give this to me. It’s way above my pay grade, way above my experience level. How has some veteran profile-writer not already swooped in to take this? An interview with Clark Conrad is like a unicorn sighting in the world of movie journalism, for anyone, even for people who haven’t idolized him since puberty.

‘I’m not sure we should—’ the features editor whose name I can never remember begins, then cuts herself off. ‘Maybe we hold off on making a call on the writer. I have a couple of freelancers I’d like to run it past.’

‘We’re really down to the wire on this,’ Justin says. ‘How fast can you get a freelancer onboard?’

‘I’m a little confused as to why we still don’t have a writer assigned,’ says Jackie softly. She is the kind of woman who never raises her voice, never needs to, because people lean in to catch every word. She turns to the features editor. ‘Eleanor, could you clear this up for me?’

‘We had Jim Rothman assigned, but he pulled out when we told him about all the restrictions on questions, and it’s been hard to—’

‘Okay,’ Jackie interrupts. ‘I don’t need to hear excuses, I need a solution. The interview is happening this week,  yes?’

‘Friday,’ Justin confirms

‘All right, Jessica. Let’s give you a shot. Send your notes and your transcript to Eleanor when you’re done, and the two of you can work together on the angle. Do you have any clippings of similar pieces that you’ve done before, anything long-form? In case Clark’s rep asks.’

We both know that this has nothing to do with his rep. They want to vet me, and though there’s a part of me that bristles, I know they’re right to do so. I’m a nobody being handed an absurdly huge assignment.

‘Definitely. I can send you some clips today. I’ve written interviews before.’ This is true, but only with studio executives, indie directors, the odd supporting actor. No one on the level of a Clark Conrad, not even close.

‘She’s a pro,’ Justin says. ‘You don’t need to worry, she’s way overdue for an assignment like this.’I glance gratefully at him.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Quick Spotlight: The Potter Magic of Magic Alley

Magic Alley LogoIf you’ve been following my blog for a while you will have picked up that I am incredibly obsessed with Harry Potter. Even now, years later, it’s the book series I will go to if I need to escape into a fictional world to make myself feel better. I am in Ravenclaw according to Pottermore.

So, when I was lucky enough to be contacted by the lovely Nathan at MagicAlley.co.uk, I jumped at the chance to pick a couple of items.

Nathan’s love for the Harry Potter books began in 2000 when his brother brought The Goblet of Fire. Like me, Nathan quickly realised that he’d devoured the first three novels and thus began his love of this magical series.

MCM-London-Magic-Alley-Harry-Potter-1Nathan began Magic Alley in 2015 and as you’ve probably gathered by now, it is a store completely focused on the boy wizard and the wizarding world in which he inhabits and that J.K Rowling created.

There is a really good variety of products including ones that are unique and maybe not available in many other places in the UK.

Things available include wands, tote bags, necklaces, watches, chocolate frogs and charm bracelets. There are also house specific items too such as scarfs and ties.

Harry-Potter-Muggle-Studies-Cotton-Tote-Bag-Shopper-Half-Moon-Bay Harry-Potter-Wand-Noble-Collection-Ollivanders-Studio-TourThe items Nathan sells are sourced from the same distributors that work in partnership with Warner Bros. so you know the products are going to be legitimate which is quite an important thing for me.

OK, so when the items arrived on my doormat, it was a little bit like Christmas day as I ripped open the envelope.

The first item I wanted to review was this Harry Potter Feather Quill Necklace.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Book Review: Ivy & Abe by Elizabeth Enfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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…….

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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).

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Book Releases: January Book Haul

After the snowBooks, books and books.

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Cactus by Sarah Harwood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Twelve Nights by Andrew Zurcher.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Stationery Spotlight: Chronicle Books

Bright Ideas Productivity Journal I have some lovely stationery items for this spotlight today.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I have an unhealthy obsession with stationery. I can always justify getting a new notebook despite the fact that there are a pile of new ones waiting at home which are just too nice to ruin. You can never have enough pens and who doesn’t like a pad of post-its?

Chronicle Books provide some of the cutest stationery and were kind enough to send me some items to review. Stationery and books being my favourite kind of post, I happily accepted. I wanted to share these with you. As Christmas coming up, all of these would make fabulous gifts for the writer in your life or a treat for yourself. After all, it is the rule of Christmas shopping that one thing needs to be for yourself.

First up is this fantastic Productivity Journal from Bright Ideas. Put together by Megan Lynn Kott, it has a sturdy blue cover and an exposed spine so it will open flat. I personally love this. Being left-handed, I always find that this is a helpful feature of any notebook.

This journal features a table of contents, numbered pages which are a combination of dotted and lined paper. Plus, it’s very colourful. Using this journal makes me smile.

For anyone who does or is looking into bullet journaling, I feel this would make a great Bullet Journal.

IMG_7256Bright Ideas also have this sticky tab tray. I am a sucker for any kind of post-it and sticky note. Therefore, this tray has become a permanent fixture on my desk.

Like the productivity journal, it’s very colourful. The tray features ten pads of sticky notes and it’s great if you’re writing, editing or if you’re a student.

The sticky notes have writing on them for example, ‘red hot ideas.’

As I use one notebook for my blog, writing and the day job, these are and have been very handy.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

NK Chats To… Jon Rance

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Blogival: Extract of The Expansion by Christoph Martin

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

They had reached a flying altitude of three thousand feet.

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

It would only take a moment.

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

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

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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?

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Blog Tour: Dinah Jefferies Talks About Her New Book, Before The Rains

Dinah Jefferies before the rainsA big welcome today to Dinah Jefferies. Her new novel, Before The Rains was released by Viking in February (2017.)

1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband’s death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza’s only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she’s determined to make a name for herself.

But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince’s handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families – and society – think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what’s expected, or following their hearts. . .

 

Hello Dinah, thank you so much for joining me today. Your new novel, Before The Rains sounds great. Can you tell me about it and where the idea originated?

I read about and then visited a small palace where, in the past, the royal family had mortgaged the family jewels to pay for an irrigation project. That gave me the idea for the title and one of the themes of the book. I fell in love with Rajasthan and wanted the pages of Before The Rains to shimmer with spice and silk so that the beauty of India would shine through. It’s about an independent female character with an interesting job as a photo-journalist. But above all it’s a story of forbidden love, with an edge to it, and plenty of opposition from either side. I wanted the story to be life-enhancing, despite the mystery of what’s going in the dark recesses of the palace. And so I tried to bring to life the colour and immense luxury of a Rajasthan palace and contrast that with the raw emptiness of the desert that surrounds it. It’s a romantic story that offers something more.

 

What elements do you need in place prior to writing a novel? Do you need a comprehensive plan, do you edit as you go etc?

I usually prepare a fifteen-page synopsis and stick to it as much as I can as I write. Having said that, there will inevitably be changes, edits and shifts as I go along. Sometimes a new idea will come to me, sometimes I’ll need to take the story in a different direction, sometimes something doesn’t work, so I try to remain flexible throughout. I do loads of revisions and love the editing process once the first draft is done.

 

What writing rituals do you have?

I’m not really a ritual kind of a person, but I try to write in the mornings while my mind is still fresh. A cup of coffee is a must, as is a warm room. I have a lovely new garden room where I write now and that has made all the difference. I was in a cramped back bedroom before. I now have my den and I love it.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

My favourite word at the moment is ‘cinnamon’ because it figures widely in the book I am currently writing. I also like the sound of the word and the smell of cinnamon, especially on a cake or pudding. Mmmm! Cinnamon buns and coffee. Now there’s a thought.

 

Best and hardest thing about being a writer?

The best thing is when you hold a finished book in your hand for the first time. I absolutely love that moment. It has usually taken a long process to reach that point and some of the hardest things happen on the way. The very worst thing is when a manuscript isn’t working as it should but you can’t figure out what’s wrong. Then it feels like you’re grappling with a wild beast intent on devouring you. That’s when your editor is fantastically useful.

 

Out of all your books, do you have a favourite passage/section?

I love the section on page 20 of The Tea Planter’s Wife when Gwen sees the tea plantation for the first time and describes the tea bushes as a tapestry of green velvet, where women tea pickers looked like tiny embroidered birds.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

A Moment With: Caroline Lea Chats About Writing & Editing Her Novel, When The Sky Fell Apart

Caroline Lea

Caroline Lea

Massive happy hellos to Caroline Lea and her stunning debut novel, When The Sky Fell Apart which has just been released by Text Publishing.

Jersey, June 1940: it starts with the burning man on the beach just after the bombs land, obliterating the last shred of hope that Hitler will avert his attention from the Channel Islands. Within weeks, 12,000 German troops land on the Jersey beaches, heralding a new era of occupation.

For 10-year-old Claudine, it means a re-education under German rule, and as she befriends one of the soldiers, she inadvertently opens the gateway to a more sinister influence in her home with devastating consequences.

For Maurice, a local fisherman, it means protecting his wife at all costs. He has heard the whispers from France of what the occupiers do to invalids like Marthe and he is determined to keep them away from her – even if it means endangering his own life.

Edith, the island’s unofficial homeopath, is a Jerriais through to her bones. She sees her duty as caring for those who need her in their darkest time, but even she can’t save everyone, no matter how hard she tries.

And as for English doctor Tim Carter – on the arrival of the brutal Commandant, he becomes the subject of a terrifying regime that causes the Jersey locals to brand him a traitor, unaware of the torment he suffers in an effort to save them.

When The Sky Fell Apart

 

It’s over to Caroline where she is chatting about her writing process and the magic of editing. I’ve also reviewed the book too.

I’ve always written, but it took having children to compel me to finish my first novel. Perhaps it was the escapism writing offered, or the fact that motherhood has shown me both that I am a huge control freak, and that parenting is hard (why didn’t someone warn me that my kids would have opinions, or that they might prefer fistfuls of sugar to steamed broccoli?). The result was WHEN THE SKY FELL APART, which was written in six months during my children’s nap-times. Children provided me with a useful time constraint—I always respond well to a deadline—and writing provided me with characters I could control, so that it mattered less when my children drew on their faces with sharpie marker pens.

There were many surprises along the road to publication, not least of which was the amount of criticism writers must be willing to accept. The key is to acknowledge it, struggle back up, dust yourself off and continue to write, ignoring the monkey on your shoulder, babbling that you’re a failure. Writers are masters of self-sabotage. It’s easy to sit in front of a blank screen, paralysed by the idea that, whatever you write, it won’t be good enough. At the other end of the spectrum is the eviscerating experience of writing something ‘good’, only to feel utterly shattered by critical feedback from an agent or editor. All this emotional battery can leave hopeful writers feeling like the end product might not justify the years of tears and crushed egos, but I think that the problem is often that we expect to be ‘good’ too soon: we don’t allow ourselves to write badly.

Bear with me. I’m not suggesting that you send out your first draft of poorly shaped plot, with under-developed characters (I tried this with the first draft of my second novel: the response from my wonderful and longsuffering agent was polite but brutal). But I am saying that good work often starts with ‘bad’ writing, and with forgiving yourself for writing badly, and then being ready to endlessly reshape, rework, edit and redraft. This is where the magic happens.  Imagine that you’re a sculptor.  The first, roughly hewn block of wood will look be underwhelming. You’ll spend hundreds of hours sawing, chiseling, sanding and varnishing it before you have anything worthy of display. On the other hand, there may be things that remain in your novel through all twenty redrafts: WHEN THE SKY FELL APART starts with a burning man on a beach, and the first sentence, which was the impetus for the whole novel, has never changed: When he was on fire, the man smelt bitter.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Blog Tour: The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown – Book Review

The Witchfinder's Sister jacket Beth Underdown credit Justine StoddartA big welcome today to Beth Underdown and the blog tour for her novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister which is due to be released by Viking tomorrow (2nd March 2017.) 

‘The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

Based on the true story of the man known as the Witchfinder General, this exquisitely rendered novel transports you to a time and place almost unimaginable, where survival might mean betraying those closest to you, and danger lurks outside every door.

Alice has just lost her husband. With little option available to her and nowhere else to go, she has to return to the home of her brother, Matthew Hopkins, ‘the Witchfinder General.’

Many rumours are circulating about Matthew’s conduct. Alice doesn’t want to believe her brother is capable of these things. The longer she is around her brother, the harder it is to avoid the feeling that the rumours are true.

It was easy to sympathise with Alice. She is governed by her circumstances and isn’t really respected by the men around her. Most of all, her brother.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Book Review: Paper Hearts & Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews

Sphere, December 2016

Sphere, December 2016

Christie Chapman is a single mum who spends her days commuting to her secretarial job in London and looking after her teenage son, Finn. It’s not an easy life but Christie finds comfort in her love of crafting, and spends her spare time working on her beautiful creations. From intricately designed cards to personalised gifts, Christie’s flair for the handmade knows no bounds and it’s not long before opportunity comes knocking.

Christie can see a future full of hope and possibility for her and Finn – and if the handsome Max is to be believed, one full of love too. It’s all there for the taking. And then, all of sudden, her world is turned upside down.

Christie knows that something has to give, but can she really give up her dreams and the chance of real love? Will Christie find her happy ending in . . . Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses.

 

Knowing this story is based on a real-life person (Christie Chapman – look her up and also read her review on Amazon.co.uk) added a slice of intrigue to my reading. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t pretend to know any of Christie’s actual story, but if it was as heart-rending and inspiring as PH&SK portrays, then all hats should be doffed to the lady and her son.

Our main characters are Christie and her son Finn and it’s through Christie’s eyes that we see her struggle to support her son, whilst bringing him up as a single parent, not made any easier by the constant worry caused by Finn’s mysterious headaches, which never go away and keep him off school. Her parents are a wonderful source of support and when Christie finds herself jetting off to the USA for a crafting course by an up and coming US-based company, this is thanks to her mother.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Blog Tour: Extract From If Ever I Fall by S.D Robertson

S.D RobertsonA lovely big massive welcome to S.D Robertson and the blog tour for his new novel, If Ever I Fall which was released by Avon on 9th February 2017.

Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. He’s lost his house, his job is on the line, and now he’s going to lose his family too. All he’s ever wanted is to keep them together, but is everything beyond repair?

Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered. Nights are spent trying to hold terrible memories at bay, to escape the pain that threatens to engulf her.

Jack wakes up confused and alone. He doesn’t know who he is, how he got there, or why he finds himself on a deserted clifftop, but will piecing together the past leave him a broken man?

In the face of real tragedy, can these three people find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through?

 

Stuart and Avon have kindly given me an extract from the novel to share with you today. I have also reviewed the book below. Enjoy.

 

If I Ever FallMorning, Jack. You’re up bright and early.’

Miles is unloading a large bag of beans into the built-in coffee machine above the oven. I smile at him, say good morning and accept his offer of breakfast. But behind the facade I’m cracking up. How did I get here? I’ve no memory of waking, getting dressed and coming downstairs. And what happened yesterday? Or the day before? My memory’s all messed up: confused by shadows of half-remembered dreams.

The last thing I remember for sure is being in the car with Miles in the village and that weird incident in the hardware shop. Was it real or a dream?

I should tell Miles what’s going on. He is a doctor after all. But I’m not sure I trust him. I’m not convinced he’s ever taken me to the hospital. He says I’ve been there, but I’ve no memory of it.

There’s something off about all of this. What if he’s drugging me? Mind-altering substances could explain a lot. Maybe even what I saw – or thought I saw – in the shop. How has this not occurred to me before?

I wait until he’s finished with the coffee machine and then, as he looks at me, hold my hand to my stomach and wince.

‘Problem?’ he asks.

‘Stomach cramps. Think I’d better get to the toilet.’

‘Oh dear. Hope it’s not the crab we had last night.’

Crab? I’ve no memory of that. Shutting the kitchen door behind me, I head to the foot of the stairs. I wait there for a moment, to make sure he’s not coming after me. Then I slip out of the front door.

It’s cold outside this morning, another biting wind blowing in off the sea. Again, I don’t have my jacket with me, but there’s no time to find it now. I have to get out of here. As far away as possible. And it has to be now.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Book Review: The Other Side of You by Amanda Craig

Abacus, February 2017

Abacus, February 2017

Will must run from the gang that controls the estate where he lives or die. He has witnessed the murder of his Aunty and so he is running for his life. He needs to find somewhere to hide

In doing this, he ends up in the area outside the estate he has known all of his life. It’s all very different. People don’t walk around looking over their shoulder and businesses thrive.
He finds shelter in what he calls a ‘glass house.’

Soon after that, he meets Padma and falls in love. He feels he could actually make his life better. Then his past catches up with him.
This book is based around/ is an updated version of Beauty and The Beast. When I started reading, I did wonder how this was going to be achieved. The story is so well-known. It’s all be integrated really well.

The description of the green house and the plants are so vivid. I felt as though I was there. The writing is fast paced and page turning.

I read this in pretty much one sitting (it’s a hundred pages long) but it drew me in. I even like how Amanda included the roses.

Will has been told he is one thing all of his life. He assumes that all he has ever known is all he will ever be. Escaping shows him a different path. You’ve just got to want it. Also, first impressions and appearances are not always to be trusted.

This is a great addition to the Quick Reads library. I enjoyed it very much.

 

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Stationery Spotlight: Letters and Doodles to Kickstart Creativity

formletters

Abrams, September 2016

Finding the time to write can sometimes be hard to do. Work, school runs, bedtime routines… there are many things in life that can get in the way.

The other battle is once you’ve sat down to write, your inspiration disappears and that blank space on the page can be incredibly daunting. No matter how long you sit there, the words will not come.

This is why I like writing prompts. Your brain is like a car engine. It works better when it has warmed up. Today I wanted to share two books that I’ve found so helpful.

Form letters by Laura Olin is a series of letters where you fill in the blanks. In the form of a workbook, it has a series of pages that include a letter to an internet friend who you’d like to know better, a note of encouragement to yourself, a letter to your sibling, your valentine and the ex whose instagram you’re stalking.

‘Fill in the blank notes to say anything to anyone.’

If you need something to get the creativity going, this book could be perfect. You never know what these letters will spark.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Blog Tour: The One by John Marrs – Review

The OneA big welcome today to John Marrs and the blog tour for his novel, The One which was published as an eBook in January with the paperback following in May 2017.

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

 

Chris’s verdict on The One:

Imagine a world where all it takes to find your prefect partner is a simple DNA test. Should you follow the science and seek out that person, or follow convention and see where your heart leads you?

The book follows the stories of several individuals who are drawn together because they have received a notice from the DNA match website identifying their match. The characters are a strange group – Intellectuals, officials and even a serial killer.

The One BannerI found that the book asks various questions; if you find your perfect match will you love them? If you fall in love with someone other than your match then will it, or can it, work out? And if you have met your perfect match will they love you despite your flaws?

The stories all occur simultaneously, following linear time though out the book, with individual chapters for each character which works wonderfully so as to draw you though the book as you always want to know what is going to happen to X or Y next.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Blog Tour: Helen Fields Shares An Extract From Perfect Remains

51ed9jd2HkLA huge lovely welcome today to Helen Fields and the blog tour for her new novel, Perfect Remains (a DI Callanach thriller,) which was released by Avon on 26th January 2017. 

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

 

Helen and Avon have kindly shared an extract from Perfect Remains. Enjoy! 

Jayne Magee was about as unlikely a target as anyone could imagine. There was no suggestion that Elaine Buxton was a regular at any church at all, so religion wasn’t the link. The pathologist hadn’t been able to estimate Elaine’s time of death, meaning they had no established pattern to follow, only the knowledge that she’d been missing sixteen days before her body was found. This time, the abductor might keep Jayne alive for weeks or she could be dead already. The killer had become a male in Callanach’s mind. There was no evidence, nothing solid, only years of past cases and what was screamingly obvious. Maybe it was more than one person, he considered, but Ava was right about looking at personality first. He couldn’t see such an obsessive character working well as a team player.

Callanach met with Jayne Magee’s assistant, Ann Burt, that afternoon. She dropped a dripping umbrella into Callanach’s bin then removed and folded her headscarf before sitting down.

Callanach instinctively tidied his desk as she settled in. Stick thin, shrill and at the far end of her sixties, he guessed, Ann Burt told it like it was. She reminded him of his grandmother, distant though those memories were.

‘So I’m talking to the detective inspector, am I?’ she began. ‘You’re the third person I’ve repeated myself to today. Would you like to tell me what’s going on?’

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Book News: February Book Releases

neil gaimamA new month. We’re already reaching the end of the first week of February. How is that possible?!

There are some wonderful authors releasing books this month and I wanted to share a few of the ones I am looking forward to getting my hands on.

 

Norse Mythology is the latest release by Neil Gaiman and it sounds amazing. It’s released on 7th February by Bloomsbury.
I am fairly new to Neil’s books (although I loved Stardust when it was released as a movie.)
I am also interested in the subject matter of this book.

The norse myths are woven into our story telling. Neil Gaiman reaches back through time to the original source stories. Norse mythology is a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great norse tales; Ragnarok, Twilight of the Gods, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya. These are all irresistible in Neil’s latest book (although Tom Hiddleston as Loki is pretty irresistible already if I am honest.)

 

51bpCyyEV3LBackstabber by Kimberley Chambers is due for release on 9th February by Harper Collins. Kimberley’s books always sound like they would completely draw me in. I might have to pull this up the TBR pile a bit.

One of them has a gun to his head. Who will pull the trigger?

King of the underworld, Vinny Butler goes into business with respected villain, Eddie Mitchell. It’s a match made in East End legend.
Friends and Family are treated all, enemies like rats.
Then a mysterious package arrives; dead creatures and threats. Someone is out for revenge. Who the enemy is, no one knows. There are some people you should never cross, some who can’t forgive or forget.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Book News: Galaxy Quick Reads Release Six New Books

Feel the fearSix exciting new Galaxy Quick Reads titles released on 2nd February.

These books are part of the annual campaign to improve adult literacy.

This is the seventh year Quick Reads has been sponsored by Galaxy and the second year it has been run by the Literary Agency.

One in six adults struggle with reading in the UK. This year, Quick Reads will continue its work to break down the barriers that prevent people from picking up a book.

From a re-imagining of Beauty and The Beast, to a road trip in search of Poldark, the titles include books from Jenny Colgan and a special edition of Feel The Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers.
There is also a crime collection featuring Harry Bingham, Clare MacKintosh and Mark Billingham.

The first Quick read is Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Released by Ebury, this is a specially adapted book drawing on the landmark self-help book by the late, Susan Jeffers. This is the first time a self-help book has been released in this series and what a great one to kick it off.

Everyone has fears and worries that stop them from progressing and going for the things they want in life. The simple life-changing exercises in this book will teach anyone to turn uncertainty into action.

Dead SimpleThe second, released by Orion is Dead Simple. This is a collection of short stories from some of the UK’s best crime writers.

Authors featured include Mark Billingham, Clare MacKintosh, James Oswald, Jane Casey, Angela Marsons, Harry Bingham, Antonia Hodgson and CL Taylor.

There are eight stories that will have many twists and turns; a man who attempts to commit the perfect murder, a widow who is about to lose more than her husband and a murderer who, when is he is about to be hanged realises that there could be worse things that happen to him.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Book Review: The Girl on the Beach by Morton S. Gray

the girl on the beach

Death By Choc Lit, January 2017

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says …

But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.

 

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of reading some novels before their published date; my thanks to those who’ve been so generous to allow me to do so, you know who you are. Around two weeks ago, I was accorded the honour of being sent a copy of the author Morton S Gray’s debut novel ‘The Girl on the Beach’, published by Choclit.

I’ve read a few debuts over the years and obviously some are better than others. If you’re lucky, you’re left doing a passable goldfish impression with your mouth simply repeating, ‘OMG! OMG! OMG! Whilst some honestly leave you wondering how on earth they got published. This novel sits firmly, as in set-in-stone firmly, in the former category. I finished it last night and just sat there enjoying a special feeling…you know the one where you know, you just know that you’ve found a special author and you’re going to be ticking off the days on your calendar until their next release!

Those who read my reviews will know that I don’t tend to give much away about the plot, it spoils the twists and turns – and there are plenty here – that a good author will sprinkle around their work. Ms Gray’s story is as much ‘Suspense’ as ‘Romance’ and considering the subject matter, this is just as well. Because of this, I have to explain what I mean and tell you a little more of the story than I normally would. I prefer to concentrate on how the writer…um, writes.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.

Book Club
Book Club
Twitter
Archives
Categories