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

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

Here’s a little about the book:

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Backstory

Your characters and their development are a really important element in your story.

Pick one of your characters from either your current work in progress or for a story you’ve maybe only got an idea about.

Write 300-500 words detailing a big moment from their life before the beginning of your story. You can do this for more than one character.

Include as much detail as you can about this incident. How they felt, what they saw, where they were, who they were with.

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Events: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Festival 2021

Ian Rankin OBE

The largest and most prestigious celebration of crime fiction starts tomorrow.

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Festival 2021 is starting tomorrow (22nd July) and running until 25th July.

The Festival Programme Chair, Ian Rankin OBE will be in attendance. He, along with some of the other biggest authors in crime fiction will be discussing topics including the future of crime writing from the rise of cutting edge science to the demise of the Police Procedural.

Special guests include Richard Osman, Elly Griffiths, Mark Billingham and CL Taylor.

Events include The Pleasures and Pitfalls of the Short Story, Planners Vs Pantsters and a Late Night Quiz with Val McDermid and Mark Billingham.

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Book Review: Houses of Deception by Cynthia Hamilton

Three missing persons.
Two private investigators.
One chance to get it right.

The MDPI team agrees to join forces with former nemesis Russell Barnett to find Dylan Latham, the son of the man who lost his life while working to save Madeline’s.

The investigation turns into a hunt for two twenty-somethings who’ve disappeared without a trace, starting at the home of land rich Cat Kingman, an eccentric woman in her late-70s. Madeline and Mike soon find themselves wading through a shameful past for clues as they scramble to save two young lives.

A frantic early-morning phone call propels the detectives down a rabbit hole as a missing person case turns into a kidnapping for ransom.

Now juggling two cases, Madeline and Mike can’t afford to waste any time. But as they dive deeper into both investigations, red flags and gut feelings cause them to question whether the people they’re searching for are really innocent victims—or guilty parties responsible for orchestrating sinister plots.

As they navigate ransom drops, stolen art, and extortion schemes, the two cases prove to be more complicated than either investigator can imagine.

The secrets and lies they uncover will have you turning each page until the very end.

Husband and wife team, Madeline and Mike run a PI agency. They find themselves investigating two missing person cases on the same day and it’s a race against time.

On one case, they have to work with former nemesis, Russell, to help find his nephew, Dylan and his girlfriend, Paige. The other case goes from a missing person to a kidnapping for ransom.

Can Madeline, Mike and their team find these three people before it’s too late and find out what’s really going on?

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Book Review: The Corfe Castle Murders by Rachel McLean

Meet DCI Lesley Clarke. She’s a straight-talking city copper who doesn’t suffer fools gladly… and she’s been transferred to rural Dorset.

After being injured in a bomb attack, Lesley is presented with a choice – early retirement, or a period of respite in a calmer location.

But things don’t stay calm for long.

Before she’s even started her new job, Lesley is dragged into investigating a murder at one of England’s most iconic landmarks, the imposing Corfe Castle.

Lesley must hit the ground running. Can she get along with her new partner DS Dennis Frampton, a traditionalist who doesn’t appreciate her style? How will she navigate the politics of a smaller force where she’s a bigger, and less welcome, fish? And most importantly, can she solve the murder before the killer strikes again?

The Corfe Castle Murders is a compelling, character-driven mystery perfect for fans of Ruth Rendell, Colin Dexter, Faith Martin and Joy Ellis.

Detective Lesley Clarke has just moved from Birmingham to Dorset for six months. She needs time away after two big cases and an injury deeply impacted her life.

As the new DCI, she has a new team. They, for the most part are welcoming. Dennis however, prefers traditional methods and isn’t fully on board at the beginning with how Lesley works.

The day before she is due to begin, there is a murder and Lesley finds herself thrown straight into a case and the mystery of the man who came before her.

The Corfe Castle Murders is the first in the Dorset Crime Book series by author, Rachel McLean.

Lesley is a complex character who has a lot going on in her life. I feel that there is more to her than meets the eye and I hope this is further explored as the book series progresses.

The supporting characters were great although I found Dennis to be a little frustrating. In my opinion, his view of the world didn’t particularly aline with modern thinking. I did find it interesting how his attitudes evolved over the course of the book.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: My Best Friends From TV

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing flash fiction prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Don’t edit, just write. Once you’re done, you’re welcome to share in the comments but there’s no obligation. 

 

Today’s prompt: my best friends from the TV. 

Pick two of the main characters from the last TV show you watched. They are now your best friends.

Your setting is an ice-cream shop. There are ten tables, five of which are occupied (including the one you’re sat at.)

Then, out of nowhere, everything goes dark.

Continue the story.

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Blog : Upcoming Book Releases: July 2021

Hello everyone. Happy Friday.

As we get into the nicer weather (please weather fairies,) and the summer months, there is more of an opportunity to disappear with a good book.

There are some corkers due out this month and below are a small sample.

 

Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Treachery™ by Brian Freeman is due to be released by Head of Zeus on 27th July.

This is book thirteen for Jason Bourne. This might be a bit of an unpopular opinion but I didn’t mind the films at all. I have to admit to having not read any of the novels but, reading the synopsis for the newest outing, that will soon change. Do I need to read the previous novels before reading this one? Let me know in the comments below if you’ve read them. This does sound so good.

Three years ago, Bourne and his partner, Nova embarked on a mission to rescue a Russian double agent. They failed.

Now Nova is dead, Bourne is alone and is working in the shadows for Treadstone. He awaits his next assignment.

Then his handler brings him shocking news. The double agent is alive and Bourne will soon have to face his past.

 

The Rainbow by Carly Schabowski, published by Bookouture and due out on 28th July, is fiction based on a true story.

I always find this type of fiction so fascinating and this book sounds particularly intriguing. I also know, before even starting, that it is going to make me cry. Do you ever have that feeling, even before you begin a book that it is going to pull you through all the emotions?

Isla is in present day London and is gathering photos of her beloved 95 year-old Grandfather.

She grew up hearing about his stories fighting the Germans in WWII so when she finds a photo of him from that time, wearing a Nazi uniform, she doesn’t know what to think.

Is everything she thought about him a lie?

 

Also set in WWII, Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman is due to be released by Mira Books on 22nd July. The description of this book is so vivid and it’s focusing on a part of the war that I don’t know too much about. Even from reading the synopsis, I want to find out more.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Crossroads

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing flash fiction prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Don’t edit, just write. Once you’re done, you’re welcome to share in the comments but there’s no obligation. 

 

Today’s prompt is Crossroads. 

Your character is walking along, minding their own business. The sun is bright and the area around them is busy.

When they reach a pedestrian crossing, they press the button and wait to cross. Suddenly, all the noise and people around them disappear. It’s quiet and still.

Ahead of them, the lights disappear and a dirt road appears. At the end is a sign post.

‘Go right to return to your life.’

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Book Review: The Lily Garden by Barbara Josselsohn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Review: A Case of Royal Blackmail by Sherlock Holmes

In A Case of Royal Blackmail, the 24-year-old Sherlock Holmes recounts how he untangled the web of blackmail and deceit surrounding the ‘complex romantic endeavours’ of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, those of Lillie Langtry and her various suitors and the morass of scandal surrounding the Prince’s court of 1879.

In between times he also reveals how he solved the cases of Vamberry the Wine Merchant, Ricoletti of the Club-foot and His Abominable Wife and Oscar Wilde’s Amethyst Tie-pin.

Eighteen months before Sherlock Holmes meets Dr Watson and the duo of Baker Street is formed, Holmes is a 24 year old finding his feet as a consulting detective.

He soon becomes engrossed in not only recovering a stolen family heirloom for Oscar Wilde but is also looking to a case involving Royalty. Someone is attempting to blackmail the Prince of Wales.

Many people could be involved including Lillie Langtry and her various suitors. It’s real scandal that could rock Queen Victoria’s court in 1879.

Can Sherlock bring his growing number of cases to a satisfying conclusion or has he taken on more than he bargained for?

I love a good detective story and so this immediately appealed to the puzzle solver in me and Sherlock Holmes is one of the greats.

I love that it was written by him – like a case summary. I also liked reference to all the other historical figures – Lillie Langtry and Oscar Wilde especially as both these people fascinate me. I have always loved it when fiction gets mixed with history. Oh to be a fly on the wall of the real events.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Rewriting the End

Welcome to the Novel Kicks Writing Room. 

Today, I wanted to look at the ending of novels.

Endings, in my opinion, are as important as beginnings. If it’s not a satisfying end, it could really annoy the reader and leave them feeling flat.

Pick an ending to a book you’ve previously read and rewrite it.

You could do this by using the original POV or, you could choose another character from the story. It’s your call.

The only rule is that it should be different to the original story.

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NK Chats To… Kasi Blake

Hi Kasi, thank you for joining me today. Can you tell me about your novel, The Business Engagement and what inspired it?

I started off writing for Harlequin years ago. Then I moved on to YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal books. I love writing YA, but it was nice to write about adults for a change. The Business Engagement is Contemporary Romance, a story of two lawyers that can’t stand each other. When the story begins, they are both experiencing huge problems at work. Skylar decides a fake engagement would solve everything. I have always loved Marriage of Convenience stories. That’s what inspired me to do this book.

 

What’s your typical writing day like?

Well, sometimes I get up before dawn to start writing. But when I get up late, I catch up on emails first. I do some marketing and whatever else that needs doing. I usually don’t really start to write until evening, and then I am usually up until midnight working on a book.

 

What are the challenges you found when writing your novel?

It’s always difficult to get to know the characters well enough that you know how they’ll react in any given situation. There are just so many moving parts when it comes to writing and endless challenges.

 

Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?

From this book, it would be Grandma Dot. She’s a pistol. From any of my books, it would be Nick Gallos/Tyler Beck from Bait: Van Helsing Academy because he is a gorgeous rock star with a bigger than life persona. He tours the world killing vampires.

 

From idea to finished book, what’s your writing process like?

After I get the idea, I make a list of possible scenes. I have to check to make sure all the romance elements are there. Then I dive in. When the book is finished, I put it aside for a while and work on something else. After I’ve forgotten how the story goes, I read it as a reader would, but I pay special attention to what’s wrong. I rewrite. Then I send it out to my wonderful beta readers. They let me know all the problems they spy out, and I rewrite again. Eventually, it gets looked at by an editor. The book goes through several rounds of revisions and editing before it’s ready to go.

 

Which authors do you admire?

S.E. Hinton got me started writing back when I was in the 7th grade. Her books inspired me. I also love to read Cassandra Clare, JK Rowling, Stephen King, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Nora Roberts.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

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NK Chats To… Simon Whaley

It’s my pleasure to help kick off the blog tour for Blooming Murder. Hello Simon, thank you for joining me today. 

Hi Laura. Many thanks for inviting me onto Novel Kicks to discuss my first novel. It’s lovely to be here.

Can you tell me about your novel, Blooming Murder and what inspired it?

Blooming Murder is set in the fictitious market town of Mortiforde, somewhere on the Welsh Borders, and tells the story of two towns fighting it out in the annual Borders in Blossom competition, to become the Borders Most Blossoming Market Town. For the fifteenth successive year, Mortiforde is up against their arch rivals Portley Ridge in this flower competition final.

My main character, Lord Mortiforde, (Aldermaston to friends and family), who is still finding his feet as the new 8th Marquess of Mortiforde, is tasked with helping Mortiforde win this year. Unfortunately for Aldermaston, Portley Ridge is determined to secure their fifteenth successive win, and have a few deadly tricks up their sleeve.

The inspiration came from an old news item I discovered on the BBC News website once, although I won’t say too much, because it might spoil the plot!

But I’m also inspired by my home county of Shropshire. When I moved here from the outskirts of London over 20 years ago, I was struck by the strong sense of community here. There’s a determination in the people who live here. When something needs doing, the community gets up and does it!

 

What’s your typical writing day like?

It doesn’t always happen, but I try to spend most of my mornings working on my bigger writing projects, such as the Marquess of Mortiforde Mystery series. Then, before lunch, I’ll go for a walk. Being hunched up over a keyboard all day isn’t good, and I’m fortunate to live amongst the beautiful scenery of the Welsh Borders.

My walking time is often some of my best creative time because walking is great for thinking. Charles Dickens sometimes walked twenty miles a day when he was writing. (I’m not sure how he found the time to write – I’d be too exhausted to write after walking that far!)

In the afternoons, I work on commissioned article features for magazines like The People’s Friend, BBC Countryfile, and Writing Magazine.

 

What are the challenges you found when writing your novel?

I’m a discovery writer, rather than a detailed planner, so although I have a rough idea of how things will develop, it’s not until I sit down and start writing that I discover where the characters are going to take me. They don’t always take me where I expect them to, so there were times when I found myself getting stuck. And while walking is great for creatively resolving problems, I don’t always resolve my current dilemma on the first walk!

 

What songs would make up a playlist for your book?

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A Moment With… Angela Jackson

Best-selling author Angela Jackson, who has just launched her new book, The Darlings, reveals her top five tips on writing:

 

  1. YOU DEFINITELY DON’T NEED TO WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW

You have an imagination, so use it! My second novel, The Darlings, is written mainly from the point of view of a thirty-something male comedian. I’m not in my thirties, I’m not a man, and I’d be stretching it to claim to be a comedian, but I did my research. One of our jobs as writers is to head down research rabbit holes to find out why people have affairs, sail around the world, change their religion, leave their partners, change careers, kill people. If you find yourself losing track of time as you research your subject area, it’s a good sign you’ll enjoy writing about the subject. If I’d have stuck to writing solely what I know about, I’d have submitted 70,000 words on the merits of a good cup of tea.

 

  1. BE YOURSELF

I once spent a whole academic year silencing my voice. After a buoyant start to an MSc in Creative Writing, once I was ‘put in my place’ by a particular tutor a couple of times, I sat in classes cowed and uncharacteristically silent. Even though I won a prestigious writing award during the same year, I didn’t trust myself to write another good sentence. I started to believe the ridiculous idea that commercial fiction, which is what I write, wasn’t good enough. If you find yourself thinking along these lines: STOP! You don’t need to be a ‘heavyweight’. You don’t need to produce a classic. I look at material I wrote during that wretched year, and it feels utterly forced and lifeless. That’s because I was trying to be someone else. I was trying to be a ‘serious’ writer. It didn’t work. You don’t need to write what you know, but you DO need to allow your own writing voice to emerge.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Christmas in July

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below if you’d like. 

Today’s prompt: Christmas in July.

Your character doesn’t like holidays and celebrations at all.

They particularly don’t like all this Christmas in July nonsense.

So, what happens if they fall and suddenly find themselves in a world where it is always Christmas?

First line ‘Gold, red and green lights, what is this?’ 

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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Humans by Matt Haig

Wow, I know I say this a lot but how are we in a new month already? Not only that, we’re halfway through 2021. 

This month, I have picked a book that has been in my TBR pile for a long time. It sounds intriguing. I’ve picked The Humans by Matt Haig.

Our book club is open to all whether you’re in the middle of reading it, haven’t started yet or have already read it, I would love to discuss it with you in the comments below. The best thing about our book club is that you can talk about this book from the comfort of your sofa.

I’ve added a question below to get the discussion going. See you in the comments.

Click to buy the book on Amazon UK

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Book Review: The Darlings by Angela Jackson

When Mark Darling is fifteen years old, he is the golden boy, captain of the school football team, admired by all who know him. Until he kills his best friend in a freak accident.

He spends the next decade drifting between the therapy couch and dead-end pursuits. Then along comes Sadie. A mender by nature, she tries her best to fix him, and has enough energy to carry them both through the next few years.

One evening, Mark bumps into an old schoolfriend, Ruby. She saw the accident first hand. He is pulled towards her by a force stronger than logic: the universal need to reconcile one’s childhood wounds. This is his chance to, once again, feel the enveloping warmth of unconditional love. But can he leave behind the woman who rescued him from the pit of despair, the wife he loves? His unborn child?

This is a story about how childhood experience can profoundly impact how we behave as adults. It’s a story about betrayal, infidelity and how we often blinker ourselves to see a version of the truth that is more palatable to us.

Mark is haunted by the tragedy of killing his best friend when they were still at school. Even though he now has a wife who saved him from rock bottom and a baby on the way, the events of his schooldays still haunt him.

Enter Ruby. A girl from those days who was there. Who saw everything.

Mark is drawn to Ruby but can he stop himself before he crosses that line and loses everything in his life?

I’ve not read ‘The Emergence of Judy Taylor’ so I’m new to Angela Jackson’s novels.
The Darlings intrigued me from page one. Mark is a character you have both empathy and dislike for all at the same time. He struggles mentally with the fact that he accidentally killed his friend. He behaves in a way that isn’t great. As a reader, this really conflicted me and it was really interesting to see how much of the past can influence the future. I think everyone can relate to that aspect in some way.

As with Mark, I also struggled with Ruby. She goes into a relationship with Mark knowing his situation but she falls in love. I think she becomes a victim of that.
As I progressed through the book, I wondered whether these two could be redeemed.
Yes, what they do isn’t very nice but when you’re connected by something so tragic, it does create a bond especially if you’re still needing to get past these events. I found the way both the story and the characters split my opinion really interesting.

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Book Review: Insider by Owen Mullen

Someone’s playing both sides and now they have a score to settle…

When the family business is crime, you can never be sure who to trust. And when three of their businesses are hit in one night, the notorious Glass family close ranks. Either someone is sending them a message or a war is coming… 

With trouble coming from all sides, the heads of the Glass family have more than enough to deal with, but all bets are off when a stranger from the past enters the game, causing division and mistrust.

Crooked cops, rival gangs and old enemies are bad enough, but when the trouble comes from the inside, loyalties are tested, with deadly consequences.

Page-turning, gripping, gritty, Insider is perfect for fans of Martina Cole, Kimberley Chambers and Mandasue Heller.

The Glass family is a crime family based in South London. They have been the undisputed kings of their patch for a long time but now someone is after them.

This book pulled me in quickly. From the start, the action begins and this made it hard to put it down.
Written both in third and first person, it really gave me an idea of how these characters were feeling and their motivations behind their decisions.

Without giving too much away, two of the main characters, Luke and Nina, find out they have a long lost relative and they are looking for their share of the empire.
This aspect only adds to the turbulent relationships already existing within this family and it does a good job of depicting how family loyalties can be tested.

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Book Review: The Orange Grove by Rosanna Ley

An unforgettable story of past love and family secrets, set in sunny Seville

Holly loves making marmalade. Now she has a chance to leave her stressful city job and pursue her dream – of returning to the Dorset landscape of her childhood to open Bitter Orange, a shop celebrating the fruit that first inspired her.

Holly’s mother Ella has always loved Seville. So why is she reluctant to go back there with Holly to source products for the shop? What is she frightened of – and does it have anything to do with the old Spanish recipe for Seville orange and almond cake that Ella keeps hidden from her family?

In Seville, where she was once forced to make the hardest decision of her life, Ella must finally face up to the past, while Holly meets someone who poses a threat to all her plans. Seville is a city full of sunshine and oranges. But it can also be bittersweet. Will love survive the secrets of the orange grove?

Holly has made a decision. She is leaving her stressful job in Brighton and is moving back home to Dorset to pursue her dream of opening her own shop, Bitter Orange.

Knowing her mother has always loved Seville and has not visited since the 1980’s, Holly is a little confused when Ella doesn’t seem enthusiastic about the trip and she starts to ask questions when they go to source stock for the new shop. What awaits Holly in Seville? What is her mother hiding?

The Orange Grove was my introduction to Rosanna Ley and so, when I began The Orange Grove, I didn’t know what to expect but the cover alone was a good sign. It’s so pretty. I always love when books are set in Dorset. Growing up there, it holds a special place for me.

It didn’t take long for this story to draw me in. Rosanna’s descriptions of Seville felt so dreamy and vivid. I could imagine myself in that setting, surrounded by beautiful oranges trees. I could smell the orange blossoms. I could see myself in the hustle and bustle. I have never visited Seville but now I want to. It sounds stunning.

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Book Review: Two Metres From You by Heidi Stephens

Love might be closer than you think . . .

Gemma isn’t sure what upsets her more. The fact she just caught her boyfriend cheating, or that he did it on her brand-new Heal’s cushions.

All she knows is she needs to put as many miles between her and Fraser as humanly possible. So, when her best friend suggests a restorative few days in the West Country, it seems like the perfect solution.

That is, until the country enters a national lockdown that leaves her stranded. All she has for company is her dog, Mabel. And the mysterious (and handsome!) stranger living at the bottom of her garden . . .

When Gemma finds her boyfriend with another woman, she bolts to her friend’s cottage in the West Country. It’s only for a few days. It’s an opportunity to hide and figure out what she’s going to do next.

What Gemma isn’t counting on is the next door neighbour, Matthew and the announcement of a national lockdown due to COVID 19.

Heidi Stephen’s debut novel deals with life in lockdown perfectly. There are so many situations that we can all relate to in some way or another and this is done with such charm and humour.

Gemma is a delight (if not a slightly frustrating character at times.) However, she has a vulnerability to her that’s incredibly endearing. Due to how the story begins, you immediately feel empathy and solidarity with her and this helped draw me into the story, wanting to know what came next and whether she’d be OK.

Being in Crowthorpe, away from her life gives her a different perspective about what she wants and needs.

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Book Review: Not In My Name by Michael Coolwood

Private Eye meets Agatha Christie

What if the British people had been given a vote about invading Iraq in 2003. And the referendum split the nation with a 52% to 48% yes vote.

A young activist is beaten to death after an anti-war demonstration.

The police say her murder was random. It wasn’t. More activists will be murdered. The activists only trust each other.

Maybe that trust has already been betrayed. Witty, political and provocative, this New Adult mystery is based on real events, and keeps the reader guessing to the very end.

Not in My Name is set in an alternative 2003. A referendum on whether to intervene in Iraq has just got a 52% Yes, 48% no result.

Phoebe Green is part of a group that opposes the referendum result. They are seen as traitors and the enemy.
When one of their group is killed, Phoebe is determined to get to the bottom of it but it’s not long before the situation goes from bad to worse.

Immediately, this book caught my attention. It’s a very interesting look at how divided a country can be and how quickly we can turn on each other. It scared me and yet the characters fascinated me all at the same time.

It’s both a political and murder mystery which had me invested in the plot very early on.

All of the characters are hiding something and this did add to the intrigue. I really had trouble figuring out what was going to happen or how it was going to end. I didn’t see the end coming actually. I found that, at some point, I suspected everyone of having a hand in Cassie’s murder.

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Book Review: Always and Forever at Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters

What if we’re all just searching for something?

Anna Stewart is lost. After barely surviving a car accident as a teenager, Anna is scared of settling. Flitting between jobs, boyfriends and homes whenever she gets bored, she has no idea what the future holds. Then her brother Brodie, minister of Glendale, suggests she moves to the beautiful Scottish village, lining up a housekeeper job for her at Glendale Hall.

Out of options, Anna agrees to the move, knowing that she can always run away again. Once at the hall, her culinary skills impress everyone, and she agrees to give Hilltop Farm’s new manager, Cameron, cooking lessons. Sparks fly between Anna and the handsome Scot, but Cameron is looking for love – something that Anna definitely isn’t.

But it’s wedding season at Glendale Hall, and Anna is about to discover that her new home has a way of working its magic on even the coldest of hearts. Will she really be able to just walk away, or could Anna have finally found a place to belong?

It’s summertime in the beautiful Highlands village of Glendale – pack your bags and come on holiday with this gorgeously uplifting, romantic read. Fans of Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin will love this charming romcom.

Anna never likes to stay in one place too long. She’s running from her family and a past she blames herself for.

When circumstances mean that she has to take a job for the summer in Glendale, she isn’t happy about being near her brother. However, as it’s only for a couple of months, she puts her head down and get on with things.

Can Glendale work its magic on Anna like it has for other village residents?

Always and Forever at Glendale Hall was my introduction to the series but this can be read as a standalone or first if, like me, you’ve not read the previous three novels.

I found Anna to be a relatable character. At the start, she seems so lost. She has a persona of strength but there is such a vulnerability to her because of an accident she had when she was thirteen.

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Book Review: The Bridesmaid by Nina Manning

‘Promise me? If you hear any secrets, never tell me. That would make you a most treasured friend. More than a friend really. You’re almost like a sister to me…’

Your best friend….

From the moment they met as children, Sasha knew that beautiful, wealthy, and confident Caitlin would always be her absolute best friend.  Sasha would do anything to make Caitlin happy.  

Even keep her darkest secrets…

The years have passed, but their friendship remains.  And when Caitlin announces she’s getting married there is only one choice for the role of bridesmaid.  

Sasha will make sure Caitlin’s wedding is as beautiful and perfect as she is.  Won’t she? 

Your worst nightmare?

But Sasha is growing tired of always being in Caitlin’s shadow  – always the bridesmaid, never the bride.  And as the big day approaches, cracks begin to appear between the two woman.  Secrets and lies swirl between the two friends like confetti. Both of them are hiding dark secrets, both of them are lying. 

Could the secrets that once bound these two friends, rip them apart for good?

 

When Caitlin announces that she’s getting married, Sasha is the choice of Bridesmaid. However, secrets that have been buried for years are just bubbling below the surface and Sasha doesn’t know how much longer she can keep things to herself.

When I read the blurb for this novel, it sounded right up my street and I couldn’t wait to get started. It is a slow burner to begin with. I think this sort of start adds to the tension and pulls you right in.

Caitlin and Sasha’s relationship was one I found both fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. They are a good example of how two people, who wouldn’t have chosen each other otherwise, are thrown together as friends simply because they were in the same place at the same time. Even though they are supposed to be friends, social status, class and background play huge parts, even when they reach adulthood.

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Book Review: Things Are Looking Up by Maxine Morrey

What if what you really need is right there in front of you, if you just take a moment to look up?

Milly has been waiting for this moment forever and finally it’s just an hour away – an interview with Vogue magazine and the opportunity to get her Louboutin-clad foot in the door.  There’s just one problem – totally engrossed in her mobile phone, Milly doesn’t see the bus that is fast approaching – until it’s too late…

When Milly next opens her eyes, the consequences of her accident become clear. Everything she has worked for and dreamed of suddenly feels out of reach. But there is one bright spot on her horizon – the reappearance of her ex Jed, in all of his six-foot-four, broad-shouldered glory, with the most piercing ice blue eyes Milly ever saw.

Once used to working in a whirlwind, Milly now has the chance to reconsider how to live. Will she rush back to the treadmill, get her head down and back to business, or is there a whole other life waiting for her, if she’ll just look up to see it?

Milly is on the verge of getting the job she has spent most of her working life trying to get; much to the detriment of everything else.

What she didn’t plan on, was getting hit by a bus.

When she wakes up a week later, she finds herself homeless and jobless.

Her ex also comes back into her life… her very handsome, sweet ex.

It didn’t take me long to get completely engrossed in this novel. I immediately felt immersed in the London setting and I could imagine myself walking around London with Milly.

Milly was a character I could get behind. Yes, she has flaws and there were many points where I found her frustrating, but she felt very real and like an old friend. I wanted everything to work out for her. It was lovely to see her journey as I progressed through the book as she gets to know herself again.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Long Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper

How beautiful is this weather? What a lovely way to start June.

For this month’s book, I’ve picked The Long Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper.

I’ve started this novel and I’m already enjoying it. It’s perfect for reading in the garden or on the beach (now that we are allowed out.)

I’m looking forward to reading this and discussing it with you. Our book club is open to all, whether you’ve not started reading yet, are halfway through, or finished. As usual, I have posted a question below to get the discussion started.

See you in the comments below and happy reading!

 

About The Long Long Afternoon:

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Book Review: The House Guest by Charlotte Northedge

Kate trusts Della, and Della trusts Kate.
Their downfall is each other.

When Kate moves to London after the disappearance of her sister, she’s in need of a friend. A chance meeting leads Kate to Della, a life coach who runs support groups for young women, dubbed by Kate as ‘the Janes.’

Della takes a special interest in Kate, and Kate soon finds herself entangled in Della’s life – her house, her family, and her husband. It’s only when she realises that she’s in too deep that Della’s veneer begins to crumble, and the warnings from ‘the Janes’ begin to come true.

Why is Della so keen to keep Kate by her side? What does Kate have that Della might want? And what really lies beneath the surface of their friendship?

Kate has long lived in the shadow of her elder sister’s disappearance. Even when she leaves the family home in Cambridge for a new life in London, finding her sister is still priority.

Then she meets Della and is invited to take part in life coaching sessions. Della seems to have it all and Kate is soon under the spell. Are things as they seem though?

When I first started reading, I wanted to reach into the page and give Kate a big hug. She’s so lost.

I really don’t want to give much away when it comes to the plot of this novel as I am hoping it’s one you’ll discover for yourself.

This was a thriller that immediately drew me in. How it starts and then proceeds had me intrigued and desperate to know what was happening and how it fitted together.

It was obvious to me that certain characters and situations were not as they seemed and, like Kate, I didn’t know who to trust. I also questioned whether things were too good to be true.

Unexpected twists and turns throughout had me reading well past my bedtime.

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Book Review: Under The Italian Sun by Sue Moorcroft

A warm, sun-baked terrace.

The rustle of verdant green vines.

The sun slowly dipping behind the Umbrian mountains.

And the chink of wine glasses as the first cork of the evening is popped…

Welcome to Italy. A place that holds the answer to Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers’ many questions. Not least, how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.

When Zia discovers that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was, she realises the time has come to search out the Italian family she’s never known.

However, as she delves into the secrets of her past, she doesn’t bargain on having to think about her future too. But with local vineyard owner, Piero, living next door, Zia knows she has a serious distraction who may prove difficult to ignore…

This summer, join Zia as she sets out to uncover her past. But can she find the future she’s always dreamed of along the way?

Want to know what love feels like? Read a Sue Moorcroft novel!

‘Under the Italian Sun’ is the forthcoming novel by this Amazon and Sunday Time best-selling author. When I get my hands upon the new novel, I’m all a quiver as I know I’m in for an exciting, but above all else, romantic ride. This novel didn’t disappoint in any way.

A little about the book, as I hate giving out too much if anything at all about the plot, if I can help it. This is the story of Zia and her journey to find her family; it’s not an easy one. Dumping her cheating boyfriend – a rotter of the highest order, I may add – she goes off to Italy with her best friend (also going through man problems) to see if she can find out more, especially about the father she never knew.

Zia isn’t prefect, making as much trouble for herself as she finds herself in, and that’s the beauty of her character. It’s not easy to write someone who you love, yet at the same time, feel like shouting at the screen, “Wake up woman!” Ms. Moorcroft is the master of this. I also loved her love interest, Piero and the fire between them burns as hot and cold as you could wish for.

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Blog : Cover Reveal: The Promise of Summer by Bella Osborne

I am always so excited when Bella Osborne releases a new novel and today, we are helping to reveal the cover for her latest book, The Promise of Summer. 

Here’s a little about the book…

Ruby’s life is about to change for ever…

After years of dating losers, cheats and one guy who did something unrepeatable to her kettle, Ruby has all but given up on romance. But then a stranger sits next to her on a train to London and explains his plan to propose to the woman of his dreams. Maybe true love does exist after all?

When the man accidentally leaves the engagement ring behind, Ruby is determined to save the day. But she hasn’t counted on fellow passenger Curtis stepping in and insisting he should be the one to track the stranger down.   
 
As summer closes in, the unlikely pair make a promise to reunite the ring with its owner. But can they find their own happy ever after along the way?

Are you ready to see the cover. Drumroll. Three, two, one! 

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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Hello May. It’s nice to see you. 

For me, when May arrives, it feels as though Summer is on its way (although you wouldn’t believe that going by the rain today.)

The book I have chosen for this month’s book club is one I have been wanting to read for a while. It’s The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. 

It sounds really interesting and I can’t wait to get reading.

Anyone can take part in our book club and you can do this from the comfort of your sofa. I am really looking forward to discussing this book with you and as usual, I have put a question down in the comments to get the discussion going.

 

About The Giver of Stars… 

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NK Chats To… David Russell

Can you tell me about your novella, High Wired On and what inspired it?

I was inspired to write my dystopian novella High Wired On by a state of extreme despair and negativity. I was inspired to try romance by some powerful efforts on the part of a friend of mine.

 

What’s your typical writing day like?

For many years I did not have a typical writing day. There were brief snatches of evening time, after a multiplicity of daytime work. That changed with the onset of Covid: with this I generally get up at 6 am and have a solid stretch until about 9.30 am. There are parallel slots in the afternoon and evening.

 

How long does it typically take you to write a book? 

Anything from weeks to years.

 

What are the challenges you found when writing?

To convey suspense and tension while trying to maintain stylistic accuracy.

 

Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?

I’d like to meet Selene, the Greek Moon Goddess – the supreme Dream Girl.

 

What elements make up a good story? 

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Book Extract: Blood Loss by Kerena Swan

A big hello to Kerena Swan. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, Blood Loss. 

Sarah

With one eye on the rear view mirror and the other on the road ahead, Sarah is desperate to get as far away from the remote Scottish cabin as she can without attracting attention. But being inconspicuous isn’t easy with a black eye and clothes soaked in blood…

… and now the fuel tank is empty.

DI Paton

When a body is discovered in a remote cabin in Scotland, DI Paton feels a pang of guilt as he wonders if this is the career break he has been waiting for. But the victim is unidentifiable and the killer has left few clues.

Jenna

With the death of her father and her mother’s failing health, Jenna accepts her future plans must change but nothing can prepare her for the trauma yet to come.

Fleeing south to rebuild her life Sarah uncovers long-hidden family secrets. Determined to get back what she believes is rightfully hers, Sarah thinks her future looks brighter. But Paton is still pursuing her…

… and he’s getting closer.

Kerena Swan’s brilliant novel explores how honest mistakes and human frailty can have terrifying and long-reaching consequences. It’s a tale of family ties and loyalty, revenge and redemption that you won’t want to put down.

 

Kerena has shared an extract today. Enjoy.

(CW: May be unsuitable for young children/scenes relating to a body.)

 

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

 

I was inspired to write this novel after reading a news article about people who undertook DNA tests to find out more about their heritage with shocking results.

Blood Loss is book one in a series featuring DI Paton and his son Tommy, a boy with Down’ Syndrome. After writing Who’s There? I was asked many times to write a sequel with the main character, Arnold. Tommy is a reincarnation of Arnold with a few subtle differences. You can discover the characters in a free novella available on my website. www.kerenaswan.com

 

DI Paton

Blue police tape fluttered across a rutted road to the right and three people, hunched in thick coats, stamped their feet nearby. ‘Bloody press,’ Paton muttered. ‘Come to feast while the body’s still warm. Who tipped them off?’

They rushed forward as Paton and Cheryl walked towards the police officer guarding the outer cordon.

‘Can you tell us what happened?’ a man asked, a watery drip wobbling under his red nose.  He grabbed a tissue from his pocket and rubbed it away.

‘Do we know who the victim is?’ A woman in a fur-trimmed hood stood in front of Paton, notebook at the ready, her fingers blue with cold.

‘You probably know more than me at this stage. Excuse me,’ Paton said. Stepping around her, he strode away with Cheryl following.

They gave their names to the officer who wrote them in the crime scene log. Behind him a man in a white suit was taking photographs of the mud and stones, swearing as the snow obliterated his evidence.

‘You need to get suited and booted, and take a spare pair of shoe covers for indoors,’ the officer said, running a finger around his collar and hunching his shoulders as large snowflakes melted against his neck. ‘Are you both on the fingerprint and DNA databases?’

They nodded.

‘When you’re ready, follow the path marked out by the tape.’

Paton was puffing by the time they reached the cabin at the top of the hill.

‘Maybe you should join my gym,’ Cheryl said.

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Book Review: After The Storm by Isabella Muir

When a violent storm blasts England’s south coast, it’s up to retired Italian detective Giuseppe Bianchi to sift through the devastation and piece together the tragic events left behind in the storm’s wake.

Giuseppe Bianchi’s brief visit to Bexhill-on-Sea has become an extended stay. He is loath to return to his home in Rome because of the haunting images that made him leave in the first place.

During his morning walks along the seafront with Beagle, Max, he meets Edward Swain, who becomes Giuseppe’s walking companion. They form a friendship of sorts and find they have a similar outlook on life.

But the devastating events of a single night lead Giuseppe to question the truth about Edward Swain. Teaming up with young journalist, Christina Rossi – his cousin’s daughter – Giuseppe learns about the brutal reality lurking behind the day-to-day life of families in the local community. And as the story unravels Giuseppe is reminded how anger and revenge can lead to the most dreadful of crimes.

After the Storm is the second novel in the Giuseppe Bianchi mystery series – the much awaited sequel to Crossing the Line.

I was very excited to be included in the blog tour for After the Storm which is the second novel in the Giuseppe Bianchi mystery series.

Ex Italian Detective Giuseppe Bianchi is staying with his cousin’s family in Bexhill. When the town gets hit by a terrible storm, he soon finds himself investigating the death of a friend.

From page one this book had me intrigued. I was a little concerned about whether I would be able to keep up with the story as I have not read the first book in the series, Crossing the Line. I had nothing to worry about. After the Storm can easily be read as part of the series or as a standalone.

There is such a calm at the beginning of the book that I really did feel, like a storm, that the narrative was building up to something and this added tension and suspense. Add in the mystery that Giuseppe is trying to solve and this made this book hard to put down.

I also loved the fact that it was based in the 1960’s. I am a big Beatles fan so I have always wondered what it would be like to live in the 60s. It was the decade of change and you can really feel that in the plot; like everyone and everything is on the verge of something bigger. I could realty imagine myself there, at Mario and Anne’s café, sipping tea as I look out over the sea.

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Book Review: The Girls From Alexandria by Carol Cooper

‘Memories are fragile when you are seventy years old. I can’t afford to lose any more of them, not when remembering the past might help with the here and now.’

Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her.

Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years.

Despite being told she’s ‘confused’ and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.

Set against the lush and glamorous backdrop of 20th century Alexandria, Carol Cooper’s The Girls from Alexandria is equal parts contemporary mystery and historical fiction: a re-coming of age story about family, identity, and homeland.

 

Nadia finds herself abandoned in a London hospital. She is having trouble remembering many things but the one thing she is sure about is that she needs to find her sister, Simone before it’s too late.

The problem is, she has not seen or heard from her sister in fifty years and the people around her are convinced that no such person exists.

As her current situation becomes more dire, Nadia becomes more determined. She begins to reflect on her past and the time she spent growing up with her family in Alexandria.

This book appealed to me. It’s historical fiction but has a mystery weaving through it which meant I kept wanting to turn the page, losing track of time in the process.

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Book Review: Let in the Light by Gerard Nugent

Songwriter, Richie Carlisle never wanted to be famous.

After stumbling into the limelight five years ago, he soon found himself crashing back out of it. Now, he spends his days working in a small music shop in Edinburgh, attempting to live a quiet life as a part-time dad.

But his 15 minutes of fame have taken its toll. His inspiration for songwriting, music and life in general seems to have all but disappeared.

When Richie is given a flyer advertising the first meeting of the Hope Street Songwriters’ Circle, it’s a chance to step back into the world. But after years of hiding away, letting in the light won’t be easy.

 

Richie finds himself recruited into a band with success that many only dream about. Then, as quickly as fame comes, it goes again, leaving him living in Edinburgh and working in a music shop.

Based on the synopsis alone, you would think that this novel is purely about a musician and his experience with the music industry. However, once I began to read, I discovered it was as much about mental health and how life can imitate art.

Told from the point of view of Richie, it follows his current situation with flashbacks into his past which gives the reader an understanding of him and why he finds himself on the verge of losing everything. As a character, he is not complicated. He is a man who will do anything for the person he loves most and for that, I empathised with him. He was an easy person to invest in.

With its themes of love, loss and regret, there is not much else I can say about the plot without revealing major spoilers but this was a book that very quickly had me engrossed.

One of the things I liked most about this novel is how it shines a light on the important subject of men’s mental health and how ‘not every day can be an anthem. Some days will be in a minor key, and that’s OK.’ I feel that this is such a key message to put across – that it’s OK to not feel OK all the time. Right now, I think this is something everyone needs to hear.

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Book Review: The Invitation by A.M. Castle

Thirteen guests. One killer. No escape.

On an island on the coast of Cornwall, cut off from the mainland by the tides for most of the day, thirteen old friends meet at Tregowan Castle for a weekend of revelry.

By the next evening only twelve are still alive.

Amongst them is a killer – but who? As a storm traps them on the island and past betrayals and grievances are revealed, nerves fray and friendships begin to fracture.

But with no escape and no way of calling for help it’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again. And when everyone is keeping secrets, anybody could be the next victim…

Thirteen friends arrive at a remote castle in Cornwall to attend a special Halloween party. The next evening, only twelve are alive. The killer is one of the twelve but who is it?

From the first page, I knew this was going to be my kind of phycological thriller.

Immediately, I got pulled into the story as the tension and suspense continued to build.

This book is told from the point of view of various characters including Rachel, the rich hostess who has planned this special night down to the last detail. Vicky who is fighting a drinking problem and a breakdown in the relationship with her son. Gita and her husband Tom whose marriage isn’t as happy as she’d like it to appear.

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Book Extract: Pluto’s in Uranus! by Patrick Haylock

I am pleased to be welcoming Patrick Haylock to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his novel, Pluto’s in Uranus!

This Christmas Jupiter and Saturn will become closer to each other than they have been for almost 800 years. It is an event that has set the world astrological community abuzz with the possible consequences of such an alignment and its potential impact on global leaders and world events.

But what happens when an even rarer conjunction between Pluto and Uranus occurs and what affect does it hold in store for the lives of everyday ‘ordinary folk’?

Well, it’s something that Dave from the post room is about to find out. Pluto is in Uranus and for him this indicates that everything is about to come up smelling of roses or so he thinks!

Dave suffers from OCF, Obsessive Compulsive Fatalism, and his Achilles heel is his daily horoscope, which is about to become dramatically affected by the historic planetary alignment.

The lucky omens predicted will compel him to take uncharacteristic chances, cross paths with a hotchpotch of larger than life characters who get him embroiled in situations with hilarious outcomes that are way beyond his control and  out of his comfort zone

Pluto’s In Uranus is written by globally unrecognised no award-winning Essex author Patrick Haylock.

 

Patrick has shared an extract from Pluto’s in Uranus! today. Enjoy! 

 

 

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

 

There are plenty of cars that I would love to own, but I’m afraid to say that a BMW is not one of them, although, I wouldn’t turn one away as a gift.

My main reasoning for excluding this vehicle from my motoring bucket list, is based upon experience, observation, and the fact that you need a set of unique driving skills to own a BMW.

Persistent overtaking, undertaking and the ability to maximise the visibility of your registration plate in the rear-view mirror of any vehicle that refuses to move out of your way are key attributes to successfully driving a Beamer!

Erratic headlight flashing and ownership of outside motorway lanes are also useful assets to possess.

Sadly, not being blessed with any of these talents would mean that a BMW would be wasted on me.

However, just prior to calamity it seems Dave begs to differ, because he wishes to own a BMW, have a great adventure and to feature in a book ending with the word pancake. His goals in life are mediocre but achievable.

Up to now his life had been stagnating, as were his attempts to fulfil his aspirations. Every day always began the same: an alarm call, a nature call, a shower, and a shave.

He would skip breakfast, dash to the newsagent’s, run after the bus, sprint for the train, then crawl to his boss for late arrival –yet again!

His habitual lateness was due to OCF – Obsessive- Compulsive Fatalism which he attributed to being born on December 25th.

This syndrome made it imperative for him to read his online horoscope prior to leaving home every day. After many years of failed predictions, todays were going to prove the spectacular exception, because Pluto was in Uranus!!

Even his computer seemed to be in a more optimistic mode, as, far quicker than usual, it launched Dave’s horoscopic homepage.

The colours seemed more vibrant, and the information as clear, precise, and positive… and today, without doubt, it was addressing him personally.

Capricorn

‘Pluto has moved into Uranus, indicating revolution, a time of rebirth, new thinking, and the sweeping out of old ways.

The risk-averse should abandon their fears and take a leap of faith, as an uncharacteristic decision will turn out well!

Those with names that contain an E D A or V should be extra vigilant, as many surprising, and unexpected, opportunities are about to come your way.

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Book Extract: Girl With Secrets by Carol Rivers

I’m happy to be welcoming Carol Rivers to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her book, Girl With Secrets. 

1938, East London. Nine year old Daisy Purbright is a country girl at heart and together with beloved brother Bobby, they’ve enjoyed the endless freedoms of rural England.

But when her father gambles the family’s fortunes on a speculative investment in London’s docklands, Daisy and her family are swept up into the intrigue, danger and excitement.Desperately the Purbrights attempt to settle to a new life in the East End, but the whisperings of war grow louder.

Then, one late afternoon in September 1940, Adolf Hitler conducts a paralysing bombardment on London and war tightens its grip. Life changes dramatically and closely guarded secrets threaten the Purbrights’ happiness.

Can Daisy and her family survive one of the most fateful events of the 20th century?

Perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries, Pam Howes, Rosie Clarke and Dilly Court.

 

Carol has shared an extract from Girl With Secrets so grab that drink, the comfy chair and enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Cheer up, ducks, you look as though you’ve lost a pound and found a penny.’ Mrs Hayes steered the rattling trolley towards the canteen at a rate of knots.

‘No, I haven’t found anything. Well, not really.’ Daisy trotted beside the tea lady trying to keep up, listening to the tea-stained mugs clink violently against each other. A quick manoeuvre to the left swerved them down another walkway in the opposite direction to the offices.

‘Either you have – or you haven’t,’ the tea lady objected. ‘Speak now or forever hold your peace.’

Daisy was not certain how – or even if – she should reveal what she had seen. If she was to tell anyone at all, it would be Mrs Hayes or even Bobby, but was there really something to tell?

Perhaps she had imagined Aunt Betty standing close to Mr Calder? Had peering through one eye with the other closed distorted their figures? The more she thought, the more she was uncertain. Yet still the imprint of what she had witnessed remained in her mind. Just like Matt and Amelia’s almost-kiss.

Mrs Hayes launched the trolley into the doors of the canteen, where the scarred and dented flaps flew open. Once safely into the deserted room filled with stout wooden tables and chairs, smelling strongly of the cleaning agent that was used to kill the roaches and mice, the trolley was abandoned.

‘There now, all done,’ sighed Mrs Hayes, planting her hands on her hips as she studied Daisy. ‘Did you find your aunt?’

Daisy hesitated. ’Yes, but I didn’t actually speak to her.’

‘Why not?’

‘She was with – she had – a visitor.’

Mrs Hayes screwed up her eyes. ‘Who was that?’

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NK Chats To… Michelle Angelle

Hi Michelle and Angelle. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Thank you for having us. We are fans.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your book, Wrong Guy, Right Room and what inspired the story? 

Twenty years ago, we started a book club and fell in love with the romance novels our group read. Inspired, and wanting to work together, we immediately started dreaming up characters.

Unlike traditional rom-coms on the market, we wanted side characters that had agency and strong voices. Together, we imagined scenarios involving two lost loves forced together in impossible situations. We all have a “WHAT IF” person from our past and it was fun to fantasize about a reunion.

Once we started writing this book, the characters presented themselves. Wrong Guy, Right Room is a stand-alone contemporary romantic comedy about second chances and reconnecting with your soulmate.

 

What’s your typical writing day like and do you have any pre writing rituals like needing coffee and silence?

First, we begin with an ancient chant, and then do an incense ritual to clear our space. Totally JOKING! Between juggling kids, husbands, and part-time jobs, the writing time happens when it can. Luckily, we have one another on speed dial and chat often about crazy ideas. There is rarely a hello, just diving into work the moment we answer the phone. Since we write together, we share docs and emails constantly. While there is no specific ritual, there might be a little mind reading.

 

What are the challenges of co-writing a novel and what’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt about the process since starting?

Honestly, the biggest challenge is the writing software. Our first novel was eaten by Google Docs. Trust us, it was an AMAZING book. Otherwise, we both feel super lucky to have a balanced and creative partnership. We have different skills sets and they match up perfectly.

 

What songs would be on a playlist for this novel? 

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Book Extract: Dating The It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager

I’d like to welcome Krysten Lindsay Hager to Novel Kicks and the birthday blog tour for her  novel, Dating the It Guy. Happy book birthday. 

Emme starts dating a popular high school student who happens to be from a famous political family. It seems like everyone at school either wants to be Brendon Agretti or date him.

Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture-perfect ex seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti.

Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend dumped her and her whole world is off kilter with her grandparents’ health issues. Life suddenly seems easier pushing Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her.

Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses.

Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work?

Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the It guy.

 

To celebrate the birthday for her novel, Dating the It Guy, Krysten Lindsay Hager has shared an extract with us today. Over to her to introduce it. 

 

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

 

I love this scene because we see the pressures Brendon has on him from growing up in a political dynasty family and it’s also the scene where he and Emme have their very sweet first kiss!

 

Everyone thought Brendon and his last girlfriend would get married in the future because they were both high achievers with perfect looks and backgrounds. It was like the daughter of the peanut butter dynasty being promised to the jelly tsar’s son.

“People always try to map out my life for me,” he said. “They assume I’m going to follow in my father’s footsteps: get married young, run for office, work my way up the ladder, have the perfect family—only unlike my dad, they assume I’ll eventually run for President. Although I think my old man’s still got designs on the Oval Office.”

“So is any of that what you want?” I asked.

He blinked. “I don’t even know what I want. It’s hard to explain, but when you grow up in a family where your dad and your grandpa were known for something, it’s like everyone assumes you’ll pick up the baton and finish the race. I know it sounds like, ‘oh, poor little rich kid crying because his family has connections,’ but it’s overwhelming.”

“Wow, I never thought about it that way. I guess I just assumed you had all these doors open to you, and your life was, well, planned. But also like you had it made—you were set.”

“That’s what most people think, and in some ways it’s true, but is it what I want? I honestly don’t know.”

“What would you do if you didn’t have any family pressure on you?” I asked.

“You’ll laugh at me.”

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Book Review: Space Taxies by A & H Frosh

He’s abducted by aliens to the planet Vost.

He’s saving up for his fare home.

But he’s got the small matter of a planetary apocalypse to deal with first…

In 1977 a New York Cab driver Mike Redolfo is abducted by aliens after being mistaken for a renegade scientist. Meanwhile, back in 1944 a mysterious man and his Jewish fiancée are fleeing across Nazi-occupied Europe.

Redolfo tries to keep a low profile on his new world whilst earning his fare home, but unwittingly gets involved with a shady gang of alien criminals, inadvertently bringing the planet to the brink of catastrophe.

As the link between the timelines becomes clear, Redolfo must discover secrets from the past that may hold the key to saving the planet.

If you like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5, and Frank Herbert’s Dune, you’ll love this gripping and entertaining sci-fi mystery thriller.

“A perfect blend of science fiction and alternate history”

At first glance, I was intrigued by this novel and so was delighted to be part of the blog tour for Space Taxies.

The plot follows two threads in separate eras. The first setting is Czechoslovakia during the Second World War under Nazi occupation, with the second setting a short time later and hundreds of lightyears away on the planet Vost.

At first, it wasn’t obvious how these two stories connect, which only served to pull me into the book as I wanted to discover how everything fit together.

I was particularly impressed in how the authors interwove actual historical events into the earth bound storyline, at times providing an alternative explanation to things which remain unclear even to this day. The SciFi element is light enough to keep you reading, but involved enough that everything doesn’t just appear to be magic; a hard line to tread. It is easy for a SciFi story to get lost in the details of the technology and loose the readability but I am glad to report that this doesn’t happen here.

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