Book Extract: One Hundred Views of NW3 by Pat Jourdan

It’s my pleasure to be taking part in the one day blog blitz for One Hundred Views of NW3 by Pat Jourdan.

Arriving in London with £5, Stella rapidly begins hopping from one disastrous job, bedsit and boyfriend to another.

All the time she is trying to paint pictures and write poetry. At last she gets a place in Hampstead but various men distract her from reaching the goal of holding an exhibition. An ever-changing group of friends moves her along from place to place.

After each drawback Stela moves on, disaster after disaster, while the tally of of pictures shrinks to 36. Set in the heady days of 1960s Swinging London, this vividly charts one girl’s track through the untidy years at its height.

 

Pat has shared an extract today so find that comfortable spot to sit, grab that drink and enjoy.

 

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

The group of Liverpool friends are excited when someone they knew back home appears as a sculptor, with an exhibition in a proper London gallery. However, he gets drunk and destroys his own show.

*****

Gloria called round. She was excited – Fred was in town.

“He’s having an exhibition, and we’re invited to the private view. Remember him?” This was the life Stella wanted, after all, one private view after another. Harry would meet them at the gallery straight from work, it was not far from St Martin’s College of Art.

Glasses of red and white wine were being offered as if from a fountain and Fred had indulged happily and was obviously already drunk. He was glad to see them and introduced them to his girlfriend, Anna. She was at least half his age, almost as tall and blonde. She assured Stella that she was going to be an art critic, that was her plan.

A beautiful Spanish man with soulful dark eyes and his equally good-looking boyfriend decided to buy one of the sculptures.

“We don’t quite understand that piece, though. Why is it called ‘Soldat’?” He pointed to a small brass coal scuttle standing under a spotlight.

“Soldat? It’s German for Soldier. It’s a German helmet! Thought that would be obvious!” Fred said brusquely, dismissing the questioner. However, the man moved away to a crucifixion piece and decided after a confab with his companion to buy it instead. It was a representation of Calvary made from three forks set into a block of wood. The forks’ tines had been pressed apart to form the arms of the crosses and the figures of Christ and the two thieves were made from spilt solder, splashed silver ghostly figures that appeared if the onlooker used their imagination.

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Book Extract: A Perfect Paris Christmas by Mandy Baggot

It’s lovely to be welcoming back Mandy Baggot to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest book, A Perfect Paris Christmas.  

United in grief. Pushed apart by tragedy.

Keeley Andrews knows more than anyone that you only live once. So when she receives an invitation to spend two weeks in Paris, all expenses paid, she jumps at the chance.

Ethan Bouchard has had the worst eighteen months of his life. He’s ready to give up on everything, including his hotel chain. So when he meets Keeley, it simply isn’t the right time.

As Keeley and Ethan continue to bump into each other on the romantic Parisian streets, they can’t help but wonder whether this is fate telling them to let go of the past and leap into the future…

 

Mandy and Aria have shared an extract today so grab that drink, a comfortable chair and chocolate. You could even sneak a couple of Christmas songs and enjoy. 

 

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

 

November

‘Duncan, not that awful disco ball of your mother’s again! Please, I beg of you. Last year it gave Lydia Mumford some sort of aura migraine before I’d even served the Waitrose arancini,’ Lizzie Andrews said, raising her eyes and glaring at her husband who was stood precariously at the top of a stepladder. He was about to fix the large revolving silver sphere to a hook above the kitchen island where, on the hob, something containing cranberries was simmering.

Twenty-six-year-old Keeley hid her face in her mug of super-hot, extra-strong coffee and tried to stop a laugh from escaping her lips. Her parents’ conversation over her long-since-passed-away gran’s festive regalia had been treading the same path since the decorations had been left to them in the will. Her mum had always insisted it was because the old lady never liked her.

Joan loathed me. Loathed me, Duncan. Right from the get-go. Ever since the first time I came to your house with peonies for her and she shoved them in an empty tin of Heinz beans as a vase. That was when the die was cast.

But Keeley liked the decorations. None of them matched together – there were vibrant purples and emerald-greens alongside 1980s-style robots swinging on bunting and Chinese paper lanterns that probably should have caught alight long ago. At first glance, they might not seem to correlate, but somehow they worked. Her sister, Bea, had loved them too. Bea would always be fighting their dad for use of the ladder, having somehow actually worked out complicated things about balance, or the optimum angle to enable the globe to spin in a completely symmetrical way that would please Lizzie’s need for order. Bea had always plunged into things with full-on gusto but never without the knowhow to back it up.

Thoughts of her little sister made Keeley’s heart squeeze and she took another sip of the coffee before the toaster popped with the crumpet she was cooking.

Lizzie shook her brown curly hair and sniffed, nose in the air like a prized perfumier. She dropped the pinecones she was painting to the newspaper-covered work surface. ‘What’s that smell?’

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Book News: RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2020

The winner of the Romantic Novelists’ Associations’ Joan Hessayon Award is due to be announced tomorrow (5th September 2020) via an online presentation. 

The contenders for this award are published authors who have passed through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme (as a member of this scheme myself, I can’t recommend it enough.) If you’d like more information on the scheme, click here.

There is a wonderful selection in this year’s shortlist from romantic comedies, to fairytale romance, to both historical and paranormal romance.

The Joan Hessayon Award is generously sponsored by gardening expert Dr. David Hessayon OBE, in honour of his late wife, Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a great supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme.

The winner will be announced at 3pm on Saturday 5th September (for more details, click here or here.) I wanted to say good luck to everyone.

The writers shortlisted for the 2020 award have shared a little about their novels and what it means to them to be nominated. Some of them have also shared some writing tips with us.

 

Impervious by Zoe Allison

(Totally Bound). 

Vampires exist in secret. The malevolent of their kind exploit their powers to terrible ends and a league of benevolent vampires works covertly against them. Amber Ridley is unique as the only human on that team. She’s an ‘Impervious’, and immune to vampire attack. However, is Amber impervious to love?

Zoe said, “I am delighted to be in the running for this award alongside other fantastic authors. I’m also extremely grateful for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s amazing New Writers’ Scheme which gives us all such an amazing opportunity.

My bottom line in writing advice is don’t be afraid to do things your way. Whether you’re a plotter, a pantster, or a plantster there’s no right or wrong way and we’re all different. When it comes to editing the best tip I’ve had is to read your work out loud. You’ll catch loads of errors with missing or additional words and issues with flow that you’d otherwise miss because your brain automatically fills them in when you read in your head.”

 

Zoe Allison is a medic who writes romance in her spare time as a means to create the happy endings that real life often doesn’t provide.

Follow Zoe on Twitter. Click to view Impervious  on Amazon UK.

 

 

Her Mother’s Secret by Jan Baynham. 

(Ruby Fiction)

Alexandra inherits Elin’s diary after her death, and is shocked to discover a part of her mother’s life she knew nothing about. Why had Elin kept her summer in Greece a secret? Compelled to visit the same island, will Alexandra uncover what really happened in that summer of ’69?

She said, “When I started writing short stories, I never thought I’d be able to write a novel. After I’d accomplished that, I never in a million years thought I’d be published, so to be a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award 2020 is beyond my wildest dreams. Without the RNA and so much support from other authors, I would not be here.

Always look for the positive and NEVER give up. Whenever I get a written critique, I highlight the positive comments first. Next, I do the same for the shortcomings, using a contrasting colour. If I agree, I then make a list of those, ticking them off as I edit to improve my manuscript. Seeing a critique visually and progressing through a list of things to work on is a great motivator for me.

Thank you. Good luck to my fellow contenders, too.”

 

Jan Baynham loves family secrets and finding skeletons that lurk in cupboards. When she decided that her main character was an artist with a well-hidden secret, she knew exactly where she wanted to set her story. As a Grecophile, she felt that the colours of the sea and flowers, together with the warmth of the people, would be perfect for an artist’s travels and it would involve more Greek holidays for Jan for the purposes of research!

Follow Jan on Twitter. Click to view Her Mother’s Secret on Amazon UK.

 

 

The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness by Laura Bambrey.

(Simon & Schuster)

Tori is offered a reviewer’s spot on a wellbeing retreat, and is worried that she’ll have to share too much of herself. But as The Farm weaves its magic, she soon realises that opening up isn’t the worst thing in the world. And sharing a yurt with Bay definitely isn’t!

Laura Bambrey said, “Being shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon award, along with so many other fabulous debuts, is such an honour. I can’t thank the RNA enough for their support.

My top piece of writing advice is to read your manuscript out loud to yourself. Don’t plug it into a piece of technology to do it for you – read it in your own voice. Doing this helps you check the ebb and flow of your writing – the pacing and the sentence structure. If anything trips you up, change it so that it flows better. This is particularly helpful with dialogue – and stops any of your characters from hogging the limelight with a monologue!”

 

Laura Bambrey has been a book blogger for nearly ten years, writing about and reviewing books from a range of genres, but mainly commercial women’s fiction. She’s also held down a range of weird and wonderful jobs, including trapeze choreographer, sculpture conservator and stilt walker.  She has always dreamt of writing her own books.

Whilst writing, Laura did a lot of research into loneliness, anxiety and phobias – little thinking that lockdown and Covid would come along to make these issues far more prevalent. She found the Mind.Org website to be an incredible source of information and support for those who might be seeking it.

She is keen to mix the grittier bits that life throws at you with the romance and humour that make life worth living … but she’ll always make sure her heroine gets her happy ever after in the end.

Follow Laura on Twitter. Click to view The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness on Amazon UK.

 

 

Finding Prince Charming by Victoria Garland.

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Book Review: Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace by Fay Keenan

As the snowflakes fall, new love blossoms…

When teacher Florence Ashton receives a surprise inheritance, she decides to make the life-changing decision to up sticks to the charming town of Willowbury in Somerset. With a new house and a new job, she’s too busy putting down roots to think about love.

Air Ambulance pilot Sam Ellis is definitely not looking for romance either, especially not on his doorstep. When Florence, his new neighbour, complains about his noisy housemate, he feels more cross than star-crossed.

But as the nights draw in and both find themselves thrown together in Willowbury’s seasonal drama production, will they overcome their differences and allow a little bit of winter magic to fall along with the snow? And what secrets will be revealed by the box of memories Florence finds in the attic at Bay Tree Terrace?

 

This is definitely my kind of book – romance, wonderful characters and Christmas.

Florence is instantly likeable, as is Sam. I very quickly grew attached to both of them. I adored the relationship that promises to develop between them throughout the plot. Josie was also a lovely addition.

Even though Elsie has passed away prior to the beginning of the novel, the author has very much given her a presence even though she’s not physically there.

Aiden’s backstory is heartbreaking and I fear not as uncommon as we think. I felt the issues raised with this character were done with sensitivity. Overall, I wanted all the characters to be OK.

The setting for this novel couldn’t have been more perfect. Willowbury sounds like the type of place I want to be around at Christmas; the quintessential English town all dressed up for the festive period. Sigh, can I just leave, step into the book cover and go there now?

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NK Chats To… Nia Lucas

Hi Nia, thank you so much for joining me for a chat today. It’s great to welcome you back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for your new novel. Can you tell me a little about Choices, Shape, Losses Break and what inspired the book? 

‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’ is a real shift in tone from my first novel ‘Love Punked’. I’ve described it as My So Called Life meets Top Boy meets Skins! It’s a Contemporary Fiction/Contemporary romance hybrid and it’s interwoven with some challenging themes and issues which aim to get the reader continually re-evaluating their assumptions about risk and threat.

It’s set firmly in the 90’s where, shunned and struggling at home and school, teenager Lorna Davies clatters into chaotic and charismatic Shay O’Driscoll and Leon Barrett at an illegal rave. As Lorna’s talent for dancing sees her unexpectedly employed in the strobe-lit heart of 90’s club culture, her world is turned on its head by her budding friendship with Shay and Leon. For the boys, their high-risk lives endanger all three of them in an association that blurs the lines between friendship and dependency.

As the risks escalate, Lorna’s best friend Hannah, her brother Dan, her bully-turned-protector Nico and her unexpected friend Rosa watch with concern as she is thrust ever closer to harm in an intoxicating new landscape. When life-threatening events threaten to separate them permanently, Lorna, Leon and Shay juggle love, loyalty, sacrifice and exploitation as their lives change beyond recognition. Will the losses they face break them all?

‘Choices’ was inspired by some of my own experiences of rave culture in the 90’s and the people and places that I knew back then. I actually sat down to write it back in 2016 when I realised that two people who were really important to me back in those days, would have turned 40 that year. Their impact on my life has been pretty significant but we lost touch. I guess in some ways, ‘Choices’ started off as a bit of a tribute to them but in typical ‘pantser’ style, it turned into something very much unexpected. ‘Choices;’ is written to be a standalone novel but there are 3 further books in the series. The next one is due for release later this year.

 

Which songs would feature on a playlist for this novel? 

Music is a massive part of ‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’. 90’s club culture was- and remains- an important part of my life. My friendships and experiences of that world were huge inspirations for the characters and events in the novel. This playlist could go on indefinitely and so I’ll pick my top 10:

Paul Van Dyk- For an Angel
Prodigy- No Good, Start the dance
DJ Taucher- Ayla
Dodgy- If you’re thinking of me
DJ Flavours- Your Caress
Dub Pistols- Cyclone
Faithless- Salva Mea
Marc and Claude- I need your loving
BT- Remember

 

What’s your writing process like and how has it changed from when you first started writing? 

I work full time in an incredibly busy inner-London social work team. Writing is truly my escape from the madness and demands of my work life! I have terrible insomnia and only need 4/5 hours sleep a night so my writing process is that I write while everyone else sleeps- I love the coziness of sitting in the gloom tapping away and creating characters and places.

I’m absolutely a pantser, I never plan anything when it comes to my novels. I’ve written 4 books and both ‘Love Punked’ and ‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’ are available right now on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, rated 5 stars, I have another two finished novels that are due for release later this year. I’m finishing one that’s nearly complete and I’m working on 3 other ‘new’ ones that are only 20 or so pages long each so far. I do like flitting between them all and I genuinely work out the plot as I go.

I guess one thing that’s changed is that I am far more conscious of streamlining my writing as I go- I had a real journey to edit down ‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’ and I’ve learnt lots of lessons from that heartbreaking process! I definitely challenge myself as I go now (“Does this actually progress the plot?”  “Is this scene truly necessary?” “Is this character essential?”) . I’m definitely more succinct in my style!

 

What’s a typical writing day like for you? Do you prefer silence? Coffee? 

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Book Extract: The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows by Sharley Scott

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Josh rewarded her with a vacant stare.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Review: The Heart of a Peach by Jess B. Moore

Olivia Hamilton can do no wrong. Or at least that’s what the community of Fox River, North Carolina thinks of the odd but sweet young lady. She’s hiding a past she’d rather forget, engaged to the town’s most eligible bachelor, and longing for someone to see past the mask she wears. Olivia wants to find herself, forgive herself, and fall in love with someone who sees and embraces her flaws.

Denver MacKenna grew up the fiddle-playing prodigy of not only his hometown of Fox River but of North Carolina and the surrounding states. He plays obsessively and tours as often as possible, escaping a life of loneliness at home. Until he meets a beautiful siren who calls to him and has him making plans to settle down. Denver knows it’s wrong to covet the elusive Olivia, but finds himself inexplicably drawn to the brief glimpses she gives him of her true self.

The Heart of a Peach is the latest book in the Fox River series. Although it features characters from previous novels, it can be read as a standalone story. I’d not read any books in this series before starting this one. This didn’t hinder my enjoyment at all.

This book is told from the point of view of both Olivia and Denver.

Olivia feels trapped in a relationship she feels obligated to stay in and I felt a lot of sympathy for her. Guilt and shame can be paralysing, especially if these feelings are reinforced by the people we should be able to trust and I really wanted, as a reader, to be able to pull her out of that situation. When she meets Denver MacKenna, it was great to see how her perspective on life changed and to see her develop as a character.

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Book Extract: The Bench by Cromer Beach by R J Gould

I am so pleased to be welcoming R J Gould to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for his novel, The Bench by Cromer Beach. 

 

Five people in a sleepy English coastal town. One year that changes everything.

They seem to have it all. They’re in good health and are financially secure. They live in a pleasant and comfortable town. But as their lives intertwine, cracks emerge and restlessness grows.

For Clive, is retirement the beginning of the end? Can fun-loving Saskia break free from her adulterous husband? Will Andy marry his childhood sweetheart? Is Jamie prepared to change his dishonest ways? Might Ellie’s happy marriage be shattered by temptation?

Heart-warming and heart-breaking collide in this novel about aspirations, expectations and the realities of everyday life.

 

R J Gould has shared an extract today. Grab that hot drink, find the comfy chair and enjoy. 

 

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

 

I’m fascinated by perceptions, how a person can acquire a view based on what they see or hear that is completely different to the reality. Of course, in fiction that can lead to a plot ranging from the comic to the tragic. In The bench by Cromer beach I use ironic humour to portray those misunderstandings. An old man sitting on a clifftop bench in this sleepy seaside town completely misinterprets what he sees down on the beach. At the start of the novel these are his thoughts when he spots Ellie. How wrong can he be!

 

A slither of sand was now visible in front of the protective bank of flint pebbles; the tide had turned. A slender woman, perhaps in her thirties, came into view on the beach, a lone visitor on this inhospitable afternoon. Her pink fleece provided a flamboyant splash of colour, like the sole surviving rose in a winter’s garden. Her trainers were the same garish colour, her trousers skin-tight, leggings I think Rosemary calls them. I expected to see dogs bounding after her, there seemed to be a lot of dogs in Cromer, but there were none.

She walked towards the sea, stopping by the water’s edge. A wave washed over her shoes. When she turned to face the cliff, I saw a face full of distress. She remained rooted to the spot, motionless but for her shoulder-length hair flying in the gathering storm.

It started to rain. I took off my glasses and wiped them dry with my handkerchief. When I looked up the woman was bent low, eyes closed, taking such deep breaths that I could see the swell of her chest.

Somehow what happened next didn’t surprise me. Having turned back to face the sea, she walked on. Her shoes under water. Her calves submerged. Up to her thighs.

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Audible Book Review: The Black Madonna of Derby by Joanna Czechowska

I am pleased to be welcoming Joanna Czechowska to Novel Kicks today and the audible blog tour for her novel, The Black Madonna of Derby.

During and after the Second World War, 200,000 Poles were given leave to remain in the UK as thanks for their help during the conflict – this book is a fictional account of just one of those families. Set during the 1960s and 1970s, The Black Madonna of Derby traces the story of the Baran family living in a provincial town in England. Their seemingly ordinary existence hides secrets of past betrayal, madness, and tragedy.

The story focuses on three generations: the elderly grandmother whose proud Polish patriotism hides dark events from the past that affect the present, the mother whose tries to meld her past life in war-torn Poland and Germany with her new life in England and the granddaughter who lives a double life culturally and linguistically – Polish at home and English outside.

The swinging sixties in London is vividly recreated, as is the hardship of life under communism in the Poland of that time. This book is unique in that there are no other novels dealing with the story of second generation Poles in the UK. It is a story that deserves to be told, a story of a group of people who have had little attention in the literature. Listen to what they have to say.

When I was asked to take part in the audible blog blitz for this novel, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The information about the book intrigued me. I am pleased that I got the chance to listen to this book.

The narrator, Claire Nicholls has a very soothing voice and conveys the story in a clear way which made it easy to follow.

Moving onto the book itself, it focuses on three generations of women from the same family. It is an insight as to what it was like for immigrants after the second world war and the things they had to endure on a daily basis.

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Book Review: Feathertide by Beth Cartwright

Hello to Beth Cartwright who joins me today with the blog tour for her debut novel, Feathertide. 

Born covered in the feathers of a bird, and kept hidden in a crumbling house full of secrets, Marea has always known she was different, but never known why. And so to find answers, she goes in search of the father she has never met.

The hunt leads her to the City of Murmurs, a place of mermaids and mystery, where jars of swirling mist are carried through the streets by the broken-hearted.

And Marea will never forget what she learns there.

You know that feeling when you see the cover and blurb for a book and you know immediately that you’re going to love it? That was Feathertide for me.

First of all, I would like to mention this beautiful cover. Good job designers.

I found this novel incredibly compelling from the moment I started reading. It’s very dreamlike and whimsical. The setting and imagery in this book is enriching and vivid. I really want to see this as a movie.

Told from the point of view of Marea, she is a character that has always known she is different and I felt that she is relatable to so many people. She is a young person trying to figure out her place in the world and ultimately, she wants to figure out where she belongs. I loved seeing how she developed through the book.

Beth Cartwright has created such a rich, unique alternative world that is full of magic and I couldn’t help but get completely immersed in it.

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Book Review: The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jefferies

In 1943, Contessa Sofia de’ Corsi’s peaceful Tuscan villa among the olive groves is upturned by the sudden arrival of German soldiers. Desperate to fight back, she agrees to shelter a wounded British radio engineer in her home, keeping him hidden from her husband Lorenzo – knowing that she is putting all of their lives at risk.

When Maxine, an Italian-American working for the resistance, arrives on Sofia’s doorstep, the pair forge an uneasy alliance. Feisty, independent Maxine promised herself never to fall in love. But when she meets a handsome partisan named Marco, she realizes it’s a promise she can’t keep…

Before long, the two women find themselves entangled in a dangerous game with the Nazis. Will they be discovered? And will they both be able to save the ones they love?

 

Oh, this novel. Wow.

Set in Tuscany in WWII, I knew that this wasn’t going to be an easy read as nothing set during that time is. There were certain aspects of this book that were hard to read as a result.

Told from the point of view of both Sophia and Maxine, there is a lot going on but it’s all woven together so well. Even though both women are in the same place, they both experience things slightly differently and this added additional layers to the story.

Maxine’s story especially intrigued me and I would have liked to have known more about what happened with her family but that is another story for another book. Not that I am hinting, Dinah. Haha.

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Book Extract: Summer at my Sister’s by Emily Harvale

Happy publication day to Emily Harvale as she releases her latest novel, Summer at my Sister’s. 

 

Twin sisters. One scorching summer.

A bucketful of secrets.

Diana’s life is perfect. Her twin sister, Josie’s – not so much. 

Diana has a rich and successful husband, two talented youngsters and an adorable dog. She always looks as if she’s stepped from the cover of a magazine. Her immaculate second home by the sea, for idyllic summers with her perfect family, was actually featured in one.
 
Josie has a messy, compact flat, dates, but not relationships, and she can’t even keep a houseplant alive. She moves from job to job, goes clubbing with her friends and often looks as if she’s fallen through a hedge.

Although Josie loves Diana deeply, each year she declines the invitation to spend the summer with her sister. Or any other family holiday. Because Josie has a secret.
 
But is Diana’s life so perfect? Or is she also hiding something? When secrets are revealed this summer, everything will change. Josie could finally have the life she’s always wanted … if she’s brave enough to take a chance.

 

 

To celebrate the release of her new book, Emily has some exciting news to share but first, here is an extract from Summer at my Sister’s. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

Thank you so much for allowing me to share a little extract from my new book, Summer at my Sister’s.

This is where Josie Parnell arrives at her twin sister, Diana’s house. Liam Fulbright, who Josie has bumped into after last seeing him on his wedding day when he was nineteen, has helped her with her cases and Diana has just opened the front door of Sea View Cottage.

 

I wasn’t sure who was the most pleased to see me: Diana, Becca, or Henry the crazy, mixed up dog. I say ‘mixed up’ because Henry isn’t just a cross-breed. I think there must be at least four different breeds in his make-up. He’s brown and white and tan and there’s a big autumn-red shape over one of his eyes. He’s got the face and wiry brows of an Irish Wolfhound, the long fur coat of a Briard, the legs of a Great Dane and the tail of a Golden Retriever. That tail can clear a coffee table in seconds. Judging by the size of him I think there may also be a little bit of horse. He comes up to my waist when he’s got all four paws on the ground. When he’s got two of them on my shoulders, almost knocking me over, he’s about seven feet tall. You’d have thought I would have known that this is how he would greet me. He’s done it every time I’ve seen him, although thankfully, Diana doesn’t always bring him with her when we meet up.

Diana and Becca attempted to pull him off as he started to eat me. They said he was just being friendly and trying to lick my face but I wasn’t completely convinced. I tried to push him off me with both hands and he wasn’t budging an inch.

I shot a look at Liam, who seemed to find it rather amusing.

‘A little help … would … be nice,’ I said between mouthfuls of fur and trying to avoid dog drool.

‘Henry. Down boy.’ My nephew Toby wandered into the hall and with three little words, did what Diana, Becca and I couldn’t, using all our strength.

Henry launched himself off me and trotted over to his master without a backward glance while the force of his retreating paws shoved me backwards, sending me tumbling ungainly towards the floor. Luckily, Liam caught me in his arms before I landed on my arse.

‘Thanks,’ I said, scowling up at him. ‘You were no help at all.’

He was laughing but as he stood me upright, one hand cupped my right breast. I’m not sure who was more surprised but he quickly rectified the situation almost dropping me flat on my back in the process. Somehow he managed to save me – again, and this time was extra careful as he helped me straighten up.

The strange thing was, the feel of his hand on my breast sent all sorts of odd sensations darting through me and I was a bit embarrassed. But whenever I feel like that I overcompensate.

‘Blimey, Liam,’ I said, shaking my head and tutting. ‘I’ve only been back in Seahorse Harbour for an hour or two and you’re already trying it on.’

I swear I could see red beneath that tan. Was the man actually blushing?

‘I … er … sorry. It was an accident. I wouldn’t dream of … er.’

‘I was teasing you, Liam.’ I grinned at him and after giving me another very odd look, he grinned back.

 

***** end of extract*****

 

 

****An exciting update from Emily Harvale****

I apologise if you haven’t seen me on social media very much recently but I’ve been exceptionally busy working on lots of exciting stuff (technical term) 😂🤩 for my new book, my website … and a map for my new series of standalone stories set in the tiny village of Seahorse Harbour.
The map will ‘go live’ on July 31st, publication day for the first in the series, which is … yep, you guessed it, Summer at my sister’s. Let me explain a bit more.

Summer at my sister’s was originally a standalone, but then I had an idea for a Christmas book, so it became a two-book series, with Book 2 featuring a couple of new characters and most of the characters from Summer at my sister’s (with me so far?) ……

Then …. I had an idea for another completely separate story set in the same village (which I’m writing at the mo.) This one has new characters.

So now, each story in this series will be a standalone with new characters … but as each book is set in Seahorse Harbour, you’ll be able to ‘see’ what’s going on with the characters from the previous books, because you can’t help but bump into people in a tiny village, can you?

I have to say, I LOVE THIS SERIES!!!!😍🤩💖🥰 I’ve got so many story ideas, although I’ve only written 2 of the books so far, Summer at my sister’s and the Christmas book, which is called …..

Wait for it……(no, that’s not the title)

Christmas at Aunt Elsie’s

This Christmas book will be available for pre-order from early August. 💖🤩🥰😍

Did I mention that I love this series? And yes – I’m just a little bit over-excited. I can’t wait to share these fabulously feel-good stories with you. I hope you’re a little bit excited too. 🤩💖 xxx

 

About Emily Harvale… 

Emily writes novels, novellas and short stories about friendship, family and falling in love. She loves a happy ending but knows that life doesn’t always go to plan. Her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.

Emily loves to connect with her readers and has a readers’ group in which many have become good friends. To catch up with Emily, find out about the group, or connect with her on social media, go to her website at www.emilyharvale.com.

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now writes full-time. She’s a member of the SoA, an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. When not writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both. Emily has two mischievous rescue cats that like to sprawl across her keyboard, regardless of whether Emily is typing on it, or not.

Say hi on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Summer at my Sister’s was released by Crescent Gate Publishing on 31st July 2020. Click to view on Amazon UK

 

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Book Review: Cynthia Smart’s Midwife Crisis by Liz Davis

Midlife crisis? What midlife crisis?

At forty-four, Cynthia Smart is exactly where she wants to be. Almost.

In a couple of years, she’ll be the CEO of the company she’s spent her most of her adult life working in. For now, though, she’s still busy shimmying up the greasy pole of corporate business. She’s single, carefree, and independent, and nothing can stop her getting what she wants and deserves.

Until she discovers she’s pregnant.

Determined to have her cake and eat it, she’s convinced that having a baby will make little difference to her life, and that she will be one of those women who can hold down an incredibly demanding job and also be a perfect mother.

But as her pregnancy progresses and her life slowly falls apart, she has the sneaking suspicion that Max Oakland, the new guy on the block, is out to steal her dream job. That she’s terribly attracted to him doesn’t help, nor does the fact that he’s devilishly handsome, appears to be a really nice fella, and is good in a crisis.

When she gradually comes to realise that something has got to give, what she doesn’t want it to be is her heart.

 

I am pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Cynthia Smart’s Midwife Crisis.

Cynthia Smart’s career is riding high. In her forties, she is on the verge of a promotion despite the appearance of a mysterious new work colleague, Max.

Then she finds out she is pregnant. Having pretty much written off ever being a mother, a baby wasn’t something Cynthia had factored into her life plan.

This was one of those books that had me hooked from page one.

Told from Cynthia’s point of view, the writing style is lighthearted and easy to get into and I pretty much read it across a couple of sittings as I didn’t want to stop reading.

Cynthia is one of those frustrating but loveable characters. She has no idea what is about to hit her especially when she decides that two weeks is enough time to go back to work after the birth.

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Book Review: Starting Over at the Vineyard in Alsace by Julie Stock

It’s springtime at The Vineyard in Alsace, a new season and a new beginning

After being abandoned by her partner when she falls pregnant, Lottie Schell goes home to live on The Vineyard in Alsace, where she has started a new relationship with the estate’s winemaker, Thierry. Now about to give birth, Lottie’s determined to raise her child and to provide for them both on her own without having to depend on anyone else.

Thierry Bernard is still dealing with his grief and guilt following the death of his wife two years earlier, for which he blames himself. When he meets Lottie, the instant attraction he feels towards her gives him hope that he can move on from the tragedy of his past, as long as he can tell Lottie the truth of what happened.

When circumstances force Lottie and Thierry closer together, they both find it hard to compromise – she’s proudly independent and he’s fiercely protective – and they’re both wary about trusting someone new with their heart.

Can Lottie and Thierry take a chance on each other, move on from their pasts and start over?

Escape to The Vineyard in Alsace once again with this romantic read set in the heart of Alsace’s wine country.

I was very pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Starting Over at the Vineyard in Alsace by Julie Stock.

I have not read the first book, The Vineyard in Alsace so I was a little concerned I wouldn’t know what was going on. Although this is book two in the series, it didn’t take me long to catch up so, in my opinion, this can be read as a standalone novel. Book one followed Fran. This book focuses on Fran’s sister, Lottie as she prepares to have a baby on her own.

I liked the fact that this book was told from the point of view of Lottie and her boyfriend, Thierry. Each are developed well and have a good chance to reveal their stories. All of the elements are put together well through the book.

Both of these characters have many layers to them. Lottie has a broken heart and trouble trusting those around her. I found Thierry’s story interesting and very sad as he grieves the loss of his wife and the guilt surrounding their last conversation. They both go through quite an emotional journey as they learn to hopefully trust each other. I feel that many can relate to them.

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A Moment With… Dave Flint

I am pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Hidden Intentions, the latest novel from Dave Flint. 

Toby could… and Toby would.

‘Enjoy yourself as you rot, old man. And you’re not my dad – you never were.’ Southern England, September 1957

When thirteen-year-old Toby Mitcher’s mum collapses, never to wake up, Toby’s alcoholic stepfather becomes his legal guardian. He thought life couldn’t get much worse, but was he wrong.

Time passes, and an orderly direction comes into his life. That is until problems start and the disappearances begin.

No more being put upon or allowing bad situations to happen.

From now on, Toby is in control. Or is he?

 

To celebrate the release of his novel, Dave has joined me today to talk about his favourite things about being an author. Over to you, Dave. 

 

Up until eight years ago, I never imagined being an author. To me, the most significant challenge and excitement came when I sat in front of my computer with an idea. It could be a drabble of 100 words, a short story for a competition or something else. As to the completed novel, straight away, I can say, seeing my book out there and knowing I wrote it has to be a Wow factor! When I first entered into the writing world at my local writers’ group, I was surprised how individuals, authors and people who enjoyed turning up relished advising others, encouraging them to go for what they wanted to write about. Within six months of joining that group and never before having done anything like it. I knew I wanted to write a book. My second novel is underway, and I have more stories that require attention that I have shelved.

Favourite things about being an author are still unknown to me at this stage, other than what I have said. But the feeling I got when I won a short story prize was at my first attempt was amazing. At the award ceremony, listening to those people clapping for me was something I have never experienced before. Members of my writing group and others who were authors I had never seen before congratulated me that evening. Having your photo taken, and giving a speech was brilliant if not unreal for me. I still have the large cheque presented to me under my bed from that time, something I will keep knowing I can accomplish a written work.

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