GuestPost A LITTLE CHRISTMAS PANTO by ANGELA BRITNELL #BookExtract @ChocLituk @AngelaBritnell

Hello all!!  Happy Monday!! I get to hand over the Blog today to the lovely ANGELA BRITNELL who is here to share an exclusive extact with you all, to celebrate the release of  A LITTLE CHRISTMAS PANTO …. Oh no it isn’t… Oh yes it is!!!!

Over to you, Angela….

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Release Day Post: A Little Christmas Panto by Angela Britnell

Hello again, Karen, and thank you so much for welcoming me to your lovely blog again. I’m always happy to talk about my books and this year’s festive offering, A Little Christmas Panto, is no exception! I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story based around a Cornish village pantomime with Zach, a troubled Hollywood celebrity and Rosey, a former concert pianist now living a quieter life as my main characters. It brought back happy memories of my own, not exactly world-class, efforts on the stage in the junior chorus of the pantomime in the Cornish village where I grew up.

I thought I’d chat a bit today about how some people’s views towards Christmas are shaped and the expectations the season often arouses. In this short extract Rosey is talking to Fred, an older man who is in charge of the pantomime scenery:

‘I s’ppose Christmas will be on us before we know it. Don’t seem possible. The year’s flying by.’ He rolled his eyes. ‘Wendy’s already started buying loads of stuff the kids and grandkids don’t need. I’m partial to singing a few carols but don’t care tuppence for the rest of it.’

‘I’m with you but I think we’re in the minority.’ Rosey’s jaundiced view of the holidays came from her mother. There’d been no spare money when Rosey was little so that kept their celebrations simple, and now Anna used the excuse that, with the pantomime starting three weeks after Christmas, she didn’t have time for a lot of fuss. To her mum, the holidays were an irritating disruption to the rehearsal schedule.

‘Wouldn’t do if we were all the same.’ A smile creased Fred’s weathered face.

Rosey’s mother Anna has always been content to rush through Christmas because her mind is laser-focused on the pantomime which takes to the stage in the middle of January. But she takes it to heart when some friends gently tease her about her un-festive house and here we see Rosey’s misgivings about Anna’s attempt to take on other people’s expectations:

Last night her mother insisted they drag out their own feeble box of decorations because she’d taken umbrage when the sewing group had a good-natured laugh at their un-Christmassy home. Now Anna was determined to prove she could do Christmas as well as the next person. Rosey hadn’t the heart to point out that their lame fluorescent pink tabletop tree with its mismatched collection of random ornaments, the single strand of coloured lights hanging in the front window, and sparse sprigs of artificial holly on the mantlepiece were hardly the last word in festive decor.

Of course, Anna is an over-the-top person so she doesn’t stop there:

Rosey ducked to avoid hitting the low-hanging silver garland hitched up across the bottom of the stairs. Her mother never did anything by halves and must have bought every Christmas decoration on sale within a twenty-mile radius of Polcarne. She’d adorned every non-living thing in the house, and no doubt would have done the same to her daughter if she’d dared to stand still for too long. Her mother was decked out brighter than their Christmas tree in a gold jumpsuit.

Will things escalate? Will Anna foolishly attempt to replace their usual Marks & Spencer ready meals with the first turkey she’s ever cooked or will she come to her senses? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

One of the main themes of the book is being true to yourself and several characters go on the journey of discovering what that is for them. I hope you and your readers enjoy A Little Christmas Panto – Oh Yes I Do!

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About the book:

Can a little Cornish village panto convince a troubled Hollywood heart throb to act again?

Oh no it won’t! At least that’s what Zach Broussard initially thinks when the eccentric Anna Teague tries to railroad him into helping out with her community pantomime production in the run-up to Christmas. Zach has his reasons for leaving Hollywood behind, and his retreat to the remote village of Polcarne in Cornwall signals the start of a new acting free life for him.

But when Zach meets Anna’s daughter, Rosey – an ex concert pianist who has swapped Mozart for panto tunes – he starts to wonder whether he could change his mind, and not just about acting.

If nothing else, will the residents of Polcarne ensure Zach has a Christmas he never forgets?

Oh yes they will!

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Grab your copy here….

Kindle link: https://amzn.to/3dY0cj8

About the author: 

Angela was born in St. Stephen, Cornwall, England. After completing her A-Levels she worked as a Naval Secretary. She met her husband, a US Naval Flight Officer while being based at a small NATO Headquarters on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark. They lived together in Denmark, Sicily, California, southern Maryland and London before settling in Franklin, Tennessee.

Angela took a creative writing course in 2000 and loved it so much that she has barely put her pen down since. She has had short stories and novels published in the US. Her novel Sugar & Spice, won Choc Lit’s Search for an American Star competition and was her UK debut.

www.twitter.com/angelabritnell 

www.facebook.com/angelabritnell

Instagram handle: @AngelaGolleyBritnell

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Advertisement

PublicationDay FLORA’S CHRISTMAS OF NEW BEGINNINGS by KIRSTY FERRY #BookExtract @ChocLituk @kirsty_ferry

Greetings!! Happy Tuesday one and all!! And I have a real treat for you today, with an exclusive extract to share from FLORA’S CHRISTMAS OF NEW BEGINNINGS by the lovely KIRSTY FERRY, which is celebrating PUBLICATION DAY today!!!  Go grab your copy now!!!

Publication Day Extract: Flora’s Christmas of New Beginnings by Kirsty Ferry

To celebrate the release of Kirsty Ferry’s fun and festive Christmas novel, Flora’s Christmas of New Beginnings, here is an exclusive extract from the book!

In this short excerpt, we join Flora for ‘her Christmas that Never Was’ – but is Flora destined for bad Christmases forever more? Hopefully not! Have a read and see …

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Last Christmas

(Which was horrible and turned into the Christmas that Never Was)

I hated January!

I hated London!

And I definitely hated Carter “dump-your-girlfriend-at-Christmas” Hayton-Smith.

Because, dear reader, I was that girlfriend.

Carter “dump-your-girlfriend-at-Christmas” Hayton-Smith (okay, let’s just call him Carter from now on) did the deed on Christmas Eve.

Bloody Christmas Eve.

I had wondered, I must say, as the days wore on, where my Christmas present was. I’d given him his so it wasn’t like I was being selfish; more just curious, as we’d originally intended to exchange them at the same time.

I started thinking that perhaps he just wasn’t as super-organised as I was, on the basis that, for days after I’d given him his gift, he kept saying stuff like, ‘Oh Flora, I’ll get around to it. I’ve just been … busy.’ Then he’d smile at me and try to distract me by snogging me or similar.

We’d arranged to spend Christmas together and everything. He’d booked lunch at a restaurant in Mayfair (he said), and apparently the destination was going to be a big surprise. I’d always had my Christmas lunch at home, or with my parents, and, if I was very honest

with myself, I didn’t feel I was really a “Hotel Christmas Lunch” sort of person. But he made it sound really exciting and fun and easy, so I agreed.

Due to this plan, my parents decided to have Christmas at the other end of the country – my sister Beth lives in a tiny village in the Lake District with her partner and two small children – and they checked and double-checked that it was okay to go.

‘Beth said she’ll come to us,’ Mum had said, looking super-concerned, ‘but if you’re definitely going to have Christmas with Carter, we’ll go there. It’s better for the children if they think Santa is coming to their own house. Routine and all that.’ Mum was a great one for “routine”, and it had obviously ingrained itself into her daughters. I worked in events management at Bloomsbury Bright’s in, well, Bloomsbury, obviously, and that involved a lot of organisation and planning; and Beth was a teacher, so she spent weekdays herding small children, and evenings and weekends herding even smaller children. I didn’t know how she managed. Her house ran like clockwork and I was sure that Trixie and Tabitha would have been perfectly compliant if Beth and Tony had decided to drive to Pinner and ensure Santa showed up there instead.

I’d always failed to see why she’d given her children the same names as the cats we’d had when we were kids though.

But, anyway, off to the Lakes they went on the 23rd, and I promised I’d send them a photo of my lovely Christmas lunch.

Then on the morning of Christmas Eve, I woke up to a text from Carter:

Babes. Been thinking. Getting too serious for me, y’all know I’m scared of commitment lol lol lol. Christmas Day together, man, just seems kinda – intense. You know? Gonna cut you loose, so you can have fun with the fam-a-lam tomoz instead. Don’t feel bad about it, we had fun, yeah? The swimming and the waxworks. Oh and the theatre. Awesome.

So yeah. Not you, it’s me lol lol. Cancelled lunch, so don’t stress over it. Love n light n peace. Thanks for the last few months. Been fun. Xxx

‘What the … what the absolute …!’ I screamed into the empty bedroom. Three mentions of “fun” in one bloody text and I was currently failing to see what had been “fun” at all, in retrospect. Yes, we’d been to the water park at London Royal Docks and he’d zoomed off swimming and left me trailing behind. Yes, we’d done Madame Tussaud’s and I’d been scared witless in the Chamber of Horrors, but he’d “had to get up early the next day” so wouldn’t stay over and I spent the night a gibbering wreck with the lights on in the lounge binge-watching comedy movies. And he’d fallen asleep in Les Mis, which was certainly a talent few can claim to own.

I was aware that he had a very punchy sort of job in finance; I’d always known he would be working long hours and that was fine. He constantly seemed to move at a million miles per hour and treated everything as a joke, just a bit of light relief. We’d only been together six months and I thought it seemed a bit wild arranging something so, well, intimate for Christmas Day. But I was happy to go along with it, all caught up in the new relationship and thinking that it was one day we wouldn’t have to rush through for once; that we could enjoy a lazy morning and a lovely lunch and a cosy afternoon.

But I was wrong.

By then, Mum and Dad were at Beth’s – I had told Carter that was happening, which made his text even more thoughtless – and even as I phoned Mum in desperation, thinking I could maybe drive all the way up there, deep down I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

‘Oh darling,’ said Mum. ‘We’ve got blizzards up here, and they’ve got a weather warning up for today and tonight. We’re basically snowed in and being advised not to drive. It’s supposed to ease off tomorrow…?’ There was a little note of hope in her voice, a tiny query in the word “tomorrow”, but I was already shaking my head, tears dripping off the end

of my nose by that point. I realised I’d have to speak eventually because we were on the phone and she couldn’t see me. But that was maybe a good thing because I’d always been an ugly crier.

‘No, Mum. It’s okay,’ I managed. ‘I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’s only one day.’

‘Sweetheart. Are there any friends you can spend it with? I’m so sorry we’re up here.’

‘I’ll find someone. It’s fine.’

‘If you’re sure.’

‘I’m sure.’

But obviously it wasn’t fine, and I didn’t even try to call any friends. Most of them were spending Christmas Day with their families and, of course, I didn’t want to gate-crash.

In the end, I lied. I told Mum I’d spent the day with my colleague Claudia, because her partner, Dieter, was a doctor and had to work, so she’d be on her own too. Claudia was a person far enough removed that they were highly unlikely to meet her, they weren’t friends with her parents, and they basically didn’t know her at all. After Christmas, I told Claudia to uphold that lie if they ever did end up meeting her and explained why. I knew she would do it, bless her.

In reality, that Christmas Day was the most pox-worthy, crappy day I have ever spent in my entire life. It may only have been one day, but the TV adverts don’t let you think that. They always fill the screen with happy people and families around a massive turkey on a table. I cried every time an advert came on with a mum and a dad and a child. Which is stupid because I’m twenty-eight!

I had a going-out-of-date microwave chicken curry for lunch which I’d bought at the corner shop on Christmas Eve, ate an entire Christmas pudding for tea and drank a bottle of prosecco for supper, just to try and make myself sleep.

I told Mum I’d “forgotten” my phone when I went to Claudia’s, so that was why I had no photos of the lunch or the super-fun day we’d had playing Pictionary and singing along to musicals on TV, etc, and that was also why I only FaceTimed them at 8 p.m.

She held the phone up to the window of Beth’s house so I could see the thick covering of snow, almost like she thought I might not believe her about the weather, but the worst part was seeing my dad with his paper hat on and Tabitha curled up asleep in the crook of his arm.

I so wanted to be there with them.

And thus Christmas Day passed, eventually, and thankfully I went to bed, fell asleep and shut the door on that awful day.

It was a crying shame because I loved Christmas, normally – but that one went down in my memory bank as the “Christmas that Never Was”.

And then we were into January, which I always hated anyway, because it’s grey and miserable – and who’s a size four, to grab bargains in the sales?

So now you can probably understand why I particularly hated last January. I was still getting over the awful Christmas; still getting over – and getting enraged on a regular basis about – Carter.

But when I met Paul Tanner at an event the following month, I thought that at least it had to mean that February was going to be much better than January!

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About the author:

Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.

Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.

Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.

FOLLOW THE AUTHOR……

www.twitter.com/kirsty_ferry 

https://www.facebook.com/kirsty.ferry.author/

 Kirsty’s website: www.rosethornpress.co.uk

 Kirsty’s blog: www.rosethornramblings.wordpress.com

About the book:


It was meant to be a romantic Christmas getaway …

Except Flora’s boyfriend Paul is more interested in whether there’s WiFi in their holiday cottage than he is in the pretty village of Padcock where it’s located. It seems he’s incapable of taking time out from his work for gossip mag darling Maxine Marling – or Maxine Marmoset as Flora not so secretly calls her (well, she does look like a marmoset!) – to spend time with his actual girlfriend.

But as Flora discovers the friendly and festive community of Padcock with its eccentric but lovable locals – including dreamy musician Geraint Davies – she begins to question her London life and lots more besides. Especially as a certain marmoset becomes ever more present on her Christmas break for two …

But luckily Padcock is a village where fresh starts happen – and maybe Flora is in line for her own Christmas of new beginnings.

 Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3VFmG9P

 Kobo: https://bit.ly/3CFI4mI 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3P58DWu

 Nook: https://bit.ly/3vGxOaW

PromoPost MISTLETOE AND MAYHEM AT THE LITTLE SHOPPING MALL by HANNAH PEARL #Extract @ChocLituk @HannahPearl_1

To celebrate the recent release of Hannah Pearl’s Christmas novel, Mistletoe and Mayhem at the Little Shopping Mall, here is an exclusive extract from the book!

If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to get shut in a shopping centre overnight, this excerpt is bound to intrigue you! What will Caroline and Damian get up to in Holly Walk Mall after getting locked in?

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We headed for the exit too. It wasn’t until we reached the new gates that I remembered I needed the key, and it wasn’t until I returned to my office to fetch it that I discovered Ian had taken all of them. Not before locking us in though.

I called his mobile but he didn’t pick up. I messaged, in case he’d avoided my calls thinking I was going to have a go at him again. When an hour passed with no reply, I rang my brother.

‘Stop laughing,’ I told him. ‘I can’t get out.’

‘Want me to come and break the gates open?’ he offered.

‘Only if you can pay to replace them. I’m not sure it would be covered by the insurance.’

‘Call a locksmith?’

‘That’ll cost loads too, and I don’t want to risk them damaging the old gates. I’ll try Ian again. He can’t ignore my calls forever.’

‘Good luck. At least you’re stuck somewhere you love. It’s not like you’ll be lonely.’

‘I won’t, he’s locked Damian in too.’

My brother laughed even harder at that. ‘Maybe he’s playing matchmaker? You could do with the help.’ I glanced up to make sure that Damian hadn’t overheard my brother’s comments, but he didn’t look scared so I figured I was safe.

‘We’re out of food,’ I pointed out. ‘The packed lunch you made was amazing but I finished it already. Do you think Marco would mind if I open the cafe and raid their fridge?’

‘You know he wouldn’t, Caro, as long as you find things you can eat without cooking.’ I hung up and looked at Damian.

‘Are there no other ways out?’ he asked.

I shook my head. There were none that I felt comfortable with.

‘We’re stuck, aren’t we?’ He didn’t look as happy about it as my brother had sounded.

I felt guilty when I saw his face fall. ‘I’m still hoping Ian will get my messages in a minute and call me back.’

‘And if he doesn’t?’

‘Do you have someone you need to get home to this evening?’

He shook his head. ‘I’m sure he’ll get back to you soon, won’t he?’

‘He will. And if not, he’ll definitely be here early tomorrow. He promised to open up because I’d pulled the extra shift with the builders today.’ I found myself grinning. I’d grown up daydreaming about what I’d do if I ever got to stay in the shopping centre overnight so I didn’t find the idea as daunting as Damian clearly did. I grabbed his hand and dragged him out into the concourse. ‘What do you fancy first? Dinner or a show?’

We started at Marco’s. I let myself in with my key and switched on the lights. ‘I can fix you a sandwich followed by the best ice cream you’ve ever eaten,’ I announced.

He followed me through to their giant fridge. It was packed with goodies. Packages of cured meats and boxes of cheeses greeted us, as did heads of lettuce and the reddest, plumpest tomatoes that just begged to be sliced and eaten with mozzarella and fresh basil. There were trays of lasagne, prepared that just needed heating but I knew not to touch those.

‘And we can really help ourselves?’ Damian asked, as he took in the vast range of choices.

‘As long as I don’t use the oven, we’re golden. I’ll make Ian pay them back for anything we take. Call it compensation.’

‘Can I cook?’ Damian asked.

‘If you’re asking if you’re allowed, yes. It’s only me who is banned.’ I pointed at a small black smudge on the ceiling. ‘That had three coats of paint and you can still see it. Nonna says it’s a sign.’

‘What were you making?’ Damian asked, his eyes wide as he noted how high the ceiling was and how much damage I must have caused to get smoke up there.

‘A toasted sandwich. These days I’m allowed to make myself tea, but I’m not even supposed to go near the coffee maker.’

Damian laughed, and it was just the tension break that we needed. Accepting that we might be stuck for some time, he stopped worrying about it. Maybe me digging out Marco’s grappa helped too. I splashed some more into our tea cups. Nina wouldn’t mind if we drank it. She was always on at Marco to cut down.

Damian found a clean napkin and used it as a makeshift tablecloth. I fetched cutlery and set the table as he cooked. He apologised as he dished up that it was just a simple pasta dish, but made with such great ingredients it was delicious. I fixed us ice cream sundaes for pudding. They weren’t as impressive as Marco’s but I made up with using a bit of every one of the flavours. We also had more of the grappa.

I tried Ian again as Damian washed up. No luck. So after we’d packed away what we’d used, I locked up behind us and let us into Peter’s electronics shop instead. He had a selection of DVDs that he used to test machines.

‘Rom com or action film?’ I asked, as I searched to see what films we could borrow.

‘Bit of both?’ Damian suggested. I picked Deadpool and fetched my laptop from my office. ‘Now we just need somewhere cosy. Shame we don’t have a furniture store any more. A nice comfy sofa would have been perfect. Although …’ I grabbed his arm and dragged him back through the mall, past the hut we’d spent all afternoon painting, and towards Doris’ shop. ‘She keeps a display bed at the back so she can show off her linens. We can borrow

some cushions and sit on that.’ I’m not sure if it was the alcohol talking, the long day of decorating or the tension with Ian, but I felt myself relax as we sat next to each other on the bed and I hit play for the movie.

I meant to try Ian one more time, to see if he would come and let us out, but the bed was so cosy, and I was so tired. And when Damian put his arm around me so that we could squeeze closer to see the tiny screen, well, I must have simply forgotten.

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About the Author:


Hannah Pearl was born in East London. She is married with two children and now lives in Cambridge.

She has previously worked as a Criminology researcher at a university in Leicester, as a Development Worker with various charities and even pulled a few pints in her time.

In 2015 she was struck down by Labyrinthitis, which left her feeling dizzy and virtually housebound. She has since been diagnosed with ME. Reading has allowed Hannah to escape from the reality of feeling ill. She read upwards of three hundred books during the first year of her illness. When her burgeoning ereader addiction grew to be too expensive, she decided to have a go at writing. In 2017 she won Simon and Schuster’s Books and the City #heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with Heat magazine, for her short story The Last Good Day.

Find out more about Hannah here: Twitter: @HannahPearl_1

About the book:


Count down to Christmas with mistletoe, mayhem, meddling friends and mystery men …

There’s a saying about all work and no play – but there’s never a dull moment for Caroline working at Holly Walk Mall, especially at Christmas. When she’s not dealing with orders from Ian, ‘the manager who can’t manage’ as her friend Rachel puts it, she’s overseeing the usual late-night shopping sessions, Santa’s grotto construction and, most importantly, the sampling of many delicious festive treats at the Italian café her friends Nina and Marco own.

But when a new jewellery shop moves in and brings ‘mysterious guy with the cute bottom’ to Holly Walk, Caro isn’t yet aware just how much mayhem she’s in for in the countdown to Christmas. With strategically placed mistletoe, revealing cowboy outfits and even a bit of sleuthing, could this festive season turn out to be the liveliest yet for both Caro and her beloved Mall?

Buying link:

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3LyhlMX

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#BlogTour #BookExtract THE THUNDER GIRLS by MELANIE BLAKE @MelanieBlakeUK @MidasPR @panmacmillan #ThunderGirls

A huge delight to be able to share an extract today for THE THUNDER GIRLS by MELANIE BLAKE, as part of the Blog Tour. My thanks to the author, publisher and Martina at Midas PR for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Jackie Collins for a new generation. The Thunder Girls is a blockbuster novel, filled with obsession, addiction, betrayal and revenge, that charts the rise and fall of an 80s girl band from Melanie Blake, a true insider of the music business.

Perfect for fans of Tasmina Perry and Daisy Jones and The SixSoon to be a nationwide play with an all star cast.

THE

Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita, an eighties pop sensation outselling and out-classing their competition. Until it all comes to an abrupt end and three of their careers are over, and so is their friendship.

THUNDER

Thirty years later, their old record label wants the band back together for a huge money-making concert. But the wounds are deep and some need this gig more than others.

In those decades apart life was far from the dream they were living as members of The Thunder Girls. Breakdowns, bankruptcy, addiction and divorce have been a constant part of their lives. They’ve been to hell and back, and some are still there.

GIRLS

Can the past be laid to rest for a price, or is there more to this reunion than any of them could possibly know? Whilst they all hunger for a taste of success a second time around, someone is plotting their downfall in the deadliest way possible . . .

 PUBLISHED BY PAN

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

hive.co.uk

Blackwell’s

Author Website

EXTRACT

Prologue 

November 1989 

Carly Hughes stepped from the back of the limousine at the entrance to Shine Records. She was wearing a short kilt and leather jacket. Lacy tights with biker boots; big hair, kooky-looking shades and an oversized designer bag worth thousands.

 Every inch the pop star.

 Her driver, Dale, threw a protective arm around her as he steered her past thousands of screaming Thunder Girls fans, Carly stopping to scribble her name on the autograph books and tour programmes being thrust at her. Some of the fans were hysterical. A young girl clung to her, sobbing, burying her tear-streaked face in her idol’s new jacket. 

Without taking his eyes off her, a handsome lad was snapping endless pictures on a battered Instamatic whilst staring at Carly intently. Dale let Carly know it was time to move. She detached herself from the crying girl and escaped into the building. 

 As they waited for the lift she inspected her jacket. ‘I think I’ve got snot on my sleeve. First time I’ve worn this, as well.’ 

Dale frowned and handed her a crisp white hanky. She dabbed at the damp leather.

 ‘I keep telling you not to be so touchy-feely,’ he said. ‘You don’t know where they’ve been.’

 ‘Harsh, Dale. They’re just kids—’ 

‘Bunking off school, most of them,’ he grumbled. ‘

—hanging about in the cold for hours, hoping for a word.’ ‘You’re way too trusting. They could pull a knife, anything.’

 Dale was ex-military. Special Forces. Decorated for bravery. Secretly hoping someone would step out of line one day so he could show what he was made of.

 ‘They’re our fans, they’d never hurt us.’ Carly gave him a dazzling smile.

 ‘Anyway, that’s why you’re here.’ He shook his head. ‘That weird one taking pictures . . . I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him – his eyes don’t look right.’ 

She giggled. ‘Don’t be mean. He’s the Mad Fan – goes everywhere we do, just likes to look at us and take his pics, bless him.’

 ‘Yeah, well that’s odd as well, the quiet ones are always the worst.’ 

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#BlogTour Street Cat Blues by Alison O’Leary #BookReview #BookExtract @rararesources @alisonoleary81

Extremely delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for STREET CAT BLUES by ALISON O’LEARY today! My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for letting me be part of it all!  Today I’ll be sharing my review along with a sneaky extract, which I hope you’ll enjoy!!

About the book

After spending several months banged up in Sunny Banks rescue centre, Aubrey, a large tabby cat, has finally found his forever home with Molly and Jeremy Goodman and life is looking good.

However, all that changes when a serial killer begins to target elderly victims in the neighbourhood. Aubrey wasn’t particularly upset by the death of some of the previous victims, including Miss Jenkins whom Aubrey recalls as a vinegar-lipped bitch of an old woman who enjoyed throwing stones at cats, but Mr Telling was different. Mr Telling was a mate…

Published by Crooked Cat Books

Purchase Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK

About the Author

I was born in London and spent my teenaged years in Hertfordshire where I spent large amounts of time reading Agatha Christie novels and avoiding school. Failing to gain any qualifications in Science whatsoever, the dream of being a forensic scientist crashed and burned when a careers teacher suggested that I might like to work in a shop. Later studying Law, I decided to teach rather than go into practice and have spent many years working as a college lecturer teaching mainly Criminal Law to adults and young people.

I live on the south coast with my husband John and cat Archie. When not writing I enjoy crosswords, walking by the sea and drinking wine. Not necessarily in that order.

Social Media Links 

 Facebook.com/Alison.oleary.1069 

twitter.com/alisonoleary81

https://www.alisonoleary.co.uk/

EXTRACT

This extract is taken from Chapter Two in which we first meet Vincent, a street-wise cat who’s always got his paw on the pulse of what’s happening. Aubrey goes out to meet him to ask if he knows anything about how Mr. Telling died. Vincent mentions that he could ask the twins, Rupert and Roger, a pair of Siamese cats who run the manor.

He put one paw tentatively forward and then jumped sideways as a soft lithe shape brushed against him.

“God, Vinnie, don’t do that. You startled me.”

Vincent grinned, his green eyes gleaming. His gold-coloured neck tag glittered against his rich dark fur.

“Aubsie, me old mate. How’s tricks? Don’t seem to have seen you in a while. Thought I’d send Moses, see if you was all right. Was wondering how you were getting on. What you been up to?”

Aubrey shrugged.

“Not much. Same old same old.”

The two cats fell into step together and strolled round the side of the house towards the bins. Moses trotted along behind them. Funny, thought Aubrey, how old habits die hard. Sleek and well fed the pair of them, and yet they still couldn’t resist the lure of a good bin. Aubrey waited while Vincent sprang up and inserted a muscular paw under the lid of the nearest bin, pulling it towards him and jumping clear just as it hit the ground.

“Vin, I was wondering, did you hear anything about what happened at Mr Telling’s place today?”

“Number sixty-two? Talk is that he fell over and hit his head.” Vincent paused and looked at him sideways. “Why? You thinking something different?”

Aubrey nodded.

“It doesn’t seem right, Vin. Mr Telling wasn’t the sort of bloke to just go around falling over.”

“I’ll put the word out. The twins might know something.”

Aubrey felt a quick shiver run through his fur. A pair of Siamese, rumour had it that Rupert and Roger were running every racket this side of the railway bridge.

MY REVIEW

What a charming read this was! Lots of fun with a dark edge too! Who knew a cat would make for a great detective?! I loved Aubrey – the cat – as he was such a character and had an opinion on everything and everybody that crossed his path, be that good or bad!

When there’s a serial killer on the loose in the neighbourhood everyone is on tenterhooks. And Aubrey who is used to patrolling the area on his ’rounds’ has been noticing some strange goings on. But when his friend Mr Telling is killed, he goes into action to try and find the killer as Mr Telling was a mate and kind to all the cats in the area. 

His owners, Jeremy and Molly, are also wary of what has been happening in the neighbourhood, and as Jeremy is a teacher he notices things amongst the pupils of his class too. When a murder happens that affects one of his students he has no choice but to get involved and this adds another element to the story, and quite a tender one too.

Aubrey is a cat with attitude and he has the measure of the local residents! The chats he has with the other neighbourhood cats were a lot of fun to listen in to and he makes a number of quirky observations which had me giggling away!

But alongside the snarky cat side, he also gets to show his caring side when he gets close to young Carlos and it just goes to show that you shouldn’t judge people on their cirumstances. Carlos has been dealt a very bad hand as a kid and having to deal with something so traumatic, but he finds solace in sharing his problems with Aubrey and this was really touching to see.

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#BlogTour The Other Miss Bates by Allie Cresswell #BookExtract @rararesources

Hugely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for THE OTHER MISS BATES by ALLIE CRESSWELL.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for letting me be part of it all!

I’ll be sharing an extract with you today to help give you a little taster of the book, and hopefully tempt you into adding it to your TBR pile! One more won’t hurt!!

About the book

Jane Bates has left Highbury to become the companion of the invalid widow Mrs Sealy in Brighton. Life in the new, fashionable seaside resort is exciting indeed. A wide circle of interesting acquaintance and a rich tapestry of new experiences – balls at the Assembly rooms, carriage rides and promenades on the Steyne – make her new life all Jane had hoped for.

While Jane’s sister Hetty can be a tiresome conversationalist she proves to be a surprisingly good correspondent and Jane is kept minutely up-to-date with developments in Highbury, particularly the tragic news from Donwell Abbey.

When handsome Lieutenant Weston returns to Brighton Jane expects their attachment to pick up where it left off in Highbury the previous Christmas, but the determined Miss Louisa Churchill, newly arrived with her brother and sister-in-law from Enscombe in Yorkshire, seems to have a different plan in mind.

Purchase Link

Amazon UK

About the Author

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England.

The Other Miss Bates is her eighth novel and the second in the Highbury series

Social Media Links

https://allie-cresswell.com/

https://www.facebook.com/alliescribbler/

EXTRACT

All we know of Jane Bates from Emma is that she married a man by the name of Fairfax, their marriage lasting only long enough to produce a daughter, Jane. I wanted this tragically short relationship to be happy. Having made Jane a young lady of intelligence and courage, and given that her first choice of husband, Captain Weston, would be denied her by canon, I wanted to provide her with a husband who would nurture and fulfill all her excellent qualities and ambitions. Thus I conceived Angus Fairfax. But nothing shows up a person’s merits quite like comparing them with their polar opposite, so I came up with Arthur Sealy as an arch villain and rival for Jane’s affection.

Here, she meets both for the first time out in Brighton with her patroness Mrs Sealy, an invalid widow.

‘Good day, Arthur. I was not aware you were in town.’

Mrs Sealy addressed an extremely tall, very broad-shouldered young man with a heavy brow beneath a beetling cliff of forehead and a thick mop of unruly hair. His frock-coat was finely cut, his stock tied very tight and high, a froth of lace fell from his cuff. Altogether he cut a handsome – even brilliant – figure but it was a brutal, rather frightening beauty. Jane did not think she had ever seen such a toweringly large man; his physical presence was quite oppressive – he threw their table into shadow – and the expression on his face by no means denoted a benign character. His face was hard, his eye proud and cold. Since Mrs Sealy did not offer her hand he lifted it from her lap and bowed over it, placing a kiss on a particularly large and brilliant stone on her finger. ‘I wished to surprise you, Mama. I hope you are pleasantly surprised.’

‘I am astonished, indeed,’ said Mrs Sealy, retrieving her hand. ‘I thought it understood between us that you would be on the continent for many months.’

‘It was my fixed intention to remain abroad, but it cannot be done without funds. Who is this charming young lady, Mama? Won’t you introduce me?’

‘This is my companion, Miss Bates,’ Mrs Sealy said reluctantly. ‘Miss Bates, this is the Admiral’s son by his first wife, Arthur Sealy.’

‘Good day to you Miss Bates,’ said Arthur Sealy with a predatory smile, ‘I am charmed to make your acquaintance. Do you attend the Assembly this evening? I would be honoured to engage you for the first dances.’

‘Miss Bates does not dance,’ Mrs Sealy said quickly.

‘She certainly ought to, then,’ Mr Sealy drawled, ‘she should not deprive a fellow of such a partner. I overheard you telling that gentleman that you are going to the Rookery. I think I will join you. It is a delightful afternoon for a stroll in the gardens is it not Mama? Oh, but I forget,’ with a cruel, mirthless laugh, ‘you can not stroll.’

‘I am afraid that won’t be possible,’ Mrs Sealy replied. ‘We are going as guests…’

‘Of Captain Bates. Yes, I heard. An excellent man and an old acquaintance. He will not mind my joining you.’

‘I will mind,’ Mrs Sealy said, ‘we have particular family reasons for meeting Captain Bates this afternoon and your presence would frustrate them. Arthur I pray you would leave us now. If you wish to call in the morning you may do so.’

‘Family reasons?’ Mr Sealy cried. ‘Since I am family I can think of no better reason for me to do myself the pleasure of joining your party. It will be a duty, indeed, if ‘family’ is at the crux of it. What do you plan to do behind my back, I wonder?’

Mrs Sealy summoned patience from a cache which was all-but dry. ‘Not our family, Arthur. Miss Bates’ family. You could make no contribution whatsoever.’

‘I think I will be the judge of that, Mama,’ the young man said with an unpleasant smirk. ‘Come, let me carry you to your carriage.’ He bent and made as though to scoop the defenceless Mrs Sealy up in his arms.

Jane leapt from her chair, gasping at the man’s audacity. She reached out, fully ready to fight for possession of Mrs Sealy if necessary, quite determined that he would not touch her, much less lift her from her seat. ‘Sir, I pray you will step away,’ she said. ‘You impose yourself.’

‘Gentlemen,’ said a soft-voiced man whom no one had remarked before but who had been hovering on the terrace for some moments awaiting an opportunity to approach Mrs Sealy’s table. He had red hair, a thin but perfectly proportioned face and wore wire spectacles. He was tall but slender, dwarfed by the bulk of Arthur Sealy. ‘The cricket match is to begin presently,’ he remarked mildly. ‘See how the spectators are gathering?’ He threw his arm out to indicate an assemblage of the great and the good of Brighton strolling quite within sight and probably within earshot of the fracas which had been about to occur on the terrace. ‘There is the Duke of Cumberland and Mr Pelham. Is that Lord Montesquieu? I can’t quite make out… My eyes, you know, are not keen… Can you see?’

Almost imperceptibly the man edged Arthur Sealy away from his step-mother and Miss Bates. Under guise of interesting him in the august company gathering to watch the cricket he also no doubt brought forcefully to the young man’s mind that a display of fisticuffs with such an audience would sink his reputation so low it would probably be beyond retrieval. With Mr Sealy’s attention distracted Mrs Sealy had herself quickly conveyed to her carriage. Jane gathered her mistress’ things and soon followed. They were almost ready to depart when the red-haired stranger stepped up.

‘You must do me the honour of knowing your name, sir. You have performed a heroic service,’ Mrs Sealy cried, grasping his hand. Her voice, full of gratitude, also betrayed that tears were near. She had been badly shaken by the encounter with Arthur Sealy.

‘It was nothing at all,’ he said, ‘I felt compelled to intervene.’ He looked at Jane. His eyes, behind their glass lenses, were intensely blue. He gave her a penetrating, searching look. ‘Such courage,’ he said. ‘Let me commend you, ma’am. You would have taken him on single handed. I doubt you needed me at all.’

Mrs Sealy’s coachman had taken up the reigns. The horses were restless, ready to be off.

‘Your name, sir?’ Mrs Sealy repeated.

‘Oh,’ said the young man, stepping down from the carriage. ‘I am Angus Fairfax.’

🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀

Please check out the other stops on the Blog Tour and I hoped you’ve enjoyed the extract today as much as I have!

#BlogTour Urbane Extravaganza!! Song Castle by Luke Waterson #excerpt @UrbaneBooks @Lukeandhiswords #LoveBooksGroupTours

Extremely delighted to be taking part in the URBANE EXTRAVAGANZA as it’s a publisher I’m very fond of – even if Matthew does support a rubbish football team!!😂 – so today I’m happy to be sharing an extract from Song Castle by Luke Waterson.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Kelly of LoveBooksGroup for letting me be part of it all! 


So many good books to share with you over this tour, so here’s a bit more about Song Castle before you get to enjoy an extract!

About the book

Song Castle vividly brings to life the Wales of the 12th century: its extreme wealth, its abject poverty, its senseless violence, the growing tension between the Normans and the native Welsh and the region’s increasingly pivotal place in medieval culture. In doing so, this book touches on a time and place rarely tackled in literature, a time when Welsh national identity was in the first stages of its development. But Song Castle also tells, through the colourful voices of its characters, a true story. It tells of one man’s desire, in a land rocked by upheaval, for the territory over which he presided to be remembered for something truly remarkable.

Published by Urbane Publications

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

About the Author

Luke Waterson has plied a trade from writing for over a decade, often with a travel slant. A Creative Writing graduate from the University of East Anglia, Luke has written for publications including the BBC, the Independent, the Telegraph, the Guardian and travel publishers Lonely Planet, for whom he specialises in telling the world about the Amazon Basin – present and past. His travels here inspired his debut novel, Roebuck (2015).

His second novel, Song Castle, set in 12th century Wales, and following a disparate group of bards on their hazard-fraught journey to perform at a festival of song, published in April 2018.

Twitter

Song Castle – the extract

Preface

The land that for simplicity’s sake is referred to in this book as Wales was, in the 12th century, a very fragmented place.

To the Welsh their native land was perhaps already called Cymru, although what that really meant was liable to interpretation. They perhaps also knew it still as Britannia, even though that referred to the lands of the Brythonic-speaking peoples generally, including areas of northern England and southern Scotland. To the Anglo-Normans Wallia might have been the term used, but this in turn could refer to Marchia Wallie or the Welsh Marches, the part of Wales they believed they had brought under their control and Pura Wallia or native Wales, the part they had not.

More meaningful points of reference for most were the warring factions into which Wales had split. It was divided into dynasties: principalities and lordships that often vied against each other for increasing amounts of power and the territory that would augment it, rather than unite. Conflict between different domains was more or less constant, and invariably violent. Loyalties were localised: most likely to one’s family, quite possibly to the nearest village, perhaps to the cantref (district) and at a stretch to the region or realm. But when boundaries between these zones were changing almost as often as the famously fickle weather, and with dangerous consequences for those caught on the wrong side of the line, conceiving of an amalgamated country was not at the forefront of people’s minds. There were more pressing concerns.

In fact, there were but a few things capable of bringing this fractious collection of territories together. One of these things was language. And the mouthpieces for this were the bards: through the tales that they told and the songs that they sung.

And in the 12th century, the bards changed their tunes.

In their performances, the bards of the land that would become Wales had always drawn on a rich history of spectacular people, spectacular deeds, spectacular places; they had probably instilled in their audiences a certain shared nostalgia for when Britons still ruled Britain. But now they stepped up their act. Menaces to all of Wales-to-be—the Anglo-Normans—were encroaching from the east, pushing into its territory with unprecedented ferocity. And the bards, the gogynfeirdd as they became known, responded in kind. Performing in courts and halls from Gwynedd to Gwent, they used ever stronger, more evocative, more elegiac verses to call on the leading men of the land to rise up as one and repel these invaders. In the words of these bards, Wales became geographically and spiritually united. A disparate people were given cultural cohesion. Wales got its Welshness.

With clatter of meadhorns,

great liberality!

From The Hirlas of Owain by Owain Cyfeiliog

Written by various monks in various abbeys over several hundred years, the Brut Y Tywysogion chronicles Welsh history from the 7th century to the 14th. In this, one of the principal historic sources for Wales during this tumultuous period in its past, is a somewhat scant paragraph for the year 1176 beginning as follows:

‘And the lord Rhys held a grand festival at the castle of Aberteivi [Cardigan], wherein he appointed two sorts of contention; one between the bards and poets, and the other between the harpers, fiddlers, pipers and various performers of instrumental music; and he assigned two chairs for the victors in these contentions; and these he enriched with vast gifts.’

Those monks left out the juiciest bits.

Part One:

A SLAP OF STRONG WIND IN THE FACE

Rhys

(March, 1194)

“My son…”

The trapdoor opened. He struggled to prop himself on his elbows and better see the figure framed in the torchlight above, but his eyes were too long accustomed to the gloom of the cell and the glare blinded him. He could discern no features. Yet he was certain, now.

“I know it is you. A father knows his first-born…”

The figure started on the descent, taking the rungs of the ladder hesitantly: bare feet, and bad-smelling ones.

“Why, son? Why are you doing this?”

A pause. It was a moment of consideration, perhaps. Even when the figure stood still, the toes twitched. Then, still saying nothing, they rapidly clambered back up. The trapdoor banged shut; the bolts shot across. He was alone again.

“Why?” When he had voiced the word, it had seemed an admission of age. He was an old man alone on a bed in the darkness.

Those first few days of his imprisonment he had felt too despondent to do much besides tend his wounds as best he could. They had been none too serious, but he was none too good at tending wounds. The back of his head had caused him most pain.

Whoever dealt that blow must have come at him from behind, the coward. He preferred dealings with brave men. There was brute’s honesty in the duel or the raid or the battle. You charged, and your weapons clashed, and you lived or died. But the coward was a cat backed into a corner, could spring at you in a way you did not anticipate.

He dreamed a lot those first few days. Such dreams. The early times came back most vividly. Attacking some fortress or other with his brothers. A band of desperate gaunt men in threadbare tunics, they had been. Mostly up against Englishmen or Frenchmen or Flemish men with superior arsenal and greater numbers but often battling other Welshmen, too; often up against themselves. The fight against one’s own: the hardest fight of all.

Once the pain had dulled he had begun to focus on where he was. The basement of a tower. Gaps in the stonework through which the wind shrilled. An odour of damp earth. No light save for a grill about head height, which emitted a pale grey chink of the morning but lapsed back into shadow again by mid-afternoon. This was March, after all, and a particularly foul one. Somewhere else, spring was coming.

He had not been captive long before the visits commenced. At first the figure had seemed contented with a head through the hatchway, but that had not been enough. Soon they were venturing several steps down the ladder. Soon the scrutiny was lasting longer. The watcher had uttered no words as yet. But he sensed that was about to change.

The figure tried to conceal things from him. The fact they suffered from a diabolical cold, for instance: after the bolts thrust home their racking cough would start up, although there was no coughing during the visits. They kept the left side of their face turned away from him, too. But whilst most of the country had their health afflicted on account of this damnable weather, and whilst a fair few of those might choose to hide any disfigurement upon their countenance, something else put the matter of the figure’s identity beyond doubt. Madness. Once the trapdoor had closed, his gaoler’s footfalls receded only so far then broke into a horrible, erratic little dance. Whoever was holding him prisoner was plainly deranged, and in the entire realm it was known such madness coursed through the veins of one man alone: his son.

His first-born had always embarrassed him. At the zenith of his power—the victory banquets, the meets with the King—there had always been that anxious glance over his shoulder partway through proceedings at what his eldest might be doing.

The visit of the Archbishop, for example: it should have been his proudest moment. The kind of moment chroniclers should chronicle.

His castle had been the equal of any Norman: sheer walls of stone, dominating the horizon. The whole town had turned out to the river bridge for the welcome. The Archbishop had been impressed, quite possibly awed; he had endeavoured to put the reverent fellow at ease; the procession had filed up towards the castle gates where, as he recalled, he had arranged for musicians to serenade them all.

Then—he would never forget it—came the squeal from the Archbishop’s attendant as, whilst passing the assembled townsfolk, the poor man had been pinched hard enough on the buttocks to startle him right out of formation and trip over his cassock. His suspicions as to the cause were confirmed a moment later when he and that company of upstanding churchmen had observed several of his younger sons fleeing shrieking from the scene and his eldest, a brawny man in body by then, but still with the mind of a wilful child, smirking with the glee only the orchestrator of an event can muster. Of the entire mortifying occasion, what lodged most firmly in his memory were the words, murmured disapprovingly as an aside later that same evening between two of his guests but overheard by him: ‘if only he could control his children.’

He slumped back on the bed, exhausted through inertia. That was some clobber about the head he had received. A column of ants swarmed over the dirt floor. He wondered briefly whether it was the same few hundred, disappearing through that crevice then circling around the tower wall in order to repeat the procedure, or whether there were thousands more out there, lining up to march across the mud in front of him. Wales was going to the dogs, he thought.

When he opened his eyes, it was to the torchlight again. His captor stood at the foot of the bed, the scar gouging out the left cheek hideous in the flame.

“My father,” the figure sneered, “the greatest of all the great men in Wales.”

And this was true: he had been. There had not been a realm to rival his. Others had asked him how he achieved it and he happily told them: revelry. No hall in Christendom had witnessed the like. The best men had come to pay their respects. And the best women, he allowed himself a smile at this, thinking now of that time; that feast to end all feasts; those weeks that changed everything. It had been spectacular; despite the atrocities, spectacular. He had surpassed himself. Only great men could do that.

“What is it you want?” he asked, but on sighting the knife his son brandished, the question stuck in his throat. “So you have come to end it,” he said quietly.

“End!” his first-born repeated mockingly. “My dear father, I have not even begun!”

He had imagined death. One did not rise to where he had risen without having imagined it. But he had imagined a cathedral, and his coffin being borne with much ceremony down the aisle, not murder in the darkness at the hands of a snivelling, scarred wretch, his own flesh and blood.

“At least tell me why,” he said again. “Why, when I gave you everything?”

“Because of that,” his son advanced to the bedside, stroking the knife blade with absurd tenderness. “Because you were always so damnably perfect.”

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Don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this amazing Urbane extravaganza!

24th NovChat About Books@chataboutbooks1 

25th NovOver The Rainbow Book Blog@JoannaLouisePar

26th NovBeing Anne@Williams13Anne

27th NovOn The Shelf Bookblog@OnTheShelfBooks

28th NovNicki’s Book Blog@nickijmurphy1

29th NovMy Reading Corner@karendennise

30th NovPortable Magic@bantambookworm

1st DecBlack books blog@SimonJLeonard

2nd DecRae Reads@rae_reads1

3rd DecSo Many Books, So Little Time@smbslt

4th DecOrchard Book Club@OrchardBookClub

5th DecZooloo’s Book DiaryZooloo2008

6th DecNemesis Book Blog@NemesisBlogs

7th DecKatie’s Book Cave@katiejones88

8th DecBooks and Me@bookkaz

9th DecTangents and Tissues@tangentsbb

10th DecGo Buy the Book@karen55555

11th DecCheekypee reads and reviews@cheekypee27

12th DecNicki`s Life Of Crime@NickiRichards7

13th DecEmma the Little Bookworm@EmmaMitchellFPR

14th DecRather Too Fond of Books@hayleysbookblog

15th DecSeansbookreviews@Seant1977

16th DecLizzums Lives Life@LizzumsBB

17th DecThe Magic Of Wor(l)ds@MagicOfWorldsBE

18th DecOn The Shelf Reviews@ljwrites85

19th DecGrab This Book@grabthisbook

20th DecLife Of A Nerdish Mum@NerdishMum

21st DecThe Quiet Geordie@thequietgeordie

22nd DeceBook Addicts@ebookadditsuk

23rd DecOn The Shelf Reviews@ljwrites85

24th DecVarietats@Sweeet83

25th DeceBook Addicts@ebookadditsuk

26th DecPortable Magic@bantambookworm

27th DecLove Books Group@LoveBooksGroup

28th DecA Little Book Problem@book_problem

29th DecIt’s all about the books@DeeCee334

30th DecThe Quiet Geordie@thequietgeordie

31st DecZooloo’s Book Diary@Zooloo2008

#BlogTour The Thought Book 2 by Jay Mullings #GuestPost #Extract

Delighted to have been asked to share this Guest Post today by Jay Mullings to help spread the word about this new motivating and inspirational book – The Thought Book Vol 2.  Jay will be sharing his thoughts on how his writing helps him to combat depression.

Jay Mullings is a multiple award-winning screenwriter, author and commended blogger, on a mission. Motivating through personal experiences on how to achieve extraordinary goals whilst overcoming difficulties.

His books The Thought Book vol. 1 & newly released vol. 2, aim to encourage others to develop their self-belief, and pursue their own dreams. The books feature thought-provoking content, which combats the negative self-defeating dialogue we sometimes practice.

Despite being packed with Jay’s own original mantras, advice and guidance; these motivating books allow inference that applies to all walks of life. It covers important topics such as:

  • How to identify real friends and genuine people – “Being a true friend to someone usually attracts the same in return.”
  • How to boost your confidence every day – “Take the necessary steps towards your goals with confidence.”
  • Why being original is harder than you think – how to resist the urge to assimilate – “time to emerge from the shadows.”

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

waterstones

BUILT TO LAST

Jay has had his share of challenges in his life. Between the ages of 7 and 16, he lived in Jamaica, where his English accent at first made him an outsider. However, he quickly embraced his differences, taking in everything Jamaica had to offer, while learning important life lessons about friendship, fitting in, and staying true to yourself. He is the grandson of Windrush immigrants, and their guidance has been priceless in giving Jay the foundation to stay resilient through change and hardship. As a Black British writer in the creative industry, he has found it an often-unwelcome environment for his voice to be heard. Too many times being the recipient of coded language dressed as professional feedback at best and outrageous declarations that Jay will never be successful on account of his background at worst. Despite this Jay has gone on to win an astonishing 25+ international awards for his unique and authoritative voice..

He set up his website Written Mirror in 2012 as a place to express his creativity without limits. This has developed into a brave new start-up creative content business i.e. Written Mirror Ltd.

Jay is part of the ‘sleepless elite’, thriving on just three hours (or less) sleep per night. For the past six years, he has been using the extra time, to grow his creative media company, and pursue his passion for writing award winning original and truthful content fearlessly.

The Thought Book Vol. 1 & 2 aims to help others make the most of life’s challenges.

How Writing Helps Me Combat My Depression…

Here I am and here it is… I had to see my GP earlier this year (January). I tell him my appetite has been a myth (which is strange for me as I eat like a true Saiyan), my sleep is worse than ever, my back and shoulders are tighter than Wenger in the transfer window (Just saying! Merci Arsene!) and I am having trouble concentrating like Jean Grey before she mastered her use of cerebro. He asks some questions surrounding my mood and I am both baffled and feeling slightly annoyed at this point as I have just told him the 4-1-1…

He asks to check my blood pressure and I tell him what I always tell Doctors, “Stress doesn’t affect my blood pressure, the worse I feel the better it reads!” Low and behold it registers as normal. I side eye him; as far as I am concerned at this point we need to page House MD to solve this mystery…

He is talking again, without realising it I am now thinking about how long is left on the pay and display parking ticket I purchased? How much writing can I get done today? When was the last time I ate a proper meal? Is it healthy for me to have been up 23 hours straight by this point?

I catch myself with my nose pointed in the air like The Rock smelling what he has cooking. Chest all proud like Usain Bolt when he smashed the 100M records to smithereens. Then, I start hearing the Doc’s words again, “Your symptoms and even your demeanour tell me you’re depressed!” Wait…

I looked behind me so quickly it hurt a little bit! Who?!?! Someone else must be in this room.

He repeats half of his words, “Mr Mullings I think you’re depressed!” I retort, “Doc please you’re embarrassing me; call me Star Lord” He doesn’t laugh; personally I thought my timing and tone were both impeccable.

I shake off the lack of taste in comedy. Let us address his particular joke. Doc, run through my notes, I’ve gone through far worse, your diagnosis is only a few years late. Also, I’m an undiscovered Writer, my entire life is depressing. It doesn’t mean I’m depressed. “Yeah, combat that I thought…”

For some reason (yes I am a screenwriter) my mind goes straight to The Sopranos. All of a sudden I realise maybe I am the sad clown? I’m the one wondering what happened to the strong silent type? I’m asking about Gary Cooper types… Then I recall a line that tickled me, “Here we go, here comes the Prozac…”

I want to start you on a course of (I don’t care to remember the name) we will start on X dosage. Doc, you can stop right there! This is what I wanted to tell him in my Rock voice,

So let Jay get this right, you want Jay to take your pills and become a sleepy little shell of himself. You want to slow down The People’s brain? Well this is what you can do Doc. I bet you like pie, you look like you like pie Doc. I want you to get two of your favourite flavour pies, set them down on the table. Then I want you to take these pills, I want you to shine those pills. Shine them up real good put them in the pies, turn them sumbitch sideways and stick em straight up your candy ass!

Perspective

I was sleep deprived so my ideas about what was appropriate to say and funny were probably off, but hey that was very funny to me at the time. So I smile. Doc, I don’t want your pills! I have a super-secret plan for getting better. Hear me out, I’m going to go to Amsterdam for like a week. I think their medicine might result in a substantial breakthrough. He laughed…

He gives me a number and suggests counselling/therapy. Don’t know how (I do) but I lost it… I had a course of CBT sessions which I had to fight for with my car accident last year, and as much as I would love to sing its praises, the absolute truth is this; I only made progress out of necessity.

When you’re a Black man in a country that has almost no empathy for you and what you’ve been through, you better pattern up (Organise yourself)! You don’t get to be on the injured reserve list. As so many of my Jamaican elders would say, “Yuh haffi carry yuhself laka solja! Caan mek babylon defeat yuh!” Translation: You have to carry yourself like a soldier! You can’t let evil defeat you…

Fight Off The Dementors… 

The evil in this case is melancholy. You can’t tunnel so far into your own head that you don’t recognise happiness or triumph. I’m not suggesting there is an easy off button that you press and reset. However, you had better have your own back and not trust anyone else to fix it for you. It’s a matter of retraining your mind to let you lead and not have your mind lead you. I know what you’re thinking, “Why are you talking as if your mind is controlled by anybody other than you?” Okay, my response to that is simple, where does this self limiting voice you hear inside (sometimes) come from? If you have absolute control over your thoughts, then why would you allow yourself to think of anything that would dissaude you against total belief in yourself? Okay good…

My counter attack against this new enemy? Write twice as much and be twice as honest. I will not stifle my voice or my genuine feelings on things. For instance a few of my friends have asked me what I thought of The Avengers Infinity Wars, the look of absolute horror I got each time when I calmly said 6/10 was priceless. Anyway back to the reasoning…

Useful Habits

The more I sat down and poured out the things that were weighing me down, the better I felt and the more I realised that people everywhere go through some form of this. Even the most mentally healthy. I poured this energy into everything. My T-shirt designs, my blogs, my interviews, my book (details to follow) and of course my screenplays. Each day I stood a little more upright, ate a little more, I slept a little better and I laughed a little harder.

Unrelenting

This is why I will not relent in my pursuit of true success and a positive impact. I won’t let false prophets discourage me and I definitely won’t let people go around me as if I am a fool for wanting a fair shake and mutual respect. The disrespect is definitely nothing compared to what I’ve been through and come back from.

You can’t push me off my path because my calling is hardwired into my entire being. Even if I stepped away I’d be pulled back in…

Found The Formula?

Does all of this mean I am cured? No I wouldn’t say completely! Each time I level up and come back stronger. I definitely don’t get into the ‘why me’ as much as I say ‘it has to be me’. Frustration is natural, as is a longing for the day when success is cemented. However, I intend to learn and enjoy as much as I can on this journey. If you’re still reading at this point, it is safe to say you share this notion on a spiritual level. For that, I salute you and my third eye recognises the realness in you.

Jay Mullings his an award-winning screenwriter. His books The Thought Book & The Thought Book 2 are out now, available from writtenmirror.com. Follow Jay on twitter and Instagram @WrittenMirror

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#BlogTour What Was Lost by Jean Levy #BookExtract #BookReview @DomePress @JeanELevy

lost

Extremely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for WHAT WAS LOST by JEAN LEVY.  My thanks to the author and publisher for allowing me to be part of it all!

On my stop today will be my review of this stunning book, alongside a sneaky extract for you all to enjoy!

About the book

How would you live if you had no memories? And what if you were suspected of a terrible crime?

Sarah has no memories. She just knows she was found, near death, on a beach miles from her London home. Now she is part of a medical experiment to see whether her past can be retrieved.

But bad things seemed to have happened before she disappeared. The police are interested in her hidden memories too. A nice man she meets in the supermarket appears to have her best interests at heart. He seems to understand her – almost as if he knows her…

As she fights to regain her memories and her sense of self, it is clear that people are hiding things from her. Who are they protecting? Does Sarah really want the truth?

Published by The Dome Press

LEVY

Author social media link @JeanELevy

Purchase Links

Amazon UK £8.99

Waterstones £8.99

hive.co.uk  £7.75

BOOK EXTRACT

Episode Two (cont’d) 

I stared at the apple resting against my shoe. It was probably a too-red Bramley, perhaps a too-green Gala. I can’t remember now. But I do remember that, even after everything that had happened, everything I had lost, I could still remember the names of apples. And I could still remember Granny Clark’s stories: how apples came to be called this or that. Barnaby Smith’s old grandma used to hide those hard green apples in a box under her bed so that the night fairies would never find them. Annabel Bramley had been disappointed that only one of her apple pips germinated although she wasn’t to know that trees from that one tiny seedling would one day provide fruit for the best apple pies in the world. I was writing all those stories into picture books. Doing the illustrations myself. In fact, I’d been thinking about Orange Pippins that very morning. Before the black and white cat had purred in through the flap and demanded tuna.  

I stopped to retrieve the unsolicited fruit, lifted it to my nose and was briefly overwhelmed by a memory of pumpkins and autumn sunshine. I read the name on the round, sticky label. Was Braeburn in Scotland? Perhaps that was something I once knew.  

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t aim that at you!’ 

I looked up. He was smiling. The man who had not aimed the apple was smiling. He was, perhaps, early forties, tall with some very pleasing russet stubble, specked golden in the artificial light. His eyes were green: not apple green, more pastel green, like husky eyes made white by the snow. I offered him the apple. ‘It seems OK,’ I said. I really liked the colour of his eyes. Mine are just brown, like most other eyes. ‘But you ought to put it back. In case it’s bruised.’ 

‘Then someone else might finish up with a bruised apple.’ 

I felt myself smiling. That in itself was brave of me. ‘Shall I put it back for you?’ 

He made a display of coming to a decision. His smile disappeared. But the tiny creases beside his eyes didn’t. ‘No, never get anybody else to do your dirty work. I’ll take it to a member of staff and explain.’ 

‘They’ll put it back when you’re not looking.’ I was amazing at my own boldness. 

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but at least my conscience will be clear.’ He took the apple, hovered momentarily, then his face broke into a broad smile. ‘See ya!’ 

I watched him return to his trolley, replete with vegetables, grabbed a grapefruit I didn’t want, pulled off my scrunchie and reorganised it, then hurried away towards canned fish, where I loaded a dozen small tins of line-caught tuna in spring water into my trolley, before collecting two bags of cat biscuits and wheeling on towards the checkouts. Did tuna live in spring water? I couldn’t remember. I joined the nearest queue and thought about Orange Pippins, remembering what Granny Clark used to say: if they rattle they’re ripe. I could remember her holding those yellow-red apples to my ear and shaking them. I could remember them rattling. I could remember back then.  

‘Fancy a coffee?’ 

I spun round. ‘What?’ 

‘Coffee, do you fancy a coffee?’ The apple man. He as right behind me in the queue. 

I caught my breath, recovered. ‘I have to get back. I’m writing a book. For children.’ I noticed a slight flicker of awkwardness in his pastel-green eyes. ‘But thanks, if I didn’t have to… Do you come here often?’ 

‘He laughed away the awkwardness. ‘Excellent line! You’re clearly a world-class author.’ He took a very obvious deep breath. ‘Mostly Thursdays. Occasionally Saturdays. Not usually as early as this. The name’s Parry. Matthew Parry.’ He offered his hand.  

‘Can I help?’ The checkout operative sliced through our conversation. 

‘Oh, sorry,’ I said and hurried four tins on to the conveyor belt. 

‘Do you need help?’ He lifted two tins and my box of cornflakes and aimed them at the till. ‘Are the cornflakes for you or your cat? I presume you have a cat.’ He scooped up the cat biscuits. ‘Either that or you have a strange taste in biscuits.’ 

I forced myself to smile and quickly transferred the rest of my shopping before he could offer further assistance, pushed my trolley past the checkout and hurried everything into my bag, handed the woman my credit card, punched in the number that was written across my wallet, glanced towards the exit and waited. 

‘I’d like you to have this as a deposit.’ Again I was forced to look round. I was being offered a familiar red and green apple. The shop assistant tutted. He addressed her directly. ‘It’s weighed and included in the price.’ He demonstrated the sticker on his bag of other red and green apples. ‘Do you want to check it?’ 

The assistant rolled her eyes and ripped my receipt from the till. ‘Next!’ she instructed the conveyor belt, which was already filling with vegetables. 

I accepted the apple, surprised at my lack of embarrassment. Perhaps I’d forgotten how to feel embarrassed. He continued to unload his shopping. ‘Perhaps this Saturday? Same time, same place?’ 

I popped the apple into my bag and said nothing – which was pretty much a reflection of what was inside my head – left the supermarket in a blur and drove home, wondering who he was, what he did, where he lived. What he would think if he knew.  

I pulled into the residents’ parking zone, parked in my allocated space, being careful not to reverse into the builder’s skip that was occupying the two visitor parking spaces, hauled my shopping off the passenger seat and stepped out of my car. The black and white cat emerged from under a nearby van, rubbed past the back wheel of my dilapidated Escort and threw its ear against my leg. I hurried inside. The cat knew not to follow. 

Secure in my kitchen, I pulled a tin of tuna from my bag and emptied its contents onto a clean plate. I glanced up as a familiar black and white head purred through the flap, watched as the indifferent animal lapped systematically around the outside of the tuna flesh, savouring the spring water, before attacking the main course. The purring intensified. I washed my hands thoroughly then emptied my shopping onto the work surface, snatched up the apple as it rolled away and tried to remember whether apples ought to be kept in the fridge. It didn’t look as if it did. So I put it in the fruit bowl with the grapefruit and bananas. I stacked the rest of the tins and the cat biscuits into the cupboard under the sink and then returned to the small box of cornflakes, carried it over to the cereal cupboard, and took a deep breath before opening the door and inserting the fresh box alongside all the other identical boxes arranged two deep on all three shelves of the cupboard.

MY REVIEW

Why are books that mess with your mind so wonderful to read?! I found this story to be so compulsive and intriguing that it was really difficult to switch off from! ‘Just one more chapter’ become my mantra while reading this!
Sarah is a successful author and is found unconscious, bloodied and frozen on a beach miles from home with no memory of how or why she is there! Her story then becomes a battle to try and recover the lost memories alongside trying to hold on to the memories she has left. And the more that is revealed about her story, then the more you know there’s a lot of darkness in her past – plenty to keep the reader trying to second guess where the story will go next. There are so many red flags throughout that i just kept trying to work out if certain bits of information were important or not!
The police are suspicious about Sarah – is she claiming memory loss to throw them off track about something bigger, or is she genuine and if so what happened to her! She is introduced to people from her past and she struggles to build bonds with some of these people and others she trusts implicitly. Even photos from her past are kept back from her by her Doctors’ as they fear this could be too much of a trigger for her and you just put yourself in her position and wonder how you would react in such a situation. Wondering who to trust and what was being kept from you must be terrifying!

This was a truly thrilling read that I devoured and an astonishing debut from the author.

LostBlogTour

Tell Me No Secrets by Lynda Stacey #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookExtract #BookReview

BOOK BLURB – Tell me no Secrets 

Can a secret be worse than a lie?

Every time Kate Duggan looks in a mirror she is confronted by her guilt; a long, red scar reminding her that she was ‘the one to walk away’ from the car accident. Not everyone was so lucky …

On the surface her fiancé Rob is supportive – but the reality is different. He’s controlling, manipulative and, if the phone call Kate overhears is anything to go by, he has a secret. But just how dangerous is that secret?

When Kate begins work at a firm of private investigators, she meets Ben Parker. His strong and silent persona is intriguing but it’s also a cover – because something devastating happened to Ben, something he can’t get over. 

As Kate and Ben begin their first assignment, they become close. But, what they don’t realise is how close to home the investigation will bring them, or who will be hurt in the process …

Buying Link

Amazon UK

Author Bio

Lynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire,

Her own chaotic life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her husband, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.

Choc Lit

Author on Facebook

Author on Twitter

Author Website

The Heroine – all about Kate Duggan 

On the 6th February my novel Tell me no Secrets will be turned into a paperback and I couldn’t be prouder, because even though this is the second book that I’ve had published, it was actually the first book I ever wrote.

And, with the release of the paperback, I felt that it was time that I got to look back at how I created Kate Duggan, the heroine of Tell Me No Secrets…!

 

What happened to Kate before the story began?

Kate is a young woman, with a painful past. We meet Kate at a time in her life when she’s already overcome many obstacles, most of which would have been her worst nightmare. Little did she know that our story begins at a point in her life when times are about to get worse.

Shortly after moving back to Yorkshire, Kate is involved in a car crash. A car crash that she will always feel forever guilty for, because everyone said that she was the one to walk away. Her twin sister, Eve was crippled and her brother, James was killed. And even though people were right, she did walk away, she was left with a bright red, puckered facial scar that now affected everything she did in her whole life.

During the time after the accident, Kate spent every moment she could at the hospital with her sister, Eve trying to do everything she could to help. It was at this time that Kate meets, Rob, a personal trainer. 

Rob is good looking. He’s enigmatic, self-assured and fell into Kate’s life in a way that became all encompassing. But, following late night suspicious phone calls, Kate soon realises that things are not quite what she’d thought and it suddenly occurs that she’s made a big mistake in allowing Rob into her life, quite so easily… and this is where our story begins…!

What makes a good heroine?

A good heroine is always someone the reader can relate to and identify with. I always give my heroine a history, a life and a family, after all, we all have parents, siblings and distant aunties, don’t we? So, the characters within a novel need to have that too.

I feel that by doing this, it gives them depth of character and a personality that can’t be ignored. They don’t necessarily have to be sexy, they don’t all have to be tall, blonde and straight out of a magazine. But, I do feel that they need to be a good person with dreams, hopes and wishes. They need to have a goal in life, something to achieve, something to aspire to and the novel needs to take them on a journey to achieve this. 

But most importantly, the reader needs to feel that they are taking the journey with our heroine, no matter how perilous that might be and that by the end of the novel, they’ve reached a good and satisfactory conclusion to the story.


And now it is my honour to let you read a short extract from TELL ME NO SECRETS – enjoy!!

Chapter One

‘How many times do I have to tell you, don’t phone me here.’ Rob’s voice echoed up the stairs, making Kate jump out of bed. He sounded angry and Kate didn’t like it. She crept onto the landing, where she stood and waited, not knowing whether to go down, stay put or go back to bed. ‘Not a chance. I’m not doing it. Now, you stick to your plan, and I’ll stick to mine.’ Kate held her breath as she heard the kitchen door quietly close and the mumbled voice continued.

‘Rob,’ she shouted. She inched her way down the stairs. ‘Rob, is everything okay?’ Her feet were cold and she hopped from foot to foot, wishing for just a moment that she’d thought to put her slippers on as she’d jumped out of bed. ‘Rob?’

The door handle snapped down and the kitchen door jerked open. ‘What?’ he bellowed, making her jump backwards.

‘I … I heard you on the phone, is all okay?’ she questioned, and nervously pulled at her pyjama top. She’d heard whispered conversations like this before. Each one had been in a hushed voice. Each one as secretive as the one before and each one had showed her a side to Rob that she didn’t like.

‘It’s just work. Go to bed, I’ll be up soon.’

‘Okay.’ He was lying to her. That was obvious. ‘Come on, Rob, how long will you be? It’s just … I start my new job tomorrow …’ She tried to play on his conscience. ‘… You have remembered that, Rob, haven’t you? I could do with an early night, and I hoped you might join me.’ She pushed for an answer knowing that the phone was still in his hand, hidden behind the door.

‘Kate, stop nagging and go to bed.’

The kitchen door slammed shut in her face and Kate pouted. She wasn’t nagging and what’s more, she wasn’t stupid; she’d heard his words and knew that he was up to something, but once again, she didn’t know what.

Sighing she went back upstairs, climbed into bed, and picked up her unfinished glass of wine. She took a sip and looked over at the impeccably positioned photo. It stood on her bedside table, silver framed, perfectly polished. The photo had been taken the year before, at their engagement party in September, a time when they’d both been happy. Rob was hugging her so close and looked so good. But then, Rob always looked good. Why wouldn’t he? He always seemed to have the perfect tan, an amazing body, figure-hugging shorts and a smile that could be seen for miles. Unlike her, who in comparison was far too scrawny, with long auburn hair and pale freckly skin that burnt far too easily.

Everyone had said that opposites attract, but Kate still wasn’t sure. Of course, she’d thought so at first. Things had moved quickly, Rob had bombarded her with romance, love and affection and all at a time when she’d needed it the most. But recently, he’d changed. He’d become distant, cold and, dare she admit, just a little on the aggressive side. It was as though from the moment she’d agreed to him moving in with her, he’d become far too comfortable and seemed to do or say whatever he wanted, in whatever tone he liked. And the normal politeness of a new relationship had disappeared overnight.

A million questions ran through her mind. Who had been on the phone? Was it a girlfriend? Had he met someone else? Did he regret meeting her, or was it that he’d simply stopped loving her? She wouldn’t have been suspicious if there had only ever been one call, but there hadn’t and now her mind was working overtime.

Kate shook her head. She wouldn’t blame him if he’d found someone else. After all, what man in their right mind would want to love someone who looked like her? A single tear dropped down Kate’s face as she closed her eyes and tried to decide what to do. Did she go down, confront him, ask him the questions that were spiralling around her mind, or did she go to sleep, curl up in the duvet and once again pretend that she didn’t care?

***

MY REVIEW

This is  book with a little bit of everything in it! Romance, grief, new starts, secrets, lies, romance, danger …… think every base is covered in this new release from Lynda Stacey!

There’s an edgy feeling from the start in this book and as you follow Kate in her new role in life, trying to deal with her past which isn’t easy when she’s reminded of it everytime she looks in a mirror. Her work as a Private Investigator soon helps to give her new focus, and she becomes intrigued by her new boss, Ben Parker, who also seems to be hiding something. He’s quite a complicated character and the more time she spends  with him, the more she wants to know.  You just get the feeling he might not quite be ready to move on just yet because of his past.

Really enjoyed how their relationship evolves and also loved how the case they are working on turns out to be a whole lot darker than they first thought! I loved it! 

Thank you to Choc Lit for an early e-copy in return for a fair and honest review