#BlogTour A Sacred Storm by Theodore Brun #GuestPost #ASacredStorm

sacred cover

Hugely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for this stunning book! My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Through My Letterbox for giving me the opportunity to take part!  And it is also a pleasure to be hosting a guest post where the author will share his five favourite books! A topic that always gets those of us of a bookish nature excited and worried as to what books make the final list!!

Here’s a little more about the book!

Forged in fire. Bound by honour. Haunted by loss.

Published by CorvusHardback, £17.99

June 2018 | Historical Fiction

A brilliantly conceived Viking epic set in eighth-century Sweden.

8th Century Sweden: Erlan Aurvandil, a Viking outlander, has pledged his sword to Sviggar Ivarsson, King of the Sveärs, and sworn enemy of the Danish King Harald Wartooth. But Wartooth, hungry for power, is stirring violence in the borderlands. As the fires of this ancient feud are reignited Erlan is bound by honour and oath to stand with King Sviggar.

But, unbeknownst to the old King, his daughter, Princess Lilla, has fallen under Erlan’s spell. As the armies gather Erlan and Lilla must choose between their duty to Sviggar and their love for each other.

Blooded young, betrayed often, Erlan is no stranger to battle. And hidden in the shadows, there are always those determined to bring about the maelstrom of war…

‘A masterly debut. … If Bernard Cornwall and George RR Martin had a lovechild, it would look like A Mighty Dawn. I devoured it late into the night, and eagerly await the sequel.’

Antonia Senior on A Mighty Dawn

 ‘Evocative prose and the brutality of the Viking world, it’s all here, woven with a deft touch into a tremendous tale.’ Giles Kristian on A Mighty Dawn

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  –  £14.58

Hive.co.uk  –  £13.35

Book Depository  –  £14.58

theo

Theodore Brun studied Dark Age archaeology at Cambridge, where he graduated with a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MPhil in History.  He also rowed in the Boat Race for the university.  Professionally, Theodore qualified and worked as an arbitration lawyer, in London, Moscow, Paris and finally Hong Kong.  In 2010, he quit his job in Hong Kong and cycled 10,000 miles across the whole of Asia and Europe (crossing 20 countries) to his home in Norfolk. Theodore is a third generation Viking immigrant – his Danish grandfather having settled in England in 1932.  He is married and divides his time between London and Norfolk. Sacred Storm is his second novel.

 Praise for Theodore Brun

‘[The first of a] very fine historical, fantasy series.’

Nudge on A Mighty Dawn

‘Weaving together history, fantasy and myth like the Norns twining the threads of fate in A Mighty Dawn, Brun has created an excellent debut and a top quality read.’

The Tattooed Book Geek on A Mighty Dawn

‘A truly impressive debut that hints at a much larger story still left to be told. This novel has the potential to be an epic tale to rival the sagas of the ages.’ The Eloquent Page on A Mighty Dawn

‘Brun has a knack for describing combat… Very much in the vein of Bernard Cornwell’s Warrior Chronicles, a warrior’s battles are never done, at least, not whilst he still possesses the strength to swing his sword.’

Bookbag on A Mighty Dawn

And now over to Theodore for his Five Favourite Books!!   

 

1) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: Best opening and ending of any book I’ve read. With my favourite scene as well. I first encountered this as an audiobook cycling across China. I wept like a child at the ending. 

 

2) Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Pure genius. I’m the middle of three brothers. This family scarily resembles my own. I found so much wisdom in this book. I first read it when I was living in Moscow, which helped. 

 

3) Flashman in the Great Game by George MacDonald Fraser: A brilliant story. GMF has undoubtedly the most original and entertaining voice I’ve ever read. The Flashman series sparked my love of history, and also gave me the first glimmer of a pipe-dream: that one day I would like to write. 

 

4) The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton: This book is dynamite and an incredible achievement. An outline of history that no one has matched. 

 

5) The Bible: I’ve read it several times. There’s a reason they give this away on Desert Island Discs. You can never come to the end of it. It reads you. 

 

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#BlogTour The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma by Karen King #GuestPost #Extract

Delighted to be hosting the stop today for this Blog Tour on behalf of Accent Press and Karen King!  As well as a little Guest Post by Karen herself on the inspiration for writing this book, there is also an excerpt for you to enjoy!!! 

ABOUT THE BOOK

From the bestselling author of The Cornish Hotel By The Sea 

Every summer has a story… Fun-loving travel rep Jess doesn’t want to be chief bridesmaid at her snooty cousin’s wedding, but it will cause a family feud if she refuses. She doesn’t want to fall in love either but when a raucous stag party arrives at her Majorcan hotel, Jess hits it off instantly with best man, Eddie. A summer romance is exactly what commitment-phobe Jess needs and, as the stag-do draws to a close, so does the holiday fling. She has no intentions of carrying on the summer fun but when Eddie turns up again, Jess is faced with a big dilemma.
Will this bridesmaid get the happy-ever-after she never knew she wanted…

Publisher Accent Press

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk

Book Depository

GUEST POST

Here are Karen’s thoughts on where she got the inspiration from for writing this fabulous new release!

The inspiration for The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma came from a few sources.

I’ve often admired the stamina and friendliness of the holiday reps at the resorts I’ve been to, they seem to be on duty all day and evening and have to deal with a variety of problems and awkward guests. There was a stag party on board one of our holiday flights, they were very raucous but good-natured, and these two things formed the seeds of a story about a holiday rep having a fling with a member of a stag party staying at the hotel where she worked. Then my husband, Dave, booked a trip to Majorca for our third wedding anniversary and that was the inspiration for the setting.

I enjoyed writing this dance scene because it showed how fun-loving, outgoing and popular Jess is, and is the instigation for the growing attraction between Jess and Eddie. I got the inspiration for the scene from a nightclub Dave and I went to in Crete a few years ago. We’d got engaged that day on Santorini, and the reps at our hotel invited a group of us to the nightclub that evening. We had a fantastic time, there were bubbles and foam everywhere and a couple of the women were dancing like Jess and Libby, with a crowd around them clapping and cheering.  I love the atmosphere at clubs, where everyone looks like they’re having such a good time, and I enjoy watching people dance. I’m a people watcher – and I’ll get up and dance myself if I’ve had a couple of Bacardis!

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And now here’s a little extract from The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma for you all to enjoy!!

One of the fantastic things about being a holiday rep was the social life. That, and the sun, and all the countries she got to visit. Last season she’d been stationed in Tenerife and the season before that it had been Barcelona. It was hard work, long hours, and sometimes the rooms were pretty basic – a few times she’d had to share with another rep –but she loved the job.

Libby was dancing with Damián, Marta, and a group of holidaymakers. She waved to them and Kurt grinned.

‘Go on, I can see you’re itching to dance. I’ll go to the bar and get the drinks.’

        ‘Thanks. You’re a star,’ Jess told him, giving him a peck on the cheek then heading off to join Libby and the others. She only had a couple of hours to dance, and she intended to make the most of it.

 ***

 Eddie recognised her as soon as he walked in. The bright red hair was a dead giveaway, although now it was hanging loose around her shoulders instead of tied up in a ponytail, and she was wearing a strappy silver mini-dress rather than the yellow T-shirt and faded denim shorts she’d worn this afternoon. Very sexy. There was a carefree air about her, a suggestion that she didn’t conform, wasn’t scared to be different. It intrigued him. Jess, that’s what the hotel manager had called her.

He watched as she kissed a fair-haired guy on the cheek then went over to join a group of people dancing while the guy went up to the bar. Were they an item, he wondered. Someone as gorgeous as Jess was bound to be taken.

‘I’ll get the first round in,’ Ross said. ‘What you all having?’

‘Jack Daniels for me,’ said Greg.

Eddie tore his eyes away from Jess and followed Ross to the bar. When they returned with their drinks, a crowd had gathered around Jess and a woman with long dark hair, and people were cheering and clapping as they both danced in the middle of the floor. Jess tossed her long hair, shook her lithe hips and rocked it like there was no tomorrow. While the other woman was gyrating, twirling, twerking, you name it, her black satin halter-neck jumpsuit clinging to her body like a second skin, emphasising her long legs, slender frame and sun-tanned skin. She was pretty, in a conventional sort of way, but Jess was striking. And had curves to die for.

Greg followed his gaze. ‘Hey, isn’t that the lass who helped us sort out our rooms at the hotel?  Who’s that stunner with her?’

‘Probably another rep. Good dancers, aren’t they?’

‘Cool it, mate, getting off with a couple of chicks is not what this stag weekend is all about,’ Ross told him.

‘You might be chained, but the rest of us aren’t,’ Greg said, walking over to join the group around the two dancers.

‘It’d only be polite to say hello, she did help us out,’ Matt said, following Greg.

Ross shrugged his shoulders. ‘I guess so.’

Greg and Matt joined the circle around the two girls, clapping and stamping their feet along with the rest. Tony and Sam followed them. Ross and Eddie looked at each other, shrugged then walked over, too. When the song had finished, the crowd gave the girls resounding applause.

Eddie saw Jess glance over at him, smile and wave. Then she and her friend both walked over to the bar to get a drink.

‘Let’s go and talk to them,’ Greg said. ‘I’d like to meet the friend.’

Eddie followed him, feeling ridiculously pleased that it wasn’t Jess Greg was interested in.

 ***

‘Don’t look now, but there’s a group of guys coming over to us. And they’re pretty fit.’

Jess turned her head slightly and saw that it was Eddie and one of the others from the stag group. She’d hoped he’d come over. All the while she was dancing she felt his eyes on her. He really was something. She wouldn’t mind spending a bit of time with him.

Take it easy, he’s probably got a girlfriend, she reminded herself. In her experience, guys in stag parties were always trying it on, conveniently forgetting their girlfriend/partner back at home.

Still, as a rep at the hotel he was staying at, she had to be friendly.

‘That was some dance.’ The other man – Greg according to his T-shirt – said, his eyes on Libby. Sandy-haired, a roguish twinkle in his blue eyes, just the right amount of stubble on his chiselled-chin, the sort of smooth operator with a ‘bad lad’ air that Libby always went for but had never appealed to Jess. Good job he wasn’t the groom.

Libby, true to form, flashed him a megawatt smile. ‘Thanks.’

‘Hello again,’ He nodded at Jess, but it was obvious his attention was on Libby. ‘Thanks for helping us sort the rooms out.’ Greg was slurring his words slightly. They’d probably been drinking all afternoon and evening, taking advantage of the cheap drinks here.

‘You’re welcome,’ Jess replied. ‘Which hotel did you get sent to?’

‘The one over the road.’

‘Oh, this is the stag party you told me about,’ Libby said. ‘Now which one of you is the stag?’

‘Ross,’ Greg pointed his thumb at Ross. ‘Are you a rep at the hotel, too?’ He pointed to the name on the front of his T-shirt. ‘I’m Greg.’

‘So, I see.’ Libby shook the hand he offered. ‘I’m Libby. And yes, I’m a rep, too. Glad you managed to get your rooms sorted out. Manuel is a stickler for obeying the rules.’

‘Thanks to Jess,’ Eddie joined in. ‘We haven’t been properly introduced, have we? Hello, Jess.’ He leaned forward and kissed her on both cheeks, soft sensual lips fleetingly touching her skin, a heady waft of after-shave, warm breath enticingly close. She felt a bit dizzy.  She must have drunk more than she realised.

‘I am Édouard, Eddie.’

Édouard. She mentally rolled the name around on her tongue. Nice. It seemed a shame to shorten it.

‘Er… hi.’

‘Thank you for your help, Jess.’ Every time he spoke it sent goose bumps down her spine.

‘It was nothing,’ she replied.

Greg was looking at Libby as if he’d never seen anyone as amazing as her before. Libby often had that effect on men.

‘Let me buy you and your friend a drink to say thank you. It would have been a really difficult situation without your help.’

‘Thanks, vodka and coke please,’ Libby replied before Jess could decline. Not that she was about to, not with Eddie looking at her like that.

‘And you?’ Greg looked questioningly at Jess.

She smiled and nodded. ‘A vodka and coke for me too, please.’

☀☀☀☀☀

Thank you for stopping by Books and Me today!

#BookReview #GuestPost My Favourite People by Rob Keeley

Delighted to be able to share my review today of this fun new picture book for the little people in your life, alongside a guest post from one of my favourite people in the book world, and that is Rob Keeley!!  

About the book

Rob Keeley’s first picture book!
A book for young children all about the importance of relationships.
Comes complete with suggested activities for bringing the book to life.

Illustrated by Simon Goodway.

My favourite people are…

all in this book. And I’m going to tell you all about them. You can meet my Auntie Meg and Uncle Steve, my best friend Alice, my favourite footballer and the band that’s going to save the world. Then I’ll tell you about a brilliant idea I’ve had…

Following his success as a writer of novels and short stories for older children – including the ongoing Spirits series, listed for the Bath Children’s Novel and Independent Author Book Awards – Rob Keeley makes his picture book debut with My Favourite People, a fun illustrated journey through childhood and the friends and family who make it possible. It’s an amusing and insightful look at the world around its central character, an excellent read-aloud or read-alone. It encourages young people to look at relationships and recognise their importance. It will appeal to girls and boys of lower primary age – and to parents and teachers reading the book aloud.

Paperback, 1st, 24 pages
Published April 28th 2018 by Troubador Publishing Ltd
ISBN13
9781789013313
 
Purchase Links
Amazon UK  £7.99
Hive.co.uk  £6.95
 
MY REVIEW
 
This is the first picture book from the author Rob Keeley, and it is a bright and bubbly book that has plenty of colourful illustrations and educational activities inside to keep young children entertained and engaged with for the duration.

It introduces a variety of characters and their relationships with the central character and all the things they do that make them so special to him! And at the back of the book are a number of suggested activities that make it easy for those reading with youngsters to make the reading experience more personal and to engage with what they are reading and seeing.

Lots of fun!!  And a great way of helping you get more out of a book when reading with children!

 
GUEST POST
Now I get to hand over to Rob for his thoughts on the whole experience of creating this picture book and a little bit more about himself, including where you can find him online!
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Karen is now one of my favourite people following all her lovely reviews of my books for children, so I was delighted to get this opportunity to write a guest post for her blog! I’m so pleased to see that My Favourite People is proving popular. It’s my first picture book for younger children and is aimed at both the preschool and the 5-7 audience. I wrote the text some years ago but have been looking for the right illustrator to bring my characters and fictional world to life. Finally I was thrilled to discover the work of Simon Goodway, a very talented man with wide experience of children’s books as well as other projects (visit http://www.simongoodway.com). His pictures are bright and colourful, slightly larger than life but with a realistic quality to them as well. In other words, a perfect match for my writing style! I would love to do more picture books with him and am already thinking of a follow-up – though I have the final Spirits novel for older children to publish first!

My Favourite People is more of a character piece than a narrative one, and revolves around a young boy who’s the same age as the target audience. He tells us all about the favourite people in his life – family, friends, acquaintances – and then about a brilliant idea he’s had to reward them for their kindness and friendship. It’s a celebration of the pure pleasure we can get at that age from being in the company of someone we love. We get to see, through his eyes, what makes his favourite people special – the Mum and Dad who love him, the best friend who’s there when he’s unhappy, the teacher who inspires a love of music, and the footballer and the pop band who are his heroes, amongst others. I gave Simon notes on all of these characters and he has interpreted them brilliantly.

I did a lot of research into picture books for these age groups and saw that many now end with activities to bring the book to life and build the young reader’s literacy. These can be used by parents reading the book at home, or by teachers in the classroom. I had teaching assistant experience to draw on as well as more recent experience of holding author workshops in primary schools and children’s libraries. I ended up suggesting tie-ins with everything from Food Technology to P.E., taking in English lessons along the way! Reading should be an interactive experience and the four pages of Suggested Activities that end the book allow adults to join children in their reading dream.

Two favourite points in the book? Uncle Steve tinkering at the baking session, and the boy’s big idea at the end. But you’ll have to read it to see what I mean!

For more information on My Favourite People and my other books, visit http://www.robkeeley.co.uk/ and follow me on Twitter @RobKeeleyAuthor.

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Seas of Snow by Kerensa Jennings #BlogTour #GuestPost #bookextract

Books and Me

Seas of Snow Paperback Launch

Extremely delighted to be hosting the guest post on my Books and Me blog  today on the Blog Tour to celebrate the paperback launch of this stunning book.

Over to you Kerensa………

First of all, thank you so much for having me and for inviting me to share an extract from the works of Rainer Maria Rilke and to talk about my responses to it. It’s such a pleasure to do this for you and I am thrilled you so kindly joined the #SeasOfSnow paperback launch blogtour!

Background 

The protagonist in SEAS OF SNOW is called Gracie Scott. We meet her when she is just five years old, and learn how Uncle Joe appears in her life, changing it forever. Through the book, she discovers a passion for both playtime and poetry as a means to escape her traumas and torments. She delights in the words and sounds of poetry and stories to liberate her – even for a moment – from the darkness of her life.

A kindly English teacher introduces Gracie to poetry so she gets to dip her toes into its delights slowly and carefully… and we get to experience poetry through the eyes of a child, making it less intimidating and difficult.

Mr Hall tells Gracie:

‘Poetry is the most marvellous Secret Key to escaping real life and disappearing into a world of your own. It’s your very own Castle of Make-Believe.’

‘I’m not sure I understand, sir . . .’

‘Well, Gracie, the clever thing about poetry is that each and every person will read a poem in their own way, bringing with them their own experiences and perceptions and opinions and prejudices. Each and every person will see different things in different ways. An interpretation of understanding here, a shade of emotion there. And the layers! You would be amazed all the hidden layers there are in poetry – but unlike in maths, there’s no “right” or “wrong” answer. All that matters is how it makes you feel, and what it makes you think.

‘There are word patterns and sounds; clever loops and references and what we call sonic echoes, where the sounds words and syllables make reflect each other and echo each other. Some people will spot some things, other people will spot others. Some people will hear things, some people won’t. That’s the beauty of it, Gracie.’

There follows a passage where they talk about a poem he introduces her to. By the end of that chapter, Mr Hall concludes:

‘Poetry, if you let it, will help you make sense of the world. It can be your solace and your friend, even in the loneliest of times. Your escape. Your Secret Key.’

And with that, Gracie becomes hooked.

A bit about Rilke 

The extract I have chosen to share with you today is from Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Letters to a Young Poet‘. It becomes incredibly important to Gracie as her story unfolds. The book itself is a very slim volume of correspondence, written by a somewhat obscure Austro-Bohemian poet many people will never have heard of. Rilke wrote in German, and the letters were penned over several years when he was still of very tender age himself, but cast in the role of counsel and elder.

Rilke (1875-1926) was one of the most extraordinary poets that has ever lived, known for his lyricism and inspirational philosophies about life. The Letters are beautifully written words of hope, enlightenment and succour. They hold you by the hand, catch you when you fall, and lull you into self-belief where none existed before.

There are only ten letters in this small book, so you can just read one before bed time, or with a cup of teain between chores, or in your lunchbreak.

Rilke wrote them over a period of five years to a young man called Franz Kappus who was just nineteen years old and about to enter the German military. Kappus wrote to Rilke, who was then only 27 years old, shyly sharing some of his poetry and seeking guidance in life and asking Rilke to critique his literary work.

The Letters are written in prose but with a lilting lyricism that dances the words off the page in melodies and word pictures. They are so beautifully crafted I would categorise them as prose poems. Their power whisks you away, makes you think, and helps you calm.

Some people accuse Rilke of being overly sentimental, and maybe the fact I love him so much says something about me…. but I just swim in his soothing tones and feel my pain and trouble slowly ebb away.

One critic has described the Letters as “a virtual owner’s manual on what it is (and what is required) to be an artist and a person.” I would say they provide a guiding light when times feel bleak and particularly those occasions when you feel you don’t know where to turn.

My chosen extract 

A poetic passage from Rilke’s Letters becomes the talisman of Gracie’s life. It’s a prose poem that offers comfort, kindness and safety. All the things Gracie craves and yearns for. You can either read it here, or listen to this beautifully voiced version on YouTube

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths  

That are at the beginning of all peoples.
 

The myths about dragons 

That at the last moment turn into princesses.  

Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses  

Who are only wanting to see us
 

Once beautiful and brave.
 

Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being  

Something helpless, that wants help from us.  

So you must not be frightened  

If a sadness rises up before you
 

Larger than any you have ever seen.
 

If a restiveness like light and cloud shadows
 

Passes over your hands and over all you do
 

You must think that something is happening with you,  

That life has not forgotten you.
 

That it holds you in its hand.
 

It will not let you fall. 

There is a kindliness and a confidence in this poem that I simply love. You get the impression a very wise and lovely soul is sharing some thoughtful advice with you. The words themselves are overwhelmingly warm and protecting. The assurance and certainty of the speaker/writer quite literally holds you by the hand and lets you know that life has not forgotten you, it will not let you fall.

We are each and every one of us frightened of things sometimes. It might be the fear of illness, of a person, of a situation. Life hurtles challenges and difficulties towards us, relentlessly. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

And sometimes, we can question ourselves, doubt ourselves. It is so easy to assume we are in the wrong, that we are at fault. These beautiful words by Rilke seek to offer us some comfort… and to try to help us open our eyes to see the good and light in people and situations.

Now, you can argue that adopting a Pollyanna approach to life can be naïve and simplistic. I would tend to agree. But wouldn’t the world be a lovelier, more pleasant, kinder place if we did each seek to see the best in others, and if we did try our best to see things from others’ perspectives, even those who might appear to be our dragons. Even our Uncle Joes, perhaps.

I first discovered the works of Rilke as a student. I absolutely loved his choice of words, the music and melody of his cadences. I have later read some exquisite translations of his work. Even in English you can sense the purity and the beauty of the writing.

As the extract we are talking about here is a translation from the German, I shan’t critique in this post the lyricism and cadences of the phrases or talk in depth about the rhythms and metaphors that Rilke uses. I think this particular translation feels very true to the original in both music and concept, which is why I selected it. You can find alternative translations online if you feel like digging a little. This is the one which, to me, best reflects the words Rilke wrote. For anyone interested in the original, I thought it would be nice to reprint it here. You can see in the original it is very much in letter form, and there is even a reference to the recipient by name (lieber Herr Kappus = dear Mr Kappus), which gets removed in translations so the words speak to a broader human truth.

Wie sollten wir jener alten Mythen vergessen können, die am Anfange aller Völker stehen, der Mythen von den Drachen, die sich im äußersten Augenblick in Prinzessinnen verwandeln; vielleicht sind alle Drachen unseres Lebens Prinzessinnen, die nur darauf warten, uns einmal schön und mutig zu sehen. Vielleicht ist alles Schreckliche im tiefsten Grunde das Hilflose, das von uns Hilfe will. 

 Da dürfen Sie, lieber Herr Kappus, nicht erschrecken, wenn eine Traurigkeit vor Ihnen sich aufhebt, so groß, wie Sie noch keine gesehen haben; wenn eine Unruhe, wie Licht und Wolkenschatten, über Ihre Hände geht und über all Ihr Tun. Sie müssen denken, daß etwas an Ihnen geschieht, daß das Leben Sie nicht vergessen hat, daß es Sie in der Hand hält; es wird Sie nicht fallen lassen 

I have come back to Rilke time and time again throughout my life. I find his words give me that little lift I need sometimes, when navigating challenges and heartache. One way of describing it is to say I use Rilke as self-help. It really works! I’d recommend ‘Letters to a Young Poet’ to anyone going through troubled times or feeling anxiety, a lack of self-belief, or fear of the unknown. From matters of the heart to family and career… Rilke has some inspirational words to lift and inspire you.

Buying Links

Amazon UK – £9.99

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore  –  £8.65

Book Depository  –  £8.32

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

A Second Christmas Wish by Kathryn Freeman #GuestPost #Extract #bookreview

Extremely delighted to be hosting this Guest Post from Kathryn Freeman featuring an extract today as part of this fabulous Blog Tour for a fabulously festive book that you ALL need to read!!

Now, over to you Kathryn…..

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It’s such a pleasure to be invited onto your blog, Kaz – thank you so much for hosting me. I hope you enjoy the following extract from A Second Christmas Wish.  

 

Daniel McCormick – ex tennis player and now owner of a tennis academy – has been warned by his sister not to flirt with her friend, Melissa Raven as she’s not long escaped from a miserable marriage. But how can he not, when she’s everything he finds attractive in a woman? Here he’s just finished giving his first tennis lesson to her terribly shy young son, William.  

 

‘Mum, Daniel says I’m going to be as good as him when I’m older.’ William rushed over to his mother, his voice bubbling with excitement. 

‘Hey, wait up. I think I only said maybe.’ He caught Melissa’s eye over her son’s shoulder and watched as a small smile crossed her face. If he had to guess, he’d say it wasn’t founded in humour though, but in relief. It begged the question, was it him she was so mistrustful of, or the male species in general? 

‘I’m thirsty.’ William tugged on her arm, breaking their eye contact. 

She reached into her slim black purse and handed him some coins. ‘Here you go. See what you can find in the drinks machine.’ After watching him trot off, she turned back to Daniel. ‘He seems to have enjoyed himself. Thank you.’ 

‘No problem.’ He was going to leave it at that, but something William had said while they’d been talking niggled at him. ‘I think he’s worried about having to see his father again.’ 

The blood drained from her face. ‘I think I already told you that William’s father was none of your business.’ 

Anger fizzed up his spine. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’  

‘It means that going behind my back and grilling my son for details because you can’t get them from me, is, well …’ She tailed off, visibly shaking. ‘Bloody rude,’ she finished off. ‘And pretty low.’ 

‘I asked William if he had any plans for Christmas yet,’ he returned evenly, fighting for calm. ‘He chose to tell me he thought he might be seeing his dad, and that he didn’t want to. I hadn’t realised small talk with your son was banned. My mistake.’ 

More angry than he could remember feeling in a very long time, Daniel stalked off towards his office, making sure he gave William a quick wave before he disappeared. It wasn’t the boy’s fault his mother was so touchy. What the hell did Melissa think he was? Some sort of child molester who took pleasure from tormenting small boys? Well she could damn well find someone else to coach her son. He’d had it with her. Fuming, he plonked himself down on his office chair and began to systematically rip open his post with unrestrained force. His wild movements caused his hand to bang into the pile of paperwork on his in-tray, toppling it onto the floor. 

‘Shit.’ 

‘I’m sorry.’ 

His eyes flickered between the carnage on the floor and the woman standing awkwardly in his doorway. As they settled on her troubled face, the anger slowly defused. ‘Okay.’ 

‘Can I come in?’ she asked hesitantly. ‘William is having his drink outside and …’ She wrung her hands together. ‘I’d like the chance to explain.’ 

‘Be my guest.’ Part of him wanted to stay cross with her. At least then he wouldn’t feel this need to hold her and make everything right. 

 

About the book: 

 

A Second Christmas Wish is now available to purchase in both paperback and eBook format from all good book retailers and platforms. Click HERE for buying options.  

Do you believe in Father Christmas? 

For Melissa, Christmas has always been overrated. From her cold, distant parents to her manipulative ex-husband, Lawrence, she’s never experienced the warmth and contentment of the festive season with a big, happy family sitting around the table. 

And Melissa has learned to live with it, but it breaks her heart that her seven-year-old son, William, has had to live with it too. Whilst most little boys wait with excitement for the big day, William finds it difficult to believe that Father Christmas even exists. 

But then Daniel McCormick comes into their lives. And with his help, Melissa and William might just be able to find their festive spirit, and finally have a Christmas where all of their wishes come true … 

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

Book Depository 

 Author Contact details 

 Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman 

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1 

 

MY REVIEW

This has been an absolutely heartwarming and thoroughly absorbing Christmas read and just proves that Christmas wishes do come true!

We first meet Melissa, an ex model, and her 5 year old son as they suffer through the hands of Lawrence, her controlling and ghastly husband. He is from a family where you have to follow the rules and he shows no heart or compassion towards his family, especially towards his very shy sweet son. Melissa eventually plucks up the courage to leave him and we then get to see her as she tries to move on with her life.

The story moves on a couple of years and Lawrence has shown very little interest in his son, but is now back on the scene with his glamorous new girlfriend, and Melissa has to deal again with his arrogance and bullying. Her son is still quite affected by the past so she signs him up to tennis lessons at the local sports centre, run by the ex tennis pro Daniel. He is used to having women falling at his feet and was the best player in the world until injury cut his career short.

The sparks between the two are immediate but Melissa is, understandably, reluctant to commit to anyone considering her past, and this is where we see the best of Daniel as he is the perfect gentleman and never pushes or rushes her for a decision. William becomes besotted though with Daniel and it is so touching to see the bond they begin to form just through Daniel treating him in the right way.

With Christmas approaching, Melissa has to make decisions concerning her past and her future and the reader gets to share her joys and doubts along the way.

A fun and easy to read Christmas cracker of a book!

HAPPY FESTIVE READING

DeadLands by Lloyd Otis #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview

 

deadlands

My pleasure to be hosting today on the Deadlands Blog Tour!  Hope you’re ready for a guest post from the author  and my review of this thrilling 70’s crime story!

lloyd

@LloydOtisWriter

Dead Lands: dialect and accents 

Dialect and accents slot firmly under the umbrella of the dialogue within a story, and can be important ingredients when telling that story. How your characters interact with each other during their conversations helps to shape your narrative and can set the scene. It can give them their own identity and make them memorable, so it’s best to decide from the outset how the protagonist will interact verbally with friends. Will they be relaxed or tense? Is it important for the reader see different dialects come into play? Will you decide to use a particular dialect or accent, or neither. Many people get the two confused so let’s address that first.

Dialect is a form of language specific to a social group of region, while accent is the unique pronunciation of a language, normally associated with a country, or area.

Both of these require knowledge of the area and group of which they are to be associated with. Accents are tricky, so if you plan to do them make sure that it’s done well. Yes, they can add an interesting flavour to your scene but if you’d rather not, then be rest assured that the audience are smart enough to play the proposed accent in their own mind when they’re reading. For example, if a character is from Leicester then they’d be able to differentiate the voice from that of someone from Bristol and so forth.

There may be some slang that is best served just as it is and that’s fine, but read it through and make sure that it all fits with the scene and the characters. Can it empower the scene or is it just window dressing?

With Dead Lands I haven’t gone overboard with using accents and dialects. The story is set mainly in London although DS Kearns is from Yorkshire, I trust the readers to envisage that fact whenever they read her dialogue. Just as I have done with the prime suspect’s American boss, Lizzie Daniels.

I doubt that anyone would want the narrative to become weighed down by constant accents, so striking the right balance works well, as I’ve done with smaller characters where I’ve felt their way of speaking would enhance the scene. However, it can work the other way too. For example, I have a scene where Breck speaks to a Norwegian friend of his over the phone and I’ve resisted trying to imagine his friend’s English wrapped within his natural Norwegian accent. Instead I’ve relied on the readers to interpret it in the way they want, and the way that they’ll each interpret it will differ I’m sure.

Accents and dialects can provide great support to an overall story as well as transport the reader to the exact time and place that the author wants them to be in. How much both are used depends on the story and if the author thinks it will add value, but they can definitely be effective if used right.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alex Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy. Lloyd Otis brings a startling account of the past back to life over a burgeoning ’70s landscape, and delivers a thrilling piece of crime fiction that will excite any fan of the genre.

Publisher – Urbane Publications

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a gritty and engaging crime thriller, brilliantly set in the 1970’s London so you get a great look back at how police work used to be conducted and how times have changed!  Door to Door enquiries and relying on nosy neighbours was the norm back then, and the author really picks up on the work and time that was put into each case.
Urbane have produced another fabulous looking – inside and out – crime thriller that kept my interest throughout as the intrigue built as to finding out the murderer of a young woman, and then ,as the body count increases, working out the links between each victim.
The opening really sets the scene as you get a glimpse inside a mind taught not to care, and that really follows on throughout as those involved survived on their own rules and didn’t care who got in their way.
Arlo Breck and DS Kearns are the lead investigators and make a great pairing as they each come to the case with their own baggage, and the politics of life in the SCU – serious crimes unit –  are never too far away.
The story is paced really well and just when you think they’re getting closer, there’s another spanner thrown in the works to make you change your mind as to the guilty parties and motives, and while the case looks ‘bang to rights’ with the name of a suspect left at the scenes,  that begins to look a little too staged for those inspecting and they find themselves investigating some brutal elements of society – there is definitely more to this than meets the eye!!
A fabulous read that was bold, gripping and full of intrigue and definitely an author to watch out for in the future!!

Thank you for stopping by today!

 

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