A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “July, 2018”

Blog Tour – The London Murder Mysteries: ‘The Girl in the Gallery’ by Alice Castle ~ @rararesources @DDsDiary @crookedcatbooks

‘The Girl in the Gallery’ was published as an eBook on the 19th December 2017 by Crooked Cat Books and is also available in paperback.  Having really enjoyed the first book in the London Murder Mysteries, ‘Death in Dulwich’, I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate.

 

Book Blurb

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Dulwich…

It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane has sneaked off to visit one of her favourite places, the world-famous Picture Gallery.

She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display. Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.

Who is The Girl in the Gallery? Join Beth in adventure #2 of the London Murder Mystery series as she tries to discover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.

 

My Review

I was hoping to get around to reading ‘The Girl in the Gallery’ at some stage. Then something magical happened, an email came through from Rachel inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

I really do like Alice Castle’s style of writing. Her descriptions of the paintings in the Picture Gallery were fascinating and I felt as if I was learning something. It was also great reading about areas that aren’t that far away from me. Some of the chapters were much longer, but that didn’t put me off at all. I liked that there were section breaks throughout.

The first chapter left me rather intrigued. Having got back to normal after the murder at Wyatt’s, Beth Haldane was enjoying a visit to one of her favourite places, the Picture Gallery. Little did she know that she would stumble across something that wasn’t part of the actual exhibition. Before she knew it she found herself deeply involved in another investigation and in contact with DI Harry York the investigating officer again.

This was such a fascinating investigation and it also gave a good insight into teenage girls and the pressures they face these days. Unfortunately, the web and social media can be dangerous.

It was great catching up with Beth. I’ve said it before but she really is such a lovely person. It would be so nice for her to have some romance in her life. I think that Beth would make a good detective. She certainly came up with some good theories. I grew to like Harry York even more. I loved reading about his book collection and of course wished I could be there checking them out.

I really liked the idea of Beth’s cat gossiping with one of the local neighbourhood cats. That made me smile. I have always wanted to understand what animals and birds are actually saying to each other and wish there were language courses. Maybe one day, hey. I would be one of the first to sign up to them.

Although ‘The Girl in the Gallery’ can be read as a standalone novel, I would recommend reading ‘Death in Dulwich’ first. This is turning out to be a great series and I can’t wait to read the third book. Long may they continue.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘The Girl in the Gallery’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Gallery-London-Murder-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B076ZJHFGG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1532247884&sr=1-1

 

Giveaway

There is a competition running to coincide with both blog tours.  The prize is signed paperback copies of ‘Death in Dulwich’ and ‘The Girl in the Gallery’.  To enter just click on this link – Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

About Alice Castle

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, will be published this summer, with Homicide in Herne Hill due to follow in early 2019.  Alice is currently working on the fifth London Murder Mystery adventure. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a mummy blogger and book review via her website: https://www.alicecastleauthor.com

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DDsDiary?lang=en

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’ by Hannah Lynn ~ @HMLynnauthor

‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’ was published as an eBook on the 11th July 2018 and is also available in paperback.  I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for this book and would like to thank Hannah Lynn for inviting me to participate.

Do I have a treat for all of you today or what.  There are some Questions and Answers from the author, an extract from her book and there is also a giveaway which is being run throughout the tour.  All that to come in a minute though.  First, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Walter Augustus is dead. His current state of existence has become a monotony of sweet tea and lonely strolls and after decades stuck in the Interim — a posthumous waiting room for those still remembered on Earth — he is ready to move on. Only when he is forgotten by every living person will he be able to pass over and join his family in the next stage of the afterlife. At last the end is tantalizingly close, but bad luck and a few rash decisions may see him trapped in the Interim for all eternity.

Letty Ferguson is not dead. Letty Ferguson is a middle-aged shoe saleswoman who leads a pleasant and wholly unextraordinary life, barring the secret fortune she seems unable to tell her husband about. However, when she takes possession of an unassuming poetry anthology, life takes on a rather more extraordinary dimension.

 

Hannah Lynn on her new novel The Afterlife of Walter Augustus

How did you get the idea for The Afterlife of Water Augustus?

I can actually remember exactly when the idea came to me as I was in a really bad mood at the time! It was the weekend of my birthday and we were meant to be going on holiday, but my husband was unwell so we had to cancel. We also had visitors over, so between checking on my husband, looking after them and working I felt completely run off my feet.

One of our guests was watching a TV programme about a psychic, and that got me thinking about the afterlife, and how there could be enough space for everyone. I was still mulling over the concept when the idea of Walter being trapped until he was forgotten sprung into mind and I honestly thought, this is it, this is the reason I didn’t go on holiday because if I had I would never have had the idea.

 

That sounds like you’re a believer in fate?

Hmm, the jury’s out. So much is beyond our control and I’ve had a couple of very peculiar instances, but then there are too many bad things happening to good people for me to be convinced.

 

What did you find yourself researching for this book?

I spent a surprising amount of time researching the ins and out of professions in the 1800s. In my first draft Walter started out as a doctor, so I spent time researching the different type of medical practitioners that were around back then. Afterwards, when I decided that wasn’t quite right, I got stuck into research about ironwork and being a farrier.

 

Who was your favourite character?

This book was tough. Quite often I have a clear favourite, but in this one I don’t. I have genuine affection for them all, even the ones who don’t appear that nice!

 

Why did you write about the afterlife?

It’s always been a source of intrigue to me and I think to many others.  I’ve tried before to write novels about it, but this is the first time all my ideas seemed to fall into place.

 

How long did it take you to write The Afterlife of Water Augustus?

Walter was the quickest first draft I have ever written — however it then took another 3 drafts to get something more concrete to work with. In total, it was a little over 2 years.

 

What was the hardest part to write?

Probably making all the time frames to work logistically, particularly with Walter popping in and out of the Afterlife

 

Who should read the Afterlife of Water Augustus?

Anyone who is not convinced they are going to live forever! Seriously though, it’s a book that I hope will be both amusing and comforting.

 

Extract

Chapter Two

The corridor in the interim was by no means your standard corridor. In fact, it would not, by the average lay-person’s standard, qualify as a corridor at all. A sea of free-standing doors stretched out endlessly into an infinite landscape which — like the doors themselves — would change and transform almost daily. It was easy to see how people found pleasure in the unexpectedness and beauty that rose from this magnificent panoramic backdrop which was so central to the interim afterlife.  Although Walter was not one of those people.

Today, the doors were a heavily stained cedar, from which rose an earthy and damp perfume that blended perfectly with the cut grass and linen aroma. The floor, by contrast, was an infinite expanse of powdery sand that shimmered and glinted in the soft light, and from somewhere far off came a light-fingered mastery of the mandolin. The destination of these doors was, to Walter, as elusive as the manner in which they were constructed.

Perhaps, it was his age or the cynicism that had grown from being alone for so long, but to Walter, the interim no longer possessed the irrefutable prestige it once had. There had always been the odd rancid egg — those that had difficulty letting go or found pleasure in the obscure — and, of course, those whose memory lived on for the most abhorrent reasons — but it was the vast quantity of them still hanging around that was worrying. Men, calling themselves actors, gathered in droves, discussing the time they had a walk-on part as a half-eaten zombie or laughed about their pet cat on ice going viral, whatever that meant. Wives of ex-cons gossiped and whinged about the good old days over frozen margaritas and manicures, not in some secluded doorway, but out in the open, for everyone to see. Gamblers, addicts, and musicians: once their time here had been brief, but now, they never seemed to leave. Yes, in Walter’s opinion, the prestige of the interim had most definitely deteriorated.

Walter kept his head down as he hurried through the corridor. He had visited Betty often since she had moved into the home and barely needed to lift his eyes to find the way. After a few minutes and having successfully avoided the gaze of every person on his route, Walter found the door he was looking for. He twisted the handle and stepped through.

Elizabeth Mabel Green was the last person on Earth who knew who Walter Augustus was. She had read Seas, Swallows and all but Sorrows — the only remaining copy — in the early sixties, and while some parts of her memory had given way over time, she had remembered his name as clearly as she remembered her own. She remembered how she chewed on a crumpet whilst her father read the poems over breakfast and how the melted butter dripped down her chin as she listened. She remembered the coarse woollen blanket that covered her knees while she fought off the cold and re-read her favourites in the first home she had ever owned. She did not remember every word of every poem, but she remembered the way they made her feel.

When Pemberton finally departed the interim, Walter had assumed he would not be far behind. But Betty continued to cling to his name and his poems. Even now, in her last days, Walter could feel the tugs as he flitted through his memory. After all, Walter was family.

Betty Green’s hospital room was adorned with several bunches of flowers. It sported a small white cabinet and plug-in air fresheners at every available socket, although they did little to camouflage the scent of Dettol and urine that rose from the carpets and bed sheets. Betty lay beneath a powder blue blanket that, at a casual glance, appeared motionless, although Walter— and any person who cared to sit and study it long enough — could see there was still life in the old girl yet. Walter watched the faint rise and fall. He could hear a gentle hiss as the air was drawn in and then expelled from his great-great-great-great-granddaughter’s lungs and the weak double thud of her fading heartbeat.

‘Are your kitchen tiles a nightmare to clean?’

Walter jumped back from the bed.

Behind him, a small black box was affixed to the wall, inside which a tiny woman was on her hands and knees scrubbing a floor. She looked out at Walter, opened her mouth and spoke. Beads of sweat began to bubble on his forehead.

‘You need to try Fleazy Klean.’

The woman’s voice, rather than coming from her mouth, came from another little black box, two feet to the right. Walter shuddered. A television. Even avoiding the present day as he did, Walter had not managed to evade this unnatural source of wizardry. One glimpse of the shiny black glass was enough to send his post-organic frame rigid with tension and his surplus-to-requirement pulse into overdrive. He side-stepped away — keeping half an eye on the mini-man who was now on screen, apparently trying to sell him some kind of dental apothecary — and focused his attention on Betty.

Walter knew there must be pain; there always was at that stage, but for now, she seemed at peace.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said, leaning over and whispering. ‘It’s not the end. Everyone’s waiting for you.’ Betty mumbled softly. Walter reached down and stroked her forehead. ‘Take all the time you need,’ he said. He waited another minute, offered a final uneasy glower to the man with too many teeth on the television, then opened the door and stepped back into the corridor, a spritely spring in his step as he walked.

***

Low slung clouds shrouded the sky as Letty strolled up the high street.  The evening was cool, and a light breeze carried on it an aroma of oak trees, honeysuckle, and the slight hint of motorbike fuel. Donald would be glad of rain, Letty thought. The humidity of the last month had played havoc with his joints too. A little way up the high street, she stopped. Resting her arm against the yellowish Bradstone wall, she kneaded the base of her spine with her knuckles. In one of the stores across the road, the back-to-school sales signs were already being pulled down and replaced with pumpkin banners ready for Halloween. Letty’s stomach churned. If the thirty-first of October marked everyone else’s Halloween, Letty’s personal day of nightmares came a few weeks earlier each year.

Despite living less than five miles away, Letty and her sister Victoria saw each other an average of three times a year, Christmas, the twins’ birthday, and once in July to remember their mother’s birthday. Occasionally, they would place a meeting somewhere between January and July to bridge the sixth month gap, but that was not always the case. As it was, Victoria had cancelled the July meet-up this year, as the twins had a last-minute gymkhana competition they simply couldn’t afford to miss.

There were various reasons that meetings with Victoria tended to be tense, one of the overwhelming factors being money. While Letty suffered from an affliction of saving money, the same could not be said for her sister.

‘It will just be a short-term loan,’ Victoria said the last time. ‘And the interest we’ll give you will be far better than any you’d get at the bank.’

‘But what about Mum’s inheritance?’ Letty said. ‘That was over twenty thousand pounds.’

‘My thoughts exactly. And I’m guessing it’s just sitting in your account earning you nothing. If you look at it that way, we’re actually doing you a favour. Think of it as an investment opportunity.’

Letty had mumbled something unintelligible as she shifted uncomfortably.

‘Great,’ Victoria said. ‘Do you want me to set up a bank transfer before I go?’

‘What’s she doing with all their money?’ Donald said when Letty told him of the conversation a couple of days later. ‘And what happened to her share?’

‘I didn’t want to ask.’

Donald huffed. ‘Well, you know how much you’ve got left of that money. If you think we can lend her a couple of grand, then it’s up to you. But don’t go leaving yourself short.’

That had been over a year ago, and Letty had neither seen or heard anything of her investment opportunity since.

The other point of tension came from the children. As anyone who had witnessed Letty at work could testify, she had an uncanny affinity for small children. Be it screaming toddlers, or sulky teenagers, somehow Letty could bring the best out of them all. All children, it seemed, apart from her nephew and niece.

Whilst some may have seen fit to liken the pair to characters from a Stephen King novel, Letty would have considered this unfair, given the possible moral redeemability of the bloodsucking clowns and monsters Mr. King portrayed. Likewise, adjectives such as spirited and boisterous seemed far more suited to rescue puppies than to the double delinquents with whom she somehow shared DNA. Born after years and years of trying, Victoria viewed her children as nothing short of miracles. Throw in the added guilt she felt at being an older parent and a father who was barely home, and it was clear how Victoria and Felix had raised nothing short of monsters.

Every visit included a fight. Sometimes, these involved weapons, such as a plastic Buzz Lightyear or a conveniently placed lamp. Other times, it was simply teeth and nails.

‘They’re energetic,’ Victoria said. ‘Lots of intelligent children are like this.’

Letty wasn’t so sure. The twins’ birthday, the singular time of year when Letty truly considered giving up baking for good.

The cake thing had become somewhat of a venture lately. Twelve months ago, she had been doing one order, maybe two a month. Now it was more like that a week. And gone were the days of simple round cakes with a little bit of pipe work. In the last month alone, she had created one Peppa Pig cake, two M&M piñata cakes, a Louis Vuitton handbag, three cupcake wedding towers, and a hen-do cake that even now turned her cheeks scarlet at the memory. Of course, the area manager had dropped by for a chat on the morning she had taken that one into work. The meeting had been tortuous. Letty sat nodding, her mouth bone dry, beads of sweat trickling down her forehead as the box sat perched above his head resting on top of the size 12 men’s brogues.

‘There’s really no need to look so worried,’ the manager had said. ‘Everyone’s numbers are down on this time last year. You should see Stroud’s numbers.’

Letty nodded mutely.

When he finally left, she had told Joyce she was taking an early break, at which point she collapsed onto a box of lime green flip-flops, red-faced and trembling. No more hen party cakes, she decided after that one. Not unless they were picked up from home.

‘You should be charging proper money for these,’ Donald said, almost every night as she stood in the kitchen rolling out fondant and mixing up buttercream.

‘I’m not doing it for the money.’

‘Well, maybe you should be. You’re wasted at that shop. And we can’t rely on my wage forever. I’m getting old.’

Despite Donald’s concerns, Letty was savvy enough not to be out of pocket. She charged enough to cover the ingredients and a little bit more so that people felt they were getting quality. In her opinion, people always became suspicious if they thought things were too cheap.

The sky twisted with soft greys and lilacs as Letty ambled towards the crossroads. Somewhere, a bonfire was burning, and the tang of pine drifted the air.  She glanced down at her watch. Five thirty-two. Friday night meant Donald would be out for drinks with the other men from the water board. A homemade pie was defrosting in the larder, and a large apple crumble awaited them for dessert. She had a little time to spare. With one last glance at her watch, she changed her course and crossed the road. Thirty seconds later, she was standing inside the bank.

Letty preferred these bank machines, as unlike the others on the high street, they were tucked away inside a building. Whenever she used the outside ones, it felt as though someone was there, peering over her shoulder, trying to steal her PIN code or tutting if she took too long. That afternoon, only one of the machines was in working order, and when a young man with a toddler in tow stepped through the automatic door only a moment after she did, she waved him in front.

‘Honestly, you go,’ she said.

‘Are you sure?’

‘Of course, of course. It’s no problem.’

Letty stood what she considered a suitable distance behind, while the man did his business. After he finished, she offered him a polite smile and watched as he exited the room. Only after the automatic doors had closed and she felt certain that no one else would be entering for at least a minute, Letty moved to the cash machine, inserted her card, and tapped the screen.

Entering her PIN was a reflex response. After all, she had had the same PIN for every card that she had ever owned and had no intention of changing it anytime soon. A series of options, including Cash or On-Screen Balance, appeared in front of her. She selected balance.

As she waited for the number to appear, she withdrew a small notebook and pen from her handbag pocket and wrote the date at the top. A moment later, a number appeared. Sixty-seven thousand, six hundred and sixty-eight pounds and twenty-four pence. Letty wrote it down in her notebook. After confirming with the machine that she did not require any more services, she withdrew her card, placed it back in her tattered old wallet, and selected another.

This second account gave a similar reading to the first, as did the third and fourth she checked. The fifth came in slightly lower, at only twelve thousand, two hundred and nine pounds and thirty-three pence. She was about to check her sixth when a cough behind her caused her to jump.

‘Sorry,’ Letty gasped. She pulled out her card and hurriedly backed away from the machine. ‘I’m all done now.’

Even two minutes later, when she was back on the street, her pulse was still pounding. Her money situation, she reasoned, had lost control. Letty sighed, causing a small flock of pigeons on the pavement beside her to take flight. She was going to have to tell Donald sooner or later. She just had to find the right way to word it.

***

Deciding to make the most of what was possibly his last day in the interim, Walter gathered a loaf of bread and small bottle of ale from his miraculously stocked larder and placed them into his satchel. He was dressed in his usual attire of a twill woven shirt and breeches, but had abandoned his apron for the day. With a light-hearted jaunt, he stepped out through his back door and strolled to the end of the garden.

A narrow path lined with daisies and buttercups materialised and meandered down to the bottom of the cliff. His feet crunched on the fresh grass. He would miss this scent, he decided, but then perhaps, it was the same wherever he was going next; after all, it seemed too good a choice to meddle with. Walter closed his eyes and breathed in the warm, salty air. He couldn’t have asked for a better day.

A little way away from the shingled coast, Walter was stopped. He stared and blinked and felt his pulse hasten in his veins. Dampness built on the palms of his hand, and a noose-like sensation tightened around his throat. He gaped at the figure on the shore. This was his beach. Why would anyone come here? Who even knew about it? Walter’s pulse cranked up another notch as he scanned the area. It was definitely his beach, his place alone, his private corner of the interim. Perhaps it was a mistake, he thought and, with silent steps, trod forward. The grass gave way to sand dunes and then to shingle, all the while his eyes locked on the shadowy figure. He was less than six feet away before the air was knocked from his lungs.

‘No,’ Walter gasped.

The face turned around to look at him. It was a long face, so long it was difficult to see where his nose ended and chin began. His cheeks were hollowed, as if sucking on a sweet, and the smell of pear drops that emanated from his breath appeared to confirm this. In one fluid movement, the body went from sitting to standing and then peering straight down his nose to Walter.

‘Well, Augustus,’ he said his voice patronisingly slow. ‘What have you done this time?’

 

~~~~~

Wow!  This extract has certainly left me intrigued.

‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’ can be purchased from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Afterlife-Walter-Augustus-Hannah-Lynn-ebook/dp/B07CLL98QC/ref=pd_sbs_351_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=BMK2ZGD0YFDY3D39PP2N

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Afterlife-Walter-Augustus-Hannah-Lynn-ebook/dp/B07CLL98QC/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Giveaway

To coincide with this blog tour, Hannah Lynn is running a competition.  These are the  prizes:-

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader, plus an eBook copy of ‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’.

1 of 5 x paperback copies of ‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’, signed by Hannah Lynn.

To enter, click on this link – Rafflecopter Giveaway.

 

About Hannah Lynn

Hannah Lynn was born in 1984 and grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction. Her first novel, Amendments, was published in 2015, her latest novel, The Afterlife of Walter Augustus, is out July 2018. Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Austrian Alps.

 

Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/HMLynnauthor

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HannahLynnAuthor

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13830772.Hannah_M_Lynn

 

Other Books

‘Amendments’ can be purchased from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amendments-H-M-Lynn-ebook/dp/B00W1X95S2

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Amendments-H-M-Lynn-ebook/dp/B00W1X95S2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Blog Tour – ‘A Summer Scandal’ by Kat French ~ @AvonBooksUK @KFrenchBooks

‘A Summer Scandal’ was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 28th June 2018 by Avon Books.  I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank Sabah Khan for inviting me to participate.

I have an extract from the book for you which will hopefully leave you wanting to read more.  First though, here’s what it’s about.

 

Book Blurb

A Summer Scandal

A feel-good summer romance guaranteed to make you laugh out loud!

Summer has never been so scandalous…

When Violet moves to Swallow Beach, she inherits a small Victorian pier with an empty arcade perched on the end of it, and falls in love immediately. She wants nothing more than to rejuvenate it and make it grand again – but how?

When she meets hunky Calvin, inspiration strikes. What if she turned the arcade into an adult-themed arcade full of artisan shops?

Not everyone in the town is happy with the idea, but Violet loves her arcade and business begins to boom. But as tensions worsen and the heat between her and Calvin begins to grow, life at Swallow Beach becomes tricky. Is it worth staying to ride out the storm? And can Violet find her own happy ending before the swallows fly south for the winter?

Sexy, sassy and full of heart, Kat French is back in a new summer sizzler.

 

Extract

After an afternoon spent arranging her temporary workspace and a rather unglamorous dinner of cheese on toast, Violet decided to call it quits and have an early night. She’d called her mum, replied to a text from Simon and tomorrow she planned to get stuck into her next work order. Her whole world seemed to have flipped on its axis since she’d received the letter from her grandpa; she found the idea of getting her teeth into work familiar and soothing.

Turning out the lights, she headed for the bathroom to brush her teeth, and then paused, surprised by the sight of a note pushed underneath her door.

Being neighbourly. Here’s my mobile number in case you hear anything go bump in the night. Or run out of milk. Or you’re lonely. C x

He’d scrawled his number underneath in the same confident script as his words. Violet couldn’t help but smile as she read it twice over, then put it down beside the old telephone. Cal seemed to live his life with his finger permanently on the humour button; given that everything else around her seemed deep and confusing, he was a tonic. She’d heard him go out earlier in the evening, and found the top floor a lonelier place without him across the hall. He wasn’t the quietest of neighbours. In fact earlier he’d been making quite a racket at times, hammering and sanding by the sound of it. Perhaps he was a DIY fan.

After a moment’s hesitation, she went back into the living room and ripped a page out of her notepad, scrawling on it before opening her front door and making a PJ-clad dash across to Cal’s apartment. Her heart hammered in case he came back while she was out there, but all was quiet.

She paused as she passed the huge landing window looking down over the bay. It was gorgeous by night, creamy street lamps dotted along the seafront, the darkness of the sea glinting beneath the clear moon. She could just about make out the shadow of the pier, a spindled outline. Her feelings for it were already strengthening, especially since finding her name painted there out over the waves. How special. How wondrous, really, as if the past was reaching out and welcoming her to Swallow Beach, asking her to safeguard Monica’s memories. She would. Vi didn’t yet know exactly what she was going to do with the pier, or even if she’d stay here for more than a summer, but she wasn’t leaving until the pier was open again. The intention settled on her shoulders as she stood with her palm flat against the window.

‘I’m here now,’ she whispered. ‘I’m here and I’ll take care of you.’

There would be no compulsory purchase order on Violet’s watch. The people of Swallow Beach may well have felt that the pier belonged to them, but the truth was that it belonged to Violet now, and to Monica before her. She really hoped that the townspeople would be glad of her presence in the bay, but if they weren’t … Vi wasn’t a girl accustomed to trouble, but looking out over the pier in that quiet, reflective moment, she resolved that she wasn’t going to be pushed around. It was too important.

~~~~~

‘A Summer Scandal’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Scandal-Kat-French-ebook/dp/B078B1Q1LG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531646110&sr=1-1&keywords=a+summer+scandal+by+kat+french

 

About Kat French

Kat writes romantic comedy for HarperCollins. She lives in England with her husband, two little boys and two crazy cats. She loves all things romance – reading it, watching it, and most of all, writing it. Mildly addicted to wine and fairy lights.

 

Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Kat-French-472044706183507/?ref=br_rs

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KFrenchBooks

 

Guest Post by Julie Shackman ~ @G13Julie @AllenAndUnwin

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the lovely Julie Shackman back to my blog.  Her new book ‘A Room at the Manor’ was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 27th June 2018 by Allen & Unwin.  I remember when Julie first revealed the cover of her new book on social media.  I fell in love with it instantly.  It is absolutely gorgeous and I could literally sit and admire it all day long.

Julie has written a guest post for my blog all about the cover.  First though, let’s take a look at what ‘A Room at the Manor’ is all about.

 

Book Blurb

When her Maltese love affair turns sour, Lara McDonald returns to her quiet Scottish hometown of Fairview heartbroken, yet determined – instead of looking for another PR position, she decides to follow her dream of baking. She impulsively takes the first job offered and finds herself working for local dragon Kitty Walker in her tea room, True Brew.

Lara’s life is full of surprises, however, not the least being an unlikely friendship forged with one of Kitty’s elderly customers, the former laird Hugo Carmichael. The Carmichael family has lived at the beautiful Glenlovatt Manor for almost three hundred years and, although in need of renovation, Hugo, his son and grandson currently make it their home.

There’s something about Lara that Hugo likes, and when Hugo suddenly passes away, Lara is stunned to discover she is mentioned in his will. But not everyone is happy with the old Laird’s faith in Lara.

A story of love, family, hope and trust, A Room at the Manor will delight every reader keen to find their place in the world.

 

Guest Post

“Cover Story” – Julie Shackman

Seeing the cover of your latest book for the first time is a moment you never forget.

My first two novels were published digitally and each time, this was a lovely experience.

But with A Room at the Manor, this is my first traditionally published book and I think this has made the whole journey an extra special one.

The last year has been a whirlwind of being signed by my wonderful agent Selwa, followed by my novel being accepted for publication by Allen & Unwin.

Several rounds of editing and polishing followed, as well as invaluable and constructive advice and editorial guidance from Selwa, Annette at Allen & Unwin and my very patient and understanding (!) editor Bec.

Then came the day my cover popped into my Inbox.

I remember sitting for a few moments, gazing at the bright colours; the tangle of thistles and the swirls of type face, announcing the title.

It almost didn’t seem real.

When I saw the tea cup and further thistle detail on the back cover – all those finishing little touches – couldn’t have made me more grateful to Romana and the art department at my publishers for their beautiful work.

It amazed me how like my fictional Glenlovatt Manor the house on the cover is, with its buttery stone and grand windows.

A Room at the Manor tells the story of what can be achieved if someone believes in you and how determined Lara is, to make a success of things.

The same can be said for all us writers.

All it takes is for one person to have faith in you and your writing and to say that magic word “Yes.”

Remember – A published writer is an unpublished writer who never gave up.

 

Julie X

 

(A Room at the Manor is released in paperback and Kindle on 27 June. It is available in the UK online at this link https://www.bookdepository.com/Room-at-the-Manor-Julie-Shackman/9781760632861

In Australia & New Zealand, it is also available on-line, as well as in all good bookshops.)

 

About Julie Shackman

Julie had her first two books published digitally by Not So Noble Books. A,Room at the Manor is her first traditionally published novel.

When not reading or writing, Julie loves going for long walks; music; travelling and watching films.

She is married with two teenage sons and lives in Scotland.

 

Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/G13Julie

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/julie.shackman

Blog – http://julieshackman.wordpress.com/

 

Blog Blitz – ‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ by Morgen Bailey @bombshellpub @morgenwriteruk

I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog blitz along with a number of other book bloggers and would like to thank Sarah Hardy for inviting me to participate.  ‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ was published in paperback and as an eBook yesterday the 12th July 2018 by Bombshell Books and it sounds really good.

I have a guest post by Morgen Bailey, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

31 days. 31 dates.

Izzy is a journalist who usually writes a technology column for a Northampton newspaper. Her somewhat-intimidating boss William sets her the task of dating thirty-one men, via an internet dating site, all within a month, and writing about it for the paper.

Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend Donna, Izzy knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts and starts ticking them off as she meets the men.

Follow the ups and downs of the dating process including Tim ‘the Weeble’, whose date leads Izzy to see banoffee pie in a whole new light, Lawrence the super-skinny social worker, Felix with his bizarre penchant for Persian Piranhas, and ‘the music maestro but don’t talk about dead pets’ Jake.

By the end of the month, will Izzy have met Mr Right?

A laugh-out-loud comedy about the highs and lows of dating.

 

Guest Post

How I got published… (810 words)

I came to writing later than many. I was thirty-seven and a half when I spotted, in a University of Leicester prospectus, an evening creative writing workshop class led by crime writer Sally Spedding (http://sallyspedding.com) which renewed my passion for the craft started at school. That said, Sally also nearly killed it by pulling apart one of my (fairly dreadful) poems, but the homework was to write a crime short story and it was very much the proverbial light bulb moment.

Sticking with short stories, I submitted a page of sixty-worders to Woman’s Weekly and they published the first one. Yay, my mum could finally tell her friends – and probably everyone else she met – that I was a published author. I thought the magazine was then going to publish the rest, one by one, so I bought the following issue, only to find they’d shelved the sixty-word slot. Over the next few months, other magazines that had run short stories also stopped doing them: Bella, Best, Chat, Woman, Woman’s Own to name a few.

So I turned my attention to competitions. I entered a few with varying levels of success, gratefully printing off the congratulations emails and certificates, as well as the commiserations (although most don’t reply so you just have to assume) for my ‘rejections’ folder which by this time was outgrowing my ‘successes’.

I only ever planned to be a short story writer but as most people know, it’s easier (as if it’s ever easy) to make a living as a novelist. I couldn’t envisage spending a year though – as I’d heard the average being – on one story but then I discovered NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org), the yearly (November) 50,000+ words in a month project. I ‘had a go’ in 2008, with a comic crime, which was just over the minimum, which I self-published in 2016 as Hitman Sam. I enjoyed it so wrote another, After Jessica, between January and October the following year (most of it actually in the final month!) before writing my epic women’s fiction novel, The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, in November 2009 which ended up being 115,640 words (in twenty-eight of the thirty-one days!). Because I had to write 50,000+ words in a month, I didn’t want anything too ‘heavy’ and it was a fun write (and hope it’s a fun read). Of course that’s when the hard work starts, the beloved editing process.

Since then, ‘life’ has again intruded so I’m much slower but I have two completed, for which I’m looking for homes, and have planned or part written others – including the follow-up to The Serial Dater. I’ve also written and self-published eight eBook collections of short stories for, or inspired by, the thirty-one short stories in a month that is Story a Day May (http://storyaday.org), which I’ve since combined into two paperback books.

So yes, I’m the classic example of a ten-year overnight success, although I’m still working on that final word. Some writers do it for the money but most because they love it. Isaac Asimov is quoted as saying, “I write for the same reason I breathe … because if I didn’t, I would die” which is somewhat dramatic but ‘they’ say that when you find something you love doing, that it’s never work. Although it feels like it is much of the time, as it leaves little time for writing, I do count myself very lucky.

Other than creating our characters, it can be a very lonely experience. I like being solo though but it’s usually tumbleweed when you self-publish so, at a friend’s suggestion, we co-founded Northants Authors (www.northantsauthors.com) to help fellow local writers promote their books. We do a variety of events and it all helps the ‘profile’.

I’ve interviewed or spotlighted over 800 authors for my blog and it makes that lonely experience far less so. I ‘found’ Bombshell Books having been recommended as an editor for their parent company, Bloodhound Books, and for Serial Dater it was very much third time lucky (twice). From my blog and writing groups, I’d had offers for Serial Dater from two publishers but after reading the contracts and received feedback from The Society of Authors, I turned them down. Bombshell was my third contract for this book, and having Bloodhound already reject two of my other (crime) novels, this book was my third submitted.

Having gone from self-published to traditionally published, I love the support of the team behind me. It doesn’t stop me self-publishing and won’t do my backlist any harm. While some authors will prefer that route because they get to keep a higher percentage of royalties, given the choice of a high percentage of not a lot and a lower portion of many more, there’s no contest.

How did you get published? Are you still on that journey to your first ‘sale’? Do share your story.

~~~~~

‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ is available to buy from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Serial-Daters-Shopping-List-comedy-ebook/dp/B07F8VRRYY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531166894&sr=1-1&keywords=the+serial+dater%27s+shopping+list

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Serial-Daters-Shopping-List-comedy-ebook/dp/B07F8VRRYY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531421027&sr=1-1&keywords=the+serial+dater%27s+shopping+list

 

About Morgen Bailey

Morgen Bailey – Morgen with an E – is a multi-genre author, freelance editor, writing tutor, Writers’ Forum magazine columnist, blogger, speaker, and Northants Authors co-founder. The former Chair of three writing groups, she has judged the H.E. Bates, RONE, BeaconLit, BBC Radio 2 and Althorp Literary Festival short story competitions. She also runs her own free monthly 100-word competition and is a forthcoming Flash 500 judge.

 

Links

 

Blog Tour – ‘Gone to Ground’ by Rachel Amphlett ~ #damppebblesblogtours @RachelAmphlett

‘Gone to Ground’, the sixth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series, was published in paperback and as an eBook by Saxon Publishing on the 8th July 2018.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank Emma Welton of Damppebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to participate.  I have been thoroughly enjoying the Kay Hunter series, though admittedly am a bit behind with it at the moment.

I have a guest post and a giveaway for all of you today.  But first, I am sure you are dying to know what ‘Gone to Ground’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

While attending a crime scene on the outskirts of Maidstone, DI Kay Hunter makes a shocking discovery.

The victim has been brutally cut to pieces, his identity unknown.

When more body parts start turning up in the Kentish countryside, Kay realises the disturbing truth – a serial killer is at large and must be stopped at all costs.

With no motive for the murders and a killer who has gone undetected until now, Kay and her team of detectives must work fast to calm a terrified local population.

When a third victim is found, her investigation grows even more complicated.

As she begins to expose a dark underbelly to the county town, Kay and her team are pulled into a web of jealousy and intrigue that, if left unchecked, will soon claim another life.

 

Guest Post

Getting to know Kay Hunter: on location in Kent

In the lead-up to publication day for book six in the Detective Kay Hunter series, Gone to Ground, I ended up back in the UK for a few weeks.

In mid-May, I attended CrimeFest in Bristol where, two years ago, I’d been a delegate on the Indie Alternative panel. It was great to catch up with friends and hear writing heroes chat about their new books over the four days, as well as support fellow indies who were ably moderated by hostess extraordinaire, Zoe Sharp. Then there were the opportunities to meet people for the first time who I’d only previously corresponded with on social media, and a lot of laughter ensued.

There’s something very special about the crime fiction community – despite the fact we kill people for a living 🙂

Towards the end of my UK trip, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Kay Hunter’s stomping ground – Maidstone, Kent. Although I had commitments at author events, I was able to spend some time in between these visiting the locations that appear in the series and re-familiarise myself with Kay’s surroundings.

Whether it was visiting our old local pub in Weavering or mooching along by the riverbank where I imagine Kay and Barnes escape from the mania of the busy incident room, I felt a renewed energy for the series, and an excitement borne from new ideas that began to form as I took in all the sights of the county town and Kentish countryside – always with a notebook and camera to hand.

Sometimes, it was an overheard conversation that caught my imagination – I’d forgotten what the Maidstone accent sounds like – or watching people interact and thinking “what if?” and, of course, there are different scents and smells associated with a busy riverside town.

A lot of redevelopment work has taken place since I lived on the outskirts of Maidstone 13 years ago, but the familiar routes I remembered and captured within the first six books in the series remain and continue to inspire me.

Oh, and those traffic jams that the team have to fight through to get anywhere in a hurry?

Still there.

 

Competition

One lucky person has the chance to win a ‘Gone to Ground’ coffee mug.  To enter just leave a comment.

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 16th July 2018.

The winner will be chosen at random and notified.  Their details will be passed on to Emma Welton.

Good luck! 🙂

 

About Rachel Amphlett

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza, Ken Follett, and Stuart MacBride.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Her novels are available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats from worldwide retailers including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.

A keen traveller, Rachel holds both EU and Australian passports and can usually be found plotting her next trip two years in advance!

 

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelAmphlett

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelamphlett.author/

Website: https://www.rachelamphlett.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rachel-Amphlett/e/B005EK7TRI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1528972893&sr=8-1

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon.co.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gone-Ground-Detective-Hunter-thriller/dp/0648235572/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528972946&sr=1-1&keywords=gone+to+ground+rachel+amphlett

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Gone-Ground-Detective-Hunter-Thriller/dp/0648235572/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528972990&sr=8-1&keywords=gone+to+ground+rachel

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/gone-to-ground/rachel-amphlett/9780648235576

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Gone-Ground-Rachel-Amphlett/9780648235576

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part Two: Summer Secrets’ by Emily Harvale ~ @rararesources @emilyharvale

‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part Two: Summer Secrets’ was published as an eBook by Crescent Gate Publishing on the 11th June 2018.   Having taken part in the blog tour for the first part of this serial last month, I am absolutely thrilled to be participating in this one too.  I would like to thank the lovely Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join in with this tour.  My thanks also for my review copy of this book.

You will find out what I thought about it in a minute, but first the important bit.

 

Book Blurb

Escape to the seaside village of Little Pondale with Part Two of this heart-warming and romantic, four-part serial.

Mia Ward was amazed to inherit her great-aunt Matilda’s thatched cottage in the tiny seaside village of Little Pondale – especially as Mia didn’t know she had a great-aunt Matilda. She was even more astonished to discover she’d only inherit the place if she lives there for a year.

Now Mia and her friends, Ella and Garrick are embracing village life. Garrick’s also embracing someone in The Frog and Lily, so Mia turns her attention to one or two of her sexy, single neighbours. But great-aunt Matilda remains an enigma and Mia’s still determined to discover who she was.

When Mia’s mum, Lori arrives, she’s eager to see what the summer has to offer. There’s the Kite Festival, the Fête, the Frog Hill Run, but what really appeals to Lori, much to Mia’s horror, is the Midsummer Night’s naked bathing in the pond at Frog’s Hollow.

As sweltering days surrender to sultry nights, love is definitely in the air. And when an incident means Mia has to face her greatest fear, help arrives from a surprising source. But one thing is clear… someone is trying to make sure Mia doesn’t stay in Little Pondale…

 

My Review

I loved the first part of ‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane’ so much that I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the next instalment. Emily Harvale is a truly wonderful writer and I wish I had discovered her books much earlier. I really like her style of writing and how she paints a good picture of what life is like in a small village.

It was nice catching up with Mia, Ella and Garrick. It was like meeting up with old friends after a few weeks of not seeing or hearing from them at all. I loved Mia’s mum, Lori. She was an absolute hoot.

I thought that there was a lot packed into this novella. I enjoyed reading about the various annual events. They were a good way of bringing everyone together. I also learnt a lot more about the villagers and got a few shocks and surprises along the way as well. There were certainly some strange happenings too. I can only think that someone in the village likes playing practical jokes or maybe they actually do want Mia to leave. I can’t work out who would do such a thing though. That for now remains a total mystery.

This series is getting more and more interesting and I am really looking forward to the next part as I can’t wait to find out what is in store. Mia definitely has some decisions to make and they aren’t going to be easy ones either.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part Two: Summer Secrets’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07DDL5KCR

You can read my review of ‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Land – Part One: New Beginnings’ here:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/blog-tour-the-cottage-on-lily-pond-lane-part-1-new-beginnings-by-emily-harvale-rararesources-emilyharvale/

 

About Emily Harvale

 

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.

Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happy endings.” When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both.

 

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/emilyharvalewriter

Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/emilyharvale

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/emilyharvale

 

~~~~~

‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part Three: Autumn Leaves’ is out on the 10th July 2018.

 

Book Blurb

Escape to the seaside village of Little Pondale with Part Three of this heart-warming and romantic, four-part serial. 

Mia Ward was amazed to inherit her great-aunt Matilda’s thatched cottage in the tiny seaside village of Little Pondale – especially as Mia didn’t know she had a great-aunt Matilda. She was equally astonished to discover she’d only inherit the place if she lives there for a year.

But it didn’t take long for Mia and her friends, Ella and Garrick to settle in. Now Mia’s mum, Lori has joined them, and they’re all enjoying village life. Mia’s keen to overcome her fear of water and with Garrick by her side, she’s confident about the future.

Until a fortune teller’s predictions give everyone cause for concern. Now Mia’s not so sure of anything, except that someone still wants her to leave. That makes her more determined to learn all she can about Matilda – and the codicil.

But as the mists roll in over the sea, are autumn winds making passions cool? And when more than one unexpected visitor gives Mia a shocking surprise, is everything about to change?

You can pre-order Part Three from Amazon UK:-

 

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