Extracts

Trials & Tribulations of a Pet Sitter – Laura Marchant

As part of the blog blitz for Trials & Tribulations of a Pet Sitter, Laura Marchant is kindly letting me share an extract of the book with you all – many thanks for this Laura. Thanks also to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

BLURB:

Hilarious and heart warming true stories of a Pet Sitter.

​Laura takes us on her journey describing the immense joy that the animals have brought into her life. But it’s not all fun and games. With sometimes as many as ten dogs around her home, things can get a tad hectic. Not to forget the every day challenges faced in keeping the pets happy and safe when out walking. Luckily she is not alone in her quest; her unusually dominant Golden Retriever ‘Brece’ is always by her side. Brece earns her keep by convincingly playing the part of the alpha female, ensuring harmony amongst the pack.

​At times, the responsibility that Laura faces becomes overwhelming. She may think she has everything covered but that hand of fate could quite easily swoop down, creating havoc for her and the dogs. Laura has endured many close calls and teetered on the precipice of disaster may a time. The longer she continues with her pet sitting enterprise, the more likely hood that total disaster will actually strike. Is she tempting fate?

​Laura Marchant is the Bridget Jones of the pet sitting world!

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter Cover

EXTRACT:

I started referring to my car as the Ark; a means for transporting the animals two by two. Needless to say numerous disasters have occurred within the confines of the Ark. The incident with ‘Jess the Weimeraner’ was one of the most worrying, yet hilarious at the same time;

On occasions, and not surprisingly, there has been the odd bit of drama played out within the confines of the Ark, that required an industrial cleaning operation. One such incident stands out above the rest; it involved Rocky, and Jess an unspayed young Weimaraner, another dog that I had inherited from Carol. During a phone call Carol informed me that although she was due to board Jess, she had found herself in a position where she had more dogs than she could manage- cue me. Consequently, I naively agreed to take Jess off her hands and that was without ever having met the dog before,  but at the time Carol was desperate and I felt obliged. The fact that Jess was unspayed was a concern to me especially as Rocky was still intact. Although Brad had said that he was going to get Rocky castrated, he had not actually got round to getting it done. Personally I think he found the whole notion off putting. However, Carol had been assured by the owner that the fact Jess was unspayed would not be a problem, as she was nowhere near her next season. A recipe for disaster if ever there was one!

Jess checked in. From the word go she was extremely hard work, all the negatives of bad dog behaviour rolled into one; strong, extremely boisterous, out of control and not responding to any commands. Brece was not in the least bit amused. Jess is the type of dog that would never pass her vetting process had she not slipped under the radar. It was regrettable that I had ever agreed to look after the crazy Weimaraner; I couldn’t help thinking that somehow, I had been stitched up like a kipper!

To set the scene it was a warm day, late 2011, unusually warm for the time of year. I had herded the dogs into the Ark ready for our morning walk. Brece jumped into her usual position of the front foot-well, then I opened the back door and Jess jumped in, rapidly followed by Rocky who seemed very keen to be in Jess’s company. After which, I got myself into the driving position. Before I had even put the keys into the ignition a fracas broke out behind me, a hell of a scuffle had erupted. Quickly turning around, I caught sight of Rocky trying to hump Jess in a most determined manner; utter disaster in the confines of the Ark!

Jess must have come into her season, or about to, which meant that the owner had either misled Carol or just got the timings wrong, and indeed timings can go awry. The thought of Jess’s condition made me feel queasy, especially when the recollection of her standing on top of my dining table like some sort of mountain goat, popped into my head, gross. The whining and wailing from Jess grew louder, she was clearly in distress. There was no way I could have them ‘locking’, the thought of a litter of mini Rocky’s on the planet did not bear thinking about. It certainly wasn’t going to be an easy job to separate the pair, a serious task lay ahead of me. Still sat in the driver’s seat I contemplated on how to resolve the situation.

I peered down at Brece in the front foot-well, hoping for some sort of inspiration. On this occasion, she failed to come up with the goods, but she did come up with something else. Looking up at me with her big doleful eyes she produced a massive rasping burp, then proceeded to vomit across the interior of the car. In true Jackson Pollock style, the sick splattered all over the passenger seat, the floor and inside the usual nooks and crevices of a car. To make matters worse the vomit was not your usual consistency. It was thick, greyish in colour and extremely pungent, as if she had hauled it up from her bowels.

This was all I needed, but I couldn’t allow myself to be side-tracked by Brece’s tummy upset, my priority at that moment was to get Rocky off Jess. Jumping out of the car I opened the back door and was relieved to see that the odd couple had not yet consummated their marriage, but it was not for the want of trying on Rocky’s part.

With the door ajar, Jess saw her opportunity to escape and charged out of the vehicle before I had chance to grab her. At breakneck speed she ran off down the centre of the road, obviously not too enamoured with Rocky as a potential suitor. Thank God there was no traffic about. In rapid succession I chased after her. Of course, there was no way I was going to catch up with her, she was running with the speed of a Greyhound. Then a spot of good luck came my way; Sean, my friendly postman happened to be walking along the pavement halfway down the road and ahead of Jess;

“Sean, catch that dog please, she’s okay she won’t hurt you.”

I was frantic by this time. Without considering the risk to himself, Sean gallantly charged into the middle of the road and managed to catch Jess by the collar. Definitely beyond the call of duty. My marvellous postman managed to keep hold of her until I reached him and relieved him of his extra duties.

Prior to being someone entrusted to look after people’s pets, I hadn’t given too much thought to the role of the postman. But now I look at Her Majesty’s servants in a different light. They have quite a lot on their plates; often having to run the gauntlet of being chased off properties by protective dogs, good in a crisis and always happy and affable when going about their duties, even in torrential rain. I now have a new-found respect for our friend the postman.’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Marchant was born in 1959 in the seaside resort of Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, England. Both her parents were born in the same town, so not exactly a family of intrepid travellers! As a child Laura and her siblings were fortunate enough to own shares in the families pets. Unbeknown to Laura at the time, her love for the animals formed the blueprint for a large part of her life. In 2011 she finally found her vocation, and in the comfort of her own home, set up a pet boarding business. For the next 7 years she shared her abode with a pack of dogs. A lot of this time was spent watching over the animals and observing their behaviour, which in turn inspired her to write her first novel ‘Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter’.

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Guest Posts

A Taste of His Own Medicine – Linda Fawke

My second guest today is Linda Fawke, author of A Taste of His Own Medicine. As part of the birthday blitz for this book, I have the honour of sharing a short story that Linda has written. Thank you so much Linda for sharing this with me! Thanks also to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the celebrations.

BLURB:

How long can the desire for revenge last?

Kate Shaw, a successful pharmacist, goes to a thirty-year reunion at her old university and uses the weekend to settle some old scores. Her main target is her ex-lover, Jonathan. She decides to scar him for life as he scarred her. Her bizarre plan works but he shocks her with his strange, unwanted reaction.

What is the unexpected link between Jonathan and Kate’s husband?

What is the significance of the ‘Love Bite’ photograph?

What hold does Jonathan have over Kate?

Revenge is never simple.

A darkly humorous story of love, lust, loss and vengeance.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

A Taste of Hiw Own Medicine Front cover

GUEST POST:

The Unexpected Disappearance of Arnold Harris

Linda Fawke

‘…so Dinky Dinosaur nursed his foot and decided he would never run away again.’

Arnold looked up at the faces around him and closed the book. The children clapped. Story-time at the library was fun. Or was it? He was tired of being the entertainer. Was he even that? Routine readings of his own books, written years ago. Once, he thought they were original, had a spark about them. His publisher said he had a good descriptive talent but either over-familiarity or simple truth made him doubt it now. An ageing children’s writer, no JK Rowling. His writing income was insufficient to live on so he did part-time jobs as a handy-man.

On the bus going home, he spotted a magazine that had slipped down beside the seat. A man’s magazine. Top shelf stuff he never bought. He slid it into his briefcase for later.

He wasn’t shocked. No, he thought, neither shocked nor embarrassed. Just amazed at what you could print these days. He remembered when stickers were put over nipples on magazine covers. Seems anything goes now. There were a couple of stories, too. Erotica, he supposed they were called, more respectable than porn. They outraged him. Not because of their content but because of their bad punctuation, poor style and clumsy descriptions.

‘I could do better than that!’

He spoke out loud to the empty room. Fired with a desire to write he hadn’t felt for years, he tapped away on his computer. Where his life was lacking in experience, his imagination stepped in. There’d been a few interesting events in his handy-man jobs. The audible goings-on in the adjacent room while he was putting up some shelves; the open bedroom door he walked past; the amorous effect a few glasses of wine can have even at three o’clock in the afternoon. Nothing was wasted.

He looked up a few suitable publications and sent off his story. To his surprise, one magazine accepted it. Paid well, too. And asked what else he had written.

He could hardly admit to Dinky Dinosaur.

But there was a problem. Arnold Harris did not sound like the author of erotica. He needed a nom de plume, an alter ego.

He became Frankie Dunmore. He held his head higher, walked with a brisker step, smiled more, had a glint in his eye. Wrote in every spare moment. He felt like Frankie, liked his new persona. All the copies of his children’s books went to a charity shop and he abandoned the library. His new income helped him move to a smarter flat where he took an interest in the widow next door. Some letters from the library for Mr Harris were forwarded to his new address. He wrote Not Known on the envelopes and returned them. The librarian would be puzzled.

There was one more thing to do. He discovered it was cheap and easy to change your name by deed poll. Arnold Harris had disappeared.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

dav

Linda Fawke is an arts person who studied science but always wanted to write. Now retired, she indulges this passion, writing fiction and non-fiction, even occasional poetry, preferably late at night. She has now written two novels, ‘A Taste of his own Medicine’ and its sequel, ‘A Prescription for Madness’ using her background in pharmacy as the setting of both. These are easy books to read, suitable for Book Club discussions. ‘ A Prescription for Madness’ is more serious than the first book, dealing with such issues as pregnancy in later life and Down’s Syndrome.

She has been a winner of the Daily Telegraph ‘Just Back’ travel-writing competition and has published in various magazines including ‘Mslexia’, ‘Litro’ online, ‘Scribble’, ‘The Oldie’, ‘Berkshire Life’ and ‘Living France’. She was a finalist in the ‘Hysteria’ short story competition.

Linda blogs at http://www.linimeant.wordpress.com where her ‘Random Writings’ include a range of topics from travel to ‘Things that pop into my head’.

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Guest Posts

Mine – Alison Knight

I would like to welcome Alison Knight to my blog today, with a guest post entitled, “Who’s Truth Is It Anyway?” Many thanks Alison for taking the time to write this post as part of the blog tour for Mine, and thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

“What’s mine, I keep.”

London, 1968.

Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.

Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.

Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?

Mine – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Mine Cover by Alison Knight with endorsement

GUEST POST:

Hello, I’m Alison Knight, author of Mine, a novel based on real events in London in the 1960s. The story charts my family over a year, showing how ordinary people made decisions that lead them into an extraordinary situation that changed our lives forever.

Writing Mine has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, not least because I soon realised that what I saw as the truth didn’t necessarily match with other people’s truths.

Different perspectives

I remember having a conversation with my sister about our late mother. It soon became clear that we each had completely different views of her. I got to a point in the conversation where I had to say: “I don’t recognize the woman you’re talking about. Mum wasn’t like that at all.”

My sister then said she thought the same when I’d been speaking! We argued back and forth for a bit but in the end had to accept that we each had very different experiences of our mother.

Reliable witnesses

As part of my research for Mine, I had to go to the City of London Coroner’s office to read some inquest files. This isn’t something anyone can do. You need special permission because the records are all kept locked until seventy-five years after a death. I wasn’t allowed to take copies of anything in the files, but I was allowed to make notes for my personal use. I therefore wrote down what the various witnesses said in their statements.

I was shocked when I saw one statement of an incident I witnessed. I don’t remember it happening like that at all! I started to wonder whether I had got it wrong, but the images in my head of those moments was crystal clear. I spoke to my university tutor, Dr Jonathan Neale, about this. He writes non-fiction and has decades of experience in interviewing witnesses. He assured me that children often had the clearest memories, especially of a traumatic event, while adults were prone to miss details because their minds are elsewhere and they can often change their memories to explain or justify why things happened as they did.

I also found the statements of two witnesses who had been standing side by side as they saw another incident. One reported shouting and screaming had attracted their attention and that a lot of other people were around them as well. The other said he heard banging as though furniture had fallen over – but no screams or shouts – and that there was no one else in the hallway where he and the other witness stood.

Talking to the Coroner’s Officer about these conflicting statements, he said that it was quite normal for several witnesses of the same event to give completely different accounts of what happened.

Car Crash

Think about it. Imagine a group of people are walking down a street and suddenly there’s a squeal of brakes and a crash. They all look in the direction of the noise. One might be worrying that he’s late for work; another might be distracted by their child; maybe someone has toothache and is distracted by the pain; another is checking their phone. These people all witness the same thing, but because of their distractions they register different images in their minds. Some might notice colours, others smells, some might be frightened, others rush to help. It might trigger memories of a similar incident for someone. All of these things will have an effect on what and how they remember what happened.

It’s then the job of the accident investigation team to go through their statements and try to piece together what really happened.

My Dilemma

In the light of these conflicting statements and my sister’s different opinion of our mother, I had to wonder whether I could actually write about what happened with any kind of authority. My impressions of what happened might well be very different from those of the rest of my extended family. But the people who were there are now all gone. I’m the only person left to tell this story. If I didn’t write it down, it would be lost forever.

I really wanted to write it. It was important to me that my children and grandchildren had the opportunity to get to know their relatives who are no longer here, to understand what motivated them, to see that extraordinary things happen to ordinary people.

My Truth

In the end, I decided to write the story as fiction. I knew a lot of what happened – as I mentioned earlier, I witnessed some of it. But there were huge gaps, questions I couldn’t get the answers to because the people who knew the truth are no longer around to tell it. So, although the story is based on real events, I can’t claim to know the absolute truth of it. I can tell you my truth – what I saw and heard and felt – but I can only speculate on everything else.

The aim of Mine isn’t to tell you exactly what happened to my family in the late 1960s. Rather, it is to show you the people that I knew, their lives, their dreams, their problems. It is my imagining of what might have happened, mixed in with what I know definitely did happen. It’s written with a great deal of love. I hope I’ve done them justice.

Mine

Kit de Waal, the award-winning author of My Name is Leon, says the following about Mine

“A heart breaking tale of love and loss told by a great story-teller. Alison takes you into the heart of the tragedy with compassion, wit and even humour. A beautiful story.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mine - Alison Knight head shot

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Mine is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

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Book Review

The Smallest Man – Frances Quinn

I am reviewing a fantastic historical fiction book today, as I join the blog tour for The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn. Many thanks to Frances and Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour.

BLURB:

The smallest man. The biggest heart. The mightiest story. A compelling story, perfect for fans of The Doll Factory and The Familiars.

Nat Davy longs to grow tall and strong and be like other boys, but at the age of ten, he’s confronted with the truth; he’s different, and the day when the stares and whispers stop is never going to come.

Narrowly escaping life in a freal show, he’s plucked from his family and presented as a gift to the new young queen of England – a human pet to add to her menagerie of dogs and monkeys. But when Nat realises she’s as lost and lonely as he is, the two misfits begin an unlikely friendship – one that takes him on an unforgettable journey, as England slides into the civil war that will tear it apart and ultimately lead the people to kill their king.

Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England forever, The Smallest Man is narrated by an irrepressible hero with his own unique perspective on life. His story is about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Bookshop.org

The Smallest Man Cover

REVIEW:

I have been lucky enough this year to read a number of books that I have found it hard to find the words to do justice to just how much I loved them. The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn is one such book.

It is impossible not to fall totally and utterly in love with Nat. The sadness that pervades his live, both because of  his stature and the fact that he was unwillingly separated from his family is heart-breaking. Although he often struggles with both of these facts, he is a wonderfully positive character who refuses to let his situation stop him from doing anything that he sets his mind to.

The Smallest Man is set during a particularly turbulent period of history, but one that I knew few of the details about. Reading this book has sparked my interest, especially in the young queen. Based in part on the life of Jeffrey Hudson, Queen Henrietta Maria’s dwarf, The Smallest Man is a fascinating tale, and I was interested to read which parts of the story actually happened to Jeffrey and which were entirely fictional. 

I would thoroughly recommend this book, not just to fans of historical fiction but to anyone who loves character driven books – Nat Davy is a man you just won’t be able to resist.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Frances Quinn Author picFrances Quinn read English at King’s College, Cambridge, and is a journalist and copywriter. She has written for magazines including Prima, Good Housekeeping, She, Woman’s Weekly, and Ideal Home. She lives in Brighton with her husband and two Tonkinese cats. The Smallest Man is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter @franquinn.

Don’t forget to visit the other blogs joining the tour for more on this fascinating book.

Smallest Man BT Poster

Book Review

Wicked Writing Skills – Lexi Rees

You might remember that a little over a year ago, I reviewed Creative Writing Skills by Lexi Rees. Well, Lexi is back with another writing book for kids, Wicked Writing Skills, and I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for this as well. Many thanks to Lexi for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the tour.

BLURB:

Writing is like a spell. It can melt hearts and fry brains, twisting and turning as the magic works.

Want the world to fall at your feet, destroyed by the might of your pen?

– Sharpen your powers of persuasion

– Sky-rocket your debating skills

– Add ooomph to your reports

– And lots more!

Packed with top tips, this awesome workbook has everything you need to know to become a WICKED WRITER.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Wicked Writing Front Cover 15.09.20

REVIEW:

Following on from Lexi Rees’ previous writing book, Creative Writing Skills, Wicked Writing Skills moves the focus from fiction to non-fiction writing. Filled with tips and exercises in which to try these tips out, Lexi Rees’ enthusiasm for encouraging children to explore and develop their writing skills shines through on every page.

Covering many types of non-fiction writing, from constructing a persuasive letter of complaint, to publishing a newspaper, the exercises in Wicked Writing Skills can’t fail to inspire the young writer. The exercises are imaginative and based around subjects that will appeal to children, such as how to catch a dragon, and the diary of a naughty puppy.

Although this is a book about writing, so many of the skills being taught will be invaluable to children in the development of their ability to take part in debate and persuasive conversation as they grow up.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lorraine-16Lexi Rees was born in Scotland but now lives down south. She writes action-packed adventures brim full of witch-doctors, fortune-tellers, warriors and smugglers, combining elemental magic with hints of dystopia. She also writes fun activity books for children.

Her fantasy adventure, Eternal Seas, was awarded a “loved by” badge from LoveReading4Kids. The sequel, Wild Sky, is available now.

She’s passionate about developing a love of reading and writing in children and, as well as her Creative Writing Skills workbook, she has an active programme of school visits and other events, is a Book PenPal for three primary schools, and runs a free online #kidsclub and newsletter which includes book recommendations and creative writing activities.

In her spare time, she’s a keen crafter and spends a considerable amount of time trying not to fall off horses or boats.

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Book Review

The Chalet – Catherine Cooper

Today, I am joining the blog tour for The Chalet by Catherine Cooper. Many thanks to Catherine, and to Harper Collins, for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

BLURB:

Four friends. One luxury getaway. The perfect murder.

“I was gripped from start to finish” Cass Green

French Alps, 1998

Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.

20 Years Later

Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret.

Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.

Someone knows what really happened that day.

And somebody will pay.

An exciting new debut for anyone who loves Ruth Ware, Lucy Foley, and C.L. Taylor

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

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The Chalet Cover Image

REVIEW:

Told from multiple points of view, and spanning the years from a skiing accident in 1998 through to the present day, The Chalet is a carefully constructed thriller that put me in mind of Lucy Foley’s The Hunting Party.

In the mismatched gathering of people staying at the chalet of the title in 2020, Catherine Cooper creates a well constructed cast of characters, each with something to hide, and with a different reason for wanting to be at the ski resort. Whilst I found more than one character thoroughly unlikeable, their presence served to increase the tension throughout the book, whereas the characters I found myself liking added a warmth to the story that is sometimes missing from books of this nature.

I sped through this book, unable to put it down in my eagerness to tie all the stories together, and uncover who was connected to the events of 1998 and how. Before you start reading this book, make sure you have plenty of time for a good long reading session, because I don’t think you will be able to stop reading once you start.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Catherine Cooper Author PicCatherine Cooper is a freelance journalist writing for many national newspapers and magazines, specialising in travel. Most recently she has written several ski pieces for the Guardian and is currently compiling a 50 best holidays round up for the Telegraph. She also makes regular appearances as a talking head on daytime TV. She lives in France with her husband and two teenage children, and is a keen skier.

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Guest Posts

Just A Girl – Becky Monson

I am delighted to be welcoming Becky Monson to my blog, as part of the blog tour for her new novel, Just a Girl. Many thanks to Becky for taking the time to write a guest post, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

BLURB:

What happens when the right girl and the right guy meet at the wrong time?

One thing that can be said about Quinn Pearson is that she has a knack for doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Like, the worst time ever. Take her job for instance. One little slip of the tongue using the mother of all swear words while reporting the news, and suddenly she finds herself with over 18 million views on YouTube and her employment in jeopardy. If that wasn’t bad enough, when she meets the man of her dreams, she nearly chokes to death on a powdered sugar donut.

Thankfully for Quinn, the dashing Brit, Henry, finds her near death experience quite charming. But just when Quinn thinks her luck is going to change, she finds out her timing is all wrong again. Henry is off limits. Or is he? Maybe it’s time for Quinn to quit settling for what life hands her. Perhaps it’s time for her to become more than just a girl.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

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JAG Final - for Amazon

GUEST POST:

Now I’ll hand you over to Becky to tell you the story behind Just a Girl.

Story ideas come to me in strange ways. It almost always happens when I don’t have pen and paper or a phone with me to write down some notes, like while I’m in the shower. Actually, that’s where most of my ideas come to me. There’s probably something to that—like it’s the only time during the entire day where I can really be by myself and have no other distractions … but that’s a whole other post.

I have to write ideas down, though, because gone are the days that I can just tell myself I’ll remember that and I will actually remember it. In fact, I sometimes still tell myself that, and then by the time I’ve dried off and grabbed my phone or a pen and paper, the story is gone. Poof. Back into the atmosphere. This has happened too many times to count.

For Just a Girl, Quinn and her story came to me fairly quickly … in the shower, of course. I knew she was going to be a news reporter (which also played into the first story in the series—Just a Name); I knew she was going to have a love interest who was British (and who also would look like Henry Cavill, because duh); and I also knew she’d have some body image issues.

My stories don’t always start out how they end up, and this book was no exception. In the beginning, Henry (yes, I even named him Henry) was going to be a love interest Quinn met in college. They had a whirlwind romance, but then he ended up ghosting her when he went back to London, only to return years later, this time with a child in tow (hence the ghosting). But the story wasn’t sticking with me. Usually when I have a story I know I want to write, I get excited about it, butterflies in my stomach and all that. But this storyline wasn’t doing any of that for me.

So I went back to the beginning and changed it. Henry was no longer going to be someone she knew before, but a new person in her life. He also didn’t have a child. But he was still going to look like Henry Cavill, because duh. Once I changed it, the story just clicked into place. My outlining went smoothly. The butterflies were back. 

What always stayed the same was Quinn and her journey within herself. I have a special place in my heart for Quinn. I’d say I “get” her the most of the characters I’ve written, having had some of the same issues myself. 

I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did while writing it. I also hope you picture Henry as Henry Cavill, because duh. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Just A Girl AuthorBy day, Becky Monson is a mother to three young children, and a wife. By night, she escapes with reading books and writing. An award-winning author, Becky uses humor and true-life experiences to bring her characters to life. She loves all things chick-lit (movies, books, etc.), and wishes she had a British accent. She has recently given up Diet Coke for the fiftieth time and is hopeful this time will last… but it probably won’t.

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Book Review

The Girl And The Goddess – Nikita Gill

Today I am reviewing a book that is quite possibly the best book I have read this year, the beautiful The Girl and the Goddess by Nikita Gill. Many thanks to Nikita, and Ebury, for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour.

BLURB:

A mesmerising poetic tale following one girl’s wild journey of strength, beauty and self-discovery, told with lyrical wonder and spiritual revelation by one of the UK’s most popular poets. With over 558k followers on Instagram, 125k likes on Facebook and 36k followers on Twitter, Nikita’s fans include Cara Delevingne, Alanis Morisette, Jameela Jamil and Kristen Bell.

Let her be a little less human, a little more divine

Giver her heart armour so it doesn’t break as easily as mine.

Meet Paro. A girl with a strong will, a full heart and much to learn. Born into a family reeling from the ruptures of Partition, follow her as she crosses the precarious lines between childhood, teenage discovery and realising her adult self all while navigating different cultures, religions and identities.

Returning to her core themes of feminism, healing and mythology in her most powerful and personal work yet, Nikita’s masterful poetry, along with her beautiful hand-drawn illustrations, taps into the rich well of Hindu mythology, conjuring up jasmine scented voices and ancestral smiles as Paro confronts fear, desire and the very darkest parts of herself in the search for meaning and empowerment.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

The Girl and the Goddess Cover

REVIEW:

I have started this review many times before scrapping every word and starting again – after all, what could I possibly say that would do this exquisite book justice and sufficiently capture the way that it made me feel? When a book reduces you to tears before the end of the third page, you know you are about to read something special. “A Secret From Me Too You” reached out and touched my soul in a way few things do and is the poem I never knew I needed. In actual fact, the same can be said about the whole book. Nikita Gill’s writing left me feeling strong, fierce, empowered – all emotions that I am not used to feeling – and I thank her for that.

Although this book covers difficult topics, and Paro sees and experiences things that no human should, there is a sense of peace to the writing. Even as Paro grows and begins to understand the world more, and a feeling of sadness enters the writing, there remains a beauty in the way her mother teaches her, and in how Paro challenges herself and others to do better, to BE better.

I had a limited familiarity with the goddesses who visit Paro throughout the book, and loved the beautiful folkloric feel to their stories. As they shared them with Paro, I could easily imagine them being handed down orally from generation to generation. The gorgeous illustrations that accompany these tales add so much to the beauty of the stories and enhanced my understanding.

Even through painful situations, Nikita’s writing is so beautiful that it soothes and calms, and I know this is a book that I will return to when I am struggling.

I feel a bit sorry for the next book that I pick up to read, because The Girl and the Goddess is an incredibly tough act to follow.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nikita Gill Author PicNikita Gill is a British-Indian writer and artist living in the south of England. With a huge online following, her words have captivated hearts and minds all over the world. Nikita is an ambassador for National Poetry Day and is a regular speaker at literary events. Her previous works include Fierce Farytales and Great Goddesses. The Girl and the Goddess is her first novel.

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Meet the Author

K.J.McGillick

I am joining the blog tour for Spider Hunting by K.J. McGillick today, and am thrilled to be welcome K.J. herself to my blog. Thank you so much K.J. for taking the time to talk to me, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour. Let’s start with the interview, before I tell you about the latest book.

Where does the inspiration for your characters come from? In particular, was there a specific source of inspiration for Mary from your Path of Deception and Betrayal trilogy and the Conspiracy of Betrayal series?

I can honestly say that I am one of those authors who truly make it up as I go along. That includes my characters. Mary was never a thought when I started and yet one day as my fingers found the keys there, she was, born right there. Mary is indeed my favorite character and I enjoyed making her a central piece of my first two series. And, because I missed her so much in the last series, she made a cameo appearance in Spider Hunting.  

The plots of your books are always many layered, weaving in lots of different elements. How do you develop your plots to integrate these?

I would love to tell you that I, like Baldacci and Brown, outline to death. In reality, all I do is sketch out 7 plot points on a sheet of paper using the Plot Dot method and away I go. In this last book Spider Hunting, it did prove a problem. Every time I hit 40,000 words, I hit a brick wall, and this happed separately three times. I did something I had not done before, I put the book away for a month. Once my head was clear, I had a What If session with a friend and found the path to finish it had cleared.

I understand that you have a love of travel. What has been your favourite place that you have visited and is there anywhere you would love to visit that you haven’t been yet?

Every place I travel to make me a better person because I come to understand new cultures. The UK is by far flat out my favourite country. I love the history, pride of country and the unwritten rules of civility. I promise you, although I have visited about 15 times, I will never tire of London. The one place I wanted to visit, but because of the political discord right now just won’t, is Istanbul. I have also recently found my great- grandmother was from Malta and that appears to be an interesting place, so it is now on my bucket list. When the pandemic is under control I will be the first to sign up for a Rick Steves Best of Europe tour (my 4th) to check in on my favourite places and catch the Eurostar for a stop in London at the end. 

What was one of the most surprising things you have learnt over the course of your writing career?

I have only been writing for three years so it is relatively a short time. However, one thing that has surprised me is that there is no glass ceiling to learning. There is no right and wrong. If you have an idea, run with it, someone will surely find it entertaining.

Who/what are your favourite authors/books to read when you aren’t writing?

I love David Baldacci, Lee Child, and Melinda Leigh for thrillers. On the romance side, you can’t beat Kristen Ashley.

Can you tell me anything about what you are currently working on or will be working on next, or is it all top secret?

I am working on a story where one day a husband disappears leaving his wife to struggle with the financial mess he created personally and professionally. But the question is, did he disappear voluntarily or was it foul play.

Thanks so much K.J. for taking the time to talk to me. Now, on to the all important book details.

SPIDER HUNTING

BLURB:

It’s never what it seems.

A murder of a high-profile law partner on a Manhattan street should have made the front page of the news. And yet it didn’t. Drew Bradley’s murder was treated as just another senseless crime and relegated to page four of the evening edition. But what if the press had been privy to the fact that the murder was actually an assassination?

As the partners at Lannister and Stewart scramble to fill the vacuum left by Drew Bradley’s sudden death, Asia Blythe, a rising star in the firm is offered his coveted position. But this golden opportunity that brings with it power, prestige, and unlimited financial rewards demands adherence to a code. A code of allegiance to the firm with no exceptions. Catapulted into the world of genetically modified designer babies and state-sponsored espionage, is Asia prepared to deal with the intrigues of a world that will threaten her life and shatter her illusions?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Spider - head shotK.J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right? A Registered Nurse, a lawyer now author.

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing, she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing

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Extracts

And Then She Shines: A Collection of Novelettes – Helen Libby

Today I am joining the blog tour for And Then She Shines: A Collection of Novelettes by Helen Libby. Many thanks Helen for allowing me to share an extract from one of these novelettes, Finding Ella. Thanks also to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

BLURB:

Five women, five different issues, five ‘feel-good’ reads.

And Then She Shines brings together brings together four previously published novelettes, along with Helen Libby’s new story, Cassie’s Choice.

Ruby’s Secret

Can you keep a secret? All the clothes Ruby’s bought may have filled her wardrobe, but they haven’t helped her to feel fulfilled. She’s been holding back on her dream of travelling for years. And now Ruby’s in debt. A LOT of debt. She’s so ashamed. She doesn’t want anyone to know, not even her boyfriend, David. He’s so careful with money – he wouldn’t understand. Ruby’s trying to change. She wants financial stability AND a good relationship. Will she be able to resolve her debt before David discovers her secret?

Love, Anna
Stay or go? Anna’s a romantic. She loves musical theatre, but her life is a far cry from her favourite shows. When her boyfriend Joe tells her he doesn’t love her anymore, she doesn’t know what to do. Anna just wants to be loved, but Joe suffers from depression, and they’ve both been unhappy for a long time. A last minute trip to Paris gives Anna some time to reflect, and shows her whether life can ever really be like a musical.

Laura’s Embrace
“People who love me leave me.” Laura makes a New Year’s resolution – to find her birth mother. She needs answers. What she doesn’t need is a relationship, so when things start getting serious between her and Rob, she does her best to hold back. Only Rob won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and Laura is torn. Will Laura find her birth mother? And will love find a way?

Finding Ella
He knows everything about her. The only thing she knows about him is that he’s her husband. Can she fall in love with him for a second time? Ella’s lost her memory – the last ten years of her life. Her friends and family want her to slot back into place, only it’s not that easy. Will Ella’s memory return? Does she need to remember her husband in order to love him again? Join Ella on her journey of self-discovery.

Cassie’s Choice
“Something is missing from my life, and I can’t pinpoint what it is. Could it be a baby? Maybe.”

What if you think you want a child, but your partner doesn’t? It’s time for Cassie to make her mind up. Does she want a baby, or not? If she does, is she willing to leave her beloved husband, Alex, in order to start again? Can you miss something you’ve never had? Does Cassie need a baby in order to feel fulfilled? So many questions, and she’s running out of time.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

And Then She Shines 3

EXTRACT:

 This extract is taken from the first chapter of Finding Ella.

I remember my husband, I remember my husband, I remember my husband. It’s my daily mantra, because as each day passes and I still don’t remember Luke, hope dims a little more. I rub my head as if to coax out ten years’ worth of missing memories. I’m scared I’m stuck this way, in my head a twenty-four-year-old administrator with a boyfriend called Oliver; to the world a thirty-four-year-old writer with a husband called Luke. My doctor says my memory could return at any moment, but Luke’s face each morning when he realises I still don’t remember him makes me feel like a failure.

I scrutinise myself again in the hand-held mirror a nurse gave me. Wavy shoulder-length hair, which starts off brunette and gradually changes to blonde at the ends. Is this some trend?

I have shadows under my eyes which make them look the colour of a tarnished penny, when they’re usually brighter than that. Still the same chickenpox scar on my jawline, and a newly acquired cut on my forehead.

It’s only after seeing my reflection that I’ve accepted what everyone is telling me, that it’s 2018. It’s been five days since I hit my head after tripping on some stairs in a multistorey car park (of which I remember precisely nothing), and it’s been decided that I’m now fit to go home, which quite frankly scares the shit out of me. Okay, so the cuts and bruises are healing, but mentally – emotionally – I’m not ready.

I’m going to have to live with a man who I don’t know. No one else seems to think there’s anything wrong with this, not Luke, nor my mum, not the neurologist, nor the nurse I’ve got quite friendly with. They all say going home is a good thing, whilst the only thing I want to do is see Olly.

I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t sitting by my bedside when I first woke up. Mum later told me that we broke up almost ten years ago, and to be honest I wasn’t all that surprised. We were more like roommates towards the end. I’d love to see him again – another familiar face – but I daren’t tell anyone that. I don’t think it would go down very well.

So go “home” I must and the only way I can get through it is by pretending I’m playing a part. Luke’s on his way to pick me up. Mum, Tom (Luke’s friend), and Megan (my best friend, apparently) will be waiting at the house. It doesn’t matter that Mum’s the only one I remember, it will delay the moment I have to be on my own with Luke.

Luke seems nice enough – he’s been very patient, but I feel so awkward with him. What are we going to talk about? The weather? Politics? Popular culture? Just like we have the past few days, but which freaked me out because so much has changed. In my 2008 world Gordon Brown is Prime Minister, not Theresa May; Prince Harry has had to end his stint in Afghanistan early and isn’t married to an actress; Donald Trump is still a businessman rather than the US President (how did that happen?). And as for Brexit – what?

Luke brought in some photographs, but I didn’t want to look at them; it was too weird. ‘That’s not me,’ I kept wanting to say when I saw myself in the clichéd white meringue wedding dress. I did take some comfort from the fact that I – we – looked happy in those photos.

I remember my husband, I remember my husband, I remember my husband. I will remember my husband, won’t I?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

And Then She Shines AuthorOriginally from North Wales, Helen currently lives in Shropshire with her husband and their dog. Helen worked for many years in the public sector and has an administrative background. She writes both fiction and non-fiction. As well as being an indie author, Helen is a self-publishing consultant, offering editorial, self-publishing, and writing services. To find out more, please go to: http://www.helen-edwards.co.uk

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