extract

#Prologue Dying Truth by Angela Marsons #DyingTruth @WriteAngie @bookouture #KimStone

bookouturepro

How exciting is this?!!! I know that many of you will be fans of Angela Marsons DI Kim Stone series and if you aren’t then why not?!!! So you will be as excited as I am about this prologue for the new Kim Stone book, Dying Truth, that is out on 18th May 2018.

If you have yet to discover DI Kim Stone then I suggest that you start at the beginning with the amazing Silent Scream. Dying Truth is the eighths book in the series but each one is so good.

So I won’t keep you waiting any longer, enjoy!!

Blurb:

dyingtruthHow far would you go to protect your darkest secrets?

When teenager Sadie Winter jumps from the roof of her school, her death is ruled as suicide – a final devastating act from a troubled girl. But then the broken body of a young boy is discovered at the same school and it’s clear to Detective Kim Stone that these deaths are not tragic accidents.

As Kim and her team begin to unravel a dark web of secrets, one of the teachers could hold the key to the truth. Yet just as she is about to break her silence, she is found dead.

With more children’s lives at risk, Kim has to consider the unthinkable – whether a fellow pupil could be responsible for the murders. Investigating the psychology of children that kill brings the detective into contact with her former adversary, Dr Alex Thorne – the sociopath who has made it her life’s work to destroy Kim.

Desperate to catch the killer, Kim finds a link between the recent murders and an initiation prank that happened at the school decades earlier. But saving these innocent lives comes at a cost – and one of Kim’s own might pay the ultimate price.

The utterly addictive new crime thriller from the Number One bestselling author – you will be gripped until the final shocking twist.

Prologue of Dying Truth by Angela Marsons:

Saturday 7.52 p.m.

Kim knew that her left leg was broken.

She pulled herself along the path on her hands as the stone bit into her palms, shards of gravel embedding beneath her fingernails.

A cry escaped her lips as her ankle turned and pain shot around her body.

Sweat beads were forming on her forehead as the agony intensified.

Finally, she saw the light from the building as three familiar shapes hurtled out of the doorway.

All three of them headed towards the bell tower.

‘Nooo…’ she cried, as loudly as she could.

No one turned.

Don’t go up there, she willed silently, trying to pull herself towards them.

‘Stop,’ she shouted out as they entered the metal doorway at the base of the tower.

Kim tried to still the panic as they disappeared from view.

‘Damn it,’ she screamed with frustration, unable to reach them in time.

She gathered all her strength and pushed herself up to a standing position, trying to drag her broken leg behind her as though it didn’t exist.

Two steps forward and the pain radiated through her body like a tidal wave and brought her back down to the ground. She gagged as the nausea rose from her stomach and her head began to swim.

She shouted again but the figures had disappeared from view and were now in the belly of the tower, behind solid brick, mounting the stone steps to the top.

‘Please, someone help,’ she screamed, but there was no one to hear. She was a good eighty metres away from the school, and she had never felt so helpless in her life.

She glanced at her wrist and saw that it was three minutes to eight.

The bell was due to be rung bang on the hour.

The fear started in the pit of her stomach and grew like a cloud to fill her entire body.

She struggled forward another agonising step, dragging her useless leg behind her.

Torchlight illuminated the top of the tower.

Damn it, they were already there.

‘Stop,’ she cried again, praying that one of them would hear her even though she knew her voice wouldn’t carry that distance.

The shafts of light moved furtively around the tower balcony ninety feet up in the air.

She saw a fourth figure amongst the three that were familiar to her.

The watch on her wrist vibrated the top of the hour. The bell didn’t ring.

Please God, let them get down.

Her prayer was cut off as she heard a loud scream.

Two people were hanging from the bell rope, swinging back and forth, in and out of the torchlight that darted around the small space.

Kim squinted, trying to identify the two silhouettes, but they were too far away.

She tried to regulate her breathing in order to shout again, even though she knew no kind of warning would help them now.

Her worst fears had been realised.

‘Please, please…’ Kim whispered as she saw the bell rope swing back and forth once more.

One figure was snatched from the bell rope as the second continued to swing.

‘No,’ Kim screamed, trying to carry herself forward towards them.

The fear inside had turned ice cold, freezing her solid.

For a few seconds time stood still. The saliva in her mouth had gone leaving her unable to speak or shout.

Kim felt the ache that started in her heart when the remaining figure and the swinging bell rope disappeared from view.

Her ears suddenly filled with a blood-curdling, tortured scream.

But no one else was around.

The scream came from her.

Dying Truth by Angela Marsons is out on 18th May 2018 and is available to pre-order now from here.

blog tours, extract, giveaway

#BlogTour #Extract #Giveaway The Zero and the One by Ryan Ruby. @legend_press #win #book #competition

zeroandtheone

I’ve got an extract of The Zero and the One by Ryan Ruby and published by Legend Press today and a giveaway of the book too! How very exciting.

Extract:

REPETITION.—

If something happens once, it may as well have never happened at all. Unfortunately,
nothing ever happens only once. Everything is repeated, even nothing.
A British Airways jet, high above the coast of New England. The captain has turned off the fasten seatbelt sign, but mine remains strapped tightly across my waist. My fingers clutch the armrests, knuckles white. The air hostess evens her trolley with our row and bestows a sympathetic elevation of her eyebrows on me as she clears minibottles, plastic cups, crumpled napkins off my tray table. The other passengers regard me with caution. When I stumbled back from the toilet, I found that the young mother in my row had exchanged places with her tow-headed, round-faced toddler, who now stares obliviously at the white fields outside the window, in order to provide him with a buffer zone in case I were to do something erratic. Perhaps I’d been mumbling to myself again: a dangerous perhaps.

I tried to apologise to her, to explain that I rarely drink so much, it’s only on planes that… but no luck. She doesn’t speak English.

It’s true, flying terrifies me. I can count the number of times I’ve done it on one hand. Twice with my parents. Once with school. Most recently, to Berlin with Zach during the
Easter holiday. None of which has remotely prepared me to endure this seven-hour trans-Atlantic torture. Nothing —not a book or an inflight movie or even three minibottles of whisky — helps me to relax. The least bit of turbulence,
every unexpected dip in altitude, signals The Beginning of a Crash.

On the flight to Berlin, Zach noticed my anxiety and argued that this was precisely what was so interesting about air travel. It was to be regarded, he said, as an exercise in amor fati. As soon as you stepped through the doors, you were forced to resign yourself to the possibility that your conveyance will turn into your coffin. Your fate was no longer in your hands, no longer under your control. In fact life was always like this, but only in special circumstances were we made aware of it. If to philosophize was to prepare for death he could think of no better place to practice philosophy than on an airplane.

His words were no comfort to me then. They’re even less of one now. The last thing I want to think about are preparations for death. And coffins. How does one transport
a body across the ocean? On a ship? Down in the hold with the rest of the luggage? Maybe on every flight there’s a coffin going somewhere. At this very moment my t shirts and toiletries could be nestling up with the dead.

When it is time, the air hostess helps me firmly lock my tray table and return my seat to its upright position. We’re beginning our final descent into New York, she explains.
No Miss, I am tempted to reply. Not our final descent.

The customs officer is a candle stub of a man with a damp, fleshy face that seems to have melted from the dark hairline of his crew cut into the wide, unbuttoned collar of his uniform. He flips through every page of my mostly blank passport, looks from me to my photo and back again. The photo, I remember, was taken at a booth in the Galleries, three or four years ago, in the thick of my rather dubious battle with puberty, right after one of those visits to the hairdresser, which, because I no longer live with my parents, I am no  longer obliged to make. I neutralise my expression and remove my glasses, as I had been instructed to do then, but it is only when my left eye, which has astigmatism, wanders toward my nose that the resemblance finally becomes clear to him. He asks me to confirm the information I had written on my declaration form.
Student. One week. 232 West 113th Street.
Business or pleasure?
Funeral.
The stamp falls with a dull, bureaucratic thump: Welcome to the United States.

I know what New York looks like from the establishing shots of countless films and television shows. But there the city is only as large as the screen you watch it on. A safe size. Contained. Manageable. Odourless. Two-dimensional. With clearly marked exit signs, if you’re watching at the cinema. With a volume dial and an off button, if you’re watching from the comfort of your living room.

These taxi windows offer no such protection. On the motorway, my driver slices through traffic, steering with one hand on the indicator and the other on the horn. When a removal van tries to pass us, he closes the distance at the last moment. The driver leans out the window of the van, his face
red, spit flying from his mouth as he tries to shout over the siren of the ambulance behind us. Not one to allow an insult to go unanswered, my driver rolls down the passenger-side window, letting in the foul breath of late afternoon. I probably
shouldn’t have pushed my luck by getting off the plane.

Can you believe this shit! he bellows a few minutes later. He’s been trying to engage me in conversation since he first pulled me from the middle of the taxi queue at the airport, not sensing from my mumbled one-word answers that I’d prefer to be left alone. Our eyes meet in the rearview mirror, which is wrapped in the black beads of a rosary; the silver crucifix dangling from the end bobs and sways as he speeds round a double-parked car. Can I believe what, then?

What this world is coming to! It’s been all over the radio this week. This brawd in Texas drowned her five kids in the tub.

I sigh with resignation and ask why a person would do such a thing.

Because she’s crazy, that’s why! Post-pardon depression or some shit. Said God told her to do it. God of all people! Now you tell me, boss — would God ever tell somebody to kill their own child?

If I’m not mistaken, I say, clearing my throat, God ordered Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. And the Father himself offered up his only begotten son to —

What? What was that you said? he yells, although he’s heard me perfectly well. The taxi screeches to a halt. This is your stop, buddy.

At the airport, I changed all the money I’ll have to live on for the week. It was the first time I’d ever held dollars in my hand. Green-and-black pieces of paper, no nonsense
notes, dour expressions on the portraits of men called Grant, Jackson, Hamilton — presidents presumably. I take a Grant and a Hamilton from my wallet and press them through the square opening in the plastic screen that separates me from
the driver. Plus tip, buddy, he says. I hand him another ten dollars.

He remains seated as I take my luggage out of the boot. As soon as he hears the door shut, he speeds off again, leaving me, I soon realise, far from the address I’d given him. Not an hour in New York and already I’ve been ripped off.

My hostel is located opposite a primary school in the middle of a short, derelict street in Harlem. I’d spent most of my savings on the flight and this one was the cheapest I could find at short notice. On my walk here, three different beggars asked for money in tones ranging from supplicant to menacing. I dropped the two quid I happened to have in my pocket,  shrapnel from the carton of cigarettes I bought at the dutyfree shop, into the outstretched cup of the one I passed as I turned onto 113th Street. I moved on, head down, hoping he wouldn’t notice until I was well out of shouting range.

I ring the doorbell. Open the door. Approach the large desk in the lobby and say, My name is Owen Whiting, I have a reservation. At the other end of the room, an elderly couple is sitting on an exhausted brown couch, watching a game show on the telly. Another guest is typing an email at the ancient computer in the corner. Next to him, there is a plastic display for tourist brochures and pamphlets and a table whose dusty surface supports a metallic coffee dispenser, a stack of paper cups, and a basket filled with pink sachets of sugar, plastic stirrers, and jigger pots of milk and cream. Framed photographs of the Manhattan skyline have been hung unevenly and seemingly at random on the beige walls.

My room, up three flights of stairs, proves to be equally spartan. A pair of bunk beds. A bank of lockers for valuables. A grated window that looks out onto a fire escape and down into a dark alley, which is separated from the road by a barbed wire fence. The ceiling fan spins slowly, straining to circulate a dainty handkerchief of tepid air on the slab of dusk that has also taken up residence here.

My bed must be the one on the top left — at least that’s the only one that’s been made. I strip down to my underwear, stuff my clothes into my rucksack, and place it into the locker with the key still in the hole. Book in hand, I climb up to my berth and lie down on the thin pillow and starchy sheets. The reading lamp clipped to the metal bedpost splutters a few flashes of yellow light before it shines a paltry neon cone on the cover of Zach’s copy of The Zero and the One.

On the black background, the white circle of the titular Zero intersects the white circle of the titular One, forming an eye-shaped zone the jacket designer coloured red. Beneath the title, also in red, the name of the author: Hans Abendroth.

From the earliest days of our friendship, Zach and I sought out philosophers whose names would never have appeared on the reading lists we received before the beginning of each term. To our tutors, such thinkers did not merit serious consideration. Our tutors were training us to weigh evidence, parse logic, and refute counter-examples; they encouraged us to put more stock in the rule than the exception and to put our trust in modest truths that could be easily verified and plainly expressed. Whereas the philosophers who interested us were the ones who would step right to the edge of the abyss — and jump to conclusions; the ones who wagered their sanity when they spun the wheel of thought; the ones, in short, who wrote in blood. In counter-intuitiveness we saw profundity and in obfuscation, poetry. With wide eyes, we plucked paperback after paperback from the shelves at Reservoir, the used bookshop opposite the entrance to Christ Church Meadow, our own personal Nag Hammadi, hunting for insights into the
hermetic nature of the universe and ourselves.

Zach had seen an aphorism from The Zero and the One cited in Lacan’s seminar on Poe, a reappraisal of which had appeared in Theory, a London-based journal of continental philosophy whose back issues Reservoir kept in stock. Subtitled “an essay in speculative arithmetic,” The Zero and the One (Null und Eins in the original German) is Abendroth’s only book to have been translated into English. For a whole month we searched every bookshop we passed and came up empty-handed — not a negligible failure in a city that must be one of the world’s largest markets for used and rare books. Even Dr. Inwit had never heard of Abendroth. The Bodleian had two copies, naturally, but the one that was permitted to circulate was on loan that term. Zach placed a hold on it, only to be told, when he returned to the Philosophy and Theology Faculty to collect it, that it had been reported missing. Despite his insistent pleading, the librarian, citing a recent act of Parliament, refused to divulge the identity of the borrower. When he finally found it, on Niall Graves’ shelves at the Theory launch party, he yelped, alarming some of the other partygoers, who must have thought he had just done himself some serious injury.

Though he was quite generous with his money — he picked up the tab wherever we went and never once turned a beggar away — Zach wouldn’t let me borrow the book. It was, you might say, his prized possession. He quoted from it often and sometimes read whole passages aloud when he wanted to prove some point. The first time I held it in my hands was four days ago, when his father and I were cleaning out his rooms. Save for the travel guide I bought at Blackwell’s, it is the only reading I’ve brought with me to New York.

I flip through the collection of aphorisms, looking for one in particular. The book shows all the signs of intense study: broken spine, wrinkled edges, dog-eared pages, creased jacket. Inside, the margins are heavily annotated in black pen. The underlining consists of lines so perfectly straight they must have been traced there with a ruler or with the edge of a bookmark.

On my first search, skimming all the dog-eared pages, I fail to find the passage I’m looking for. It was something about The Possessed he read to me that night. Something about Kirillov. Kirillov’s suicide. The aphorisms all have titles, but there’s no table of contents; nor is there an index of names in the back. I’ll have to be more meticulous, examine every sentence Zach found worthy of comment. I turn back to the beginning, but I’m only able to read a few pages before the light bulb splutters again, this time fatally, and the room goes dark. I flick the switch once, twice: the light isn’t coming back. I take off my glasses and slip the book under my pillow, giving what remains of my waking attention to the vague, slow circles of the fan and the dim lattice of orange and black the streetlamp has cast on the ceiling.

I’ve just begun to fall asleep, for the first time in a week, when I hear someone, one of the other guests, struggling with the door lock. Two shadows, one male and one female,
stumble into the dark room. From how loudly they whisper to each other not to make any noise, it’s clear they’re both totally pissed. They fall into the bunk beneath mine; the
bedsprings shriek under their combined weight. I cough into my fist, to let them know someone else is in the room, but they remain oblivious or indifferent to my presence. Rather than embarrassed silence, the rustle of fabric. Lips on bare skin. A moan — hers — escapes the fingers of a muffling hand as the bedframe begins to sway. Beneath the small of my back, my mattress elevates slightly. The palms of her hands or the balls of her feet, I wonder.

Outside the window, there is a dull pop. Then another three, in rapid succession. The bedsprings stop contracting abruptly beneath me.

What was that? the woman whispers, petrified.

What was what? Her lover sounds deflated. He knows exactly what she’s referring to, and can already tell that he’s lost her attention.
That sound.

Nothing, baby, he says. It was nothing. Just a car backfiring.

I never learnt where Zach found those pistols. Where does one buy a handgun anyway? Estate sale? Antique shop? The black market? I hadn’t asked, and if I hadn’t asked it is because I’d rather not know. When Bernard told me that the Inspector from the Thames Valley Police had managed to trace the pistol (he said pistol, singular, and I certainly wasn’t about to correct him), I let it be understood with a wave of my hand that I preferred to be kept in the dark about certain aspects of the case. Still, this hasn’t prevented me from speculating. Whoever sold the firearms to Zach would surely have told the Inspector about the second pistol. Unless he bought them from two different people. Unless: he stole them. It wouldn’t have been the first time, after all.

The pistols were small and old. Their black barrels were no longer than my outstretched index finger, the sort of weapon my grandfather might have stripped off the corpse of some Nazi officer during the war. They looked ridiculous to me, but Zach was quite serious about them, as he was about any technology the rest of us considered antiquated. When I asked him if they even worked, his expression soured. Of course they do! He’d tested them to make sure. Yanks and their bloody guns. Whatever else they may feel about them, they’re all obsessed by them. Even Zach, the latchkey kid born and bred in downtown Manhattan. When he collected me from Prelims, one pistol weighing down each pocket of his dinner jacket, he must have been the most heavily armed person in all of Oxfordshire.

Giveaway:

Click here to enter to win a paperback copy of The Zero and the One by Ryan Ruby thanks to Legend Press. UK addresses only.

Blurb:

zero_one_high resA bookish scholarship student, Owen Whiting has high hopes of Oxford, only to find himself immediately out of place. Then he meets Zachary Foedern from New York. Rich and charismatic, Zach takes Owen under his wing, introducing him to a world Owen has only ever read about.
From Oxford to the seedy underbelly of Berlin, they dare each other to transgress the boundaries of convention and morality, until Zach proposes the greatest transgression of all: a suicide pact. But when Zach’s plans go horribly awry, Owen is left to pick up the pieces and navigate the boundaries between illusion and reality to preserve a hold on his once bright future.

About the Author:

Ryan RubyRyan Ruby was born in Los Angeles in 1983. He has written for The BafflerConjunctionsLapham’s Quarterlyn+1, and the Paris Review Daily among other publications, and has translated two novellas from the French for Readux Books. He lives in Berlin.

 

The Zero and the One by Ryan Ruby is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, extract

#BlogTour #Extract Hold My Hand by M.J. Ford @AvonBooksUK

HOLD MY HAND - Blog Tour

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for Hold My Hand by M.J. Ford. I really want to read this book, just the cover alone appeals, but I haven’t managed to fit it into my exploding to be read pile just yet. But I’m delighted to share an extract from the book to hopefully whet your appetite and wanting more.

Extract:

William ran towards her and Jo put down the box and braced herself as the six-year-old leapt in the air. She caught him, but almost lost her footing.

‘You weigh a tonne!’ she gasped.

‘Hi Auntie Jo,’ he said.

Amelia wafted through the crowds, a glass in hand ready to give to Jo. ‘Hello darling,’ she said. ‘Thanks for making the trip.’

‘Wouldn’t miss it,’ said Jo. Amelia was hard not to like.

Paul was looking good.

‘You’ve lost weight,’ Jo said.

‘He’s doing a triathlon in September,’ said Amelia. ‘He’ll be tapping you for sponsorship, so watch out.’

‘I’m broke!’ she said, managing a smile.

‘I’ve given up cheese,’ said Paul morosely. Then he pointed with his glass to the box. ‘Is that for me?’

‘I hope you like it,’ said Jo.

Whether it was the booze or not, his face lit up when his eyes landed on the homburg, and he paraded the hat in front of his guests.

‘You look like something out of le Carré!’ said Amelia, laughing. William tried it on as well, to much amusement.

‘Thanks sis!’ said Paul, giving her a peck on the cheek. ‘Actually, we could have done with you here a week ago. Car got broken into – they nicked my iPad. And my bloody squash racket of all things. Police didn’t even come out and take prints!’

Jo could tell a few people were listening, so just said jovially, ‘Sorry, bro – not my patch!’

She could have told them that the police force were suffering the deepest cuts since their inception, that manned stations were being phased out in all but the biggest towns, and that the few demoralised officers who did remain really couldn’t give a shit about someone stupid enough to leave their iPad on display in their vehicle.

Blurb:

image001

HOLD MY HAND, M. J. Ford

How long do you hunt for the missing?

A horrible vanishing act…

When a young Josie Masters sees a boy wearing a red football shirt, Dylan Jones, being taken by a clown at a carnival, she tries to alert the crowds. But it’s too late. Dylan has disappeared…

Thirty years later, Josie is working as a police officer in Bath. The remains of the body of a child have been found – complete with tatters of a torn red football shirt. Is it the boy she saw vanish in the clutches of the clown? Or is it someone else altogether?

And then another child disappears…

About The Author:

M. J. Ford lives with his wife and family on the edge of the Peak District in the north of England. He has worked as an editor and writer of children’s fiction for many years. Hold My Hand is his first novel for adults.

Hold My Hand by M.J. Ford is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, book extract

Blog Tour: Games People Play by Owen Mullen.

gamespeopleplay

Today is the final stop on the blog tour for Games People Play by Owen Mullen. I have content from the book and my extract carries on from where Emma The Little Bookworm left off.

Extract:

‘The water was freezing. What the hell had Jen been thinking? This was Scotland, for Christ’s sake. He swam to where he’d last seen her and went under. Mark was a good swimmer but it was dark. His frantic fingers searched until the pressure in his chest forced him to the surface. He took in as much air as he could and went back. Something bumped against him. He grabbed hold and dragged it up. Two boys ran into the water to help: the footballers.

They hauled her body the last few yards and Mark fell to his knees. Jennifer wasn’t breathing. People appeared on the beach, silent witnesses to the nightmare the day had become. Where had they been when he needed them? He shouted, half in anger half in desperation. ‘Somebody call an ambulance!’ The crowd kept a respectful distance, they believed what he believed, that he’d lost her. Jennifer’s face was white. Mark covered her mouth with his and breathed into her. His hands pressed against her chest demanding she come back to him. One of the boys took over with no better luck. Mark tried again, refusing to let her go. He pumped her heart, whimpering like a child, sobbing for himself as well as his wife. Jennifer’s eyes fluttered; she retched and vomited water. Mark turned her on her side and rubbed her back, whispering reassurance, blinded by tears, aware his prayers had been answered. A siren sounded in the distance; it was going to be alright. She was safe. They would be together again. The three of them. He raised his head and saw ambulance-men racing towards him across the sand. Mark jumped to his feet. They must have drifted… except the boat was there. His voice rose from a cry to a scream. ‘Lily. Lily!’ He spoke to the group who had offered nothing. ‘I left a baby here, somebody must’ve seen her.’ They stared, no idea what he was talking about. A new terror seized him. He ran a few steps up and down the beach, lost and afraid. The bag lay where Jennifer dropped it. But no push-chair. No sign his daughter had ever been there. Lily was gone.’

Sounds good doesn’t it?!! Games People Play by Owen Mullen is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Blurb:

A powerful new crime thriller:

Thirteen-month-old Lily Hamilton is abducted from Ayr beach in Scotland while her parents are just yards away.

Three days later the distraught father turns up at private investigator Charlie Cameron’s office. Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why.

Against his better judgment Charlie gets involved In the case and when more bodies are discovered the awful truth dawns: there is a serial killer whose work has gone undetected for decades.

Is baby Lily the latest victim of a madman?

For Charlie it’s too late, he can’t let go. His demons won’t let him.

 

4*, blog tours, book extract, book review, giveaway

Blog Tour: Review, Giveaway & Extract, Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley.

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Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley.
My 4* review:
I need to be honest, I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking when I decided that I would read Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes. I don’t ‘do’ chick lit. If I’m honest I’m probably a little bit snobbish about it.
So I started the book with rather low expectations. But I do not mind admitting that I was wrong, very wrong. I really, really enjoyed reading Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes, the characters were interesting and believable. I often thought that the outcome was very obvious, but it wasn’t! The author kept me on my toes just enough, while weaving a lovely story. It made a nice change from the crime and thriller books that I normally read, and probably quite a healthy change at that.
While Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes was a nice, easy read, I did not want it to finish. When I did I saw that there was a sequel. Yay, I was so going to read that. And then I saw that there are, in fact, six books in the series! I hope to make my way through all of them over time.
I really liked the Lake District setting, and although I’m typically very Bah Humbug until about a week before Christmas the Christmas setting didn’t put me off, it didn’t play a huge part in the story.
If you like chick lit then read this. If you don’t normally read chick lit but think that a change of genre would be good, then read this. It’s good!!
Chapter One.
“Have you checked in yet, Millie?”
“Yes, Nicole, I have! Don’t panic. I told you I’d make an extra special effort to arrive in
plenty of time, didn’t I? I’m relaxing in the Departure Lounge with a caffè latte and the latest
edition of Voici, soaking up the last rays of sunshine I’ll see for the next two weeks.”
She had no intention of admitting to her super-organised sister that Monique and Hélène
had insisted on collecting her from her bedsit above Brasserie Étienne, then driven her at
stomach-wrenching speed to Nice airport and marched her, still stuffing her passport into her
hand luggage, to the check-in desk. They’d even had the audacity to hang around whilst she
wound her way through security just to make absolutely sure she didn’t meet with some
diversion and miss her flight – not an unknown, or indeed infrequent, occurrence.
“Typical. Just this once I hoped you’d stuck to your usual schedule of taking every
deadline to the wire!”
Millie detected a note of anxiety rather than impatience in Nicole’s voice. “Why? What’s
wrong?”
“I’m so sorry, Millie. It’s Édouard’s father. He’s had a stroke – been rushed into hospital in
Paris. His mother’s frantic – not sure whether he’ll survive the night.” Millie heard her
younger sister gulp down her emotions. “We’re dashing across to France as we speak. As it’s
the last weekend before Christmas it’s an absolute nightmare. St Pancras is in the throes of a
pre-Christmas exodus. We just managed to grab the last five seats on the Eurostar.”
“Oh, Nicole, no. Poor Édouard. Is there anything I can do?”
“Well, that’s why I’m calling. Obviously it means you can’t spend Christmas with us in
Norfolk now. I’m so sorry, Millie. I had everything planned. The girls were more than excited
about spending some alone time with their Auntie Camille this weekend whilst I was in the
Lakes and then having you stay on for the holidays. You’re still welcome to stay at our house,
of course.”
“Thanks, Nic, but it won’t be the same without its riotous rabble of occupants.”
“You could always go back home to Lourmarin? Spend Christmas with François?”
“Ah, no I can’t. In fact, I couldn’t wait to get away. I wasn’t going to tell you, especially
now. I don’t want to add to your burden, but it’s over between me and François. He dumped
me. Scooted off to Paris. He’s even closed the restaurant for the duration of the holidays. First
time ever!”
A slice of pain scorched through her throat but Millie ignored it. Now that she’d broken
the news she needed to get the whole story out into the open. “Monique told me he’s gone
with Heidi. I’m sorry, Nic, you’ve got enough deal with. Look, don’t worry about me. Send
my love to Édouard’s parents. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to spend some time mooching
round the shops in London.”
“So, if you’re sure you still want to come over…”
“What? Is there something else you’re not telling me?”
“Well, you know how grateful I was when you agreed to look after the girls whilst I
tutored the Christmas cookery school for Anne?”
Millie softened her voice. She adored her three nieces. “Nic, really, it’s no hardship. I love
being cast in the role of beloved aunt. Never mind, I’ll just catch an earlier flight back to
Nice.”
“Could I ask a favour, then?”
“Yes, of course.”
“I’ve just spoken to Anne. She might be a seasoned expert in presenting summer culinary
courses at her manor house in the Lake District, but this weekend was to be her first venture
into corporate Christmas culinary schools. She was relying on me. Of course she’s
sympathetic and totally understands, but she’s over at her villa in St. Lucia for the holidays so
she can’t step into the breach. I feel dreadful about leaving her in the lurch at such short
notice. And I’m worried she’ll be reticent about trusting me again. It’s a fabulous opportunity
to be invited to deliver an Anne Grainger course – and at the luxurious Craiglea Manor House
to boot. You know how keen I am to get into tutoring. I really don’t want to go back to being
a full-time food tech teacher when Daisy starts school. But maybe it’s a solution?”

“What’s a solution? Oh no, hang on…”

Giveaway:

So if my review and the first Chapter have made you want to read Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes then you can enter the giveaway! But only if you live in the UK.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bf633057101/?

Blurb:

When all-round buttercream princess, Millie Carter, becomes stranded at Craiglea Manor Cookery School, she believes her chance of enjoying a merry festive season is over.

The village of Aisford is Christmas-card perfect, but Millie hates it – she hates the snow, her freezing fingertips, and being forced to look like her Aunt Marjory in a mud-splattered wax jacket and wellies instead of her beloved shorts and sparkly sandals. 

She plots her escape but ends up locking spatulas with the estate manager, Fergus McKenzie, who is forced to rescue her before she succumbs to a severe dose of hypothermia. Things start to improve with the arrival of handsome Sam Morgan, fresh from the beaches and rum shacks of the Caribbean. 

Can Millie accept her fate? And will Aisford sprinkle some of its seasonal magic on her troubles? 

Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is a festive story of love and friendship and reaching for the buttercream icing and edible glitter when life gets tough. 

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Author Bio

Lindsey Paley is a Yorkshire girl and author of contemporary romance novels with page-turning plotlines and satisfying endings. When not scribbling away in her peppermint and cream writer’s retreat (shed) she loves baking cakes, enjoying a spot of afternoon tea with friends and taking long walks in the countryside. Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is the first book in the Camille Carter series set in the beautiful Lake District and the Caribbean. The latest in the series is April Showers and Wedding Flowers and is out now.

Author Links:

Facebook and Twitter.

photo-of-me-jan16

blog tours, book extract

Blog Tour: Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French.

I am really excited to be part of the blog tour for Melody Bittersweet and The Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency. I mean have you ever heard a better name for a book?! I’ve heard lots of talk about it too and how funny it is so it’s great that If Only I Could Read Faster can give you the first chapter to read before you click to buy it!

Blurb:

An absolutely hilarious, totally entertaining, spookily sexy read that you won’t be able to put down!

Life’s tricky for Melody Bittersweet. She’s single, she’s addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers and … she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder? 
Waking up lonely on her twenty-seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things havegot to change. 

Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency – kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits. She’s also flirting with her ex Leo Dark, fraternising with her sexy enemy in alleyways, and she’s somehow ended up with a pug called Lestat. 

Life just went from dull to dynamite and it’s showing no sign of slowing up anytime soon. Melody’s been hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there are the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job… 

Welcome to Chapelwick, home of the brand new and hilarious Girls Ghostbusting Agency series, where things really do go bump in the night. 

Melody Bittersweet and The Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency

Chapter One

‘So, what do you do with your spare time, Melody?’

I look my date square in his pretty brown eyes and lie to him. ‘Oh, you know. The usual.’ I shrug to convey how incredibly normal I am. ‘I read a lot . . . Go to the movies. That kind of thing.’

I watch Lenny digest my words, and breathe a sigh of relief when his eyes brighten.

‘Which genre?’

‘Movies or books?’ I ask, stalling for time because, in truth, I don’t get much in the way of spare time to do either.

‘Movies. Action or romance? No, let me guess.’ He narrows his eyes and studies me intently. ‘You look like a sucker for a rom-com.’

‘Do I?’ I’m genuinely surprised. I’m five foot three and look more like Wednesday Addams than a Disney princess. Maybe Wednesday Addams is over-egging it, but you get the idea; I’m brunette and my dress sense errs on the side of edgy. I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me and thought whimsy. Maybe Lenny sees something everyone else has missed, me included. I quite like that idea, mainly because everyone who knows my family has a head full of preconceptions about me, based on the fact that my family are all crackers.

Four Weddings?’ He shrugs hopefully.

I nod, not mentioning that the only part of that particular movie I enjoyed was the funeral.

The Holiday?’

Again, I try to look interested and hold my tongue, because I’m sure he doesn’t want to hear that I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than ever watch an over-optimistic Kate Winslet drag some old guy around a swimming pool again.

I’m relieved when the bill arrives and we can get out of there, because so far Lenny has turned out to be a pretty stellar guy and somehow I’ve managed to convince him that I walk on the right side of the tracks. Maybe this time, things will be different.

Lenny pulls his dull, salesman’s saloon into the cobbled cartway beside my building and kills the engine. I don’t mind dull. In fact, my life could really use a bit of dull right now, so I shoot him my most seductive smile, cross my fingers that my mother will be in bed, and invite him in for coffee.

Oh, just when it had all been going so well. Why couldn’t I have just given him a goodnight kiss, with maybe the smallest hint of tongue as a promise, then sent him on his way? He’d have called for a second date, I’m sure of it.

But no. I got greedy, pulled him by the hand through the dark back door, placing my finger against my lips to signal he should be quiet as we tip-toed past my mother’s apartment and up the old wooden staircase to my place.

He rests his hand on my waist as I turn the key, and a small thrill shoots down my back. Look at me, winning at this being-an-adult thing today! Dinner with an attractive man, sparkling conversation, and now back to mine for coffee . . . and maybe even a little fooling around. It’s not that I’m a virgin or anything, but it would be fair to call my love life patchy of late. By ‘of late’ I mean the last two years, ever since Leo Dark and I called things off. Well, by Leo and I, I mean Leo called things off, citing conflict of interests. Ha. Given that he was referring to the fact that my mad-as-a-bag-of-cats family are the only other psychics in town besides him, he was, at least in part, right.

But enough of Leo and my lamentable love life. Right now, all I want is for Lenny not to know anything at all about my peculiar family, to keep seeing me as a cool, regular, completely normal girl, and then to kiss me.

‘You remind me of Clara Oswald,’ Lenny whispers behind me at the top of the stairs. ‘All big brown eyes and clever one-liners. It’s very sexy.’

Lord, I think he’s just brushed a kiss against the back of my neck! My door sticks sometimes so I shoulder it open, aiming for firm and graceful but, I fear, ending up looking more like a burly police SWAT guy ramming it down. Thankfully, Lenny seems to take it in his stride and follows me into my apartment. Then I flick on the table lamp only to discover that my mother is standing on my coffee table in a too-short, too-sheer, baby-blue negligee with her arms raised towards the ceiling and her head thrown back.

‘Shit!’ Lenny swears down my ear, clearly startled. He isn’t to blame. My mother’s a striking woman, ballerina-tall and slender with silver hair that falls in waves well beyond her shoulder blades. It isn’t grey. It’s been pure silver since the day she was born, and right now she looks as if she’s just been freshly crucified on my coffee table.

I sigh as I drop my bag down by the lamp. So much for me being normal.

‘Err, mother?’

Slowly, she takes several heaving breaths and opens her eyes, changing from crazy lady to almost normal human lady. She stares at us.

‘For God’s sake, Melody,’ she grumbles, taking her hands from above her head and planting them on her hips. ‘I almost had the connection then. He’s hiding out in the loft, I’m sure of it.’

I risk a glance over my shoulder at Lenny, who sure isn’t kissing my neck anymore.

He lifts his eyebrows at me, a silent ‘what the hell?’ and then looks away when my mother beckons to him like a siren luring a fisherman onto the rocks.

‘Your hand, please, young man.’

‘No!’ I almost yell, but Lenny is already across the room with his hand out to help her down. My mother eyes me slyly as she steps from the table, keeping a firm hold of Lenny’s hand.

‘Long lifeline,’ she murmurs, tracing her red talon across Lenny’s palm.

‘Mother,’ I warn, but my somber, cautionary tone falls on her selectively deaf ears. I expected nothing else, because she’s pulled this trick before. Admittedly, the standing-on-the-table thing is a new twist, but she’s got form in scoping out my prospective boyfriends to make sure they’ll fit in with our screwball family from the outset. Not that her romantic gauge is something to put any stock in; Leo passed her tests with flying colours and look how that ended up. I got my heart broken and he got a spot on morning TV as the resident psychic. Where’s the justice in that?

Look, we may as well get the clanky old skeleton out of the family closet early on here, people. It’s going to come out sooner or later, and despite my attempts to pull the wool over Lenny’s eyes, there’s never any running away from this thing for long.

My name’s Melody Bittersweet, and I see dead people.

It’s not only me. I’m just the latest in a long line of Bittersweets to have the gift, or the curse, depending on how you look at it. My family has long since celebrated our weirdness; hence the well-established presence of our family business, Blithe Spirits, on Chapelwick High Street. We’ve likely been here longer than the actual chapel at the far end of the street. That’s probably why, by and large, we’re accepted by the residents of the town, in a ‘they’re a bunch of eccentrics, but they’re our bunch of eccentrics,’ kind of way. What began as a tiny, mullion-windowed, one-room shop has spread out along the entire row over the last two hundred years; we now own a run of three terraced properties haphazardly knocked into one, big, rambling place that is both business and home to not only me, but also to my mother, Silvana, and her mother, Dicey. Gran’s name isn’t actually Dicey, it’s Paradise, officially, but she’s gone by Dicey ever since she met my Grandpa Duke on her fifteenth birthday and he wrote Dicey and Duke inside a chalk heart on the back wall of the building. He may as well have written it on her own racing heart.

‘Silvana!’

Speak of the devil. Does no one go to bed around here?

I open my door to find Gran on the threshold with her hand raised, poised to knock. I guess I should be glad she’s slightly more respectably dressed, if a floor-length, purple shot-silk kimono, bearing huge technicolor dragons could be considered as such. Her usually pin-curled gold hair is piled elegantly on her head and she wears a slash of fire-engine-scarlet lipstick for good measure. Most people couldn’t carry the look off, but thanks to her poise, confidence and couldn’t-care-less attitude, Grandma Dicey wears it with artful success. She glides past me without invitation and gazes at my mother and Lenny, who are still hand-in-hand on the rug.

God.

First thing tomorrow morning, I swear, I’m going to look for a new place to live, somewhere, anywhere, that is not in the same building as my mother and my gran. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a charming old place and I love my family dearly. It’s not even as if I don’t have my own space here, because, theoretically at least, I do. Mum and Gran have the ground floor apartment behind Blithe Spirits, and I have the smaller flat upstairs, at the back. In lots of ways this makes me fortunate; I get to have a nice little home of my own and stay close to my family. It would all be fine and dandy, were it not for the fact that my family are officially bonkers and liable to come up and let themselves into my flat – using the spare key I gave them for dire emergencies only – and embarrass the shit out of me.

‘Why is Silvana entertaining a man half her age in your flat?’ Gran looks from me to my mother. ‘You should have said you were expecting company, darling. I’d have gone out.’ She touches her hand lightly against her hair. ‘Put a towel on the doorknob or something, isn’t that the modern way to signal these things? Don’t come a knockin’ if the caravan’s rockin’?’

She looks spectacularly pleased with herself, and one glance at Lenny tells me that he knows he’s way out of his depth with these two and is in the process of writing me off as the worst date he’s ever had. His eyes slide from me to the door, and I can almost hear him begging me to let him go unharmed.

‘He’s not mum’s date, he’s mine. Or else, he was,’ I mutter, and then I’m distracted as a beer-bellied pensioner in a soup-stained shirt slowly materialises through the ceiling, his flannel trousers not quite meeting his bony ankles. Stay with me; I see dead people, remember? As do my mother and my grandmother, who also watch him descend with matching expressions of distaste.

‘Finally,’ my mother spits, dropping Lenny’s hand so she can round on the new arrival. ‘Two hours I’ve been chasing you around this bloody building. Your wife wants to know what you’ve done with the housekeeping she’d hidden in the green teapot. She says you better not have lost it on the horses or she’s had it with you.’

Grandma Dicey rolls her eyes. ‘I rather think she’s had it with him anyway. He’s been dead for six weeks.’

‘You’re a fine one to talk, given that you still sleep with your husband twenty years after he died.’ Mother flicks her silver hair sharply. Touché.

Lenny whimpers and bolts for my front door, turning back to me just long enough to splutter ‘something’s come up, gotta go,’ before he hoofs it out and down the stairs two at a time.

I listen to the outside door bang on its hinges and wonder what came up. Probably his dinner.

Author bio:
 
Kitty French lives in the Black Country with her husband, two young sons and two crazy cats. She’s a lover of all things romantic – songs, music, and most of all, books. 
Her USA Today best-selling Lucien Knight series topped the erotic chart on both sides of the pond, and she also writes romantic comedy as Kat French for Avon, HarperCollins. She’s over the moon to join Bookouture with her brand new paranormal romantic comedy series, Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency.
 

Melody Bittersweet and The Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French is out now and available from  Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, book extract

Blog Tour: Lovers and Liars by Nigel May

 

Today I can share with you an excerpt from Nigel May’s book Lovers and Liars, published by Bookouture.

LOVERS AND LIARS BY NIGEL MAY

Prologue

The paint on the domed ceiling of the Velvet hotel’s specially erected sports arena was barely dry before the boxing match was announced globally. Hatton Eden, reigning welterweight champion of the world, the man known to his legion of superfans worldwide as ‘TMM’ – The Main Man – was to take on newcomer Orlando Vince in what TV sports channels around the globe had dubbed the ‘Belter in the Swelter’ from the moment tickets for the 18,000-seater arena went on sale. The boxing world had lived through the legendary ‘Thrilla in Manila’ and been hypnotised by the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ and now a new gladiatorial pairing was set to make sports history.

The Belter in the Swelter was the perfect title for the match which would take place at the famous Velvet hotel in Barbados, the island’s six-star celebrity haunt and the flagship of the lucrative worldwide chain of luxury hotels owned by Sheridan Rivers. Situated on the west side of the island, the hotel was a triumph of cool, with the Hollywood elite, fashionable rich-kid popstars and megabucks media moguls alike booking in to sample its many amenities and to feel their skin change colour as they lay on the powder-fine sands under the blistering heat of the Caribbean sky.

It was Sheridan who had fought to have the arena built at Velvet in the first place, determined to draw the boxing crowds away from Las Vegas and bring the sporting superstars of the world to the tropical jewel in his billion-dollar crown. And when Sheridan Rivers decided he wanted something, nothing or no one could stand in his way. The Brit businessman had not built his empire, now with twenty-plus hotels around the world in destinations ranging from Tokyo to Honolulu, by rolling over and submitting to money men who said no, planners who tried to wrap him in red tape or architects who said that something couldn’t be done. Everything was possible in Sheridan’s world so long as you didn’t have to listen to other people’s opinions and surrounded yourself with ‘yes’ people who would always loyally agree with everything you suggested.

And after months of hard work the night of the bout had finally arrived. Sheridan couldn’t have been happier as he watched the crowds starting to take their seats at the beginning of the evening. He was watching from the highest point of the arena, a gangway that ran around the top edge of the dome. It was the perfect vantage point from which to calculate how much money he would be making from the evening. He’d spent a lifetime looking down on others so why stop now? All 18,000 seats had been filled, with tickets ranging from $1,500 through to $7,500, and then there were the pay-per-view TV rewards to be considered. All in all, he’d make a tidy sum out of tonight’s proceedings, maybe enough to open another hotel, which considering everything that had happened in the run-up to fight night was pretty incredible. It had been quite some ride and he was glad that the night was finally underway.

He gazed down at Blair Lonergan, famed DJ and worldwide music star, the man spinning his musical web of wonder from a purpose-built stage on the far side of the arena. His latest chart-topping collaboration, a funky slab of dance-floor-filling beats mashed with vocals from some vacuous pop starlet of the moment, boomed out from a bank of speakers either side of the stage. New Yorker Blair was adored worldwide and even Sheridan had to admit that he could see why – even if he wasn’t his number-one fan. He was ridiculously handsome, his chiselled features giving him an almost action-hero quality. His blond buzz cut, streetwise air of cool and rock-hard abs had made him the poster boy of the DJ world and the face and body of countless fashion houses. He was Abercrombie & Fitch fit with a talent that had seen him bag DJ residences around the world, including a twelve-month run at a succession of Velvet hotels across the globe. He was the best and that’s why Sheridan had employed him, both for regular nights at his hotels and also to keep the party pumping before the evening’s main event.

‘Make the most of it though, you fucking upstart,’ sighed Sheridan as he watched. ‘Because this is it.’ A smile spread across his face, a grin of knowledge and power puffing out his chest as he spoke. Sheridan felt good – he always did when he was on top.

A female voice sounded beside him. ‘It’s time to get ready, sir. The fight starts in about an hour and a half and you need to be looking your best – the eyes of the world are upon you tonight. Not that you ever look anything less, of course.’

Sheridan turned to look. ‘Thank you, Kassidy. Is my suit ready for tonight?’

‘Yes, sir. Clean, pressed and set for wearing.’

‘And my diamond cufflinks are here?’

‘Two commissioned diamond boxing gloves arrived by courier from London this afternoon.’

‘Shoes polished?’

‘I had one of the bellhops shine them until he could see his face in them.’

‘My daughters?’

‘Nikki will be here despite everything. Have you two managed to—’

‘I’m not talking about that now.’ Sheridan’s words, brusque and sharp, cut Kassidy off in full flow. ‘What about Heather?’ Sadness washed over him as he asked.

‘Well, boxing’s not really her thing but she said she’d be here. I’ll check for you.’

‘And my wife?’

‘Mrs Rivers has booked herself into the hotel spa for a last-minute manicure and facial and says that she’ll see you at your seat for the fight.’

‘Typical Sutton,’ stated Sheridan. ‘So, we’ll be alone again in the penthouse then, Kassidy. Mind you, my wife’s not slept there for days anyway.’ He moved towards her and gave her backside a squeeze as he walked past. Not as firm as it used to be, he thought to himself. ‘Good, I’m thinking there might be some last-minute odd jobs that need doing.’ He gave his growing erection a squeeze too as he felt it through his linen trousers. ‘You reckon you can sort that for me, too?’

‘Of course, sir,’ smiled Kassidy. But it was a smile riddled with doubt. After ten years of being both Sheridan and Sutton Rivers’ personal assistant, a job she had started when she was just nineteen, Kassidy Orpin was more than a little over blowing the boss whenever he demanded. But as she trotted off behind him in the direction of his hotel penthouse she knew she’d be on her knees within a few minutes – it was what she did. If she wanted to get ahead and realise her ambitions then giving head was just one of the many things on her to-do list. It was how she’d secured the job in the first place. A willing mouth and no gag reflex could erase a CV stating that she left school at sixteen back in Dublin with no real qualifications, especially if your potential boss was a player who couldn’t keep his prick in his pants. And Sheridan Rivers had been good to her over the years, which is why she had loved him, both in and out of the bedroom. But only when he chose. And only when Sutton was not within nagging distance – and preferably in another time zone.

Lovers and Liars by Nigel May is available now from Amazon UK and Amazon US.