#BlogTour! #Review #Excerpt – Dying Art by @MHollingdrake @BloodhoundBook

BLOG TOUR (5)
Big thanks to BloodhoundBooks for inviting me to be involved in Malcolm Hollingdrake’s blog tour! I hope you enjoy my review of ‘Dying Art’, as well as the extract.

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Following his recovery from a personal and professional trauma, Detective Chief Inspector Cyril Bennett has been declared medically fit to resume his police duties. He returns to discover a complex case involving the art world.

Soon Bennett unearths a dark side of the industry where greed, ambition and dubious practices thrive and, where there is money to be made, violence and murder are never far away.

Working their way through a maze of galleries, museums and the internet, Bennett’s team struggles to make sense of the evidence.

Can Bennett tell the difference between what is real and what is fake?

What does TWG think?

‘Dying Art’ is the fifth book in the DCI Bennett series and, whilst it had been confirmed that this book could be read as a standalone (my green light for reviewing the book), I completely disagree with that. ‘Dying Art’, in my opinion, cannot be read as a standalone novel. I felt as though I was missing out on a lot of information regarding Cyril Bennett, including both personal and professional relationships. I didn’t have the back story. I didn’t know what had happened in the previous books. If ‘Dying Art’ was meant to be read as a standalone, I should have been able to start the novel without feeling as though I was walking into an already half told story. But I didn’t.

However, the overall premise of Malcolm Hollingdrake’s novel was quite intriguing, as well as being full of a lot of promise. The storyline being centred around real and fake art was such a clever idea. So unique. I enjoyed how the history of said art was severely entwined, requiring a lot of chiseling away to get to the bottom of the investigation. Hats off to the author for keep the investigation consistent, especially as there were so many characters and different viewpoints involved, I was quite impressed at the ease of which they were described. How the author didn’t get confused is beyond me!

Personally, I found the heart of the investigation to be my most favourite part of the book. It’s unique approach made me sit up and take notice, securing my attention for the rest of the investigation. As for the overall novel; I did struggle with the majority of the book for reasons I mentioned above. ‘Dying Art’ as a whole didn’t blow me away, yet ‘Dying Art’ as an investigation itself; did.

Thanks BloodHoundBooks.

Buy now.

Extract.

The sun hung like a limp, yellow balloon in the early morning Yorkshire
sky; it was neither high nor low but at a height that was blinding both for the few
drivers and even fewer pedestrians alike. It would prove to be far from innocent.
For Nathalie Gray, it was a total nuisance. Each step of this part of her morning
run was becoming unacceptably difficult. The lack of suitable pavement was also
a hindrance.
‘Merde!’ she whispered under her breath as her foot dipped into the third
pothole within a hundred yards. She made a mental note to wear sunglasses on
her next run.
She had pounded the same route for four consecutive mornings and this
was the first day of sunshine; she was so ill-prepared. Within the hour she would
be back at the hotel, she would have breakfasted and be heading for the
Conference Centre and the Antiques and Fine Art Fair. It was the penultimate day
of her annual working pilgrimage to Harrogate. The songs of Jack Savoretti
caressed her ears, blocking out the surrounding sounds; there were few, not
surprisingly, considering where she was and the time of day.
The silver-grey Lexus had passed her ten minutes previously. The driver
knew Nathalie’s route, she had run a convenient distance behind her each day,
but today was to be different, very different. Monica parked the car at the side of
the road and waited. There was no tail of grey smoke from the exhaust of the
now stationary vehicle. The driver, ever alert, was sensing her pending and
approaching prey. The hybrid car sat ready to pounce; it would do so electrically
and silently. The driver checked the rear view mirror and yawned. The occasional early morning and late night were tolerable, but four in a row were
proving unacceptable, especially considering the exercise.
She lowered herself into the seat as the runner came into view. Pulling
down the sun visor with her gloved hand, she slipped on a pair of sunglasses.
Within seconds, Nathalie was closing on the car, now a dark silhouette ahead in
her path. The driver saw her turn her head as if checking there were nothing
approaching from behind in preparation for rounding the parked car, unlikely
considering the time of the morning, but it was more instinctive. She quickly
veered to the right and ran around the parked obstacle, unaware of the driver’s
presence. She checked her watch and in spite of the dazzling sun she was still on
schedule.
It was then, when she was a hundred yards past the parked car, that she
suddenly pulled up abruptly as a startled rabbit sprang from the hedge. It paused
briefly before darting, bob-tailed across her immediate path and vanishing
magically into the far hedge. Nathalie raised her hand, shielding the sun so as to
allow her eyes to focus on the white, swiftly-disappearing tail. A smile came to
her lips. It’s like ‘Watership Down’, she thought, her breathing slowly steadying as
she bent at the waist to take a deep inhale. It would be the last thing that would
pass through her mind as the blinding sun was swiftly snuffed like a candle flame
touched by wet fingers. Her breathing stopped seconds later.

#BlogTour! #Extract – The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone (@LisaStoneBooks) @AvonbooksUK

Darkness Within Blog tour banner
So excited to be today’s stop on Lisa Stone’s blog tour! I have the honour of being able to share an extract of Lisa Stone’s new novel, The Darkness Within, with my review of the book to follow as soon as possible. Enjoy.

lisastone

A gripping new crime novel from the global bestseller Cathy Glass writing as Lisa Stone

The Darkness Within hooked me from the start. Once you start you won’t be able to stop!’ Katerina Diamond, No.1 bestselling author of The Teacher

You know your son better than anyone. Don’t you?

When critically ill Jacob Wilson is given a life-saving heart transplant, his parents are relieved that their loving son has been saved.

However, before long, his family are forced to accept that something has changed in Jacob. Their once loving son is slowly being replaced by a violent man whose mood swings leave them terrified – but is it their fault?

Jacob’s girlfriend, Rosie, is convinced the man she loves is suffering from stress. But when his moods turn on her, she begins to doubt herself – and she can only hide the bruises for so long.

When a terrible crime is committed, Jacob’s family are forced to confront their darkest fears. Has the boy they raised become a monster? Or is someone else to blame?

This is a spellbinding crime novel with a dark heart from the worldwide bestseller Cathy Glass, writing as Lisa Stone.

DARKNESS WITHIN EXTRACT
[Extract 8 from Chapter 4 pp. 20-21]

Rosie had wiped the blood from her face and cleaned the vomit from the floor, scrubbing the carpet with disinfectant until the smell of sick had gone. She often vomited after he attacked her; she thought it was from shock and the pain of being punched in the stomach. She never used to be sick – not before. She’d been very healthy and happy back then, before he’d moved in. But now even thinking about his anger and what he might do to her caused her stomach to contract and the bile to rise to her throat.

Shane liked everything to be back to normal with no trace of ‘their fight’ when he returned, so she’d also changed out of her blood- and vomit-splashed clothes. They were in the washing machine. The duvet cover would go in once the first load had finished, and she’d already put a fresh cover on the bed. The only sign of their fight now was her swollen lip. She’d managed to stop the bleeding by pressing a wet tissue on the cut, and make-up had covered the redness and bruising around her mouth and on her cheek, but it couldn’t hide the swelling. In fact, if anything, it accentuated it.

Had she really deserved the beating? she wondered as she examined her face again in the bathroom mirror. Was it really always her fault? Did she provoke him beyond reason as he accused her of doing? She honestly didn’t know. So much of her life had changed in the last six months that she barely recognized herself any more.

Buy now from Amazon UK

#BlogTour! #Review & #Extract – Her Last Breath by @TracyBuchanan @AvonBooksUK

HLB Blog tour

Tracy Buchanan’s blog tour ends with me, TWG! I am delighted to be able to share my review of ‘Her Last Breath’ with you guys, alongside an extract from the book itself. Big thanks to Avon Books for inviting me on this fabulous tour!

Her Last Breath Cover
A girl has gone missing. You’ve never met her, but you’re to blame.

FROM THE #1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF MY SISTER’S SECRET AND NO TURNING BACK

Food writer Estelle Forster has the perfect life. And with her first book on the way, it’s about to get even better.

When Estelle hears about Poppy O’Farrell’s disappearance, she assumes the girl has simply run away. But Estelle’s world crumbles when she’s sent a photo of Poppy, along with a terrifying note: I’m watching you. I know everything about you.

Estelle has no idea who’s threatening her, or how she’s connected to the missing teen, but she thinks the answers lie in the coastal town she once called home, and the past she hoped was long behind her.

Estelle knows she must do everything to find Poppy. But how far will she go to hide the truth – that her
perfect life was the perfect lie?

Her Last Breath is an addictive, page-turning read that fans of Liane Moriarty and Claire Douglas will love.

What does TWG think?

I’m genuinely surprised that I didn’t end up using my last breath whilst reading Tracy Buchanan’s novel! Estelle Forster hasn’t exactly had a plain sailing life and, despite coming across as a clean, level-headed author, Estelle fears that her past will come back to haunt her and ruin the life that she has made for herself. When a teenager goes missing and Estelle receives a photo of the missing girl, her perfect image starts to unravel.

What impressed me most about ‘Her Last Breath’, was the amount of dead ends in the storyline! When events started unfolding, I felt pretty certain about a character who I thought was involved due to his behaviour throughout the storyline. However, my certainty was short-lived. I’m not going to lie, that happened on more than one occasion throughout the book.

I found it extremely difficult not to be engrossed by ‘Her Last Breath’ as the suspense level seemed to get raised in every chapter. I was eager to find out what Estelle’s story was and how she ended up receiving photographs of a missing girl. I thought that the lead up to the conclusion was incredibly intense, full of depth and brilliantly written. Without giving anything away, I didn’t see the conclusion coming…at all. I was shocked. I thought I had missed several red flags along the way, and maybe I did. But because I was focusing on other characters involvements, I wasn’t focusing on those involved in the conclusion. It’s kinda crazy how we interpret storylines differently, especially seeing as we focus on different parts and different situations in our own special way.

‘Her Last Breath’ had me hooked from the first page with its chronically addictive plot and intriguing characters. I could not believe what I was reading, I’m surprised I didn’t end up with paper cuts on my fingers due to my swift page turning!

Intense, addictive, and rather shocking, ‘Her Last Breath’ is such a fantastic and more-ish read written by the fantastic Tracy Buchanan.

Thanks Avon Books.

Buy now from Amazon UK

[Extract 14 from Chapter 6 pp. 48-49]

After they left, Estelle stayed where she was for a few moments, taking in some deep breaths. After all these years, today, that moment, she knew who her child was. Knew what she looked like. Knew what had become of her. Knew that she had run away from her seemingly perfect family. She blinked away tears and strode into the kitchen, getting her laptop out and searching for information on Poppy and her new family. They clearly had money: her father a TV presenter, her mother an interior designer. She learned they lived in a huge house overlooking Richmond Park. My God, they’d been living less than a half-hour train ride from each other! Poppy attended one of the UK’s top schools and was a keen hockey player. There were photos of Poppy with her father. A beach shot. Another of them walking through muddy puddles as they laughed. There was the dog again too, a golden Labrador puppy.

Poppy had a good life with a well-off family who could provide her with everything she needed. If anything came out of this, Estelle reassured herself, it was that she’d done the right thing giving her up for adoption. There was no way a fifteen-year- old Estelle could have offered the kind of perfect life the O’Farrells had. But, then, why had Poppy run away if it was all so perfect? She was a teenager, Estelle reasoned. Teenagers rebelled. Estelle knew that more than anyone. She’d return safe and sound soon, just like the police officers said.

But why the Polaroid photos, the messages?

#BlogTour! #Review – The Bed & Breakfast on the Beach @KFrenchBooks @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K

Kat French Blog Tour Banner
Today I have the pleasure of hosting Kat French and ‘The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach’, but it’s a little bittersweet as it’s also the end of the blog tour! All together now; AWWWWW!!! Not only have I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this novel for you, I get to share an extract from Kat French’s novel alongside my review today! Enjoy!

Kat French

A gorgeous summer read to escape with this summer!

A Greek island solves all life’s problems…doesn’t it?

Winnie, Stella and Frankie have been best friends forever.

When their lives unexpectedly unravel, they spontaneously decide to buy a gorgeous B&B on a remote Greek island. Drenched in hot sun, Villa Valentina is the perfect escape from reality. But when Winnie meets Jesse, their brooding neighbour, she finds that Greece is full of its own complications – not least how attractive he is…

Meanwhile, Frankie and Stella are discovering that Villa Valentina has its own secrets – starting with the large supply of gin in the cellar and the arrival of a famous rock band. A band with one very good-looking member who just might distract Frankie from thoughts of her husband…

Smart, sassy and sexy, this summer sizzler is perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond and Jane Costello.

What does TWG think?

Being set in Greece, I was half expecting Shirley Valentine to show her face on the Island! Although saying that, Stella reminded me of good ol’ Ms.Valentine, I could imagine her saying ‘well tickle my tits ’til Friday’! Don’t you agree?

I’m not sure what part of the novel I was sold on first; kick ass female characters, or a donkey named ‘ The Fonz‘. Could you get any more fab than that? Oh wait, the only thing that managed to score higher than the donkey was a certain Australian geezer, but I’ll leave that for you to read about yourself!

Ahhh, Frankie, Winnie and Stella; the three musketeers Greek style! I probably should have been shocked when I learnt how they managed to get the deeds for a B&B, but, I wasn’t. I actually laughed out loud. It was so bonkers! That’s what I adore about Kat French’s novels, she isn’t afraid to write about bonkers situations, sexual encounters, and kick ass female characters. The author holds absolutely nothing back and her care free, humorous attitude shines through this storyline like….oh I don’t know…Greek sunshine? Funny that!

Each of the three ladies have their own reasons for escaping to Villa Valentina, they’re using the Greek Island to their advantage with hope that their hearts are mended and their confidence levels re-built. I’m not going to go into detail about their backstories as it is a big part of the overall storyline and I wouldn’t like to give anything away.

Whilst the three best friends were united by one thing, their characters were incredibly different; Stella seemed to be a lot more blunt than the others, although I expected that she was using her bluntness to guard something. Frankie was the practical one of the group, managing to keep everything organised without a hair out-of-place. Lastly my favourite lady; Winnie, she was a complete mixture! One one hand she was fiery and incredibly honest, but on the other hand she came across as such an emotional person, with her heart shifting from her sleeve to her chest like a temporary tattoo. I adored her character as I warmed to her the quickest, she was SO much fun.

A Kat French wouldn’t be a Kat French book without a bit of ‘ooooo matron’ and kinky antics. Without giving anything away, Winnie found herself in a certain situation which was incredibly sensual, and severely hot. Oh how I would have loved to trade places with Winnie! That particular situation even taught me a thing or two! Very tasteful.

Frankie, Stella, and Winnie go on such a journey in ‘The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach’, it really was wonderful to see their personalities flourish, and their confidence soaring. Certain characters came out of their shell on the Greek island as well, much to the annoyance of others!

There really was nothing about this novel that I didn’t like! Even though the storyline is incredibly light and humorous, there were several hidden messages within the book which were beautifully incorporated into the overall storyline, earning more brownie points when I came across them.

I adored this book from the moment the ladies visited the Greek Island for a second time, until the very last page. So many funny and on point moments mixed in with many incredible characters, what’s not to love? If I could read Kat French’s novel for the first time, every time, it really would be a dream come true.
Another fantastic book from the incredible, Kat French. I highly recommend this summery, loveable, sizzle-fest of a book, 100%.

Thanks Avon.

Buy now from Amazon UK (E-book only – paperback to follow 13th July)

If my review hasn’t persuaded you to go and buy yourself a copy, maybe an extract from ‘The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach’ will sway you?

[Extract 13 from Chapter 5 pp. 65-67]

Jesse’s dusty black VW Golf was nothing like Rory’s beloved sports car back home, and Winnie decided she much preferred its simple unpretentiousness. The air-con was icebox cool, and that was a much more valuable prize out here than hand-stitched leather bucket seats or tinted glass. The low-slung red Alfa would have been an entirely unsuitable car for a baby; Winnie sometimes wondered if the idea of losing it had been one of the contributory factors to Rory’s infidelity. 

‘I have a couple of errands to run, so I’ll drop you at Carrefour and come back in an hour or so,’ Jesse said, turning left out of the lane onto the main road. 

Winnie nodded, taking in the scenery as it whipped past her window. Olive groves, mellow fields and always the still, glittering Mediterranean in view too.

‘This is the island’s only main road,’ Jesse said. ‘It follows the coast all the way around, and the lanes that lead off it all run in towards Skelidos town at the centre. It’s a blessedly simple layout, unlike the crazy one-way systems you’re no doubt used to back home.’

‘Sounds straightforward,’ Winnie murmured.

‘You’ll find that much about Skelidos is like that. Uncomplicated.’ Jesse indicated to turn off the main road, leaving the sparkling sea behind them. ‘It’s one of the big things that I love about the place.’

‘Can I ask how you came to live here?’ she asked, curious and unguarded. 

He flicked his dark eyes towards her over his sunglasses. ‘You can ask, but I’ll lie about the answer.’

Winnie held his gaze for a second before he looked back towards the quiet lane, and she saw there that although his answer had been delivered in an off-the-cuff tone, he wasn’t joking. God, he was a prickly fish. 

‘Just don’t answer at all then,’ she said. ‘Lies are one thing I’ve had more than my fill of.’

This time when he glanced her way he didn’t look flippant. ‘I’ll bear that in mind.’

They lapsed into silence for the rest of the ride, Jesse concentrating on the bumpy, dusty lane and Winnie taking the chance to see the more agricultural heart of the island away from the coast. 

‘Is it mostly olive farms on the island?’ 

Jesse nodded. ‘Olives. Cattle for dairy produce, and vegetables in season of course. I wasn’t exaggerating about the simple pace of life here. Farmland has stayed in the same families for generations and property rarely comes up for sale. You guys are about the only new people here in as long as I can recall.’

‘Wow,’ she said, taken aback. No wonder Corinna had been so eager to get a look at them. Life in England had been so entirely different; neighbours came and went and people did any number of things to make their living. Here there was an actual community, a sense of family and of history. Even in the short time she’d spent on Skelidos so far, Winnie was already starting to feel that it suited her bones more than the complicated, fractured society back home in the UK.

Home. It was a word that didn’t seem to apply to anywhere for Winnie right now. Her parents’ house would always be her childhood home, but living there again for even a short time had proved glaringly that it was no longer her home these days. Her home had been the house she’d bought with her husband and built into their love nest, but also the place where she’d discovered his infidelity, and so it was no longer somewhere that she held any keys or affection for. 

It was too soon to confidently refer to Skelidos as home either though. She hoped that one day it would be in her blood and her heart, but at the moment it felt more like they were visiting the island than emigrating to it. Perhaps it was because the others, Stella in particular, seemed to view this as an experiment, a short-term stopgap to get them all out of crisis points at home. They’d all been in need of something and Villa Valentina had practically fallen into their laps.

#BlogTour! #Excerpt of Alice in Theatreland by Julia Roberts (@JuliaRobertsTV)

julia roberts

Today author of ‘Alice in Theatreland’, Julia Roberts, joins me as she introduces an excerpt from her new book, as part of her blog tour. Please keep your eyes peeled in the near future as I will be reviewing this book!

Until then, it’s over to Julia Roberts!

Thank-you, Kaisha, for hosting me on your blog today as part of the Alice in Theatreland blog tour. Below is an extract from around midway through the book so I thought I would just give a little background to it.

Alice Abbott arrives in London in the summer of 1976 with high hopes of a star-studded career in show business. After a slightly hostile reception at the audition she is offered a job as a member of the chorus-line in a new West End show called Theatreland 

Her star certainly seems to be on an upward trajectory when she is asked to understudy the leading lady and starts seeing Peter, the male lead, however, everything is about to change after accepting an impromptu invitation to a private dinner from the show’s producer, Richard.

From that moment, Alice’s good fortune grinds to a halt and everything in her life starts to go wrong…

The traffic was crawling through Knightsbridge, but it was nothing compared to High Street Kensington where it was at a virtual standstill. Alice glanced anxiously at the meter and then at her watch. She pulled both the windows down in the back of the cab to let some air circulate, but the noise of angry drivers tooting their horns was too much for her fragile head, so she had to close them again. She gazed up at the iconic Biba store as the cab inched forward. Maybe Peter and I can go shoe shopping there when I get my bonus payment, she thought, a smile finding her face for the first time that day. She still found it hard to believe that the pop star she had idolised for so many years was so nice in real life and was such an amazing kisser. She blushed at the thought.

‘So, what is it you do love? I mean, two o’clock is a bit of an odd time to be starting work.’

‘I’m in a West End show.’

‘Matinee today, is it?’

‘No, final rehearsals. It’s our last preview show tomorrow and our opening night on Saturday.’

‘Oh, is that the one with them two pop stars starring?’

‘Yes, Tammy Dixon and Peter Flint,’ she answered, butterflies dancing around her tummy at the mere mention of his name. It was so tempting to tell this complete stranger that she and Peter were seeing each other.

‘That’s them. Shows are not really my thing, I’m more of a football man, but I remember reading about them in the paper this morning.’

It must have been another review of the preview shows, Alice thought. How funny that this cabby is completely unaware that he’s got the stand-in Melanie in the back of his cab.

‘Yes, apparently, they’ve got over their little lover’s tiff and are back together.’

Alice felt like she had been punched in the stomach. What was this man talking about? He must have got it wrong.

‘It’s all over the front page of the early edition of the Evening News. I’ve got a copy here if you fancy a read, we’re not going anywhere for the next five minutes or so,’ he said, handing his crumpled copy of the paper through the glass partition that separated them.

Alice could feel that her cheeks were flaming red as she took the paper. Just moments earlier she had been about to tell this man that she and Peter were dating. Just moments ago, she had still been under the delusion that Peter loved her; the same Peter that was staring up from the front page of the paper with his arm around Tammy. A big fat tear rolled off the end of her nose and landed right between his eyebrows, spreading slightly as blood would do if he had been shot. What an idiot I was to trust him, Alice thought, why didn’t I listen to Gina? She folded the paper closed without reading the story.

ALICE in TL Cover (1)

It’s 1976; a summer of soaring temperatures and the year nineteen-year-old Alice Abbott’s life changed irrevocably…
Alice’s childhood dream of seeing her name up in lights seems close to fulfilment when she attends an audition for a new West End show but first she must impress theatre impresario, Richard, a man with an unhealthy penchant for innocent young dancers.
Befriended by Gina, an experienced dancer who is determined to protect her new friend from the sleaze behind the glamour, and attracting attention from the male lead in the show, Peter, a former pop star who she’s had a crush on for years, Alice’s star seems to be ascending until she accepts Richard’s impromptu dinner invitation.
Alice’s apparent naivety places her in peril, but is she really as innocent as she appears, and just how far will Richard go to protect his guilty secret?

Buy now from Amazon UK

#BlogTour! #Review & #Extract – The Mothers of Lovely Lane by @NadineDorries @HoZ_Books

Dorries_LL03_THE MOTHERS OF LOVELY LANE
From the bestselling author of The Angels of Lovely Lane, The Four Streets and Ruby Flynn.

Noleen Delaney is one of an army of night cleaners at St Angelus hospital in Liverpool. Since her husband was injured in the war, she has supported her five children. With help from her eldest, Bryan – a porter’s lad – the family just about gets by.

When Finn, her youngest, passes the eleven plus exam, Noleen feels faint. Allowing Finn to attend the grammar will stretch her purse too far.

When Bryan steps in to help, the results rock the St Angelus community. As the nurses of Lovely Lane near their final exams, Noleen will find herself tested, and her heart broken. Just how far can a mother’s love stretch?

What does TWG think?

I don’t think I had ever read a Nadine Dorries book before this one. I had heard of the author and I was aware of her literary success, but still I hadn’t picked up one of her books. Shameful. Utterly shameful. 
Because ‘The Mothers of Lovely Lane’ is book number three of the ‘lovely lane’ series, I was a bit anxious about reading it just incase I should have read the previous books beforehand. Luckily there didn’t seem to be an issue, which meant that I was able to enjoy the storyline without feeling like I was missing something important. That said, there were a lot of characters to keep track of, and just like any other storyline with a lot of people, I did end up confused. Not that hard to do, to be honest!

Recently, sagas and historical fiction novels have been high on my list of favourite genres due to the complexity of knowledge that just oozes from every page. Reading ‘The Mothers of Lovely Lane’ made me feel as though I was constantly learning something due to the fantastic attention to detail, and the level of historical knowledge.

Set in Liverpool just after the war, ‘The Mothers of Lovely Lane’ is mostly  centred around the national health service, and the various changes surrounding the health care during the war and after. I found those parts quite hard to read as they were so raw and incredibly poignant. When you sit back and think about it, it’s crazy to think that our country was once like that. It really hit home. Just by reading the book, it made me realise exactly how difficult and emotional those times were.

On the other side of the coin, I was moved by the level of community spirit within this novel. I have never, ever, seen anything like it. It really made me quite emotional that the characters went to such lengths to protect their own, and support who they loved. Absolutely incredible.

Hats off to Nadine Dorries for creating such an incredible main character in Noleen. When you read this book, you’ll see exactly what I mean, but, hand on heart, Noleen is the type of person who would walk around naked just to ensure her children had clothes. Even now, days after finishing the book, Noleen still has a hold over me. If you have someone in your life like Noleen, treasure them.

Such a heart-breaking, poignant, and emotional read which will no doubt stay in your heart for a very, very long time. Wow.

Thanks HoZ.

Buy now from Amazon UK

Extract.

‘There’s a change, Lorraine. Is there any reason why you spend more time in the Delaneys’ kitchen these days than you do in your own?’ 

Lorraine had the good grace to blush. ‘Mam, Mary is my best friend, that’s why I go there. She has to help her mam a lot with all they have going on and her mam working nights.’ 

‘Don’t give me that, Lorraine. I gave birth to you, I know you. I think your attraction down at the Delaney house has more to do with their Bryan than your mate Mary.’ 

 ‘Mam!’ Lorraine almost shouted. ‘Don’t say that so little Stan can hear.’ 

Maisie wrung out her dishcloth and began clearing away the detritus of the Tanner breakfast table. She piled the bowls in the sink then took a packet of cigarettes out of her apron pocket. It might only be eight thirty but her hair was neat – hard from six days’ application of Get Set hairspray – and her lipstick fully applied. ‘Don’t be daft, love, I won’t. But I am right, aren’t I?’ 

She leant her back against the range and, tipping her cigarette packet upside down, tapped the bottom until one fell out. She lit it on the ame from the pilot light. Blowing the smoke upwards, she said, ‘Look, love, all I would say is take care. You are only young. Bryan has a lot of responsibilities and he is keen to get on. I don’t want you to be having a broken heart.’ She blew her smoke into the air. 

Lorraine placed her school books into her wicker basket. ‘Do you like him though, Mam?’ 

‘Lorraine, I’ve changed his nappy and wiped his nose enough times, of course I like him. I like all the kids around here. We are really just one big family. It’s not that. You are still at school and he is working now, up at the hospital, and he has his da to look after. I just don’t want you to go getting hurt, that’s all. Have you told Mary?’ 

Lorraine nodded. 

‘Well, love, if I can give you any advice, it is this, never let a fella know you fancy him. Even one who pushed your pram when you were in it.’ 

‘Oh, God, he didn’t, did he, Mam?’ 

‘Of course he did. We used to put you and Mary next to each other and send Bryan off to push you up and down Vince 

Street so we could get the washing done. Play hard to get, it’s the only way.’ Maisie turned back to the sink to ick her ash down the plug hole and looked out of the window. ‘Oh, here we go, your hairband is walking up the path. I bet little Stan swapped it for little Finn’s comic. Now let’s see what a good mate Mary Delaney is.’ 

Lorraine looked up from her basket and out of the kitchen window, into the back yard. ‘Stanley!’ she screamed at the top of her voice, as Mary Delaney walked in through the back gate, proudly wearing Lorraine’s hairband.

Mothers of Lovely Lane blog tour (1)

#BlogTour! #Extract – #SweetAfterDeath – Valentina Giambanco (@vm_giambanco) @QuercusBooks

sweet after death

In the dead of winter Homicide Detective Alice Madison is sent to the remote town of Ludlow, Washington, to investigate an unspeakable crime.

Together with her partner Detective Sergeant Kevin Brown and crime scene investigator Amy Sorensen, Madison must first understand the killer’s motives…but the dark mountains that surround Ludlow know how to keep their secrets and that the human heart is wilder than any beast’s.

As the killer strikes again Madison and her team are under siege. And as they become targets Madison realises that in the freezing woods around the pretty town a cunning evil has been waiting for her.

Extract.

Prologue

The woods pressed into the town from all sides. The bite of land that had been scooped out of the wilderness by the original residents was barely visible from above during the day,and at night – when the only lights were a few scattered street lamps – it was all but gone. The deer raised its snout, sniffed the cold night air and took a couple of steps. It paused by the line of trees and waited. Somewhere much higher up on the mountain the winds howled and shook the firs for what they were worth, but in the hollow of the valley the town of Ludlow lay silent and still. The deer ambled into the middle of the empty road and three others followed it out of the shadows. They made no sound as they padded on the veil of snow and their reflections crossed the windows of the shuttered stores on Main Street.

The town stirred in its sleep but it did not wake: a dog barked from inside a house, a porch light – triggered by a faulty motion sensor – came on and went off in one of the timber-frame homes, and one of the town’s three traffic lights ticked and flickered from red to green to marshal the nonexistent 3 a.m. traffic. And yet, tucked away in an alley, a thin shadow tracked the progress of the deer and matched them step for step. They didn’t pick up its scent because it smelled of forest and dead leaves, and they didn’t hear any footsteps because it made no sound as it wove between the houses. The deer followed a familiar route that would lead them to the woods at the other end of Main Street, and it wasn’t until they had almost reached their destination that they caught the ugly scent. It was a few hundred yards away yet sharp enough to startle them. For an instant they froze and then, one after the other, they bounded out of sight. The acrid smoke spread through Main Street, reaching into the alleys and the backstreets, under the doors and into the gaps of the old window-frames. But the car burning bright by the crossroads would not be discovered until morning, and by then the thin shadow was long gone.

A few miles away Samuel shifted his weight on the thin mattress and listened out for birdsong: he couldn’t hear any, and it could only mean that it was still pitch black outside. He sighed and tried to grasp the tail of a half-remembered dream. Something had woken him up, though, and it took him a moment for the notion to sink small, keen teeth into his mind – dulled, as it was, by sleep and the warm cocoon of his blankets. Then a rough hand grabbed his shoulder and Samuel flinched and understood. He sat up without a sound, eyes peering through the gloom. The bedroom – such as it was – was plain, with pallets for beds and a wooden stove in the corner. Embers from last night’s fire lit the bundles of blankets lying on the other pallets, and a cold draft found Samuel as soon as he threw off the covers.

He didn’t have much time, and he knew it. His heart had begun to race and his mouth was a tight line as he pulled on his boots and snatched his satchel from the side of the bed. The tip of the boy’s finger brushed against his good-luck charm, hidden in the folds of the satchel, and he felt a crackle of pleasure. Two minutes later, Samuel walked out into the night and the door closed softly behind him. He looked up: the sky was low with heavy clouds, and he could almost taste the snow that was about to fall. He ran across the clearing and straight into the forest. He knew each tree and boulder and rock, and the dusting of white on the ground showed him the way. They had always called him ‘Mouse’ because he was small for his age – fifteen years old the previous November – small and fast. He needed all the speed and cunning he could muster now. Speed, cunning and the spirit of the mountain on his side. He was three hundred yards away when the bell clanged and shattered the silence. They would be waking up then, rushing and scrambling after their things, and when the door opened to the night they would fall out and come after him.

And God forbid they should catch him. The black raven feather in the boy’s satchel would have to work hard to keep him safe.

Sweet After Death by Valentina Giambanco will be published by Quercus on the 15th June 2017. The book can be pre-ordered now from: Amazon UK

Sweet After Death Blog Tour Poster

#BlogTour! #Review – Just For the Holidays by @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooksUK #Extract

JFTH Blog tour

Day 11 of Sue Moorcroft’s blog tour for ‘Just For the Holidays’, and the tour bus stops at TWG! It feels like yesterday that I was reviewing Sue Moorcroft’s previous novel, and now look! On my stop today I will be sharing my review of JFTH, as well as an extract of the book. Hope you enjoy!

jfthThe #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

What does TWG think?

Ohhhhhh my goodness me! I have so much to say about several of the characters in this book, yet I can’t put the world to rights regarding them just in case I give anything away -cries-. Put it this way, I was so close to tearing my hair out in frustration with a couple of the characters attitudes along the way, I am genuinely surprised that I have any hair left!

Leah is the singleton queen, well, that’s what she has always believed! For many years she has told herself that she doesn’t want to be held back in life because of a shoddy past relationship, but as time went on, Leah became even more stuck in that rut. I guess if you keep telling yourself something, you’ll end up believing it, right?

Michele, Leah’s sister is the complete opposite in terms of personality and lifestyle; she has the family, the children, and a life she thinks her sister wants. Their relationship, at first, struck me as a typical sibling relationship. However, it didn’t take me long to take sides with Leah as Michele started to annoy me very early on in the storyline.

The sisters went on a family holiday together to France, an idyllic break away before Leah started her new job. Ha. Ha. Right then. Holiday schmoliday. There was so much family drama throughout the entire holiday, I think good ol’ Jezza Kyle would have had a field day if they went on his show! Due to her sister’s questionable choices, Leah finds herself keeping tabs on teenagers, a holiday home, and a rather fetching neighbour.

I felt sorry for Leah a lot of the time as she was left to take the brunt of her sisters actions, as well as dealing with a rather emotional teenager who just wanted her mum. Whilst I fully understand that families are there to support one another, I was so annoyed at the way Leah was being taken for granted. Even when Michele became more involved in the storyline, I still found myself disliking her as she appeared somewhat fake. Well, I did end up liking her for a very short while near the end of the book, I’ve got to give her that much at least!

Don’t be fooled by the word ‘holiday’ in the title, it isn’t a plain sailing type of book like a holiday is supposed to be like. Sue Moorcroft’s novel is actually quite intense and covers a wide range of relatable topics, such as divorce, teenage drama, sister feuds, bad choices, unplanned pregnancy, complex relationships, career choices, and so on. Pretty much the things a lot of us would deal with on a daily basis, yet this has the bonus of a mighty fine gentleman to tickle your taste buds. Or anywhere else that might take your fancy!

I am rather impressed with what Moorcroft has achieved with her latest novel, she’s been able to cover so much without losing any of the momentum, AND has created some rather questionable and marmite characters. I truly think that a lot of readers will be able to relate to this storyline on so many levels, they may see a bit of themselves in Leah, or even Michele for that matter.

I thoroughly enjoyed JFTH, especially Moorcroft’s stunning descriptions of France, it really did feel as though I was there. Beautifully written.

Overall, JFTH kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish. Unfortunately I did find Michele far too selfish and overpowering in the storyline, so the overall vibe of the book was jaded a little bit. However, Leah’s brilliant sense of humour, the teenagers naivety and joy, the complex topics, as well as the scenery (both male eye-candy and France), really did make this a book to remember.

Yet another emotive read from the uber talented, Sue Moorcroft, this book is NOT Just For the Holidays…it’s for every single day.

Thank you Avon.

Buy now from Amazon UK

Extract.

The roomy kitchen was bright with colourful tiles and fabrics. Alister was attacking the shiny crust of a baguette and Leah realised guiltily that he must have been down to the boulangerie while she’d been lazing in the sun.

Natasha was already at the table, buttering chunks of bread, tutting as her knife made a hole, while Jordan stabbed at his phone with the intensity reserved by fifteen-year-olds for anything with a screen. ‘You’re coming kayaking with us, aren’t you?’ demanded Natasha.

‘Sounds fun.’ Leah washed her hands before opening the fridge in search of cheese and cold meats. She glanced at her brother-in-law. ‘Does Michele know kayaking’s on today’s schedule?’ It didn’t seem the obvious activity for a forty-three-year-old in the early stages of pregnancy.

Alister sawed energetically, his eyes fixed rigidly on the baguette through the lenses of his glasses. ‘Haven’t seen her this morning.’

‘I have,’ Natasha piped up. ‘She’s a bit under the weather so she’s going to stay here and rest. If the boats are two-person, can I be with you, Leah? Then it’ll be girls against boys.’

Jordan glanced up from his phone. ‘We’d spend all day waiting for you. It’ll be better if I go with Leah and you go with Dad.’

Natasha pointed an indignant butter knife. ‘I said Leah first. Just because Mum’s not here –’

‘Jordan, would you make the coffee, please?’ interrupted Alister, in his head-teacher voice that managed somehow to be both mild and authoritative. ‘Natasha, how many more slices?’

Leah followed Alister’s lead in distracting the kids from bickering. ‘We’ll take the advice of the hire staff regarding distribution of paddlers between kayaks, shall we?’ As they sat down at the refectory-style table and she sliced Munster cheese onto her bread Leah added, ‘I could eat so much of this that I wouldn’t fit in a kayak.’

Jordan grinned. ‘You do have the appetite of the average gorilla.’ The conversation loosened with laughter, though Leah’s thoughts were less than cheery.

Three days they’d been in Kirchhoffen. For two of them, Michele had managed to contrive that the family went out without her. So far nobody had openly questioned it but Leah knew the oddness of this behaviour wouldn’t bypass the kids for long.

When breakfast was over, she slipped out into the hall and up the wooden staircase, its open treads sweeping up between thick spindles to the first floor, then up again to the rooms tucked beneath the gabled roof. Michele and the children had rooms on the first floor; Alister had been allocated space at the top, where there was only his room and the games room.

By treading at the edges of each step Leah found she could glide almost silently to Michele’s quarters. Without ceremony, she thrust the door open.

Dressed only in pretty underclothes and a towel swathing her hair, Michele jumped guiltily, pressing a button on her phone. ‘Come in, won’t you?’ A yellow summer dress was laid out on top of her neatly made bed.

Leah closed the door behind her. ‘Do you need anything before we go out? Natasha says you’re under the weather.’

Michele lowered her voice. ‘You know I feel lumpy in the mornings.’ Her skin did look pale and waxy.

‘We can hang on until you feel well enough to come with us.’

Michelle belted on a blue robe and dropped her phone into its pocket. ‘I can’t go kayaking in my condition and I don’t want to tell the kids why yet.’ She unwound the towel and began to rub her hair.

‘We can do something less energetic.’

‘I’d hate to ruin things for them. I’ll put my feet up today, have a lovely dinner ready for when you come home, then spend the evening with the children.’ Michele began to brush her wet hair sleek against her head. She looked different without her curls. Harder.

Or was that just how she was, these days? Harder?

Although Michele picked up the hairdryer and paused, poised, as if to hint she had other things to do than chat, Leah meandered to the bedroom chair and plumped down into its depths. ‘It’s turned out to be a good thing that Alister’s here, with you having morning sickness. I know you wouldn’t have put on me to take the kids out all the time.’

Michele’s eyes glinted oddly. ‘Alister told me last night that I’m acting like a stranger so I suppose I might do anything. What do you think? Do you still know me?’

Leah’s sympathy warred with exasperation. ‘Of course I do. I just don’t really understand what’s going on with you.’

Blinking, Michele fidgeted with the hairdryer, dropping her gaze. ‘Maybe you should.’

Leah leaned forward and covered her sister’s hands to still her fretful movements. ‘But all our lives you’ve known what you wanted. To be a wife and mother with a home in a nice area and a sensible car to ferry your kids around in. Now you’re suddenly less cautious than I am.’

Michelle shrugged. ‘Your choices are just as carefully thought out as mine. It’s just that they’re all about how to avoid having kids or a husband who would stop you from indulging yourself with car races or stunt driving. Why shouldn’t I want my life to be all about me, sometimes?’

‘Because you gave that up to have children. Shell, even if you stop being Alister’s wife you can’t stop being a mother. You’re in a strange place but none of this is easy on Jordan and Natasha.’

Michele’s shoulders began to quake. ‘I know. I’m the worst mum in the world.’

Though aware she was being manipulated, Leah was unwilling to damn Michele’s hitherto conscientious parenting. ‘You’re absolutely not, or the kids wouldn’t be so keen to spend time with you.’ She jumped to her feet and assumed a bright tone and matching smile. ‘Look, take today for yourself. Put on your pretty dress and flake out in the garden. Read, paint your nails, snooze. There’s even a hot workman next door to watch. Then maybe you’ll be ready to go out with the family tomorrow.’

‘Lizzie’s Daughters’ by Rosie Clarke (@AnneHerries) #Blogtour! #Extract @aria_fiction

Day 2 of Rosie Clarke’s blog tour for her new book, ‘Lizzie’s Daughters’! As part of the tour, I have an extract from the book to share with you. Enjoy!

Lizzie's Daughters cover

LONDON 1958. Lizzie Larch battles to keep her daughters safe and out of harm’s reach. Perfect for the fans of Nadine Dorries and Lyn Andrews.

Lizzie adores her beautiful and clever daughters and will do anything for them. Both possess a wonderful creative flair, but have fiercely different characters. Betty, the eldest is head strong like Lizzie’s first husband whilst Francie is talented and easily influenced.

When Betty runs away after an argument with Sebastian, heartbreak and worry descend on the family. At great risk to her health Lizzie finds herself pregnant but is determined to give Sebastian the son they craved. Sebastian meanwhile is plunged into a dangerous overseas mission using his old contacts to track Betty to Paris and to the lair of the rogue that seduced her?

Consumed with guilt can Sebastian right the wrongs of the past and finally unite his family and friends?

Links to buy

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jvg4rA

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2jaxKff

iBooks: http://apple.co/2jmxtDS

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2jzdalR

Get The Workshop Girls series here: http://amzn.to/2nwLwHT

Extract from ‘Lizzie’s Daughters’ by Rosie Clarke.

Sebastian looked at Marianne Gutiere and felt the pain of his failure strike him. He’d promised he would find Gretchen for his friend’s wife, but although he’d visited ten orphanages in West Germany,  that they had thought might have some knowledge of the girl, he’d drawn a blank.

‘She wasn’t there?’ Marianne asked, tears glistening in her eyes. ‘It’s a hopeless task, isn’t it? She would be eighteen now and I’m not sure I would know her, because she was only six years old when I left. When I escaped from Eastern Germany after the war, Karl promised he would follow with her the next day… but they arrested him and she was taken somewhere to a children’s home; he was told she would be quite safe. Karl was able to send only one letter, but he was sure that she would be cared for… ’ her voice caught on a sob.

‘I’m so sorry,’ Sebastian said and touched her hand in sympathy. ‘You know that Karl and I were very close before the war. I wanted him to get out before it started but he had a good job at the University in Berlin and he didn’t believe that Hitler would kill the Jews, even though he was stripping them of money, property and dignity…’

‘Did anyone believe it?’ Marianne asked sadly. ‘We none of us expected what happened, but Karl was right; his work was necessary to our masters and they kept us  as hostages to ensure he worked for them –  and so we lived, but when the war was over Karl sent me away. I was carrying another child. I begged to take Gretchen with me, but he said if we all went it might arouse suspicions and we weren’t sure about the Russians then. We thought they might be our friends. Neither of us thought they would accuse him of war crimes and execute him…’

‘Karl was a decent man and a brilliant physicist. Whatever the Nazis made him do I know he wasn’t a criminal by choice, Marianne.  Whatever he did was to keep you safe and I shall not condemn him – but you were innocent of any crime and so is Gretchen, and I promise I will find her, Marianne.’

‘But you’ve been searching for three years, ever since I first spoke to you – just before I got that letter to say that she was in an orphanage and alive…’

‘It was a such a pity that whoever sent it didn’t sign it,’ Sebastian said. ‘Had they done so we might have got more information – as it is, we just have to keep looking.’ 

‘I know there were so many displaced children after the war,’ Marianne said regretfully. ‘I wrote to everyone I could contact; some replied but no one knew where Gretchen had been taken. I should’ve come to you sooner, but I might never have had the courage had we not met by chance on that railway station in Western Germany and you recognised me…’

‘It was meant to be,’ he said.  ‘I’m glad you asked for my help. I intend to do all I can for you, and not just for Karl’s sake.’

‘I’m not the only one you’ve helped, am I?’

‘It’s something I can’t talk about, even to you,’ he said and frowned. ‘We have a different kind of enemy these days. Lives depend on secrecy, and not even my wife knows what I do when I’m away… you should understand the political situation out there better than anyone.’

‘I do, of course, and I shan’t ask. I know you love your wife very much and sometimes I feel guilty for taking up so much of your time.’

‘Lizzie knows I love her.’ Sebastian stood up and glanced at his watch. ‘I must leave I’m afraid. I’m so sorry not to have better news, but I have many friends who have contacts both in Germany and in other countries where Gretchen might have gone and I shall go on looking until we discover something… one way or the other…’

‘You are so kind, but your family need you. I must not ask too much of you…’

‘Karl would have done the same in my place. I could not leave you alone in Germany, Marianne. It took a while to arrange passports and permissions, but I got you here to London and I’ll find you a better job than waitressing – and I’ll do my best to find Gretchen.’ He frowned. ‘You need some decent clothes – no, I know you can’t afford them, but I can. I’m going to take you to the shop of a friend of mine. She will give me a discount and I’ll make sure you have what you need to look the part when you apply for a job.’

‘You’ve done so much already. I can’t let you do this…’

‘I want to help – and I feel bad that I let you down again. Let me do this one small thing, please?’

‘Thank you,’ she said with quiet dignity and Sebastian left the flat he’d rented for her when she first came to England two years earlier. He’d hoped then that she would soon have her daughter with her, but his efforts had so far been in vain. He might have to talk to someone who could help, though he was reluctant to involve Jack and the department, because it would only draw him deeper into their arms when he knew it was time for him to think of his own life and his family…

As he walked from the building and hailed a passing taxi, Sebastian thought about what he’d learned from his inquiries in Western Germany – the things he hadn’t told Marianne. He believed that if Gretchen was still alive she was in East Berlin and it was notoriously difficult to trace children who’d been separated from their parents during the troubled time just after the end of the war; some were placed in orphanages in the Russian sector, others had simply disappeared. The child would be a young woman now. If she’d imbibed the anti-West doctrine that had undoubtedly been fed her these past years since the Cold War had started to escalate, she might not want to come to England to meet her mother and if she hadn’t… it would still be very difficult to get her out. The Russians had no intention of letting the East Germans escape to the West in large numbers– and there were unbelievable rumours about what they were planning to prevent it.

Author bio

Rosie Clarke was born in Swindon, but moved to Ely in Cambridgeshire at the age of nine. Married at eighteen, she ran her own hairdressing business for many years. Rosie started writing in 1976, combining this with helping her husband run his antique shop. She loves to write for her own enjoyment and to give pleasure to her millions of fans. Rosie was the well-deserved winner of the 2004 RNA Romance Award and the Betty Neels Trophy.

Visit Rosie Clarke’s website


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#Guestpost Marcia Spillers @mysterwriter2 (Murder at the Mystery Bay Hotel) @brookcottagebks

Murder at the Mystery Bay Hotel Tour Banner(1)

Murder_At_The_Myster_Cover_for_Kindle

Can Delphie Beauchamp, a Texas born research librarian fresh from a break-up with her two-timing boyfriend, help best friend and newly elected Chief of Police Em Landry, solve a double homicide in the old Mystery Bay Cemetery? Chief Landry needs Delphie’s help in solving the murders, along with determining why specific graves from the early eighteen-hundreds have been vandalized. Her canine best friend in tow, a twenty-two-pound dachshund named Huckleberry, Delphie heads for the tropical island of Mystery Bay, Florida where she begins a journey that includes a pinch of gold, a touch or romance, and a wallop of ghosts, in a race to solve the mystery, of the Mystery Bay Hotel.

EXCERPT

The smell of the ocean, crisp and briny like a jar of pickles, held just a hint of murder in the air. I picked up my luggage from the small carousel inside the terminal and opened the glass door of the Mystery Bay International Airport. The sultry, mid-October sunshine hit me all at once, along with the sweet fragrance of the red, frangipani trees that bordered the edges of the sidewalk. Amazing how paradise was just a plane ride away.

“God, what a beautiful day.” I dropped my suitcase on the pink-hued coral sidewalk and pulled out my sunglasses. Before I could slip them on, Huckleberry, my twenty-two pound, red Dachshund whined for me to take off his winter sweater. Poor little guy. The outfit worked great for the chilly October weather in central Texas but not the south Florida humidity.

“Sorry, Huck.” I unhooked his leash and pulled off the sweater. Stretching out his long body, Huckleberry trotted over to the nearest hibiscus bush and hunched over.  Seconds later he sighed in relief.  

I coughed and fanned the air. Guess he wasn’t that hot in his sweater after all.

BUY LINKS

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

Guest post from the author.

Craft vs. Creative Talent

Craft or creative talent was a burning question that was asked in many of the creative writing classes I attended when I first began to write. The instructor would begin the class by asking if a person could learn the craft of writing well enough to write a great book, or was creative talent the main factor in getting a book on a best sellers list regardless of how well the book was written?

For clarification, let’s get a few definitions going, so we’ll have a better idea of the two before we make a choice. Merriam-Webster defines the word “craft” as “an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill.”
The word “talent,” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a special ability that allows someone to do something well.”

Something to ponder, correct?  If you had to choose between the two, which one would you pick? One of the best classes I’ve taken for learning the craft of creative writing began with a simple exercise.  The exercise?  Write down twenty things that must happen in the book.  Simple, right?  But wait.  There was a problem. How do you know what twenty things to choose for your book?  Is that a function of craft or creative talent?

Once you decide on the twenty things, then the trick is to arrange them into a well-written, attention-grabbing, heart-pounding novel that involves sub-plots, character arcs, scene arcs, dialogue that rings true and forever changes the reader.

Again, craft or creative talent?

One of the arguments I’ve heard in favor of creative talent, is that a spectacular story can override a book that might not be quite as well written as it should.  The reader may have to struggle over improper grammar or sentence structure, weak plot or character development, but if they can do that, a page-turner could reside within that manuscript. Of course, one can also argue that a well written book may be so well done that it leeches any creativity out of the story line and leaves the reader dissatisfied without knowing why. I find each of these arguments to be true, although both leave something to be desired.  

When a reader decides to pick up our book, or download our e-book, we, as writers, are asking them to suspend their reality for a time and come into our world.  They are trusting us to provide them with an experience that makes it worth their time, and money.  When we don’t live up to their expectations, then we fall short as writers and leave them feeling disappointed and disjointed.  It’s not a good feeling, and something I don’t care to experience myself.

So, what is the answer?  For me, it’s caring enough about your work as a writer to provide the best experience possible for your reader.  It’s making sure you learn the craft of writing to turn your creative talent into an impossible to put down novel.  It’s taking the time to do the job right, without any shortcuts.  In other words, it’s combing the two, craft and creative talent, as well as you possibly can, so your reader will be left with an experience that will last them a life-time.

About the author.

Marcia Spillers has been a Librarian/Archivist for more than twenty years.  Currently a school librarian, she lives in Austin, Texas with her two chows, Bella and Susie Bear.  Marcia spent seventeen years in south Florida perfecting her writing skills, along with completing the Writer’s Program at UCLA.

Blog:  http://www.marciaspillers.com/blog/

Website:  www.MarciaSpillers.com

@mysterywriter2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marcia.spillers.7