#MeetElviraCarr #BlogTour! A Letter to myself – Frances Maynard @perkinsfran1 @mantlebooks

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I am delighted to be day two of the #MeetElviraCarr blog tour, courtesy of Mantle Books! Big thanks to Don Shanahan for inviting me to be a part of the tour! For my stop today I have the pleasure of sharing the author’s, Frances Maynard, letter to her younger self.

But first, here are the all important details of Frances Maynard’s new book, The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr, which will be published by Mantle Books on the 24th August!

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Funny, heart-warming and ultimately triumphant, The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr is the perfect story for anyone who doesn’t quite fit in – and for everyone who chooses not to.

Elvira Carr is twenty-seven and neuro-atypical. Her father – who she suspects was in the secret service – has passed away and, after several Unfortunate Incidents growing up, she now spends most of her time at home with her overbearing mother. But when her mother has a stroke and is taken into care, Elvira is suddenly forced to look after herself or risk ending up in Sheltered Accommodation. Armed with her Seven Rules, which she puts together after online research, Elvira hopes to learn how to navigate a world that’s full of people she doesn’t understand. Not even the Seven Rules can help her, however, when she discovers that everything she thought she knew about her father was a lie, and is faced with solving a mystery she didn’t even know existed . . .

Click here to pre-order your copy of the book.

A Letter to my younger self by Frances Maynard.

Dear Frances,

Don’t listen to them.

Don’t listen to your parents.  How can you be a carbon copy?  Family doesn’t have to be blood.

Don’t listen to your teachers.  Most of them will never teach you anything you need to know.  But keep learning.

Don’t listen to advice.  It will be unasked for, undeserved and irrelevant.  You’ll only learn, unfortunately, by doing.

Don’t listen to conventions that, at the time, seem set in stone.

Don’t listen to anyone who’s certain about anything.  Certainty is blinding.

Do listen to your friends (but not the drug-addled ones).  Wisdom is not confined to the old.

Do listen to your gut instinct.

Do listen to the little voice inside that is telling you: one day things will be different, one day you’ll have more power, one day your time will come.

Love from

Frances

Huge thanks to Frances Maynard for such an honest and empowering letter.

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#TWGGetsTalking – How to tell the difference between being nasty & being constructive #reviews

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You should all know by now that I like to talk, ESPECIALLY when I am passionate about something and believe that it needs to be spoken about.

Once again, opinions have been thrust into the limelight and definitions have been questioned. Before I explain further, I’m just going to paste the Oxford dictionary definitions of two words; nasty, and constructive.

Nasty: very bad, or unpleasant.
(definition of unpleasant is: Causing discomfort, unhappiness, or revulsion; disagreeable.)

Constructive: Having or intended to have a useful or beneficial purpose.

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Two completely different word with extremely clear definitions, yet people are still getting confused by the two words.

Why?

As a reviewer, I have always been made aware that authors (or anyone who gets critiqued) tend to appreciate CONSTRUCTIVE reviews as opposed to NASTY reviews. With both types of reviews your opinion is given – that is NOT the issue. After all, every person on this Earth is entitled to their opinion. We are allowed to dislike something. We are allowed to express our dislike of something. We are allowed to jump for joy about something. What the issue is, however, is the WAY those points are put across.

Believe me, I open my trap before my brain connects sometimes, ending up with goodness knows what flying out of my mouth. But when it comes to reviews, I am extremely careful about how I voice my opinion.

For example; ‘Omg I hated that book, it was absolutely shit, the author bored me to tears.’

What’s wrong with that sentence?

Okay, so, the example above is someones opinion. They’re entitled to that. Answer me this; was it constructive, or nasty?

If you said that the example was a constructive comment: seriously? How does saying that a book was ‘shit’, come across as beneficial to the author?
It doesn’t.

It’s rude and it’s nasty. Imagine if you cooked a meal for a group of people and someone came up to you afterwards and said that they thought your cooking was absolutely vile, would you benefit from that?

To turn the above example into a constructive opinion, here’s an example:
‘Personally, this book wasn’t really my cup of tea as I couldn’t quite gel with the storyline. I felt that it came across as quite over the top and unrealistic, which in turn made me switch off.’

The different between the two examples is substantial. The example above still highlights your dislike, yet it also explains WHY you felt that way. It’s also not personally attacking the person who wrote the book, whilst still keeping your opinion entitlement intact.

Whilst authors are painfully aware that their books could end up with negative reviews and their book babies critiqued, it doesn’t mean that just because they have put something in the public eye, that they should expect nasty comments or personal attacks.

YES, they have written something which will get critiqued.
YES, everyones opinion does differ.
YES, readers are entitled to dislike their book.

Just DON’T be nasty about it!

In book clubs, you’re going to have the perfect opportunity to talk about various books whether it’s an online or offline. But, do you think that it’s respectful to openly blast and author and their book, in an online book club which they could be a member of?
Yes or no?

No it’s not!!! Go ahead and state your opinion about a book, but if you’re going to sit there and say that a book is so bad and how you wanted to ‘light a match under it’; that’s not stating your opinion, it’s called being nasty.

As we hear all the time, not everyone will like the same book. Well duh! I fully admit that I have read a book and disliked it. But instead of reviewing it nastily, I gave it a constructive review as there will always be something in a book that you’ll like. I explained what I didn’t like about the book, I also explained WHY I didn’t like those parts, how it made me feel, and so on. I also explained what I DID like about the book. I still managed to express my opinion on the book, without insulting a human being with feelings in the process.

So, if you’re ever in an online book group where the admin have asked you to talk about books in a constructive manner; respectfully do it. They aren’t taking away your freedom of speech. They aren’t banishing you from stating your opinion. They are just asking you to express your opinion respectfully and constructively. Authors have feelings too.

It really isn’t that difficult to do..

#Review – A Not Quite Perfect Family – Claire Sandy day Part 2 @julietstories @panmacmillan

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Funny, feisty and all-too-true, A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy is for anyone who loves their family so much they’d just like a weekend away from them.

Fern Carlile has a lot on her plate. It’s a good thing she loves her big, imperfectly perfect family, because she’s the one who washes their pants, de-fleas the dog and runs her own business. A hearty meal is the one thing that brings the Carliles together – but over the course of a year, the various courses also pull them apart.

Around the table sits an eight-year-old militant feminist, a pair of teenage accidental parents, and a cantankerous OAP. Fern’s husband needs an extra seat for his spectacular midlife crisis.

Will Fern’s marriage be over by the time coffee is served? Perhaps she’ll give in and have the hot new dish that looks so tempting. Decisions, decisions . . .

What does TWG think?

Part two of Claire Sandy’s publication day review posts has arrived! If you are only just joining in and are wondering what the fudge cake I’m on about head over to part one here, and then come back okay? Happy publication day to the hilarious Claire Sandy and her brand new novel, A Not Quite Perfect Family, which was published today by Panmacmillan. Enjoy my review!

As soon I my e-mail inbox pinged and Jess Duffy’s name appeared with the words ‘Claire…Sandy’, I ended up dancing around my kitchen like an absolute ding dong (and yes, the same happened when the book came through my letterbox). Huge fan much? It felt like ages ago since I last picked up a Claire Sandy novel so I was incredibly eager to start reading this little beauty.

Ahhh, mums, the glue that holds the family together when it comes to doing the laundry, cooking the dinner, sorting out birthdays, walking the dog, looking after the children, housework, dealing with family members you just cannot say no to…..sound familiar?! (Apologies if you’re a male and the glue to your family, but this novel has a mummy as the glue so don’t get your marigolds in a twist.)
For Fern Carlile it all sounds TOO familiar seeing as it’s pretty much her own self summed up in a nutshell! Her children, Ollie and Tallulah, couldn’t be more different if they tried; one of them is all for woman power and creating an insect hospital whereas the other is all for doing…WELL, y’know…
As for the man of the house, well, his midlife crisis seems to have taken away his sense of clarity! Adam wants excitement, a life without any ties; so he gets a face that cannot move and a penthouse..

My first impressions of the storyline after reading the first chapter were a bit jaded. I couldn’t seem to work out what made the Carlile family’s life book worthy. After all, they’re a totally dysfunctional and bonkers family just like a lot of the population are! But then, all of a sudden Tallulah came to life in the storyline, much like a Tasmanian devil with strong, feminist views which wouldn’t have looked out of place with the rest of the Suffragists. Tallulah is absolutely hilarious and because she is only eight years old, her views of the world are so innocent, she makes the toughest of situations ‘awww’ worthy. Plus, her interpretation of certain words and how they’re pronounced is award worthy in itself. I sniggered more than once! I probably shouldn’t have seeing as my three year old is venturing down Tallulah’s route already and I probably won’t be laughing when she turns eight, BUT, I can because it’s Claire Sandy’s book and…oh hell, it was hilarious.

Which reminds me, what would YOU call one of your dolls (if you had one)? Ford? Micra? Hatchback? Hm…

Just when I thought that the storyline had reached its peak in terms of bonkers-ness, Nora appears, then another colourful character appears and it’s all like ‘WOAH’. So many different personalities, beliefs and lifestyles all under one roof; it was like asking Dolly Parton, Status Quo, Korn, Steps and Justin Bieber to a party and asking them to talk about the elements!
In other words, it was rather comical to read!

I’m not going to say that I enjoyed every characters antics throughout the book because I would be lying. Yes, some of the situations did seem a little petty, BUT, it didn’t make me think any less of the storyline or the overall theme of the novel at all. I think that because I invest a lot of myself into the storylines I read, I sometimes forget that the characters aren’t real and I end up assessing them as though they are real. You can tell I’m a book nerd, right?

Despite the laugh out loud moments and the ‘cover face with hands’ cringey (yet funny) moments, Claire Sandy’s novel covers quite a lot of relatable and poignant issues. Obviously I can’t tell you what those issues are as it would be classed as a spoiler, however, adding those issues into the storyline has highlighted the fact that not all families are perfect. It also highlighted that not all families follow the same paths as their peers, they may end up making mistakes and deal with them in a way that will aggravate their family members. But that’s life. It was incredibly refreshing to read a storyline which contained more than one ‘taboo’ situation and owns it like it’s the ‘right’ way to live. Why SHOULD we be ashamed if our lifestyles aren’t like the rich and famous? Why SHOULD we be ashamed for bringing up our children differently to the Royal Family? Why SHOULD we be ashamed?

‘A Not Quite Perfect Family’ is a hilarious, refreshing and relatable read which completely modernises situations which society chooses not to. Not only that, the novel also has the power to fill you with a type of warmth you never realised you required.

A snort-worthy, side-splitting, hysterical read from start to finish, ‘A Not Quite Perfect Family’ is THE perfect book to lose yourself in, forget all your troubles c’mon get happy with, and read over and over again. Such a fantastic read, Claire Sandy is my go to author when I am in need of a pick me up and a giggle. She never disappoints…well…only when she writes ‘The End’ but I’ll left her off..

Big thanks to Jess Duffy & Panmacmillan.

Buy now from Amazon UK

Claire Sandy #TBT vs New book! Reblog – What Would Mary Berry Do?@julietstories @panmacmillan

I’m doing something a tad different today as I am sure you have guessed by the title, yes? Well, let me explain. A year ago last month when TWG was still a nipper and the GBBO was the nations feast for a Wednesday, I reviewed ‘What Would Mary Berry Do?’ by Claire Sandy, on my blog around that time. I’m not sure if you’re aware but Claire Sandy has a brand new book published TODAY!  Yes, I know, I nearly peed myself in excitement too when I found out, but it’s all good because I will be reviewing her brand new book on my blog later on today (1.30pm GMT to be precise), so make sure you check back for that later!
Before that though, to celebrate Claire’s publication day, I had the ultimate light bulb moment of re-blogging a review of one of her older books in one post, and then reviewing her brand new book in another. Double whammy y’see. So, that is exactly what I’m doing!
Please note that I have not changed anything about the way I wrote the review, I have literally copied and pasted it from its original post. Definitely an authentic book #tbt!! I hope you enjoy & make sure you’re back at 1.30pm for my review of Claire Sandy’s book baby!

What Would Mary Berry Do? was originally posted on my blog a year ago here: What would Mary Berry do?

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What would Mary Berry do? by Claire Sandy.
Published: 31st July 2014 by Panmacmillan.
ISBN: 978-1-4472-5349-5.
Available on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats.

Marie Dunwoody doesn’t want for much in life. She has a lovely husband, three wonderful children, and a business of her own. But her cupcakes are crap. Her meringues are runny and her biscuits are rock-hard. She cannot bake for toffee. Or, for that matter, make toffee.

Marie can’t ignore the disappointed looks anymore, or continue to be shamed by neighbour and nemesis, Lucy Gray. Lucy whips up profiteroles with one hand, while ironing her bed sheets with the other. Marie’s had enough: this is the year it all changes. She vows to follow – to the letter – recipes from the Queen of Baking, and at all times ask, ‘What would Mary Berry do?’

Husband Robert has noticed that his boss takes crumb structure as seriously as budget cuts and with redundancies on the horizon, he too puts on a pinny. Twins Rose and Iris are happy to eat all the half-baked mistakes that come their way, but big brother Angus is more distant than usual, as if something is troubling him. And there is no one as nosey as a matching pair of nine-year old girls…

Marie starts to realise that the wise words of Mary Berry can help her with more than just a Victoria sponge. But can Robert save the wobbling soufflé that is his career? And is Lucy’s sweet demeanour hiding something secretly sour?

What does TWG think?

I must admit, I have asked the question ‘what would Mary Berry do?’ in my head multiple times, and not just for baking! What would she do? Maybe she is the sort of person that would go rock climbing! No, not rock cake climbing, actual rock walls. Oh never mind! Maybe I should tweet her and ask? Probably not a good idea. Don’t want Maz Bez to think I’m taking the mickey out of her buns…
Several readers over on my Facebook page: The Writing Garnet – Facebook Page. were curious about this book because of the cover. It’s cake, how can you NOT be curious about it. So I said that I would do them a humongous favour and read it for them! I’m nice like that.

Claire Sandy begins the book by introducing you to Marie’s fail-stopper….sorry, show-stopper. You got a rough idea from the blurb that Marie’s buns weren’t all that squishy, so she proves it in public, at the children’s school. Oh dear. Throughout the story you will meet characters from all walks of life in their cosy little neighbourhood. As always, not all neighbours get along with each other. Some things don’t sit quite right with a couple of the neighbours, they seem to be hiding something, but what is it?

Marie decides that it is time to actually use her kitchen and invites Mary Berry to join her. No, not the real Mary Berry; her cook book! Due to Marie’s nose being buried in copious amounts of flour and icing, she doesn’t notice that her husband and her son have their own personal anguish. Robert faces problems at his work and realises that it’s going to be make or bake…sorry, break, and he could face losing his job. Angus, her son, has his own trouble with the ‘clones’.  So out comes Mary Berry’s pal in book form, and fighting for the kitchen begins.  As you read more of the novel, you will find out the troubles that are under Marie’s nose. But is it too late for her to fix them all? Or should she just focus on fixing her buns?

Like my Facebook readers, this book had me curious straight away because of the cover and title. Everyone loves Mary Berry! Claire Sandy writes about a ‘typical’ mum in the kitchen, and I mean ‘typical’ in a good way because many of us have been standing cursing at our failed attempts in the kitchen. Just like Marie. Because she does curse, and so does Aileen. You will meet Aileen when you visit Marie’s work, you will love her. Just don’t have a drink in your hand when you read about her. She is probably one of my favourite characters in the book because she doesn’t give a donut! ‘What would Mary Berry do?’ is such a laugh out loud and warm book which tells the story of ‘friends’ coming together, and maybe soul mates being found. On more than one occasion I was laughing so hard (high-pitched squealing sort of laughter), that I thought my house was surrounded by dogs. They respond to high pitched noises don’t they? Hilarious and modern (because of the swearing) it was an absolute treat to read. High praise for Claire Sandy because it’s BRILLIANT! From start to finish it had me hooked and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that loves Maz Bez and the GBBO. You will not be disappointed. I cannot wait to read it again!

Luckily I can read it again whenever I wish as I have my own paperback copy -smug-. I hope you enjoyed TWG’s first book #TBT. Don’t forget that ‘What Would Mary Berry Do?’ is out to buy now here. Claire Sandy and I will be back at 1.30pm with ‘A Not Quite Perfect Family’. You really don’t want to miss it.

Happy birthday to me! TWG turns ONE! #happybirthdayTWG #bookblogger #authors #firstbirthday

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AHHHHHHHHH!! Happy birthday to TWG! One year ago today, 15th March 2016, my first ever blog post was published. I even remember which one it was too – The woman who upped and left – Review. I didn’t even think anyone would read my reviews, let alone be following me a year down the line. It has been a surreal year for TWG and I have loved every single moment of it. Well, most of it!

This last year I have:

– Created a signed book collection of 35 books, containing novels from authors such as Lindsey Kelk, Jodi Picoult, Carol Wyer, Paige Toon, Sophie Kinsella, Michelle Visage, David Videcette, Mary-Jane Riley, Liane Moriarty, Sue Moorcroft, Sue Watson, Sam Carrington, Louise Jensen, Tilly Tennant, Sue Fortin, Jan Brigden, Laura James, Marcie Steele, Holly Martin, Sarah Morgan, Elli Darkins, Eva Jordan, Lisa Jewell, Cathy Bramley, Mhairi McFarlane, Susan Gander, Rosie Blake, Heidi Swain, Milly Johnson, Jennifer Bohnet, and Rebecca Raisin.

Huge thank you to the authors who have sent me those signed books as a competition prize or for another reason, thank you to the publishers, and thank you to the authors for signing those books so that they were available to buy. I feel extremely lucky and I will forever be grateful.

– Became friends with most of those authors above, AND MORE. A year ago I was in dream world when it came to authors tweeting me back. A year later, I am still in dream world when they do that and have to pinch myself when I am in conversation with them. Am I dreaming?

– Found some truly loyal bloggers to build brilliant friendships with. I also am so thankful to Joanne R for taking me under her wing at the very beginning, making sure that I wasn’t on my own in a huge group.

– Huge thank you to Anita Chapman for letting me know about Book connectors FB group! Without you, I don’t think I would have known anything about it.

– Received books to review from publishers and authors I have admired for many, many years. Every time I get book post it feels like it’s my birthday all over again. Thank you to Accent Press for being the first publisher to put me on their blogger list, and a huge thank you to all of the other publishers who continue to bless me with bookpost and book related things. Living the dream.

– This last year I also met Jodi Picoult. Another author who I have admired for many years and made me catch my breath when I met her, with fellow blogger Dee. Amazing experience.

There are so, SO many highlights from this past year, I couldn’t begin to list them all. I have been on several hundred blog tours, taken part in multiple cover reveals, been lucky enough to interview Jenny Colgan, Ali McNamara, Carol Wyer, Cathy Bramley, Andi Michael, Tilly Tennant and many, many more. My interviews are no longer called ‘interviews’, some authors know of them as interrogations! A fellow blogger, Lorraine, let me know that I was now the ‘blogger who made authors cry’ (in a good way), with my reviews. I don’t set out to do that (honestly)! A special thank you needs to go to Carol Wyer and Kim Nash. When I first started blogging, I had no idea about most things yet Carol became such a good friend in such a short space of time, becoming the support network and confidante that I treasured, and I still do. Carol stood by my side and championed me and TWG from the very beginning, and she still does to this day. I will always be grateful for your kind words and support Carol, you truly are one of kind. As for Kim Nash, you were the first publisher I ever spoke to directly (well, over e-mail) and we built a good friendship from that moment. Plus, you had copious amounts of patience with me when I kept pestering you! Thank you for believing in me now and today.

This last year has seen me read a total of 214 books (so far), with 154 books being from 2016 and 60 being my current total. I have been lucky enough to try so many new authors and fall in love with genres I never thought I would see myself reading. I have been made to feel included to various book groups on FB and this whole year has seen my blog posts being shared far and wide by bloggers. BLOGGERS, thank you for always sharing my posts, championing my reviews and being such stars. You are all incredibly wonderful and it’s a pleasure to become your friends. You all know who you are!

This year has also seen an article of mine get published on mental health and illness website, The Mighty. Within 2 weeks it had been shared over 3000 times. You can find my article here. I also have had one of my quotes published on the back of a paperback, with another one (or two) to be expected further on in the year. I have also found my quotes on publishers publicity pictures, and yes, a year later the feeling is still surreal with every new one. Thank you.

This post could go on forever, as there are so many people I would like to thank for helping my dream get on its way to becoming a reality. Reading books is my only respite from the hell of daily life and for that reason, I will forever be in authors debt for writing those books that allow me to travel to France, New York etc, or allow me to ‘work’ in various different places without having to worry about my P45!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to write and be involved in books/writing some way or another. I’m involved in books thanks to my blog. I just need someone to give me that break to change my life, and allow me to work freelance as a writer/publicist etc. It’s getting to a point now where the chances of me working outside are slim. Fingers crossed that 2017 allows me to get even closer to getting that job. Thank you all for following my blog, supporting me, reading my posts and just being you.

Lots of love,

TWG x

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#BlogTour! #Extract from ‘Date with Death’ by Julia Chapman (@DalesWriter) @Panmacmillan

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Samson O’Brien has been dismissed from the police force, and returns to his hometown of Bruncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales to set up the Dales Detective Agency while he fights to clear his name. However, the people of Bruncliffe aren’t that welcoming to a man they see as trouble.

Delilah Metcalfe, meanwhile, is struggling to keep her business, the Dales Dating Agency, afloat – as well as trying to control her wayward Weimaraner dog, Tolpuddle. Then when Samson gets his first case, investigating the supposed suicide of a local man, things take an unexpected turn, and soon he discovers a trail of deaths that lead back to the door of Delilah’s agency.

With suspicion hanging over someone they both care for, the two feuding neighbours soon realize that they need to work together to solve the mystery of the dating deaths. But working together is easier said than done . . .

Buy now from Amazon

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Thrilled to be able to share an extract of Julia Chapman’s ‘Date With Death, with you all today as the tour bus swings by TWG! Thank you to Alice Dewing from Panmacmillan for inviting me on the tour! Hope you enjoy the extract!

From Chapter One

‘Edith, is that . . . ? It can’t be . . .’

Edith Hird turned to see what had captured Clarissa’s attention, squinting across the road at the motorbike and the man sitting astride it. It should have been hard to tell, with the distance and her ageing eyesight. But she knew straight away, even with the mane of black hair that graced his shoulders. It was the defiant way he was staring down at the town, the familiar brooding intensity – which had grown into hostility as the years passed and he became branded as a renegade – accentuated by the livid bruising on his cheek. The motorbike was a giveaway, too. Everyone in Bruncliffe knew that bike.

As Titch and the two elderly sisters moved closer to the window to get a better view, Elaine Bullock was crossing the cafe to the only occupied table, her entire focus on the plates in her hands.

‘Here you go. Home-made cottage pie and chips,’ she announced cheerfully as she approached the waiting diners, relieved to have made it without any mishaps. Then she made the fatal mistake of glancing outside and her gaze was caught by the sight of the man on the motorbike. She only had time for a glimpse of his profile before he put his helmet on. It was enough.

‘Oh my God!’ she gasped, plates tilting in her hands to a precarious angle, everything sliding towards the edge. ‘It’s . . . that’s . . .’

‘Trouble,’ said Titch, oblivious to the dripping plates. ‘With a capital T.’

‘I need to make a phone call,’ said Elaine, hastily depositing the meals onto the now gravy-smeared table before hurrying over to the coat stand, grabbing her mobile from her jacket pocket and rushing towards the back door, leaving her customers bemused in her wake.

‘Well,’ said Edith, still transfixed by the man on the other side of the road, a smile growing on her face. ‘Looks like life in Bruncliffe is about to get interesting.’

Buy now from Amazon

[Julia Chapman is the author of Date with Death, the first novel in the Dales Detective Series, published March 9th (Pan). You can follow Julia on Twitter @DalesWriter, visit her website www.jstagg.com and find her on Facebook www.facebook.com/DalesDetective]