About the author.
About the author.
Did any eagle eyed Tweeters spot the third clue on @AvonBooksUK Twitter last night? As you can see by the above graphic, AvonBooks are keeping things very secretive.
‘Our third blogger is a bit of a gem. She’s not a RUBY but a…..’
I LOVE that clue! If you hadn’t guessed it last night, I’m pretty positive that you will guess it right now!
Tadaaaaaa!!!! The third blogger is me, The Writing Garnet! I’ll secretly hope that AvonBooks do genuinely think that I am a gem, obvs!!!
Today I will be bringing you an extract from the fantastic second novel; ‘The Secret’ by Katerina Diamond, as well as the all important ‘to buy’ links. Naturally!
The Secret – Katerina Diamond
She could hear Estelle and Hitchcock arguing at the front door before it slammed shut. A moment later, her bedroom door opened and Estelle walked in. Flustered, she took the bottle from Bridget and sat down next to the Baby, beginning to stroke his hair.
‘I can take over now; he had to go.’
‘What were you fighting about?’
‘He wasn’t happy about bumping into you, that’s all. I told him earlier I had the place to myself. I thought you would be out. Come on, Baby.’ She lifted the Baby’s head on to her lap and put the bottle in his mouth – he suckled away. Bridget supposed as kinks went, it was a pretty harmless one.
‘I’m going to take a shower, then,’ Bridget said, before quickly exiting the room.
Their hot water wasn’t working again so Bridget gathered her things and went to ask Dee, who lived upstairs, if she could use her shower.
‘Are you sure you don’t mind?’
‘No, it’s cool. I was just getting ready to go out. What do you think of this?’ Dee did a twirl in what was obviously a stolen dress: blue sequins with a low neckline. She was a notorious shoplifter; some of the gifts she had given Bridget in the past attested to that. Dee was in between flatmates – previous tenants always looked for another house share after spending a few weeks with Dee and her sticky fingers.
‘You know those earrings of mine you like, the vintage blue crystal ones? They would look really nice with that dress. They’re in our bathroom downstairs, if you want them.’ Bridget smiled at Dee. It was always better to offer her things before she took them anyway.
‘You’re a star. Maybe tonight I’ll meet my millionaire,’ Dee said, blowing Bridget a kiss as she made her way down the stairs to the floor below.
Bridget loved the feeling of hot water. Living in this house felt dirty, everything felt wrong. She wished she could be back home with her family, or even call her mother, but that wasn’t an option at the moment. She washed her hair for the first time in a week, feeling the filth and grime hidden underneath the layers of hairspray. Dirty hair held a style better. Estelle would make her hair pretty again with rollers and a curling iron. Bridget was never any good with that stuff. Luckily she was naturally quite appealing, in fact she looked better without make-up on, but the men here weren’t interested in natural beauty. They wanted the hot plastic on their arm, with the push-up bras and the fake tans; they wanted the glamour-model look, not the girl next door. Mostly Bridget just provided dates, unlike Estelle, who was all about the extra-curriculars – that’s where the real money got made, that’s where you got to meet the important men. Bridget hadn’t proved she could be trusted yet.
She turned off the water and ran her fingers through her hair, it squeaked between her hands as she worked through the tangles. It felt so good to get all that shit off her. She threw a towel around herself and headed into Dee’s lounge, where she spotted several things of her own that had gone missing in the last few days. She didn’t begrudge Dee; she knew it was something she had no control over, and none of those stolen things meant anything to her anyway. Nothing in this life meant anything to her, except Sam.
She walked down the stairs back to her flat, wearing just her towel. The door was ajar. Something was off. She pressed her back against the wall and peered through the gap. She could see Dee’s foot, her blue patent shoe hanging off at the heel. Bridget crouched down and peered in further, she could hear a noise coming from inside. Don’t panic, she thought to herself. You know what to do. Still, her stomach twisted as she saw what was inside the room.
Dee was laid out on the ground, eyes wide open, her face frozen in an expression of surprise. Bridget could see her body moving as she struggled for breath. Blood pooled beneath her, and her legs were wet with red. Bridget could see a five-inch slash mark high up on the inside of her thigh. Her femoral artery had been cut; she would be dead within minutes. One thought entered Bridget’s head.
Shit. They know who I am.
Bridget started to move forward into the flat, knowing she had to get her phone. It was barely six feet away. Dee’s eyes moved towards her, flashing her a foreboding look, a warning. She saw a tear falling from the side of Dee’s head on to the floor as her eyes filled with an emptiness Bridget was all too familiar with. This wasn’t the first dead body she had seen, but it was the first time she had actually witnessed someone die. She couldn’t think about that right now. Remember. What do you do now? Whoever had done this was still in the flat. She couldn’t risk it. You need to warn Sam. Bridget needed to get to a phone. Sam would know what to do.
Can you keep a secret? Your life depends on it…
When Bridget Reid wakes up in a locked room, terrifying memories come flooding back – of blood, pain, and desperate fear. Her captor knows things she’s never told anyone. How can she escape someone who knows all of her secrets?
As DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a horrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder right under their noses in Exeter.
And as the past comes back to haunt her, Grey must confront her own demons. Because she knows that it can be those closest to us who hurt us the most…
To see if you can guess the next bloggers secret identity, make sure you pop onto @AvonBooksUK Twitter timeline every day at 4.30pm (ish) GMT.
But SHHHHHH!!!! Can YOU keep a secret?
Ellie Browne has left behind her high-flying job in London to return to the charming Buckinghamshire village of Little Leyton. Working shifts at The Dog and Duck and running her own doggy-day-care business, Ellie’s looking for a much simpler way of life and a good old fashioned Christmas.
But Little Leyton’s landscape is changing; Johnny Tay, Ellie’s ex, wants to pick up where they left off; sultry property developer Max Golding, has moved into the village and is ruffling feathers; and rumour has it that the pub, which holds a special place in Ellie’s heart, might be sold. Suddenly, life’s looking a whole lot more complicated…
Can Ellie juggle her emotions and commitments in time to celebrate Christmas?
What does TWG think?
Absolutely thrilled to be taking part in Jill Steeples’ blog tour! -does happy dance- I LOVE her books. Not only is today TWG’s stop on the tour, it is also the last day of it! -sniff-. Don’t worry, all is not lost though, if you buy the book you’ll be able to see the beautiful cover whenever you like! Win win really! I have the joy of bringing you not one, but TWO Jill Steeples delights today in the form of a review and an extract. Hope you enjoy!
Sometimes when life gets a bit too hectic and crowded, all we need to do is take a step back, breathe and focus on our next step. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Ellie seemed to find it simpler than she thought it would thanks to a few four legged friends. Ellie’s life seemed to do a U-turn as she found herself back in her hometown and back working in her local, but she doesn’t quite seem to mind. After all, a random man has seen her looking like a drowned rat with a dog, and was ever so easy on the eye! Could Ellie find her reason for staying in her hometown permanently? Or will the random man turn out to be a wolf in sheep clothing?
When it comes to Ellie and her life, the phrase ‘home is where the heart is’ seems to ring rather true. She strikes me as the type of person that seems to hide behind a mask and tries to keep her emotions bottled up. Because of that, I warmed to her straight away as I am exactly the same. Plus it made for ace reading as I tried to work out whether any decisions she made would be done via her head, or her heart.
I thought that the harrowing topic a lot of the book was based around, was rather humbling. It opened my eyes to the devastating truth which in turn made the storyline stand out. Honestly? I thought Jill was rather brave to incorporate it into her story, as it is a topic that people do have a rather harsh opinion about, especially in the media. During the shift in the storyline, I got to see another side to a few of the characters, some of which have been holding their cards rather close to their chests until then. Lovely to see.
Jill Steeples has written such a refreshing and humbling read that will grab the hearts of the readers in more way than one. A story about staying true to yourself and what you believe in, as well as never giving up without a fight. Such a cosy, inspiring read that can be read time and time again, whatever the time of year.
I received a complimentary copy of the book in return for my honest views.
Christmas at The Dog and Duck, by Jill Steeples, published by Aria is available to buy now from Amazon UK.
Taken from Chapter 3 of Christmas at The Dog and Duck by Jill Steeples.
-jumps up and down like an excited child’ TOMORROW, TOMORROW, did you know that….TOMORROW Kitty French’s latest novel ‘Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency’ is published! I am sure many of you know how excited I am about this book because it is pure brilliance! A brilliant book.
Today I have something rather special on the blog to help get you all excited about the books release too. I have an extract from Kitty’s book to share with you, I know you will enjoy it! Because of that fact, the buy link will be at the end, I am THAT sure you will LOVE IT! Enjoy!!
Melody Bittersweet and The Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency
‘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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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 if 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.
Huge thank you to Kim at Bookouture and Kitty for allowing the extract to be used!
To buy the book, click HERE
Just to clarify, the title isn’t a lie, I would LOVE to meet Polly James. Luckily her book title fits in quite nicely!
‘Would like to meet’ is Polly James’ second novel which was released on the 30th June, published by Avon.
Sorry, before we go any further, can we take a moment to appreciate the cover of the book!!!! It’s gorgeous!! If you’re a book nerd like myself, you’ll know to appreciate a shamazing (sorry Avon 😉 ) cover when you see one!
‘A hilarious, heart-warming read perfect for fans of Shirley Valentine and You’ve Got Mail.
Could the worst thing that’s ever happened to Hannah Pinkman also turn out to be one of the best?
She and her husband Dan have reached the end of the line. Bored with the same gripes, the same old arguments – in fact, bored with everything – they split up after a trivial row turns into something much more serious.
Now Hannah has to make a new life for herself, but that’s not easy. She’s been so busy being a wife and mum that she’s let all her other interests slip away, along with her friends. And when Hannah is persuaded to join a dating site, her ‘best match’ is the very last person she expects it to be . . .
A clever, funny and poignant novel about life after a long relationship, the importance of friendship, and rediscovering your identity.’
Polly James and her publishers, Avon, have kindly given TWG an extract from the book to share with you today, enjoy!
‘My aim’s a bit off, but I do finally succeed in getting Dan’s attention. In fact, he almost jumps out of his skin.
“What the fuck, Hannah?” he says, fishing the sock out of his coffee, and making a face. “Why did you do that?”
“You were ignoring me,” I say. “Too busy ogling those girls with their boobs and arses hanging out.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” says Dan, who suddenly looks quite angry. Very angry, actually. I’m not used to seeing him like that, even during the stupid arguments we’ve been having recently. He did get a bit cross when I complained about him and Joel never putting toilet-roll inners into the bathroom bin the other day, but nothing like as cross as this. Now he looks as if he can’t stand the sight of me.
“I was joking, Dan,” I say, quickly. It’s only half a lie, but he spots it, anyway.
“Like hell you were.”
Dan glares at me, and then he adds, “All I wanted was to chill out in front of the TV, after a bloody long day dealing with Pearl, and it didn’t matter what I was watching, as far as I was concerned. But if I had picked this programme on purpose, then who could blame me? The only flesh I get to see these days is on TV.”
Dan seems almost as shocked by what he’s just said as I am, and there’s silence for a moment, as we both let his words sink in. Then I swallow, and say very slowly and clearly, “You mean that’s the type of flesh you prefer. You make that pretty obvious.”
Did I really say that out loud? I laugh, to lessen the sting, but Dan has lost his temper now.
“You can’t say something like you just did, and then laugh as if you didn’t mean it, Hannah,” he says. “And how exactly do I make my ‘preference’ so obvious?”
I wish I’d never started this conversation now. It’s one thing to feel inadequate, but ten times more humiliating to admit to it, and then to explain why you do.
“I just meant,” I say, keeping my head down and staring intently at a piece of fluff on the carpet, “that you make it clear that you don’t fancy me any more. I know I don’t look like the woman you married these days, but –”
“You don’t act like her, either,” says Dan. “In fact, you’re nothing like her. You want me to be as miserable as you are, and God forbid that either of us should have any fun. So I don’t quite get what I’m supposed to fancy about someone who’s more interested in Joel and Pearl than in me, as well as in their stupid job, and who’s so obsessed with losing their looks that they walk around with a face like a wet weekend the whole damn time. That’s really bloody attractive.”
I’m so stunned I don’t know what to say, or where to start, so I just sit there, twisting my hands in my lap, and trying to ignore the tear that’s rolling down the side of my nose and heading towards my mouth. Dan spots it and it seems to annoy him even more.
“I don’t know why you’re crying, Hannah,” he says. “You started this, and normally you’d be the one with the killer line to finish it. So why don’t we just get it over with? I know you’re unhappy with yourself, but now you’re blaming me for it, and making me feel like a useless husband, too. I’m sick and tired of you trying to push me into saying I don’t fancy you, so here you are: I don’t. Feel better now?”
I think it’s safe to say I don’t, and I feel even worse when Dan and I end up agreeing to separate. Happy New Year, Hannah Pinkman. Nicely done.
You can order your own copy in either paperback or e-book format (or audio) via Amazon UK now!