#BlogTour! #Review – Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French @KFrenchBooks @Bookouture

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Welcome to Chapelwick, a leafy English town in the hills of Shropshire, where chocolate pecan cookies come with a helping of sabotage.

Maplemead Castle is crawling with ghosts, and the new owners need them gone. When Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency arrive on scene, they quickly identify the troublemakers swinging from the chandeliers… literally.

A century ago, stunning trapeze artist Britannia Lovell plunged to her death, and has done every night since. But did she really just fall, or was there something more to her demise?

Forced to work with Leo Dark, her scoundrel ex, and infuriating, irresistible reporter Fletcher Gunn, Melody’s investigative powers are under strain (i.e. lost in a pink mist of lust and confusion). She needs her team on top form, but best friend Marina’s cake pipeline goes AWOL, assistant Artie’s distracted by a giant sausage roll, and the pug is scared witless by a lion.

Somewhere, hidden in the castle, is a heart-breaking secret, but what will it take to find it? And is there a chance it could set Britannia free, or is she doomed to repeat her last fateful act forever?

What does TWG think?

Happy publication day to the FABULOUS Kitty French and book two in the Chapelwick Mystery series, Mystery at Maplemead Castle! You may remember TWG HQ being extremely vocal about the first book in the series back in 2016, when it was previously titled ‘Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency’ (Book review of ‘Melody Bittersweet and The Girls Ghostbusting Agency’ by Kitty French.). Well, fast forward a year and the first book has had a make-over and is now called ‘The Skeletons of Scarborough House’ (FYI it’s only 99p for a limited time only buy here). That book made my top books of 2016 list, and my top books of all time list. I didn’t think that the series could become even better than was (super brilliant btw)….until I read book number 2. I am beyond thrilled to be one of the blogs kicking off Kitty French’s blog tour today! I hope you enjoy my review:

Melody Bittersweet is back with a bang; even more flamboyant and a MUCH looser mouth. Put it this way, I can no longer look at certain chocolate bars in the same way after reading this book. When I see them out and about in shops, I just burst out laughing and think of Melody Bittersweet and her antics. Although, the images my mind conjures up about her antics, leave such a mark on my imagination whilst taking my innocence along with it. HAHAH, sorry, I couldn’t even type that with a straight face. Innocence my double decker….

In book one of the series, Melody Bittersweet had a love hate relationship with the sweet treats. Basically she loved them and hated anyone that went anywhere near them or attempted to eat them. Book two sees Melody’s love of sweet treats rank even higher and it is absolutely hilarious. Some familiar faces join Melody as she takes on ghosts at Maplemead Castle, finding herself caught in the middle of a love triangle with the ghosts, AND her personal life (she doesn’t want to admit it though). Melody and her team (including the pug who attempts to take down a lion…) have got their work cut out where these ghosts are concerned. None of the ghosts which to talk, and when they do, they think that the truth isn’t what Melody wants to hear..so they refrain.

Having LOVED book one (as you already know), I was in a constant state of bouncing excitement whilst pestering Bookouture about the next book in the series (sorry Kim!). I couldn’t wait to hang out with Melody again! Part of me was a little bit apprehensive about it though as I truly loved the first one and really hoped that Maplemead Castle wouldn’t disappoint. It didn’t disappoint, AT ALL. Kitty French managed to raise the bar even higher for herself with such a hilarious and intense storyline. Yes, Kitty French has a truly fantastic sense of humour and she has written Melody Bittersweet to be a character who everyone wants to be, however, Kitty French also knows when to switch the storyline from hilarity, to deep. I really don’t know how she manages to do that so flawlessly. The history of the ghosts this time around, completely moved me and I did end up with something in my eye, cough. I couldn’t help it though, it was beautifully described and totally unexpected.

Kitty French knows how to write THE perfect storyline; covering all basis with amazing humour, friendship, romance, dog love and sugar love, leaving the reader feeling as though they have just won a prize by reading this book. Even though Maplemead Castle is book two, Kitty French’s unique writing style and vivid imagination made everything about the book feel brand new, once again.

I ADORE Melody, she is such a brilliant character in more ways than one, I would love it if she was a real person so that I could hang out with her for real! Kitty French has managed to have me crying with laughter and unable to conform to human duties, aka breathing, AND even looking at chocolate bars in a completely different way. I thought the first book was great and couldn’t get any better, but oh my God THIS one is a-m-a-z-I-n-g!!! Absolutely fantastic!

THIS is by far one of my top 5 books of 2017. I have no idea how Kitty French manages to do it, but she does and she owns it. Absolutely BRILLIANT, I was devastated that the book had to end and I want another one in the series!!!!!! You’ll be missing out if you do not have Melody Bittersweet in your life, seriously.

Thank you Kim at Bookouture!

Buy from Amazon UK
Buy from Amazon US

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It’s publication day for Melody Bittersweet and Kitty French answers five of TWG’s questions!

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Banner created by publishers Bookouture.

HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY KITTY FRENCH!!!!!

I am bouncing around the room with excitement, pretty similar to a toddler that has had sugar, yet I didn’t even write this book! You may have seen me mention this book once or twice. Missed it? Here’s a recap!
First of all I wrote a review for this fantastic book which can be found here: Book review of ‘Melody Bittersweet and The Girls Ghostbusting Agency’ by Kitty French.
Then, Kitty French’s book became TWG’s Book of the month for June:
It’s time to reveal TWG’s Book of the Month – June!!
TWG's BOTM

As it is Kitty’s day to celebrate this magnificant book, her publishers Bookouture – Kim Nash, allowed me five questions to ask Kitty. Now, I like to delve into the nitty gritty when I write questions for authors, so choosing just five was quite difficult!
Want to see what I asked? Of course you do!

TWG asks…Kitty French!
TWG: Kitty, how did you find the inspiration to create such a multi-dimensional character as Melody?
Unusually for me, Melody strolled into my head almost fully formed, complete with her name! I generally have to work quite hard to world build, but Melody and Co felt very real and vivid in my head from day one. Does that sound a bit weird? I feel like I know them really well and enjoy spending time with them, which I hope comes over on the page.

TWG: A lot of people may not believe in ghosts, nor have come across them. Why did you choose the subject of talking to and seeing ghosts? Was it a difficult topic to research?
Without wishing to sound like a cop out, again, Melody came to me with all of her quirks and foibles, so I had little choice but to write my first paranormal! I did research things to a degree, but I was also mindful that I wanted to keep the story as original as I could and for Melody and the other Bittersweet’s to have their own unique approach to all things ghostly. I found it quite daunting to get going, but once I’d established their basic world rules it became easier.

TWG: I have to ask, Parsnip, why didn’t you call the dog that? I was rather hopeful!!
Ah, Parsnip Bittersweet, or indeed Butternut Bittersweet! I did consider it, but Lestat just seemed perfect for that pesky pug – I’d read through hundreds of potential names for him and Lestat just made me laugh out loud in my office. He’s definitely one of my favourite characters in the book. 

TWG: Seeing as it’s the ‘Girls Ghostbusting Agency’, why was there a male employee? Not being sexist obviously, but it was a girls business ;).
Well, I can say this much – I hadn’t seen the trailer for the Ghostbuster’s movie at the time, and Artie is definitely no Chris Hemsworth! I just find his character so incredibly endearing, I’m not sure the dynamic would have worked quite as well if he’d been female. I know what you mean though about him being male. Let’s file it under artistic license. 🙂

TWG: I am going to be cheeky, what can we look forward to in terms of Melody? Aka, when will there be the next one?!?!?!
I’m writing the second book in the Melody Bittersweet series at the moment, and I can confirm that it’s every bit as crazy as book one! Expect a ghost circus, a lion tamer and his lion, a castle and a nun. Beyond that my lips are sealed!

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely cannot wait for the second book of the series. Going by what Kitty said in the last question, we are in for a treat yet again!

To nab your very own copy of ‘Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency’ right NOW, click this link —>HERE<—. Oh and by the way, good ol’ life may try to distract you whilst you read the book, but don’t let it, you need to finish the book as soon as. I mean, why wait?

Huge congratulations again to Kitty French on her publication day, I hope you have an absolutely fantastic day. Also I would like to say congratulations to Bookouture for releasing yet another fantastic book!

‘Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency’ opens its doors….TOMORROW!!!

-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

Chapter One

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

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

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

‘Which genre?’

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

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

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

‘Four Weddings?’ He shrugs hopefully.

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

‘The Holiday?’

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

I’m relieved when the bill arrives and we can get out of there, because so far Lenny has turned out to be a pretty stellar guy and somehow I’ve managed to

convince him that I walk on the right side of the tracks. Maybe this time, things will be different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Err, mother?’

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

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

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

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

‘Your hand, please, young man.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Silvana!’

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

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

God.

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

up and let themselves into my flat – using the spare key I gave them for dire emergencies only – and embarrass the shit out 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

Book review of ‘Melody Bittersweet and The Girls Ghostbusting Agency’ by Kitty French.

Melody Bittersweet and The Girls Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French.
Published 14th July 2016 by Bookouture.
Available to buy from Amazon UK.

‘Life’s tricky for Melody Bittersweet. She’s single, she’s addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers and … she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder?
Waking up lonely on her twenty-seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things have got to change.
Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency – kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits. She’s also flirting with her ex Leo Dark, fraternising with her sexy enemy in alleyways, and she’s somehow ended up with a pug called Lestat.
Life just went from dull to dynamite and it’s showing no sign of slowing up anytime soon. Melody’s been hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there are the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job…  ‘

Huge thank you to Bookouture for letting me read an early copy of the book, despite my pestering and whinging like a much younger person (far too impatient to wait).
Already on Facebook and Twitter, there have been nothing but good things said about this book, I was extremely hopeful that it would live up to the excitement when I read it for myself.
Meet Melody Bittersweet. She isn’t what you would class as your ‘average’ twenty-something female. Well, kind of. I mean, she has a sugar addiction and she’s a single woman who has dreams about Robert Downey Jr. Isn’t that pretty much the norm? No? Oh…anywayyyyyy!
The only difference between Melody and myself(I jest) is that she can see dead people, aka ghosts, and she can talk to them. Melody feels she has reached an age where she needs to be more of a grown-up; so she buys a dog called Parsnip…sorry…Lestat! She also decides to create her own Ghostbusting Agency with her best friend. Little does Melody know, her new agency isn’t going to be all overalls and ghost vacuums. There is more to things that meets the eye…literally, but can Melody figure out the answers she needs? Or will she be fighting with her dog for sugary treats?

I am actually struggling to write this review because Kitty French’s book is the type of book that I just want to tell you EVERYTHING about, and I can’t. Well I could, but that would ruin it for you, and you have to read this book. You just have to.

As I said above, I was rather impatient after I saw the cover of the book as I wanted to read it straight away. Poor Kim had to cope with me like an excitable puppy!
Melody Bittersweet and The Girls Ghostbusting Agency had me laughing so hard I went from human to snorting pig to a seal then a banshee within seconds. I am not over exaggerating either, my laugh goes through levels when I find things absolutely hilarious. Right from the start of the book through to the end, is full of innuendos, smut, sarcasm and pure hilarity. I have not laughed like that in a very, very long time.

I adored the modern references to the celebrity world and how different Melody and her best friend are. To be honest, judging the book by the title alone, you just know it’s not going to be a completely serious book! Reading about Melody’s adventures was like opening a treasure chest. Each and every page was full of something special. Now that could be anything from a characters actions, or a situation Melody found herself in. It’s a book that just keeps giving, right until the very end. A book that will make tears roll down your cheeks due to constant laughter. A book that is full of food that will make you extremely hungry, I totally need a cannoli fyi!

One thing I wasn’t expecting to happen whilst reading this book, was for me to start crying. For approximately 1 minute (dependant on your reading speed), the book took a little serious turn. I felt that that particular minute was packed full of raw emotion. I genuinely wasn’t expecting it to catch me like it did, maybe I got very involved with the storyline just like the characters. Not complaining though!

Melody Bittersweet and The Girls Ghostbusting Agency did not disappoint one bit, I was extremely gutted that it had to end. If Melody needs another girl for her agency, sign me up! If I could sum up the story in just one word, I would say ‘unforgettable’. If I could read it for the first time, every time, I would. Kitty French has written such a wonderful and clever book with so much imagination throughout the words. Thank you Kitty for making me laugh so hard. You have made me find my laugh deep within in a time where I want to do anything but laugh.

Sheer brilliance! Are you wondering whether you should read it or not? The magic 8 ball says….yes.