Friday, 30 November 2018

Spotlight & Extract: Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch

Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch

A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship.Meet Mavis and Dot - two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions. Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You'll laugh and cry but probably laugh more."This book is quirky and individual, and has great pathos...[it] will resonate with a lot of readers." Gill Kaye - Editor of Ingenu(e). Written with a light touch in memory of a dear friend who passed away from ovarian cancer, Angela Petch’s seaside tale is a departure from her successful Tuscan novels.
All profits from the sale of the books will go towards research into the cure for cancer.

Thank you for asking me on to your blog. I love reading too. If I don’t have a book on the go, I feel undressed; something important is missing from my life. I’ve been known to read backs of packaging in the absence of nothing to read.
Mavis, one of the two main characters in my new book, reads a lot. I had fun inventing the titles of her favourite, romantic genre. She reads in the bath or in bed, if she can keep her eyes open. The Vampire’s Missing Brides, The Gondolier’s Secret Vices and The Secrets of the Missing Courtesans are just some of the pocket books she devours.
ILLUSTRATION FROM BOOK – Mavis reading in the baath.
Mavis reads to escape and for companionship. Until she meets her new friend, Dot, also newly retired to Worthington-on-Sea, she’s felt lonely. She compiles a list of things to try and, when we meet her, she has dipped into ballroom dancing and is thinking of trying belly dancing next.
Dot has a pricklier nature than easy-going Mavis and she often thinks back to her childhood spent in East Africa. She owns coffee-table books of animals to pore over, and dreams of happier times in the past. Even when the pair travel on a coach tour to Tuscany, in Chapter Eleven, Dot’s mind is on Africa.
“…the pair sat in silence for a few minutes. Mavis drank in the spectacle of Italy in the piazza while Dot spooned the very last wisp of foam from the bottom of her cappuccino.
Dot didn’t feel at home in Italy. The trouble was her constant comparison with childhood memories of Tanganyika. Italy seemed tame, the fashions subdued, colours muted. She missed the bright colours of kitenges, the produce and baskets piled untidily in the market, the bleating of goats, and transistor radios belting out tinny tunes. Although it was generally held that Italians were noisy and liked confusion, Africa was far noisier and, in her memories, people smiled more. In truth, she wasn’t quite over her operation and had begun to think she’d been hasty in agreeing to come on this holiday. She needed to lie down.”

I read for entertainment but also to take myself to different places. Sometimes I write to gain perspective. “Mavis and Dot” was written after I lost my best friend to cancer. We had fun times together, especially when we hunted in charity shops for treasures. We often went to seaside towns to discover new haunts and we called each other Mavis and Dot as we trudged along with full shopping bags (most of the items ended up being donated back to charity shops in the end. Call it recycling). I miss Olga but, instead of crying, I want to remember the happy, smiley times we spent together. And if I can raise a few pounds for research into cancer through sales of “Mavis and Dot”, then that will be grand.
I hope readers will laugh a little and cry a little when they read my novella.

A prize-winning author, Angela Petch lives half the year in West Sussex and the summer months in a remote valley in the Tuscan Apennines. She recently signed a two-book deal with Bookouture for her Tuscan novels and “Mavis and Dot” is a temporary departure from her usual genre. She has travelled all her life: born in Germany, she spent six years as a child living in Rome, worked in Amsterdam after finishing her degree in Italian, moved to Italy for her job, then to Tanzania for three years. Her head is full of stories and she always carries a pen and
In May 2017, Angela Petch won PRIMA’S monthly short story competition and recently had a dozen stories published by The People’s Friend magazine.
“Mavis and Dot” was written in memory of a dear friend who lost her battle with ovarian cancer. All profits from sales of the book will go towards research into a cure for cancer.

Twitter: @Angela_Petch

“Tuscan Roots” (to be reissued by Bookouture in 2019)


Thursday, 29 November 2018

Cover Reveal: The Lemon Sisters by Jill Shalvis

A Wildstone Novel
By Jill Shalvis
Release date: June 18, 2019

Two sisters who just might be lemons in life and love… True or not, they know one thing -- you can’t run far enough to outpace your demons. And when long-dead secrets surface, they’ll have to overcome their differences and learn that sometimes the one person who can help you the most is the one you never thought to ask in THE LEMON SISTERS.

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When Brooke’s older sister, Mindy, shows up at her door with her three kids in tow, she barely recognizes her sibling who looks like she’s on the verge of a total breakdown. While adventurous, wanderlust Brooke was always the problem child, eager to slip free of Wildstone and its small town constraints, Mindy was the golden child, who never had a hair out of place or a GPA below 4.0. The Mindy that arrives at Brooke’s apartment however, is a far cry from the ever-perfect doctor’s wife.

Brooke’s further stunned when Mindy asks to trade places with her for a few days so she can pick up her pieces and put herself back together. What Mindy doesn’t realize is that Brooke is just as broken. Her sister needs her though, so Brooke takes the kids and returns to Wildstone.

But how does one go home after seven years away and what feels like a lifetime of secrets? It doesn’t take long for Brooke to come face-to-face with her past, in the form of one tall, dark, sexy mistake. But Garrett’s no longer interested, or so he says. Only his words don’t match his actions, leaving Brooke feeling things she long ago shoved deep.

The sisters begin to wonder if the childhood taunts were true, are they lemons in life? In love? True or not, they know one thing — you can’t run far enough to outpace your demons. And when long-dead secrets surface, they’ll have to overcome their differences and learn that sometimes the one person who can help you the most is the one you never thought to ask.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis writes warm, funny, sexy contemporary romances and women’s fiction. An Amazon, BN & iBooks bestseller, she’s also a two-time RITA winner and has more than 10 million copies of her books sold worldwide.

Spotlight & Extract: #galaxygirl by Bev Smith

#galaxygirl by Bev Smith

You hate school. Your family is beyond annoying. Your only friend comes from a different planet, and she’s about to leave.
What’s a girl to do?
Fed up with life on Earth, Esme stows away on the spaceship taking Stella back to Planet Kratos.
So begins Esme’s adventure into a world beyond the stars. A world of strange creatures, thrilling journeys, heroic rescues and instant fame.
Oh, and school. Lots of school.
Along the way she discovers that friends may be greener on the other side, but they still can’t be trusted.
Millions and billions of light years away from Earth, she sets in motion a plan to escape. Unfortunately for her, they aren’t about to let their prize exhibit leave anytime soon…

Amazon UK      Amazon US 

#galaxygirl features a series of blog posts written by Esme to help her mum ‘come to terms’ with her decision to run away and live in outer space. The following extract serves as the prologue, and features a letter Esme writes to her mum:


Dear Reader,

If you come across this blog, please tell my mum about it. She doesn’t ‘do’ the internet.
She lives here:
Miss Melanie Tickle,
12 Daisy Way,
Planet Earth

Hi Mum,

So, I guess you’ve noticed I’m missing? You’ve probably asked my teachers and the kids at school where I am by now. Well, they’re telling the truth, I’m not with them.
You see, the thing is, I’m actually in outer space. Don’t panic though, I’m having a blast! It’s AMAZING. They’ve got all kinds of exciting stuff going on up here, you’d love it!
Gravity is totally overrated - in space no one sees you wobble.
Brilliant. ￿
So anyway, I was abducted by aliens. Although, I allowed myself to be abducted so, technically, I ran away.
I honestly didn’t expect to end up quite so far though. I thought we were just going to see the moon, whizz around the stars and hang out for a bit, before heading back.
I’m on a planet called Kratos. Stella’s here too. You were right about her, but she’s not just a bit weird, she’s an alien. She’s one of the nicer ones though. She saved me from falling off the edge of a galactic crater yesterday, rocketing across from the other side in 0.22 nanoseconds. Sounds impossible, I know, but it’s a piece of cake for her. And not just any old cake either – the kind of cake that has glittery fancy icing with cream doodles, topped off with those sprinkly bits. The kind that stands out from the cake crowd. Like the ones Gran used to make…
I miss you much more than I thought I would, but I don’t miss your boyfriends. Especially the latest one. To be honest, most of the stuff which used to upset me doesn’t seem so important now that I’m millions and billions of light years away from home.
I’m still biting my nails, but the good news is they grow back much quicker here in outer space.
Stella said I should find a way to tell you about everything that’s happened, to help you ‘come to terms’ with my departure. I’ll tell you the whole story right from the start, so keep coming back to my blog.
Love you round the world and back again.

Bev Smith has been a secondary school teacher, saleswoman, waitress, wages clerk, youth worker and holiday park entertainments manager. She has scuba dived the Barrier Reef, lived in a village in Namibia, worked for a charity in Thailand, flown over Victoria Falls and paddled in the sea at Bournemouth.
Having single-parented her three daughters, she’s been ferociously playing catch up with this writing lark. She recently completed a Masters in Writing for Children at Winchester University. #galaxygirl is her debut middle-grade book.

Giveaway – Win 2 x #galaxygirl Mugs and a signed copy of #galaxygirl (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Spotlight & Review: The Merest Loss by Steven Neil

The Merest Loss by Steven Neil

A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English
hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

When Harriet Howard becomes Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer and appears at his side in Paris in 1848, it is as if she has emerged from nowhere. How did the English daughter of a Norfolk boot-maker meet the future Emperor? Who is the mysterious Nicholas Sly and what is his hold over Harriet?

Can Harriet meet her obligations and return to her former life and the man she left behind? What is her involvement with British Government secret services? Can Harriet’s friend, jockey Tom Olliver, help her son Martin solve his own mystery: the identity of his father?

The central character is Harriet Howard and the action takes place between 1836 and 1873. The plot centres on Harriet’s relationships with Louis Napoleon and famous Grand National winning jockey, Jem Mason. The backdrop to the action includes significant characters from the age, including Lord Palmerston, Queen Victoria and the Duke of Grafton, as well as Emperor Napoleon III. The worlds of horse racing, hunting and government provide the scope for rural settings to contrast with the city scenes of London and Paris and for racing skulduggery to vie with political chicanery.

The Merest Loss is historical fiction with a twist. It’s pacy and exciting with captivating characters and a distinctive narrative voice

The Merest Loss is a fascinating fictional portrayal of several equally captivating characters who lived in Victorian times. The focus is on Elizabeth 'Eliza' Ann Harryet, a headstrong young girl from Norfolk and how she became known as the actress Harriet Howard, mistress to Louis Napoleon and later Comtesse de Beauregard.

I enjoyed the contrast between Harriet Howard's life and Jem Mason's racing world. I respect how the author wove their lives together to create an enthralling narrative and I quickly became absorbed as their stories unfolded. There's an overwhelming feeling these two people are destined to be together, but the reality was something very different. The love they had for each other was constant, but circumstances and outside interference played a huge part in keeping them apart.

Steven Neil's interpretation of the lives and events of the protagonists and secondary characters are impeccable and palpable. The covert actions of the British Government at the time and how they manipulated citizens to carry out their work by blackmail is shocking. It is this which throws Harriet's character under the spotlight. As an actress with ambitions, she is the darling of London Theatre-land, strong, ambitious and stubborn. Yet, the plans the British establishment had placed her in a vulnerable position, one where she acts only to keep those closest to her safe; manipulated to act as directed resulting in a heartfelt sacrifice. Somehow, though, she has an inbuilt resilience to retaliate and I particularly enjoyed the scene where she demanded an audience with Queen Victoria...which much to her satisfaction was granted.

Despite the narrative jumping back and forth between Harriet's secretive life and Jem's racing background, the writing flows effortlessly keeping me engaged within the narrative which was unputdownable.

Clearly, my favourite novels in 2018 have been fictional adaptations of historical figures and The Merest Loss is joining them on my top reads for the year.

***review copy received courtesy of the publisher Matador***

Author Bio Steven Neil has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. In his working life he has been a bookmaker’s clerk, management tutor, management consultant, bloodstock agent and racehorse breeder. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire.

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Saturday, 24 November 2018

Spotlight: Daisy by Karen Botha

Daisy By Karen Botha

It may take a criminal mind to be a savvy business woman.
If so, Daisy is set and driven to succeed. But to hold on to what she's earned, she must live between black and white. She must spend her life in the gray. 
That makes it difficult for a woman to know who she's dealing with, in business and in bed.
Idris made it his business to know hers, leaving no skeletons undiscovered. When the two meet, sparks fly and sexual tension ignites. Passion, lust, and desire come before sensible decision making.
Has Daisy gotten involved with the wrong person this time? 
Can this gorgeous man be trusted, or is it him that needs to beware? 
Daisy is a mixed race urban romance where the road to true love is anything but easy. 

Amazon UK      Amazon US 

Karen Botha was born in Lincolnshire, England where her father was in the Royal Air Force. As a young girl she always had a passion for reading and writing, studying English Language before University.
Working most of her adult life in digital marketing didn't leave her much time to pursue her passion for stories. But, at the age of 36 she retrained as a reflexologist and started working for herself. This helped her free up more than enough time to enjoy a re-found passion; writing.
Her first novel was inspired by the true life experiences of her clients. But don't believe everything you read, she has more than enough imagination to catch you out with twist and turns galore.
She enjoys romance, travelling and motor sport, which also provide her inspiration for her books.
She currently lives in London with her husband and rescue dog, Shadow.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Spotlight & Excerpt: The Dragon and the Lumberjack by S.W. Ellenwood

The Dragon and the Lumberjack by S.W. Ellenwood

Thomas feared he played Jack too well...
The sequel to S. W. Ellenwood's debut novel, The Janitor and the Spy, picks up six months after Thomas Thornhill's nightmare mission in Amsterdam. On his own, he now goes under the alias of Jack Montferrand and seeks to gain entry into the oldest and most dangerous triad in Asia to find Them.
On the inside, he found the triad not as stable as he thought, forcing him to prove his trust and worth to them at every turn as new rivals sprout up. He plunges his hands deeper into the filth and the alias of Jack where he starts to wonder where Thomas ends and Jack begins.

4. Fu sat in his older black car with tinted windows and watched the bus stop on the opposite side of the street. He looked down at the envelope he received the day before filled with new, irresistible hundred-dollar bills and a bus time bulletin with several different times and bus stop locations highlighted. Fu checked the time on his car’s analog clock. Five minutes till the bus arrived. Fu perused the bus stop again. Two men sat on the bench smoking cigarettes, sloppy in their dress when compared to Fu’s attire. He wore a Polo shirt tucked into his blue jeans; the two young men wore dirty shorts and t-shirts that looked like they hadn’t seen a washer for a while. Fu placed the envelope in his glove compartment and pulled out the black handgun he had been issued when he became a cop. He pulled out his badge and held it in his right hand and the gun in his left. The badge seemed heavier than usual.
Fu looked back up to see the bus pulling up to the stop ahead of schedule. The two young men got up and waited for a few passengers to get off before entering the bus themselves. Fu’s heart sped up as he hid his gun and badge before getting out of the car. He quickly crossed the street. Through the bus’s front window, Fu could see the two men talking to the driver. As he grew closer, Fu saw the driver reach down and pull up a wad of cash. One of the young men took it as the other blocked the view of the passengers. But Fu could see quite well. He pulled out his badge and tapped it against the front window, catching their attention. Fu thought it would be simple: they would walk out and try to lie their way out of it, maybe even bribe him. He wouldn’t give in, he would cuff them, and that would be that.
It wasn’t like that at all. As soon as they caught a glimpse of the badge, they bolted. The man with the cash grabbed the driver, pulled out a knife and held the driver hostage. At the same moment, Fu dropped his badge and pulled out his gun, aiming it at the blade holder. The other young man hid behind his friend, peeping his head out to see what was happening. Fu didn’t have the cleanest of shots on the thug.
Drop the knife and step out of the bus!” Fu demanded. “This is your only warning.”
You drop it!” responded the thug, pushing his head forward with his chin up. His prideful motion gave Fu a much cleaner shot, which he instinctively took. Blood splattered onto the bus’s ceiling. The driver dropped to the floor and curled up into a ball as the thug fell backward, landing on his companion. Fu dashed into the bus, his gun at the ready, and found the other thug sitting on the floor with blood-splattered hands above his head. The thug’s partner lay beside him, dead.
Cops arrived. Some reporters too. Fu went back to the office. Filled out paperwork. Clocked out. Went grocery shopping and went home. He wondered why he was acting like it was another day at the office.
Fu’s apartment door slowly closed behind him, as did the day. He held a plastic bag of groceries and his wife’s prescription. His hands still shook from the bus shooting earlier. The bonus from Jack was helping the bills but not Fu’s nerves at the moment. He walked through the unorganized living room and into the kitchen on the left. A pot of cooked noodles sat beside a sink with a couple of open bottles of spices and a baking sheet of cooked salmon.
The sound of gagging erupted from the bathroom. Fu dropped everything and dashed to the bathroom across the living room, with his hand on his gun. He stopped and peeked through the half-opened door to his wife’s feet as she kneeled over the toilet. The sound of vomiting followed another short gag. Fu took his gun and placed it in the drawer beside the bathroom before going to his wife’s aid.
She still had her pajamas on and was holding half her hair back with one hand as the other was on the toilet seat. She glanced back at her husband as he knelt beside her and took the job of holding back her hair.
I’m sorry,” she whispered with sweat and tears on her face before facing the toilet again and vomiting. Chewed-up noodles and salmon spilled into the toilet water.
I’m sorry,” she started again. “I thought since I craved it, it would taste good or something, I’m sorry, sorry.”
Fu calmly shushed her as he rubbed her arm.
I hate those pills,” she finally cried out with empty lungs, resting her head on the toilet seat.
Me too,” Fu calmly said holding back his tears as he thought of the cash in his pocket and that one doctor. “Me too.”

S. W. Ellenwood is thankful to have a close-knit family of two parents, a brother, and two sisters. A homeschooler who graduated college from the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, Ellenwood loves all forms and genres of stories and was inspired by The Lord of the Rings films and his parents to write. You can find Ellenwood writing his next novel at the local coffee shops or playing table top games with his best friends.