Published by Urbane Publications

Available to buy in ebook and paperback (19 April 2018)

360 pages



Welcome to my spot today on the blog tour for The Kindness of Strangers.  This looks like a book that I would very much like to read if only I could fit it in to my reading schedule but in the meantime I have an extract to share.

 

EXTRACT

 

JOAN LIVES ACROSS TOWN, in a bungalow on a newish estate that’s not far from the retail park, so I decide to drop off some more things at the charity shop on the way. These aren’t all Roberts’s this time, I’ve had a bit of a sort out too. I have clothes I haven’t worn for years and I’m unlikely to wear them again, not now. There is a stack of books too; Dick Francis and James Patterson aren’t my thing and neither are the DIY and gardening books. I don’t think they were Robert’s thing either, he wasn’t particularly practical and all the books in the world wouldn’t change that. He would say, ‘why waste time doing it yourself when you can pay a chap down the road to do it for you’.

The smiley lady is behind the counter again.

“Hello, more goodies for us?”

“Yes, and probably still more to come,” I reply.

“That’s good to hear. We always need good quality donations.” I’m slightly affronted by this remark, does she not remember why I have these ‘goodies’? I’m feeling a little low this morning so I’m probably over-sensitive. “Well, look at this,” she says picking up one of Roberts gardening books. “May treat myself to this one. I’ll put it aside and get Sheila to price it for me.”

“Have it,” I say.

“I can’t just take it, somebody else has to price it and I buy it just the same as anyone.”

“I don’t mind.”

“It’s not up to you to mind, it’s not yours to give, not anymore. You’ve donated it, so now it belongs to the charity, therefore I have to pay. That’s the rules.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t apologise, I hardly think it’ll break the bank.”

I offer her a feeble smile. “What are you up to today?” she asks.

“Off to see my mother-in-law. I’d forgotten this must be difficult for her too. With Robert gone …” as I say his name I feel a lump in my throat. “Well there’s only me to look out for her now,” I continue.

“What’s she like? Your mother-in-law? Mine was a harridan.”

“A harridan, what an old-fashioned word.”

“It is, isn’t it? It’s the politest word I can think of to describe her.”

“In that case, I think I’m quite lucky with mine. It took me a little while to convince her that I wasn’t the enemy, but all-in-all she’s not so bad.”

As I leave the shop I feel a little lighter and not just because of the donations. The conversation I’ve had with … goodness, I don’t know her name, for now she’ll have to remain the smiley lady, but I will find out her name. The conversation I’ve had with the smiley lady was entirely normal, free-flowing and not driven by sympathy. Yes it was short, but it had the power to make me feel normal, for a few minutes anyway. It’s hard to explain but I feel my grief shrouds me in a fog that I can see out of but nobody else can see through; certainly not those that know me anyway. They see my grief and don’t know how to address it, they don’t realise that I’m here, beneath the fog, I’m still Helen. I’m still here and despite my sadness I would like people to see me. Smiley lady gets it; she sees me and in doing so lifts my spirits ever so slightly.

As I reverse onto the driveway at the front of Joan’s house I notice the curtains twitching in my rear view mirror. I smile to myself for I know she’ll take her time answering the door and pretend that she didn’t realise I was here. When she finally answers the door, I’m surprised at how dishevelled she looks.

“Helen, how nice to see you. I didn’t realise you were here. How are you?”

“I’m fine thank you,” I say as she ushers me along the hallway towards the lounge.

“Good, good. I’ll put the kettle on.” I offer to do it, but she remonstrates with me and tells me to go and sit down. I do as I’m told. Spread across the floor are countless envelopes and books. I bend towards the floor in order to take a closer look. They’re not books, they’re albums – photo albums – lots of them. The envelopes contain photographs too, mostly of Robert. I don’t think I’ve seen them before. When Joan comes in with a tray of tea I ask her where they’ve come from.

“They were in a box in the garage, right on the top shelf, I think Robert must have put them up there when I moved here. I knew I had them somewhere. Thankfully a nice young man helped me get them down as I couldn’t reach them.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen these,” I say. “Hang on, what ‘nice young man’?”

“Oh, he was one of those green people.”

“What?” I ask with trepidation.

“A green, for the local elections …” I breathe a sigh of relief, she wasn’t going … well, you know. “He was after my vote and asked if I could spare a few minutes. I said I could if he would help me retrieve a box from the top shelf in the garage. I’d already got myself covered in dust trying to reach it, so he got it down for me and then we had a discussion about politics.”

I smiled to myself at the thought of this; he wouldn’t have known what had hit him. Joan has a razor-sharp mind and enjoys a good debate, and despite her advancing years she would’ve been a formidable opponent, of that I’m sure.

 

|   About the Book   |

 

Deception abounds in Julie Newman’s breath-taking new novel.

Widow Helen is desperate for a perfect family life, and will do everything she can to get what she wants.

A veteran of the Afghanistan conflict Martin is adrift and seemingly without hope – can he ever win back his estranged family?

Pregnant teenager Charley is striking out on her own to create a new life for her unborn child, but her mother Lizzie has other ideas.

When three seemingly disparate lives connect, the past and the present collide to reveal secrets, lies and how far people are willing to go to hide the truth.

Following the gripping and controversial Beware the Cuckoo, Julie Newman’s thrilling new novel lifts the lid on the dark past that haunts a seemingly happy household.

 

The Kindness of Strangers is currently 99p to download from Amazon UK 

 

|   Author Bio  |

Julie was born in East London but now lives a rural life in North Essex. She is married with two children. Her working life has seen her have a variety of jobs, including running her own publishing company. She is the author of the children’s book Poppy and the Garden Monster and the thriller Beware the Cuckoo. Julie writes endlessly and when not writing she is reading. Other interests include theatre, music and running. Besides her family, the only thing she loves more than books is Bruce Springsteen.

 

Website   |   Twitter   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads 

 

 

 

 

Published by Urbane Publications 

Available in ebook and paperback (5 April 2018)

360 pages



I’m delighted to be one of the two hosts starting off the tour for The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. My thanks to Kelly of Love Books Group Tours for the blog tour invitation and for providing an extract but first a bit about the book.

 

|   About the Book   |

 

There’s someone out there, and an unforeseen, irresistible connection…

After the break-up of her marriage, Imogen escapes to her aunt’s converted lighthouse on Beachy Head. Writing for a tedious online magazine but hoping to start a novel, she wants to be alone until she finds an entrancing flamenco CD in her borrowed car and contacts the artist via Twitter. It turns out that actor-musician Santiago needs help with English, and is soon calling her profesora.

Through her window, the other lighthouse winks at her across the sea. The one where her father was a keeper, until he mysteriously drowned there in 1982. Her aunt is sending extracts from his diary, and Imogen is intrigued to learn that, like her and Santi, her father had a penfriend.

Meanwhile, despite their differences Imogen is surrounded by emotional and geographical barriers, Santi surrounded by family and land-locked Madrid their friendship develops. So, she reads, did her father’s but shocking revelations cause Imogen to question whether she ever really knew him.

Two stories of communication: the hilarious mistakes, the painful misunderstandings, and the miracle or tragedy of finding someone out there with whom you have an unforeseen, irresistible connection.

 

EXTRACT

 

FRIDAY 31ST AUGUST, 2012
The South Coast, England

Imogen finishes a flapjack at a table from which she can observe the whole of the new Hippomania soft play centre while hopefully being out of range of the ball pit. All done: photos, leaflets about the party deals and the Halloween special, and a page of notes. It’s basically an agreeable padded cell for pre-schoolers intent on damaging themselves; and mothers needing to flop down and eat very good cake without having to get up every few minutes to check their kid isn’t being strangled in the underworld of a play frame. Some of this assessment will go into her one-fifty-word review, although the jaded tone appreciated by the Surrey Fun for Families isn’t going down as well on the Sunshine Coast.

She used to interview families in these places, but nowadays she’d never hear a word above the background hum of the inflatables and the excited squeals. For the same reason, it’s very unlikely that anything will ever come of the exchanges with friendly lone fathers – such as the lovely chap who just helped wipe up her spilt tea.

There are some very shrill little girls in here. You’d think reduced hearing could have its moments, but her ears seemed to have become simultaneously dull and acutely irritable. There’s no doubt about it, she is no longer – was she ever? – writing for the right magazine, but she’s not exactly getting snapped up by any others.

The Arndale centre is full of even noisier kids; small ones on shoe and pencil-case missions with Mummy, and hordes of laughing, pierced teenagers enjoying the last few days of mindless freedom. All those years of naming new uniform, sorting out crayons and maths sets, hunting down black Velcros in 4F, 5F, 6F and eventually clomping great car-tyre shoes in size 9… Now Ollie’s term will start without any help from her – except for the few words of encouragement he allowed her in last night’s brief phone call.

Curry’s has a family of five enjoying television demos. She unhooks some higher priced earphones, and then – having confirmed with little more than sign language that the speakers she’s chosen will work with her iPod – joins a queue to pay. Same old shops: Next, Holland & Barratt, Smith’s – all best dealt with online these days. There’s a make-your-own-bear shop like the one where Ollie’s Taekwondo Teddo was born. Specsavers: sooner or later she’ll have to have an eye check and succumb to reading glasses – and it turns out that you can have your hearing checked there too. In maybe less than ten minutes she could have a hearing aid in her bag, next to the speakers and earphones – she could go home and hook them all up together, ha! But it’s not funny. None of this is funny. Fun is not to be had in a shopping centre, with all its crowds, noise and strange previous and future versions of oneself looking for different things.

 

 

 

|   Author Bio  |

Cherry Radford was a keyboard player in a band, a piano teacher at the Royal Ballet School and an optometrist/post-doctoral researcher at Moorfields Eye Hospital before suddenly starting her first novel in the middle of a scientific conference in 2009. Following the publication of Men Dancing (2011) and Flamenco Baby (2013) by a small Brighton-based independent, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter is her first novel with Urbane Publications. She left Moorfields in 2017 to concentrate on writing, but still enjoys teaching piano part-time. Cherry lives in Eastbourne and Almería (Spain).

 

Website |    Twitter    |    Facebook   |   Amazon UK   | Goodreads

 

 

Published by Head of Zeus

Available in Ebook and Hardback (5 April 2018)  | Paperback (1 November 2018)

209 pages



My thanks to Clare at Head of Zeus for the blog tour invitation and for providing the extract.

 

EXTRACT

Joan had craved salt with the two girls, but not with William (whom everybody called Wim), disproving centuries of questionable pregnancy counsel. With Wim, she craved a boy. Her instincts proved dependable, but she already knew this from having once filled out a Jungian personality quiz on the last page of a woman’s magazine. Like Pericles, President François Mitterand and, some speculated, Barack Obama, she was an ENFJ (Extrovert, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging) – anxiously altruistic and logical.

When Frank moved his pregnant wife and daughter out of their cramped apartment in the old town and into the rental house in the suburbs, he’d spoken of a temporary situation. Six months at most. Joan had unpacked only a few boxes, thinking they’d be in the new house before it was time to take out the winter clothes.

Over the next four years, Frank finished a great many houses. Just not theirs.

Every now and again, Joan opened a new box; to find old clothes for the new baby, to revive her Roxy Music records. When her mother died, she tore through three boxes labelled KITCHEN just to exhume the julienne slicer from her childhood. She julienned everything for a month. Frank complained that it looked like play food. Eventually, when the last box was unpacked, it was time to move again.

Wim was almost four by the time they moved into what Joan called the New Chapter house. Lois wanted the room in the eaves – the one with the romantic half-moon window and a long hallway to separate you from everyone else. Maya wanted that room, too, but it was given to Lois, the eldest. Maya and Wim had adjoining rooms with a sliding door that could be opened to increase the play space. Within two years the diplomatic opening was walled up, and their Lego collections kept separate.

The new house, which Frank had designed himself, was like a salt dome. New columns swelled up through the foundations, sprinkling white dust on the children’s quilts. Walls were built and later knocked down to expand the dome in useless places, such as too close to the neighbour’s precious boxwood hedge. One year, Frank mined the basement to excavate an unsanctioned wine cellar, causing a minor landslide in the garden. They were having dinner on the terrace one evening when the lawn suddenly swallowed the ficus. One room in the basement was soundproofed to watch films in, then waterproofed for a wetroom, then filled to the ceiling with firewood.

Frank couldn’t leave the house alone. It was never finished, there was always something that could be improved – or, as Joan put it, worsened, to be improved someday when we’re dead. Frank picked at the house like a scab, but it was Joan who couldn’t heal.

Once, when Frank was working on an extension for a luxury spa in Switzerland, there was no hot water for ten days. He blamed the new-fangled boiler, and shouted at someone over the phone. He asked to speak to that someone’s manager, and then yelled at them. Every night, Joan hauled saucepans and kettles of boiling water to the bathroom, and the girls had to bathe together. One evening after the school run, Joan came in to find Frank hunched over one of his maps with a pencil and a magnifying glass. When he asked for the eyedrops, something in her snapped. She marched over to him and swept the open maps and papers off the table with her arm. Crash went Frank’s glass of water as it smashed to pieces on the marble floor. The water puddled between them like a moat, and it was hard to tell the broken ice cubes from the shards of glass.

 

|   About the Book   |

 

Frank and Joan’s marriage is in trouble. Having spent three decades failing to understand each other in their unfinished house in the French alps, Joan’s frustrations with her inattentive husband have reached breaking point. Frank, retreating ever further into his obscure hobbies, is distracted by an epistolary affair with his long-lost German girlfriend. Things are getting tense. But it’s Christmas, and the couple are preparing to welcome home their three far-flung children.

The children, though, are faring little better in love themselves. Maya, a gender expert mother-of-two, is considering leaving her family and running off with a woman; Wim is considering leaving his girlfriend; and Lois, who spends her time turning war documentaries into love poems, is facing a change of heart.

Written with a rare precision and insight, the author explores the thorniness of familial love and its capacity to endure with warmth, wit and disarming honesty.

 

|   Author Bio   |

Sarah Françoise is a French-British writer and translator currently living in Brooklyn, NYC. Her writing has appeared in Joyland, Bone Bouquet, Hobart and Poor Claudia.

 

Amazon UK   |   Goodreads

Available in ebook and paperback (9 April 2018)

   344 pages



My thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the invite to take part in the blog tour and for providing the interview.  There is also a giveaway for 3 paperback copies, open internationally. The entry details are at the end of this post.

 

*  *  *

 

Hi there. I’m an author of nine rom-com novels. I live in Berkshire with my cat Stanley. My ninth novel, The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay launched on April 9th.

Where did the idea for this book come from?

I like to write from the heart and a lot of my subject matter does come from life events that have happened to me. I have written about subjects others may fear to talk about; namely bereavement, miscarriage and infertility. It’s always very heart-warming to receive thank you messages from people I have helped with my candid and understanding take on such topics.

With this recent novel, I was inspired by a painting of a corner shop. I live near a village called Sunninghill, my dad is an artist and painted the little old shop many years ago. It used to be a sweet shop but is long gone now. I thought back to the novel Chocolat, and suddenly thought what a great focal point for a novel, a seaside corner shop would be. On the book cover, the actual painting that my dad did, is incorporated into the illustration.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, can you tell us about it?

Basically, when I start a book, I just don’t stop writing. I usually wake early, say around six, start typing until I get too tired to type anymore, then start again the next day in the same way. It really is Groundhog Day when I am writing a new one.

What’s the best bit of writing advice that you’ve ever received?

Stephen King said to not edit until you’ve finished the whole book. Saves a lot of time and makes sense.

How do you get the word out about your work?

My background is in PR and marketing, so I use social media a lot. I also have a good relationship with BBC Radio Berkshire and am always looking at different angles to try and promote myself. I’m currently contacting literary festival organisers as I enjoy being on literary panels, plus public speaking. I always say, the easy bit is writing the book, getting it out to the masses is very hard. Hopefully, this wonderful tour, incorporating 49 bloggers will help!

Who would your ideal dinner guests be?

Will.i.am, Tom Read Wilson and Prince Harry.

What is your biggest regret?

I don’t regret anything. Everything I have done has shaped me as a person.

What makes you smile?

Stanley, my RSPCA cat.

What was your first job?

I used to wash up in pub kitchen in Ascot on a Saturday.

What hobby/hobbies do you have?

I love to power walk in Windsor Great Park and regularly go to horse racing meetings at Ascot Racecourse.

 

|  About the Book   |

 

Rosa Larkin is down on her luck in London, so when she inherits a near-derelict corner shop in a quaint Devon village, her first thought is to sell it for cash and sort out her life. But nothing is straightforward about this legacy. While the identity of her benefactor remains a mystery, he – or she – has left one important legal proviso: that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it.

Rosa makes up her mind to give it a go: to put everything she has into getting the shop up and running again in the small seaside community of Cockleberry Bay. But can she do it all on her own? And if not, who will help her succeed – and who among the following will work secretly to see her fail?

There is a handsome rugby player, a sexy plumber, a charlatan reporter and a selection of meddling locals. Add in a hit and run incident and the disappearance of a valuable engraved necklace – and what you get is a journey of self-discovery and unpredictable events.

With surprising and heartfelt results, Rosa, accompanied at all times by her little sausage dog Hot, will slowly unravel the shadowy secrets of the inheritance, and also bring her own, long-hidden heritage into the light.

 

 

 

|   Author Bio   |

Award winning author Nicola May lives in Ascot in Berkshire with her rescue cat Stanley. Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon, eating flapjacks and enjoying a flutter on the horses. Inspired by her favourite authors Milly Johnson and Carole Matthews, Nicola writes what she describes as chicklit with a kick.

 

Website   |   Twitter |   Facebook |   Amazon UK |   Amazon US   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram

 

 

***GIVEAWAY***

 Win x 3 Paperback copies of The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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.

My Reading Corner is not the organiser of this giveaway nor has any responsibility for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Having enjoyed a previous book by A J Waines, I’m delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal for her latest thriller, Don’t You Dare.  The release date is 8th May and its published by Bloodhound Books.

Guest Post – Don’t you Dare

by A J Waines

Two people. One dead body
Who’s going to crack first?

I loved writing Don’t you Dare. It’s a true psychological thriller, but as in all my books, there’s a crime and a mystery involved too! Not all is what it seems.

As a former psychotherapist, I’ve always been interested in people’s motives for the choices they make. In this book, a mistake, then a misunderstanding leave a mother and daughter trapped in a terrible dilemma that will affect their lives forever. Neither of them plans to commit a crime, but something awful takes place that sends their lives spiralling out of control.

In Don’t you Dare, I wanted a dreadful crime to be committed by the lead character, but for a very good reason, and for this reason to be kept hidden from the other person involved (and the reader!). The tension in the book comes from the different ways in which Beth, twenty-three, and her mother, Rachel, handle the aftermath of what they’ve done.

I always love stories involving lies and secrets and this novel has plenty of them, with a big twist at the end! Don’t you Dare also explores what happens when two people are forced to share a chilling secret and one of them loses their nerve. It’s the kind of situation that almost anyone could find themselves in! It’s a nail-biting ride and perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, C.L Taylor and Clare Mackintosh!

 

Don’t you Dare is AJ Waines’ seventh thriller and will be published on May 8 by Bloodhound Books. You can find her books HERE.

 

Now for the cover……………….

 

|  Author Bio  |

AJ Waines has sold over 450,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and has been ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.

Find AJ Waines’ books here, visit her website and blog, or join her on Twitter, Facebook or get her Newsletter.