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.

 

 

Published by Quercus

Available in ebook and trade paperback (5 April 2018) |  paperback (12 July 2018)

352 pages



My thanks to Olivia from Quercus for the invitation to take part in the tour for What Lies Within.  Today I have a guest post from Annabelle on setting her book in Marrakech. I’m perhaps showing my age here, but I now have the song ‘Marrakesh Express’ by Crosby Stills & Nash in my head!

 

* * *

I’ve always wanted to set a book in Marrakech. For me, it’s one of the most exotic and enigmatic cities on the planet – however many times I visit the medina – the medieval old city – it remains an unknowable tangle of streets and alleyways. Even though the chic streets of the ‘Ville Nouvelle’ are just a short walk away, it feels incredibly ‘other’ – an ideal place, then to explore how unsettling starting a new life abroad can be.

When I visit, I always stay in a riad in the medina – riads are old townhouses, with rooms built around a central courtyard. There are hundreds of riads now, mostly owned by expats, but my favourite is Riad Kniza (riadkniza.com) It’s owned by Mohamed Bouskri – who was partly the inspiration for the character of Mustafa – who has been a guide in the city for fifty years. It’s filled with fabrics, paintings and furniture by local artisans and feels luxurious without being ostentatious. I’d love to stay in La Mamounia – the city’s most luxurious hotel, and the home of Dame Edith in What Lies Within, but it’s a bit out of my price range. For me it’s somewhere to go for a G&T as the sun sets, or to listen to some jazz in Bar le Churchill. The place just oozes old-school glamour.

It’s true that Marrkech is a very frenetic city – but the joy, for me, is that there are plenty of ways to step out of the madness if you want to. Roof terrace bars are a great option; I love Kosybar (kosybar.com) above the Place des Ferblantiers; great cocktails and a really chilled-out vibe – it became Larousse, the restaurant where they have the pivotal dinner party – in the book. If I feel like escaping the souks for a quiet lunch, I head to the Terrasse des Epices (terassedesepices.com) – in my opinion they do the best tajine in the city.

I gave Freya, my main character, my love of the souks, and the joy of starting to disentangle the medina’s alleyways and streets. I don’t always shop in the medina though; if I don’t feel like bartering, I go to Souk Cherifia. It’s a collective of young Moroccan designers, selling everything from jewellery to cushion covers. In the Ville Nouvelle, I love 33 Rue Majorelle (33ruemajorelle.com) – the closest thing the city has to a department store, selling everything from olive oil and wine to handmade hats. It’s right opposite the beautiful Jardins Majorelle, perfect for a post-spree stroll.

If I’m staying for a few days, I’ll often take a taxi to one of the day resorts that lie a few miles out of the city. One of my favourite places to retreat to is the Beldi Country Club (La Vie En Rose in the book), a gorgeous country estate about six kilometres outside Marrakech, with beautiful gardens and three swimming pools. It’s a blissfully peaceful way to spend a day.

And no trip to Marrakech is complete without an evening in the Jemaa el Fna, the extraordinary main square, with its snake-charmers, storytellers and water sellers. People are often nervous of eating at the food stalls but I’ve had some wonderful dinners; the trick is to check out some local bloggers and see which ones they recommend. Sitting eating hot merguez, while flames shoot up from the grills and the air is thick with drumming and the hubbub of thousands of people all mingling together – it’s a classic Marrakchi experience, and totally unique. Just like the city itself.

 

|   About the Book   |

 

An intense, claustrophobic psychological novel about the dark side of expat life, and what being out of your comfort zone can do to you, set in the vibrant souks and ancient riads of Marrakech

A unique friendship, built on a lie

Freya, Paul and Hamad. Three friends from two different worlds; a seemingly unshakeable bond, suddenly under threat.

A move that would change all their lives.

The trio have stayed close since university despite Freya and Paul’s marriage and Hamad’s wealthy lifestyle – so different from their own. Then an incredible job offer from Hamad sees Paul and Freya move to Morocco.

A city where nothing is as it seems

Marrakech soon proves a perplexing place to live. Instead of reinvigorating their marriage, Freya finds the move is driving them apart. Revelations about their shared past force her to acknowledge that neither Paul nor Hamad is quite the man she thought. When a shocking crime is committed, Freya finds herself cast adrift in the dark corners of a bewildering city, unsure who to trust or to believe.

 

 

At the time of this post, the Kindle version of What Lies Within can be downloaded from Amazon UK for 99p. It is also available to buy in trade paperback.

 

|   Author Bio   |

After sixteen years as an award-winning travel and features journalist, writing for The Times and many other national broadsheets and magazines, Annabelle made the transition to fiction with The People We Were Before, the tale of a young boy and his family living through the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. The book was born of her experiences in travelling to Croatia for over thirty years, and witnessing the country’s spectacular fall and rise.

As a travel writer, she has visited over 50 countries, including driving through the Omani desert, trekking in the New Zealand rainforest, learning (and failing) to sail in Bermuda and narrowly escaping being run over in Tripoli. Her fiction brings in locations she knows intimately; Croatia in The People We Were Before, and Marrakech and Qatar in her second novel, What Lies Within, published in April 2018.

 

Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads

 

 

Published by Zaffre (5 April 2018)

Available in ebook and paperback

400 pages



 

Gold fever

by A J Mackenzie

Few substances have had a more dramatic impact on human history than gold. It has started wars, led to murders and suicides, ruined lives and families, created vast wealth and also great hardship. In The Body in the Boat, gold helps to arm England’s enemies and puts the country itself at peril.

An alien arriving on this planet would probably be puzzled by the allure of gold. Apart from money, it doesn’t really have many functions apart from a few modern technological uses. It is primarily decorative. Even as money, it has its drawbacks; it is heavy and hard to transport in quantity, and it is also hard to keep secure. In many societies, people turned their gold into jewellery, portable wealth, and wore it on their bodies partly in an effort to keep it safe.

But the appeal of gold is emotional as well as practical. One of the softer metals, it is very tactile and easy to mould into pleasing shapes. Its colour and brilliance remind us of sunlight and warmth, things which our brains instinctively crave. Gold makes us happy. Scientists have discovered a neurotransmitter in our brains, a hormone called oxytocin, which is released by certain experiences – having sex, eating chocolate, using mobile phones – which makes us more happy and contented. It would be interested to see if holding or touching gold had a similar impact.

Because there is no doubt that for some people, gold is addictive. Think of the miners who went to California in 1849 and the Klondike in 1898, enduring terrible hardship, dying like flies, in the pursuit of gold. They went in part because they wanted to get rich, but as the Scottish bank clerk turned gold prospector Robert Service tells us in his poem The Spell of the Yukon, the gold itself was addictive:

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy, I found it;
I hurled my youth into the grave.

An obsession with gold is one of the running themes in The Body in the Boat. During the French Revolution the French government, starved of gold, began issuing paper notes called assignats. The French people rejected these; paper, to them, did not mean money. They wanted the comfort and security of gold and silver. Soldiers in particular demanded to be paid in ‘real’ money. To solve the problem, the French began encouraging smugglers to carry gold out of Britain into France. The early efforts were fairly haphazard, but later under Napoleon gold smuggling became a big and well organised business.

With gold haemorrhaging out of the country, the British government reacted quickly. Exporting gold became a criminal offence, punishable by hanging. The Bank of England also issued paper banknotes of its own, with predictable outcry among the public. Don’t worry, the Bank soothed, it’s just a temporary measure; as soon as the war is over, we’ll go back to gold and silver. (They did, for a few years.) But the need for gold, and the profit that could be made from smuggling it, was not much of a deterrent. The gold smuggling continued – with, in the case of The Body in the Boat, fatal results.

 

|   About the Book  |

 

A gripping tale of murder and mystery in eighteenth Century England, for fans of S.J. Parris

Across the still, dark English Channel come the smugglers. But tonight they carry an unusual cargo: a coffin. Several miles inland, a respected banker holds a birthday party for his wife. Within days, one of the guests is found shot dead.

What links this apparently senseless killing to the smugglers lurking in the mists? Why has the local bank been buying and hoarding gold? And who was in the mysterious coffin?

Reverend Hardcastle and Mrs Chaytor find themselves drawn into the worlds of high finance and organised crime in this dramatic and dark Georgian mystery. With its unique cast of characters and captivating amateur sleuths, The Body in the Boat is a twisting tale that vividly brings to life eighteenth-century Kent and draws readers into its pages.

 

 

|  Author Bio  |

A J Mackenzie is the pseudonym of Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel, an Anglo-Canadian husband-and-wife team of writers and historians. The Body on the Doorstep is their first foray into fiction and was published by BonnierZaffre in April 2017. The 2nd instalment of the Hardcastle & Chaytor Mysteries, The Body in The Ice is out on 20th April.

 

Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   AmazonUK   |   Goodreads