Challenge Participant


Thursday, 20 September 2018

Blog Tour - Love at the Northern Lights by Darcie Boleyn

‘Climbing out the window in her dress and tiara wasn’t exactly how Frankie imagined her wedding
Runaway bride Frankie Ashford hops a plane to Norway with one goal in mind - find her estranged mother and make peace with the past. But when a slip on the ice in Oslo lands her directly in Jonas Thorsen’s viking-strong arms, her single-minded focus drifts away in the winter winds.
When it comes to romance Jonas knows that anything he and Frankie share has an expiration date - the British heiress has a life to return to in London that’s a world away from his own. But family is everything to Jonas and, as the one man who can help Frankie find the answers she’s seeking, he’ll do whatever it takes to help her reunite with her mother.
Now, as Christmas draws closer and the northern lights work their magic Frankie and Jonas will have to make a it safe or risk heartbreak to take a chance on love.
Today I am pleased to welcome Darcie Boleyn to my blog as part of her blog tour to celebrate the publication of 'Love at the Northern Lights', her latest release, which is the perfect read to get into the winter reading, with part f the book set in the snowy scenery of Oslo, getting us readers ready for the gorgeous festive reads.
The book starts with a comedic scene as Frankie is taken on her hen night celebrations with friends. The police arrive but is all as it seems? Fast forward to Frankie's wedding day and there is a real experience of second thoughts as she shares a heart to heart with her father - will she go ahead with the weding?
The subsequent story is a really great read. I loved the whole story and I have found myself ready to start reading the long list of festive reads that publishers have started to release to book bloggers to review ahead of the festive period. It is one of those books that I can curl up with over a weekend and savour in its entirety. There is everything within it that I love in a good read: humour, family upset, a romance and link this with beautiful scenery and a strong male character in Jonas and I am very happy!
The publishers, Canelo, have shared with me the opening scene of the book to share with my blog readers, enjoy ……………………..

‘Oh my God, Frankie, we’re being arrested!’

‘What?’ Frances Ashford looked up from the flute of champagne she’d been nursing for the past hour, and peered through the dimly lit VIP section of the exclusive London club.

‘Get up! It’s the police.’
Jennifer Prescott, Frankie’s best friend, grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet, causing her to spill the remains of the champagne down the front of her pink silk dress.

And sure enough, six burly police officers were heading their way.

‘But why would they arrest us?’ she asked Jen, looking first at the men in their black shirts and trousers with black baseball caps on their heads, then at the rest of her hen party.

‘Because we’ve been very naughty.’ Lorna Cartwright, another of Frankie’s bridesmaids, smoothed her sleek black hair then adjusted the low neckline of her barely there black dress. She giggled then held up her hands. ‘I’m here, officers. Please be gentle with me.’

‘This is a prank, right?’ Frankie nudged Jen as the men closed in on them.

‘Oh, Frankie, darling… just go with the flow. This is your hen night and it’s time to have some fun.’ Jen cocked a perfectly manicured blonde brow at her, then held up her hands in the same way as Lorna and the other three bridesmaids

Frankie scanned the club, wondering if she had time to make a run for it, but suddenly handcuffs were locked around her wrists. One of the officers gruffly informed her of her rights, then she was led down the stairs from the VIP area and across the dance floor, as her friends squealed and giggled around her.

Ten minutes later, Frankie found herself squashed onto a narrow bench, between two of the rather brawny police officers in the back of a transit van. Jen and Lorna were with her, but the others had been stuffed into a different van outside the club. It was clearly hen night high jinks, but even so, her pulse was racing and her mouth bone dry. She hadn’t wanted any of this, hadn’t even wanted a hen night, but Jen and the others had insisted. Frankie had agreed on the condition that it would be a quiet night of drinks at a club followed by a meal at The Ivy. However, it seemed that her friends had ignored her wishes and come up with something completely different.

The air in the van was stuffy and the heavy aroma of cheap aftershave hung around the hot, bulky bodies either side of her. Didn’t these men know that less was more when it came to cologne? How anyone could find this exciting, Frankie had no idea. The urge to stand up, kick open the back doors of the van and jump out was building, and she pressed her long French-manicured nails into her palms to try to stay calm. Surely this torture would soon be over?

She looked over at Jen who was smiling up at the officer at her side. He stared straight ahead, as if he’d been instructed to ignore the prisoners, but his lips twitched as Jen whispered something in his ear.

‘Jen?’ Frankie couldn’t bear it any longer.


‘How long will this last? It’s just…’ She glanced either side of her. ‘I need the loo.’ It was a lie, but if it meant this would end sooner, then she’d put on her best full bladder performance.

Jen rolled her eyes. ‘Why didn’t you go in the club?’

‘I wasn’t exactly given a chance, was I? It all happened a bit too quickly.’
‘Cross your legs, hun. We won’t be long, so try to relax and enjoy yourself.’ Jen flashed her a smile.

Each jig of the van as it drove through the London streets, made Frankie realize that her bladder was actually quite full now, and that she’d need a comfort break soon. Perhaps it was the shock – and horror – of being subjected to this. 
Perhaps it was the water she’d been discreetly drinking to avoid getting a headache from the bubbly.

A squeal of tyres brought the van to a sudden stop and the officers jumped up, but because Frankie had been so tightly squashed between them, she was thrust forwards. She raised her arms instinctively to cushion her fall, but the handcuffs kept her wrists together, so she was winded as she hit the carpeted floor. She lay still for a moment, her forehead resting against the itchy carpet that reeked of the adhesive that held it in place, trying to catch her breath as hell broke out around her.

‘What the f—! How is that acceptable?’ It was Jen. ‘Frankie? Are you OK, darling?’

Frankie nodded as best she could, then strong hands took hold of her arms and lifted her to her feet. She sagged, her stomach aching from her fall, as she tried to suck in breaths.

‘You absolute idiots! You’re meant to look after your clients, not beat them up. You wait until I post a review about your beastly company.’

‘Look, love, no harm meant. We weren’t to know she’d lose her balance.’ 

Frankie watched the officer at her side, whose squeaky voice seemed incongruous with his size, as he tried to reason with Jen. ‘We’ll do you a discount.’

Jen sniffed then flicked her long blonde hair over her shoulders. ‘You’d better and a jolly good one at that.’

The van doors swung open and the officers leapt out then helped the women down. Frankie had finally caught her breath but knew that her stomach would be tender for days, the same as when she caught a hockey stick to the gut at boarding school.

To her relief, they had stopped directly outside The Ivy Kensington.

‘Come on, Frankie, let’s get a drink.’

‘Was… that it then?’

‘What do you mean?’ Jen frowned.

‘Being arrested. You haven’t arranged for strippers or anything as well, have you?’

Jen sighed then hooked her arm through Frankie’s. ‘The night is young, darling. The night is soooo young.’

Frankie suppressed the urge to scream ……
Thank you to Canelo and Darcie Boleyn for inviting me to take part in the blog tour in return for an honest review. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Blog Tour - Truth and Lies by Caroline Mitchell

Truth and Lies - A DI Amy Winter Thriller 1 (Paperback)

Meet Amy Winter: Detective Inspector, daughter of a serial killer.

DI Amy Winter is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her highly respected police officer father. But when a letter arrives from the prison cell of Lillian Grimes, one half of a notorious husband-and-wife serial-killer team, it contains a revelation that will tear her life apart.

Responsible for a string of heinous killings decades ago, Lillian is pure evil. A psychopathic murderer. And Amy’s biological mother. Now, she is ready to reveal the location of three of her victims—but only if Amy plays along with her twisted game.

While her fellow detectives frantically search for a young girl taken from her mother’s doorstep, Amy must confront her own dark past. Haunted by blurred memories of a sister who sacrificed herself to save her, Amy faces a race against time to uncover the missing bodies.
But what if, from behind bars, Grimes has been pulling the strings even tighter than Amy thought? And can she overcome her demons to prevent another murder?

Truth and Lies introduces its readers to Detective Inspector Amy Winter, who as well as being a high ranking police DI, is also the daughter of a serial killer. What a fantastic character Amy is and I am already looking forward to reading more books in this series. Such a complex character, with an intriguing back story, that Caroline Mitchell has created and I am looking forward to seeing how she progresses.

Caroline Mitchell is herself an ex-police detective and I think that this adds to the authenticity of her novels. She creates great strong female lead characters and Amy Winter is one such character, however her victims and killers are also complex and unique and all add to the impact of her stories. Her books are ones which keep the reader guessing but also looking over their shoulder when out and about - I don't mean scared, just super sensitive about who and what is around them and this, in my view, are all points on my checklist for a top best seller book.

Thank you to the publishers, Thomas and Mercer and Midas PR for sending me a copy of the book and inviting me to take part on this blog tour in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Blog Tour - Secrets at Meadowbrook Manor by Faith Bleasdale

Secrets at Meadowbrook Manor - Meadowbrook Manor 2 (Paperback)

Visit Meadowbrook this summer for sunshine, secrets and plenty of romance...
When Gemma Matthews is hired to transform Meadowbrook Manor into a boutique hotel, she can't believe her luck.
She packs her bags and moves to Meadowbrook to start her dream job, but her life is quickly turned upside down. From dealing with the petty squabbles of the dramatic Singer
siblings to cleaning up donkey poo, Gemma soon realises she has her work cut out for her. Neverthless, she's
determined to make the hotel a success, especially when she starts falling for the dangerously attractive Freddie Singer.
But Gemma has a secret she's desperate to protect, and she knows the truth could jeopardise everything... 
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008306960

I really enjoyed my first visit to Meadowbrook Manor and have been eagerly awaiting my return. Secrets at Meadowbrook Manor is that return and it has been well worth the wait. From the very first page I was swept back into the idyllic setting of Meadowbrook Manor and surrounded by the fantastic cast who felt like friends.

I really like the Singer family, who own Meadowbrook Manor, and was pleased to see that Gemma's nan also made another appearance in the book and their story was heart-warming and sincere. 

Although this book is the second in the series, I truly believe that this book could be read as a standalone book and I hope that lots of my  blog readers enjoy the book as much as I did. I am already looking forward to my next visit to Meadowbrook Manor.

Thank you to Avon Books for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Blog Tour - The Adults by Caroline Hulse

The Adults (Hardback)
The most hilarious debut you will read this year.
Claire and Matt are divorced but decide what's best for their daughter Scarlett is to have a 'normal' family Christmas. They can't agree on whose idea it was, or who said they should bring their new partners. But someone did - and it's too late to pull the plug.
Claire brings her new boyfriend Patrick, a seemingly eligible Iron-Man-in-Waiting. Matt brings the new love of his life Alex, funny, smart, and extremely patient. Scarlett, their daughter, brings her imaginary friend Posey. He's a rabbit.
Together the five (or six?) of them grit their teeth over Organized Fun activities, drinking a little too much after bed-time, oversharing classified secrets about their pasts and, before you know it, their holiday is a powder keg that ends - where this story starts - with a tearful, frightened, call to the police...

But what happened? They said they'd all be adults about this...

If you loved THE BREAK by Marian Keyes or raved about THE ROSIE PROJECT - look no further than THE ADULTS.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
ISBN: 9781409178293 
I really enjoyed The Adults, it really is one of those books that will make you laugh throughout! While it is most definitely a comedy book, it is also very poignant and is one of those  books that many readers will really identify with and see many of their own friendship circle within the cast of characters throughout the book.
Caroline very cleverly includes with the book a number of police witness statements throughout the story which describes the 'incident' from the many viewpoints of the main characters. I really liked this style of writing and I thought it was an interesting way of telling the story.
I am really looking forward to reading more by Caroline Hulse.
Thank you to the publishers, Orion Books, for a copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Blog Tour - Do No Harm by L V Hay

Today I am pleased to be a stop on Orenda Book's  Blog Tour for L V Hay's new release ' Do No Harm'.


After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…
Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…
Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.

Do No Harm is a great psychological thriller which kept me on the edge of my seat to the very end. It is a very well constructed novel which includes everything needed to make it a bestseller. This all begins with the fantastic cover design.

Lucy very cleverly entwines a couple of story lines which she brings together brilliantly which leads to an unpredictable and exciting story which comes to a satisfying ending which has left me eager to read more of Lucy's books. I really enjoyed the three voices within the narrative, all adding their own twists and turns throughout.

I am really pleased that Orenda Books arranged for me to host a guest post from Lucy V Hay to celebrate the publication and she tells my readers about her rules for writers in the style of Elmore Leonard :

Elmore Leonard’s Rules For Writers: The LV Hay version By @LucyVHayAuthor

In addition to my job as an author of novels like Do No Harm, I’m also a script reader. This means I read LOADS of screenplays - and now novels, too - for other writers every year, plus I also train other script readers.

This means I spend a lot of time looking at so-called ‘writing rules’ (I prefer to call them ‘best practices’), in order to help advise other writers solve their writing problems. One of the most useful – and short! – lists I’ve found is Elmore Leonard’s Top 10.

You will have likely come across it too, because it’s very popular online. This is because it’s short and to the point list, which any writer, new to pro, can follow. Anyway, here are Elmore Leonard’s rules, with my thoughts attached. Unless I say otherwise, my thoughts apply to both novels AND scripts. Enjoy!

1. Never open a book (or script!) with weather
Gotta agree with Elmore here. We might be British (and everyone knows we LOVE to go on and on and on about the weather!), but starting off with it is DULL. Starting with stuff like ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ is also a massive cliché, so avoid like the plague (haha!). VERDICT: Agree.

2. Avoid prologues
There was a while when prologues seemed fairly popular in both novels AND movies, but these days readers and audiences want to dive straight into the nitty-gritty. That said, if you have written a prologue, don’t panic – as long as it’s good, you can always re-label it ‘chapter one’! VERDICT: Agree, but you can cheat.

3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue
Obviously, you never ever use ‘said’ in a screenplay (though you would be surprised by how many screenwriters try!). But as far as novels go, this is an interesting one, because I started off thinking Elmore was wrong on this one: is ‘said’ REALLY far less ‘intrusive’ than ‘grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied’ (or similar)? Then I started actively looking for words that weren’t said and discovered, actually, they DO stick out far more. In fact, ‘said’ sticks out too – and very often, you don’t need it, either. Readers CAN follow dialogue without speech tags, so I would venture it’s a good idea to use ALL of them sparingly! This way you can use other words in speech tags for impact when you need to, without any problems. VERDICT: Yes AND No - down on ‘said’ as much as possible, too, then you can use whatever you want.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”
Ugh, I’m with Elmore Leonard – and Stephen King – all the way on the dreaded ‘ly’ words in ALL mediums. Hunt them down and KILL THEM! VERDICT: Yes to the max.

5. Keep your exclamation points under control
VERDICT: Again, yup. LISTEN!!!!!!!!!

6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”
Points 1 and 5 on the list means this advice is self-explanatory. If we’re avoiding ‘ly’ words and cliches, you should never need to use them (unless there’s a specific point for them! Ooops!!! Overkill on the exclamation marks again). VERDICT: Yes. Again.

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly
Well, someone ought to tell Irvine Welsh and Roddy Doyle. Innit. But to be fair to Elmore Leonard he was well-old and probz didn’t have the skillz to write in such a way AND engage readers. Maybe you don’t either, in which case do as Elmore says. VERDICT: Nopesville.

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters In the screenwriting world, screenwriters are advised against ‘laundry list’ character descriptions – that is, concentrate on personality, worldview, flaws, etc instead of what they’re wearing. This might seem odd considering it’s a visual medium, but it’s the ONLY way to write a great character. Lots of novelists could learn from this advice, too. VERDICT: Yup! Elmore nails it.

9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things:
Same on the above for this, too. You don’t want to concentrate too much on the little things, as this will bring the flow of your chapters or scenes to a standstill. I call it ‘overwriting’. Literally every writer does this in early drafts though, so don’t panic – just watch out for it in the edit. VERDICT: Yes.

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Elmore Leonard said, ‘If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.’ This is a GREAT rule for every type of writer to take on board. We want great writing that FEELS authentic and real, not like writers indulging themselves.

So, what are you waiting for? GET GOING! Good luck!!!!!!!!!!! (Couldn’t resist!).

BIO: Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. DO NO HARM is out now and her crime debut for Orenda Books THE OTHER TWIN, has been featured in The Sun and Sunday Express Newspapers, plus Heatworld and Closer Magazine. Check out all her books, HERE.

Thank you to Orenda Books, Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and L V Hay for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour in return for an honest review.