Challenge Participant


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Blog Tour - Playlist for a Broken Heart by Cathy Hopkins

Today I am pleased to welcome Cathy Hopkins to my blog as  part of her blog tour for her new release 'Playlist for a Broken heart'.

Playlist for a Broken Heart is written by Cathy Hopkins, who has written more than sixty titles for children and teenagers.

When Paige finds an old mix CD in a local charity shop, she can't help but wonder about the boy who made it and the girl he was thinking of when he chose the songs. The tracks tell the story of a boy looking for his perfect girl, a girl to understand him, a story of being alone, being let down, misunderstood and not knowing where to turn. Following the clues of the music, Paige sets out to find the mysterious boy, going from gig to gig and band to band, hoping to track him down. But will who she finds at the end of the trail, be the boy she's imagined? Another perfect girly read from Queen of Teen nominee Cathy Hopkins!

I am able to share the first two chapters of Cathy's latest book with my readers in an exclusive extract:

Playlist for a Broken Heart

Chapter One

‘Here we go,’ whispered Allegra.
I held my breath and waited for Mr Collins, our
drama teacher, to read out who had got parts in the
end-of-year play. Everyone who’d auditioned was
standing near the wooden stage in the school hall. It
smelt of beeswax and lavender from the polish used
by the cleaners who’d started the evening clear-up
behind us. Please, please let me get Juliet, I prayed.
I’d been rehearsing for weeks with my friend,
Allegra, reading all the other parts so I could get it
just right. She’s a good mate and knows that it means
a lot to me. I’ve come so close to getting a lead role in
school productions before but never quite made it –
always the bridesmaid, never the bride sort of thing. I
also have an ulterior motive for wanting the lead
female role this time and that is that I’m pretty sure
that Alex Taylor, love of my life, though he doesn’t
know it yet, will probably play Romeo.
Everyone thinks it’s in the bag that he’ll get it
because, apart from being a good actor, he’s classically
good-looking with soft brown hair that curls at
his shoulders. If he gets the part, whoever plays opposite
him will get to spend a lot of time with him.
Normally I am not boy mad like Allegra and so many
other girls my age. I think there’s more to life than
drooling over some stupid boy, but Alex is different.
He’s clever and motivated and just thinking about
the scenes where Romeo and Juliet have to kiss makes
my toes curl. So please, please let Alex Taylor get the
part of Romeo.
Mr Collins glanced over our group, all of us ready
to put on a cheerful face if we didn’t get a part.
‘Romeo. Alex Taylor,’ he read. Alex, who was standing
in front of me to the right, punched the air and
grinned. I felt a rush of excitement – so far so good.
Allegra glanced over and gave me the thumbs-up.
‘Juliet. Paige Lord.’
Ohmigod. I’d got it! I felt elated and relieved at the
same time. All that hard work had been worth it.
‘Yay,’ exclaimed Allegra and gave me a hug. I felt
myself blush as everyone turned to look, even more
so when Alex glanced round to see who I was. I immediately
looked at the floor and cursed that I didn’t
have the nerve to look him in the eye and hold his
gaze, the way an article about how to flirt in last
week’s Teen Vogue had advised. Make the connection,
it had said. Look him in the eye that moment
too long and, when you feel a charge of electricity,
hold it another few moments and then look away. So
I’ve blown that, I thought.
Up until today, I don’t think Alex has even noticed
me despite me accidentally-on-purpose walking past him
a million times in the corridor. It’s the only place I see
him because he’s in Year Twelve and I’m in Year Ten
and the sixth formers have their own common room.
But all that is about to change. Now that we’re playing
the lead roles, he has no choice but to notice me. We’ll
be acting the parts of one of the most famous romantic
couples in history. We’ll be rehearsing together for
months, up until the performance just before we break
up for the summer. I call that a result with a capital R.
When Allegra and I left school later, I was on cloud
nine. It had been an excellent day. Besides hearing
that I’d got the part of Juliet, some pieces from my art
project had been chosen to hang in the reception
hall. I’d been working on a series of portraits from
some photographs I’d taken on the London streets
over the Christmas holidays. On top of that, I’d got
an A star for an English essay, and the cherry on the
cake was that, after Mr Collins’ announcement about
the parts, Jason Rice, who would be Tybalt in the
play, had suggested that the whole cast get together
over the Easter holidays for a party at his house. My
future had never looked brighter and it felt like I was
about to embark on an exciting new chapter in my
‘I knew you’d get it,’ said Allegra. ‘With your long
dark hair and brown eyes, you have an Italian look.
And you’re tall like Alex so you’ll look good together.
Plus – don’t take this the wrong way – you have a sort
of innocence about you that I think worked in your
favour too.’
‘I have a sort of innocence about me because I am
innocent! Not that I want to be. I mean, it’s pathetic
really. Fifteen and never had a proper boyfriend,
unlike you, Miss Experienced.’
‘You just haven’t met the right boy. Playing opposite
Romeo will be a good place to start, and for
someone who’s shy like you, it will be the perfect
opportunity to get some confidence,’ said Allegra.
She was much more savvy about relationships than I
was. Slim but curvy, blonde and cool, she attracted
boys while I stood by, feeling tongue-tied and awkward.
It was weird. I was fine if I was acting because it wasn’t
really me, so I didn’t clam up like I did when I had to
speak to boys in normal life. Acting a part in a play
was like wearing a mask that I could hide behind.
‘It will, won’t it? It’s a great chance to get in with
Alex. Life would be perfect if Mum and Dad would
sort out whatever it is that’s been bugging them,’ I
said as we waited in the car park for her mum to pick
us up. There had been a weird atmosphere at home
lately, which of course I’d told Allegra all about
because I had to talk to someone about it.
‘How’s that going?’ Allegra asked. ‘Still no idea
what it’s about?’
‘The only thing I can think of that makes sense is
that they’re getting divorced,’ I replied. I’d known
that something was wrong with my parents for a few
months, though nothing had been said. Dad had
been more absent than usual and then quiet when he
was home, whereas Mum was acting cheerful but
something about her manner didn’t ring true.
‘Sounds like it,’ she agreed. ‘Are they arguing a lot?’
‘Not that I’ve heard. But they both go silent the
minute I enter the room as if they have a secret, but
not a nice one like a surprise party or holiday.
Whatever. I’m not going to let them ruin my mood.’
‘Good because this is your day,’ said Allegra. ‘It’s
probably nothing. You know what parents are like –
there’s always something stupid bugging them.
They’re going to be over the moon when you give
them your news.’
‘They will,’ I replied. I couldn’t wait to get home
and tell them.

Chapter Two

Mum and Dad were in the hall at home waiting for
me when I arrived back from school.
‘Where’ve you been, Paige?’ asked Dad.
‘Drama. I told Mum I’d be late. I got the part!’ I
said. I was dying to share my news but as I waited for
the congratulations and questions, I saw that what I’d
said hadn’t registered with either of them.
‘Come and sit down, Paige,’ said Dad. ‘We need to
talk to you about something.’
‘Let her get a cup of tea or something,’ said Mum.
‘She’s only just got in.’
They were both acting so seriously, it was beginning
to freak me out.
‘No. I’m fine,’ I said. ‘I don’t need anything. Just
tell me what’s happened. Has someone died? Gran or
‘Nothing like that,’ said Mum. ‘Let’s all go into the
sitting room.’ I followed them in from the hall and we
sat down, Mum and Dad next to each other on the
sofa and me in one of the armchairs opposite. All of
us took a deep breath and the room felt heavy with
the weight of the unspoken words in the air.
A feeling of dread hit me as I looked at their faces.
I had to break the uncomfortable silence. ‘I know
what you’re going to say,’ I blurted.
Mum looked taken aback. ‘You do?’ she asked.
I nodded. ‘You’re getting a divorce. But before you
do, have you thought of trying counselling?’ A few
girls in our class had parents who had got divorced so
it was often the topic of conversation in school lunch
breaks, and I remembered that Phoebe Marshall’s
parents had been to Relate then stayed together –
until her mum ran off with her skiing coach.
A glimmer of a smile crossed Dad’s face. ‘We’re not
getting divorced, Paige. No getting rid of me that easy.’
‘Ohmigod. One of you has cancer,’ I said. Another
classmate, Mary Philip’s mum had breast cancer last
year, but they got it in time and she’s OK now. Maybe
there was hope.
‘No, we don’t have cancer either,’ said Dad. He
looked at Mum again and gave a small shrug. ‘Do you
want to tell her or shall I?’
‘I will,’ said Mum. ‘So, Paige. It’s not so bad. It’s
er . . . it’s just that . . . our circumstances have
changed. We . . .’
I listened as words came out of her mouth and then
Dad’s, but as they spoke I felt like part of me left the
room. My body was there, ears listening, eyes seeing,
but everything took on a dreamlike quality, not real at
all. I got the gist of what they were telling me though.
My whole life was going to change big time. Big time.
And not in a good way.
I’ve never been totally clear on what Dad actually
does, although he’s tried to explain a number of times.
Finances. Something to do with shares and investments.
He’s always done well at it, that I do know,
because we live in a fabulous detached house with a
huge garden by the river in Richmond. Dad drives a
Mercedes, Mum a Porsche. I go to one of the best
private schools in the country and we have two fivestar
holidays a year. Not any more, I was hearing. Dad’s
lost everything and had to declare himself bankrupt.
What? That’s not possible, I thought, then told
myself to keep listening. This was important. Some
investments went badly wrong, and he’d put the
house up as collateral, and it seems we’ve lost that too
and we have to vacate in a month’s time. Nothing is
left but a big bad debt.
I felt totally in shock, like someone had just
knocked a hole in me.
‘We can’t have lost everything,’ I said. ‘It can’t be
‘I’m afraid it is,’ said Dad.
‘But you must have savings?’
‘All gone,’ said Dad.
‘So . . . so what does this mean exactly?’ I asked.
Dad glanced over at Mum. I’d never seen him like
this before – uncertain, unshaven and pale. Usually he
was Mr Sure of Himself, out the door at six in the
morning, dressed in a suit and tie, dark hair slicked
back and shining. He had a glow about him. A glow
that said, ‘I am a successful and very wealthy man’. Not
today though. Today he looked dejected, broken even.
‘It means we’re going to be moving,’ Mum said
with a false smile, her voice in the higher pitch she
always used when she wasn’t happy about something.
As I studied her, she looked her usual immaculate
self, her make-up impeccable, her highlighted blonde
hair freshly blow-dried as it was always was on a Friday,
ready for the weekend. However, I could see shadows
under her eyes like she hadn’t slept properly. ‘We’re
going to go to Bath to live with my sister.’
‘Moving? To Bath? Aunt Karen?’
Mum nodded.
‘For how long?’
‘Until . . .’ Mum looked at Dad. ‘Until we can
make other arrangements.’
‘But that’s insane,’ I blurted.
‘That it may be, but that’s what’s happening,’ said
Dad wearily.
‘Do you mean for a few days or weeks?’ I asked.
‘A permanent move, Paige,’ said Mum. ‘We’re leaving
‘Permanent? No. But why? This is our home.
When? It doesn’t make sense. This is a wind-up, isn’t
it? You’re having me on.’
‘I wish we were,’ said Mum. ‘We’ll be going in a few
‘Few weeks? No. I can’t leave my school now.’
Mum looked like she was going to cry and I felt as
if I might too. ‘It’s the last thing we want to happen,
believe me Paige, but luckily we’ve found a school
in Bath that has the same syllabus. It’s called
Queensmead. It has a very good reputation.’
I didn’t want to hear about a new school. I didn’t
want to hear about moving – especially not today,
which had been the best day of my life until I got
home. ‘No. Dad, you can fix it can’t you?’
‘Not this time, baby girl,’ said Dad sadly. ‘Believe
me, I’ve tried, I really have, and I’m afraid we have no
choice. We have to go.’
‘Can’t Gran or Grandpa lend you money?’
Dad shook his head. ‘Not the amount we need,
and anyway I wouldn’t take their savings, especially
not at this time of their lives.’
This could not be happening. Not now. I was going
to be Juliet. Alex was going to be Romeo. I liked my
school. I liked our life. ‘But why can’t we move in
London? Everyone we know is here. We have to stay.
What about school?’
‘We can’t afford to stay in London and we can’t
afford the school fees any more,’ said Mum in a
clipped voice.
‘But you’ve paid until the end of the year, haven’t
you? So I have to stay.’
‘Due to the circumstances, the school has been
kind enough to reimburse the fees for the last term,’
said Dad.
I felt a wave of anxiety as I pictured the scene – Dad
having to go to my headmaster. It must have been
excruciating for him.
‘Bath will be great, Paige. You’ll love it. It will be a
new start for all of us. A new place, new people to
meet, and it will be lovely spending some time with
Karen and her family. It’s been ages since we had some
proper time with her. I bet we won’t miss London for
a second once we get settled in.’ She couldn’t fool me.
She smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes.
‘Are you saying that we’re . . . we’re poor?’
Mum glanced nervously at Dad. ‘Not poor exactly,’
she said. ‘Just our circumstances have changed and
we have to make some cutbacks.’
Moving in with Aunt Karen. Losing our lovely house.
That sounds like poor to me, I thought as I looked at
Dad, willing him to take charge, but he was just staring
at the floor as though he wished he could be
anywhere else but here with Mum and I having this
My mind went into a spin as the implications hit
me. Moving meant leaving my friends, Allegra, my
bedroom with the window that looked out over the
river. I’d be leaving my life. And Alex Taylor. Alex
Taylor, and just after he’d noticed me. It was too
cruel. Tragic.
And live with Aunt Karen? There were six of them,
eight if you counted the dog and cat. Aunt Karen,
Uncle Mike, Tasmin, Jake, Joe and Simon. We hadn’t
ever stayed over with them the few times we’d visited
because they didn’t have room, and we hadn’t even
been down that way for years, not since I was nine or
ten. Not that Mum isn’t close to her sister, she is –
they’re always on the phone to each other – but
everyone gets together at Christmas or for birthday
celebrations at Gran and Grandpa’s in Surrey. How
could we possibly be going to live with Aunt Karen
and Uncle Mike? From what I remembered, they’d
moved since we were there and their new house
sounded tiny. Terraced. Four bedrooms and one
bathroom. We had four bathrooms, one each for
Mum, Dad and I and one for the guest suite.
‘But there’s no room there. There are six of them
in that minuscule house,’ I said.
‘It will only be temporary, until your dad and I get
jobs and we can find our own place to live,’ said Mum.
‘You’re going to work?’ I asked.
Mum has never worked, not in a job. Not that she
was idle. She was always doing something – Pilates on
a Monday, watercolour painting on Tuesday, cooking
class on Wednesday, ladies’ lunch on Thursday
followed by a meeting for one of the charities she
runs, and Friday shopping, the hairdresser’s and
beautician with her friend. She was always busy but
she’d never had a paid job. She hadn’t needed to.
Mum nodded. ‘I’ll find something.’ As she said
this, I saw Dad wince.
‘I’ll find something,’ he said. ‘I’ll get us out of this
Mum leant over, took his hand and squeezed it. ‘I
know you will, Patrick.’
‘I’m sorry, Paige,’ Dad said to me, then put his
head in his hands for a few moments. I wasn’t sure
which was more shocking, seeing my father behave
like this or the fact that we’d be leaving London and
the house where we’d lived all my life to live in some
unfamiliar place in the middle of nowhere. I hadn’t
seen much of Bath when we had been there, only the
area where Aunt Karen lived, and it looked really
boring. London was the place to be, everyone knew
that. London was my place to be.
It. Could. Not. Be. Happening.
‘But you must have some money somewhere,’ I
‘Not any more,’ said Mum.
‘Can’t you borrow some from a bank?’
I wish it was that easy,’ said Dad.
Mum took a deep breath and sat up straight. ‘Come
on. Let’s remember who we are. We’re the Lord
family. We’re survivors. We’ll get through this. Life’s
a rollercoaster, up and down we go. We’re going down
for a while but things will turn around and we’ll be
going up again before you know it.’
Dad sat up straight too. ‘Course we will,’ he said.
‘Things will turn around but, in the meantime, you’ll
have to be a brave girl, Paige. I need you to be strong
and not be too upset about the changes coming.
Change is part of life and you have to embrace it and
go with it or it will destroy you.’
I got the feeling he was talking to himself as well as
me. But it couldn’t really be happening. Something
would make things all right. We couldn’t have lost everything.
Things like this didn’t happen to people like us.
Mum stood up. ‘Would you like a hot drink now,
Paige?’ she asked.
As if that will make everything all right, I thought,
but I nodded anyway. I felt stunned by their news.
Dad got up and left the room.
As I sat there, trying to take in the enormity of
what they had just told me, I felt cold. So, not divorce.
No. This was much, much worse.

Thank you to Cathy Hopkins and her publishers, Simon and Schuster, for inviting me to join the blog tour. my review will follow shortly.

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