Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Blog Tour: Extract From Ottercombe Bay Part 4 Shaken and Stirred by Bella Osborne

Today I am lucky enough to have an extract from the brand new Ottercome bay installment for you. This is the final part in the Ottercombe Bay series. I have reviewed all four parts of this series so you can read my thoughts here. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and you can pre-order your copy of the full book, Coming Home to Ottercombe Bay by clicking here!

Here's what its all about:

Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.
With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

And if you want to read a sample, here's that fabulous extract for you, thank you so much to Bella for sharing!

Daisy was looking forward to her night off; it had been a busy weekend so a Monday in the pub with Tamsyn was exactly what she needed. Actually, she would have preferred a bottle of wine at home but Tamsyn had been insistent. With only four weeks to go Daisy was getting demob-happy. The accounts were looking healthy and the solicitor had confirmed everything was on track to release the final instalment of her inheritance as planned. She was then going to put Locos up for sale, repay Aunt Coral and jet off to South America. Everything was coming together. She still had some niggles in the back of her mind, but that’s all they were. She wanted to do more travelling – it had always been her dream and nothing had changed, nothing at all. So why did she feel uneasy about moving on?
‘Slippers,’ said Tamsyn, as they walked in the warm evening air.
‘Yes,’ said Daisy, bracing herself for Tamsyn’s next question.
‘I mean, how dangerous do they sound?’ Daisy was frowning. ‘Imagine the inventor saying, “I’ve invented slippers, they go on your feet. Do you want to try them?” You’d think you were going to slide to your doom, wouldn’t you?’
Daisy started to laugh and Tamsyn continued. ‘And who was the cruel person that put an “s” in lisp?’
They were giggling as they entered the pub but Daisy’s laughter quickly faded when she saw who was sitting at their usual table.
‘Oh, no, Tams. I’m not spending an evening of awkwardness with Max,’ said Daisy, bolting for the door, but Tamsyn artfully blocked her.
‘Wait, please listen. It’s not about you and him it’s about me and Captain Cuddles.’ Daisy raised her eyebrows. ‘Because you two aren’t talking we have to see you separately and we feel we can’t mention the other one and it’s making us sad.’ Tamsyn’s face was brimming over with unhappiness making Daisy relent slightly.
‘All the trust has gone, Tams.’ Daisy looked across at Max; she wished that wasn’t the case but how could she even be friends with someone she no longer trusted and who had made her feel such a fool?

‘Please just have a drink with me and Jason. You can pretend Max isn’t there.’ Tamsyn’s face was pleading.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Blog Tour: Extract from Dreaming of St Tropez by TA Williams

I'm very excited to be part of the blog tour today for Dreaming of St Tropez by T.A. Williams which came out on the 7th May. I have an extract from the book for you to enjoy. If you like the look of that, you can order the book by clicking here. Here's what it's all about:

After a disagreement with a billionaire, architect Jess Milton is ‘let go’ from her job. However fortune intervenes – an elderly client asks Jess to dog-sit overweight, but loveable dog Brutus in St. Tropez.
Fed up with the mega-rich, Jess is reluctant to visit the playground of billionaires, but an all-expenses-paid trip and the promise of sunshine seals the deal.
Little does Jess know how much time she’ll be spending with the family living in St. Tropez. The sullen, but very good-looking David and his millionaire father are both welcoming but guarded, haunted by their pasts…
Can Jess bring some sunshine back into their lives – and, just maybe, find love in the process?

Like the sound of that? Here's an extract to whet your appetite just a little further...

‘Make sure you keep an eye on Brutus. Last week he stole a whole joint of roast beef, complete with Yorkshire puddings, and ate the lot.’
Once she had left, Mrs Dupont returned to the matter in hand.
‘You’ve probably worked it out for yourself from my name, but many years ago I married a Frenchman.’
Jess nodded and smiled. ‘Dupont doesn’t sound terribly English.’
‘He was a lovely man. I married him when I was twenty-two and, after a few years in London, we moved over to France. He came from a very wealthy family and we were fortunate in being able to choose where we wanted to live.’ She waved her hands vaguely around the room. ‘That’s why I’ve got all this now.’
Jess remembered what Hope had been saying about not all rich people being bad and nodded to herself. Mrs Dupont was a sweet old lady – money or no money.
‘Anyway, that was sixty years ago. My son still lives in France now.’ Mrs Dupont looked and sounded nostalgic. ‘Alas, Marcel, my husband, died ten years ago, and I’ve been on my own since then. Anyway…’ Jess saw her straighten up again. ‘Anyway, I’m digressing…’
‘Shall I pour the tea while you tell me all about it?’
‘Thank you dear, that would be kind. The thing is, the news here isn’t very good. I don’t know if you heard, but Glenda’s husband died rather suddenly two months ago, I’m afraid. It was a heart attack.’
‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.’ Jess looked up from the cups. ‘So she’s left on her own?’
‘She’s got a daughter who lives in Canada but, yes, otherwise she’s very much on her own. Just like me really.’ She caught Jess’s eye. ‘Or, at least, we’ve got each other. She’s been with me for so long, she’s really become my best friend.’
Jess poured the tea and set a cup down in front of the old lady.
‘Would you like me to cut a couple of slices of cake?’
‘If you would, dear, but you’d better make that three slices.’
‘A slice for Mrs Forsythe?’
‘No, she can help herself later on. The third slice is for Brutus. He likes cake.’
Jess began to understand just why the Labrador was so podgy. Clearly, if he was feasting on slices of iced sponge cake, it was no wonder his figure was suffering. Mrs Dupont pointed at the dog, but not to remark upon his obesity.
‘Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about Brutus. You see, I’m thinking about going off and doing something I’ve always wanted to do, and I thought I’d take Glenda with me for company, and as a treat to her.’
Jess took her own cup and sipped the tea.
‘And that is?’
‘A round the world cruise. My husband and I used to do a lot of cruising, but, since his death, I haven’t been away much. I thought to myself that this was the moment to go for it.’
‘And how long’s a round the world trip going to take?’
‘I haven’t booked anything yet, but the travel agent tells me these things last about three months.’
‘That sounds amazing. I’m sure you’ll love it.’ Inside her head, Jess was wondering how many thousands of pounds a trip like this would cost. Mrs Dupont was certainly providing her friend with quite a ‘treat’.
‘I’m really looking forward to it, but there’s a problem.’ Mrs Dupont looked down indulgently at the Labrador whose eyes were still trained on the cake, a small pool of drool forming on the floor in front of him.
‘The problem is that I can’t take Brutus on the boat with me. I’ve had him since he was a puppy – that’s almost five years ago now – and he’s as much my best friend as Glenda. I know I’ll miss him terribly and I really can’t countenance the idea of him being locked in kennels for three months. It would be like sending him to prison.’
Jess nodded sympathetically, but, inside, she was digesting the fact that Brutus was not yet five. With his excessive weight and his geriatric waddle, she had assumed he was twice that age.
‘I was wondering if you might be interested in a little proposal I have for you?’ There was a twinkle in Mrs Dupont’s eye. ‘Have you ever been to France?’
‘France? Just on a school exchange trip for a couple of weeks, years ago.’
‘Well, you see, my husband inherited the family home in France when his father died. He and I lived there for a good few years and it’s a lovely place. My son lives there now. As you were talking about maybe taking a holiday, I was wondering if you might like to do me a big favour by taking Brutus over to France while I’m having my cruise. My son says he can look after the dog, but, to be honest, he’s a bit absent-minded these days and I’m worried he might forget to feed him. I was wondering, in view of your present circumstances, whether you might like to look after him yourself and stay on for a nice long, restful holiday while you’re at it. After all, Brutus knows you and likes you.’
The dog, his eyes still trained on the cake, had now slumped down until he was lying on the floor, one heavy paw resting on Jess’s foot.
Jess nodded. ‘And I like him.’ She reached down to stroke his head. ‘That sounds like a wonderful offer.’ Her mind was racing. The idea of a three month holiday was really, really tempting, but the pragmatic part of her was telling her maybe she should concentrate on finding a new job. ‘So how would you suggest Brutus and I get there?’
‘Do you drive?’
Jess nodded again. ‘Yes… though I don’t do a lot of driving. Living in London, a car’s more trouble than it’s worth, but I’m sure with a bit of practice, I’d be all right.’
‘That’s excellent. The car’s almost new. I only bought it last year for Brutus’s sake. My old car was getting too small for him. Of course, I no longer drive, but Glenda’s husband used to drive it as and when it was necessary – since his death, it hasn’t been used. But the thing is, Brutus knows the car, and he knows you, so he would feel comfortable. So do you think you might be prepared to do that?’
‘I’ll certainly drive him over there and maybe stay a few weeks, if you’re sure I wouldn’t be any bother to your son.’
Mrs Dupont beamed. ‘Of course not. That’s wonderful, Jess. Thank you so much. You can stay in the guest house. It’s quite independent, tucked away in a corner of the grounds. We used to use it for guests, but he rarely has anybody visiting nowadays, and it’s been empty for ages. You and Brutus could stay there for as long as you like – hopefully all the time Glenda and I are away, if you like it and you have time – obviously free of charge. It’s a lovely place for a holiday. How would that sound?’
That sounded amazing to Jess. And, just in case she might have any doubts, the universe chose that exact moment to deliver a downpour of biblical proportions, reducing the view across the garden to a grey mist.
‘I should really be looking for a new job, but I suppose as that’s all online nowadays, I could do it from pretty much anywhere.’ Jess turned to Mrs Dupont with a smile. ‘And the idea of getting away from this weather is really appealing – specially on a day like today.’ She made a decision. ‘That sounds absolutely marvellous. I’ll be delighted to do it. Can I say I’ll definitely stay a month and, if all goes well, I’ll try to stay for the full duration? If not, I’ll happily pop back to bring Brutus home to you when you return from your cruise.’
‘That’s absolutely excellent. And, of course, do feel free to bring a friend, or friends, with you. Is there somebody you’d like to take with you to France?’
Jess had been thinking about this. ‘Yes, thank you, there is. My friend Hope deserves a holiday. She’s also between jobs so she could probably take a good long break as well. She and I are working for a dog-walking company at the moment, so she’s got lots of experience with dogs, which could be useful.’
‘That’s wonderful. Now, the cruise that interests me sails from Southampton right at the end of May. That’s in, what, just about four weeks’ time? Is that maybe a bit
short notice for you? Could you manage to get away so soon?’
Jess nodded. ‘Yes, I’m sure that would be all right. So, tell me, Mrs Dupont, whereabouts is your son living?’
‘You may have heard of it. It’s a nice little place on the Côte d’Azur between Toulon and Cannes. It’s called St-Tropez.’

Thanks so much to T.A. Williams for sharing that with us today! Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour!

T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

Twitter: @TAWilliamsBooks

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Bout of Books Day 6 Update/Day 7 Challenge

Well today was mainly lost to sleeping! I think I still felt sick from the plane journeys but I also think I just really needed sleep so, as you can imagine, I didn't do a whole lot of reading!

I did manage some more audiobook because I could listen to audiobook whilst making a start on the unpacking/laundry that being away for 8 weeks brings with it! I listened to another 3 hours of The Chaos of Standing still, so another 109 pages!

Today's challenge was 'stretch your goals' so take a look at the goals that I set for the start of the week and see if i need to change them. Obviously there are 2 books on my TBR that I'm not even going to get to, so those are not even on my radar until next week anymore. I would still like to finish the books I'm currently reading though. That means finishing around 400 pages of the two books I started on my plane journey. 

I don't think I need to change anything in terms of the other goal I set for myself which was to document the places I've been reading this week. I'm happy with my progress there and I think I've even exceeded my own expectations!

I'd love to hear how your goals have changed over the week so definitely comment below or let me know on social media so we can compare!

Pages Read Today:  109
Pages Read This Week: 1098
Complete Books Finished: 1
Part Books Finished: 2
Books I decided not to finish: 1

Guest Review: Bobby on the Beat by Bob Dixon

It's time for another of my non-fiction guest review series. I hope you enjoy!

Bob Dixon spent years 'on the Beat' as a police constable in the Metropolitan Police Force in the early 1960s, witnessing all manner of incidents, from the serious to the ludicrous. Spending the majority of his time in London's infamous East End dealing with drunks, fatalities on the road, domestic disputes and even suicides, as well as policing at major public events such as Guy Fawkes night, New Year's Eve and anti-Vietnam War marches, life was colourful and varied, if not always safe. 

Bobby on the Beat is the true memoir of a real-life London copper, charting Bob Dixon's experiences as a young police officer before he joined the CID. The book covers his life before joining the Force, his rigorous training, the vagaries of first patrolling the Beat, the numerous accounts, sad and funny, of crime fighting in the capital, the lighter side of policing and how he feels the police force has changed since the 60s. Offering unique insights into a world many of us do not feel comfortable entering, Bobby on the Beatuncovers what life is really like for those brave few who help keep our streets safe.

Review: This book, sub-titled "Memoirs of a London Policeman in the 1960s", is the author's account of his fifteen years as an officer in the Metropolitan Police serving in the East End of London in the 1960s and 1970s. It describes his experience of the selection process, training, probationary years and some of the special duties he undertook during this time.

Since I grew up in London in the 1960s, I found the book to be a nostalgic trip back to my childhood, when the sight of policemen walking the beat was commonplace. The book describes such things as the striped duty armband that officers used to wear to show that they were on duty, as well as the origins of the term "Black Maria" to describe the police van attached to each station.

I found the book to be quite episodic, although the author has grouped the series of anecdotes into various chapters with different headings. At the end of the book, he reflects on the contrasts between policing in his day and modern policing. As a journey down memory lane to the 1960s, I would recommend this book.

To order your copy, just click the link: UK or US

Bout of Books Day 5 Update/Day 6 Challenge

Ok so day 5 wasn't as epic as I thought it would be because I felt really plane sick at the end of my long flight and the whole time of my shorter flight which ended up being longer because we had to circle for about and hour due to 'weather'. However I definitely did some good reading and read on 2 planes in 3 different time zones and my reading was topical so I'm happy!

Today's challenge was to share your favourite Bout of Books moment. I'm not going to lie, I just love all of Bout of Books and i enjoy every moment. This hasn't been my best readathon in terms of the amount I've read but my own challenge that I've set about reading in different locations has definitely gone well. I've enjoyed doing these updates everyday because I like thinking about the way I read, where I read and when I read as well as just what I read. So I would say this reflection has been really great and has been a good distraction in what has been a really weird and busy week!

Now what I read...

I read half of Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square by Heidi Swain. I started reading this one in London and stopped my reading probably over eastern Canada somewhere so 2 different time zones and all my reading took place on a plane! This was on my TBR and also on my May TBR so that's good. This is released in the UK on 31st May. My reading totalled 200 pages.

Then because I wasn't feeling well I switched to audiobook so that I could keep reading. Given that I was about to land in Denver, I decided that listening to an audiobook set in the Denver airport would be a good idea! I started this reading in Minneapolis so central time and had to stop when I landed in Denver in mountain time. I listened to 3 hours of this totalling approximately 109 pages. 

Pages Read Today:  309
Pages Read This Week: 989
Complete Books Finished: 1
Part Books Finished: 2
Books I decided not to finish: 1

Friday, 18 May 2018

Bout of Books Day 4 Update/Day 5 Challenge

I actually read today-yey! I read in the bath in a hotel, somewhere a little bit different again! I read Part 4 of Random Acts of Kindness by Victoria Walters, a total of 96 pages. I love this series!

I will try and take time to complete today's challenge when I'm no about to go on a very very long flight, I pledge to complete it before the week is out!

Looking forward to some uninterrupted plane reading later-yey!

Pages Read Today:  96
Pages Read This Week: 680
Complete Books Finished: 1
Part Books Finished: 2
Books I decided not to finish: 1

Review: Where The Light Gets in by Lucy Dillon

‘You know those cracks in your heart, Lorna, where things didn’t work out, but you picked yourself up and carried on? That’s where the fear gets out. And where the light gets in.’

It was Betty, defiant to the end, who sent Lorna back to Longhampton. If Lorna’s learned one thing from Betty it’s that courage is something you paint on like red lipstick, even when you’re panicking inside. And right now, with the keys to the town’s gallery in her hand, Lorna feels about as courageous as Betty’s anxious little dachshund, trembling beside her.

Lorna’s come home to Longhampton to fulfil a long-held dream, but she knows, deep down, there are ghosts she needs to lay to rest first. This is where her tight-knit family shattered into silent pieces. It’s where her unspoken fears about herself took root and where her own secret, complicated love began. It’s not exactly a fresh start.

But as Lorna – and the little dog – tentatively open their cracked hearts to old friends and new ones, facing hard truths and fresh promises, something surprisingly beautiful begins to grow around the gallery, something so inspirational even Lorna couldn’t have predicted the light it lets into her world . . .

Review: What Lucy Dillon does when she creates her world and her characters is create a sense of community. Normally the community is not the sort of community that you might expect or what fits the 'usual' it is a community formed of her wonderful characters and the community that those characters need in that setting and in that moment and I think this is the most unlikely community yet, but it might just be my favourite. 

This book is long and so a lot of things take place over the course of 450 pages, so settle in because you're in it for the duration. Lorna is a great character to take this journey with because she is unassuming. She has a past and has been hurt in the past by family and friends and so she will always carry that with her. Returning to her past, like many of us will find, has certain effects on her and we see her dealing with those over the course of the book. What Lorna has by the bucket though, is kindness. She volunteers her time, her attention and her home to people she may have only known for a short while and so i defy anyone not to love this character. 

There are a host of supporting characters in this novel who make up quite a large cast of people you wouldn't necessarily put together. Lorna's best friend, her sister and her niece are major players in this book as are two people who Lorna has helped in their final months. Of course the characters you really want to know about are the dogs though right? Rudy the dachshund is just fabulous. He is just an anxious as any human and he does have to overcome some of those anxieties over the course of this novel. One of those being a terrier called Bernard. We know what the mood of the book is from chapter to chapter depending on how the dogs are doing and their intuition, I think that this was great!

This book has a small town rural setting which has become very popular with writers of late but there isn't a massive push to describe people being outdoorsy or winning over a local community which I was refreshed by, this doesn't follow the trend, it just happens to have the small town setting. I think the small town setting was necessary for Lorna to be able to grow and evolve the way that she does and I really enjoyed the fact that a lot of this book takes place in an art gallery as well, it's not something I know a lot about and the fact that it was local art and not renaissance artists meant that I was able to follow everything they were talking about easily. 

This book covers a lot of topics not covered in other books and I think that is why I took my time over the novel and enjoyed it page by page. It is a long book but it doesn't necessarily feel long as you are reading it. If you go for the hardback is is beautiful but not the best for carrying in a small handbag-be warned that you will need a rucksack or a separate tote for this one. I really enjoyed this book and the community that Lucy Dillon has once again built in my mind!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US