Monday, 16 July 2018

The Lost Daughter
Gill Paul

I'm super delighted to be able to bring you an extract of Gill Paul's upcoming novel, The Lost Daughter. I am a huge fan of Gill's and I really can't wait to read this one! Do enjoy a sneaky peak of the new book which is published in October.

Little Alexei was still in terrible pain, with acute swellings in his joints after being bumped around so much on the journey. The girls took turns to entertain him, trying to distract him from his suffering. Maria drew pencil portraits of their captors and tried to amuse her little brother with humorous descriptions of their characters: ‘as pompous as a walrus on a beach’, she said of Avdeyev; ‘a slippery ferret in a rabbit hole’ of his deputy, Medvedev. The girls took turns to read to him from any books they could find, and they revived Three Sisters, the Chekhov play they had performed at Tobolsk. Sometimes Alexei was well enough for a game of halma, and they moved a table close to allow him to join in. 

One sunny day in June, Maria carried him down to the yard to get some fresh air. She had always been physically the strongest of the four girls and did her best to carry him smoothly, without jarring, but she could tell from the frequent intakes of breath that the movement was hurting.

She placed him in a bath chair, from where he surveyed the shadowy yard. Turrets were being built in the corners of the tall fence, and the men’s hammering mingled with the clanging bells of streetcars in the road outside.
‘Why are we here?’ he asked in a small, sad voice. ‘What do they want from us?’
Maria watched a blue butterfly flit past. ‘I suppose they want to keep us safe so we can be delivered overseas in due course. It is taking an interminable time, though.’
‘Why would we not be safe? I don’t understand.’
Maria shook her head. ‘Me neither. But I am sure it will not be much longer before we are in our new home. Where would you like to go?’
He considered this. ‘Perhaps Africa, where I could hunt lions, or India, where we could ride on elephants and shoot tigers.’
Maria laughed. ‘I hope your wishes will be taken into consideration.’ 

He was so pale and thin, with his gangly limbs, that it was impossible to picture him as a big-game hunter. The haemophilia he had inherited from their mother’s side of the family ruled out any activities in which he might risk injury. He would never ride a horse or a bicycle, would never ski, and even running was risky. Yet he could still have his dreams; no one could deny him that.

On the day of Maria’s nineteenth birthday, the family gave her little gifts: a hand-painted bookmark, a volume of Russian poetry and a precious FabergĂ© box studded with diamonds and a topaz that had been given to her mother by her sister Ella the year before the war. The box was pretty and Maria knew she should be grateful, but all the same it was hard not to think of previous birthdays: even a year before, they had still been in the Alexander Palace, albeit under house arrest. Her parents had given her a handsome gold bracelet and dozens of other presents before holding a special birthday tea with pretty cakes and her favourite almond toffee. Here, the meal was a single course of stewed meat and boiled potatoes with no desserts. They were dependent on provisions brought each morning by the nuns from a local convent and there was not a lot of variety.

That evening, as they sat in the drawing room after dinner, there was a knock on the door and her father called, ‘Come in.’ 
Ivan popped his head inside, then walked in holding a cake on a plain white plate.
‘Good evening.’ He bowed his head to the company. ‘I hear there is a birthday today and thought you might enjoy some medovik.’ He seemed nervous in front of her parents. ‘I wish I could say I baked it myself, but it was my mother. I bring it with her compliments.’ He smiled at Maria, who jumped up to take the plate from him.
‘You’re unbelievably kind,’ she said. ‘Truly. Please give my warmest thanks to your mother and tell her how very touched I am by the gesture.’ 

The family looked at each other, eyebrows raised, as Ivan backed out of the room. Leonid Sednev brought plates and all had a slice of the multi-layered honey cake. It was the first such confection they had enjoyed for many months, and even Nicholas was moved to say that it was very kind of the guard and his mother. It lifted the mood of the entire party and the girls sang a popular song together, ‘Shine, Shine, My Star’.

Once they had finished, Maria excused herself and slipped out to the hall to thank Ivan in person. He was standing at his post by the top of the second staircase.
‘You are very clever for remembering my birthday,’ she said. ‘You’ve made this day special, something I never dreamed would be possible here. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.’

Ivan took her hand and pressed it to his lips. Maria glanced over her shoulder to make sure none of the family had followed, but all the doors were closed and there was no sound from Avdeyev’s office.

Ivan was still holding her hand and suddenly he pulled her in a swift movement towards a tiny alcove by the kitchen doorway. They huddled inside, bodies pressed together, and Maria trembled. Ivan looped one arm round her waist then stroked her cheek with his finger before leaning forward to touch his lips to hers.
‘A birthday kiss,’ he whispered, ‘for the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.’
Maria gazed at the soft lips that had brushed hers, and couldn’t help tilting her head for more. Ivan held her tightly now, his lips exploring hers, and she closed her eyes feeling giddy with excitement. It was the most delicious sensation she had ever experienced, quite different from a parent’s kiss, and she wanted it to go on forever. 
‘Skorokhodov!’ a harsh voice barked, and suddenly he was yanked away. Avdeyev and Medvedev were glaring at them.
‘Go to your room!’ Avdeyev snapped at Maria, and she scurried into the kitchen, terrified by his tone. She glanced back just before the door swung closed and saw Ivan being frogmarched down the stairs, one arm pulled up behind his back.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

How Far We Fall
Jane Shemilt
Guest Review
Julie Williams

Review by Julie Williams
How Far We Fall is a story of manipulation, betrayal and jealousy. When Beth meets Albie she believes her life is finally good again after her previous disastrous secret relationship with married top consultant Ted. However keeping secrets from her husband Albie isn’t a good start to a happy marriage and soon lies and deceit ruins not only their lives, but also others with horrifying consequences.

This book for me had a slow start and a little difficult to follow at first, which was a bit disappointing as I have thoroughly enjoyed this author’s previous two books, but as I progressed everything knitted together and I became more interested in the plot.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for the ARC - these are my own thoughts of How Far We Fall. Also to Julie for posting this as guest reviewer on her blog. 

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Lisa Stone

It's my turn on the Blog Tour for Stalker by Lisa Stone and today I have an extract for you. I must admit that reading the extract has left me intrigued and wanting more!.....

An hour later the clock on the mantelpiece struck six o’clock and Elsie heaved herself out of the chair and went into the hall to phone her sister. Why they didn’t have a phone in the living room like her sister did, she’d no idea. Her sister’s answerphone cut in so she left a message saying she was home and thanking her for a nice time. Then she took her case upstairs to set about unpacking. Derek would be home for his dinner before long and she’d need to check what was still in the fridge and freezer as she doubted he’d restocked it while she’d been away. She and her sister had ordered a Chinese takeaway one night, which her sister did at least once a week. She and Derek never had takeaways; perhaps she’d suggest it for tonight. But then again Derek was very conservative and set in his ways when it came to food, indeed as he was in most things so probably wouldn’t like Chinese.

Elsie returned her empty case to under the bed, dropped her dirty washing in the laundry basket in the bathroom and went downstairs. Opening the freezer door, she found to her small surprise it was still fully stocked; none of the meat or ready meals she’d left for him had been touched. She took out a steak pie for them to have and then looked in the fridge to see what vegetables were left. All of them, and the cheese, yogurts and cold meats were untouched too. What had he been living on? A couple of eggs were missing and a few rashers of bacon, hence the dirty pans. She looked in the bread bin and saw the packet of six rolls and the small loaf she’d left for him for sandwiches were untouched. Her puzzled expression gave way to a wry smile. Was it possible Derek had finally found himself a girlfriend and he’d been seeing her while she’d been away? Well, well, who would have thought it? She couldn’t think of any other rational explanation as to why he hadn’t been eating here, and if she was right she couldn’t wait to tell her sister. Derek was normal after all!

At seven o’clock there was still no sign of him so a little miffed, Elsie sat at the table to eat alone. Once she’d finished she washed the dishes and returned to the living room and the television. An hour passed and when Derek still hadn’t arrived home or thought to phone, Elsie was more annoyed than worried. He was probably with a client or his new girlfriend. If he was going to eat with her then she needed to know so she didn’t waste any more good food. His mobile number was in their address book on the hall table. Elsie seldom needed to use it as Derek was such a creature of habit. Silencing the television, she went into the hall, found his number and keyed it in. A recorded message said straightaway: ‘This phone is switched off, please try again later.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Her Name Was Rose
Claire Allan


Welcome to the first stop on the Blog Tour for Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan and I have an extract and also a review from Julie Williams for you.


Her funeral was held at St. Mary’s Church in Creggan – a chapel that overlooked most of the city of Derry, down its steep hills towards the River Foyle before the city rises back up again in the Waterside. It’s a church scored in the history of Derry, where the funeral Mass of the Bloody Sunday dead had taken place. Thirteen coffins lined up side by side. On the day of Rose Grahame’s funeral, just one coffin lay at the top of the aisle. The sight stopped my breath as I sneaked in the side entrance, took a seat away from her friends and family. Hidden from view.

All the attention focused on the life she’d led, full of happiness and devotion to her family and success in her career. I thought of how the mourners – the genuine ones dressed in bright colours (as Rose would have wanted) – had followed the coffin to the front of the church, gripping each other, holding each other up. I wondered what they would say if they knew what I knew.

I allowed the echoes of the sobs that occasionally punctuated the quiet of the service to seep into my very bones.

I recognised her husband, Cian; as he walked bowed and broken to the altar, I willed myself not to sob. Grief was etched in every line on his face. He looked so different from the pictures I had seen of him on Facebook. His eyes were almost as dead as Rose’s had been. He took every step as if it required Herculean effort. It probably did. His love for her seemed to be a love on that kind of scale. His grief would be too.

He stood, cleared his throat, said her name and then stopped, head bowed, shoulders shaking. I felt my heart constrict. I willed someone – anyone – to go and stand with him. To hold his hand. To offer comfort. No one moved. It was as if everyone in the church was holding their breath, waiting to see what would happen next. Enjoying the show

Review by Julie Williams
What a fabulous eerie journey this book took me on. It delivered all the suspense a psychological thriller should do with nail biting moments and plenty of surprises along the way. 

Emily D’Arcy craves a perfect life and when she witnesses a stranger, Rose, knocked down and killed in front of her Emily steps into her life with dire consequences. Emily is an extremely vulnerable young woman carrying a disastrous previous relationship on her shoulders and to me appeared emotionally unbalanced with obsessive traits. But I also found her to be a kind, caring person which shone through with her bond with Jack who is Roses' son and Donna, her work colleague.

If you are into this genre then this is a must read as it ticks all the boxes to take you on a dark journey.

Thanks to Avon for the ARC supplied to Julie Boon which she kindly gave to me to review for the blog tour.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Dead Ex
Jane Corry

Guest review
Julie Williams

It's my turn on the Blog Tour for The Dead Ex by Jane Corry. I was lucky enough to meet the author last year at the London launch for her previous book and what a lovely lady she is! Today, I have a review by the equally lovely Julie Williams for you!

Review by Julie Williams

This is the first book that I have read by Jane Corry but she has another two published. I had the privilege of meeting Jane at a book event in London and as I have a particular passion for reading thrillers, I had no hesitation in reading this complex, twisty story. I must admit that I found the first third of this book very confusing with the continuous jumping of characters and time lines, but I fortunately persevered as there are many twists and surprises as the tale concludes. 

Once I got to grip with the connection of the characters I found myself enjoying it more and started to read large chunks at a time rather than in short bursts which helped the story flow.

The Dead Ex is built around an ex Prison Governor Vicki and her ex-husband who proves throughout that he is a deceitful, lying, cheating man, who Vicki for some strange reason still has great affection for. 

My wish is that I found myself willing the female characters of this book to be stronger and not so love struck that they fell so easily for his awful behaviour. I liked the insight into prison life and the twists that popped up along the way.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

A Summer Scandal
Kat French

Guest Review
Julie Williams

I do love Kat French's books, so am delighted to be a part of the Blog Tour for A Summer Scandal. I have an extract and a review from Julie Williams has reviewed this one for you and I am hoping to get to read this one soon!


An easy quick read that I devoured over the bank holiday in the sunshine!

Set on the South Coast of England Violet is thrown into turmoil when two events occur in her life simultaneously. First she discovers she is the benefactor of a seaside apartment and pier and secondly an unexpected marriage proposal. 

Knowing that she is not ready to settle down she decides to put some distance between herself and her family and boyfriend and move into the decadent apartment previously owned by her grandparents.

Violet unearths secrets through a diary and locals and finds her own life being mirrored with that of her Grandmother who died many years ago.

This is a story of romance, memories and hidden secrets. There are some colourful characters and of course true to Kat French’s writing a gorgeous sexy love interest. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel but missed the lack of humour I have come to expect from this author’s books.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

A Room At The Manor
Julie Shackman


I am absolutely delighted to be promoting the debut novel A Room at The Manor by the lovely Julie Shackman.  Julie has very kindly written a guest piece especially for Boon's Bookcase and I really hope she has lots of success with this book as she is such a joy to know on social media. All the best Julie and I hope everyone goes out and buys a copy of A Room at The Manor!

Guest Piece by Julie Shackman

To the Manor, Vaughan! By Julie Shackman

When I was pulling together the character for my hero for A Room at the Manor, I quickly realised that Vaughan Carmichael would be a sculptor.
This moody, handsome, Christian Bale look-a-like, with artistic talent flowing through his fingertips, is proud of his heritage and firmly protective of Glenlovatt Manor, his family home.
From first imagining him with his unruly layers of dark, shoulder length hair and wolfish blue eyes, Vaughan is loyal, passionate and intelligent. But his ability to seduce any woman he pleases, is put to the test by the arrival of my protagonist, Lara McDonald.
This striking, determined young woman with the pre-Raphaelite red curls, explodes into his life and it was so enjoyable to witness Vaughan’s reactions.
I wanted to craft a hero who readers feel they could fall in love with – but also have a stern word to say to, to try and tame that stubborn streak of his.
Vaughan can create beauty and drama easily out of lumps of clay and marble – but many other elements of his life are not so effortless to control once Lara arrives.
Some of the book heroes who I have read about and loved in the past, such as Jack Wolfe, from Hazel Osmond’s “Who's Afraid of  Mr Wolfe?” are irresistible but flawed; alluring but infuriating.
And let’s face it – no-one is perfect. I’ve tried to make Vaughan a combination of all of these things, in the hope that readers fall under his magnetic spell.
I have to admit that I didn’t find it at all a hardship spending so much time with him….!
I hope you enjoy reading about Vaughan every bit as much as I did writing about him. 

A Room at the Manor is released in paperback and Kindle on 27 June. It is available in the UK online at this link 
In Australia & New Zealand, it is also available on-line, as well as in all good bookshops.

Blurb - A Room at the Manor - Julie Shackman
When her Maltese love affair turns sour, Lara McDonald returns to her quiet Scottish hometown of Fairview heartbroken, yet determined - instead of looking for another PR position, she decides to follow her dream of baking. She impulsively takes the first job offered and finds herself working for local dragon Kitty Walker in her tea room, True Brew.

Lara's life is full of surprises, however, not the least being an unlikely friendship forged with one of Kitty's elderly customers, the former laird Hugo Carmichael. The Carmichael family has lived at the beautiful Glenlovatt Manor for almost three hundred years and, although in need of renovation, Hugo, his son and grandson currently make it their home.

There's something about Lara that Hugo likes, and when Hugo suddenly passes away, Lara is stunned to discover she is mentioned in his will. But not everyone is happy with the old Laird's faith in Lara.

A story of love, family, hope and trust, A Room at the Manor will delight every reader keen to find their place in the world.

About the Author

Julie Shackman lives in Scotland and is married with two teenage sons.
Julie trained as a journalist and studied Communication & Media but has always wanted to be an author.
She also writes verses and captions for greetings card companies.
When not reading or writing, Julie is a keen walker and loves music.