Tuesday 31 May 2016

Today on the blog I introduce the new novel

Jammed Up
Steven Hayward

A rudeboy never forgets. It’s been ten long years and ‘Jam’ has been working his way through a list of men who tormented his best-friend, Jabba. Now there’s only one name left to cross off…

When he takes an easy lookout job for criminal entrepreneur, Herbert Long, he knows something’s not quite right. Knock-off gear and bent coppers have never been his bag, but the money’s good and he doesn’t want to live with his aunt forever. All he has to do is get down to the depot, watch a handover and report back what he sees. Little does he know what he’s getting himself and Jabba in to.

He’s not the only one nervous about the deal, DI Terence Pinner needs this to go off smoothly to settle a debt that has him enslaved to South London gangster Raymond Riggs. But with so many people involved and serious money at stake, things get messy very quickly.

Out of his depth and up against an organised criminal gang, Jam has to learn fast to stay alive. But if there's one thing that keeps him going, it's thoughts of sweet revenge...

Exclusive extract of Chapter One

After ending the call to his friend, Jam looked up to find that all the other customers had now left the café and the girl who’d served him with the all-day breakfast was clearing the vacated tables. He mopped up the egg yolk with the crust of his bread and repeatedly glanced across at her to see if she would look back. He didn’t want much from life, but one of his daily goals was to secure the smile of a pretty girl and all day long, he’d been stuck in that grimy, old house fitting doors and shelves.
She busied herself loading the plates onto a tray and then wiped the table clean. When she turned to head back to the kitchen, she peered across to the only occupied table, and smiled when the young man returned her gaze.
He waited for her to reappear but when some guy acting like he owned the place came for his plate, he dropped the exact money for his food in small change onto the table and left. He was in no hurry to go home to the damp room in the upstairs flat that his ageing auntie rented in Mile End. And anyway, it was still rush-hour and all those bankers needed to get home for their tea. He felt a bit like a stalker, waiting along the street from the café, hoping there wasn’t a rear exit by which she might have already left. He only wanted to get another smile. And maybe ask her name.
He watched as a tube train arrived at the platform at South Woodford, and moments later, a stream of people exited the station and crossed the road towards him. He didn’t know the area at all before yesterday, but it felt like a nice enough place. He stepped back from the kerb to let people pass and took the packet of Marlboro from his coat pocket. Then he remembered tossing his dead lighter into someone’s dustbin when he walked away from the house earlier.
‘Scuse me, cuz. You gotta li…’ The man in the suit walked past without the slightest reaction; he could have been in a parallel universe. Jam slumped back against the wall.
‘Scuse me, lady.’ That time, there was at least some acknowledgement he existed, but the woman shook her head without even waiting for the question and stepped past him into a shop.
‘Did you want a light?’ It was a young female voice and he spun around, gratefully. Standing in front of him, holding up a lit cigarette, was the waitress from the café.
‘Fank you,’ he said, putting his own cigarette to his lips and leaning in to take the light from hers. ‘Startin' to fink I’m invisible or sumfink.’
‘Wrong time of day to expect any humanity around here,’ she said, looking about her at the frustrated faces, silently blustering at the obstruction she was causing in the middle of the pavement.
‘Fanks,’ he said. ‘Glad I ain’t beggin' fa food. Man could starve.’
‘What? After all you’ve just eaten?’
‘Ay, best meal of da day, dat.’
‘Yeah, when you eat it in the morning!’ That time when she smiled, he almost fell into her eyes.
‘What way you goin'?’ He stepped forward to look in the direction she was heading, oblivious to the three people who had to break their stride to walk around him. ‘I was just waitin'… you know, for da trains to lighten up a bit. Rough being lock up wiv dis lot.’
‘I don’t blame you…’ she said. ‘Me? I haven’t got far to go. Bit of a walk, but I prefer to stretch my legs after standing all day.’
At that moment, he couldn’t stop himself from looking down. She was wearing sturdy flats. Sensible shoes, his auntie would have called them. Yet, even through her heavy black tights, he could see the outline of a shapely calf tapering to a slender ankle.
‘Nice,’ was the only word that came out, and when he looked back at her face, she was staring at him quizzically.
‘Anyway,’ she said, ‘nice to meet you. Enjoy your cigarette.’
‘Yeah, fanks… you too.’
‘Bye then.’
‘Ah… I could walk wiv you, you know.’
‘It’s okay, I know the way.’ She smiled. ‘And you’d be getting too far from the station.’
‘But… I owe you… for da light. Wha’bout a drink? Dere’s a pub jus’ round da corner.’
‘Look, I really need to get home.’ Her voice was firmer as she stepped to the side.
‘Okay,’ he said, shrugging his shoulders. ‘At lease tell me your name.’
‘Maybe next time,’ she said, before heartlessly dousing his satisfied smile by adding, ‘I’m already late for the childminder.’
‘Ah… okay.’ His face dropped. ‘Right den. Okay, I’ll see you in da caf again, yeah.’
‘Yeah, you do that.’ She nodded. ‘I’ll see you next time.’
‘You proper will, baby,’ he said, as he watched her sculpted calves walk away.
By the time she reached the end of the street, she had blended into the flow. Jam decided to spend the evening in the gym and avoid explaining the latest twist in his working arrangements to his reluctant landlady. He crossed the road towards the station without seeing the young waitress look around and smile before she turned right and continued walking down the side-street towards home.

About the Author

Steven is a financial crime consultant who decided some time ago his dream was to write fiction. His debut novel, Mickey Take: When a debt goes bad..., features an ex-banker who throws in the towel on his "big" City job. But that's where the similarity ends. Between writing crime thrillers and fundraising for New Ways (http://www.newways.org.uk), Steven periodically ventures back into the ranks of London commuters. In contrast, Michael Field, the protagonist and primary narrator of Mickey Take, is perhaps less likely to resume his career in financial services anytime soon!

In May 2016, Steven releases his second book in the Debt Goes Bad series, a novella called Jammed Up, in which a familiar cast test the moral fibre of two new central characters in a story of loyalty, betrayal and injustice. 

Steven lives in Kent, England with his wife Helen and their beagle Ella.



Amazon links:


Saturday 28 May 2016

The Postcard
Fern Britton


Today I am delighted to be hosting the Blog Tour for Fern Britton's new novel The Postcard which is published on 2nd June. I have chapter one as a little teaser for you - enjoy! 
About The Postcard

About The Postcard: Penny Leighton, TV Producer and wife of the local vicar Simon Canter, is struggling to cope with motherhood. The couple have had their only child Jenna, while Penny is in her forties and it’s been a big shock to her system. When Simon engages the services of a nanny, Ella, as a way of helping Penny, it only serves to push her further away from him and from Jenna. After Penny’s sister arrives in the village after the death of the woman Penny called her mother, it bring memories of her troubled childhood to the surface. As a distraction, she finds herself drawn to the village’s new Doctor, but he isn’t quite the charmer than he seems, as new arrival, Ella, is about to find out. But will all this be too late for Penny, who is about to risk everything?

Chapter One

The morning crept on. By ten thirty Penny had Jenna washed and changed and back in her cot for her morning sleep.
Simon had gone off to his parish meeting about the upcoming Nativity service, complaining that he’d be late, and porridge bowls still sat in the sink under cold and lumpy water.
Penny was in her room dragging a comb through her newly washed hair. She badly needed a cut and a colour, but trying to find a couple of hours when someone could mind Jenna was hard. She stared for the second time that day at her reflection. God, she’d aged. Crow’s feet, jowls, a liver spot by her eyebrow . . . She’d had Jenna when she was well into her forties and it had been the hardest thing she’d ever done. Harder even than leaving her life in London.
In London she had been somebody: a busy, single, career woman; an award-winning television producer with her own production company, Penny Leighton Productions.
Now she hardly knew who she was. Again she felt guilty at how horrible she’d been to Simon. Taking a deep breath she slapped on a little mascara and lip gloss and vowed to present him with steak and a bottle of wine for supper.
She got downstairs and into her study two minutes before the phone rang on the dot of eleven. Penny took a deep breath and plastered on a cheery persona.
‘Good morning, Jack.’
‘Hello, Penny, how is life at the vicarage treating you?’
Jack Bradbury was playing his usual game of feigned bonhomie. He laughed. ‘I still can’t believe you’re a vicar’s wife.’
‘And a mother,’ she played along.
‘And a mother. Good God, who’d have thought it. How is the son and heir?’
‘The daughter and heir is doing very well, thank you.’
‘Ah yes, Jenny, isn’t it?’
‘Jenna . . . of course.’
The niceties were achieved.
‘So, Penny . . . ’ She imagined Jack leaning back in his ergonomic chair and admiring his manicured hands. ‘We want more Mr Tibbs on Channel 7.’
‘That’s good news. So do I.’ Penny reached for a wet wipe and rubbed at something sticky on the screen of her computer. Jenna had been gumming it yesterday.
‘So, you’ve got hold of old Mave, have you?’ asked Jack.
‘I emailed her yesterday,’ said Penny.
‘And how did she reply?’
‘She hasn’t yet. The ship is somewhere in the Pacific heading to or from the Panama Canal, I can’t remember which.’
Jack sounded impatient. ‘Does she spend her entire bloody life on a cruise? Does she never get off?’
‘She likes it.’
‘I’d like it more if she wrote some more Mr bloody Tibbs scripts in between ordering another gin and tonic.’
‘I’ll try to get her again today.’ Penny wiped her fore­head with a clammy palm. She wasn’t used to being on the back foot.
‘Tell her that Channel 7 wants another six eps, pronto, plus a Christmas special. I want to start shooting the series in the summer, ready to air in the New Year.’
‘I have told her that and I’m sure she wants the same.’
‘I’m not fannying around on this for ever, Penny. David Cunningham’s agent has already been on the blower. Needs to know if David will be playing Mr Tibbs again or he’ll sign him up to a new Danish drama. And he’s asking for more money.’
‘I want to talk to you about budget—’
‘You bring me old Mave and then we’ll talk money.’
‘Deal. I’ll let you know as soon as I get hold of her.’
‘Phone me asap.’ He hung up before she said goodbye.
Old Mave was Mavis Crewe, an eighty-something power­house who had created her most famous character, Mr Tibbs, back in the late 1950s. Penny had snapped up the screen rights to the books for peanuts and the stories of the crime-solving bank manager and his sidekick secre­tary, Nancy Trumpet, had become the most watched period drama serial of the past three years.
Penny’s problem was that she had now filmed all the
books and needed Mavis to write some more. But Mavis, a law unto herself, was enjoying spending her unexpected new income by constantly circumnavigating the globe.
Penny rubbed a hand over her chin and found two or three fresh spiky hairs. She’d had no time to get them waxed and, right now, had no energy to go upstairs and locate her long-missing tweezers.
She pushed her laptop away and laid her head on the leather-topped desk. ‘I’m so tired . . .’ she said to no one, and jumped when her computer replied with a trill. An email.
TO: PennyLeighton@tlx.com
FROM: MavisCrewe@sga.com
Dear Penny,
How simply thrilling that Mr Tibbs is wanted so badly by Channel 7 and the charming Jack Bradbury. It really is such a joy to know that one’s lifework has a fresh impact on the next generation of viewing public.
Another six stories, and a Christmas special? But my dear, that is simply not possible.
I wrote those stories years ago as a young widow in order to feed my family. Mr Tibbs has done his job, I’d say and I don’t have the patience to think up more adventures for him.
Can you not simply repeat the old ones?
Yesterday we went through the Panama Canal. Absolutely extraordinary. Very wide in parts and very narrow in others. We are now sailing
in the Pacific and stopping off at Costa Rica tomorrow. Why don’t you drop everything and join me for a few weeks? Enjoy our spoils from dear Mr Tibbs.
With great affection,
Mavis Crewe CBE
Penny couldn’t move. She read the email again and broke into a cold sweat. No more Mr Tibbs? Put out repeats? Go and join her on a cruise? Did the woman have no idea that so many people’s careers were hanging in the balance because she couldn’t be arsed to write a half-baked whimsy about a fictional bloke who solved the mystery of a missing back-door key? Anger and frustra­tion coursed through her. She pressed reply and started to type.
TO: MavisCrewe@sga.com
FROM: PennyLeighton@tlx.com
Dear Mavis,
If we have no more bloody scripts there is no more Mr Tibbs. Do you want to throw away all that you’ve achieved? I certainly am not going to let you. The end of Mr Tibbs would mean the end of your cruising and the end of me. PLEASE write SOMETHING! And if you won’t do that, I shall have to find someone else to write Mr Tibbs for me, with or without your help.

She hovered over the send icon. No, she needed time to think. She couldn’t afford to fall out with Mavis. She must sweet-talk her round. She pressed delete and began again.
Dear Mavis,
How lovely to hear from you and what a fabulous time you must be having!
I respect your wishes to put Mr Tibbs ‘to bed’ as it were. He has indeed served you well and given much pleasure to our viewers.
Which brings me to a difficult question. If you won’t write the next six episodes and a Christmas special, someone else will have to. Before I find that special someone, do you have anyone you would prefer to pick up your nib? Someone whose writing you admire and that you feel could imitate your style?
No one could be as good as you, of course, but this could be an exciting new future for the Mr Tibbs’ franchise as I’m certain you agree.
With all my very best wishes – and have a tequila for me!
Penny xxx
She read it through once and pressed send.
‘Right,’ she said to the empty room. ‘The office is now shut for the day’. She switched off the computer and threw her iPhone into the desk drawer. ‘I am going to eat cake.’

Fern is one of the nation’s best-loved broadcasters, and has fronted Coast to Coast, Ready Steady Cook, and ITV’s flagship show, This Morning, as well as competing on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, plus Channel 4’s show Timecrashers. Most recently, Fern has hosted, The Big Allotment Challenge and currently hosts BBC1 Antiques quiz show For What It’s Worth. The BBC's Advent series, Fern Britton Meets… has seen her talk to high-profile figures about how their beliefs have shaped their lives.

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Guest Review
Julie Williams
Out Of The Darkness 
 Katy Hogan

DOES EVERYTHING IN LIFE HAPPEN PURELY BY CHANCE? OR ARE WE GUIDED TOWARDS PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP US IN OUR HOUR OF NEED? Following the sudden death of her beloved mother, Jessica Gibson's world falls apart. But after meeting a man who seems heaven-sent, she starts to feel she has something to live for again, and soon discovers that their connection holds far more significance than she could ever have imagined. And when Jessica strikes an unlikely bond with Alexandra Green, the two new friends are taken on an emotional journey into the world of the supernatural, where psychic mediums pass on messages from beyond the grave. What -- or who -- is causing the strange goings-on in Alex's home? What secret is she keeping from Jessica? And who is the young woman who so badly needs their help? In a series of surprising twists and turns, the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place and a mystery is unwittingly solved -- with life-changing consequences for all involved. 'Out of the Darkness' is an uplifting tale of friendship and redemption; of love and loss. And life...after death.


I was fortunate to win this intriguing novel on a book bloggers Twitter competition. I must admit that after reading the blurb on the back cover I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this story as I lost my own Mum 18 months ago. However I was completely addicted by the second chapter and couldn’t wait to turn the next page!

This book tells the story of three young women living in the vibrant seaside town of Brighton who are brought together in what appears to be unconnected coincidences.  Jessica is still very much grieving the sudden death of her beloved mother and is finding life extremely challenging. Alex too is facing difficulties in her life as she is facing lifelong health issues. Hannah a newly single mum of two delightful girls is struggling to come to terms with the death of her brother Sean, as she feels responsible as she was the driver of the car that crashed killing him.

The author cleverly gives us each individual characters story and then, as the climax for me as the book progresses, the connection between the three is revealed. Their friendship brings both happiness and peace not only to Jessica, Alex and Hannah but also to their families and friends. 

Death is a strange subject yet all the emotions that it brings, guilt,anger,sadness and acceptance is dealt with in a sensitive and compassionate way proving that there is life after death!

Thursday 19 May 2016

Guest Review
Julie Williams

The One We Fell in Love With
Paige Toon

Happy publication day to Paige Toon!

Phoebe is caught between a rock and a hard place. Settle down and get married, or return to the French Alps to pursue her passion?
Eliza is in love with someone who is no longer hers. In fact, he probably never was… And her dream of becoming a successful musician seems to be vanishing before her eyes.

Rose is out of a job and out of a boyfriend. To make matters worse, she’s been forced to move back in with her mother…
But these very different girls have one thing in common. Angus. The one they fell in love with…


I have read a couple of Paige Toon’s books and always enjoyed them so I was excited to read her latest, which I was fortunate to win on Twitter in a competition held by Books And The City, before it was released. The One We Fell In Love With did not disappoint as it is packed with emotion, Tragedy, Love and a whole lot more.

The book tells of triplets Phoebe, Rose and Eliza who fall in love with the guy next door Angus. Although they share the identical DNA and look the same they each display unique traits. Phoebe is strong with leader qualities and quick to stake her claim on Angus. Rose often feels left out and struggles to make a relationship out of the many crushes despite desperately wanting to settle down to have her own family unit. Eliza is closest to Phoebe even though she finds it difficult to come to terms that Angus is with Phoebe and often feels guilt ridden that she cannot shake off these feelings even though she knows in her heart that Phoebe and Gus make the perfect couple. Angus grew on me as at first I wondered if this handsome guy was playing all three girls but as I read more I began to understand him and concluded that he is in fact sensitive and emotional.

I fell in love with all the characters and the story kept me intrigued in discovering how the girls would become close again. Secrets and true feelings are revealed through their personal diaries highlighting jealously and heartache.

Congratulations Paige on producing another terrific book that I didn’t want to put down. 

5 Star rating from me.

Thank you once again to Julie for allowing me to guest review.

Sunday 15 May 2016


The Secret Wife
Gill Paul

I absolutely loved No Place For A Lady by Gill Paul, so am really excited about this one. I do love a period novel, so I think this one is going to be right up my street! The cover is gorgeous as well.

A Russian grand duchess and an English journalist. Linked by one of the world’s greatest mysteries . . .


Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with injured cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger . . .


Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation forces her to flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to an extraordinary, long-buried family secret . . .

Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.

Publishes: 25th August 2016

Saturday 7 May 2016

Reflection Pond
Kacey Vanderkarr

Something a little bit different on the blog today. Reflection Pond by Kacey Vanderkarr is a YA Fantasy novel in three parts.

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: Torch Rock April 1, 2014
Publisher:  Urban Fey Press

Sometimes you find home, sometimes it comes looking for you.

Callie knows a lot more about pain than she does about family. She’s never belonged, at least, not until she falls through a portal into her true home. The beautiful faerie city of Eirensae doesn’t come free. Callie must find her amulet and bind herself to the city, and most importantly, avoid the Fallen fae who seek her life. Seems like a small price to pay for the family she’s always wanted.

Then she meets cynical and gorgeous Rowan, who reads the darkness of her past in her eyes. He becomes Callie’s part-time protector and full-time pain in the ass. He has secrets of his own for Callie to unravel. What they don’t know is that the future of Eirensae lies with them, and the once peaceful city is about to become a battleground for power.

Check out the other books in the series:

Poison Tree - Book 2

The road to the City of War is dangerous.

With their home in ruins, Callie and Rowan are Eirensae’s last hope of stealing the cauldron back from Fraeburdh. They must travel into the human world where the Fallen hide. The banished fae wait for Callie, desperate to sacrifice her before she comes of age.

If Callie and Rowan survive the journey, something worse looms in Fraeburdh. Rowan is destined for a dark family legacy too horrifying to accept, and his father is anxious to welcome him home. Once the truth is revealed, will Callie ever look at Rowan the same way?

Trapped between feuding cities lost in a centuries-old war, Callie and Rowan will face their biggest rivals yet, and neither of them will make it out unscathed.

Torch Rock: Book 3

War is coming, and she takes no prisoners. Faced with an impending battle Eirensae cannot win alone, Rowan journeys to Macántacht to seek allegiance from its leader. The City of Honor is beautiful, still untouched by conflict, and full of surprises that bring Callie’s darkest experiences to the surface.

With her friends’ lives at stake, Callie must confront her past, and accept help from a faerie whose face torments her memories. Reconciling the power beneath her skin has never been more painful.

Amid persistent threats from Fraeburdh, an old enemy reemerges with deadly force. Even with Macántacht fighting beside her and Rowan at her back, the odds are insurmountable. Callie’s biggest trial will come not on a blood-soaked battlefield, but in the quiet moments when she must choose.



KACEY VANDERKARR has a penchant for fantasy and frequently listens to the voices in her head--most of whom are teenagers. Her favorite place to write is an old salon chair in her kitchen, with coffee in one hand and adoring cats sprawled across her arms. She prefers her music loud and her skeptics quiet. When she's not writing, Kacey coaches winterguard, works as a sonographer, and hangs out with other weirdos like her at the Flint Area Writer's club. In addition to her novels, The Reflection Pond Series, Antithesis, and The Stone Series, Kacey's short fiction is featured in Sucker Literary Vol III, Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things, and Out of the Green: Tales from Fairyland.

$25 USD (or equivalent) Amazon gift card a Rafflecopter giveaway
Distress Signals
Catherine Ryan Howard

This is a Blog Tour with a difference. Each day there will be a different extract on a different blog. Once you have read all the extracts, it will make up one chapter of the novel. Genius! I am third on the tour, so if you have missed any, have a look at the poster below and catch up before going on to the next one!! Enjoy.


My time’s almost up. I wonder how they could’ve possibly got here so fast. Didn’t I just hit the water a minute or two ago? Have I been here for longer than I think? Or have they come for someone else?


Above me now, the helicopter dips to hover close to the surface, kicking up waves that push me off course and splash cold, salty water in my face. I kick harder. The body disappears from view and undulating waves take its place. I blink away a splash. The body reappears. A wave crashes over me. When I open my eyes a second time, the body is gone again.


The sound is tunnelling a hole in my brain. It’s not above me any more but in me. I feel like it’s coming from inside my head.

Then, the grip of a hand on my arm.

Everything is bright with white light now. Am I hallucinating? Is that what happens when you go into the water from several storeys up, possibly dislocate your shoulder, nearly drown and then exhaust yourself trying to stay afloat in open sea?

But no, there really is someone by my side, a man in a wetsuit with an oxygen tank on his back. All I can see of his face are his eyes through the foggy plastic of his mask. He lifts it up over his nose and says something to me, but the words are lost in the helicopter’s deafening roar.

I turn away from him and try to find the body again. I scan the surface but I can’t see it now.

A bright-red basket is dropping on a rope. The wetsuit man grips me under the arms and pulls me towards it.

He speaks again, this time shouting right into my ear from directly behind me.
This time, I hear him.
‘Is there anybody else in the water? Did you see anybody else in the water?’
I say nothing.
I focus on the belly of the helicopter. It’s navy blue and glossy. I think I see a small French flag painted on the underside of its tail.
‘Was it just you?’ he shouts. ‘Did you go in alone?’
We reach the basket and another wetsuit man. Together they lift me into it.
I am now looking up at the night sky. It seems filled with stars.
The man’s face appears above mine, blocking my view of them.
‘Can you hear me?’ he asks. ‘Can you hear me?’
I nod.
‘Were you alone in the water? Did you see anyone else?’
Above me the helicopter’s blades spin. 

Whump-whump-whump-whump- whump. 

Out of the water, the pain in my shoulder is sharper. I start to shake.
All I wanted was to find Sarah.
How has it come to this?
‘No,’ I say finally. ‘It was only me in the water. There is no one else.’

To continue reading, head to CleopatraLovesBooks tomorrow, 7th May.