Thalidomide Kid by Kate Rigby @rararesources #Excerpt #Giveaway

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Today I am delighted to be sharing an extract from Thalidomide Kid by Kate Rigby as part of the Blog Blitz with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources.

Synopsis:

Daryl Wainwright is the quirky youngest child of a large family of petty thieves and criminals who calls himself ‘Thalidomide Kid’.

Celia Burkett is the new girl at the local primary school, and the daughter of the deputy head at the local comprehensive where she is bound the following September. With few friends, Celia soon becomes fascinated by ‘the boy with no arms’.

The story of a blossoming romance and sexual awakening between a lonely girl and a disabled boy, and their struggle against adversity and prejudice as they pass from primary to secondary school in 1970s Cirencester. The story deals with themes and issues that are timeless.

Purchase Links – Amazon UKAmazon ComPaperback from Amazon UK

Read the Excerpt:

Excerpt 4 – Celia is invited to Daryl’s house for dinner

“Oh what a bloody morning I’ve had, Daryl,” his mother said, slipping off the voluminous coat. She looked at Celia. “Are you staying for some dinner?”

Celia looked to Daryl for the answer.

“Yeah, Mum, she is. This is Celia, my friend from school.”

“You can tell me what you think of my new lipsticks, Celia,” she said through the hatch as she unpacked her shopping in the kitchen. “Run up to the garage, Daryl, and see if Vince wants any dinner, can you? Tell him it’s chops.”

While Daryl was away, Celia sat still in the sitting room, Mrs Wainwright flitting in every so often to pull out the leaf on the imitation-wood table or la-la along in a cracked voice to pop songs on the tranny. Celia couldn’t imagine her mum doing that, or wearing a bright pink jumper of the shade Mrs Wainwright had on, or with her hair dyed blonde in that short straight style, fringe in her eyes.

“You’re quiet,” Mrs Wainwright said the next time she shuffled in with some cork-bottomed place mats and cutlery. “Mind you, you’d need to be around my Daryl. He can’t half gas on.”

“Would you like any help, Mrs Wainwright?”

Daryl’s mum stopped then, her hands clasped together, her head to one side. “Well, ain’t that nice. Not many that comes round here has the manners of a lady. No, you sit yourself there and look at the lipsticks.”

Unsure how to act or which lipstick she should prefer, Celia found herself wishing Daryl would hurry on back. Mrs Wainwright carried on in the kitchen, calling through every so often about magazines Celia might like to read while waiting for dinner.

When Daryl came back it was with Vince, dressed in oily clothes. “Smells good,” Vince said, before plonking himself down at the small dining-table over a newspaper, his long legs taking up most of the space underneath. Daryl sat down opposite him and spun his fork round and round. “Come on, Celia. You sit down there.”

When his mum came through, it was with dinners that other people have, on plates that other people own; shiny, oval plates covered with potatoes, peeled and pale as eggs, and carrots small and all the same shape and straight from the tin, same as the peas, and gravy rich and gloppy over the chops. Celia tucked in, enjoying it for its novelty.

“You’re the head’s girl, ain’t you?” Vince said, his voice gruff and scary as the chunky chains round his neck and wrist.

Mrs Wainwright glanced up from her dinner. “You never said, my love.”

Celia pronged another egg-potato onto her fork. “He’s the deputy head. Miss Bond’s the head.”

“All the same in my book,” Vince said. “I hate teachers. Burn the pissin’ lot, I say.” He pointed his knife at Celia. “You know, like that rhyme; build a bonfire, put the teachers on the top.”

Celia fell into a silent discomfort by the attack on her father’s profession.

Vince then pointed his knife at Daryl. “Listen to what I say, kidder. Them runts at that school have always had it in for us. That’s why Mum had to fight to get you in there. You don’t want nothing to do with no fuckin’ teacher’s kid.”

Suddenly Daryl shot to his feet as though he’d sat on a pin. “Shut up, Vince! Shurrup! She’s my friend so leave her alone!”

Daryl stomped out then. Celia heard his door slam upstairs but she was rooted to the table by good manners and the proper thing to do. You didn’t get up from table if you were a guest in someone’s house, even if that house was the Wainwright house. Vince scowled on while Mrs Wainwright waved away the occurrence.

“Oh he’ll cool off in a while,” she said, clearing away the plates, including Daryl’s half-finished one. “D’you want some pears and cream, Celia?”

Afterwards, Vince grabbed his jacket and disappeared while Celia offered to help Mrs Wainwright with the dishes.

“Don’t you be worrying about Vince, Celia. His bark’s worse than his bite.” Mrs Wainwright squirted a good helping of Fairy Liquid into the washing-up bowl. “I could brain him sometimes, I really could, but he’s only protecting his brother, you know, coz his dad ain’t here. He don’t mean nothing by it.”

She started attacking the plates with a very grey-looking mop. “It’s tough for my Daryl, see, coz of his handicap, you know.”

Celia smiled and wiped the oval plates and melamine cups and pulled on drawers with false fronts that didn’t open, while Mrs Wainwright chattered on about Daryl, her cigarette smouldering in the ashtray. “He’s more or less grown out of his fits as I called ’em. They weren’t real fits, but he used to go bright pink and hold his breath and bang his head against the sideboard. He was mad at himself, see.”

Mrs Wainwright dabbed her hands dry on a tea cloth, picked up her cigarette and took down another framed photo from the sideboard which Celia at first thought was Daryl.

“This is Martin.” Mrs Wainwright handed the picture to Celia. “He’s a good-looking boy, isn’t he? Always had the girls after him at school.” She puffed on her cigarette. “The fact is that Daryl could have been the school heart-throb too, but for his arms.”

Celia tried to say something but the words dried up on her lips. She wanted to say how much she liked Daryl and his arms but this was the first time she’d met Mrs Wainwright and she wasn’t sure this was the sort of thing she should be saying. In any case, the cuckoo clock in the kitchen struck two o’clock, reminding her how late it was getting. “I should be going, Mrs Wainwright. Thanks very much for having me.”

About the Author:

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Kate Rigby was born near Liverpool and now lives in the south west of England. She’s been writing for nearly forty years. She has been traditionally published, small press published and indie published.

She realized her unhip credentials were mounting so she decided to write about it. Little Guide to Unhip was first published in 2010 and has since been updated.

However she’s not completely unhip. Her punk novel, Fall Of The Flamingo Circus was published by Allison & Busby (1990) and by Villard (American hardback 1990). Skrev Press published her novels Seaview Terrace (2003) Sucka!(2004) and Break Point (2006) and other shorter work has appeared in Skrev’s magazines.

Thalidomide Kid was published by Bewrite Books (2007).

Her novel Savage To Savvy was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) Quarter-Finalist in 2012.

She has had other short stories published and shortlisted including Hard Workers and Headboards, first published in The Diva Book of Short Stories, in an erotic anthology published by Pfoxmoor Publishing and more recently in an anthology of Awkward Sexcapades by Beating Windward Press.

She also received a Southern Arts bursary for her novel Where A Shadow Played (now re-Kindled as Did You Whisper Back?).

She has re-Kindled her backlist and is gradually getting her titles (back) into paperback

More information can be found at her WebsiteBlog

Social Media Links – FacebookAmazonGoodreadsBookbubPintrest

Enter the Giveaway to win a copy of Thalidomide Kid

Giveaway – Win 1 x signed copy of Thalidomide Kid

*Terms and Conditions –Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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The Tissue Veil by Brenda Bannister #BlogTour @rararesources #Excerpt

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Today I am delighted to be sharing an extract from The Tissue Veil by Brenda Bannister as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. As much as I would love to read all the books that I get an invite to read, there is just not enough time for me to do this. So instead, having an except is one way I can support a tour. The synopsis and the excerpt has definitely intrigued me, and intrigued me enough that I have bought my own copy 🙂

You can buy a copy of The Tissue Veil from Amazon UK or from Hive.co.uk

Synopsis:

What if you discovered a hundred-year-old diary under your floorboards – and then found references in it to yourself? Or if you lived in 1901, yet kept seeing glimpses of a girl from modern times? And what if both of you had problems that only the other could really understand? Emily and Aysha live in the same Stepney house and an inexplicable link develops between them, fuelled by Aysha’s discovery of a journal and Emily’s sightings of a ‘future ghost’. Each takes courage from the other’s predicament – after all, what’s a hundred years between friends?

Excerpt:

Excerpt from Chapter 13 of The Tissue Veil

From time to time Emily has inexplicable glimpses of a strange girl in her room and hears voices address the girl as ‘Aysha’. This first occurs in the days after Emily’s mother’s funeral. When, late one night, it happens again, she recognises that Aysha, like Emily herself, is troubled…

We tie up three puddings in muslin ready to go in the boiler, but it’s already late in the afternoon when they start to cook and we have to wait past bedtime for them to finish steaming. Daisy, who was up at six, is falling asleep, so I offer to watch them for the last hour.

“Mind you don’t let ‘em dry out, miss,” she yawns. She doesn’t trust me to keep awake, but she knows she won’t either. I don’t dare let myself sit down, so I occupy the hour lining up jars and packets in the pantry, writing lists of things we need and polishing the silver teapot. At last, I am able to turn off the boiler, remove the puddings and leave them to cool.

I’m not even thinking about Aysha, but when I go to my room I see her, slumped in a chair by the window. Her outfit is different and much grander than before: a blue tunic with matching pantaloons, embroidered in gold. They are clothes I imagine an Indian princess might wear, but she seems careless of them and looks as if, like me, she’s exhausted.

“Aysha!” I say, but she doesn’t know I exist. I study her face: she will not sleep well. Too much is written there.

She gets up, stretches, and begins to speak. Not to me or, it seems, to anyone else who’s there; rather, I imagine, out of a troubled heart. At first I think I recognise the words, then I am confused.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a young man in possession of a… a chain of fried chicken shops – she curls her lip – must be in need of a wife. Then her mouth twitches into a smile and she glides from side to side across the floor, swaying her arms as if she’s dancing or skating. Then, suddenly, she’s gone.

Miss Morgan showed the class a picture book of India once. There were paintings of forts and temples and elephants carrying maharajahs, and each of the illustrations was overlaid with a leaf of tissue paper. I would ask to see the book and try to remember the order in which each picture came, to guess what was underneath the overlays. The images were there, behind their tissue veils, but you couldn’t quite see them until you turned the leaf. Sometimes I think that’s how it is with Aysha: that she’s here all the time if I could only see. But which of us is behind the tissue, I cannot tell.

About the Author:

The Tissue Veil Brenda Bannister.jpgBrenda studied English at university and later qualified as a librarian, working in various educational settings from schools to higher education. Moving from London to Frome in Somerset in 2010 proved a catalyst for her own writing as she joined local fiction and script writing groups. She has had a number of short stories published, plus short plays produced in local pub theatre, but all the while was incubating a story based in the area of Tower Hamlets where she had worked for eighteen years.  This germ of a story became ‘The Tissue Veil’.

Brenda is a founder member of Frome Writers’ Collective, an organisation which has grown from a handful of members to over a hundred in the past four years, and helped set up its innovative Silver Crow Book Brand. She is also the current organiser of the annual Frome Festival Short Story Competition. A lifelong reader, Brenda rarely follows genres, but enjoys modern literary fiction, historical fiction, classics and the occasional detective novel. The latest Bernard Cornwell might be a guilty pleasure, but she’ll be even more eager to get her hands on Hilary Mantel’s final instalment of Thomas Cromwell’s story.

Social Media Links – Facebook – Website – Silver Crow Books

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The Makings of a Lady by Catherine Tinley #Extract @rararesources

The Mills & Boon cover Makings of a Lady

I am delighted to be sharing an extract for The Makings of  a Lady by Catherine Tinley today as part of the Blog Blitz with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. I have not had the chance to read this yet, the extract is a glimpse into a book that is definitely going to be one I want to read and I just love this cover.

Synopsis:

Be calm, she thought.
Be gracious. Be twenty-two.

Lady Olivia Fanton is eager to prove she’s no longer a child. However, just as she thinks she’s found a suitable match in the suave Mr Manning, charismatic Captain Jem Ford walks back into her life, bringing with him all the embarrassment of her infatuation four years before! She’s determined to appear mature, distant, friendly. But does she dare hope he’ll notice her as the lady she’s become?

Purchase Link: Click Here

The Extract:

This extract is taken from chapter one. It highlights Lady Olivia’s frustration with her well-meaning but over-protective family, and her desire for adventure. She’s also nervous about the fact that Jem Ford will be visiting the family the next day. Olivia had an embarrassing crush on Jem a few years before. Just to complicate things, a new man then appears in her life…

Olivia stared at her own reflection. Stormy grey eyes, dark curls, fashionable habit. What is the point of wearing fine things, she was thinking, when no one ever sees me but my own family? I could wear my oldest muslin and nobody would care.

Rejecting the matching hat, she stated firmly that she would ride today with her head uncovered. Someone will see you tomorrow, an inner voice murmured. Jem will be here. After four years, you will see him again.

Ignoring the thought, she focused instead on her current frustration. This year they were not in London for the Season, because of Charlotte’s condition. Oh, but it was hard to be two-and-twenty and stuck in the country! At least in London there were balls and routs, and trips to the theatre, and people who realised you were a grown-up young lady. Not a child. And there were ways to avoid seeing certain people, if you did not wish to spend time with them. A house-guest in the country could not be avoided.

Olivia absent-mindedly thanked Susie and made her way to the stables, enjoying the feel of the May sunshine on her shoulders. As always, she felt a rush of love when she saw her fine-looking mare, Dahlia.

‘Hello, my beauty!’ She nuzzled the horse’s delicate cheek and slipped her a treat. Dahlia pranced impatiently and had to be told to hold still while the groom handed Olivia up and into the side-saddle.

‘I shan’t need you, Joseph!’ Olivia waved away the head groom, who was just about to offer to accompany her. ‘I won’t leave our lands, I promise!’ He looked disapproving, but refrained from chastising her.

‘Where do you plan to go, miss?’ He was always concerned when she rode alone, though why he should be, Olivia could not fathom. Nothing ever happened here.

‘I’ll go to the river,’ she said decidedly, ‘and the Bluebell Woods.’

She could feel the groom watching her as she trotted out of the stable yard. She really felt it today—how much she was watched and protected, and imprisoned. It was an itch between her shoulder blades and it seemed as though it had been there her whole life. Her brothers. The servants. Great-Aunt Clara. Her sisters-in-law. Why could they not see she was no longer a child? And how was she supposed to appear different to—to other people—if her own family treated her as though she was still a debutante?

Stop it! she told herself sternly. This is no prison and they all care about you. That is why they do it—they are just trying to protect you.

The words failed to quell the burning inside her and so she did the only thing she could—she let Dahlia build from a trot to a canter, then to a full gallop through the deer park. She steered Dahlia eastwards through the fields and lanes of the estate farms, until at last she reached the Bluebell Woods. At this time of year, bluebells were everywhere—along the hedgerows, around the estate workers’ cottages and there was a good sprinkling of them in the Home Wood. But here, at the most easterly edge of the Chadcombe estate, here was where they grew in abundance.

Olivia directed Dahlia into the woods. Slowing to a walk, she savoured the coolness of the air, the smells of luxuriant foliage and fertile soil, and the magical colours of the woodland. Sturdy browns and greys mingled with lush green, and everywhere the indigo-purple beauty of the nodding bluebells. The canopy of ash and elm, oak and maple filtered verdant sunlight to warm the ferns and flowers on the forest floor. To her left, a startled squirrel raced up a tree, its tail a flash of rich bronze. Birds chirruped and called, and small creatures rustled in the undergrowth.

Olivia felt the tension leave her shoulders. This place never failed to calm her.

She made her way to the river and allowed Dahlia to drink. She dismounted, leaving her overskirts tied up, and tethered the mare to a nearby sapling in the cool shade. The horse promptly tilted one hind hoof and rested, her tail twitching at flies.

The next half-hour was delightful. Olivia wandered through her favourite part of the woods, up and down along the riverside, gathering bluebells as she went. Clara would love them. The day was warm, so, greatly daring, she removed her half-boots and silk stockings and sat down, dabbling her feet in the coolness of the sparkling river. She allowed the idyllic peace of her surroundings to soothe her, and—briefly—put tomorrow’s worries to one side. The sun gently warmed her shoulders, the river babbled to itself, and the woodland whispered and swayed, oblivious to its own beauty.

All it needs, she thought, a little wistfully, is for a romantic hero to appear…

The small river marked the edge of Chadcombe’s lands, forming the boundary with their neighbours at Monkton Park… From here, Olivia could see a mass of white flowers on the far riverbank. On impulse, she stood and gathered her skirts. Leaving her stockings and boots with the small pile of bluebells, she ventured across the stepping stones barefoot, lifting her petticoats to make sure she was putting her feet in the right places. Reaching the far side safely, she began plucking handfuls of sweet-scented lily-of-the-valley—they would be the perfect foil for the bluebells.

Monkton Park’s owners, Mr and Mrs Foxley, were Olivia’s friends. Indeed, Mrs Foxley—Faith—was Charlotte’s cousin. Olivia had nothing to fear from being on the wrong side of the river. Or so she thought. Old fears run deep, so when a man’s voice suddenly spoke nearby, Olivia’s heart leapt in alarm.

‘“The summer’s flow’r is to the summer sweet,”’ the voice intoned.

Olivia whirled around to face the speaker.

‘Ah,’ he said, ‘a rose indeed!’

His cultured accent – and his knowledge of poetry – proclaimed him to be a man of information and learning. She took in his appearance at a glance. My, she thought, he is handsome!

He looked to be a few years older than her – possibly around Harry’s age. He had expressive brown eyes, thick, dark hair, and an unfashionably swarthy complexion – as if he had been in a warmer climate than England. His clothing proclaimed him the gentleman – a crisp white shirt open at the neck in a way which Adam would have abhorred, well-fitting unmentionables, boots that gleamed with a polished shine, and a well-cut Weston coat. He was, in every detail, the embodiment of a romantic hero.

Olivia’s jaw dropped. Just moments ago, she had been wishing for just such a man to appear. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck spring to attention. Fate had never yet noticed her, or interfered in her life. Was this to be a turning point? Was this, in fact, the beginning of a story that would be truly hers?

About the Author:

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Catherine Tinley writes heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, NHS management, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now works in Sure Start. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cat, and dog and can be reached at catherinetinley.com, as well as facebook.com/CatherineTinleyWriter  and @CatherineTinley on twitter.

Social Media Links – Facebook – Twitter

Don’t forget to take a look at Catherine Tinley’s Social media accounts.   She is running a giveaway to win a copy of the book, along with two other (surprise) romance novels by other writers.

2 x UK/Ireland Winners and 1 x International Winner.

For all the details look out for Catherine Tinley on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Victoria Lie by Sarah Marie Graye #Extract #Giveaway (UK) @rararesources

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I am delighted to be welcoming back Sarah Marie Graye to my blog. I had the pleasure of reading the first book in this series “A Second Cup” and you can read my review of it HERE I also have a Q&A post with Sarah for The Second Cup, to read please click HERE

Unfortunately I have not had the time to read The Victoria Lie but I do have it on my TBR to read in the future. You can get a copy of The Victoria Lie using the universal link HERE

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Synopsis:

When is a lie a lifeline? To Tori lies are everything.

ZOE wants to end her life. But she can’t just leave a note. She needs to say goodbye to boyfriend JAMES and best friend ALISON.

TORI is waiting in the wings to fill the space ZOE will leave behind, wanting to claim both James and Alison for herself.

But with ZOE still alive and Alison’s childhood friend RUBY now on the scene vying to fill the gap, TORI realises she has her work cut out.

Just what lengths is TORI willing to go to in order to claim Alison and James for herself?

(Trigger warnings: Suicide, depression, IRA bombings, ADHD, Autism, manipulative characters.)

The Extract:

I’m sharing a section from Chapter 20, when Ruby and Alison are in Herne Bay and Ruby spots a body floating under the end of the pier…

 

We reach the end of the shortened pier (it’s an unwritten rule that you always walk its full length) and stare out at the sea. From this vantage point, the decaying structure of the isolated pier head has a foreboding air to it.

“It would have been so stupid to try and climb aboard,” she says.

“Stupid and dangerous,” I agree.

“We’ve done stupid things though,” she adds.

It she about to tell me about Zoe?

I look down at the waves lapping at the pier structure below me. My grip tightens on the railing in front of me. I know my fingers are turning white without looking at them. I should have known better than to look over the edge. From this angle, there are no long any edges in my vision, not even my peripheral vision, and I need edges to stop myself from spinning.

Without edges, there is only the long drop to water. Without edges, the drop cannot be determined and this therefore infinite.

My knuckles hold on tight. My body is on the safe side of the railing but my mind is not. I’m freefalling, freediving, holding my breath underwater as I plummet the depths. And then I’m back above water, looking down, seeing my own reflection as a cold blue face looking back at me. Except it’s not me. It’s a face floating on the surface of the water, attached to a body that bobs between the pier scaffolding.

“Look,” I say, my voice barely a whisper.

But Alison picks up on my fear and turns to me. “What is it?”

“Look,” I say again, this time a little louder, signalling with my head towards the water, my hands unable to let go of the barrier.

“Oh fuck!” I hear Alison cry.

I cannot move. But I hear her dump her bag at my feet. And I hear her take off at speed, her running footsteps stomping along the length of the pier.

“Drowning!” she cries out between breaths. “Someone’s drowning!”

I hear all this but I can’t see it. I can’t move from my spot.

The woman in the water looks a blue-ish white. She’s floating in the water face up – her eyes and mouth are closed. Her clothes balloon and billow around her. She looks strangely peaceful.

Then I hear splashing and a fully clothed Alison comes into view, lifebuoy in tow. It seems that her cries were lost on everyone because she’s making a rescue attempt alone. I watch her struggle to push one side of the lifebuoy down and scoop up the woman in it.

She manages to get the edge underneath the woman’s head and then pulls one of her arms through as well. Alison is tiny – this woman is easily twice her size – but she has found Herculean strength from somewhere and is now towing the woman back to shore.

I then hear more splashing and people shouting “Call an ambulance” and “Call 999”, but I still don’t move from my spot. I watch a plastic bottle dance across the waves where the woman’s body had been.

—end of extract—


Giveaway – Win 3 x Signed copies of The Victoria Lie by Sarah Marie Graye (Open to UK Only)

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY CLICK HERE 

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

About the Author:

SarahMarieGraye-Headshot.jpg

 

British writer Sarah Marie Graye is the author of The Butterfly Effect series, which looks at suicides and those left behind. The Second Cup, the first book in the series, was published in July 2017, and this Blog Tour is to celebrate the launch of the second book in the series, The Victoria Lie.

Follow Sarah on Facebook – Twitter –  Instagram –  Goodreads

 

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Narcissism For Beginners by Martine McDonagh @annecater #RandomThingsTours @unbounders #Extract

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Today I am sharing an extract for Narcissm For Beginners by Martine McDonagh as part of the Blog Tour by Anne at Random Things Tours. I have a fabulous extract that gives you a taste of what this book is about. You can buy a copy in various formats from AMAZON UK and it is published by Unbounders

Synopsis:

Longlisted for the 2017 Guardian Not the Booker Prize

Meet Sonny Anderson as he tips headlong into adulthood. Sonny doesn’t remember his mother’s face; he was kidnapped at age five by his father, Guru Bim, and taken to live in a commune in Brazil. Since the age of ten, Sonny has lived in Redondo Beach, California, with his guardian Thomas Hardiker. Brits think he’s an American, Americans think he’s a Brit.

When he turns 21, Sonny musters the courage to travel alone to the UK in an attempt to leave a troubled past behind, reunite with his mother and finally learn the truth about his childhood. With a list of people to visit, a whole lot of attitude and five mysterious letters from his guardian, Sonny sets out to learn the truth. But is it a truth he wants to hear?

Narcissism for Beginners is a fresh, witty and humane take on the struggle to make sense of growing up.

The Extract:

Turning twenty-one, not much about me changed, physically speaking. I didn’t grow any taller. I didn’t grow any fatter. Pinch me and you’ll find no additional flesh on these bones. Even if we were the sole survivors of a plane wreck, you wouldn’t eat me for dinner.

But nothing stayed the same either. My name grew longer, officially at least, and my bank balance got bigger – MUCH bigger. I have a bona fide Brit passport now and I’m not so sure where home is any more.

Who am I? Good question. I started out as Sonny Anderson. Now my official name is Sonny Anderson Agelaste-Bim, but I still go by Sonny Anderson. Your son. Twenty-one-year-old recovering addict and multi-millionaire. Pleased to (not) meet you.

Almost exactly one month ago, I hit the big Two-One. Back then – because man, it already feels like a lifetime ago – home was Redondo Beach, aka RB, Southern California, SoCal, where, as you know already, I lived since age eleven under the guardianship of one Thomas Hardiker. The word guardian puts me in mind of those sentry guys at the gates of Buckingham Palace, staring into the middle distance from under the weight of a big bearskin hat. Keeping the real world out while thinking about pizza or football, or measuring time by the movement of the sun. Whatever. Maybe they really are doing those things. From an outsider’s point of view, they look like one man trying to keep a whole world of crap away just by standing still, and that’s a massive job, right? Well, that’s the job Thomas took on when he took charge of me. You still need to thank him for that.

At school, nobody knew Thomas wasn’t my dad, mainly because no one ever cared to ask, even though we were a grown man and a young boy with completely different names, living together under one roof. If they had asked, I probably would have said, to maintain the enigma and to keep the story short, that Anderson is my mom’s name, which is the truth anyway, right? If they then asked about you directly, which of course they never did – about why you weren’t around – my story was that you died when I was small; I figured that would be a great conversation-stopper, which it was until this girlfriend at USC, my alma mater – we’ll call her Anna – wanted to know everything, all the time, all the stuff I didn’t even know myself. The only way to stop the questions was to dump her.

My twenty-first was never going to be your regular limo-riding fake-ID- burning drunken barhopping orgy. I indulged in all that shit way back and already outgrew it. Not so for the majority of my dishonourable collegiate peers, however. Senior year at USC was one protracted twenty-first birthday party, one after the other after the other, paid for by the *guilty *nostalgic *overindulgent (*delete as appropriate) parents of my self-entitled co-equals.

In one of his books, Gladwell (you know who I mean, right?) talks about October-born kids doing better in school than kids born later in the academic year. He gives various explanations for this phenomenon that I don’t remember now (my memory is shot), but I do have a theory of my own that he missed. My theory is this: those kids, the September-October babies, also do better because they get all that woohoo jazzhands ‘I’m legal’ crap over and done with right at the start of Senior year. By Thanksgiving they’re so bored of it all they elect to sit out the ongoing mayhem, thereby maintaining maximum brain functionality through their final semester and performing well at the appropriate time. Any time, Malcolm, any time.

My birthday (as you may or may not recall) is June 6th, which means I didn’t turn twenty-one until after graduation, so according to Gladwell’s theory I should score about as far off the high-achieving-October-baby list as it gets, but I was the anomaly: I’d come out the other side of the whole NA thing by then, and sat out the shenanigans with the high-achievers. And as a result I did okay. I’m proud of my GPA, naturally, but I won’t say what I got because that would be bragging and unBritish.

Personal background info. Loud noises make me flinch, and many, many much quieter ones, like kissy sucky mouth-noises, make me want to punch the wall, or the faces emitting the above-mentioned noises. Strangers at the door make me nervous. Random conversation in the street makes me suspicious. Even the smallest change to my routine needs to be – maybe I should say needed to be because I like to think that recent revelations have transformed me – introduced slowly, over days, weeks, or ideally, never. Thomas, aforementioned guardian, knows better than anyone how much I hate change in general and surprises in particular. But even Thomas and his imaginary bearskin hat couldn’t hold back the revolutionary tsunami that crashed through the walls of my existence on the day I turned twenty-one. Au contraire, it was Thomas who set it in motion.

About the Author:

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Martine McDonagh’s latest novel, Narcissism for Beginners, is longlisted for the 2018 People’s Book Prize and in 2017 for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize. It is published in Germany as Familie und andere Trostpreise (Family and other Consolation Prizes).

Her first novel, I Have Waited and You Have Come, was described as ‘cataclysmically brilliant’ by author Elizabeth Haynes, and praised in the Guardian and Red magazine. Martine had a successful career in the music industry as an artist manager and devised and ran the MA Creative Writing & Publishing at West Dean College in Sussex.

Follow Martine on Twitter

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Brand New Friend by Kate Vane @k8vane : #PublicationDay #Extract

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I am delighted to be sharing an extract today for “Brand New Friend” by Kate Vane on it’s Publication Day. This book is one I have on my TBR and I am looking forward to reading it at a later date. Kate very kindly got in touch and was aware that I was closed for reviews but wondered if I could host an extract. Call it chance or fate, but the date she suggested was available. If you would like to purchase a copy then please follow the universal link and choose your preference HERE. It is being launched at 99p/99c. After 10 June it will go up to £2.99/$3.99

Synopsis:

BBC foreign correspondent Paolo Bennett is exiled to a London desk – and the Breakfast sofa – when he gets a call from Mark, a friend from university in eighties Leeds. Paolo knew Mark as a dedicated animal rights activist but now a news blog has exposed him as an undercover police officer. Then Mark’s former police handler is murdered.

Paolo was never a committed campaigner. He was more interested in women, bands and dreaming of a life abroad. Now he wonders if Mark’s exposure and his handler’s murder might be linked to an unexplained death on campus back when they were friends. What did he miss?

Paolo wants the truth – and the story. He chases up new leads and old friends. From benefit gigs and peace protests, to Whatsapp groups and mocktail bars, the world has changed, but Mark still seems the same.

Is Mark the spy who never went back – who liked his undercover life better than his own? Or is he lying now? Is Paolo’s friend a murderer?

Extract:

Kate has allowed me to share the opening chapter of “Brand New Friend”

EXTRACT:

Paolo’s mind was still in Yemen when his phone rang.

‘It’s me. Mark.’

He’d been recording a report on the cholera outbreak for The World Tonight, trying, in cool BBC tones, to conjure the faces of the people, the stunning mud-brick buildings, the terror of the bombing. The stink of sewage, the pain of loss.

‘I need your help.’

He couldn’t get the story on TV because it failed the vital test – do we have pictures? Radio. How he loved radio! For a moment he had forgotten that he was in London, on a chill, grey day, in a dark wool suit.

Mark.

It was an unknown caller but he always picked up. The habit of years of reporting on the ground in the Middle East. You never knew who it might be, whether they would call again.

He wondered how many hundreds of Marks he had met in his life and why this particular Mark thought he should know who he was. He wasn’t going to identify him from his silence, so he said, a little tersely, ‘Mark who?’

‘That’s why I’m calling.’

The voice thought he should know what this was about and he didn’t. ‘Where are you?’

‘Leeds, of course.’ It was the tone of beatific patience as much as the location that made him realise. A tone that threw him straight back to the eighties. ‘You haven’t seen the news?’

‘I’ve been in the studio. Give me a moment.’ He was already searching for Mark’s name, tapping on a link.

‘Can you come? Now?’

Like he was still a student. We’re going the pub, or Nazams, or a party on Brudenell Road, or maybe Street, or Mount. That was then. Of course he couldn’t come now.

Yet as he read on, he felt the old tingle that told him this was a story, and he found himself saying, ‘Yes, I’ll come.’

About the Author:

kate vane author image.jpg Kate Vane writes (mostly) crime fiction. Brand New Friend is her fourth novel.

She has written for BBC drama Doctors and has had short stories and articles published in various publications and anthologies, including Mslexia and Scotland on Sunday.

She lived in Leeds for a number of years where she worked as a probation officer. She now lives on the Devon coast.

Follow Kate on:-  Website – Twitter – Facebook

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#BlogTour : Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind by Elizabeth McGivern @MayhemBeyond : @rararesources : #Extract

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Today I am sharing an extract for “Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind” by Elizabeth McGivern as part of the blog tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. This is a book that is now on my TBR pile for reading at a future date. You can purchase a copy from Amazon UK and also Amazon.com

Synopsis:

Amy Cole is a stay-at-home mum and a woman on the edge.
After a very public breakdown and failed suicide attempt, Amy finds herself trying to make it through her everyday life as a high-functioning zombie.
Elle De Bruyn is a force of nature ready to shake Amy back to life whether she likes it or not.
After a fortuitous meeting, the two embark on a journey together which will change them both and help them find out exactly what they’re capable of when rock bottom is just the beginning.

Extract:

This extract takes place when Elle convinces Amy to come out for the evening. Elle is convinced that Amy needs drastic help with boosting her confidence and decides on an unorthodox approach to solve this particular problem:

“I think you need a bit of a confidence boost. You’re in this little bubble of your family and you just seem so fucking deflated. Like ‘what’s the point in even trying’ type aura around you,” said Elle.

“Look at you tonight, you look great. Why don’t you make that type of effort all the time? Now, before you get all indignant  ask yourself: ‘Did you get a little lift from taking the time on yourself?’ This isn’t about dressing up for Ben or anyone else, I mean do it just for you.

“Bitta lippy can go a long way to helping you face the day. My make-up is my war paint and I’m ready to kick arse in the day ahead. It’s a little thing, but confidence is key. You’re the least assertive person I’ve met and I think a little confidence boost could do you wonders.”

“What’s the point in putting on make-up? It takes up time I’d rather spend sleeping.”

“See? ‘What’s the point’? That defeatist attitude has got to go. You’re amazing and I’m going to shake you back to life even if it kills me.”

“So what? I should shove on some lipstick and sing a power ballad at some cheesy karaoke bar? I’d rather throw myself from the car now.”

“No! I can’t stand karaoke bars. They’re really depressing. There’s always some group of women singing ‘I will survive’ or an ageing crooner, who thought he was a ‘star’ in his youth, massacring a Meatloaf song. My idea is much more sensible. All you’ve got to do is trust me and keep an open mind. We’re here.”

She had pulled up to a trendy bar on the other side of the town. I hadn’t been there before, but that wasn’t hard. Bars and bistros were always popping up and disappearing before I had a chance to even know they existed.

A very cheery-looking hostess greeted us at the door. Her teeth were unnaturally white and I felt unnerved when she smiled at us.

“Hiya, ladies!” she said, “If you want to pick up a wee form over there and pop on a wee name sticker we’ll be starting in a wee while. Any questions?”

“Yeah, can you stop smiling at us for a wee while, because it’s really freaking me out?” asked Elle, nervously.

The hostess immediately dropped her act and nodded her head towards the pens.

“There are the wee pens, move the fuck along. Thanks, ladies.”

I pulled Elle away from the, now glowering, hostess towards the group of women already filling in their ‘wee questionnaire’. I didn’t need to wonder any longer what the evening held; it was in bold print at the top of the page: Speed Dating.

“No. I’m out of here,” I said.

I spun on my heels and headed to the front door, past the confused looking hostess, when Elle managed to get in between me and the exit. She forcefully clotheslined me into a booth, where an unsuspecting couple were sitting. She then proceeded to wrestle me into an awkward lying position, taking over half of the booth. Eventually, she managed to pin my arms across my chest and sit on my legs.

“I told you to keep an open mind, princess. This doesn’t seem like you’re being very receptive to this idea.”

“One: I’m married, two: I can’t imagine if I were single that I would remotely be interested in meeting people this way, three: I’m married and four – “

“Let me guess: you’re married?”

“YES!”

“Sorry, we’re trying to have a romantic meal here can you girls please just take your domestic somewhere else?” said the male half of the disturbed couple.

“Shut up, arsehole; she would be so lucky to have me as her woman.”

Turning to me she continued: “Now if I let you up will you promise to hear me out?”

“Like I have a choice, you drove me here and assaulted me when I tried to leave.”

“Great!” She turned her attention to the couple once again and said: “Sorry about the ‘arsehole’ comment. Can you two, shove up? I need to give this one a pep talk.”

They stared dumbfounded and eventually shuffled up allowing us both to sit in the booth with them. This did not make things less awkward between us.

“Now, as I was saying in the car I think you have a self-esteem issue and I want to help. The make-up is all superficial nonsense, I grant you, but I thought if you could see yourself through someone else’s eyes – particularly someone who wasn’t looking at you as their wife or mother – you’d be able to see you’re not dead yet.”

Was I spending too much time with this woman or did this make sense?

“You deserve to feel desired and attractive and from what I gather by your put-upon demeanour you’re not exactly feeling that within yourself. This isn’t about the men you talk to it’s about the feedback after. Personally, I could live without men – no joke – but I couldn’t find an all-female empowerment conference for this evening in this shitty town so I’m improvising. I just want you to see yourself from another perspective. If you take nothing from this experience, so be it; at least there’s wine.”

I don’t know how long I stared at her saying nothing.

“What have you got to lose?” said the female half of our booth companions.

“See? She agrees with me and she knows what she’s talking about – I just know by the look of you. You’re totally in the know.”

Female booth companion seemed pleased by this ridiculous compliment and blushed while her partner stifled a laugh.

“You are buying all the wine,” I said in a defeated tone, “and we don’t say a word to Ben about this.”

“No problem, I agree to both those conditions, you’re not going to regret this.”

“I already am.”

About the Author:

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Picture credited to Jess Lowe 

Elizabeth McGivern is a former journalist turned hostage-in-her-own-home surrounded by three men and a horrible dog named Dougal.

In an effort to keep her sanity she decided to write a parenting blog after the birth of her first son so she can pinpoint the exact moment she failed as a mother.

In an unexpected turn of events, the blog helped her to find a voice and connect with parents in similar situations; namely those who were struggling with mental health issues and parenting. It was because of this encouragement – and wanting to avoid her children as much as possible – her debut novel, Amy Cole has lost her mind, was born.

Elizabeth lives in Northern Ireland although wishes she could relocate to Iceland on a daily basis.

To witness her regular failings as a parent you can find her on: Website  – Facebook  – Twitter  – Instagram

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#BlogTour : Indigo Lost by S R Summers @IndigoLost : @Authoright #Extract

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I am sharing an extract today for “Indigo Lost” by S R Summers for the blog tour by Authoright. Indigo Lost is available in hardback, paperback and eBook format from Amazon UK

Synopsis:

After the brutal murder of her family, and the uncovering of her mysterious abilities, a young girl escapes and hides in the city of Las Vegas — but who is going to protect her?
Violence has always has always been familiar to seven-year-old Mysty, known for her piercing indigo eyes. Ever since she can remember her father has been an aggressive and brutish man, but then one day things go too far and Mysty witnesses the violent murder of her beloved mother. Taken in by the police for safety and questioning, she realises that she has nobody to turn to and can only rely on herself to survive. So, when she has the chance, she decides to make her escape; the only problem is she’s three floors up and it’s one hell of a drop. But seeing no other option, she takes a leap of faith out of the window and never looks back.
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, the king of the city, cut-throat mob boss Donny Capello, is contemplating his next takeover when an out-of-control truck nearly crashes into him. Dazed, he notices a skinny young girl with bright blue eyes injured and crouching in a doorway, who he swears somehow saved his life, like a guardian angel. But before he can speak to her she disappears. Determined to find out who the girl is, and why she would trouble herself to save someone as irredeemable as him, Donny Capello will do anything to find her. But she’s not yet ready to reveal herself, and this time there’s no window for her to escape from, and Vegas is Capello’s city, so it’s only a matter of time before he finds her.
In the first book of her epic Infinity Squared series, author S.R. Summers has drawn on her varied life experiences and the challenges she’s personally faced —from work-place bullying to xenophobia— to craft not only a dramatic and, at times uncomfortable, narrative, but also one which provokes questions within the reader about their place in the world. Through the relationships between her central female protagonist, Mysty, and those she encounters, Summers hopes to highlight the importance of personal growth, the internal conflicts an individual experiences when faced with diicult life questions, and the strength and empowerment of reaching out in life and making real connections and friendships rather than the at-a-distance relationships of today’s technology-mad world.
Blending elements of crime, fantasy, romance and coming-of-age with social fiction, Indigo Lost is the perfect next read for those looking for an exciting and thought-provoking new series to get stuck into this spring.

Extract:

Extract – Indigo Lost – p165

This extract comes from a scene between Donny Capello, mafia boss of Vegas, and our young central female character, a runaway child from a broken home who escaped a brutal end to a tragic domestic abuse case that claimed the lives of her sister, mother and grandmother. This is an important moment when she chooses a new name for herself, as her powerful new friend offers her a chance to get her life back on track. An opportunity she is only partially cognisant of, in her childlike innocence.

He got up and came back with a pad of paper and a pen, and slid it across the table to her right side, knowing she was right-handed, and looked at her. 

Will you write down what you will not tell me?”

Her face paled again and her heart pounded. Why did he have to ruin everything by asking her to do that? She didn’t want to do that. She squeezed her eyes shut. But the urge to wipe her soul clean of the pain, of the hurt and the blood, was growing within her. But why here is this room, with this . . . stranger?

You don’t want to know what I know. I don’t want you to know.” It was a whisper. “Sometimes I wish I was dead too so I wouldn’t be able to remember.” She shook her head. “I can’t write it.”

The man who killed your family, I can make sure he’s never able to come after you.”

Her eyes snapped open, and despite the emotion they were bright and alert now. “He’s in prison. I think he is, anyway.”

Even easier.”

She shook her head. “No. I’m not a killer. Though he deserves to die a million times for what he did.”

You’re sure?”

Yes . . .”

It was a shaky whisper. It was clear the idea was tempting, but agreeing to more death was obviously unthinkable for her. And he didn’t want her to become blood-thirsty, he just wanted her to feel safe.

Will you tell me your name?”

No.”

She picked up the pen and wrote the initials of her mother’s name very faintly, then crossed them out, not wanting to give away any clues.

You can’t go through your whole life being a mystery with no name.”

Absent-mindedly she wrote the word ‘mystery’, doing an impressive slanted ‘M’ and two looping ‘Y’s. She tilted her head and crossed out some of the letters, and then rewrote the word she ended up with. She put the pen down and turned the pad around and pushed it to him.

Then I’ll be a mystery inside a name.”

This was no average kid. He was going to have to get used to that.

Mysty? Two ‘Y’s? Unusual. It suits you. You’re sure?”

She nodded decisively.

Fine. OK, Mysty, now explain to me another mystery: how do you survive those jumps off buildings?”

He crossed his arms and leaned back, looking at her with eyes that told her he wanted an answer and it had better be honest. Squirming a little under the scrutiny, she fiddled with her napkin while she tried to come up with a good enough answer.

About the Author:

  About the author: Living in Leamington Spa, West Midlands, S.R. Summers owns and runs the popular ZouBisou cafe. Previously, she has enjoyed a career working within broadcast media whilst living in Belgium and within the field of e-commerce. She also holds a degree in History from the University of Cambridge. When not managing her cafe, you’ll find her busy writing and working on the final book in her Infinity Squared eight-part series. The first in the series, Indigo Lost by S.R, Summers (published by ShieldCrest Publishing XX April 2018 RRP £20 hardback, £12 paperback and £5.99 e-book) is available to purchase from online retailers, including Amazon, and to order from all good bookstores. For more information you can follow the author @indigolost.

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#BlogTour : The Forever Night Stand by Bena Roberts @benaroberts : @rararesources : #Spotlight

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Today I am shining a spotlight on “The Forever Night Stand” by Bena Roberts for the Blog Tour organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. This is yet another book I would love to have the time in my schedule to read.

Synopsis:

A two hour romance which starts with drama and mayhem!

Sara has her back up against the wall. She is recovering from the side effects of chemotherapy and at her own “cancer free” party, she makes a decision that will change her life forever.

The adventure begins when she leaves her posh lifestyle in Scotland and moves in with her Bollywood loving parents, in West London. Her parents are tragically ashamed of Sara’s actions and her electronic monitor. She decides to make them happy again and considers re-marrying. 

Enter Raj, a possible hero who comes with the promise of a huge Indian wedding in Goa!

George, the childhood love of her life who seems to be hanging around every corner. Or should she just go back to her husband? Sara faces the biggest dilemma of her life, after making the colossal mistake of her life. What will she do and whom will she choose?

Purchase From –  Amazon –  Smashwords – Kobo – Nook

About the Author:

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Bena Roberts was a journalist and analyst. Now she prefers the title novelist and romance adventurist. She graduated in England 1994 and then with a Masters in 1997.

Born in 1973, Bena lived in West London until she was 24. Then she lived and worked in Budapest, Bruges, Prague, Amsterdam, Vienna, Hamburg and Munich. She currently resides in Germany, between Heidelberg and Frankfurt. Although she still refers to London as ‘home.’

Bena successfully created a technology blog which gained funding, had lunch with Steve Ballmer and was ‘top 50 most influential woman in mobile.’ Her blog also won several awards including Metro Best Blog.

Bena has two children, loves small dogs and always writes books with a cup of Earl Grey.

Bena’s favorite literary style is black humor, and she hopes to offer a unique voice in this area. Her books aim to confront the darkest of life experiences, with levity. Most of her writing is heavy hitting yet also entertaining.

Also –  Available My Cake! A short story

Pre-Order Tammy&Lisa – How far would you go to protect your teenage son ?

Follow Bena on –  Twitter –  Amazon Author Page – Goodreads Author Page

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#BlogTour : Production Values by Liv Bartlet @LivBartlet : @rararesources : #Extract : #Giveaway (Open Int’lly)

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With all the best will in the world I know I cannot read all the books that come into my email box. “Production Values” by Liv Bartlet is a book I am sharing an extract for as part of the blog tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources.

Synopsis:

“Mornings like this I can understand the appeal of killer high heels. How they click with command down the sidewalk: Get out of my way, I’m in charge and I’ve got the footwear to prove it.”

At the age of 28, Kat Porter has become the it-girl of British TV Production. Gut, gumption, and artistry have carried her through a dozen impossible scenarios to arrive at her first run as Executive Producer, and now all three muses point to Ian Graham’s star power as the key to Los Angeles and golden statues.

But disaster looms as Ian twists Kat into a chameleon fit for success. Ian’s young daughter is thrown into the spotlight and Kat must face the consequences of her neverending quest for acclaim.

Production Values takes a biting but fun look at Hollywood—from the way we interpret female ambition to the influence of the paparazzi on how TV shows and stars fail or succeed. 

Purchase Links:   – Amazon US –  Amazon UK

Extract of Production Values: 

Intro:  After Kat and Bea fought about a tattoo-revealing stunt in a script read-through, Kat took off for Germany. Now she’s returned to London, ready to apologize and armed with an idea for a new TV show.

Excerpt

I knock on Bea’s open office door and close it behind me before she can look up from her computer. “So, who wants to be friends again?”

It’s been too many days with the combatants retreated to their respective corners. I’ve knocked on Bea’s apartment every night since I returned from Germany, but she’s not there—she’s been at the refugee clinic, where she goes when life turns bad. When I’m not writing like a dervish, I’m full of abject misery.

Which is why I’ve practiced an apology that I hope will tumble the wall between us. “The tattoo thing was stupid. No matter how it started, I know it looked terrible. I did everything you said. I spent money on a guest star to chase success in all the wrong ways. If we can’t make it on our merits, it’s not worth it. You were right.”

Bea blinks at me, the only crack in her neutral nonconfrontational face. Then she melts. She won’t make this hard. She never does.

“We’ve worked so hard, Kat. If the rumor reaches the board, they’ll shut us down. We can’t be that show.” Bea sighs—deep, from her soul. “But I’m sorry, too. I overreacted.”

I hug her without warning. I want it all the way over. Bea’s not a hugger, not unless she’s applying comfort like medicine, but she takes none herself, so this kind of mutual affection feels like cuddling a street cat.

Bea pushes back and holds my shoulders. She looks at me, reading me, her head tilted to the side. “And how was Germany?”

“It was fine, I’m fine. Still on the rails, I promise.” I cough to cover up the threat of tears.

Bea talks to her mom every day, and the whole family pops in for a video chat at least once a week. My lack of family has always struck her as a great sadness, a heartbreak I know she carries for me all the time.

“Anyway, I think I’m giving up on men for a while,” I lie. I’ll never give up on love, it’s the only thing that thrills me as much as my art.

“Sure you are,” Bea laughs, but lets me have my game.

“And in my spinster state, I’ve decided you need a date. My gift to you. Want me to set you up with Wayne? He still captures more accidental footage of you than anyone else.”

Bea shudders and crosses her arms in front of herself. She never dates, never. “Will I get to go back to giving up on romance in twenty-four hours when you forget your vow of celibacy?”

I snort with laughter.

Bea puts her arm around me and I lean onto her shorter shoulder. “We okay again? I miss being okay. Feels like it’s been a long time.”

“Yeah, we’re good. Better than. We’ve got each other and we’ve got 21 Things. And something new, actually.” I bring up the paper-clipped stack of papers from my side. “I know every idea for post–21 Things has been rejected thus far, but I think this is the one.”

“Ideas are good,” Bea prevaricates and reads the title page. “What’s K-Town?”

“It’s what all the military people there call Kaiserslautern and the surrounding posts and bases.”

“So, military . . . drama? Judging by the number of pages? In Europe?”

“Full-hour comedy with a dash of drama. Dramedy, though I will deny ever saying that word. Edgy. Real people, real lives.”

“This sounds like an excuse for you to watch hot men in uniform. Can I nix any actors you’ve fangirled? Maybe I should do casting.”

“Stop. Ian was good for the show. But, yes, you can have casting privileges if you like the pilot script.”

Bea chews that spot on her lip, the one that bleeds sometimes. “Kat, I don’t have the talent for anything beyond 21 Things. This was magic.”

“Of course you have the talent! What are you talking about? You make money drip out of advertiser pockets!”

“I’ll do what I can. You create. Tell me where you want it. If Anna wins—”

“LA. An American network. It’s going to be possible. Because we are going to get nominated and we’re going to awards shows and we’re going to have it-quality buzz. And then—National Network. National is where this show belongs.”

Bea nods and bites her lip hard. I’m not surprised to see a slight red stain on her teeth. “Let’s think on it. We might have something else. Something I’ve been too in denial to even touch.”

About the Authors:

Liv Bartlet is the pseudonym for writing partners Becca McCulloch and Sarah McKnight, who have been building worlds and telling stories together for more than a decade. They’ve logged hours of behind-the-scenes movie and TV footage and challenged each other in a friendly Oscar guessing game every year this millennium. Lifelong Anglophiles, their Monkey & Me world sprang to vivid life on a trip to London that included divine pastries, sublime art, and a spectacular pratfall in the British Museum.

Becca is a professor, a scientist, and a secret romantic who insisted their first order of business in London was a meandering five-mile walk to see Big Ben. She lives with her husband, children, and an ever-expanding roster of pets in Logan, Utah.

Sarah is an Army brat, an Excel geek, and has a lot of opinions on the differences between science fiction and fantasy. She lives with her cat, Sir Jack—who is featured prominently on Liv’s Instagram —just outside Salt Lake City.

Social Media Links – Website – Twitter – Facebook – Instagram

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