Today I am pleased to share with you a gorgeous extract thanks to Kelly @lovebooksgroup and if you are blown away by what I share you can purchase Whatever It Takes Here.
Blurb: Set in Cork city, Detective Garda Collins is at war with the leading local criminal, Dominic Molloy. Unwilling to accept the human degradation caused by Molloy’s drugs, violence and prostitution. He has made up his mind to bring Molloy down, but just how far is he willing to go to make that happen? What is he willing to do and what fall-out will ensue for himself and his garda colleagues? This tense crime novel (the first in a series featuring Collins) tells the story of two immovable forces colliding. Something has to give. Running out of time before the murder of two teenagers becomes inevitable, and with a traitor in the garda station feeding information back to Molloy, Collins takes his battle to new heights. He is determined to win, whatever the cost, whatever it takes.
About the Author: Tadhg Coakley is from Mallow and lives in Cork city. His debut novel The First Sunday in September was shortlisted forthe Mercier Press fiction prize and was published in 2018 to much acclaim. His sports writing has appeared in The Irish Examiner and The Holly Bough. He has also been published in The Stinging Fly, The Honest Ulsterman, Silver Apples,Quarryman and the From the Well anthology. He is a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing course at University College Cork. www.tadhgcoakley.com
Now here’s for the good stuff the extract– Watching…..
The house being used by the gardai as a lookout for Molloy’s pub was not derelict like the one in Clarke’s Drive, but the family had been relocated quietly to a house in Glanmire. It was two streets away from the pub, so that it required spotting scopes to watch the front door.
Collins took the stairs three at a time and entered what had once been a small bedroom. Detectives Tom Kelleher and Jim Murphy turned as the door opened. He knew them well. They had worked closely with him when he led the investigation into Molloy’s murder of Dinny Buckley a few years previously. An investigation that neither charged nor convicted anybody. They couldn’t even find his body.
The cramped room, the men, thewatching and the sense of purpose flooded Collins with memories. Itseemed to him right then that he had spent most of his working life just watching. Watching murderers, watching rapists, watching drug dealers, watching republican extremists. All that time he would never get back. All that time he could have been doing something with his life.
Murphy was drinking tea. Kelleher wastyping on a laptop connected to a large screen on an office table. A cable snaked from a small camera attached to one of the scopes to the screen. The screen showed the front door ofMolloy’s pub. Both men rose to their feet and exclaimed simultaneously.
Collins smiled at them and shook their hands.
Thank you once again to Kelly @lovebooksgroup for including me on this tour. I will be also undertaking the Instagram tour you can find me on there under HayleyReviews10. As ever be sure to check out the rest of the fabulous hosts on this tour.
There is also a post from my girl @fabbookfiend today 🙂 make sure you check it out.
Today I am pleased to be a part of the Worlds Apart blog tour and my oh my do I have a treat for you today.
Blurb: At just under six foot in his socks and weighing in at fourteen stone, Ronan Brady is a solid slab of rarest Roscommon meat. He has a natural tendency to throw himself about – some would say recklessly, others would say enthusiastically – into whatever he sets himself to. Ronan had a ‘normal’ childhood in Roscommon and knew by the time he was a teenager that when he grew up he wanted to play football for his county and become a teacher. Ronan had achieved his life ambition when he took up ‘Flying’ as a hobby. A hobby that transformed his life and took him to heights he never dreamed of, performing in the smash hit show Riot alongside Panti Bliss, and going on to tour the world. Worlds Apart is an open, humorous account of Ronan’s life journey.
I am over the moon to share with you some content from Worlds Apart….
had never, would never, have been able to foresee before I began this journey.The cost was that I was going to have to slowly rip out my internal wiring and reinstall it. I had preconceptions and biases and learned behaviours, a whole myriad of attitudes, all of which were completely normal for me back where I came from, but which were entirely inappropriate for this new world and these new people with whom I wascirculating.
As I drove towards the photoshoot for Thisispopbaby in this strange place with these strange people I was struggling with all of these things.
Because, and here’s the crux of the matter, a good deal of my discomfort stemmed from the fact that these were people that a past version of myselfwould not have liked. These were peoplethat a past version of myself would nothave associated with. These were people – a lot of whom grew up being mocked, bullied and largely led to feel excluded because of their differences – that a past version of myself would very likely have ridiculed for those same exact reasons.
Would I have bullied them? Probably. Did I bully them? Probably.
It’s hard to remember, but it seems safe to assume that I did; at the very least, I definitely did not stand up for them when other people did. But I don’t want to fudge it. I don’t remember bullying them because most likely it simply did not seem important enough for me to commit it to memory at the time.
Of course you would bully them. Why wouldn’t you?
About the Author: Ronan Brady is a physical performer, aerialist and hoop artist who is recognised internationally for his expertise with the Cyr wheel. He is a native of Roscommon, where he was a teacher and played intercounty football, before embarking on his stage career.
Back in May I took part in a blog blitz to showcase Graeme Cumming’s Carrion. In doing so I had a chat with the author and here lies what come from that.
A novel where the cover has drawn me in and left me intrigued. I as yet still haven’t read this offering from Graeme but I will be taking part in the @lovebooksgroup blog tour in July and I cannot wait to see whether these crows scare me….I’ve read a few things over the years where crows have left me feeling bereft and when I’ve stumbled upon one I’ve literally eye balled it so I didn’t lose my cool.
Graeme kindly offered to guest here at Hayley Reviews and I’ve been trying to find the right time to post it. In talking to Graeme I wanted to know more about his inspiration for Carrion and obviously as I haven’t yet read it he’s been mindful to that in explaining to me…..without further ado I welcome Graeme Cumming. Not only has he explained a bit about the book and how it came to be there is also a short extract from Carrion to wet your appetite.
Cut-outs Don’t Cut It
When I first started writing Carrion, it was called Salin, after the main protagonist. The reason for this name was significant to how I envisaged the book turning out. Before long, I realised it wasn’t necessary, but liked Salin’s name and kept it.
When I started writing it, the plotline was still pretty vague. Having been part of the writing community for several yearsnow, I realise my approach leaned more towards what’sreferred to as the ‘pantser’ than the ‘plotter’ – which was one of my first mistakes.
Although I didn’t know exactly how things were going to turn out, there were ideas. I’d even drawn a rough and ready map to refer to because Salin and his friends would be going on a journey. I wanted to envisage their route and the physical obstacles in their path – forests, mountains, river – as well as the order they might be encountered. A couple of key scenes had begun to play out in my mind in advance of writing, so the map helped me work out where those scenes should take place.
Even so, I was pretty much making it up as I went along and, when I got to the final, climactic confrontation, it was clear it’d take a different form to my expectations. Still, by the time I typed ‘The End’, I liked the overall concept and felt happy with what I’d written. But it’d taken me five years to reach that point, and I needed a break from it, so I wrote what turned out to be my first published novel, Ravens Gathering.
The progress I made with Ravens Gathering was much faster than with Salin. A key factor was the decision to plot it all out in advance. But it still meant almost two years passed before I returned to Salin. I remained broadly happy with it, but there was something missing and I couldn’t quite work out what.
Over the following months, I edited, rewrote and got feedback from friends and family. Eventually, I felt ready to send it to my editor and sat back waiting for glowing praise.
It didn’t materialise. Instead, I was told it was an interesting concept, but too slow and, more importantly, my villain was little more than a cardboard cut-out. I’m paraphrasing here, and covering in a few lines what he said in four pages, but the essence is correct. And it hurt. Five years’ work, plus another year or so of reworking… For nothing.
The temptation to throw the towel in was very strong, and it was a temptation I felt several times because the scale of the changes was so significant.
The key, though, lay with the villain. His role needed beefingup. More importantly, I needed to give him more backstory. It’s become a cliché to refer to actors wanting to know their character’s ‘motivation’, but that was what made Carrion work. Not that it came easily.
At first, it went too far in the other direction. I drafted a summary of the villain’s whole life, which was something I’dlearnt writing Ravens Gathering. Knowing a character’s history helped to express them better on the page. The mistake I made was including everything in my next rewrite, increasing the word count from 120000 to 180000. The story became far too cumbersome, and the pace even slower.
It took three more attempts to get it down to a little over 125000 words and, more importantly, set the right pace. Based on early reviews, though, it seems to have worked, and the villain’s character has given Carrion the very edge it needed.
“You can’t hide anything from me. Remember that.” There was a certain gratification in the dread he sensed in them. “But you’re right, I do like to leave something behind for the birds.” He could never explain to anyone else the surge of energy he got from that simple act, and he had no intention of trying now. He didn’t need to.
It was time to let the ravens loose…
“You’ll die for that!” one of the guards yelled. He raised his sword, ready to charge. Behind him, the others were preparing to do the same.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
He probably saw the doubt in their eyes before they registered it themselves. It wasn’t enough to feed off yet. But it would be when it turned to fear.
“Have I introduced you to my friends?” He didn’t wait for an answer. The wings were beating before he’dfinished speaking.
About theAuthor: Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country. He has wide and varied tastes when it comes to fiction so he’s conscious that his thrillers can cross into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as more traditional arenas.
When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking. He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club. Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.
You can find more out about Graeme at the links below.
Today I am pleased to be a part of The Very Real World of Emily Adams blog tour and I’m so excited to share a snippet of the story with you….how cool is that.
Blurb: Emily Adams has reached a breaking point. Her boyfriend pushed her down the stairs, breaking her arm, and now she’s found herself in an unfamiliar city with fifteen cents in her pocket and nowhere to go. She’s decided that all that’s left for her, is to take matters into her own hands and put an end to her misery…
Until an encounter with a magic man in a dress changes everything.
In a story full of humor and heart, The Very Real World of Emily Adams shows that there is hope in darkness, triumph in tragedy, and the moment when things are at their worst is when you hold on the hardest, because you never know what good things are waiting for you on the other side of despair.
Today I am pleased to share with you a snippet of the book.
I shook my head. “Honestly, is there anything you can’t do?”
He looked out over the ocean and sighed, almost sad. “I am completely incapable of being anything other than what I am.”
I smiled at him. “Well thank goodness for that.”
He returned my smile, his gaze full of warmth. “You know, I like who you are—this person that you are in your subconscious mind, unrestrained.”
My stomach twisted in a nervous, giddy way. “Thanks. You’re probably the only person that does.”
“But are you happy? I mean—here, now, having let yourself just be for a moment, even though it is only in your mind—have you felt happy?”
I looked over at him. “Yeah. Happier than I’ve been in… I don’t even remember when.”
“Then it doesn’t matter. Other people’s approval is never going to make you happy, Emily. Approval may seem nice, but in reality, it is a cage that is constantly changing shape. It has limits and restrictions, and what was a hit yesterday is forgotten tomorrow. Besides, there is only one face that you’re guaranteed to wake up to every day for the rest of your life, and that’s yours. So live according to your conscience. Love the things that bring you joy, fight for the deeper things in your heart, the things that fill your soul with fire, because those are the things that make you who you are.” He nodded at the sky. “Then one day, you’ll find your people. People who appreciate who you really are, that you don’t have to hide around. They’re out there.”
He looked at me intently. “Will you do that for me? When you wake and the dreams are gone, promise me that you will try to let this person out and let yourself be?”
His words pierced me, filling me with a strange, burning hope and a desire for something I couldn’t quite explain. My heart pounded, sure that I couldn’t have dreamed up such a speech. He had to be there. He had to be real.
But how was it possible?
He nodded. “Good.”
About the author: Samantha Rose is a forever-student at Utah State University, who will one day have her Masters Degree in Psychology. She wrote her first novel in permanent marker on her sister’s vanity chair when she was three-years-old. It wasn’t well received.
She currently resides in the mountains, in a little house full of toys, where she’s enjoying her happily ever after with her Prince Charming and three adorable, little bears.
Thank you once againto Kelly @lovebooksgroup for having me on this tour do be sure to check out the rest of the tour…
I’m pleased to be starting Monday with the Crazy For You blog Tour and I’m excited to be the first stop. Thank you once again to Kelly @lovebooksgroup and do be sure to check out the rest of the tour.
Blurb: When Clooney Coyle promises Vonnie Gallagher they’ll be friends for life, he has no idea what he’s letting himself in for. The lonely and eccentric Vonnie quickly becomes obsessed with the kind-hearted but insecure actor, and her misguided crush soon develops into something much more sinister, which leaves Clooney’s career in tatters.
But when fate takes a strange turn and elevates the pair into an overnight celebrity couple, Clooney must decide whether to embrace the fame he has longed for since childhood or end the ridiculous charade before Vonnie’s jealous – and murderous – inclinations spiral out of control.
Today I am please to share with you a snippet from the book….
Clooney stormed the hotel corridor, scantily dressed in a white singlet and matching boxer briefs. He gripped a phone in place of the loaded gun that had scorched his hands moments earlier. If the stakes hadn’t been so high, the vainglorious thirty-seven-year-old might have paused his rescue mission and stolen a glance at his impressive, tanned physique in one of the gilded mirrors lining the walls on either side. He might even have chanced a selfie to excite Instagram – the moody lighting in the property was particularly flattering. ‘The more flesh the better!’ his millions of followers would often comment on his hourly posts. He’d always been happy to accommodate – just not now.
Clooney’s late grandmother was to blame for his love of expensive undergarments – how many times had she said, ‘Everyone should own good quality pants unless you want to be embarrassed in the morgue’? And the morgue was precisely where he feared he would soon end up.
What the near-naked actor lacked in actual body armour, he made up for in steely determination. Such was the intensity of the situation, he wasn’t even aware of the bestial grunts escaping his mouth.
Thankfully, the exclusive ski resort was teeming with eccentric millionaires, all dab hands at behaving oddly; otherwise, Clooney would surely have received inquisitive glances – even been tackled to the ground by those fearful of terrorist attacks.
Ironic, given that the building’s only terrorist had fled moments earlier.
For now, nothing was going to prevent him protecting the woman he’d loved ever since he was in britches: the only person who had genuinely motivated him. Inspired him. Fascinated him.
Never in his wildest dream had he imagined he would one day be responsible for averting her assassination; the world’s most famous person.Yet here he was.
Breathless, Clooney reached the elevator and slammed the call button with as much energy as he could rally. As he waited, a disorientated lady waving a Bloody Mary slurred, ‘Nice bulge,’ before staggering past him, unconcerned that her potent vodka and tomato juice concoction was sullying the plush ivory carpet.
On an average day, Clooney couldn’t resist a compliment. Today, with his laser-like focus on saving a life, her praise went over his pretty head. Frustrated that the elevator doors remained shut, he hit the button for a second then a third and fourth time.‘Jesus Christ, would you open!’A waiter, deliveringbreakfast to oneof the bedrooms nearby, offered Clooney an apologetic shrug.‘It is often busy in the morning,’ he said by way of explanation. ‘If you are in a rush –’‘Iamin a fuckin’ rush –’‘Then you could always take the stairs. We’re only on the second floor.’Without so much as a thank you, Clooney cleared the corner and sprinted down the stairwell, five steps at a time. He could hear the waiter shout after him – ‘Would it be possible to get an autograph?’ – a request that would have normally gladdened the heart of this world-famous ‘trailblazer’, asThe New York Timeshad recently referred to him.Again, not today.
How could you be so stupid, Clooney?He felt his forehead moisten, briefly reminding him of those horrid periods earlier in his life when he’d battled social anxiety; his body publicly and embarrassingly unravelling at the first hint of awkwardness: sweating, blushing, stuttering.
Remember all those invitations you turned down? Locking yourself in your flat, too self-conscious and panicked to even greet the postman? Well, you should have stayed put, you absolute cad, and then all of this drama could have been avoided!
He finally reached the foyer. Guests sashayed across the marble floors en route to the restaurant to sample the local Alpine cuisine. How Clooney envied them: their most challenging decision that morning was choosing between a bowl of muesli and a sliver ofschinkenspeck.
Not that he could have entertained a morsel of food; in the past few moments, his stomach had become quite spirited, and he wanted to avoid discolouring his white underwear if possible.
As he hopped over a leather suitcase, cast aside by a new arrival too tired or too rich to position it out of harm’s way, he spotted her through the glass doors. Not the woman whose life he was trying to save but the woman – if you could even call her that – who was the cause of all these histrionics.Vonnie. His nemesis.
Despite resembling the Michelin Man in her over-sized ski gear, her menacing presence was clearly evident. She briefly locked eyes with him and winked coquettishly before disappearing in the direction of the slopes. Clooney had always known that the fame and adulation he’d craved since childhood would come at a price. It seemed that this wench – the supposed love of his life – was hell-bent on making him pay.
Pay the ultimate price.
About the Author: Hailing from Navan in the royal county of Meath, Domhnall is a graduate of the Bachelor in Acting Studies Programme, Trinity College Dublin, later completing a Master’s in Screenwriting at Dún Laoghaire IADT.
He now works as an actor and a journalist, dividing his time between Galway, where he films TG4’s award-winning series, Ros na Rún, Dublin and Venice, where he and his Italian lover continuously promise their well-worn livers that they will refrain from quaffing so much Prosecco. (Unfortunately, it seems some vows, just like nearby Rome, were not built in a day.)
Wine-drinking aside, for more than four years, Domhnall has also enjoyed the responsibility of being Assistant Editor at Irish Tatler Man, a title whose various awards includes Consumer Magazine of the Year. Thanks to this role, he interviewed a host of high-profile names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Chris Pine, Kevin Spacey, David Gandy, and Jacques Villeneuve.
Domhnall has written for the majority of Ireland’s leading newspapers and magazines, including the Irish Independent, The Irish Times and RTE Online. He also writes a monthly column in Woman’s Way, the country’s biggest-selling weekly magazine.
His first novel, Sister Agatha: the World’s Oldest Serial Killer, was released in 2016 to critical acclaim (Tirgearr Publishing). His second book, Colin and the Concubine, was published earlier this year by Mercier Press, Ireland’s oldest publishing house. Book number three is called Crazy For You and will be published once again by Mercier Press in June 2020.
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros@I’d Rather Be at the Beach.Weekly. Share the first paragraph (or a few) of a book you’re reading or thinking about reading soon.
The morning began as so many do in winter, with lowhanging fog and a smattering of frost. For weeks the sky has been the muted silver of a much-thumbed coin, but today the sun has broken through, laundering my little Cambridgeshire village with light. As I walk the ten or so minutes to the pub, I relish this new brightness which has brought with it so much colour – red berries in a thicket of holly, a battalion of purple pansies in a window box, and perched on the wall outside the church, a blue tit, its head cocked inquisitively to one side. I see David as soon as I cross the threshold of the White Swan. He is easy to spot, with his round bald head and those John Lennon-style glasses, which he wears balanced precariously on the end of his nose.
I only started reading this beauty this morning and I’m hooked on this breathtaking story. So far Genie has been through so many emotions and my heart really does go out to her. Her best mate is called Hayley – which made me smile free-fold, I’m always looking for books with Hayley’s and she’s super fun. Although her eating lemon drizzle cake sure did make my sweet tooth twitch so I may have had some chocolate cake to accompany my reading. This is a buddy read that I’m reading with Catriona although for once I’m ahead I literally cannot get enough. I have extremely sore feet from a cut on the bottom and due to sunburn so I’ve enjoyed chilling with a book today. I’m in the midst of chapter 9 and I know I can get a few more chapters in before we go out this evening…..see there are major pluses to days staying on camp….what an absolute treat of a book. The descriptions of New Zealand sound amazing.
That’s me over and out for today…I have a few reviews to write but right now I need another coffee and to get back to One Winter Morning.
It is the greatest pleasure of mine to be on this blog tour for a book that well and truly got inside my heart. I will be sharing an extract and later you will also find out my thoughts on this beauty. Without further ado I’m going to hand over to my good friends Nessie and Sam at the Star and Sixpence although the menu invitation does not copy well…
A Taste of Autumn
Star and Sixpence
The leaves are turning gold and there’s a chill in the air, so why not join our new chef, Gabe Santiago,
for an evening of smoky flavours and zinging cocktails as he introduces his new brand-new menu.
Booking essential. Thursday 25th October
It was a crisp mid-September morning, the kind that began with dewy grass but promised warmth as the sun rose higher in the sky. Nessie Chapman leaned back against the wrought- iron bench in the garden of Snowdrop Cottage and let her eyes drift shut. Soon, she’d have to walk over to the neighbouring Star and Sixpence and help her sister, Sam, welcome their new chef on his first day. But not right this second. She could steal a moment or two to appreciate the chirp of birdsong and gentle buzz of a nearby bee; Sam wouldn’t begrudge her that. In fact, knowing Sam, she might even prefer to be alone to greet the undeniably gorgeous Gabriel Santiago, although she’d insisted after they’d agreed he was the right person for the job that she was only interested in his prowess in the kitchen.
The truth was, Sam didn’t begrudge Nessie much. She’d cheered to the rafters when Nessie had finally got together with Owen Rhys, the blacksmith who lived next door to the Star and Sixpence, and she’d continued to cheer even when her own love affair with cellarman Joss ended in another tumultuous break-up. And she hadn’t objected a few months later when Nessie tentatively mentioned that Owen had asked her to move in with him, even though it meant Sam would be living in the pub on her own. She’d simply beamed in delight and declared that she couldn’t wait to have the place to herself.
There was a faint creak behind Nessie, alerting her that the back door of the cottage had opened.
‘A penny for your thoughts,’ a deep, Welsh-accented voice said.
Nessie smiled and opened her eyes. ‘If I had a penny for every time you’ve said that . . .’
Owen smiled back, his dark eyes crinkling beneath his coal-black brows and unruly curls. ‘You’d have around twenty pence, I expect. I should up my rates.’
He dipped his head to brush her lips with his and she felt the same familiar rush of delight mixed with incredulity that she still got every time Owen kissed her. Would it ever get old? she wondered, gazing up at him. It was hard to imagine at the moment, when every kiss still felt like their first.
‘So,’ he said, raising an eyebrow. ‘Do I have to guess what you were daydreaming about?’
Nessie laughed. ‘You won’t be surprised to hear I was thinking about the pub. Sam wants to make sure everything is gleaming for the new chef’s arrival.’
‘Ah, yes,’ Owen said wryly. ‘The much-anticipated Señor Santiago. I popped into the bakery yesterday and Martha was like a cat on hot bricks. I hope he’s ready to become Little Monkham’s new heart-throb.’
Nessie pictured the brooding Spanish chef and pulled a wry face. ‘Something tells me he’s already used to that kind of attention.’
‘I can imagine,’ Owen replied. ‘How does Sam feel about him?’
The question was innocent enough, but Nessie felt her- self bristle slightly at the implication behind the words; Sam had been at the centre of village gossip on more than one occasion in the past. Or at least her love life had. Then Nessie reminded herself that this was Owen, who didn’t have a gos- sipy bone in his body, and she forced herself to relax. ‘She’s looking forward to it, I think,’ she said cautiously. ‘We both are. He’ll be a breath of fresh air.’
Owen smiled. ‘He’ll certainly cause a lot of sighing, if his photo is anything to go by. Luke is hoping you’ll be able to sneak some puddings home.’
An image of Owen’s nine-year-old son popped into Nessie’s head; blond-haired and blue-eyed, he was the oppo- site of Owen’s dark Welsh looks, but they shared the same appetite. In fact, Luke didn’t so much eat food as inhale it and Nessie could just imagine him licking his lips at the thought of the kind of desserts that might be going begging at the end of the night in the Star and Sixpence kitchen. ‘I’ll see what I can do,’ she promised.
‘And now I suppose we’d both better get to work,’ Owen said, casting a rueful glance towards the pub. ‘You know where I am if your wonder chef decides to whip up an impos- sibly fancy lunch, although a decent steak sandwich would be just as welcome.’
Nessie laughed. ‘We’ll let him unpack before we start demanding meals, shall we?’
Owen accepted the teasing rebuke with a cheerful nod. ‘I suppose you’ve got a point. See you later, then.’
Dropping another kiss onto her forehead, he crossed the yard and disappeared into the forge.
Nessie sat for a moment longer, then roused herself with an inward sigh; Owen was right, she’d better get moving. Sam might not begrudge her sister’s happiness, but she definitely wouldn’t appreciate cleaning the pub on her own.
Nessie wasn’t sure she’d ever seen Sam as anxious as she was right before Gabriel Santiago was due to arrive. She paced the floor in front of the gleaming bar, casting fret- ful glances back towards the door that led to the newly fitted kitchens.
‘You did steam-clean the floor, didn’t you?’ she asked Nessie, running a hand through her usually sleek blonde bob. ‘After you’d done the oven and swept up the dust?’
Nessie summoned up her most soothing voice. ‘You were there when I did it, Sam. And I’ve double-checked the spare room, before you ask – everything is ready. All we need is the man himself.’
Sam checked the time. ‘He said he’d get here around ten o’clock, depending on traffic.’ She took a deep breath and glanced towards the spotlit bottles that lined the back of the bar. ‘God, this is stressful. Is it too early for gin?’
‘Relax, Sam,’ Nessie said, frowning a little. ‘Would it help to think of him as just another new employee?’
Now it was Sam’s turn to frown. ‘An employee who just happens to be an internationally respected Michelin- starred chef – one we’ve been boasting about for weeks. There’s a lot riding on making sure he settles in fast and sticks around.’
‘He’s also a professional,’ Nessie reminded her. ‘And he’s already inspected the kitchen, before he agreed to work with us. A speck or two of dust won’t scare him off.’
For a moment, Nessie thought her sister would argue, but then she sighed. ‘You’re right. I don’t know why I’m so worried.’
Nessie thought she knew: Sam had been different since her relationship with Joss had fallen apart. It had been a dif- ficult break-up – neither had wanted to accept that the bad times had begun to far outweigh the good – and Nessie sus- pected her sister had been considerably more hurt than she’d ever admit when Joss had made the decision to leave Little Monkham ‘for both their sakes’. He’d been Sam’s first serious love affair and the ensuing fallout had dampened her usual optimism, making her more wary of everything. Including, it seemed, their new business venture.
‘I thought I was supposed to be the worrier,’ Nessie said, her tone gently teasing. ‘Connor and Tilly will be here soon – they’ll get everything ready for opening. Why don’t we go upstairs and grab a cuppa?’
Connor was the burly ex-fireman who looked after the pub’s cellars, and Tilly was their nineteen-year-old barmaid; both were stalwart members of the Star and Sixpence team. And Nessie wouldn’t be surprised if Tilly’s mother, Martha, abandoned the village bakery to catch an early glimpse of the pub’s new chef – he’d been all she had talked about for weeks.
Sam puffed out a long breath. ‘Okay, deal.’
The first-floor rooms were a far cry from the gloom and woodchip wallpaper that had dominated when Nessie and Sam had first moved into the Star and Sixpence. The bedrooms hadn’t needed much; a lick of paint on the wood-beamed ceilings and plush new carpets to take some of the chill out of the early winter mornings. The kitchen had been another story – Sam hadn’t wasted any time in stripping out the boxy wall units and replacing them with something sleek and tasteful. The outdated appliances had gone too, including a fridge that was so vintage it had almost come back into style. In the living room, there were now two matching teal sofas that went beautifully with the oak coffee table and bookshelf, plus a flat-screen TV that Sam and Nessie had rarely found the time to watch. The rooms were still recognisably part of an old building but updated and modernised, in the same way that the pub downstairs was a fresher, more inviting version of the sixteenth-century inn it had been.
‘It’ll be weird having a flatmate again,’ Sam said, as they sat around the small table in the kitchen, sipping tea. ‘And even weirder that it won’t be you.’
‘I’m sure it will just be a temporary arrangement,’ Nessie said. ‘I imagine Gabe will want his own space too, once he’s settled in a bit.’
Sam gazed at her over the top of her mug, her expression pensive. ‘We are doing the right thing, aren’t we, Ness? Expanding the business, I mean.’
Once again, Nessie was struck by the reversal in their roles. Sam had always been impetuous and confident, while Nessie was more thoughtful and reticent. But those differences had grown less marked over the last year and not all of it was due to Sam’s broken heart; Nessie felt more settled in her role as the official landlady of the pub, in her place among the Little Monkham community too. Being with Owen had helped – his placid strength gave her something to lean on and the future no longer looked dark and unknowable. She could see the years stretching ahead, comfortable and safe, and the thought gave her more peace than she’d ever known.
‘Of course we are,’ she told Sam, with a smile of encouragement. We need to keep growing if we’re going to bring home that National Pub of the Year award.’
Sam nodded slowly. ‘I know. But are we being too ambi- tious? We could have gone for a lower-profile chef.’
‘We could,’ Nessie agreed. ‘But when have we ever taken the easy path? More importantly, when have you?’
Sam said nothing.
‘We chose Gabe because he’s a rising star – fresh and exciting and not afraid to take a few risks,’ Nessie went on. ‘Anyone can do good pub grub. We want more than that.’
‘Go hard or go home,’ Sam said, a wry smile tugging at her mouth. ‘Okay, you’ve convinced me all over again.’
The thud of feet on the stairs made them both glance towards the kitchen door. ‘Good,’ Nessie said. ‘Because it sounds like he might be here.’
Tilly appeared in the doorway, her cheeks unusually pink. ‘There’s a man at the door asking for you,’ she said, sounding flustered. ‘It’s . . . He’s . . .’
Nessie took pity on her. ‘Gabe Santiago, I presume?’ The barmaid nodded.
‘Thanks, Tilly, we’ll be right down,’ Nessie said. She
glanced at Sam. ‘Ready?’
Her sister lowered her cup and squared her shoulders. ‘As
ready as I’ll ever be.’
Be sure to pop in for a drink with the rest of the gorgeous tour. I will be posting my review later.
I’m pretty chuffed with my efforts with a mixture of reviews, blog tours and a few personal entries which I’m still so bowled over by. I must admit I can’t take all the credit I would like to thank Kelly @ Love Books Groups for the reminder.
Today I am pleased to share with you a gorgeous guest post…
Blurb: It is the 1960s and a group of young writers and artists gather on the Greek island of Hydra. Leonard Cohen is at the start of his career and in love with Marianne, who is also muse to her ex-husband, Axel. Australian authors George Johnston and Charmian Clift write, drink and fight. It is a hedonistic time of love, sex and new ideas. As the island hums with excitement, Jack and Frieda Silver join the community, hoping to mend their broken marriage. However, Greece is overtaken by a military junta and the artistic idyll is threatened.
Growing up, Tamar Hodes’ neighbours were Leonard Cohen, his girlfriend Marianne, and other writers and artists on the Greek island of Hydra. Her parents took her to the island to pursue their own art and writing. However, the bohemian nature of Hydra destroyed their marriage. The Water and the Wine is a fictional account of those days.; Tamar Hodes’ first novel Raffy’s Shapes was published in 2006. She has had stories on Radio 4 and others in anthologies including Salt’s The Best British Short Stories 2015, The Pigeonhole, Your One Phone Call, the Ofi Press, MIR online and Fictive Dream. Tamar was born in Israel and lived in Greece and South Africa before settling in the UK. She read English and Education at Homerton College, Cambridge. For the past thirty-three years she has taught English in schools, universities and prisons.
Without further ado I give you Tamar who is sharing with me her inspiration for the novel The Water and the Wine.
The Water and the Wine is a novel which I wanted to write for many years. I lived on the Greek island of Hydra when I was three (I had my fourth birthday there) as my parents were part of the creative community and, later on, they often talked about that time. It sounded fascinating to me, the way the artists and writers met in the taverna in the evenings and discussed their work and ideas and supported each other. I also knew that some of them were volatile and hot-tempered. I was interested in their attitude towards parenting, gender roles, the way they balanced work and leisure, what the locals thought of them. Also, there was the added interest of Leonard Cohen who was part of that community and just about to become famous. I was interested in the religious aspect, too: Cohen and my parents were Jewish; many of the artists were interested in Zen and Eastern traditions, and the locals were Greek Orthodox. Amazingly, they were very tolerant of each other as they were of a gay couple living and loving openly there.
Over the years, I did a lot of reading and research about that time and I came across a comment that Leonard Cohen had made, saying that it would take a novel to understand his and Marianne’s relationship. That felt like a challenge to me! There are many factual books about that period, and biographies of Leonard Cohen, George Johnston and Charmian Clift, but fiction can slip under the characters’ skin.
Sadly, my father passed away in 2013, my mother in 2014, and Leonard and Marianne four months apart in 2016. My father left me his journal about Hydra, my mother left me her first edition of Flowers for Hitler signed by Cohen and all these events made me feel that now was the time to write this novel. I felt that there was a groundswell lifting me there and so I wrote it.
Thank you Kelly for including me in this beautiful blog tour. Be sure to check out the other entries.
So you don’t hear from me for what a week, and then I come at you with two posts in a day. That’s just how I role sometimes.
So without further ado….
Blurb: Josie James is an ordinary 13 year old until something extraordinary happens during her summer holidays.
Whist staying at her Great Grandmother’s cottage in the country she finds herself swept into the cursed world of Suncroft where it is perpetual winter.
Her new friends believe she could be the Chosen One who it is foretold will lift the curse, but there are more pressing matters.
The Teardrops of Summer – magical crystals that render the owner immortal – have been stolen. Along with her telepathic husky-dog Protector Asher and her new friends, Josie must race to find the
Teardrops and prevent catastrophe for their world.
The village of Suncroft is where Josie finds herself in the first book. It is a small village, cursed to live forever on a winter’s night. Here Josie discovers the village and some of its people.
Josie could not believe her eyes. It was like looking at a Christmas card scene. Everything was covered in crisp white snow; while tall black gas lamps flickered and spat. Haphazard buildings stood in a square creating a courtyard with what looked to be a small park in the middle. But what surprised Josie the most was the people. Everywhere there were people. She hadn’t really thought about who might actually live in Suncroft, that it was actually a real village with real living people, but here was the proof right in front of her. All around her, people were going about their daily lives all wrapped up against the cold in long coats and boots. There was no denim, no trainers, no Nike or Adidas, no designer clothes, and no bright colours. Everyone wore brown, black or grey in varying shades of bleakness.
As they walked into the courtyard, Josie could see that the buildings were shops. They passed Rose’s Greengrocers with its green and white shade pulled out over the wooden shelves that stood neatly outside. Potatoes, onions, carrots, marrows, apples and pears were piled high inside the shelves.
“This is owned by Elder Rose and his family.” Filan waved to the two ladies who were behind the counter. “That’s Lorna and Gwen, who run it.”
Josie was finally able to put faces to the voices she had heard from the secret garden that day. They were of a similar height, both with dark hair, although one wore it long and the other short.
“Twins, you know.” Josie couldn’t see them clearly enough through the glass to know if they were identical but got the feeling that somehow they would be.
Next door was Tubbs’ Bakery; the aromas from the shop made Josie’s stomach growl. She could see bread of all shapes and sizes behind the counter, and in front were biscuits, buns and cakes. Filan stepped inside and came out seconds later with two gingerbread men. They had currants for eyes and buttons, not Smarties like Josie was used to at home. She thanked Filan then proceeded to bite its arms and legs off. She gave the head to Glider before polishing off the body.
“That’s a very barbaric way to eat a gingerbread man,” Filan said.
Hattie’s Watchmakers and Jewellers was next, followed by Millie’s Book Shop and Kellie’s Tea Rooms. Outside Periwinkle’s Sweet Shop, Filan stopped to talk to three young boys who had been staring in the window, their faces and hands pressed up against the glass.
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour…
And if you want to know more about the author…
Lily Mae Walters chose her pen name in honour of her beloved grandparents who also stare in the Josie James series.
She is married with two teenage children, and two huskies that are the inspiration behind Murphy and Asher in the books.
Lily Mae lives in Nuneaton, England and finds herself using local places and even her old school in her stories.
Family and friends mean the world to Lily Mae and many will find themselves popping up throughout the series.
Lily Mae also writes for adults under the name of Florence Keeling.
So sorry for the lack of updates on Hayley Reviews it’s been quite a crazy week in terms of my life. Works been chaotic to say the least and I’m an auntie to two more beauties. That’s enough about me although there will be a post that may seem like moaning, rambling but I think that it’s now came to a time when I need to make some changes to my blog and my well-being.
Today on Hayley Reviews I’m pleased to share with you an extract from Madam Love Actually.
In this scene, the radio host is trying to talk Madam Love and Lance into getting together for a reading to find him his soulmate.
“Welcome back! I’m Elaine Stewart and we’ve been talking with bestselling author Lance Parker about his new book Your Soulmate Doesn’t Exist. We also have Madam Love on the line with us. She’s a fortune teller who specializes in finding her clients’ soulmates. Are you still with us, Madam Love?”
“I’m here,” Madam Love answered.
“Great. Before the break I was chatting with Lance about the possibility of visiting Madam Love for a consultation to find his soulmate. He doesn’t believe in them, but Madam Love is confident he does have one. They both said it was a bad idea. Funny, but our listeners disagree with both of you.” Elaine scrolled down the page on her computer monitor. “We have a poll on Facebook and Twitter asking if Lance should visit Madam Love. So far, ninety-nine percent of our listeners say yes!”
Lance let out a nervous chuckle. “Out of how many people? Three?”
“Over four thousand people have weighed in so far.” She kept her eyes on the monitor. “Hang on . . . it’s up over five thousand and climbing.”
What the hell?
Peter scribbled DO IT! on a piece of paper and handed it to Lance.
Lance pushed the paper aside and mouthed no to Peter.
“Madam Love, you mentioned there was a soulmate waiting for Lance at this moment,” Elaine said. “How sure are you?”
“I’m certain,” Madam Love answered, then laughed. “Hard to believe, right?”
“Not funny,” Lance grumbled.
“The truth hurts, darling,” Madam Love shot back.
Elaine was watching her monitor. “We now have over twelve thousand listeners who want Madam Love to give Lance a reading and find him his soulmate. That’s ninety-four percent of those polled.”
“Twelve thousand people?” Madam Love said.
“Yes,” Elaine answered. “Amazing, considering the poll hasn’t been up on Facebook and Twitter long. Wait, we’re up to almost fourteen thousand listeners in favor.”
“I’ll do it,” Madam Love blurted out. “I’ll take the challenge.”
Thank you once again Rachel for including me and to Rich Amooi for this fabulous extract. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour.
Rich Amooi is a former radio personality who now writes romantic comedies full-time. He is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. They live in San Diego, California with their very hairy daughter, a mini goldendoodle puppy. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.