Blog Tour Extract ‘The Affair’ by Amanda Brooke

Thank you to the publishers for inviting me on this blog tour, I’ve wanted to read a book from Amanda for ages and this one sounded a great one to start.
Order on Amazon: Paperback (Published 12th January 2017) Ebook (Out Now)
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“You might as well know from the start, I’m not going to tell on him and I don’t care how much trouble I get in. It’s not like it could get any worse than it already is. I can’t. Don’t ask me why, I just can’t.”
 
When Nina finds out that her fifteen-year-old daughter, Scarlett, is pregnant, her world falls apart.
 
Because Scarlet won’t tell anyone who the father is. And Nina is scared that the answer will destroy everything.
 
As the suspects mount – from Scarlett’s teacher to Nina’s new husband of less than a year – Nina searches for the truth: no matter what the cost.
 

Extract

By the time Nina was ready to face her daughter, Scarlett had turned her back on them and was inspecting the contents of the fridge. Gone were the days when her daughter looked cute in her new uniform. Her plaid skirt had been rolled up at the waist so that it was a couple of inches higher than the regulatory knee-length, although thankfully still longer than most of the outfits she was inclined to wear these days.

When Scarlett picked up a half-eaten bar of chocolate, Nina said, ‘Why don’t you try a flapjack?’

‘Chocolate’s good for you,’ Scarlett said, snapping a piece from the bar.

Nina tutted. ‘You do know that’s just a myth? There’s no scientific evidence behind it.’

Scarlett popped the chocolate in her mouth and beamed a smile. ‘I’ll take my chances.’

‘The flapjacks will keep, I’ll put them in a container,’ Bryn said. ‘They’re only a hundred calories each, and they have slow-releasing energy.’

Under her mother’s withering glare, Scarlett’s conscience was pricked. ‘I suppose I could take some out tonight for my mates.’

‘Out? Tonight?’ Nina repeated. ‘I don’t think so. Summer holidays are over and you have your GCSEs this year. No socializing during the week and only once at the weekend.’

Scarlett’s jaw dropped. ‘You can’t do that!’

‘It’s not open for discussion, Scarlett. That’s how it is. And by the way,’ Nina added, dropping her gaze to Scarlett’s hands, ‘when I told you last night to take off your nail varnish, I meant take it off. You know the school rules, and by my reckoning you’re breaking at least half a dozen.’

‘But, Mum, nobody cares. Everyone wears makeup and nail varnish, and the teachers don’t say a thing. If you’re that bothered, I’ll put nail-varnish remover in my bag and, if any of the teachers freak out, I’ll take it off.’

‘No, do it now.’

Scarlett shoved another piece of chocolate in her mouth before returning the remainder to the fridge. ‘If I do, can I still go out tonight? It’s not as if school’s started properly.’ In the midst of their negotiations, Liam had appeared like a spectre only vaguely aware of the world around him. Without uttering a word, he grabbed something from the fridge and wedged it between two slices of bread before disappearing.

‘I give up, honestly I do.’

Scarlett’s face lit up and she ran over to give her mum a dramatic hug. ‘Thank you, Mum,’ she said, scurrying outof the kitchen before Nina realized her daughter thought she had been talking to her. Nina was going to have to up her game if she were to avoid being outmanoeuvred by her children in the coming year.

Nina stood on the landing staring at two firmly closed bedroom doors, and as she listened to Bryn preparing dinner downstairs she could feel her frustration get the better of her. She accepted that they were all in a period of adjust- ment, but was it too much to expect Liam and Scarlett to at least acknowledge the efforts their stepfather was making, even if they chose not to reciprocate? Her marriage could be a great opportunity for them to have a male role model in their lives at long last, if only they would recognize it.

Liam and Scarlett’s dad worked on the North Sea oil rigs and lived a single life in Aberdeen as far as Nina was aware. His children rarely had contact with him and it had been a year or two since either of them had made noises about going to stay with him. Nina had been a lone parent in every sense of the word and, despite heroic efforts, there had been limits to the advice and support she could offer her children, not to mention time. Bryn could bridge the gap. He was bridging the gap, and while Nina wasn’t quite ready to drive the point home forcefully, she wasn’t averse to helping things along.

She tapped on Liam’s door and, after receiving no reply, pushed against the doorstop her son used to deter unwel- come visitors. The door opened only a fraction, revealing a darkened room thick with stale air. A flicker of blue light suggested Liam was using some form of electronic device to communicate with his virtual world.

‘Liam?’

When she received a grunt in response, she asked, ‘How was your first day back?’

‘Fine.’

‘Dinner won’t be long. Bryn’s trying out a new recipe.’

Nina hadn’t posed a question so received no answer or acknowledgement.

‘Have you made plans for the weekend?’ she continued, and although it was a question this time, an answer wasn’t necessary. If Liam had friends outside school, they rarely met, not in the real world at least. ‘Sarah’s suggested we all go out for Sunday lunch. I’d like us all to go.’

There was a hiss of annoyance, but not an outright refusal.

‘OK?’ she asked.

‘OK, Mum. Is that all?’

‘Great, lovely. I’m so looking forward to having quality time with my family,’ she muttered under her breath as she closed the door and turned her attention towards Scarlett’s room.

 
This book is truly fantastic, and one you should definitely check out.
A review will be up very shortly and check out the other bloggers on this tour!
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Blog Tour Extract: Valley Of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

I am so excited to be taking part of this blog tour, Virago press are celebrating the books 50th anniversary by releasing a special edition (with a  simple but beautifully elegant cover) and a blog tour to go with it. I cannot wait to read this book, so after reading this extract, make sure to look out for a review soon!

Extract

It had been dirty – and hot and crowded – the day she arrived. Sailors and soldiers joggled along Broadway with a reckless holiday spirit in their eager stares, and a convulsive, end-of-the-war excitement. But mingled with the dirt, humidity and strangeness, Anne had felt excitement, and an awareness of living. The littered and cracked pavements of New York made the trees and clear air of New England seem cold and lifeless. The unshaven man who had removed the ‘Room for Let’ sign from the window, after accepting a week’s rent in advance, looked like Mr. Kingston, the mailman back home, but his smile had been warmer. ‘It’s not much of a room,’ he’d admitted, ‘but the ceiling is high and it kind of stirs the air. And I’m always around to fix anything you want.’ She felt he liked her, and she liked him. There was an acceptance at face value in New York, as if everyone had just been born, with no past heritage to acknowledge or hide. And now, as she stood before the imposing glass doors engraved Bellamy and Bellows, she hoped she’d find the same kind of acceptance from Henry Bellamy.
 
Henry Bellamy couldn’t believe his eyes. She couldn’t be for real. In her way, maybe she was one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen, and he was accustomed to beautiful girls. And instead of wearing the outrageous pompadour and platform shoes that had come into style, this one just let her hair hang loose, natural, and it was that light blonde color that looked real. But it was her eyes that really rattled him. They were really blue, sky blue – but glacial.
 
‘Why do you want this job, Miss Welles?’ For some reason he felt nervous. Dammit, he was curious. She was dressed in plain dark linen, and there wasn’t a sign of jewellery except the small, neat wristwatch, but there was something about her that made one certain she didn’t need a job.
 
‘I want to live in New York, Mr. Bellamy.’
 
Just that. A straight answer. Why did it make him feel like he was snooping? He was entitled to ask questions. And if he made it too easy, she might not take the job. That was crazy, too. She was sitting here, wasn’t she? She hadn’t just dropped by for tea. Then why did he feel as if he were the applicant, striving to make a favorable impression on her? 

ValleyofdollsSynopsis

Dolls – red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight. For Anne, Neely and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three beautiful women become best friends when they are young and in New York, struggling to make their names in the entertainment industry. Only when they reach the peak of their careers do they find there’s nowhere left to go but down – to the Valley of the Dolls.
 
View Book on Goodreads
 
 
 
Praise for Valley of the Dolls:
 
“As an adolescent I ‘borrowed’ a copy from my mother’s bedside basket of books without telling her. The Pepto Bismol–pink cover was irresistible to me, and the novel rewarded my curiosity . . . a salacious read I’ve revisited several times in adulthood.”—Laura June, The Cut, New York Magazine
 
“I marvel as always at the raw energy, the detail, and the grim authenticity of the book’s depiction of New York show biz society in 1945 . . . I grew up as a writer believing that this kind of bestseller was ‘trash’ . . . But I have learned from Jackie Susann. I have always respected her power.”—Anne Rice
 
“Jacqueline Susann’s questioning of glamour and fame, so unsettling in its honesty, crept into my head and stayed there, lingering for years until I was finally able to give it my own expression.”—Lori Goldstein
 
“Exciting news for all you modern Dolls (#squadgoals) and aspiring millennial readers . . . the story feels more relevant than ever.”—Micaela English, Town & Country
 
Valley of the Dolls remains a pop-culture touchstone: a gleefully salacious story of friendship, sex, backstabbing and pills (or ‘dolls’).”—Alexandria Symonds, T: The New York Times Style Magazine
 

The Vintage Springtime Club by Beatrice Meier Blog Tour – Extract

I am so happy to host an extract for ‘The Vintage Springtime Club’ book tour, it sounds so delightful and will definitely keep an eye out for it when I go shopping next! Also make out to check out the other bloggers on the tour, on the poster below.

Ricarda had been toying for a while with the idea of letting out her flat and looking for somewhere smaller, but she had never really got around to it for one reason or another. Philip’s flatshare had arrived as if on cue. A twist of fate. More than once, all those years ago, Philip, Herbert and she had built castles in the air: one day, when their children had flown the nest, they’d move in together, smoke cigarettes, drink whisky and pick up where they’d left off as students. She had to smile. They’d been a funny old bunch. Philip’s flat itself was a dream. It was centrally located in a quiet street lined with knobbly, hoary old plane trees in the Agnes quarter of town. It had five large bedrooms, a spacious living room, high ceilings with mouldings, wooden floors, and a beautiful stone balcony leading off the kitchen-cum-dining room.
She liked her flatmates too. There was tomboyish Uschi Müller, who had cared for Philip’s mother a little; Eckart Fröhlich, a retired bank clerk and the Kreuzers’ account manager, whom Philip had run into again at the funeral; and, of course, Philip’s old schoolfriend Harry, who had dutifully enrolled at university along with Philip, but had then preferred to practise his social skills at the pub instead of pursuing a sociology degree! He hadn’t changed one jot – he was still the same old troublemaker. Tough, but with a heart of gold.
Yet it was Philip who had been the crucial factor in her decision.
Shortly after they’d first bumped into one another, they had agreed to meet up for dinner at a local brewery restaurant. They were rather shy at first, both of them, as though they barely knew each other. Then the beer had begun to loosen their tongues. Old stories came up, anecdotes from their university days including the immortal story of Professor Drissen, who had genuinely dozed off during one of his own lectures, like Professor Hastings in Sesame Street. They talked and talked and laughed a lot, mainly about the fact that the dry rot had enabled them to put into action the plan they had hatched all those years ago. If it hadn’t been for all the bother with the dry rot, Ricarda wouldn’t have been rushing to her practice like a lunatic, and she wouldn’t have bumped into Philip. They chinked glasses and congratulated themselves once more on their extraordinary stroke of luck. By candlelight Philip’s features looked almost as boyish as ever; he had that old twinkle in his eye. It was strange to see Philip with wrinkles. That might have been what initially created a peculiar, minute distance between them – nothing personal, just a gap that had widened over the years. Those lines were like little markers of how much time had passed, a reminder that despite their familiarity (and that came flooding back!) it had been decades since they’d last met; they had almost no idea what the other had been through in all those years and months and days.
Their paths had crossed briefly once ten years earlier at Christmas in a bar in the south of the city. Harry had arranged a get-together in his former seminar room – in other words, his old pub. There must have been twenty university friends there. Herbert and she had chatted with Philip for a while. He’d told them about his health post out in the bush. It’d been absolutely fascinating, but he had had to head home soon after, as he’d promised to have dinner with his mother. When he’d left, Ricarda had realised that she would have liked to talk to him for longer. Oddly, she missed him; she had forgotten how nice he was and how fond she was of him. She had stepped outside and cadged a cigarette from a former fellow student.
Herbert had suddenly developed liver cancer a few years later. He’d suffered terribly, and the doctors could do nothing for him apart from relieve his pain. Ricarda had spent every day at his bedside, and the end, at least, had come mercifully quickly. In a matter of months her whole life was turned upside down. She’d tried to keep her chin up, and as always she had managed – to a degree. She’d invited Philip to the funeral too. He had had a wonderful wreath delivered, with the message ‘To my old friend’ printed on a lime-green ribbon, and Ricarda had secretly hoped that he would come, for these words had stirred up old memories in her, a kind of nostalgia. But he hadn’t. Two weeks later she’d found a letter, pasted with colourful African stamps, in her letterbox. He hadn’t been able to get away from Mali; he couldn’t abandon his bush health post at the drop of a hat. He wished her strength. Ricarda bent down and swept the broken china into the dustpan.
‘I’m looking forward to this.’ She whispered his words to herself again and smiled. She’d had a slight nagging doubt at first. Now and then she wondered whether the offer of a flatshare had merely slipped out in his enthusiasm at their chance encounter – and, once uttered, had been hard for him to take back. He’d been evasive during that first dinner when she had asked him about his other flatmates, and he’d put off introducing them to her. Maybe it was because he’d first needed to ask the others whether she was welcome.
They had all finally met up ten days later at the Ludwig museum café. It was certainly odd: a man freshly returned from Africa offers four virtual castaways a room each in the apartment he has inherited from his mother, which he says is ‘in any case too big’ for him on his own. Typical Philip. It soon became clear that they were quite a random bunch, but they got on extremely well. This ragtag dimension brought a little levity to the project, a youthful abandon. This was an unexpected fresh start for them all; none of them had any preconceptions or fixed expectations. That trendy café had felt almost like an African village, with their chief assigning their huts.
Shortly after that first meeting they had spent two weekends by the North Sea to get to know each other better and gauge whether they would really be able to live together. After the second weekend Ricarda had decided that she was fully committed to the flatshare.
She tipped the first dustpanful into the bin and glanced over at the heap of broken pieces that remained. What on earth was she going to do for crockery now? She studied her lists on the kitchen table, running her finger over the various headings and names, then she picked up her mobile and dialled Eckart Fröhlich.

vintagespringtimeclubSynopsis

Newly retired Philip returns home to Cologne and is thrown into emotional turmoil upon bumping into his long-lost sweetheart. In the midst of a domestic crisis, Ricarda confides in Philip that she is looking for somewhere to live. And there and then, Philip suggests that she move in with him – he is setting up a flatshare. Will she join him with his mischievous dachshund named Ralf?

To his surprise, Ricarda agrees, leaving Philip to scramble together a crew of retires in time for spring, for the most unlikely of social experiments. There’s grumpy cigarette-smoking grandfather Harry; quiet and discreet Eckart, curiously carting around his late wife’s headstone; Uschi, brimming with life, harbouring a passion for leotards and aerobics, along with sausages and outrageous knitting patterns; and then, ever-practical and warm-hearted Ricarda, towards whom Phillip is developing real feelings.
 
Despite their differences, the flatmates thrive and embark on a series of new adventures. But when Uschi falls unwell, familiar cracks begin to show and this uniquely spirited club of friends must work together in order to survive – and truly blossom.
Published by: Little Brown
View Book on Goodreads
Order on: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository

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Too Many Cooks Blog Tour – Extract

I am so happy to be hosting an extract from this wonderful book on the blog tour! Make sure to check out the book after reading, as it is so fabulous 🙂

Chapter 5

‘Here we are, miss. Miss?’
I startle awake in the back seat of the car, the jetlag already taking its toll less than two hours after landing in London. ‘Sorry – I must have fallen asleep.’
‘Quite all right, miss.’
The driver, an Indian man in a smart black suit and aviator sunglasses, steps out of the sleek black Mercedes and opens my door, gesturing at the six-storey Victorian building behind him. ‘Please,’ he says. ‘After you.’
My eyes crawl up the building’s façade, which is pale grey limestone adorned with ornate balusters, corbels and carved stone wreaths. A large wrought-iron gate covers the front entryway, its black spindles ornamented with shimmering gold leaves. A window box filled with petunias sits above a gold plaque that reads ‘Hampden House’, part