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Shaken And Stirred Book Tour – Extract

Shaken And StirredOn the book tour for the fourth novel in Bella Osborne’s ‘Ottercombe Bay’ series called ’Shaken And Stirred’, enjoy an extract from the tale.

Tamsyn was woken by the sound of Jason’s voice and by the time she’d opened her eyes he was placing a tray on her bed. It was the 22nd of March.

‘Good morning,’ he said ridiculously cheerily.

Tamsyn rubbed her eyes like a small child, yawned and blinked. ‘What’s all this?’

‘Your mum let me in. This is the start of Tamsyn Turvey Day,’ said Jason proudly.

‘Toast and tea and a yellow rose because I know you like those,’ he added pointing to the things on the tray. Tamsyn couldn’t help the beam of a smile spreading across her face. She had a feeling she was going to enjoy today very much.

Their first stop was her absolutely favourite place, the donkey sanctuary, and thanks to Jason knowing the vet’s cousin she was allowed to spend the morning being a keeper. ‘You all right?’ called Jason, from a safe distance as Tamsyn flung manure and straw into a wheelbarrow.

‘Yeah, this is great.’

‘I’ve never seen someone enjoy mucking out before.’

‘It’s ace. I definitely want my own donkey,’ said Tamsyn, her face serious.

Next there was feeding and grooming and before she knew it she was out of her green overalls and borrowed steel cap boots, and sitting with a cup of coffee in the sanctuary café.

‘This has been the best day ever,’ she said. ‘Thank you, Jason.’

‘Drink up,’ he said with a grin. ‘You’re only halfway through.’

He was so kind and thoughtful, she thought. If today was about showing her what things would be like to be his girlfriend he was selling himself well.

‘You know you don’t have to do any of this,’ she said.

‘It’s not a bribe. I’m not expecting you to declare your undying love for me or anything.’ He gave a strangled laugh.

‘You’re my friend and I want you to know how special you are. That’s all.’

The next stop was another favourite of hers. The freshest local fare from the fish and chip van eaten on the sea front with a wooden fork with seagulls swooping above them in the hope of snatching a stray chip. It was a beautifully sunny day and the sea was rolling tamely onto the beach – it didn’t come much better in Tamsyn’s book. When she thought she was too full to eat anything else Jason produced a cake box from his rucksack.

Her eyes were like a bush baby’s. ‘Is it?’

She was too excited to finish the sentence.

‘Scones and clotted cream,’ he announced, flipping open the box lid. Tamsyn was in heaven.

After a delicious fresh scone, which crumbled in her mouth, she licked her fingers and was interested by the mix of chip vinegar and clotted cream. ‘Jason, that was amazing. Thank you.’

‘Uh-uh,’ said Jason with a shake of his head. ‘Not done yet.’ He checked his watch. ‘Come on.’ He held out his hand and Tamsyn took it. His fingers were warm and curled gently around hers. They both looked at their entwined hands and grinned. Something was starting to feel right.

Did you enjoy that taster? Well, good news, you can buy Ottercombe Bay – Part Four: Shaken and Stirred from Amazon for only 95p!

A Family Recipe Book Tour

A Family RecipeOn the book tour for Veronica Henry’s new book called ‘A Family Recipe’, Vervonica shares some of her own favourite recipes.

On my kitchen shelf is a tiny metal box full of index cards, stuffed with recipes from my grandmothers, my parents and me, that I now have in my care. I’ve used many of them throughout my life, as well as adding to the collection. Many of the recipes are reminiscent of important family occasions.

And that was where the idea for A FAMILY RECIPE came from: a little box that holds recipes that relate to the life-changing events of the residents of 11 Lark Hill in Bath, from the war to the present day. Laura finds the box at a difficult time in her life, and uses it to help her move forward.

For this blog tour I am sharing some of my favourite recipes from my own box.

CROQUEMBOUCHE

Birthday cakes have always been important to me – a demonstration of love, but also recognition of a person and what they represent.

When my children were small it was a labour of love to produce something spectacular that didn’t involve huge amounts of skill – I am not in the least bit artistic or crafty, so intricate icing was always going to be out. My eldest son’s first birthday cake was a big round chocolate cake covered in plastic zoo animals: I can still remember buying a bag full from the local toy shop and planting their feet in the sticky icing. I followed that method religiously for years afterwards: making the biggest cake I could manage, then topping it with Thomas the Tank Engine and all his friends, Biker Mice, Mutant Hero Turtles … Another favourite was a cake smothered in the contents of a huge bag of pick ‘n’ mix – lurid, additive-laden but a joy to a horde of small boys.

I used plain Victoria sponge, or the miracle that is Coca Cola cake – ruinously sweet but the most forgiving concoction that works every time and is light, fluffy and squidgy.

Now the boys are bigger they have rather grown out of statement birthday cakes. But I’ve had several friends with landmark birthdays recently, and have discovered the joy of a croquembouche. There is nothing guaranteed to bring a bigger gasp of admiration than these gravity-defying towers, and they are surprisingly easy to assemble.

Profiteroles themselves are quite easy to make – use a recipe from your preferred chef of choice (you can’t go wrong with Delia or Nigella) or you can buy them plain from most supermarkets. I like to fill mine with beaten double cream flavoured with Cointreau and a little icing sugar to thicken it up a bit – poke a hole in the bottom of each profiterole and pipe the cream in until its nearly full.

You can buy a croquembouche cone or make one from cardboard. I use melted white chocolate to stick each profiterole to the cone, starting from the bottom and building them up on top of each other in circles. The beauty of a croquembouche is that it doesn’t have to look perfect – a higgledy-piggedly-ness adds a certain je-ne-sais-quoi. Remember to make it on the plate or board you are going to serve it on – it’s very dangerous to try and move it after assembly! Stick it in the fridge to harden the chocolate and strengthen the structure.

Once the tower is complete you can customise them to your heart’s content, depending on whether you are understated and have the nerve to leave them quite plain with just a drizzling of caramel, or if like me you have to throw everything at it! Sugared almonds are a traditional decoration, inserted randomly into the gaps – either gold or silver, or the pretty pastel ones in pink, white and yellow. I dip random profiteroles in white chocolate and roll them in dried flowers, which looks very rustic and pretty – or you could try crushed raspberries. I also highlight the occasional profiterole with edible gold leaf which looks stunning. There are so many pretty edible decorations available – you can go as rococco and over the top as you like. Traditionally they are covered in a web of spun sugar, but I’m way too scared for that …. For birthdays I stick in half a dozen mini sparklers to mark the occasion, or a single one of those fountain candles would be suitably dramatic and showy.

You can pre-order A Family Recipe from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 17th May 2018.

Lisa Jewell Reveals New Book – Watching You

Watching YouI was so excited to see Lisa Jewell tweeting about her new book for 2018 called ‘Watching You’, that I just had to share the news.

What the back cover says –

You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow.

You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room.

That’s when you meet the man next door.

He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive. You find yourself watching him.

All the time.

But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession.

Or that someone is watching you.

Family secrets, illicit passion and an unexplained murder? It can only be the gripping new novel from Lisa Jewell.

You can pre-order Watching You from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 12th July 2018.

I can’t wait!

Guilt Book Tour

GuiltOn the book tour for Amanda Robson’s new thriller called ‘Guilt’, read an insight into the main characters of the story, Miranda and Zara.

Guilt begins with a stabbing, which leaves one twin sister dead and the other accused of her murder. The twins Zara and Miranda are thirty years old at the start of the novel. But their problems began to incubate years before that.

Here are some teenage memories:
 
Miranda

The party is throbbing. I can smell it; cannabis, heat and sex.  As soon as we enter the hall-way, you evaporate Zara.

Leaving me free to drink water if I want to.

Where is Jacko?

Snogging his girlfriend in a side room, off the hallway. In this strange old house. A warren of rooms, and no balance. Vacuum packed against his girlfriend. Drawn in.

Hand on her right breast. I close my eyes so I don’t have to watch. A few seconds later I open them again. Jacko and his girl have gone.

Paired up people are everywhere. Lying on the floor, wrapped together on sofas. I head for the kitchen for a drink. All singletons here. I help myself to a glass of water. A boy walks towards me.

‘You’re Miranda aren’t you?’

‘Yes.’

‘The girl with the kooky sister.’

‘I wouldn’t quite put it like that.’

‘You’re a friend of Jacko’s aren’t you?’

‘I wouldn’t quite put it like that, either.’

‘How would you put it?’

I do not reply. I walk past him to the sink, fill my empty cup up with water, and walk upstairs, to look for my kooky sister, to see what you are up to now. I open the door of the first bedroom I come to. The lights are on. A man is pumping into a woman, on top of the bed. He turns his head.

‘Piss off,’ he says.

Black hair. Brown eyes.

Jacko. 

And the woman beneath him, does not look like his girlfriend. This woman is chestnut and golden.

Zara.

Zara, what’s going on now?  

Zara

On the point of climax when you open the door. The bossy big sister sometimes I wish I never had.

‘Piss off,’ Jacko shouts.

My orgasm fragments. You leave, closing the door behind you. But it’s too late. The moment has passed. Jacko continues grinding into me. But it’s over, I can’t get my momentum back. Relieved when he’s finished, I disentangle myself and pull my clothes  on. I leave him in bed, but my drinking is catching up with me. The room is spinning. I am on a roller-coaster, about to crash. I need to find you Miranda. You need to take me home. I know where you’ll be. I move towards the kitchen, everything slipping in and out of focus.

‘Hi Miranda, shall we go home now?’ I hear myself slur.

I hold onto you as you guide me towards the hallway.

‘All right?’ you ask.

I nod my head. ‘Just about, but I need to get home as soon as possible.’

I try to smile at you but I don’t think it works. We make it through the hallway, into the warm night air. We don’t have far to go. The roller-coaster in my head is slowing. We meander home, hoping Mum is asleep. She mustn’t see me like this.

Miranda you turn your key in the lock, quietly. So quietly. We creep up the stairs avoiding the step that creaks.

Softly, I drop into bed. Softly, slowly I reach for my razor blade.

You can buy Guilt from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

 

Adele Parks Reveals New Book – I Invited Her In

I Invited Her InWonderful news as Adele Parks has revealed her second book of 2018 called ‘I Invited Her In’ which is her first book with her new publishers, HQ part of Harper Collins

What the back cover says –

‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from ‘Sunday Times’ bestseller Adele Parks.

You can pre-order I Invited Her In from Amazon and will be available to buy from 20th September 2018.