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Blog Tour – EXCLUSIVE short story prior to the release of The Arrangement by Sonya Lalli

Published August 8, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

You can’t choose who you fall for…but it helps if there’s a list

Raina, twenty-nine, is still unmarried much to the dismay of her family who think that by now she should have been married in a dream Indian wedding. The pressure to settle down reaches new heights when her grandmother, Nani, decides to play matchmaker in order to find her the perfect man.

Eager not to disappoint her family, Raina goes along with the plan but when the love of her life returns – ex-boyfriend Dev – she’s forced to confront her true feelings and decide what she really wants.

Funny, feelgood and heart-warming, The Arrangement shines a light on being single in your twenties, societal and cultural expectation of women, and modern day arranged marriages. Perfect summer read for fans of Ayisha Malik’s Sofia Khan is Not Obliged and Aziz Ansari’s Master of None.

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special post on my blog. The Arrangement, published by Orion Books, is due to be released on 10th August but prior to that the author, Sonya Lalli is providing a short story about one of the characters in the novel to give you a bit of a taster of what The Arrangement might be like. The story will be published by five lucky bloggers in five parts.

Over to the author, Sonya Lalli :

In The Arrangement, thirty-year-old, fun-living Serena is on the sidelines. She shares a mutual friend with the novel’s heroine Raina, and for a while dates one of Raina’s relatives. Even though Serena’s story doesn’t make it into my novel, I wanted to share a bit more about her own dating misadventures – and give you a few clues about what’s to come in The Arrangement! 

The first part was published yesterday by Bronagh, The Handwritten Girl so if you want to read it please click HERE for her post. Today, bibliobeth is host to the second part of the story:

“Red chinos. Ten o’clock.”

Serena casually glances to her left, but all she can see is a group of women decked out in neon pink and sparkles huddling around a bride-to-be. None of them are wearing red chinos.

“No, my ten o’clock, silly.”

She looks right, and instantly spots him. Red Chinos is one of the only men at the bar not on his cellphone, and he has his legs crossed so tight Serena wonders if he has to pee.

“He’s bachelor number one.”

“He’s not really my type.”

“How has your type worked out for you so far?”

Serena sticks out her tongue, and the next thing she knows Shaylee’s up from the table and walking towards him. She taps him on the shoulder and a beat later they’re both looking at her. Serena shrinks lower in her seat.

What had she just agreed to? Was she really going to go on three dates in three hours just to prove a point?

She watches them converse, and a few minutes later Red Chinos gets off the barstool and Shaylee hops on. Serena can’t help but notice the smirk plastered all over his face as he draws nearer.

“Serena,” he says, sitting opposite her in the booth. “Your friend over there said you think I look interesting.”

“Interesting.”

“So let’s just get to the point, shall we?” He leers at her. “I’m cute. You’re cute. Wait, how tall are you?”

Her mouths drops a little as he sizes her up.

“About 5’2” or around?” He nods, as if pleased with his ability to measure her sitting down. “I usually prefer taller women.”

“I usually prefer –”

“So should we get out or here or what?”

Serena glances at Shaylee across the bar. She’s made friends with the woman on the stool next to her, and they’re laughing at something on Shaylee’s phone. There was no being rescued from this, was there?

“I think my friend wants us to get to know each other,” Serena says eventually. “Here.”

In public, she thinks.

“And what do you want, Serena?”

Why had Shaylee picked her the creepiest guy in the whole bar? Was she trying to prove a point to Serena? She racks her brain for what to say.

“Uh, what’s your… name?”

“Noah.”

She laughs.

“Why are you laughing?”

“You can’t expect me to believe your name is really Noah.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s just… that’s the name of Ryan Gosling’s character in The Notebook.”

He stares at her blankly.

“And, if you walk into any bar into Toronto, chances are 95% of women my age are going to think of Ryan Gosling the minute you say that name.”

“Noah is my name.”

“Nobody is actually named Noah. You clearly use that name as some sort of… move to pick up women.”

Serena presses her lips together, trying to conceal a smirk. Normally, she’d be the last of her friends to call out a guy for being a creep. But if Shaylee was going to screw her around like this, she might as well have some fun.

She leans forward, smiling cockily. “Tell you what. I’ll go home with you if your driver’s license actually says Noah.”

“Is that so?”

“Hundred percent.”

He reaches into his wallet – a little too quickly. Seconds later, he slides across his Ontario drivers license.

Noah Forester

“Shit…”

“I can’t hear you with your foot in your mouth, Serena.” He leans forward to grab the license. “Or is that even your real name? Maybe I need to see your ID.”

“Listen,” she sits up. Her face is burning hot. “I’m sorry. I didn’t… I don’t, I’m not – ”

“Don’t worry. I’m not expecting you to come home with me.”

She sighs in relief, and is suddenly overwhelmed by embarrassment. Why had she called him out like that? Had she been too rude? Maybe he wasn’t the creep she thought he was?

Standing up from the booth, he leans down so close to her face she can smell his dank-IPA breath.

Maybe not.

“I’m looking for something easy tonight, sweetheart – and you’re not worth the effort.”

After Red Chinos leaves the bar, she regrets having not spray painted a warning sign on him for the other women who would cross his path that evening. She sinks bank in the booth as Shaylee walks over to her.

“So how did it go?”

“Are you kidding me?”

“Yeah, I was just taking the piss with that one.” She sits down, rubbing her hands through her hair. “When I walked up to him, he said, ‘mademoiselle, what are you le drinking ce soir?”

“I hate you.”

“No, you don’t.” Shaylee grabs her drink, which she’d left at the table, and throws down the rest. “OK, I’ll pick a better one this time. I promise. It can only go up from here, right?”

Serena glances around the bar, completely disheartened. She liked being in love. She liked chasing, and being chased; falling, and then letting someone catch her. Kris had caught her in the beginning, and then let her fall, hard, until she was all by herself, staring up at something and someone she didn’t even recognize.

She thought James would be different – James who made her laugh as they waited for the kettle to boil, who spent half the workday communicating with her on Slack primarily with emojis, GIFS and compliments. Then he’d stood her up. At least he’d let her down early.

“Hey,” she feels Shay’s hand on hers. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for this to bum you out.”

“No, it’s okay.”

“Thinking about James?” She shrugs, and Shaylee continues. “Any guy who doesn’t treat you right doesn’t deserve you.”

“I know that. In theory.”

“Well, in theory, one of the next two guys I’ve lined up for you just might deserve you.”

“And if they don’t,” says Serena, reminding her of their deal, “I’m never dating again.”

For my review of The Arrangement by Sonya Lalli, please come back and visit on the 10th August when my review will be published!

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Blog Tour – Dougal Daley: It’s Not My Fault – Jackie Marchant, Loretta Schauer (illustrator)

Published May 4, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

I, Dougal Daley, am dead! Ok I’m not actually dead. But if I m not careful I soon will be.

In this first book, football-loving Dougal Daley finds himself at risk from the mysterious creature living in the garden shed. Nobody believes him but as a precaution, he sets upon writing his will – rewarding those who help him and disinheriting those who get on his bad side. Meanwhile, as limbs and windows alike are broken by rogue footballs and unhinged canines, Dougal finds himself in all sorts of trouble. . .and NONE of it is his fault!

Hello everyone and welcome to my spot on the Dougal Daley blog tour! Today, I have a very special guest post to share with you from the illustrator of the book, Loretta Schauer where she talks about her experiences of illustrating this book. Over to Loretta!

For this book we had the text laid out first and knew where we wanted to put the illustrations. Most of the images were to work in amongst the text, rather than taking up a whole facing page, but as you’ll see some of what would otherwise be text was actually illustrated too.

The story is told through Dougal’s voice so we wanted the illustrations to reflect this. They are not entirely drawn as if by Dougal himself, but there is an immediacy and slightly anarchic feel to them, as if visualising the world through Dougal’s eyes. I used pencil for most of the images with the occasional bit of watercolour wash and a few grungy charcoal smudges here and there. Some of the images are as if Dougal is working out his own thoughts and feelings about concepts – like his dilemma actually being a tri-lemma, but sometimes the illustrations are just funny incidental details like Dougal’s big sister Sybil’s nail varnish collection (vomity violet and putrid pink) or the packets of crisps Dougal’s friends are eating when they don’t invite him round because they assume he’s grounded. My favourite bits to draw were Death by Crutches, Claude’s fluffy hamster toy, and of course, the creature in the shed!

For this book, a lot of the text and speech is also illustrated to keep with Dougal’s voice – like Dougal’s jumbled speech bubble when he tries to explain why his friend ended up in the river. Big chunks of the story are told through handwritten notes between the various characters and of course the will that Dougal is writing and updating throughout the book. All these needed to be illustrated “in character”, so I made up a handwriting style for each person (10 in total!) using different pens and pencils, and like an actor, I needed to keep these handwriting characters consistent throughout the story.

I think my favourite hand writing styles were Claude Barleycorn, Angela Sweeter and Dougal’s very important notes to the Police.

The handwritten notes were treated exactly the same as the rest of the illustrations, where we worked out where they needed to be in advance, and sometimes this meant four of five pages in a row of nothing but illustrated notes back and forth between the characters.

‘Dougal Daley – It’s Not My Fault’ was lots of fun to illustrate, and it was great working with Jackie the author and the team at Wacky Bee. I’m looking forward to illustrating book 2 – ‘Dougal Daley – Where’s my Tarantula?’

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Dougal Daley was inspired by a messy bedroom and a random question from my son about writing a will. Dougal Daley has been huge fun to write about – you wouldn’t believe the disasters that happen around him (none of which are his fault of course)! When I’m not writing I love doing school visits and creative writing workshops. I also take time away from the writing world looking after guide dogs while their owners are away.

Website: https://www.jackiemarchant.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JMarchantAuthor

ILLUSTRATOR INFORMATION

I originally studied performing arts and have a degree in Dance Performance – well you never know when you need a quick pirouette! I also worked in practical conservation for a long time, and spent many years battling balsam, identifying lichen, and searching for creepy crawlies before I picked up my pencils and paints and began exploring illustrating and writing for children. In 2011 I won the Waterstone’s ‘Picture This’ competition and I now illlustrate full time. However I am still happiest noodling around for fossils and shells on the beach!

Website: http://lorettaschauer.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Loretta_Schauer

A huge thank you to everyone involved in this blog tour and to Loretta for providing me with some wonderful background information about her illustrating journey. Why not check out the rest of the stops on the tour where you’ll find some fantastic reviews from my fellow bloggers? Dougal Daley: It’s Not My Fault was released by Wacky Bee Books on 4th April 2017 and is available from all good bookshops now.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35003254-dougal-daley

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dougal-Daley-its-Not-Fault/dp/0995697221

Blog Tour – Black Knight (The Inventory #3) – Andy Briggs

Published April 30, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Dev and his friends are back with more mind-bending tech in this third installment of the Inventory series.
The World Consortium is recruiting more agents to defend the most advanced technology the world isn’t ready for, and it’s up to Dev, Lottie and Mase to train them up for action. But will they be ready before Shadow Helix’s next strike? And has Dev uncovered all the secrets of his past, or is there more to know about his special abilities?

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special post on the blog tour for the latest book in the fantastic Inventory series by Andy Briggs. The series began with Iron Fist which you can see my review of HERE and continued with Gravity which I also hosted a guest post for HERE. Today, Andy has been kind enough to tell me his favourite children’s books whilst he was growing up. This is what he has chosen:

ANDY BRIGGS – FAVOURITE CHILDREN’S FICTION

There are many books that inspired me while growing up, but I have selected a few:

STIG OF THE DUMP – by Clive King

I must admit this was a title I hadn’t read for a long time, but even now, at the grand old age of *# I still remember my first impressions on reading this spellbinding book. All you need to know is that it’s about a boy called Barney who discovers a caveman called Stig living in a dump in an old chalk quarry (presumably before his future race driving career). The rest is pure magic.

THE LOST WORLD – by Arthur Conan Doyle

Yes, the same Arthur Conan Doyle who created Sherlock Holmes, it’s not that common a name. This has always been my favourite Doyle book and, although not strictly an MG book, I read it when I was 11 or 12 and it captured my imagination so much that, when I became an alleged adult, I eventually travelled to the very flat-topped mountains in Venezuela that inspired Doyle. Eccentric Professor Challenger leads a party of explorers into the depths of South America to discover that dinosaurs still exist. It’s an exciting adventure story and one that instilled a sense in me that the world is still a wondrous place with many amazing things left to discover…

CAPTAIN COBWEBB – by Gordon Boshell

When David and Tony’s uncle Septimus Cobwebb sits in a fairy ring and vanishes into another realm, the fun begins. This is a magical series of books in which our heroes are sent on missions to various fantastic places, encountering amazing creatures and people…

Sadly, these books are no longer in print, which is a crime in my view. You just can’t have much more fun than Captain Cobwebb and the Red Transistor, which got me through a particularly terrible bout of chicken pox. Find them, read them!

WARLOCK OF FIRETOP MOUNTAIN – by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone.

I distinctly remember buying this book (from a sadly long extinct indecent bookstore in Prescot, Merseyside called Reading & Writing). I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This was the first book that launched the Fighting Fantasy series and showed me that a book can be so much more than passive story.

For those who don’t know, this was one of the first books in which you made decisions by turning to different pages, thus affecting the outcome of your story. You were able to fight monsters using a clever system that decided you fate on the roll of a dice. It was, and still is, the perfect form of escapism… and all without a computer.

Finally, I have to put in an honourable mention for the ASTERIX books by Goscinny and Uderzo. They are fabulous graphic novels – beautiful art, wonderful characters, exciting stories with a grounding in history.

The world is split between Tintin and Asterix. But only one has a magic potion which makes them invincible…

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Andy has extensive experience working on multinational co-productions and has worked in comics, books, TV, film and trans-media projects.

Andy wrote and Executive Produced Legendary, currently the most successful independent UK/Chinese co-production. Released in China and grossing $5 million in the first week, with a theatric US release in 2014. With his brother he worked on Hollywood features such as Judge Dredd and Freddy vs. Jason and TV shows for the SyFy Channel and Netflix.

He wrote and co-created Secret Agents, a trans-media interactive spy experience for children, currently on at the Discover Centre, Stratford. He has 16 books and graphic novels published in the UK and around the world.

He has written 20 books and graphic novels published in the UK and around the world. In 2016 his latest feature, Crowhurst, will be released.

Website: http://www.andybriggs.co.uk

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/aBriggswriter

A huge thank you to everyone involved in this blog tour and to Andy for providing me with his favourite children’s fiction (and possibly some ideas for my Kid Lit challenge!) Why not check out the rest of the stops on the tour where you’ll find some fantastic reviews from my fellow bloggers? Black Knight (The Inventory #3) was released by Scholastic Press on 6th April 2017 and is available from all good bookshops now.

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34704550-black-knight?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Inventory-3-Black-Knight-ebook/dp/B06XGKFMPK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493055078&sr=8-1&keywords=black+knight+the+inventory

 

Blog Tour – Guest Post by Andy Briggs, author of Gravity (The Inventory #2)

Published October 26, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Eeek! Think that’s a monster? Nope: it’s a person. What terrible weapon could do this…? Errr – well, that used to be top-secret. Problem: it’s not quite so secret anymore. Dev messed up big time the day he let the ruthless Shadow Helix gang into the Inventory. What is the Inventory, we hear you ask? Well, it’s the secret lockup for all the deadly battle tech the world is NOT ready for. Which is why letting it get nicked was a REALLY BAD IDEA. Now the Shadow Helix have Newton’s Arrow: a terrifying weapon that messes with gravity, causing … well, you get the picture from this book’s cover. Dev and his mates HAVE to get it back – even if it means crossing the entire globe. To stop this evil, no trip is too far!

Hi everyone and welcome to a very special post on bibliobeth today. The second book in The Inventory series, Gravity has been released (for a review on the first book, please see my post HERE) and the author, Andy Briggs has kindly agreed to provide a guest post about his favourite scenes in the novel. Hope you enjoy!

My Favourite Scenes in Gravity – Andy Briggs

Writing any story appears to be, in my experience, a case of creating the characters and plot, then try to wrap them around various scenes and scenarios that have been festering in the back of my mind. The problem with that is the new story often surprises you by demanding scenes of its own, meaning those long-planned events need to be parked and perhaps used elsewhere.
This is particularly pertinent when it came to writing The Inventory: Gravity. I not only had a fairly clear idea of where the story was heading, I also had the luxury of scenes and plot elements that I wanted to put in the previous book (Iron Fist), but just couldn’t fit them in. Of course, most of those scenes then got pushed into book three, which I have just completed…

The Inventory series is one of those global adventures that requires my characters to visit exciting locations – and many of these locations are ones I have visited. There is nothing more inspirational than wondering around a potential location and think what could I do here?
An early scene in Gravity takes place in Tokyo. All the locations, buildings and little details are all real, which was a great help in structuring Dev’s little adventure there. I would love to tell you more about the sequence… but as it’s integral to the plot, my lips are sealed!

Another moment in the book comes when Dev, Lot and Mason have to sneak into… a place I can’t mention… using some technology called ‘Phantom-Suits’. Now, you may try to hazard a guess about what these suits do… but I’m pretty confident that you will never get it exactly right. As with everything in the Inventory there is always a sting in the tail. However, when writing this sequence I was torn between really wishing I could do it in real life, and realising that I would be utterly terrified to take the first step. Writing the sequence was one of those moments writers enjoy as they find themselves cringing at the dire consequences their characters are about to face and, because of the nature of the technology involved, it was a joy to imagine new perils that I have never seen in a book before.

The more I think about this, the harder it is to reveal anything that won’t become a plot spoiler… you’ll just have to read the book and then ask me!

AUTHOR INFORMATION

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Andy Briggs is a screenwriter, producer and author of the Hero.com, Villain.net and Tarzan series. Andy has worked on film development for Paramount and Warner Bros, as well as working with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and producer Robert Evans. With a strong social media following, Andy tours the UK regularly, doing festival, school and library events.

Website: http://www.andybriggs.co.uk
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/aBriggswriter

A huge thank you again to Andy Briggs for giving up his time in writing this guest post for me today. Gravity (The Inventory #2) was released on 6th October 2016 by Scholastic Books and is available from all good bookshops NOW. If you’re interested, why not check out the other stops on the blog tour?

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32571679-gravity
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gravity-Inventory-Andy-Briggs/dp/1407161806

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Blog Tour – Guest Post by Andrew and Chris Judge, authors and illustrators of Create Your Own Spy Mission

Published April 10, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Hello everyone and welcome to a very special guest post on bibliobeth. I was lucky enough to take part in the blog tour for this exciting children’s book – please see my review HERE.

Today I am thrilled to host the authors and illustrators Andrew and Chris Judge where we get a little bit of a nosey into their writing lives. Enjoy!

A Day in the Life of Chris and Andrew Judge 

Andrew (writer): I’m an architect, by day, and a busy dad in the evenings. Most of my day is spent in the office, or on building sites, before racing home to bring the kids to soccer or gaelic games training. So most of my writing is squeezed into odd parts of the day.

I usually go for a walk at lunchtime to think up ideas and jokes for the story I’m working on. Then, on the bus home from work, I write it all down on my phone, tapping away like a crazy Facebook obsessive. When I have a quiet evening I tidy it all up and edit it on the laptop before sending it to Chris and our editor, David.

Writing these books is a great way to switch off from work. The only downside is that I don’t get to watch much TV or Netflix! Breaking Bad? House of Cards? What’s that all about? Busy days, but great fun!

Chris (illustrator): I am wide awake at roughly 7.30 every morning to the sound of Dada! being shouted at me by our 2 year old daughter. After a flurry of breakfast and playtime and getting ready for the day I am out the door at about 9am and go to my studio in Dublin city centre.

Every day is different as I am always working on different projects, generally juggling artwork for a children’s book and a commercial illustration job.

I used to work on my books in the evening but lately they have become a priority and it is a joy to work on this latest series with my brother Andrew as my main job. His writing is hilarious and finely tuned to my sense of humour and drawing style.

After a long day drawing and daydreaming I get home for dinner with my family and then promptly fall asleep in front of the TV.

 

A huge thank you to both Andrew and Chris for giving up their time in writing this guest post for me today. Create Your Own Spy Mission is available from all good bookshops NOW. If you’re interested, why not check out the other stops on the blog tour?

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Special Guest Post from Lisa Jackson, author of Close To Home

Published April 21, 2015 by bibliobeth

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Hello everyone! Today I bring you a guest post from author Lisa Jackson whose incredible thriller I read a little while ago – to see my post please click HERE. As part of the blog tour, one lucky blogger would get the chance to display a guest post from Lisa written especially for the occasion. So that lucky blogger was me (hooray!), please see Lisa’s fabulous post below.

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“When my editor first suggested I write a book about a house with a past, I thought he was nuts. He was interested in telling a story about what had happened to an old house during its lifetime.
Huh. I chewed on that. Intriguing, but how was I going to make the house a character in the book? How was I going to bring the past to the present and make the stories those old walls had hidden be a part of a modern tale?
It took a while and I dragged at least one foot as the story started shaping up. How about a murder that had happened centuries before? How could I solve it today and make it interesting?
In my mind’s eye, I saw Sarah, a woman with a couple of kids who was “coming home” to a huge dilapidated house, a manor of sorts that held its own secrets along with some of hers. Her return to the once-grand family home would be a bit of a catharsis for her, a way to exorcize her demons while dealing with two headstrong and very different daughters.
Okay, so the premise was: Fix the house, fix her family. Sounded good.
But the problem was, again, “How?”
Enter the ghost.
What?
Me write about a ghost? Seriously? No way!
Though I’d written stories that had delved into the past and long-forgotten relationships, I’d never tackled a spirit from beyond. That said, the more I thought about the ghost, the more real she became. (I know–crazy, right? Now I’m not talking about an actual ghost, but a fictitious one that had become real to me, the writer . . .) Let’s just say it was a struggle.
Funny thing about that, though. As I wrote the book? The ghost became one of my favorite characters with a story all her own. And the house? It took on its own personality, being as it was haunted and all. I loved writing about these two unique characters, but I needed a way for them to be a part of the story through a living being, a conduit from past to present, so Gracie, Sarah’s younger daughter became that link. Gracie was already a kid who didn’t fit into the mold of a normal child–no round peg was she– so I made her a little odder by being able to see the ghost, which, of course flipped out her mother. The older daughter, Jade was already rebelling and giving her mother fits. Why not the younger one as well?
And so the plot line, with most of the characters firmly in place was born.
Even the hero had his own back story related to the past.
All I needed was a fabulous house, right? I already knew I was setting the book on the shores of the Columbia River and its deep gorge that separates the two western states of Washington and Oregon. I thought about a gorgeous old hotel that sits high on the cliffs then actually booked a room for the weekend. After a private tour of roped off areas, I patterned the upper stories of the house in the book to the hotel, using its upper floor, cupola and vast view of the river as the setting for the first murder. It’s absolutely lovely as you can see by this link: http://www.columbiagorgehotel.com/, so I changed the facade and then had it deteriorating from decades of neglect. You know, to creep it up.
Now that I had the idea for the house, I could finally sit down and actually write the book which became CLOSE TO HOME. I loved writing the story and maybe, just maybe, I might tackle another ghost some time in the future. Who knows?”

Many thanks again to Lisa, all the team at Hodder & Stoughton and Becca Mundy who made this possible. So why not check out CLOSE TO HOME, available now!