Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Paradise Girl by Phill Featherstone - Book Review, Guest Post, Extract & Giveaway

As part of Brook Cottage Tours Blog Blitz Day I am delighted to be bringing you my review of Paradise Girl, together with an Extract, a Guest Post and a fabulous Giveaway!

Genre:  Nominally YA/NA, General Fiction
Publication Date:  27 January 2017
Publisher:  Matador

Kerryl Shaw has always kept a diary, but this one is different because she knows she is going to die.
A highly infectious and incurable virus spreads worldwide. Seventeen-year-old Kerryl lives with her family on a remote farm. They think they will be safe, but the danger advances. One day a stranger arrives, and it soon becomes apparent that he has brought the plague to their door.

Kerryl is sure it’s only a matter of time before she catches the infection and dies, and decides to record what she thinks will be her final days. She realises that her diary will never be read, so she imagines a reader and calls him Adam. Loneliness and isolation affect the balance of her mind. Little by little Adam comes alive to her, and she sets off across the moor to meet him.

Paradise Girl is one of those stories that stays with you for quite a while afterwards. I keep thinking about it even now and it's been several days since I finished reading it.
The voice of Kerryl comes through very strongly in the diaries she has written - one before the Infection came and one after, which she is writing now as she is the only one left all alone in her family's farm.
Her twin brother has run away, she doesn't know if he's dead or alive, she finds some clues on his computer as to why he has gone and she misses him terribly.
I really felt as if I knew Kerryl and felt so sorry for her, she must have been so scared on her own. I kept wondering how I would cope in that situation, probably not as well as she did! Her mind imagined noises and seeing people, but was it her imagination or was there someone there? That kept me reading on and on till I found out. Very skilful writing to keep me guessing!
I thought this was an amazing and fascinating read, it really captured my imagination from the start and I would recommend it if you're looking for something out of the ordinary.

Why YA?

A question I’m sometimes asked is why I write fiction for young adults. I suppose a good answer would be, why not?’ However, it’s a fair enough query. After all, I’m no spring chicken and anyone who looks at my photo on my Facebook or Twitter pages will see straight away that my own YA days are a long way behind me!

One answer is that I don’t always write in the YA genre. My latest novel - The God Jar - is a blend of historical and literary fiction, and unlikely to appeal to many teens. However, the one I’m working on now - The Poinsoner’s Garden - will probably be another YA.

I suppose one reason for this is that I like teenagers. I don’t teach now, but I used to teach English to teens, and one of the parts I enjoyed most was coming into contact with their ideas. To listen to them talking about their lives, their hopes and ambitions, their ideas and their reading was a huge privilege. There’s something inspiring about young people who come to things fresh with their ideals still intact and their lives before them. Sadly, of course, not all young people are so lucky, but many are, and I love watching how they grapple with the world and try to make sense of the million things that are happening to them and around them. And sometimes I wonder how on earth they can forgive us for the messes we make.

The question that started this ramble - why do I write in the YA genre - assumes it’s a deliberate choice I make. It’s not. There are authors who write with a particular genre in mind. Pick up book by PD James, John Grisham, Stephen King, and you pretty much know what you’re getting. For some authors the association with a genre becomes so fixed that if they want to escape it they have to take drastic action. When JK Rowling wanted to write thrillers she took the completely new name of Robert Galbraith (very brave, when you think of what clout her real name has). So there are some who establish a style and a clientele and write for it, and there are others who, when they begin a novel, have no idea of the genre they’re aiming for. I’m one of those. That’s why I said above that The Poisoner’s Garden will probably be YA. I write what I write because characters appeal to me and I want to tell their stories, and the genre will depend on who those characters are. Kerryl Shaw is seventeen, so her story - Paradise Girl - is likely to appeal to readers who are in or can identify with that age group. Much of The God Jar - concerns the Elizabethan magician John Dee, so that’s less likely to appeal to teens and more likely to interest older readers. I think the best answer I can give when people ask me who I’m writing is, ‘People like me.’

Finally, I’d like to tackle a couple of myths. The first one is to do with how some people think of the YA genre. I’ve often heard books described as ‘only’ YA, the implication being that writing for that market is somehow easier. It isn’t! I once had a conversation with a distinguished author of books for both adults and young adults, who insisted that the latter audience was by far the hardest to write for. Just because the protagonists are not fully mature doesn’t mean that what they do and feel and what happens to them isn’t worth the attention of the ‘literary’ reader. I can remember reading The Fault in Our Stars and a friend being astounded. ‘But that’s a kids’ book!’ he said. Good writing is good writing, and work by John Green, Suzanne Collins, Philip Pullman, Patrick Ness, Neil Gaimon and other greats appeals across age groups partly because it’s extremely well written, and also because it deals with matters that are of interest and concern to us all, regardless of age. Making the reader interested in and care for their characters is the mark of a good writer, regardless of what genre they’re writing in. One of the loveliest reviews I’ve had for Paradise Girl was from an experienced and respected book blogger, the wonderful Anne Williams. She wrote, ‘Don’t be put off by the “young adult” tag – although the clear voice is of a young girl on the cusp of adulthood, there’s absolutely no simplification or dumbing down here. This is a book full of fine writing that would appeal to any adult, even those of advanced years like me.’ I walked around for several days on a cloud after reading that, and t still cheers me when I get a less than enthusiastic review.


Introductions are boring, but unless I take time to explain things it will be confusing for you. Me first. Not very polite, I know, but it’s probably the best place to start.
My name is Kerryl – or that’s what my family and friends call me. My proper name is Cheryl. Cheryl Alison Shaw. They call me the Paradise Girl. Don’t get excited – it sounds sexy but it’s not. I’m seventeen years old and still a virgin. I’m not a nun, I’ve been out with loads of boys – Tim, Mark (two of them), Nathan, Jake, Tristram, Steve – but I wasn’t that keen on any of them and they didn’t last. The exception was Mark II. He was older than me, fearsomely good looking and he had a nice car. I thought he was really hot. When I wasn’t with him I was thinking about him. But it seems he wasn’t as keen as me, and one day my best friend, Josie, told me that he was going out with Monica Woodbridge and saying I was a frigid cow. It seems everybody knew I’d been dumped and I was the last to find out.
The worst thing was the shock. I thought Monica Woodbridge was my friend. As well as that, all the girls in our group had been going out with the same boys for a long time, but I seemed to keep a boyfriend for only a few weeks. Was there something wrong with me? To be honest, I’m not a great beauty. I don’t mean I’m a train wreck or anything. I’m not bad looking, but I’m not like Charlene Brooker or Suzy Simmonds. They’re electric, both of them. Charlene could be a model, and Suzy’s always surrounded by a gang of drooling boys.
They’re gone now: Charlene, Suzy, Josie, Monica, all of them.
Sorry for the break there. I had to stop to have a little weep. I’ll try not to do too much of that. I suppose I can console myself with one thing: with everyone else dead, I must be the most beautiful girl in the world!


Phill Featherstone was born and brought up in the north of England. He trained as a teacher and taught English in comprehensive schools. In the late 1990s he and his wife, Sally, founded a publishing company specialising in education books for the early years. In 2008 the business was acquired by Bloomsbury, after which they moved to Yorkshire. He now spends his time writing, travelling, on the arts and on conservation work. Phill has degrees from Cambridge and Leicester Universities, and is a member of the Society of Authors. Paradise Girl is his third novel, although the first to be published.
Paradise Girl recently won a CHILL WITH A BOOK AWARD!
Twitter: @PhillFeathers


Friday, 9 March 2018

The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May - Cover Reveal & Prologue

I am thrilled to be bringing you this gorgeous cover reveal for The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay today

Genre:  Romantic Comedy
Publication Date:  9 April 2018
Standalone Novel
Estimated Page Count:  364

Praise for Nicola May’s books

‘This book will twang your funny bone & your
heartstrings’ – Milly Johnson
‘A fun and flighty read’ the Sun
‘A funny and fast-paced romp – thoroughly enjoyable!’  
WOMAN Magazine
Rosa Larkin is down on her luck in London, so when she
inherits a near-derelict corner shop in a quaint Devon village,
her first thought is to sell it for cash and sort out her life. But
nothing is straightforward about this legacy.  While the
identity of her benefactor remains a mystery, he - or she - has
left one important legal proviso: that the shop cannot be sold,
only passed on to somebody who really deserves it.
    Rosa makes up her mind to give it a go: to put everything
she has into getting the shop up and running again in the
small seaside community of Cockleberry Bay. But can she
do it all on her own? And if not, who will help her succeed -
and who among the following will work secretly to see her fail?
    There is a handsome rugby player, a sexy plumber, a
charlatan reporter and a selection of meddling locals. Add in
a hit and run incident and the disappearance of a valuable
engraved necklace – and what you get is a journey of
self-discovery and unpredictable events.

With surprising and heartfelt results, Rosa, accompanied
at all times by her little sausage dog Hot, will slowly
unravel the shadowy secrets of the inheritance, and
also bring her own, long-hidden heritage into the light.

‘Are you sure you’ve got the right person?’
Rosa took off her bright red woolly hat and scratched the
back of her head furiously, causing her dark brown curly
hair to become even more unruly.
The tall, pinched-faced solicitor nodded. ‘Yes, of course we
have. Evans, Donald and Simpson do not make mistakes.
You, Miss Larkin, are now the official owner of the corner
shop in Cockleberry Bay.’
He handed the bewildered twenty-five-year-old a battered
leather briefcase and pointed to a small combination padlock
on its brass clasp.
‘Here. The will stated that you - and only you - can open
this, using your date of birth.’
‘This is all very strange,’ Rosa said.  ‘And where exactly is
this Cockleberry Bay?’
‘Devon, dear, Devon.’  The solicitor looked under his rimless
glasses. ‘I take it you know where that is?’
‘I may have a cockney accent, Mr Donald, but I’m not
‘Well, open it then.’ The solicitor was shifting from foot to
foot in anticipation. He confided, ‘We’ve been wanting to
know what’s in there for days.’
Showing no emotion, Rosa gazed at him with her striking
green eyes and asked coolly: ‘Is there anything else I need?’
‘Er, no - but are you not going to . . .?’
‘I need to get to work.’ Rosa put her hat and scarf back on,
zipped up her fur-lined bomber jacket and headed for the
door. ‘Thank you so much for your help.’
     And she was gone.
The solicitor peered crossly out of the window of the
offices in Staple Inn and watched as the young woman,
the briefcase in her arms, strode across the frosty
cobbled courtyard and out into the bustle of London’s
ancient legal quarter.

About Nicola May

Award winning author Nicola May lives in Ascot in Berkshire
with her rescue cat Stanley. Her hobbies include watching
films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon,
eating flapjacks and enjoying a flutter on the horses. Inspired
by her favourite authors Milly Johnson and Carole Matthews,
Nicola writes what she describes as chicklit with a kick.

Follow Nicola May

Website -

Purchase Links

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Far Cry From The Turquoise Room by Kate Rigby - Blog Tour

Today I'm taking part in the one day blog blitz for Far Cry From The Turquoise Room 

Genre:  Literary Fiction
Publication Date:  May 2011
Estimated Page Count:  220
Standalone Novel

Told from both daughter and father's perspectives, Far Cry From The Turquoise Room is a coming-of-age, riches-to-rags tale of loss, resilience, and self-discovery, set just before the millennium. It is also about the passage of childhood into puberty.

Leila is the eight-year-old daughter of Hassan Nassiri, a wealthy Iranian property owner, and younger sister to the adored Fayruz, her father's favourite daughter. 

But a holiday narrowboat tragedy has far-reaching consequences for the surviving family. Hassan withdraws into reclusive grief, when he’s not escaping into work, or high jinks with his men friends at his second home in Hampstead, leaving Leila to fend for herself in a lonely world of nannies, chess and star-gazing.

Leila eventually runs away from home and joins a family of travellers in Sussex, and so follows a tale of adventure, danger and romance – and further anguish for her surviving family. But how will she fare at such a young age and will her family ever find her?

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble

About Kate Rigby

Kate Rigby was born near Liverpool and now lives in the south west of England.  She’s been writing for nearly forty years, with a few small successes along the way, although she has long term health conditions. Having been traditionally published, small press published and she is now indie published.
She realized her unhip credentials were mounting so she decided to write about it. Little Guide to Unhip was first published in 2010 and it has since been updated.

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

Thalidomide Kid was published by Bewrite Books (2007).
She has had other short stories published and shortlisted including Hard Workers and Headboards, first published in The Diva Book of Short Stories and as part of the Dancing In The Dark erotic anthology, Pfoxmoor Publishing (2011). Hard Workers is to republished for a third time - in an anthology called ‘Condoms & Hot Tubs Don’t Mix’ - an anthology of Sexcapades - which is due to be published by Beating Windward Press in the US in February 2018.  It is her shortest ever story and yet the most popular in that sense!  All proceeds will go towards planned parenthood.
She also received a Southern Arts bursary for her novel Where A Shadow Played (now re-Kindled as Did You Whisper Back?).
More information can be found at her website:

Or her occasional blog:

Social Media Links


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