Today I am helping in the cover reveal for The Stepsister by Jenny O’Brien! Publication Day is October 29th. As an added bonus, I will be sharing the Prologue with you!
When a stranger leaves step-sisters, Victoria and Ness, a half-share in a house in Holland, they think it must be a mistake.
But there’s no mistake when Ness goes missing.
Desperate for the truth, Victoria heads to Holland to find out what happened to her. Has she, as her texts show, embarked on a whirlwind romance? Has someone abducted her or even worse?
But there’s someone watching, and that person wants her dead.
Can Victoria find out the truth before it’s too late?
What does the cover look like?????? First, read the Prologue then keep scrolling!!!
I died yesterday, or so I’ve been told.
Yesterday is the day my life changed but how or why is still a mystery. There are things I know and there are things that they’ve told me but I can’t seem to trust any of it.
I know I’m a woman but I don’t know my age. I know how to hold a cup in the same way I know it’s rude to stick the end of a knife in my mouth. So, somewhere along the way, someone cared enough to drill manners into me. Those are the things I know, the things I can trust but as for the rest…
They tell me I’m in Holland but can I believe them? I don’t remember if I’m Dutch but I also don’t remember if I’m not. I can’t speak Dutch. I’ve been trying all morning but can one lose a language overnight? I seem to have lost everything else. Who knows? Maybe I took the wrong train or something and just rolled up in the wrong city. That would make sense except that it’s not just my sense of place that’s missing. It’s my sense of everything. I have no name, no age and no identity. Yesterday I died and today I’m still here.
They’ve left me alone now while they try to puzzle out what to do and in the meantime I’m going to try to remember stuff. I don’t know how long they’ll leave me alone but I need to take this opportunity to come up with some answers to all the questions they’ve been throwing at me like who the hell I am.
Slipping out of bed I recoil as bare feet meets cold tiles, but that’s not going to stop me. Pulling the back of the hospital gown closed in an effort to retain some degree of dignity, I shuffle over to the bathroom and then the mirror only to stare into the face of a stranger.
It doesn’t matter what I look like or that I’m suffering from the worst case of bed-head known to man. It doesn’t matter that my eyes are green or that my hair is that shade of nondescript mouse that keeps colourists in business. The only thing that matters is my reflection, which holds no clues as to my identity. I’m a stranger to them. I’m a stranger to me.
My body holds a clue though – just one.
I push up my sleeve again to stare at the tattoo on my arm. The tattoo puzzles me. It’s not me, or part of me or who I think I am and yet it’s there, a large indelible letter V.
I have no idea what it stands for. Oh, I’m not stupid or anything or, at least I don’t think I am. I can’t quote which exams I’ve passed or if indeed I’ve ever attended school but I do know V stands for victory. But what does it mean to me? Am I victorious? Am I making a statement about something? It must be important because it’s the only tattoo I have. It’s also the only clue.
I’m tired now. My eyelids collapse over my eyes even as I struggle to shift them upwards as I remember the cocktail the nurse told me to swallow like a good girl. I want everything to go away. I want to hide under the blankets and forget. I’ve already forgotten…
Now that you have read the Prologue, let’s see that cover!
Here it is:
About the Author:
Jenny O’Brien was born in Ireland and, after a brief sojourn in Wales, now resides in Guernsey.
She’s an avid reader and book reviewer for NetGalley in addition to being a RoNA judge.
She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so. She’s also an avid collector of cats, broken laptops, dust and happy endings – two of which you’ll always find in her books.
In her spare time she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You’ll be pleased to note she won’t be entering Bake-Off.
Readers can find out more about Jenny from her blog.
The Fixer Upper
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Narrated by: Isabel Keating
Published: June 23, 2009
Today Kim and I bring you a double review of The Fixer Upper by a favorite of ours: MKA (better known as Mary Kay Andrews). We both really enjoyed this one!
After her boss in a high-powered Washington public relations firm is caught in a political scandal, fledgling lobbyist Dempsey Jo Killebrew is left almost broke, unemployed, and homeless. Out of options, she reluctantly accepts her father’s offer to help refurbish Birdsong, the old family place he recently inherited in Guthrie, Georgia. All it will take, he tells her, is a little paint and some TLC to turn the fading Victorian mansion into a real-estate cash cow.
But, oh, is Dempsey in for a surprise when she arrives in Guthrie. “Bird Droppings” would more aptly describe the moldering Pepto Bismol-pink dump with duct-taped windows and a driveway full of junk. There’s also a murderously grumpy old lady, one of Dempsey’s distant relations, who has claimed squatter’s rights and isn’t moving out. Ever.
Furthermore, everyone in Guthrie seems to know Dempsey’s business, from a smooth-talking real-estate agent to a cute lawyer who owns the local newspaper. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the pesky FBI agents who show up on Dempsey’s doorstep, hoping to pry information about her ex-boss from her.
All Dempsey can do is roll up her sleeves and get to work. And before long, what started as a job of necessity somehow becomes a labor of love and, ultimately, a journey that takes her to a place she never expected–back home again.
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
Mary Kay Andrews is easily one of my all time favorite authors. She has a way of capturing real Southern towns filled with real Southern people faced with outrageous, hilarious problems. Her characters are some of the funniest I have ever read about and the situations they find themselves in are unforgettable and crazy, yet totally believable.
Poor Dempsey Killebrew (MKA creates the awesomest names) finds herself in the middle of a federal investigation as the scapegoat for a rich and powerful DC lobbyist. She goes from sleek executive to house flipper in overalls all in a week. By the time I finished this book, I was ready to go flip a house. And you gotta understand, I am the least creative, crafty, construction minded, practical person you will ever meet.
Enter father-son, small town, legal team of Carter and Tee Berryhill and now you’ve got the elegant Southern gentleman factor. And, of course, Tee, fabulous man that he is, throws Dempsey’s world even more askew. But my favorite character of all, Ella Kate Timmons. Old, crotchety, and set in her ways Ella Kate and her yippy cocker spaniel, Shorty. If for no other reason, y’all need to read this book simply to meet Ella Kate. I normally listen to the audiobook, and the narrator brings such life to each character. Isabel Keating narrates several of MKA’s books, and if I see that she’s the narrator for a book, I don’t even read the synopsis, I just buy it.
This is such an awesome book and I recommend it to anyone who wants a fun, hilarious, heartwarming read.
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Dates Read: August 28- September 8, 2018
Mary Kay Andrews (MKA) is a ‘go to’ author of mine; her books are always so much fun and The Fixer Upper is another of those! She really captured the genuine small town feeling for me with Fixer Upper. I could picture everything she wrote as I listened to the audiobook. Everything was very descriptive and even the descriptions of Birdsong (the house) are well written.
I felt for Dempsey in her situation that she goes through. She’s an innocent (situationally and in life) and you want her to pull through everything successfully. It is crazy to believe how quickly she goes from a high class junior lobbyist to an overall wearing ‘do it yourself’-er in a small town. She obviously missed her calling in life!.
The heart of the novel is Ella Kate! She is an older woman very much set in her ways and tells it like it is and does not care what you think! She was my absolute favorite character and I would love to read more books with Ella Kate! You just have to read Fixer Upper to understand….
As previously mentioned, l listened to the audiobook version of Fixer Upper. I would recommend listening to the audio version as the narrator, Isabel Keating, does a superb job. Her portrayal of Ella Kate is 100% spot on!
The Fixer Upper is recommended.
**If reading The Fixer Upper gets you in the mood to buy a house that needs fixing up, we would be willing to sell ours…..
Today I am one of the stops on the blog tour for The Pretender by Katie Ward. I will be sharing an extract from the novel. There is also an international giveaway going on!
France 2000: Two babies are born on the same day just two hours apart – but to very different lives. Isabella is a Princess and heir to the French throne, while Sophia is born into a life of poverty and abuse at the hands of her father. At the age of 18, Sophia runs away from home. That same night, Isabella is also fleeing from the burden of her royal life when she finds Sophia slumped at the palace gates. Amazed by how alike they look, Isabella proposes a daring plot – to exchange their lives for one week.
‘The Pretender’ is an emotionally intense and compelling story of friendship, love and the strange power of destiny.
Having now switched places with Princess Isabella, Sophia is faced with the problem of not knowing anyone or where anything is in the Palace, despite the fact she is supposed to have grown up there. Waiting until the middle of the night when everyone is asleep, Sophia sneaks out to try and find where everything is in the Palace.…..
Lying wide awake in the dead of night, I wait until the castle is sleeping before I set out to explore.
Tugging the bed covers aside, I creep towards the door and place my ear against it. There isn’t even the smallest sound from outside, so I open it quietly and slip out of Isabella’s room into the corridor. It’s imperative that I learn where everything is if I stand any chance of making this venture work.
The silver glow of the moon gives an unearthly feel to the palace as I begin to descend the staircase. Standing in the centre of the foyer I gaze towards the corridors leading off it. Which one should I take first? Am I going to get lost?
‘Ahem, Princess, isn’t it a little late for you to be roaming round the palace?’
I jump with fright. Stood before me is a portly little man. His glasses sit strangely on his long nose. I try not to stare but he has an almost comical appearance, with his stern demeanour in perfect contrast to his comical look.
‘I couldn’t sleep, sir,’ I manage to say. ‘I just needed to stretch my legs.’
‘Isabella, why do you call me sir? If your father heard you, I’d be in trouble. I’m here to serve you, not the other way around.’
I sigh deeply. It’s difficult to be treated as if you are on a pedestal. I never thought I’d say it, but I miss being treated like me.
‘If I told you a secret, would you promise to keep it?’ I ask him. ‘I need to tell someone or I’ll go mad – but you must promise you’ll never say anything.’ I’m taking a big risk, but I don’t see any alternative.
‘I’m the soul of discretion, dear Princess, and I swear I won’t reveal your secret to anyone. I tell you what, let’s go and have a cup of chocolat chaud and you can tell me all about it.’
He’s so comforting and kind. My spirits lift a little as I follow the man down to the kitchens, trying to discreetly make mental notes on how to get back. The man pulls out a chair for me at a table, quietly pottering around making the hot chocolate, bringing it to the table with some chocolate madeleines. He conveys an air of calm that helps me to relax slightly.
‘I thought you might like a little treat, Princess, you need to keep your strength up, and I know these are your favourites.’
‘Thank you, that’s so sweet of you.’ I am suddenly ravenous. I take a sip of the sweet chocolate drink and nibble on a delicious chocolate biscuit, all the while keeping my focus on the man and his kind face. Is it the right thing to do, to speak? Will he really keep my secret – or will I ruin everything?
‘So, Isabella, what is it that’s bothering you? I know your parents are very concerned, as you haven’t been yourself these past few days. Come on now, you can tell old Baptiste what the trouble is.’
I swallow a piece of biscuit and say: ‘Well, that’s just it. You see, I’m not who you think I am. The reason I’m acting so oddly is because I’m not Isabella and I don’t know anyone here. I’ve no idea who you are.’
A wary look crosses the man’s face, his penetrative stare maps my face trying to find a trace of difference in my face. His brow knits together as he fails to do so.
‘I can’t believe that. I’ve known Isabella since she was a baby and looking at you now I see the same child I always have. But your explanation does account for your odd behaviour – unless you are ill, my poor child. Oh, I just don’t know what to think! If it’s true, how could this have happened?’
‘Please don’t tell anyone,’ I beg urgently. ‘It’s a secret and it must stay that way. Promise me you won’t say a thing and I’ll tell you everything.’
‘As long as you are not in danger, of course, I won’t say a thing. To be honest, I don’t think anyone would believe me anyway. I’m not sure I can believe it myself.’
‘It happened the night that Isabella had the big argument with her father about going to Paris. She was really upset and decided to run away. We met at the palace gates, I had fled after my father attacked me, after Isabella found me crying at the gates she brought me to her room. When she saw how alike we looked, she suggested that we exchange places for a week.’ I gulp. ‘She was desperate for a taste of freedom and I was desperate for some security . . .’
I pull up my sleeves, showing him the bruises upon my arms.
‘My name is Sophia Lazarus. My family live on the Forest estate– after fleeing my home I had nowhere else to go so I came to the palace because it’s the only place I’ve ever felt safe.
The kindly man’s face goes pale. ‘Oh, my word. What a terrible thing to do to anyone, let alone your own child. I’m so sorry for you.’
‘Isabella was ready to make her escape, but when she found me there, slumped and weeping in pain, she got the guard to let me in and we climbed back up a makeshift rope to her room.’ I can’t help but smile at the memory. ‘It was one of the strangest nights of my life I still can’t believe that it really happened.’
‘I see. So that’s how she came to have a stranger in her bedroom when the King and Queen walked in . . . Things certainly make a lot more sense now.’
About the Author:
Katie Ward always knew she wanted to write for a living. However, she was told by her careers advisor that “it might be more appropriate for you to work in a shop”. When Katie didn’t get the grades she needed to get into college, she negotiated a three month trial. After successfully completing the course she secured a place at her first choice university to study Journalism.
After realising she wanted to be an author, Katie moved to Dublin where she worked her way up from receptionist to Executive Assistant at Merrill Lynch. Katie continued to write in her spare time, submitting her short story into the “Do the Write Thing” competition being run by Irish TV show ‘Seoige and O’Shea’. This story was originally written when Katie was 14 after she was inspired by an article in her favourite teen magazine. Katie was the only non-Irish author selected to have her story published in an anthology of the same name which reached 19 in the Irish Best sellers List. Katie was also shortlisted for a competition judged by MAN Booker Prize winning author Roddy Doyle which was run by Metro Eireann newspaper.
Katie currently lives in Devon with her cat (aka ‘Her Royal Fluffiness’) where she sings in a community choir and has recently taken up Archery. Katie’s favourite author has been Roald Dahl since she was a child as she loves the dark edge he brings to his books. On the flip side though, Katie loves Disney, magic, unicorns and a good rom com film at the cinema with her friends.
Win a signed original illustration from Emma Haines. She is the artist who drew the cover illustrations of The Pretender.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.[Top]