Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour - Family, Friends and Lovers Collection by Sophie King (Excerpts and Review)

Click here for the full Chick Lit Plus Tour schedule.

I always get very excited when I find a new favourite author and Sophie King is my new author crush!

Read on for excerpts of this fabulous collection and my review!

Buy the Books!

Box Set Collection:

The School Run:
Falling in Love Again:
Love is a Secret:
Second Time Lucky:

Author Bio

Sophie King is the author of six novels and a collection of short stories about families, friends and lovers. Her first novel, The School Run, was a bestseller when first published in 2005, and it was a bestseller for the second time when republished by Corazon Books in 2012. Sophie also supports new romance writing through her annual writing competition The Sophie King Prize.

In between novels, Sophie writes short stories and has had hundreds published in magazines. She also gives regular talks/workshops at bookshops and literary festivals. For three years, she was writer in residence at HMP Grendon, a high-security male prison. Sophie lives by the sea, in Devon, England. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association; Women in Journalism; the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and the National Union of Journalists.

The School Run 

Widower Nick is worried when his daughter is late home from school ...

At nearly eleven twenty, just when Nick had decided he would call the police, Mutley barked and he heard a key in the lock. Thank God! He felt sick with relief.
‘What the hell do you think you’re playing at?’ he demanded.
Julie, cheeks glowing, bounced in. ‘Sorry, Dad. I couldn’t get back until now. Hang on a minute.’ She turned round on the doorstep and waved at a car. Someone called, ‘Night, Julie,’ as they drove off. A girl’s voice.
‘Who was that?’
‘Jason. And some other friends. Can I have some of that?’
‘No, you can’t. You smell as though you’ve had a few already. Who was driving?’
She flopped down on the sofa and began to play with the TV remote control. ‘Jason, if you must know.’
Nick felt hot. Did men get menopausal too, or was it just parent paranoia? ‘I told you, Julie, you’re not to be driven by other teenagers. It’s a rule. I won’t have it.’
She rolled her eyes as she flicked through the channels. ‘Oh, give over, Dad. Anyway, if you really want to know, he wasn’t driving. I was.’
‘You were driving? That’s illegal.’
‘No, it’s not. We found some L-plates. Well, at the front, anyway. And I needed the practice. It’s not as though you give me enough. Now, please, I’m trying to watch Big Brother.’
Nick grabbed the remote. ‘How long has Jason been driving?’
‘Dad, give that back!’
‘Not until you tell me how long that boy has been driving.’
She rolled her eyes.
Nick could smell her breath from where he was standing. How many drinks had she had?
‘A whole year. That’s how long. Now, will you stop panicking? And give that back!’ She snatched the remote from him.
‘Then it is illegal,’ said Nick. ‘You have to have driven for three years before you can supervise a learner.’
‘How interesting.’
‘Julie.’ He sat down next to her on the sofa. ‘Look at me. You were lucky not be stopped by the police. Where did you go?’
‘Some bloke in Jason’s maths set. Jason needed to drop something off. Then we went to a bar. Chill out, Dad. It’s no big deal. I’m eighteen in six months and then I can do what I like. Mum was only my age when she met you.’
Her trump card. Juliana. Tomorrow. Two years. He ought to make allowances. ‘Let’s go to bed.’ He suddenly felt weary. ‘I’ll just walk Mutley.’
‘Let me kiss him before you go.’ Julie stumbled off the sofa and buried her face in the dog’s neck.
‘How many drinks did you have tonight, as a matter of interest?’
‘Three Bacardi and Cokes.’ She got up and turned up the television volume. ‘And before you ask, it was after I finished driving. Jason drove afterwards and he hadn’t had anything. Satisfied?’
‘I’m not happy about it,’ he said quietly. ‘It’s not a good week, I know, but it’s hard for me too.’
Her eyes softened. ‘I’m sorry, Dad.’ She leaned towards him and kissed his cheek softly, like her mother had at the beginning. ‘I just want to see the end of this. If I’m not here when you get back, I’ll have gone to bed.’ She was looking at the screen again.
Maybe, thought Nick, the driving and the drink and the television were her way of getting through tomorrow. Perhaps Amber was right: he should respect the way she was dealing with her loss. Everyone coped differently with bereavement.
He bent down to kiss her. She smelt of cigarettes. Only a few years ago, he thought sadly, it had been baby lotion.

About The School Run

‘The School Run’ is when, during morning rush hour, parents drive their children to the school gates. Sophie King’s much loved novel has been a bestseller twice, first in print and then digitally. It was chosen as one of Chick Lit Central’s favourite novels of 2012.

Meet Harriet, Pippa, Evie, Nick, Kitty and Martine as they battle the daily school run. Share their ups and downs during one life-changing week, as they face relationship dilemmas, family dramas, secrets and lies ... all leading to surprise events which cause their lives to collide.

Harriet doesn’t know whether she'll still have a marriage by the end of the week. But as she waits for her husband’s decision about their relationship, does Harriet have more choices of her own than she realised?

Pippa is waiting too ‒ for the results of medical tests that could bring devastating news about her health and future. But could it be Pippa’s own actions that threaten all she holds dear?

Evie is struggling with her high-pressure job on a magazine and dealing with two step-daughters who hate her. But when her husband disappears can she rise to her biggest challenge yet?

Widower Nick worries about his teenage daughter, Julie, as they approach the anniversary of her mother’s death. Can Nick keep his guilty secret about how she died?

School teacher Kitty needs a man. At least that’s what her friend Mandy tells her. Can she win Mandy’s bet to find one by the end of the week?

Martine is unhappy as the au pair for a famous TV couple. Will she find her escape with a married man?

Meanwhile, Betty watches on, determined to find the hit and run driver who killed her young son ...
Seven people living different lives, but their paths are destined to cross in ways they could never have imagined.

Love is a Secret

Magazine journalist Caroline is finding life tough since her husband had an affair ...

Maybe, thought Caroline, studying Diana furtively as the editor dissected the beauty editor’s ideas on non-surgical face lifts, it was easier not to be married. Diana was a single mum, an elegant,  contented one. She had a younger boyfriend in advertising with whom she didn’t live, and a nine-year-old son at an expensive private day school in London. She was always impeccably groomed with her hair cut in a spiky black style, and her clothes were generally from East. She had enough empathy with her staff to understand when things went wrong – not that she knew anything about Roger – and enough grit to demand action when it was needed.
Marriage would probably destroy her.
‘Right. Moving on to Parenting.’ Diana’s nails – French-manicured – drummed on the pad in front of her. ‘I want to get more relationship-y. This page is beginning to focus too much on the poor-little-me side of parenting. Don’t you think, Zelda?’
‘Depends how you see it, really.’ Zelda glanced nervously across the pale beech conference table at Caroline. ‘Actually, we’ve got a great idea here. Are mums becoming selfish?’
Diana pursed her impeccably lined lips. ‘Exactly what I don’t want. Anyway, Just For You did something similar last month. I want to help readers get through the impossible stuff that happens in their lives.’
‘Like bad sex,’ ventured the girl from Practicals. A titter ran round the table.
Caroline cleared her throat. ‘What about How to rewire your dead marriage?’ The What Mums Know discussion topic – she’d spotted it after her laptop had unfrozen itself on the train – had ironic potential.
‘I fancy Infidelity,’ mused Diana.
Caroline’s mouth dried. ‘What angle were you thinking of?’
‘Did you see that new survey about marriage? No?’ Her eyes narrowed with disapproval. ‘Pity. One in four couples who have experienced infidelity are now trying again to make their relationship work compared with one in seven five years ago. I want you to find me three case histories who’ll come clean. Yes, Zelda, identified with pics. Women who can say that their husband had an affair but are prepared to start again.’
‘Men, too?’ demanded Zelda, sharply.
‘If you can get one.’
‘I know this isn’t my area,’ drawled the beauty editor, ‘but nowadays that just doesn’t happen. My brother-in-law had an affair and my sister threw him out of the house before he could pack his iPad. Any self-respecting woman would do the same.’
‘Not according to the marriage expert quoted in the survey.’
Diana’s fingers were drumming again. ‘What do you think, Caroline?’
‘I think it’s going to be tough to find people who’ll be identified,’ she said quietly.
‘Try online.’ Diana tossed her hair dismissively. ‘Find some self-help group. All kinds of idiots want to be in print. I don’t need to tell you that. Pay them a hundred each. Two if you have to. There’s got to be someone out there who’ll talk.’
Caroline glanced at Zelda, whose face shone with unspoken sympathy. Poor you. She didn’t know or she wouldn’t have suggested it. Are you all right?

About Love is a Secret

Love is a Secret: Sophie King brings us another heart-warming and witty romance. Four very different people meet online through What Mums Know, a new website for mothers. But none of them is quite who they seem. Little do they realise that when they start to share relationship and parenting secrets, their lives will never be the same again.

Caroline is finding it difficult to trust her husband Roger. Can a marriage really survive an affair? Then a chance meeting makes her wonder if it's time for a fresh start ...

Susan is struggling to bring up her disabled daughter Tabitha on her own, and dreams of a better life for them both. But just when it seems things can’t get any worse, a knock at the door changes everything.

Mark is learning how to be a single dad while his wife Hilary is away. But as he wrestles with the secrets he is keeping from his family, he’s blissfully unaware of the secrets they're keeping from him.

Lisa is looking forward to the birth of her child. Will a new baby help her get over the past? Whatever that is ...

Sometimes you have to keep a secret from the one you love - and sometimes you have to keep the one you love a secret.

Second Time Lucky 

Marcie is trying her best to deal with her husband's difficult ex-wife and moody children ...

The apartment was still gleaming by the time the children came over on Friday night. Sally might be a little weird but she did a good job. Katy’s and Robert’s rooms looked wonderful and Sally had even gotten rid of those cigarette marks that Robert, who shouldn’t be smoking at his age anyway, had left on the dresser in her bedroom.
‘Hi. How’re you doing?’ called out Marcie from the front doorstep as Diana’s red Saab convertible pulled up, scattering gravel at her feet. She had always been determined, since meeting David, that she was not going to be one of those second wives who resented their husband’s first family. It made it easier, of course, that David had been divorced for a couple of years before she’d met him, so no one could accuse her of being a marriage-breaker. Not that you would think so from Diana’s frosty manner.
‘Feel like a coffee?’ she called out as the kids unloaded their gear from the trunk.
Diana stared stonily ahead, without putting down the window. She’d had her hair cut into a spiky style that made her look even harder. Sometimes Marcie would feel a frisson of panic at the fact that she was so different. How could David have ever fallen for someone like that? Had he chosen her because she was different? And if so, or even if not, what did it say about her?
‘Ask your mom if she wants to come in, can you?’ she said to Katy who was already walking past her without so much as a hello.
‘Forget it,’ said Robert, slamming the trunk. ‘She can’t stand you. Doesn’t know what Dad sees in you. Says you’re young enough to be his daughter.’
Marcie tightened her lips. The weekend always started like this when David wasn’t around. As soon as he returned from work, the kids would stop being outright hostile and be cool but polite to her.
Well, as she’d told herself enough times already, if that’s how they wanted to play it, she’d go along with their game. It was an awkward age, seventeen and thirteen. She could remember exactly how she’d felt then. On the other hand, like Virginia said, she couldn’t let them go on being impossible for ever. If only they could be awful to her in front of David, then he would do something. But when she’d started to tell him about their nasty remarks, something strange flitted over his face and her gut instinct told her not to push it. He was their father, after all.
‘I’ve made your favourite supper,’ she said, standing at the doorway as they slung their bags on to Robert’s bed. Already, there were scuff marks on the carpet – maybe cream hadn’t been such a great idea after all – even though they knew they were meant to take their shoes off. ‘Spaghetti bolognese with gluten-free pasta.’
‘Ugh,’ said Robert, making a face.
‘Come again? Last week, you said it was your favourite.’
‘Yeah, well I’ve gone off it now.’ Brazenly, he opened a packet of crisps and proceeded to eat them, one by one, openly challenging her with his eyes to say something.
Katy threw herself on the bed, her shoes still on. ‘Me, too. Can I have one of those, Robert?’
Don’t let them get the better of you. Don’t. She took a deep breath. ‘Well, I could get a gluten-free pizza out of the freezer.’

About Second Time Lucky

Another engaging tale of love and life from Sophie King. Meet the residents of Bridgewater House, once a grand stately home, but now converted into apartments which house a host of colourful characters, each with their own desires and secrets.

Louise thought she had everything, then suddenly finds herself as a single mum with an uncertain future. Can she build a new life for her and her children? And has real happiness been right under her nose all along?

Roddy was once the heir to Bridgewater House, but now he’s a drunken lord who’s fallen on hard times. Can he prove to his ex-wife that he has cleaned up his act, or is he about to risk everything in a desperate scheme to prove how much he loves his kids?

Molly is a famous actress, coming to terms with retirement and the recent death of her actor husband Gideon. But dare she tell anyone that Gideon still comes to visit her? And how will she react to some unexpected messages from beyond the grave?

American Marcie always fantasised about marrying an English gentleman, just like one of her Jane Austen heroines. But will two resentful stepchildren, and failed attempts to have a baby of her own, get in the way of her dream happy ending? And what would her husband David make of her secret shame from the past?

As each of these neighbours faces their own challenges, their lives are about to become entwined in ways they never could have expected.

Second Time Lucky – doesn't everyone deserve a second chance?

My Review

5 Stars

I loved these stories.   Once I finished reading one book I was eager to get straight on to the next group of characters.  I really enjoyed how each character was so real, both major and minor, I never felt as though any of the situations or reaction were unbelievable or exaggerated - Sophie seemed to hold back from what could have easily become cheesy or melodramatic.   One of my favourite parts were the extra little interludes at the ends of some of the chapters ie the correspondence in Love is a Secret and the conversations in The School Run as I think they really added more depth to the characters and their interactions.   I also really enjoyed how a minor detail would often turn into a major one.

I'm so glad I could take part in Sophie's blog tour and very pleased to have found a new favourite.