Friday, October 21, 2016

Never Again by Nicky Clifford - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

Book review

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Review by Anniek
 
Harriet is in desperate need to change her life. When her mother dies of a terrible illness and her boyfriend breaks off the relationship Harriet is thinking of dreams she had in the past. She quits her well paid job and goes to the Swiss Alps to work at a hotel. Harriet quickly makes friends with the other staff and the guests. The Swiss Alps are beautiful and Harriet is looking forward to spend the season here.

Philippe came to the Swiss Alps to write his second novel. He needs the peace and quiet that this secluded area will give him. Once he was on top of the world, being a star tennis player, but an accident ended his professional career. The woman he was engaged to left him while he was still in the hospital. Physically Philippe is healed, even though he still has a small limp, but mentally he is still scarred.

At work Harriet was known as the ice queen. She was always on top of everything and didn't let emotions cloud her judgment. Her boyfriend, Greg, is not treating her well but she's staying anyway because she loves his son Toby so much. When Greg chooses another woman over her this actually appears to be a good thing. Harriet turns from someone who lets her man walk all over her into a woman who can stand up for herself. I really liked reading about how Harriet fights her battles and comes out stronger every time. It's a powerful message.

Philippe has a lot on his plate. He has sworn off women and is totally focusing on writing his book. He also takes care of his family and his little sister, who has an alcohol problem. With everything that is going on Philippe needs to spend some time on his own. When he meets Harriet he knows straight away that she's going to be trouble, but he can't seem to stop thinking about her and wants to get to know her better. I admired Philippe for the man he is, he's always taking care of other people and forgets himself in the process. He needs to accept that some things are just the way they are and that it's alright to choose your own happiness.
 
Never Again is a beautiful and heartbreaking story about how life can leave its scars. Love will always outshine everything else, if you're willing to let it in. Nicky Clifford shows her readers that putting yourself first doesn't have to be a selfish act. She has created a beautiful setting, the Swiss Alps are gorgeous and she makes them come to life very well. I would love to go there sometime now that I've read this book. Never Again is filled with drama, romance and great characters. Nicky Clifford has written a strong debut that kept me intrigued from beginning to end.
 
- "What had he become? As he rose up the ranks of the heights of a famous tennis player, his ego had grown with him. If you are treated like a king and worshipped long enough, you start to believe you are a king. ....When all of that is ripped away, you become a 'nobody'. In fact, you are worse than a 'nobody' because you are a 'has been'. You lose yourself and you become rudderless."-
 
About Nicky Clifford
 
 
Years Ago

Briefly . . . I screamed my way into this world in the mid-60s and have lived in Berkshire all my life (apart from a few months here and there).

I was, coincidentally, born in the same hospital in Hendon as my husband, Mark, although he arrived a few years after me. We didn’t discover this fact until we went on holiday together and compared passports, as you do . . .

Family

In a nutshell, I have two teenage sons: my eldest, Sam, is at Bath Uni and my youngest, who wishes to remain nameless, is at College. Sam has a lovely, lovely girlfriend, Beth, who works for Chase de Vere. She is my inherited daughter and chief champion of my writing. Mark and I have been together for 12 years, married for four.

Work

Most of my working life has been spent in large corporates working in human resources and training departments. Within these roles, I edited/coordinated newsletters.

As a complete change, I now work for the local vicar. She is a dynamic lady. I can safely say that I do not sit and twiddle my thumbs, whisk away the dust settled on the one electric typewriter resting on an ancient desk and produce the odd letter to the parishioners. Oh no, she is like a Duracell battery . . . and who knew that ‘parochial fees’ and the ‘Diocese’ and the like could be so complicated?

Regrets

That I didn’t embark on a career in writing earlier in my life.

Strange Hobbies

Much to the embarrassment of my youngest son, I took up ice-skating well past my 20s! Under the expert and patient guidance of my ice coach, I learned to skate backwards, execute crossovers (forwards and backwards, don’t you know), one foot turns and other complicated manoeuvres.

Ironically, the only bone I have broken since then is my toe; a chopping board fell off the draining board onto my foot squashing the poor little digit. Would you believe it?
 
However, bruises are an occupational hazard of ice-skating, as is skewering myself in the knee with my ice skate . . . ouch!
 
Find out more at
 

Interview
 
1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
 
Okay, so I have just turned 50, and although it is scary being half way to 100, this has been one of my best years yet, so I am extremely hopeful for the future! I live in a little village in Berkshire, England with my husband and one of my sons – the other is at Bath University. Most of my working life has been spent in large corporates in human resources and training, however, I am now enjoying a slower pace of life working part-time for a charity and focusing on my writing. I enjoy baking sugar-free, wheat-free delicacies, watching The Great British Bake-Off and spending the evening at the cinema, especially at the new luxury cinema where you have your own padded, reclining seat (I promise I don’t bring along my slippers – that can wait until I am in my 70s)!
 
2. On your website I found that you and your husband were born in the same hospital. Do you believe in coincidence or fate?
 
D’you know, I really do. I am fascinated by the ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ theory, which states that everyone is only six or fewer steps away from any other person in the world. I would definitely like to write a novel around this theory. There are so many weird coincidences I have heard about or experienced, it would be hard for me not to believe in coincidence/fate. For example, when my cousin, William, was being shown around a house in Berkshire by a local estate agent, William explained that he was selling his house in Leicester, a couple of hours away; the estate agent turned to him and said: ‘Yes, I know. I’m buying it for my daughter!’ My brother, Adrian, was on a remote beach in Indonesia where he met a girl who went to the same boarding school in Ireland as my best friend, Clare from Berkshire. And I could go on!
 
3. What do you like to do when you're not writing, reading or ice-skating?
 
I work part-time for a local charity, which helps autistic children with their social, communication and independence skills; it is a very rewarding job. I’ve very recently hung up my ice-skating boots; instead, my husband and I are taking ballroom dancing lessons, which is hilarious. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve stepped on each other’s toes – I love it! We also go cycling together along the Kennet and Avon canal in Berkshire. In order to relax, there is this wonderful gluten-free café in Reading – Nibsy’s – it is my favourite place to sit with a piece of their delicious sugar-free, gluten-free cake and a decaf, soya cappuccino! I spend most of my spare time with my family and friends.
 
4. You also write poetry. What is your favourite poem and why?
 
Hmmm, that is an interesting question. How to choose a favourite? It actually changes from day to day! On this occasion, however, I will be cheeky and pick a couple:
 
‘Sometimes my heart breaks’ - it was quite literally written from the heart when I was going through a period in my life which was, as it says, completely and utterly heart-wrenchingly, heart-breaking. The wonderful thing now is that I can look back and feel sad, but my heart is no longer in pieces.
 
‘Effortlessly Preened’ - I remember someone asking me how I always looked so ‘put together’ – this was post-toddler stage! It made me laugh because they would have been so shocked had I told them the hours I had spent bleaching, plucking, dying, smoothing, straightening, creaming, painting, etc. I am sometimes tempted to carry around a ‘before’ photo of me, but that would scare everyone half to death; that ‘privilege’ is reserved solely for family!
 
5. The new year is coming up. Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
 
I used to give up various things for New Year, however, due to a variety of reasons, I am not able to eat refined sugar or wheat, drink alcohol or caffeine and I have to be careful with dairy and how much I exercise, so I feel determined not to give anything else up! However, now you mention it, my New Year’s resolution for 2017 may well be to finish novel number two, which I am already halfway through.
 
6. On your website you explain how you write. Do you have any more advice for aspiring authors?
 
Believe in yourself.

Find the courage to show other people your writing and to ask for feedback – it can be scary and demoralising, but my writing has improved hugely from doing this.

Join a writing group – this has been instrumental in improving both my confidence and my writing.

Keep writing, even if you don’t feel like writing and even if you don’t feel inspired. Action can re-trigger creativity.

Don’t ever give up on your dream – I have wanted to publish a novel since I was old enough to hold a crayon, and even though it has taken me until the age of 50, there is nothing like holding your own book in your hands for the very first time.
 
7. Where do you find the inspiration for your stories/poems?
 
My poems are almost always inspired by my life experiences or emotions I am feeling at a particular time or they are written for a friend or relative. I find writing incredibly cathartic, which is lucky because I do a lot of it! Many of my poems start with one line, which throws itself persistently into my mind, and then I have to scrabble around for a notebook and start scribbling before the inspiration leaves me. When this happens, the words gush out like water from the Niagara Falls. So, for example, the line ‘when life swallows me whole’ popped into my brain a few months ago and this very quickly resulted in my poem ‘Gasping for Breath’.
 
Short stories generally spring from something that interests me. For example, when I was walking by the river in Shropshire with my family, I spotted a half-full can of tuna abandoned on the grass. This lodged in my mind and I couldn’t stop wondering what this was doing on the river bank, hence, many years later, ‘Half-Eaten Tuna’ was born. As my granny suffered with Alzheimer’s, I was able to draw on some of her experience to shape my story.
 
8. You wrote a blog poem post about Sweet Temptation. What are your favourite sweets?
 
The hilarious thing about this poem is that I no longer eat sweets or chocolate or anything containing refined sugar as they make me feel really ill – probably due to the amount I ate when I was younger! I wrote this poem years ago and I can’t remember if it was a case of ‘look back and mourn the tasty morsels I can no longer eat’ or whether I was in the midst of giving into sweet temptation far too regularly! I do, however, eat sugar free chocolate on occasion (my favourite being chocolate covered nuts and raisins), although the caffeine keeps me buzzing for hours afterwards!
 
9. Never Again is about mountains, mystery and romance. What's the most romantic thing that ever happened to you?
 
When my husband, Mark, got down on one knee inside Douai Abbey, a beautiful monastery not far from our home, and proposed. What more could a girl want?! And almost as romantic is when Mark recently bought me some ballroom dancing lessons for my birthday, when he does not enjoy dancing one little bit and swears he has two left feet . . . having had our second lesson together, he wasn’t wrong – my toes are still throbbing from the aftermath!
 
10. What can we expect from you in the future?
 
Definitely more novels! I can’t wait to get back into the ebb and flow of my next book. I have a few completed and half-finished novels just waiting to be re-energised and brought back to life. One of these, my next novel, starts in a solicitor’s office, and whilst there are no mountains, as in Never Again, there is more than one romance and it will hide away its fair share of mystery within its pages. I will always continue to write poems, as this is as natural to me as breathing.
 
Many thanks to Anniek for inviting me onto her blog and for all her support.
 
Giveaway
 
One very lucky reader of With Love For Books will win a Kindle copy of Never Again by Nicky Clifford.
 
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

9 comments:

  1. Great review. Real life is never smooth. I like the sound of this

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  2. Lovely review. I have just finished this book and really enjoyed it. I love how you wrote "Love will outshine everything, if you let it.". Because that is so true, and came out really well in Nicky's book.
    Amanda.

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  3. The book review sounds good. Thanks for sharing. Love the cover and interview too.

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  4. #2's an interesting fact

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  5. interesting review, looks great xx

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  6. Fantastic review. Sounds so good.

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  7. Looks like a good read want to get it after I finish my current book!

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  8. I really enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!



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