Best Practice by Penny Parkes (Blog Tour + Guest Post)

Hi amigos! Today I am so very thrilled to welcome Penny Parkes to my blog! For all those of you who doesn’t know it yet, Penny is the author of the brilliant, heart – warming and gorgeous The Larkford Series and the third installment, Best Practice, was published on 28th July in paperback by Simon & Schuster. The lovely Penny has written a guest post for us about three books that shaped her writing life – put your feet high and enjoy!

 

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Three books that shaped my writing life – Penny Parkes

Ask me who my literary heroes are and, from a very (annoyingly) young age, I would talk about my favourite authors – the people behind the stories being just as fascinating to me, as the characters within them.

So, in truth, it’s not surprising that I was always one of those readers who would count down the days until the newest offering from these ‘destination authors’ arrived. Not for me something slender and literary – I would always prioritise chunky, tome-like books over clothes in my holiday suitcase – and the photographs from my eighties travels will testify to my precocious (albeit questionable) ‘skills’ with a capsule wardrobe. Chunky novels, though hefty, have always been my go-to pleasure – diving in for five hundred pages of well-crafted, relatable, escapist fiction.

I’m going to blame the marvellous M.M.Kaye for triggering this obsession – her novel The Far Pavilions found me at an impressionable age, when our local librarian had given up pointing me towards more suitable offerings, and allowed me to make the most of my family’s entire collection of library cards by weight, if not by virtue. (See also Ken Follett!) The thing that made this particular book stand out, was that it was like nothing I had ever experienced, in real life or in fiction – it was transporting and illuminating and a little bit terrifying at times. In short, I was hooked.

Penny Vincenzi picked up the reins of my chunky novel obsession shortly afterwards. How, I used to wonder, did she make me care about every single one of her characters, and to weave them so tightly and cleverly together, until I emerged blinking after a day or two, unsure of which reality I now inhabited. That, I decided, was a true art form and one I dreamed of emulating. Even writing this paragraph gives me a lump in my throat remembering reading the crash scene in The Best of Times with tears pouring down my face, and knowing that the wonderful, late, great, dearly missed Penny has written her last denouement.

I’ve always been a bit slutty with my reading habits – thrillers, domestic noir, young adult, romantic comedies, biographies, even if I’m honest, the multi-lingual back of the shampoo bottle – but there is a certain kind of book I return to time and time again. The kind of book that reels me in, makes me laugh, breaks my heart and makes me whole again and for that I can only cite Marian Keyes.

Rachel’s Holiday is, in my opinion, a modern classic – darkly funny, deeply touching and beautifully crafted. Without this book, my writing aspirations would be like driving the Cotswold lanes without a signpost.

Now, when I sit down to write, I have Katie Fforde’s wonderful quote for my first book pinned above my desk – ‘light and funny, but deep and meaningful at the same time’ – and I know exactly where that motivation came from and, that if I’m doing it right, then maybe one day somebody might run into the bookstore with their weekend plans on hold because my new book is hitting the shelves…

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Best Practice by Penny Parkes

Best Practice by Penny Parkes

 

39110499Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 22nd February 2018 (Hardcover), 28th June 2018 (Paperback)

Series: The Larkford Series #3 (read my review of “Practice Makes Perfect” here  )

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

THE BRAND NEW BESTSELLER FROM THE AUTHOR OF OUT OF PRACTICE
Love and laughter with the residents of Larkford is exactly what the doctor ordered!

Dr Alice Walker has become accomplished at presenting a façade to the world – to anyone watching, she is the epitome of style, composure and professionalism. But perhaps it was to be expected that the cracks might begin to show at some point. Thankfully Grace is on hand to offer both friendship and support when it’s needed most.

Meanwhile, Dr Holly Graham has her hands full both professionally and personally. Planning a wedding with Taffy Jones is challenging enough, even before some surprising news changes everything. At least beloved Larkford resident, Elsie, still has a few tricks left up her sleeve!

Dr Dan Carter, on the other hand, has decided to throw himself into his career – the best antidote he’s found to unrequited love. When tragedy strikes in the heart of Larkford, Dan makes it his mission to help the community.

Rating: four-stars

From the first page of “Best Practice” I had a feeling that I’m back with my old friends – it was as if there was nothing between me reading this third instalment in The Larkford series and the two previous books. We are actually immediately thrown into the medical action and it really never stops. Theoretically this book can be read as a stand – alone but I personally think there is too much background to be missed if you jump straight and direct into “Best Practice” without reading the two previous stories.

It was really a great feeling to be able to follow the characters and to see how they moved forwards after the story finished in “Practice Makes Perfect”. There is a large number of characters in this novel but the old ones that we’ve already got to know and like are also there. The brilliant couple Holly and Taffy who are so tender and so brilliant around each other, and I really, really love their relationship. Is the big wedding really what they need? Dr Dan Carter, Taffy’s companion in so many silly games is distracted and has to face up a new challenge – the practice manager Grace. The big enigma Dr. Alice Walker, who joined the practice in the previous book is also there, and her plot was probably the one that I’ve read the most enthusiastically. She has to deal with her own health issues and there is this big question about her assistance dog, Coco. And let’s not forget Elsie, who this time showed the most gentle and tender side to her. All those stories were weaving seamlessly and effortlessly into one another.

I must be in a minority here but what bothered me so much was that there run so many parallel stories that I couldn’t find the main one. There were so many, many characters in this book, coming to the practice with their health problems, and while they were interesting I just couldn’t shake off the feeling that they’re drawing us away from the main plot. I think I get where the author was coming from here, emphasize the significance and importance of health service but on the other hand I was never sure if, and which, of those could be a turning point for the plot. Don’t get me wrong here, pretty please, I guess thanks to all the accidents and incidents the pace of the book was truly well paced but it is probably why I didn’t feel as much a part of the characters” lives and I just wanted more of the main plot – this about the rural medicinal facilities being shut down and the campaign going to keep them open.

It is truly a book that introduces us to many, many medical conditions and accidents and while it is obvious that the author truly knows what she’s writing about, it is all written in such an accessible way. This novelk links many issues and topics together. It touches upon love, friendship, patchwork families and heath. It is full of depth and this lovely, overwhelming feeling of kindness and support. Even though it is also about really serious stuff, there is this feel – good vibe to it and tons of heart.
“Best Practice” is a story that ticks many boxes for being a perfect summer read. There is humour and a lot of funny moments, there are plenty of poignant moments that will make you go weak at your knees and go “awwww”, it looks much, much deeper under the surface of politics, money, men in black suits to show what’s really important when it comes to deal with ill people. This, as well as this lovely, brilliantly captured sense of community and really well developed characters, must be ones of the strongest points of this novel. The author has also in a great way weaved the romance aspect and romantic sparkles that added lightness and were like a breath of fresh air. Truly recommended!

 

 

Practice Makes Perfect by Penny Parkes / #BlogTour + #GuestPost

Hi guys, a new day, a new blog tour – and I have plenty of them coming your way in the next days. Plenty! But today I am absolutely thrilled as Penny Parkes’s blog tour stops by on the blog. I am sure you have heard about Penny and her lovely books – Practice Makes Perfect is actually my first read by this author but she’s just won a new devoted fan in yours truly. Next to my review, I also have a guest post from Penny – enjoy!


Practice Makes Perfect by Penny Parkes



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Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 29th June 2017

Series: The Larkford Series #2

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 576

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

This surgery is full of scandal and secrets!

The Practice at Larkford has suddenly been thrust under the spotlight – and its nomination as a ‘NHS Model Surgery’ is causing the team major headaches.

Dr Holly Graham should be basking in the glow of her new romance with fellow doctor, Taffy – but she is worried that the team is prioritising plaudits over patients, and her favourite resident, the irreverent and entertaining Elsie, is facing a difficult diagnosis. Add to that the chaos of family life and the strain is starting to show.

Dr Dishy Dan Carter’s obsession with work is masking unhappiness elsewhere – he can’t persuade girlfriend Julia to settle down. It’s only as Julia’s mother comes to stay that he realizes what she has been hiding for so long.

Alice Walker joins the team like a breath of fresh air and her assistance dog Coco quickly wins everyone round – which is just as well, because Coco and Alice will soon need some help of their own.

Can they pull together and become the Dream Team that the NHS obviously thinks they are?

Rating: four-stars


Practice Makes Perfect is Penny Parkes’s second book, and also second in the Larkford series about a medical practice in a small town. I haven’t read the previous book, I admit, so of course I was this little bit afraid if I can read it as a stand – alone or if I thought I missed too much. However, after finishing this book I can assure that you can read it as a stand alone. There were, in fact, so many cameos and throwbacks and recollections that right now I have a feeling as if I had read “Out of Practice”! I, of course, have heard many, many lovely things about Penny’s books so there is no need to say that I started reading this one with great expectations, right? It was actually one of my most anticipated reads this summer and I couldn’t wait to start reading it.

Even without reading the first book I didn’t have any problems to get into the story and had a feeling that I already know the characters – four doctors, their lives and their work at the busy practice in Larkford. Holly seems to be coming to terms with her divorce and she’s settled in her new life with her two twin boys and Taffy, who’s also working as a doctor at the practice. Dan and Julia are the other couple and other two doctors and their lives are little bit more complicated and relationship is not so straightforward and easy, and honestly, I was asking myself more than once if they are really destined to be together. The practice has just been nominated to become a model for NHS, which means more money and more patients but also more responsibility and more scrutiny. There is also the TV team recording their program in the practice with Julia being its star – a lot of things happening at once, don’t you think?

Now guys, I think there is “something” in books about doctors, well, about doctors generally, let’s think about George Clooney in “ER”, I think that we all picture the male bookish characters as Doctor Ross, no? I personally like such books and the Penny Parkes has proved that she really knows what she’s writing about, with all the talks, the medical terms, the treatments – and this is actually my only “but”, guys. The book is rather on the long side, with more than 500 pages, and for me it could be much shorter, as I personally could miss on at least half of the medical stuff. I think it would make the story quicker and gave it a feeling of it being quick – paced, because there were moments that it dragged too much for me, and it made me feel desperate because I wanted the story to go on, for something to happen.
But other than that, it was great. The characters were just brilliant! They were believable, they all had their own stories and background, they had life – experience. Holly and Taffy’s new relationship, balancing work, demanding and very active twins, dog, etc and I adored to see the couple both at work and at home, as you could really see that they are made to measure and it was so visible that Taffy loves Holly and her family above all.
Also the background characters were incredibly well described, and I think it’s not going to be a surprise when I say that Coco, the new doctor Alice’s companion and assistance dog, has absolutely stolen my heart. The characters’ stories mixed effortlessly and run seamlessly alongside one another.

Practice Makes Perfect was light – hearted and warm and I’ve finished reading it with a big smile on my face. I adored the writing style and characters. It was full to the brims with drama, troubles and twists and turns on the way and it was so easy to forget about everything when reading it. It was gentle and it dealt with some important issues and some taboos in great, comfortable ways. It was romantic, it was down – to – earth and realistic, with some laugh out loud moments, as well as some poignant ones and I really enjoyed this book – it really had it all that I’m looking for in a good, engaging story. Highly recommended!

GUEST POST

 Tools of The Trade


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