23 Sep 2016

Author Interview / Tim Vicary




How much should you lie for the man you love? Can you really know your ex husband? And how can suicide look like murder?

Just three of the questions which confront barrister Sarah Newby, as she struggles to revive her legal career. Shaken by her second divorce and the murder of her former lover, Sarah wonders if all her relationships with men are doomed. Her admirer, Detective Terry Bateson, hopes not, but what if he, too, has a secret he’d prefer to keep hidden?

And if Sarah’s client is innocent of murder, why has he told such obvious lies?








AUTHOR INTERVIEW


1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
I've never thought of working with another author, but if I did, I think it would be someone whose skills complemented mine.  Since I write a series of legal thrillers called The Trials of Sarah Newby about a British barrister (trial lawyer) who faces challenging criminal cases in court, it would be great to work with someone who has actually done that for a living. A British version of Marcia Clark, perhaps. She was the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial and now writes a series of her own crime novels. There are lots of fascinating differences between the work of a British barrister and a Californian District Attorney, but the bottom line is the search for justice. I think my fictional barrister, Sarah Newby, would love to meet Marcia.

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
The hardest part of writing by far, is getting the plot right. The plot is the bones of the story, the skeleton if you like, and if that's not working correctly, the tale just limps along. I try to plan it all out beforehand, but it never completely works because bones, as a doctor once told me, are living things which grow and develop like muscles but more slowly. Time and again what seemed like a good idea at the start either turns into a roadblock, or if I'm lucky, solves the problem by setting off in a whole new fertile direction. For example in my latest book, Broken Alibi, I was getting stuck halfway through when I suddenly remembered that my lawyer Sarah Newby has a student daughter, Emily, who came home from college and started to play a major role. That wasn't in the original plans at all, and as soon as she appeared the story gained a whole new energy.

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
A typical working day for me is get up, take the dog for a walk, sit down and try to write at least 1,000 words -  1,500 on a good day, snooze or read after lunch and then go through what I have written to correct it, and jot down a few notes about what's supposed to happen in the story tomorrow. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea, so I keep a notebook and pencil by the bed.

4. When and why did you first start writing?
I've always wanted to be a writer but although I had several novels published by reputable publishers like Simon & Shuster they didn't make enough money to live off so I became a schoolteacher and university lecturer instead and wrote in the evenings when I had time. Then I got side-tracked into writing school textbooks and graded readers for foreign learners of English (which did earn a lot of money) but when ebooks and self-publishing appeared I went back to fiction and had a new lease of life.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
My latest book, Broken Alibi, is the fourth legal thriller about barrister Sarah Newby. Each book can be read alone but the main characters age and develop throughout the series. Sarah became divorced in the third book, Bold Counsel,  so I had to decide where her life was going - did she need a man, could she afford her new flat, would she recover from the trauma of being nearly murdered in the previous story, and so on. Her ex-husband is suddenly arrested on suspicion of historic child abuse - something that allegedly happened twenty five years ago. That's big strand in the book which was prompted by many recent cases in this country. On the one hand many horrific cases have been uncovered, for example serial abuse by the TV presenter Jimmy Savile - but on the other hand several people, mostly men have had their lives and careers ruined by totally false allegations. I read a book called Love, My Year under the Yewtree by Paul Gambuccini which made a big impression on me, so I tried to put Sarah's fictional ex-husband through something similar. Where is the right and wrong in all this? It's a difficult, topical issue.

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I am a big reader. My house is full of books and so is my kindle. I am currently reading On the Edge of the Abyss, the third volume of Ken Follett's huge historical trilogy about the twentieth century. It's great - I should be planning my new book but it's stopping me working! (See contrast with advice below)

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Advice for aspiring writers? Just do it, every day if you can, even when you don't want to. A novelist is a person who finishes a novel, and then writes another.
Continue reading Author Interview / Tim Vicary

22 Sep 2016

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Series Review / The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin



Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

Published:     Book 1 (2011), Book 2 (2012) & Book 3 (2014)
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Goodreads :  Book 1     Book 2    Book 3

Series or Stand-Alone:  Trilogy
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

What I liked about this story...   The mystery of the story was the best part for me.  What happened to Mara and her friends in the accident?  What was happening to her now?  I really wanted to know more.  The more Mara found out the more I wanted to know what else was going to happen. 


What I didn't like about this story...  This is one of those trilogies that I honestly did really enjoy reading but the story just didn't stick with me afterwards.  Its a good thing that I take notes as I really couldn't remember a lot of the story or the characters.  Its not that the story wasn't good or the characters weren't interesting but the story wasn't memorable for me. 


In summary...   Interesting romance with a great mystery/thriller twist to it.  A very easy read with no complications.  
Continue reading Series Review / The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

19 Sep 2016

FREE CHAPTER PREVIEW - Love is a Four-Legged Word by Michelle Gorman


Best friends Scarlett and Shannon spend their days tangled up in dog leads and covered in fur, running their dog business together. Scarlett’s intensive training course, Ruff Love, fixes owners as much as their pets, while Shannon spends her days walking spoiled pooches.
They share more than their business though: they also share Scarlett's husband, Rufus, who's been Shannon's best friend since childhood. It's a cosy setup. Unless one of them has a secret...

When Scarlett and Rufus's baby plans are decimated by a surprise turn of events, their marriage hits the rocks and they both turn to Shannon. All three relationships are pushed to breaking point, but when loyalties become divided, how do you decide who's most important?







Read the first five chapters of Love is a Four-Legged Word.. 
 


Up to the 12th October the price for pre-ording this title is 99c/99p. On October 13th, publication day, the price will go back up to normal ($5.99/£2.49).

QUOTES

  • “She and Scarlett were in the sisterhood, they loved each other and they ran their business together. Besticles before testicles!”
  • “In her head she was the love child of Doctor Doolittle and Sigmund freud, a fairy dogmother who transformed pet owners’ lives across Greater London. In reality she spent a lot of time being drooled over in the mud.”
  • “Inside jokes. Sometimes she envied that about Rufus and Shannon’s childhood friendship. She’d come late to the party, and she suspected that some of the best songs might have been played already.”
  • “The excitement in his expression made Scarlett’s nether parts start to wibble. Finally, they were on the same page… or at least in the same book. She didn’t mind skim reading ahead to get to the good bits if she had to.
  • “Barkley glued his eyes to the aluminium foil as she unwrapped it. Dog treats? Leftover sandwich? Was it even edible? It didn’t matter – could he get it into his mouth? Chicken! It’s chicken! Everybody, the lady’s got chicken! He looked from Charlie to Hiccup. Hiccup wasn’t as impressed with the big reveal.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Michele writes books with heart and humour, full of best friends, girl power and, of course, love and romance. Call them beach books or summer reads, chick lit or romcom... readers and reviewers call them "feel good", "relatable" and "thought-provoking".
She is both a Sunday Times and a USA Today bestselling author, raised in the US and living in London. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films but objects to spiders and the word "portion". 

Instagram: @michelegormanuk
Twitter:@MicheleGormanUK
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MicheleGormanBooks
Blog: www.michelegormanwriter.blogspot.com
Website: www.michelegorman.co.uk
Continue reading FREE CHAPTER PREVIEW - Love is a Four-Legged Word by Michelle Gorman

18 Sep 2016

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Book Review / November 9 by Colleen Hoover




Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.





Published:     10th November 2015
Publisher:  Atrica Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source:  Owned
 


MY REVIEW

What I loved about this book...  This is one of those books that I am so glad I decided to read as an audio book rather than reading a physical book or ebook.  With some books, audio books just works really well.  With this book I could definitely feel the romance in the air listening to Fallon and Ben meet and continue to meet every November 9.  There are so many things that were really great about this book but by far my favourite part was the realness to the characters, what they were going through and the relationship between Fallon and Ben.  It wasn't one of those stories where they fall in love too quickly etc etc.  I loved how both Fallon and Ben were scarred in their lives in very different ways and overtime learns to deal with that in one way or another.  There was a really great twist to this story that honestly I was not expecting.  The last half of the book I was completely engrossed in what was happening that I just kept listening for one or two hours straight!  It was definitely one of those 'will they won't they' style stories and I LOVED IT!


In summary...   A heartbreaking romantic story I just could not stop listening to!  I would highly recommend the audio book for this one.






Continue reading Book Review / November 9 by Colleen Hoover

13 Sep 2016

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Book Review / Soldier's Wives by Fiona Field




This page-turning soap opera interweaves the stories of three women trying to get to grips with military life.

Chrissie, orphaned young, finds solace in her career as a medic in the regiment, but will love for a married man prove her undoing?

Maddy, a brilliant Oxford graduate, is bogged down with a fretful baby and a super-ambitious officer husband. Will she be able to stand life as a regimental wife?

And Jenna - glamorous, bad girl Jenna, who doesn't believe in rules and regulations. Will she destroy her husband's career? Or will it destroy her?





Published:     28th May 2014
Publisher:  Head of Zeus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Soldier's Wives
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


 MY REVIEW

What I liked about this story...  This is one of the first stories I have read that is based in army life and I really enjoyed following each of the families, watching how they live and seeing how they deal with their other halves working as soldiers.  I liked how most of them try to work together and 'make the best of it' just to make sure that it all works and their lives all work together with the regiment life.

What I didn't like about this story...  There was one particular character in this book that I really could not stand.  Absolutely despised.  Jenna is young, self involved and I had the impression that all she cared about was herself and her life,despite the fact that she was recently married and should be settling into that with her husband.  She didn't seem to get that if she did certain things it could get her husband into trouble and could also make him lose his job.  She was more concerned with what she got out of any situation.  I really hated that and although that was what she was meant to be like that particular character really bothered me to the point where I couldn't really enjoy the story. 

In summary...  This was a really fun book to read about Regiment home life and I will definitely be picking up more in this series but I might just give it a break for a bit just so I can go into book 2 with fresh eyes.


Continue reading Book Review / Soldier's Wives by Fiona Field

7 Sep 2016

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Blog Tour Book Review / The One Real Thing by Samantha Young

Welcome to Hartwell, a quiet seaside escape where uncovering old secrets could lead one woman to discover the meaning of a love that lasts…

While Doctor Jessica Huntington engages with the inmates at the women’s correctional facility where she works, she’s always careful to avoid emotional attachments in her personal life. Loss and betrayal taught her that lesson long ago. But when she comes across a set of old love letters in the prison’s library and visits the picturesque town of Hartwell to deliver them to their intended recipient, she finds herself unable to resist the town’s charm—and her attraction to the sexy owner of a local bar proves equally hard to deny.

Since his divorce from his unfaithful ex-wife, Cooper Lawson has focused on what really matters: his family and the boardwalk pub they’ve owned for generations. But the first time Jessica steps into his bar, Cooper is beyond tempted to risk his heart on her. Yet as their attraction grows hotter and Jessica remains stubbornly closed off, he begins to realize it will take more than just passion to convince her there’s only one real thing in life worth fighting for….


Published:    1st September 2016
Publisher:  Piatkus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Hart's Boardwalk
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher




MY REVIEW

What I loved about this book...  I was so excited to get to read this for the blog tour.  I had previous read Hero by the same author and adored that one.  There were so many great things about this book I really don't know where to start!   You have Jessica who at the start of the story seems like she is maybe stuck in a rut and looking after everyone else's needs apart from her own.  When she discovers letters written by an prisoner and decides to deliver them personally, that is when the story became great for me.  Jessica gets swept into this town where she meets so many characters who become friends and one that becomes more than that!  Along with the romance and new friendships, there is also an enemy in the midst wanting to come in and upset the town and its inhabitants.

What I didn't like about this book...  I would have loved to have had more of a story with the letter Jessica found and wanted to deliver, the whole reason she want to Hartwell in the first place.  Now that I know that this is book 1 in a series, maybe there will be more on that and maybe not but it seemed like that part of the story was just put in there so Jessica has an excuse to go to Hartwell in the first place.  I would loved to have learned more about who the letter was destined to and more about that story.

Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / The One Real Thing by Samantha Young

6 Sep 2016

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Blog Tour Book Review / The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

Presenting a dazzling new historical novel … The Girl From The Savoy is as sparkling as champagne and as thrilling as the era itself.

Sometimes life gives you cotton stockings. Sometimes it gives you a Chanel gown …

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?


Published:     8th September 2016
Publisher:  Harper
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand Alone
Source: Review Copy from Publisher


MY REVIEW

What I liked about this book...  This story is split into three character perspectives - Loretta, Teddy and Dolly.  Dolly has started a new job in The Savoy as a chambermaid so at the beginning of the story we see  her learning her hew trade as a chambermaid.  She also has dreams, big dreams which she tries to make come true.  Loretta is a famous actress on the stage but in this story we see more of her when she is not on the stage such as her weekly lunch dates with her brother etc.  On a chance encounter, Loretta's brother bumps into Dolly and then again when she answers an ad of his for a muse for his painting, Dolly gets introduced to Loretta who tries to help her.  You then have Teddy.  Teddy is Dolly's long lost sweetheart from her past.  They were so in love until he left for war.  After that, he was never the same having suffered injuries meaning that he could not remember who she was.  After that Dolly decided to move onwards and upwards to the Savoy.  The three different perspectives in this book definitely added depth to the story and I especially liked how each of the characters progressed throughout it.   The characters in this story were for sure the highlight for me. 

What I didn't like about this book...  The pace of this book was slower than what I had hoped for me.   This is definitely one of those books that you need to just sit back, relax and enjoy at a reasonable pace.  I had hoped for a few surprises along the way but this is not one of those stories.  This is more of a 'slice of life as it happens' type of story and should be enjoyed for exactly that. 

In summary...   A really great story with great character development.  The pace could have been faster with a few more twists and turns or even a few surprises along the way (but that is just my personal preference rather than a reflection on the story itself) but this story certainly made me want to pick up more books in this era (1920s) that's for sure!





Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

1 Sep 2016

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Book Review / Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

 




Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. 

But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.






Published:     21st February 2012
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Aristotle and Dante
Source:  Owned


MY REVIEW

What I loved about this book...  After just finished reading the Andalusian Nights trilogy by Hannah Fielding, which I loved and gave 5 stars to, I had not anticipated moving on to read something equally as fantastic as quickly as this.  Going into this book I didn't even read the description.  I wanted to go into this blind.

This book was so beautiful and moving I read it in one sitting.  Yes, one sitting.  I started it one evening and read right through until the early hours of the next day.  I just could not put it down.  The love in this book was so magical and beautifully written I could not put this down.  And the ending, that ending........  It has been a very long time since a book has moved me so much to tears but this one did.  Such emotion in this story, so beautiful. 

In summary...  A truly amazing read, once you pick this up you will not want to put it down until the very last page!  For all those of you who love reading about love, this is definitely one to pick up.  

Continue reading Book Review / Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

31 Aug 2016

Month in Review / August 2016

What a fantastic reading month.  I am definately getting back into my reading gain (after losing a bit of the mojo with having to move house and deal with all that when I could have been reading lol!).  I've learned something about myself this month.  I find that if I read every day, whether that be a few pages to a whole book, my 'want' for reading books grows.  The more I read the more I want to read.  That said, if I force myself to read when I don't want to it has the opposite effect.  So when I don't want to read, I won't. 

A few favourites this month.  The House in Quill Court is a beautiful historic fiction novel that just swept me away.  Great characters and great descriptions.  Indiscretion, Masquerade and Legacy (a trilogy by Hannah Fielding called Andalusian Nights Trilogy) was also a favourite this month.  These stories were so wonderful I just could not help getting swept away by the story and the characters.  I also liked how each of the books connected.  Indiscretion starts off the story in 1950, Masquerade follows the next generation in 1976 and then Legacy finishes off in another generation in 2010. 

I hope you all had a great reading month and looking forward to the next!

BOOKS READ



BOOKS RECEIVED and BOUGHT 
  

SONGS ABOUT A GIRL (Received)
Charlie Bloom never wanted to be 'with the band'. She's happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she's asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band Fire&Lights, she can't pass up the chance.

Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman, Gabriel West, and his boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson. Then, as the boys' rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mind-blowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs...

THE LITTLE BOOKSHOP OF LONELY HEARTS (Received)
Where happy ever after is only a page away…

A delightful new series set in a quaint old bookshop, for fans of Lucy Diamond and Jenny Colgan
Once upon a time in a crumbling London bookshop, Posy Morland spent her life lost in the pages of her favourite romantic novels.

So when Bookend’s eccentric owner, Lavinia, dies and leaves the shop to Posy, she must put down her books and join the real world. Because Posy hasn’t just inherited an ailing business, but also the unwelcome attentions of Lavinia’s grandson, Sebastian, AKA The Rudest Man In London™.

Posy has a cunning plan and six months to transform Bookends into the bookshop of her dreams – if only Sebastian would leave her alone to get on with it. As Posy and her friends fight to save their beloved bookshop, Posy’s drawn into a battle of wills with Sebastian, about whom she’s started to have some rather feverish fantasies…

Like her favourite romantic heroines, will she get her happy ever after too?

MY SISTER'S BONES (NUALA ELLWOOD) (Received)
ate Rafter is a high-flying war reporter. She's the strong one. The one who escaped their father. Her younger sister Sally didn't. Instead, she drinks.

But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return to the old family home. And on her very first night she is woken by a scream.

At first Kate tells herself it's just a nightmare. But then terrifying things start to happen, things she can't explain...

What secret is lurking in her mother's garden?
And what if the real danger is where you least expect it?

 
THE DRESS (Bought)  
Lily Fitzpatrick loves vintage clothes - made all the more precious because they were once owned and loved by another woman. Thousands follow her vintage fashion blog and her daily Instagram feed. But this passion for the beautiful clothes of the past is about to have unforeseen consequences, when Lily stumbles upon the story of a 1950s New York beauty, who was not only everything Lily longs to be, but also shares Lily's surname.

Joy Fitzpatrick was a legend. But what was the famous dress which she once commissioned - said to be so original that nothing in couture would ever match it again? What happened to it - and why did Joy suddenly disappear from New York high society?

Kate Kerrigan's enthralling novel interweaves the dramatic story of Joy, the beautiful but tortured socialite and that of Lily - determined to uncover the truth and, if possible, bring back to life the legendary dress itself.
 



 
Continue reading Month in Review / August 2016

29 Aug 2016

Author Interview / Helen Slavin


The Way sisters, Anna, Charlie and Emz, were raised in two worlds. Their mother’s realm of reason, measurement and logic, and the world inhabited by their spectacularly unconventional grandmother, Hettie.

While their mother worked, the sisters ran wild at Hettie’s Cob Cottage, discovering forbidden Pike Lake, unknowable Havoc Wood, and what their grandmother referred to only as ‘The Strengths’.

But time passed, the sisters grew up, work and relationships and their mother’s world won them over, and The Strengths lay forgotten…

That is until Hettie passes away suddenly, leaving behind Cob Cottage and a whole lot of questions.

Anna is busy trying very hard not to cry as she caters yet another wedding, Charlie is spending more time at the job she loves than with the boyfriend she’s not quite sure about and Emz is dreaming up new ways to avoid school and the drama that comes with it, but can they deal with strange guests, unexpected danger and some long-forgotten memories?

Follow The Way sisters’ adventures in magic, witchcraft & suspense in this charming and entertaining book from Helen Slavin.


1.     If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Question impossible! Cue the music.  Neil Gaiman. I love Neil Gaiman’s worlds and words. I like the way he focuses the view you have from the corner of your eye. I think I might call the project ‘The Book of Light and Darkness’ where light can also be blinding and darkness is disguise. Play around with the shadows of that. Hm. So. Not really thought about that one at all!  Also Kate Atkinson, I love the intricacy and humanity of her work and her characters are always real.

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
Most often I write at the kitchen table with a pen and paper. I type it up on the computer which resides on a fold up garden table. I sit in a broken swivelly chair. I also have notebooks in my bags and pockets so when the urge strikes I can just scribble. I have always treated it like a job, I sit down in the morning and I get up in the afternoon. It used to be bookended by the school run. I used to write for tv too which is very disciplined so it’s a habit . I was always a homework goody two shoes so it is something in me I think. I drink a lot of tea, literally gallons, and I also go for a walk if my brain starts to seize up.  I always try to finish at a point where I know what I want to write next so it’s easier to start again in the morning. Other days I just bang my head on the table until the words fall out.

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Banging my head on the table.  Ha. No. Sorry. Hm. It’s the blank page I think and trying to bridge that gap between the idea in your head and capturing it properly on paper.  Yes. Sometimes that gap is firing like synapses and then other days you’re up a mental ladder, tinkering.

4.  When and why did you first start writing?
In Class 2 of primary school . I can pinpoint it. It was the moment that I was reading proper story books not just primers and started to put the words together. We had a lot of books at home and I loved fairy tales and used to retell them at great length. The more I read the more I wanted to join in. It still feels like that.

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?
It’s a jigsaw process I think. Crooked Daylight came about because I have always wanted to write a full on fairytale. My grandma died last year at 102 and I started thinking about the whole maiden, mother, crone idea and how women live our lives and about ideas of home and heart. The book came in pieces. I thought of the old woman in a cottage in a wood and I wanted to twist that so it wasn’t a sinister thing, it was actually their home. The characters were three sisters, not simply because that’s the standard set by folklore but because I’d been re-reading ‘Jane Eyre’ and I love the Brontes. Hence the characters names! I knew I wanted to write a fairytale where the women are not useless princesses. I like the idea of witchcraft as a female power, one that’s been stripped away over the last couple of millenia. My idea of witchcraft is about a connection to your inner self and the natural world. You don’t need a wand, you need a heart and a memory.  The stories then are not just how they deal with the visitors and trespassers to their wood but how they deal with themselves. That’s why I call their witchcraft their ‘Strengths’.  I wanted it to be something innate.

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I am a huge reader. I just finished ‘The Little Red Chairs’ by Edna O’Brien and I’m in the middle of ‘The Vikings’ by Neil Oliver.

7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Do it. It is that simple. Do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to do it this way or that, just do it, the thing of writing.  Pen. Paper. Screen. Keyboard. Quill. Parchment. Whatever  conduit you require. Just do it.  Read all you can.  Graham Greene suggested setting yourself a target of 1000 words a day. I always have that in my mind, it’s very useful. Sometimes you struggle, other days you exceed. Just do it
Continue reading Author Interview / Helen Slavin

26 Aug 2016

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Blog Tour Book Review / The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts


1813. Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia's father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. Venetia designs paper hangings and she and her father often daydream about having an imaginary shop where they would display the highest quality furniture, fabrics and art to his clients.

When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell's cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia's world is turned upside-down and the family have no option but to move to London, to the House in Quill Court and begin a new life. Here, Venetia's courage and creativity are tested to breaking point, and she discovers a love far greater than she could have ever imagined . . .






Published:     August 2016
Publisher:  Piatkus

Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


 
MY REVIEW

I was so excited so be able to read this for this blog tour.  I believe it was last year I read one of Charlotte Betts' other novels, The Chateau on the Lake, which I loved.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on this and start reading!  What I love about Charlotte Betts' writing is the fact that from the minute I started reading I could really feel like I was inside the story and seeing things from a 'fly on the wall' perspective.  For this book, it was exactly that.

There is a really unexpected twist in this story that I certainly was not expecting and watching characters react to this in their own way was one of the best parts of this novel.  You have one character who gets angry, one character who drowns their sorrows and another who rises to the occasion and try to make the best of it.

Another great part of this story is that we are not only following the story of Venetia and her family but the story of Kitty who is employed by Venetia's household.  We see her make certain choices based on the unexpected twist and have to deal with the consequences of her choices.  It was more like seeing two sides of the coin, you have Venetia who is from upper class society and Kitty who is in the lower class both of whom have some pretty big decisions to make.

What a fantastic historical novel that should not be missed.  If you haven't picked up this yet, you need to!







Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts

23 Aug 2016

Andalucian Nights Trilogy Recommendation



INDISCRETION
A young woman's journey of discovery takes her to a world of forbidden passion, savage beauty, and revenge.

Spring, 1950. Alexandra de Falla, a half-English, half-Spanish young writer abandons her privileged but suffocating life in London and travels to Spain to be reunited with her long-estranged family.

Instead of providing the sense of belonging she yearns for, the de Fallas are driven by seething emotions, and in the grip of the wild customs and traditions of Andalucia, all of which are alien to Alexandra.

Among the strange characters and sultry heat of this country, she meets the man who awakens emotions she hardly knew existed. But their path is strewn with obstacles: dangerous rivals, unpredictable events, and inevitable indiscretions. What does Alexandra's destiny hold for her in this flamboyant land of drama and all-consuming passions, where blood is ritually poured on to the sands of sun-drenched bullfighting arenas, mysterious gypsies are embroiled in magic and revenge, and beautiful dark-eyed dancers hide their secrets behind elegant lacy fans?

"Indiscretion"is a story of love and identity, and the clash of idealsin the pursuit of happiness. But can love survive in a world where scandal and danger are never far away?

MASQUERADE
From the award-winning author of The Echoes of Love. Love, mystery and desire under the scorching Spanish sun.

A young writer becomes entangled in an illicit gypsy love affair, pulling her into a world of secrets, deception and dark desire.

Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy's double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.

Luz must decide what she truly desires as glistening Cádiz, with its enigmatic moon and whispering turquoise shores, seeps back into her blood. Why is she so drawn to the wild and magical sea gypsies? What is behind the old fortune-teller’s sinister warnings about ‘Gemini’? Through this maze of secrets and lies, will Luz finally find her happiness… or her ruin?

Masquerade is a story of forbidden love, truth and trust. Are appearances always deceptive?

LEGACY
A troubled young journalist finds her loyalties tested when love and desire unearth dark secrets from the past.

Spring, 2010. When Luna Ward, a science journalist from New York, travels halfway across the world to work undercover at an alternative health clinic in Cadiz, her ordered life is thrown into turmoil.

The doctor she is to investigate, the controversial Rodrigo Rueda de Calderon, is not what she expected. With his wild gypsy looks and devilish sense of humour, he is intent upon drawing her to him. But how can she surrender to a passion that threatens all reason; and how could he ever learn to trust her when he discovers her true identity? Then Luna finds that Ruy is carrying a corrosive secret of his own…

Luna’s native Spanish blood begins to fire in this land of exotic legends, flamboyant gypsies and seductive flamenco guitars, as dazzling Cadiz weaves its own magic on her heart. Can Luna and Ruy’s love survive their families’ legacy of feuding and tragedy, and rise like the phoenix from the ashes of the past?

Legacy is a story of truth, dreams and desire. But in a world of secrets you need to be careful what you wish for…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean. 

Hannah is a multi-award-winning novelist, and to date she has published five novels: Burning Embers, ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; The Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’ set in Italy; and the Andalusian Nights Trilogy Indiscretion, Masquerade and Legacy – her fieriest novels yet, set in sunny, sultry Spain. 

Author Giveaway can be found here:  


PURCHASE YOUR COPIES HERE

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Legacy-Intrigue-Redemption-Scorching-Andalucian/dp/0993291732


Continue reading Andalucian Nights Trilogy Recommendation

21 Aug 2016

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Book Review / Legacy by Hannah Fielding

A troubled young journalist finds her loyalties tested when love and desire unearth dark secrets from the past.

Spring, 2010. When Luna Ward, a science journalist from New York, travels halfway across the world to work undercover at an alternative health clinic in Cadiz, her ordered life is thrown into turmoil.

The doctor she is to investigate, the controversial Rodrigo Rueda de Calderon, is not what she expected. With his wild gypsy looks and devilish sense of humour, he is intent upon drawing her to him. But how can she surrender to a passion that threatens all reason; and how could he ever learn to trust her when he discovers her true identity? Then Luna finds that Ruy is carrying a corrosive secret of his own…

Luna’s native Spanish blood begins to fire in this land of exotic legends, flamboyant gypsies and seductive flamenco guitars, as dazzling Cadiz weaves its own magic on her heart. Can Luna and Ruy’s love survive their families’ legacy of feuding and tragedy, and rise like the phoenix from the ashes of the past?

Legacy is a story of truth, dreams and desire. But in a world of secrets you need to be careful what you wish for…


Published:     25th August 2016
Publisher:  London Wall

Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 3, Andalucian Nights
Source:  Review Copy from Author



MY REVIEW

What I loved about this book...  Oh yes, Hannah Fielding has done it again.  Just when I thought this trilogy could not get any better, it did!  As with books 1 and 2 in this trilogy, I just got completely swept away by the detailed descriptions of locations and the history of each of the characters.  I also loved that characters from the first two books do make a few appearances in this book too in such a great way.  Of course, there is the romance (which seems to have gotten steamier and steamier the more and more I read of this trilogy, which is great).  I have to say that I thought there would be more of a twist at the end of something like that but there didn't seem to be anything I wasn't expecting, but that's not a bad thing.  It was a great ending to a great trilogy. 

In summary...   As with books 1 and 2, the romance and detailed descriptions in this book was just beautiful.  It was easy to just get swept away with it all.  From book 2 we have skipped forward from 1976 to 2010 so this book could be read as a stand alone if you wanted to but I would very strongly recommend starting from the beginning, book 1, and go from there.  The best part of this trilogy is the history of the characters and to experience that it is best to start from the beginning. 

Continue reading Book Review / Legacy by Hannah Fielding

18 Aug 2016

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Book Review / Masquerade by Hannah Fielding

From the award-winning author of The Echoes of Love. Love, mystery and desire under the scorching Spanish sun.

A young writer becomes entangled in an illicit gypsy love affair, pulling her into a world of secrets, deception and dark desire.

Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy's double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.

Luz must decide what she truly desires as glistening Cádiz, with its enigmatic moon and whispering turquoise shores, seeps back into her blood. Why is she so drawn to the wild and magical sea gypsies? What is behind the old fortune-teller’s sinister warnings about ‘Gemini’? Through this maze of secrets and lies, will Luz finally find her happiness… or her ruin?

Masquerade is a story of forbidden love, truth and trust. Are appearances always deceptive?


Published:     6th August 2015
Publisher: London Wall
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 2, Andalucian Nights
Source:  Review Copy from Author



 MY REVIEW

What I loved about this story...  I am so in love with this story, this world and these characters.  Normally I would say that as this is book 2 there is not a lot I can talk about in this story but that is not the case with this one.   Yes this is book 2 in a series but we have skipped forward to 1976 (the first book being based in 1950).  We are now following the next generation.  We get to find out who they are, who they are related to and what is going to happen to to them in this story.  As with book 1 in this series, this is still based mostly in Spain and as Hannah's descriptions are so detailed (in the first book and with this one as well) it just felt that I was revisiting a loved place I visited a while ago.  I loved that.  I won't go into too much detail on the characters as they are the next generation from the first book, in one way or another, but I will say that Hannah Fielding knows how to write a great romance story.  This one, however, has a rather surprising twist to it that I had not even anticipated.  Loved that too!

In summary... What a great second book in the series.  Beautiful romance and a very surprising twist near the end.  Although you could read this book as a stand alone, but I would strongly recommend picking up book 1 in this series as you will get more of a sense of history with the characters and with the location as well. 

Continue reading Book Review / Masquerade by Hannah Fielding

16 Aug 2016

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Book Review / Indiscretion by Hannah Fielding

A young woman's journey of discovery takes her to a world of forbidden passion, savage beauty, and revenge.

Spring, 1950. Alexandra de Falla, a half-English, half-Spanish young writer abandons her privileged but suffocating life in London and travels to Spain to be reunited with her long-estranged family.

Instead of providing the sense of belonging she yearns for, the de Fallas are driven by seething emotions, and in the grip of the wild customs and traditions of Andalucia, all of which are alien to Alexandra.

Among the strange characters and sultry heat of this country, she meets the man who awakens emotions she hardly knew existed. But their path is strewn with obstacles: dangerous rivals, unpredictable events, and inevitable indiscretions. What does Alexandra's destiny hold for her in this flamboyant land of drama and all-consuming passions, where blood is ritually poured on to the sands of sun-drenched bullfighting arenas, mysterious gypsies are embroiled in magic and revenge, and beautiful dark-eyed dancers hide their secrets behind elegant lacy fans?

"Indiscretion"is a story of love and identity, and the clash of idealsin the pursuit of happiness. But can love survive in a world where scandal and danger are never far away?


Published:     9th April 2015
Publisher:  London Wall Publishing
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Andalucian Nights
Source:  Review Copy from Author

MY REVIEW 


What I loved about this story...  Having already read Burning Embers and absolutely loved it I was so excited to get stuck into this book (and read the entire trilogy also!).  1950s Spain is an era and place in the world that I haven't read much about so I was excited to get stuck into something new.  What I have found is that Hannah Fielding has a way of wording descriptions that made me feel right there in the moment seeing the sights, smelling the aromas from all around and listening to all what is going on.  I loved that.  Even from the beginning of the story I got a sense of history with each of the characters.  There is certainly a lot more going on with each character than meets the eye and certainly a lot to find out about!  I loved following Alexandra as she embarks on visiting her father in Spain and meeting family members she has never met before.  Unfortunately for Alexandra, getting along with those family members was not as straight forward as she probably hoped.  And, of course, you have the romance part of this story which was my favourite part.  I loved the' are they aren't they' storyline of Alexandra and a certain character which I won't mention as I don't want to spoil the entire story for you.  


In summary...   A beautifully stunning old school Spanish romance.  It was so easy to get swept away in the story and forget where I was!!  If you love romance novels or even historical fiction, this is definitely one to pick up!
Continue reading Book Review / Indiscretion by Hannah Fielding

15 Aug 2016

Author Interview / J.A. Schneider



Liddy Barron, an artist, was injured in a hit-and-run accident that left her with recurring nightmares, partial amnesia, and an increasing obsession in the disappearance of a coed named Sasha Perry. Was Sasha murdered? Insecure and nervous, Liddy's turmoil grows as she begins seeing ghostly images. Her husband Paul tries to help but suspects it's just her imagination...while intuitive Detective Kerri Blasco, also obsessed with young Sasha's disappearance, senses that Liddy may have a key to solving the case, and tries to unravel the shocking truth of what really haunts her.


FEAR DREAMS, released in March of 2016, is a standalone psychological thriller.
Joyce’s previous medical thriller series: 
Embryo
Embryo 2: Crosshairs
Embryo 3: Raney & Levine
Embryo 4: Catch Me
Embryo 5: Silver Girl
ABOUT THE AUTHOR


 
J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek. Once a Liberal Arts major (French Literature), she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and human psychology. Decades of being married to a physician who loves explaining medical concepts and reliving his experiences means that there'll be medical angles even in "regular" thrillers that she writes. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA, and she loves to hear from readers...come say hi on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/7fm44mk
or Twitter - https://twitter.com/#!/JoyceSchneider1 
or Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832782.J_A_Schneider


AUTHOR INTERVIEW
  1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys From Brazil, Stepford Wives) Oh, how I re-read this amazing author – for his brevity, his astonishing ability to say so much – action & emotion - in few words. Plus, of course, his amazingly original concepts!

One of my most favorite, still-shocking, great scenes is in The Boys From Brazil, where Lieberman, the aging, sickly Nazi hunter, finally gets the chance to interview a female former wardress at Auschwitz, now in a German prison. His sister died at Auschwitz! He’s waiting, emotionally coming apart, for the woman’s lawyer to bring her from her cell…and finally, the door opens, and the lawyer leads out a small woman with “a disappointed mouth.” That’s it! The “disappointed mouth” gives the whole character – no need to describe her gray and bent, her drab uniform, surroundings etc. Imagine facing the end of your days with “a disappointed mouth.” Harrowing. The rest of that scene is beyond brilliant; ditto the rest of the book. Levin also works in humor in places where you won’t believe you’re laughing, like…that prison scene? Lieberman asks the wardress the birth date of her dead dog. Major plot point, also funny…

Other brilliant depictions are of Rosemary Woodhouse’s husband and oh so well-meaning “friends.” Years after I’ve read and re-read Rosemary’s Baby, every scene and gesture is so subtle, yet so shocking.

  1. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I aim for noon to six. Mornings are for clearing the fogged brain, going through & answering email, reading news, etc. I write sprawled with my laptop & use Word on my MacBook Air. Love the keyboard, how it just zooms.

  1. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
The first draft. Starting each day with the damned proverbial blank page. I collect quotes by writers who give courage: David Baldacci’s “A writer is always terrified.” Tess Gerritsen’s “Do you have the guts to stay with it?” Stephen King’s “Flail away at the goddamn thing!!” Like that. It helps, most days.

  1. When and why did you first start writing?
Wrote poems & short stories as a kid. Majored in French Literature, started writing stories imitating Stendahl’s The Red and The Black. Then worked for Newsweek, wrote news by day and fiction at night. Have always been scribbling away at something…
  1. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
The idea for FEAR DREAMS came when I spent time with a close friend crying, desperate that she was losing her mind. She wasn’t (she’s okay), but I got to imagining a very bright, creative woman, whose life and whole psychology is threatened after trauma. Can she hold on? The story tells how even the most rational of us can end up doubting our sanity.
  1. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I’m a compulsive reader. Reading and re-reading old favorites, including Marathon Man, another all-time great thriller, by William Goldman (who wrote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.) I do try to read “best sellers” of today, mostly psychological thrillers - but honestly, I feel that many are slow, bland; am still searching for any that have Levin’s intensity.

  1. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
It it really, really hard. Accept that. Hugh Howey says it best: “Look at it as a marathon, not a sprint. My bestselling book was my eighth or ninth. As soon as it took off, the rest of my books took off with it. The idea that we can pub one title and it will catch on … your odds are better that you'll rope a unicorn.”

Also, see #3 above. Love and Luck to all…good luck roping your unicorn!!
Continue reading Author Interview / J.A. Schneider