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

12 Aug 2016

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Book Review / Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell





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...








Published:     28th July 2016
Publisher:  Hodder
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Songs About a Girl
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

 MY REVIEW

What I loved about this story...  Its summertime at the moment and the one type of book that I love to read at this time of year is easy to read romance style stories.  This is definitely one of those.  You have Charlie Bloom who is like an outsider, keeping herself to herself, with her own very sad past to deal with.  Out of the blue she is contacted by Olly, a member of Fire & Lights and a former student of the school Charlie is attending, saying that he remembers her pictures and asked if she wants to take more of the band.  With a very large nudge from her best friend, she agrees to take the pictures.  What follows is an obvious love triangle between Charlie, Olly and Gabriel but one that I really enjoyed watching play out.  Along with that part of the story, you do have other parts to the story.  

The best part of the story for me was the mystery surrounding the 'mind blowing secret hidden in the lyrics' of the Fire & Lights songs.  I don't want to spoil the story for you so I won't go into too much more detail about it but let's just say that it was a twist in the story that I had suspected but enjoyed seeing played out nonetheless.  Along with this twist, there is one further twist to the story which I had not been expecting at all and really surprised me.  I love stories with unexpected twists in it!

What I didn't like about this story...  Even though I thoroughly enjoyed this story, I did wish that it wasn't so predictable with the love triangle and, indeed, the first 'twist' in the story to do with the lyrics. 

In summary...  An enjoyable easy read, great for down at the beach, by the pool or wherever you tend to read over the summer or, indeed, at any time of year really!  If you have a tendency to fan girl over boy bands, which I have done since I was a teenager (a while ago now lol!!) you should pick up this book.  Fire & Lights could be like any band out there, whether in the past or right now!  This is also book 1 in a series, so I can't wait to see what happens next!



Continue reading Book Review / Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell

10 Aug 2016

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Book Review / I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I’ve lost it. :( The only thing in the world I wasn’t supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It’s been in Magnus’s family for three generations. And now the very same day his parents are coming, I’ve lost it. The very same day! Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive :) !!

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.


Published:     16th February 2012
Publisher:  Bantam Press
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

What I loved about this story...    As with most of Sophie Kinsella's books I love the ridiculousness of the story.  You have Poppy who is in a relationship with a man who is in no way similar to her (as with his family who are all scholars and Poppy is anything but that).  It seemed to me that she was in a situation that she should get out of but she has not yet seen it.  With one thing after another, things just get more complicated and more hilarious as her engagement ring is lost, her phone gets stolen and then finds a new phone in a bin which she claims to be her own but when she is found out by the 'owner' of the phone things get even more complicated. 

What I didn't like about this story...  This story didn't make me laugh as much as her previous books did, despite the hilariousness of the story.  Personally, if you find a phone in a bin and the owner is wanting it back you give it back, not keep it and use it for your own purposes.  That's just something that I believe and was a part of the story that I was not really keen on.  

In summary...   A hilarious read that you should pick up if you a fan of Sophie Kinsella or even if you haven't tried one of hers before.  I am never disappointed by how funny situations her characters get themselves into and watching them try and get out of them again!

Continue reading Book Review / I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

7 Aug 2016

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Book Review / Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne



Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.




Published:     31st July 2016
Publisher:  Little Brown

Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 8, Harry Potter
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

What I loved about this story...   I have been anticipating reading this book for so long that the very minute I bought it I sat down and read it but it has been a few days since I have finished it that I am now writing my review.  This was one of those books that I had to think about it a bit before putting my thoughts into this post.  What I loved the most was the fact that I was able to revisit this world and get back in touch with all of the characters left behind in book 7, which I read many many years ago.  I decided not to re-read the first books as I felt I knew the story well enough to be able to pick this right up and I did.  There wasn't a single part in this book where I thought I couldn't remember what had happened before.  I also loved the format of the book, written in script rather than in novel format.  I did think that I might have struggled to read the story in this format but I had no problems whatsoever, I even found it a lot easier to follow the story with the extra stage directions etc... 

What I didn't like about this story...  Unfortunately, there were a few things that I didn't particularly enjoy.  The first being the storyline.  Even though I liked the muddle some of the characters get into, I couldn't really understand why they had to do what they did in the first place only for the fact that one of the children was unhappy and wanted to do something about it without thinking about the consequences.  I also didn't like the fact that in this story I felt the older Harry came across as completely different - he was more unhappy and grumpy and not a very likeable character to me.  I would have loved to have seen him more like his old self but with more age experience maybe.  

In summary...   A really great quick read and worth picking up but I would have loved to have seen a bit more from the story than was there.  



 
Continue reading Book Review / Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

4 Aug 2016

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Book Review / Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella




 #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella returns with her trademark blend of sparkling wit and playful romance in this page-turning story of a wedding to remember—and a honeymoon to forget.

Lottie just knows that her boyfriend is going to propose, but then his big question involves a trip abroad—not a trip down the aisle. Completely crushed, Lottie reconnects with an old flame, and they decide to take drastic action. No dates, no moving in together, they’ll just get married . . . right now. Her sister, Fliss, thinks Lottie is making a terrible mistake, and will do anything to stop her. But Lottie is determined to say “I do,” for better, or for worse.






Published:     25th April 2013
Publisher:  Bantam Press
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

 What I loved about this story...    As I always expect and hope with a Sophie Kinsella novel, you have a main character who gets into a situation they have trouble getting out of and watching them try and get out of it is just the funniest thing ever.  With this story, for me, you have two main characters.  First you have Lottie who instead of being proposed to by her boyfriend ends up breaking up with him because he won't who then gets in contact with her first boyfriend and they agree to marry within a matter of minutes of getting together again.  What could go wrong there?!  You then have Fliss who is Lottie's sister.  She is in the process of getting divorced and from what I can see is not taking it very well.  She finds out about Lottie's decision to marry and takes it into her own hands to try and stop her by whatever means necessary.   I really enjoyed finding out what happens next...

What I didn't like about this story...  Honestly, it was nothing in paricular but I just found that I didn't laugh out loud like I usually do with most of Sophie Kinsella's novels and just could not get into the story, but that may speak more about my reading mood at the time rather than the actual story.  I also didn't particularly warm to the character of Ben who seemed like a flaky character and Lottie should have seen that had she not have been on the rebound.  The way things unroll at the end with Lottie and Ben seemed to me to happen quickly and with little emotion.  I would have loved to have seen the same amount of drama that was in the start of the book with the end for these two characters. 


Continue reading Book Review / Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
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Book Review / Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton





 Anna is dreading another tourist-filled summer on Dune Island that follows the same routine: beach, ice cream, friends, repeat. That is, until she locks eyes with Will, the gorgeous and sweet guy visiting from New York. Soon, her summer is filled with flirtatious fun as Anna falls head over heels in love.

But with every perfect afternoon, sweet kiss, and walk on the beach, Anna can't ignore that the days are quickly growing shorter, and Will has to leave at the end of August. Anna's never felt anything like this before, but when forever isn't even a possibility, one summer doesn't feel worth the promise of her heart breaking...






Published:     3rd May 2011
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Sixteenth Summer
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

What I liked about this story...   This was a very cute summer read.  I liked the fact that you have two people who meet, fall in love and have to figure out what happens next.  OK there's nothing new about that plot line but I love those kind of reads in the summer.  What I found funny was the fact that Anna's parents run an ice cream shop but instead of serving the usual flavours they sell all different mixtures which sound terrible but no doubt taste amazing in real life!  If you are looking for an easy, laid back beach read this is a good one to pick up.

What I didn't like about this story...  I hadn't realised when I read this book that it was part of a series and honestly I probaby won't contnue with it, no that it was awful or anything like that but honestly it hasn't been that long since I finished this book but I can't remember most of the plotline or some of the characters.  I will say that I enjoyed it while I was reading and maybe if I picked up the second book right after finishing this one I may have gotten into the story a bit more.

Continue reading Book Review / Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton

2 Aug 2016

Months in Review / June and July 2016

It has been a rather stressful couple of months for me here, having prepared to and actualy moved house so I am really surprised with the amount of books I have read.  I had thought I would read a lot less.  During stressful times I tend to stop reading and watch more movies etc but i've really been motivated to read this year.

Some really great books and some not so.  My favourites of the month would have to be The Bone Season and The Mime Order.  I was really surprised at how swept up in the story I was and still can't believe there's a lot wait until the final book in this series (I believe this is going to be a seven book series and even if that is one book out per year I will have to wait until at least 2021 to finish it..)  The book I liked the least this month was Something Strange and Deadly.  I just couldn't get into it and found some of the plotline to be unrealistic and seems to have lost the main purpose of the story after the first page....   How could you forget that you need to save your own brother?! 

BOOKS READ




Sixteenth Summer [Review to follow shortly]

BOOKS RECEIVED

CLOSED CASKET
The world’s most famous detective – and Agatha Christie’s most famous creation – returns in this new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Monogram Murders: a diabolically clever mystery soaked in period atmosphere and loaded with clues, suspense, and danger.
 
THE SALT MARSH

Sam Coyle's father lived in the shadows – an undercover agent among the spies and radicals of Cold War London.

That world claimed his life, and Sam is haunted by his absence. He left nothing behind but his enemies; nothing to his daughter but his tradecraft and paranoia.

Now, her boyfriend Luke is missing too – the one person she could trust, vanished into the fog on the Kentish coast. To find him, Sam must follow uncertain leads into a labyrinth of blind channels and shifting ground. She must navigate the treacherous expanse of the salt marsh... 


THE HOUSE OF EYES

When Darren Hatman reports his daughter missing, DI Wesley Peterson isn't too concerned. Leanne Hatman is an aspiring model, keen to abandon her native Devon for the bright lights of London. However, Darren's claim that a photographer has been stalking Leanne soon changes Wesley's opinion.

Leanne works at Eyecliffe Castle, once home to the wealthy D'Arles family and now converted into a luxury hotel. When Darren himself is found brutally murdered in the castle grounds, the police fear is that Leanne has met a similar fate. But, if so, where is her body?

Meanwhile, Wesley's friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, recently returned from a thrilling Sicilian excavation, makes a disturbing discovery near Eyecliffe Castle and surprises Wesley with the news that, while in Sicily, he met Leanne's alleged stalker.

With Eyecliffe Castle becoming the scene of another violent death, Wesley suspects a connection between the recent crimes, the disappearance of two girls back in the 1950s and a mysterious Sicilian ruin called the House of Eyes, a place feared by superstitious locals.

As he works to solve one of his most challenging cases yet, Wesley must face alarming revelations, rooted in centuries of fear and evil . . . as well as dealing with a nightmare of his own.


THE SINGLES GAME
The new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada and Revenge Wears Prada—a dishy tell-all about a beautiful tennis prodigy who, after changing coaches, suddenly makes headlines on and off the court.

Charlotte “Charlie” Silver has always been a good girl. She excelled at tennis early, coached by her father, a former player himself, and soon became one of the top juniors in the world. When she leaves UCLA—and breaks her boyfriend’s heart—to turn pro, Charlie joins the world’s best athletes who travel eleven months a year, competing without mercy for Grand Slam titles and Page Six headlines.

After Charlie suffers a disastrous loss and injury on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, she fires her longtime coach and hires Todd Feltner, a legend of the men’s tour, who is famous for grooming champions. Charlie is his first-ever female player, and he will not let her forget it. He is determined to change her good-girl image—both on the court and off—and transform her into a ruthless competitor who will not only win matches and climb the rankings, but also score magazine covers and seven-figure endorsement deals. Her not-so-secret affair with the hottest male player in the world, sexy Spaniard Marco Vallejo, has people whispering, and it seems like only a matter of time before the tabloids and gossip blogs close in on all the juicy details. Charlie’s ascension to the social throne parallels her rising rank on the women’s tour—but at a major price.

Lauren Weisberger’s novel brings us exclusive behind-the-scenes details from all the Grand Slam tournaments: the US Open, the French Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon. Charlie Silver jets around the globe, plays charity matches aboard Mediterranean megayachts, models in photo shoots on Caribbean beaches, walks the red carpet at legendary player parties, and sidesteps looming scandals—all while trying to keep her eyes on the real prize. In this sexy, unputdownable read about young tennis stars who train relentlessly to compete at the highest levels while living in a world obsessed with good looks and Instagram followers, Charlie must discover the secret to having it all—or finally shatter the illusion for good.  


THE BOURBON KINGS
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege—and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal....

For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

 
THE HOUSE IN QUILL COURT

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 . . .

From the multi-award-winning author of The Apothecary's Daughter, The House in Quill Court is a gorgeously evocative Regency novel bursting with historical flavour and characters you won't forget. If you love Philippa Gregory and Joanne Harris, you will adore Charlotte Betts.


HALFPENNY DREAMS

Sophie and Rosa Moran are born into a working-class family struggling to rise above poverty. Their father is a lowly employee at Thackreys' Bank, a powerful family-run concern. Sophie and her sister first come into contact with the Thackrey family - especially young Lydia - as children through their father's job. In spite of the social differences between them, they form an enduring friendship.
Years later, their paths cross again when Barney Moran is sacked from the bank, and the girls beg Mr Thackrey for help. Swept up in a dramatic chain of events, the lives of the two families are changed forever . . .



Continue reading Months in Review / June and July 2016

1 Aug 2016

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Blog Tour / My Husband's Wives by Faith Hogan


Better to have loved and lost, than never loved.

Paul Starr, Irelands leading cardiologist dies in a car crash with a pregnant young women by his side.
United in their grief and the love of one man, four women are thrown together in an attempt to come to terms with life after Paul. They soon realise they never really knew him at all.

The love they shared for Paul in his life and which incensed a feeling of mistrust and dislike for each other, in his death turns into the very thing that bonds them and their children to each other forever.
As they begin to form unlikely friendships, Paul's death proves to be the catalyst that enables them to become the people they always wanted to be.

About Faith Hogan
My Husband’s Wives.’
Faith Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector. 
 
She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.

Her debut novel, ‘My Husband’s Wives,’ is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin. It will be published by Aria, (Head of Zeus) on 1st of May 2016. She is currently working on her next novel. 
 
Author Interview

If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
This is a big confession, since he was quite unfortunate looking in later years, but I loved Jonathon Swift! He was witty, smart, acerbic and yes, perhaps he was a tad eh, single minded? He was all of those things, and probably many more, but when I read him first, as a teenager at school, I just fell madly in love with his brain! Although I’m not sure how he’d take to writing women’s fiction!
The other writer that I really admired was Maeve Binchey. I loved so many of her books, they were just feel-good books, with simple stories but they had that Maeve magic! I was truly honoured to be compared to her by a number of reviewers. The thing about having had a chance to collaborate with Maeve, I’m sure I’d learn so much from her as well as coming up with a real fiction cracker!

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
Like the vast majority of writers, I write when I get the chance. So, first off, I’m a wifey and mammy (and Irish mammies are very busy women!) Next up I work in a day job so that is meant to take up five days. I’ve been lucky, in that I have been able to take one day per week off to concentrate on writing.

I’m up before most people each day and I love the quiet of writing in the mornings. On one day per week I’m at my desk by nine am, the phone switched to flight mode and I’m doing authorly things! (No, not on ebay!) My favourite is when I’m writing something new – unfortunately, in my case, the first draft is only one fifth of the process! 
 
At the moment, I’m enjoying the buz of being recently published. There’s a lot of social media stuff happening and my publishers are great at providing opportunities to highlight the book.
My best writing is done at home, I have an office at the top of the house, several desks, a comfy chair for first drafts and an array of children’s art and school photos on the wall in front of my desk.

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
The hardest part, by far is when you can’t get near it. You know, that thing called ‘life’ has a habit of taking over some days. I get a little angsty if I feel I haven’t done anything for a few days. Even a blog post counts!!

4. When and why did you first start writing?
I’ve always written. I’ve always been a collector of nice notebooks and I’m the woman who will always have a pen in her bag! For years, I just wrote bits, poems, short stories. Many years ago, I wrote a radio play – I don’t think it was very good, but there was always that thing in the back of my mind that it was something I should be doing.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Most writers will tell you that the ideas are everywhere. You start with just a thread, for me it was a ‘What if?’ question and it built from there. Some of the characters were very clear in my mind and they really did lead the story on from the beginning.

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
Aren’t we all?

I love books, always have. Now, I’m addicted to my e-reader. The thing is, I’ve come across so many great books that are calling out to me… (I blame all you brilliant bloggers!)

In the past, I read a lot of crime fiction, but these days, my choices are a little more diverse!
At the minute I’m finishing up on ‘The Casual Vacancy,’ by Jk Rowling, it was one of those books that I always meant to read (I’ve read everything else she’s written!) but I had a hard back copy and it’s a real door stopper, so I had put if off, selecting e-titles instead. I’m really enjoying it though.
Also, on the bedside table, I’m heading into ‘Mothers and Daughters’ by Minna Howard and I’m really looking forward to this. We share not only a publisher, but also an agent and I’m assured the writing will be great, also I’m told the story is fab!

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
My advice is the same as every other writer is going to give you. If you want to write a novel, you have to sit on a chair for a long time – for your own sake, make sure it’s a comfortable one!

Faith Hogan’s debut novel, ‘My Husband’s Wives,’ is published on 1st of May 2016 by Aria (Head of Zeus). It is currently available to pre-order on Amazon and all good E-reading sites. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, children, a very fat cat called Norris and a selection of (until recently!) idle writerly mugs and cups. Follow Faith on Twitter at @gerhogan or like her on Facebook.comFaithhoganauthor/ or, if you’re really interested, you can catch up with her on www.faithhogan.com
Continue reading Blog Tour / My Husband's Wives by Faith Hogan