30 Jul 2015


Book Review / The Crooked House by Christobel Kent

Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get: with no ties, no home, a backroom job, hers is a life lived under the radar. She's a nobody; she has no-one and that's how she wants it.

But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme Grace, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote and dilapidated house on the edge of a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else's—or so she thought.

Then one night a terrible thing happened in the crooked house, a nightmare of violence out of which Alison emerged the only witness and sole survivor and from which she has been running ever since. Only when she meets academic Paul Bartlett does Alison realize that if she's to have any chance of happiness, she has to return to her old life and confront the darkness that worked its way inside her family and has pursued her ever since..

Published:     23rd April 2015
Publisher:  Sphere
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

What I loved about this book...
I really enjoyed this story.  This is a new author to me and I have a feeling I will be looking into reading more of her work.  This book was actually so creepy (especially when describing what happened to Alison's family) I didn't want to read this at night.  What I loved the most about this story was the creep factor.  There is really great suspense in this story where you see what happened to Alison in the past and try to figure out what really happened together with the fact that there are some creepy things happening to Alison now which made me wonder if the past wasn't going to stay in the past!  This book kept me looked right to the very end.  

There are a lot of secrets in this story that are revealed gradually as the story progresses.  Some I had guessed and some I was really surprised at.  There were  definitely some family secrets that I had not guessed at and were really interesting to read.  

I do have to say that this book does touch on an adult sensitive subject.  I can't say what that is as that would spoil part of the story but just in case you don't like that kind of thing I thought I would just mention it here to let you know.

Christobel Kent was born in London in 1962 and now lives in Cambridge with her husband and four children; in between she lived in Florence. 

She worked in publishing for several years, most recently as Publicity Director at Andre Deutsch. Her debut novel A Party in San Niccolo, was published in 2003.

Continue reading Book Review / The Crooked House by Christobel Kent

29 Jul 2015

Waiting on Wednesday / The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly memo that is hosted by Breaking the Spine Blog.

Expected Release Date: 27th August 2015
(Release date obtained from Goodreads)

Goodreads link is here.

What if you weren’t the Chosen One?

What if you’re not the one who’s so often the hero in YA fiction; who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions...

Continue reading Waiting on Wednesday / The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

27 Jul 2015


Book Review/ The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

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.

Published:     10th September 2015
Publisher:  Head of Zeus
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

Now this book was one that really surprised me.  For those who know me, I am not a fashion person.  I am not into fashion and really just wears what I like despite that it currently the 'in' thing to wear.  I have to be honest and say that I did think that maybe I wouldn't read this as this wasn't my thing but I am really glad that I decided to give it a chance.  I started off the year with the resolution that I would try to read more books that are 'out of my comfort zone' and this was definitely one of them.

This book is split into three different character perspectives.  First you have Lily who is in the present day.  She is the one that discovers a picture of the dress and becomes obsessed with finding out more about it.  Next you have Joy who we see in the 1950s.  She is the person who has the dress commissioned and wears the dress. We follow her story with her husband Frank and her story of the Dress.  Lastly you have Honor who is also in the 1950s.  She is the seamstress who made The Dress.  We follow her story making the dress and so much more as the story goes on.  I really enjoyed following each of these three character's stories but if I had to choose a favourite (or favourites) it would have to be the story of Joy and Honor.  There are a lot of ups and downs and definitely a few surprises that I never saw coming.  Another character who plays a key part in the 1950s story is Frank, Joy's husband.  He definitely has a lot of secrets in his past and in the present 1950s as well.

This is such a beautiful story that captured my imagination from the very first page.  Even if you are not keen on fashion, do give this a go.

Kate Kerrigan is an author living and working in Ireland. Her novels are Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, The Miracle of Grace, Ellis Island, City of Hope, Land of Dreams and The Lost Garden.

Kate began her career as an editor and journalist, editing many of Britain’s most successful young women’s magazines before returning to her native Ireland in the 1990’s to edit Irish Tatler. 

She writes a weekly column in the Irish Mail about her life in Killala, County Mayo – and contributes regularly to RTE's radio's Sunday Miscellany.

Continue reading Book Review/ The Dress by Kate Kerrigan
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Author Interview / Lorna Peel

London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan, newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle, and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen-year-old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will the horrors of war bring Kate and Charlie together or tear them apart?

Lorna Peel is an author of contemporary and historical romantic fiction. Her first novel, Only You, a contemporary romance, was published in 2014. Into The Unknown, an historical novel set during WWII, was published in May 2015.

Lorna was born in England and lived in North Wales until her family moved to Ireland to become farmers, which is a book in itself! She lives in rural Ireland, where she write, researches her family history, and grows fruit and vegetables. She also keeps chickens (and a Guinea Hen who now thinks she’s a chicken!).

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?  I prefer to write alone but if I had the chance, it would be Sharon Kay Penman. I absolutely love her historical novels, especially her Welsh trilogy. The amount of research which goes into her books must be phenomenal but it never shows.
2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?  I’m not a morning person so I write in the late afternoon and evening. I like to be comfortable when I write so I tend to do most of my writing on the sofa in the living room. The TV is off but I might listen to music, depending on what I’m writing.
3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?  Finding the time in Summer to write. Winter isn’t so bad, with long, dark evenings, but Summer is harder with chickens and a garden to look after but I always make up for the lack of Summer writing in Winter.
4. When and why did you first start writing?  I was nineteen and hadn’t been encouraged to do any creative writing at school, so once I was free of school, I wanted to see if I could put my imagination to good use and actually write a full length novel from start to finish.
5. How did you come up with the idea for the book?  I wanted to show World War Two from a different perspective—from one of the many Irish people who joined the allied forces—so I created Kate. She needed a contrasting love interest, so I created Charlie.

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?  I don’t have time to read very much in Summer, but I make up for it in Winter, so I have quite a few books on my combined electronic and print TBR pile. Some at the top are: Heartstone by C.J. Sansom, Jeremy Poldark by Winston Graham, Faithful Place by Tana French and The Secrets of Pain by Phil Rickman.

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?  Never give up. Be stubborn and grow a thick skin. Don’t allow anyone to put you or your writing down.

Amazon UK - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00UAY719Y
Amazon US - http://amzn.com/B00UAY719Y
iBooks UK - https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id974054282?mt=11
iBooks US - https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/into-the-unknown/id974054282
Smashwords - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/525040
Nook UK - http://www.nook.com/gb/ebooks/into-the-unknown-by-lorna-peel/2940046616323
Barnes and Noble - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1121346684
Tirgearr Publishing - http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Peel_Lorna/into-the-unknown.htm

Continue reading Author Interview / Lorna Peel

26 Jul 2015

My Week in Books / 20th to 26th July 2015

This was a bit of a hit and miss week for me in books.  While I was really in a reading mood unfortunately the first two books I read just didn't do it for me.  The first I tried to read was Texas Gothic below is an explanation of how I DNF'd that one.  The next was The Memory Hit which was an 'out of my comfort zone' type of read so that one honestly could have gone either way (bad or good).  Normally, I don't like stories about drugs etc so this was a trial by fire style book.  The last book was the one that I enjoyed the most this week, The Witch Hunter.  I love books about witches so that definitely had that going for it from the start.  This one got 4 stars from me.  

Amy Goodnight knows that the world isn't as simple as it seems—she grew up surrounded by household spells and benevolent ghosts. But she also understands that "normal" doesn't mix with magic, and she's worked hard to build a wall between the two worlds. Not only to protect any hope of ever having a normal life.

Ranch-sitting for her aunt in Texas should be exactly that. Good old ordinary, uneventful hard work. Only, Amy and her sister, Phin, aren't alone. There's someone in the house with them—and it's not the living, breathing, amazingly hot cowboy from the ranch next door.

It's a ghost, and it's more powerful than the Goodnights and all their protective spells combined. It wants something from Amy, and none of her carefully built defenses can hold it back.

This is the summer when the wall between Amy's worlds is going to come crashing down.

This is a story that has been on my shelf for absolutely ages and is one that I was highly recommended to read as being quite scary so as I am in the middle of changing my bookshelves I thought now is as good time as any to read it (and I made sure that I started it during the day just in case!).  Honestly, I didn't find this scary or even remotely creepy.  I read about just over 100 pages and found that I just didn't care enough about what happened to the characters.  It's not to say that this wasn't a good story it was just the story wasn't going anywhere and when it did it seemed to take ages to get there, which lost my interest.  This is one that I may pick up again at another time but just could not continue with this one right now.   

Continue reading My Week in Books / 20th to 26th July 2015

23 Jul 2015


Book Review / The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

Published:     1st September 2015
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, The Witch Hunter
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

What I liked about this book...

I love a good witchy book and I knew as soon as saw the title to this one that I had to read it!  What I like the most was the world building.  You have this world where there is a king, a person who controls the law of the land, the witch hunters who carry out one of the rules and you have the people who live in this world.  I liked how the structure was put together and I could tell that there was something not quite right but could not put my finger on it straight away.   I loved following Elizabeth as she goes from witch hunter to trying to disguise the fact that she is a witch hunter, discovering what she discovers along the way.  I have a feeling that there are a lot more secrets lurking in this world yet to be discovered and I cannot wait to discover them!

The two characters that really stood out to me were Nicholas Perevil and Blackwell.  Blackwell is the character who controls the law of the land and controls the witch hunters and is portrayed as a dark character.  Nicholas is a wizard who Elizabeth tries to help.  He is portrayed as the 'good guy'.  I get the feeling there is a lot of history with these characters left to discover. 

What I was not fond of with this book...
This was quite an easy read for me, meaning there was nothing to complicated to get my head around.  What I would have loved to have seen was a bit more depth into the world, a bit more description of the surroundings and what was happening.  But that said, I really enjoyed this story and can't wait to read the next one in the series although there may be a long wait for that lol!
 (From Goodreads)

Virginia Boecker recently spent four years in London obsessing over English medieval history, which formed the basis of her debut novel, The Witch Hunter. She now lives in the Bay Area, California with her husband and spends her days writing, reading, running, and chasing around her two children and a dog named George.

In addition to English kings, nine-day queens, and Protestant princesses, her other obsessions include The Smiths, art museums, champagne, and Chapstick. You can visit Virginia online at virginiaboecker.com or on Twitter @virgboecker.

Continue reading Book Review / The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

22 Jul 2015

Author Interview / Lisa Ballantyne

The crash is the unravelling of Margaret Holloway. Trapped inside a car about to explode, she is rescued by a scarred stranger who then disappears. Margaret remembers little, but she's spent her life remembering little - her childhood is full of holes and forgotten memories. And now she has a burning desire to discover who she is, why her life has been shrouded in secrets, and if it has anything to do with the mysterious man who saved her life.

In a thriller that flits effortlessly between past and present, this is a harsh, gritty yet ultimately uplifting journey of an estranged father and daughter, exploring the strength of family ties and our huge capacity for forgiveness. 


1.    If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

That is a really great question, which I have never been asked before. The nature of novel-writing is that it tends to be a solitary undertaking. Dramatists often work together, and I can visualise a writer working with an artist…but novelists working together sounds novel indeed.
            I am interested in graphic novels and loved Persepolis – because of its drama and emotion – and because I have visited Iran. Perhaps I might choose to work with Marjane Satrapi – the author of Persepolis. I am sure my work would benefit from being ‘storyboarded’ in places and perhaps we would complement eachother with our mutual interest in family, culture and religion – all themes in REDEMPTION ROAD.

2.    What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I am trying very hard to change my habits to become a morning writing person, but as of yet I tend to get all my chores done early in the day and then settle in the afternoon to write – and evening if things are going well. I am a very active, impatient person with a short attention span and so I like to do exercise before I write, as it seems to calm me down and help me to focus.

3.    What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
The part of the writing process that I am engaged in at the time is the hardest part. If I am just starting to tease out a story, then that is the hardest; if I am trying to find a voice and a structure, then that will seem unsurmountable; if I am trying to get a draft finished then that can seem overwhelming and sometimes – when the novel is done and an editor has given me changes to complete - these can seem extremely challenging. I think the answer is that writing is very hard and none of it is easy. I must enjoy a challenge.

4.    When and why did you first start writing?
I started writing when I was very small, and I am sure that the reason was some kind of drive to express myself. For many years I wrote poetry, but I started writing long fiction when I was living in China. Novels are like a relationship – they’re a big commitment and you have to work on them every day and after a while, that effort becomes your habit and then it is hard to shake. No matter how I earn my money in life, I will always write.

5.    How did you come up with the idea for the book your book?
When I first began to work on REDEMPTION ROAD, I was interested in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the mechanism of memories from the past impacting on the present. The first scene of the book – involving the car crash and the strange, scarred saviour – came to me quite quickly and I knew that the burned man who rescues Margaret would be the key to her past. In writing the 1980s scenes, I knew I wanted to write about a man who steals his daughter and for the journey they undertake to be a redemptive one, spanning the whole country. I wanted the relationship between father and daughter to gradually soften as the road trip progresses, from one of captor and captive, to one of genuine mutual affection and love.

6.    Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I read a lot, but at any one time I am reading about ten books and this can be a fatiguing situation. I usually have about four or five books (sometimes more) that I am reading for research, then I usually have a novel I am reading for my own pleasure, and usually something non-fiction as well, just for me. Then there are books that I am sent to review and I often stop and focus on them so that they are not lost in the pile.
At the moment, for sheer pleasure, I am reading Marilynne Robinson’s GILEAD and Barack Obama’s DREAMS FROM MY FATHER.

 7.    Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
I don’t ever feel in a position to give advice, but I know things that have helped me! My motto is always, ‘once it’s finished, it exists’. I try not to get disheartened as I write, but press on… once a manuscript is complete you can assess it, but you can’t edit what you have not written. My other advice would be ‘write if you have to, and if you don’t…don’t’. Writing is agonising, obsessive, draining and gives you curvature of the spine. Only embark on it if you are driven to it so much that you cannot avoid it.
Continue reading Author Interview / Lisa Ballantyne

Waiting on Wednesday / The Next Together by Lauren James

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly memo that is hosted by Breaking the Spine Blog.

Expected Release Date: 3rd September 2015
(Release date obtained from Goodreads)

Goodreads link is here.

How many times can you lose the person you love?

A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about reincarnation and the timelessness of first love from a talented young writer.

Teenagers Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different...

Continue reading Waiting on Wednesday / The Next Together by Lauren James

21 Jul 2015


Book Review / The Memory Hit by Carla Spradbery

On New Year's Eve, Jess's life is unrecognizable: her best friend is in the hospital, her boyfriend is a cheater. A drug-dealing cheater it would seem, after finding a stash of Nostalgex in his bag.

Nostalgex: a drug that stimulates memory. In small doses, a person can remember the order of a deck of cards, or an entire revision guide read the day before an exam. In larger doses it allows the user detailed access to their past, almost like watching a DVD with the ability to pause a moment in time, to focus on previously unnoticed details and to see everything they've ever experienced with fresh eyes. As Leon, the local dealer, says 'it's like life, only better.' What he fails to mention is that most memories are clouded by emotions. Even the most vivid memories can look very different when visited.

Across town Sam Cooper is in trouble. Again. This time, gagged and bound in the boot of a car. Getting on the wrong side of a drug dealer is never a good idea, but if he doesn't make enough money to feed and clothe his sister, who will?

On New Year's Day, Jess and Cooper's worlds collide. They must put behind their differences and work together to look into their pasts to uncover a series of events that will lead them to know what really happened on that fateful New Year's Eve. But what they find is that everything they had once believed to be true, turns out to be a lie ...

Published:    4th June 2015
Publisher:  Hodder
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

I am afraid that this one one of those books that 'I could not get into but was invested enough to continue reading until the end because I wanted to know what happened'.  I was really sad I could not get into this book, it sounded like one of those stories that would be fast paced and full of surprises.  I found that it was neither - slow paced and really no surprises at all.  I had guessed pretty much the entire story in the first few chapters.  I think if I hadn't guessed what was going on then this story would have been more of a three or four star review but as there were no surprises there was no 'hook' to draw me in and want to know more.  Jess was my favourite character in this story as she seemed to be the 'innocent' in the madness and it was interesting to follow her story.

I am really sad that I could not get into this book but if you are after an easy read and like reading this sort of thing then do pick it up.  It is worth a try if this is the type of story you are into.

After working with teenagers for more than a decade, Carla decided to start writing for and about them. Having had a lifelong obsession with dark literature, it only seemed natural to write stories that would thrill, scare and maybe make her readers think twice about reading alone in the dark.

Carla lives in Hampshire with her husband and two children. She still enjoys working with teenagers, although she finds it harder and harder to understand why the music they like has to be quite so loud.

Continue reading Book Review / The Memory Hit by Carla Spradbery

20 Jul 2015

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Author Interview / Tonya Plank

Rory’s once promising ballet career was destroyed by family tragedy and illness. She turned her life around and became a lawyer. Now at the start of her legal career, she lacks passion in her work and self-confidence in her abilities. But when she meets gorgeous, mysterious Russian ballroom dancer, Sasha, at a firm holiday party, her passions for life and dance are immediately re-kindled.

Since being torn from his Siberian family as a child, Sasha’s life ambition has been to be world ballroom champion, a path he was destined for until his former partner pulled the plug on their partnership. She went on to win the world title, leaving him, without a partner equal in ability, forever in second place. The instant he lays eyes on Rory, he recognizes the depth of her passion and talent, and falls hard for her in more ways than one.

But she also reminds him of great pain from his past. He must not only overcome his own demons but convince her to leave her demanding law career, and all that she has worked for in her adult life, to train with him full-time in order for their partnership – both on and off the dance floor – to work.

This is part one in a continuing three-book series.

1) If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?   Oh my gosh, this is one of the hardest questions I've been asked! I have so many favorite authors, it's so hard to choose. But I guess my absolute dream right now would be to collaborate with Alice Clayton. I just love her totally off-the-wall sense of humor. Even though her sex scenes are full of such zaniness, they still contain such passion and fire. I think my love scenes are full of passion and desire as well - I have a lot of repressed desire in mine, actually. But I would love to let loose a bit more, and not have everything seem so serious. I'm good with humor - bawdy humor included - in the scenes where Rory, my main character, learns to partner dance. There are lots of crazy, goofy missteps. But my love scenes are so dramatic and angsty. I would love to be able to let loose and bring out the humor there a bit more. Just like Alice!
2) What would be a typical working day for you?  When and where do you write?   A typical writing day depends on whether I'm working at a day job at the time. I do contract-based attorney jobs. So when I'm working on a project, I'll try to put in at least two hours of writing every weeknight after I get home and have dinner and walk the dog. Then, on the weekends, I work all day, eight hours at least. My apartment gets rather messy during those times! But when I'm fortunate enough to have a few weeks off from work, then I'll write like every day is a weekend day - eight hours each day. I work really hard during those times; that's actually when most of the writing gets done.
3) What is the hardest part of the writing for you?   The hardest part of writing for me is writing too much and then having to go back and take things out. I tend to describe things in way too much detail. So when I'm re-working the draft, I'll have to figure out which parts are the ones that aren't necessary. I hate cutting!
4) When and why did you first start writing?  I feel like I've always written, at least since I was a small child. I remember when I was very young my mom got me hooked on the "Little House on the Prairie" books. My grandmother always told me such fascinating stories about growing up in her little log cabin in the woods, and they reminded me of the Laura Ingalls books. I thought I was going to write the same kind of series, from my grandma's perspective! But that never happened of course. I took creative writing classes all throughout high school and college though. Even during law school, I took some fiction workshops. They really kept me sane. My first novel came out of one of those workshops.
5) How did you come up with the idea for the book?   I came up with the idea for my "Fever" series from my experiences as an amateur ballroom dancer, and my love of romance novels. I met so many fascinating people in the ballroom world - both professional dancers, and people from other walks of life who were just taking lessons at night. So many different kinds of people come together in a dance studio. And there were sweet little romances that would develop. Plus, there were so many really talented, gorgeous male dancers, I just felt like that type of man would make a perfect hero for a romance novel! The dance world is replete with passion and drama and competition and just ... hot, thrilling dancers - all things that make for a great romance!
6)  Are you a big reader?  If so, what are you reading now?  Yes, I love to read! I'm probably a reader before I'm a writer. I recently returned from Romantic Times BookLovers Convention in Dallas and brought back so many books. Right now I'm simultaneously reading "The Master" by Kresley Cole, "Loving Dallas" by Caisey Quinn, and "The Marriage Pact" by M.J. Pullen, all of which I got there.
7) Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?   My advice to other aspiring writers is to read as much as you can. You learn so much about good writing from just reading great books. And read a lot of books in your genre. Read the blogs and the reviews, and know what readers are loving about the type of books you want to write. And try to write everyday, even if you only have a small amount of time. It really helps to have a schedule.
Continue reading Author Interview / Tonya Plank

19 Jul 2015

My Two Weeks in Books / 4th to 19th July 2015

What a mixed reading fortnight I had.  My favourite book out of the four that I read this fortnight would have to be The Turning Point.  Not only was it a new author for me so that was refreshing but it was one of those books that I got completely engrossed in reading and did not want to put it down, even when I got to the very end.  A very emotional read.  Lying Out Loud had the great comedic writing of Kodi Keplinger but it didn't really hit the right reading spot, emotionally.  The Boy that Never was and The Treacle Well were both OK reads for me.  I read them all the way through but they didn't make much of an impact on me as I wish they had done. 

Continue reading My Two Weeks in Books / 4th to 19th July 2015

15 Jul 2015

Waiting on Wednesday / Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly memo that is hosted by Breaking the Spine Blog.

Expected Release Date: 1st September 2015
(Release date obtained from Goodreads)

Goodreads link is here.

Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck's small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He's curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening-- and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister-- and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers.

Continue reading Waiting on Wednesday / Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

14 Jul 2015


Book Review / The Blue by Lucy Clarke

In the tradition of Alex Garland’s The Beach, a spine-tingling adventure novel about a group of friends whose journey around the world on a yacht turns from a trip to paradise into a chilling nightmare when one of them disappears at sea.

A group of friends.
A yacht.
And a disappearance-at-sea that turns paradise into a chilling nightmare.

Lana and her best friend Kitty leave home looking for freedom—and that’s exactly what they find when they are invited onto The Blue, a fifty-foot yacht making its way from the Philippines to New Zealand. The crew is made up of a group of young travellers bitten by wanderlust, and it doesn’t take long for Lana and Kitty’s dream of sea-bound romance to turn into reality.

Both women fall under the hypnotic spell of The Blue, spending their days exploring remote islands and their rum-filled nights relaxing on deck beneath the stars. But when one of their friends disappears overboard after an argument with another crewmember, the dark secrets that brought each of them aboard start to unravel.

At turns gorgeously scenic and entirely haunting, The Blue is a page-turning thriller about friendship, freedom and wanting to leave the past behind.

Published:     30th July 2015
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

My Review

You cannot imagine the excitment I had when I saw this one come in the post.  Lucy Clarke is now one of my favourite authors (alongside Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult).    This story mainly follows Lana in two different time periods - present day and in the past when they are on The Blue.  I liked that it was split into two time periods as it gave a lot more depth to the story and a lot more suspence also, especially following the present day and discovering what happens...  There are quite a few characters in this book but I had absolutely no trouble keeping up with them and remembering who they were.  You have a great mix of good characters and characters I was not sure about.  The book ties up nicely at the end and just when I thought the story would finish not really knowing about a certain thing that happened there was a bit of a twist that I was not expecting that actually made me sit up and go 'huh!'.

If you haven't tried a Lucy Clarke book yet, you are definatley missing out...  It has got great suspense, drama and a lot more things too!

Continue reading Book Review / The Blue by Lucy Clarke

13 Jul 2015

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Author Interview / Christina Harlin

When a ghost-hunting episode of the popular paranormal web series Othernaturals goes bad, two cast members quit, and Othernaturals producer, telepathic Rosemary Sharpe, finds herself carrying the ghost of an axe murderer on her shoulder. Now she must hire two new members for her team before her show moves on to investigate a haunted dormitory at a state university, all the while keeping her angry companion at bay. Disgraced psychic Andrew Fletcher and renowned healer Kaye Whittington sign on, joining Rosemary’s team that includes an animal empath and his traveling companion Vladimir the cat, a psychic vampire who is more cheerleader than bloodsucker, and a haunted medium who shares head space with his best friend who died twenty years ago. Even the show’s director can see ghosts. Rosemary’s philosophy is that the supernatural doesn’t need to be real, as long as her viewers believe that it is, but her own extra passenger has other ideas about avenging himself on the team that abducted him from his haunting grounds – and on any innocent spirit they may encounter. But Rosemary inherited her famous rock star grandfather’s powerful telepathic ability to control a room. An evil spirit has attached itself to her, but exactly which one of them is in the possession of the other? Passions and paranoia are all part of the package, when filming an un-reality show. Possessed is the exciting first book in the new series by Christina Harlin, author of paranormal thrillers Never Alone and Deck of Cards and the romantic adventures of legal secretary Carol Frank in the “Boss” series. In addition to the book itself, the Othernaturals series also has a website that includes pictures, ghost stories, additional information about the characters, and some fun things for fans.

  1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

Debra, I have to let you know: this was the toughest question of the bunch. I considered many names: Frank Herbert, because he created a detailed, far-distant future for the human race; Ray Bradbury, because while he could write a truly frightening story, he was tender-hearted and romantic too; Shirley Jackson, because she is the author I most closely identify with myself; Daphne du Maurier because wow, what melodrama that woman could write! I’d even work with the first human who carved a story on a cave wall—what an amazing trip that would be. But since this question is open to all possibilities, I choose work with a very dear friend of mine who died at 35 with a lot of stories in him. He had the talent to make those stories happen, and already had a large readership on his pop-culture blog. In our different-but-compatible styles, we worked together on several things before he was lost. We had a project in mind for collaboration: a screenplay about a jigsaw-puzzlers’ convention. I’d love to know how that would have turned out. He's been gone for years, and I miss him to this day.

  1. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I have a day job at a law firm – writing is my passion but steady income has its benefits. I have to work writing in around the 9 to 5 schedule. Saturdays and Sundays find me in front of the computer for hours at a stretch. Weekdays, I write the evenings from 6:30-7:30 or 9:30 to 11:30, with a day off each week for brain rest, unless my brain informs me that she is fine and wants to keep working. At least once a year I’ll have a stay-cation so I can write every day for as long as I like, plus make long-term plans for projects. I sit before my computer monitor at my battered desk, which bears the scars of many moves and un-coastered drinks. I have a tall glass of seltzer water to my left, music playing in my headphones, and a big grey cat trying to sit on my keyboard.

If I become stuck in a piece of fiction, I write essays about movies for my blog The Movie Orphan. This blog has been instrumental in keeping me writing over the past five years, because it is as assignment I gave myself regarding one of my favorite things. Doing this has actually made me a better writer. I can see a difference in what I do now and what I did before The Movie Orphan became part of my life. At one low point, after a bad experience with a publishing company when I was quite seriously thinking, “Screw this, I’m never writing anything again,” blogging movie essays actually pulled me through. I don’t really know how many steady readers my blog has, but find it matters very little to me. Movie blogging is something I do for entirely selfish reasons. I do love to hear from other movie fans and readers, though; they’re always terrific and often have great suggestions on what to write about next.

In the worst-case scenario: i.e., I am stuck in my fiction, and I have no movies to write about, I actually write fan fiction that will never, never, never see the light of day. These embarrassing little vignettes have proven to be quite useful. Sometimes a very good idea for the “stuck” story will spring from what is basically fan-girl Mary-Sue-ing.

  1. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?

Oh, how I struggle with endings. I learned long ago that I need to have an ending in mind before I even try starting a story. If I have no final goal, I will dawdle and meander and wind up with two-thirds of a story that goes nowhere. Had you met me fifteen years ago, you would have found a woman with four manuscripts that were pretty solid all the way to 80% done, and then mysteriously “lost” their last two chapters. I’m not inflexible, as stories will occasionally veer off in other directions, but having a basic plan-of-action on where things will be wrapping up has truly helped me. Once I adopted that rule, I began to finish writing projects. This was quite an accomplishment for me!

In the case of the Othernaturals series, the individual books are more episodic in nature. I feel the books’ conclusions pause the story rather than conclude it. Nevertheless, I have goals in mind for each of the characters, and I’m always working toward them. For example, when we reach the conclusion of a plot thread in Book Six, I hope readers can look back to Book One and see that thread’s beginnings.

  1. When and why did you first start writing?

This compulsion to write was apparently something I was born with. My mother, who has always been so wonderfully supportive, tells me that before I actually knew how to write, I drew stories in pictures. I have a suitcase full of things I wrote as a child and teenager. I wrote my first book, though I use the term loosely, when I was 12, on a spiral notebook in multi-colored magic markers. There’s another early effort – an espionage adventure, if you can believe that—that was my first effort on my best Christmas present ever, a Smith-Corona typewriter. This was my hysterically bad attempt to be a 14-year-old Ian Fleming when I didn’t even know how to drive a car. The terrible typing is the very least of its problems. For all its faults, however, it is a complete story, so I must have had the awful ending in mind before I started.

Writing is one of my favorite things to do. I would continue writing stories even if they were never to see the light of day. That was the case for a long time! Simple fear, of criticism, rejection, or exposure, kept me from making any real efforts to put my writing out in the world. Age and experience bring perspective, thank goodness. Eventually I realized that if I did not at least try to share my stories, I would someday regret it. I made my anal-retentive lists, gave myself deadlines and assignments, and got serious about the business of writing books.

  1. How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I’m a sucker for paranormal stories and love to write them. Few of these stories were of sufficient heft to create an entire book, or at least seemed so to me—which is an evasive way of saying that I was having trouble with endings again. A couple of these stories actually did make it as their own books, but as for the rest, I simply didn’t know what to do with them.

My son Jake and I are big fans of paranormal investigation shows. As we watched many episodes of ghost hunting, I realized that my paranormal story ideas needed that kind of cohesiveness. Why not create series of stories about paranormal investigators?

All I needed then was a team. Mentally I made a list of several supernatural gifts I found intriguing. Seven characters stepped into those places then proceeded to turn my expectations upside down. Here are a just a few examples: I thought team leader Rosemary Sharpe was a gorgeous, gregarious telepath and have since learned she has a dangerous dark side and a real issue with impulse control. I wanted a vampire on my team, but a real Nosferatu would be over-the-top in this context, so here came Sally Friend, a bouncy, cheerful young woman with a serious sun allergy, who thinks of herself as a vampire because she feeds on the energy of others. I expected little Judge Duncan to be a shy, bullied boy, and he surprised me by being a charming, confident stage actor. I'm desperate to rescue Stefan, I'm growing to truly respect Andrew's inner kindness, and the moral opposition of Kaye is going to be trouble, I can just tell, despite how much I admire her.

Can you tell that I love these people? They’re like friends of mine now, and I wouldn’t insult them by saying they were mere fiction. Since they became real to me, I've had no trouble engaging them in all the paranormal stories I've imagined through the years.

At that point, I needed only to go on a few ghost-hunting expeditions myself to get a real feel for the game, with Jake along as my photographer and as, to be honest, the guy I can hide behind. That's been so much fun, as well as being a great learning experience about human nature and the stories we create. I plan to continue visiting haunted places for that very reason.

  1. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?

I love to read. I wish I had more time to do it! My preferred genres are fantasy, thrillers, crime dramas, historical romances, and simply great novels. Right now I’m reading There’s No Place Like Here by Cecelia Ahern and a book my son recommended to me, Yahtzee Croshaw’s comical apocalypse tale Jam. I’m also re-reading Hannibal by Thomas Harris. Like most avid readers, I usually have more than one book going at a time.

  1. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

In my own experience, nothing has held me back more than my own fear. In my case, that’s an ongoing fight. I hope that once I survive enough battles, I’ll win the war. I am very lucky to have a terrific husband and son; their combined support and bravery have helped more than anything else. Therefore, I hope that aspiring writers have support behind them. Use that support. It’s priceless.

You may hit bumps in the road, bad ones that make you reconsider most of your life’s choices and writing in particular. Remember that after a time, when the hurt has lessened, you’ll be better equipped than before. I’ve learned a great deal from experiences that I thought would crush me – first and foremost, that they failed to crush me.

I offer this advice whenever I’m asked, and perhaps it is a big “Well, duh!” moment, but it was something I had to learn for myself. This is a rather brutal truth: the formal publishing industry doesn’t care about your talent or dedication as a writer. Publishers want to know if they can sell your work and make money. That is the bottom line. Though it feels cold, it’s not personal. It’s just business. Wonderful, if you can be both talented and lucrative – but a lot of writers are out there, in competition for limited resources. Current publishers are very cautious and only buy what they consider “sure things.” Once I fully grasped this, I stopped taking rejection quite so hard and moved beyond the traditional publishing paradigm.

The Internet has opened an entirely new world for authors. I used to feel that self-publication was an amateur conceit, something in which only bad writers with delusions of grandeur engaged. That is no longer the case. Yes, easy self-publication has resulted in a hundred thousand new books every week or so. That’s the downside, but it’s not a deal-breaker. I personally think the world can use all the stories it can get. I like to believe that the stories which deserve recognition will make it there.

Nor does your writing have to be books. My son Jake creates detailed plots for role-playing games, and hopes to publish them when they are perfected. Blogs, at the very least, are great writing practice. Serial stories or narratives with art can be put on YouTube. You have a webiverse of opportunity. Go nuts with it!

This leads me to my final bit of advice. It is always said, “Write what you know,” but I prefer to say, “Write what you love.” If you are enjoying what you’re writing, it shows. What’s more, if you are enjoying yourself, a lot of the pressure goes away. It ceases to matter so very much, whether you make a book deal or sell 10,000 copies or get reviewed by the New York Times. Then, when good things do happen, they're just gravy on your potatoes. You’re doing what you love, and how can you ever regret that?
Continue reading Author Interview / Christina Harlin

12 Jul 2015


Book Review / The Treacle Well by Moira Forsyth

Caroline and Daniel are twins whose mother died when they were babies. 

They grow up in a conventional family, their aunt and uncle raising them along with their own little girls, but they are truly close only to each other. 

Then, their father remarrying, they’re separated for the first time and sent to boarding school. A serious accident when they become medical students seems to end without damage to either, but soon after Daniel and Caroline cut themselves off from the rest of the family, causing first bewilderment, then hurt and anger. 

Underneath the stable family life their grandparents worked so hard to establish, run currents of insecurity and restlessness, and a secret only one person is able to uncover. 

The novel explores belonging and not belonging, guilt and atonement.

Published:     21st May 2015
Publisher:  Sandstone Press
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy Received

What I loved about this book...
What I loved the most about this book was the family dynamic, how each character interacted with the other, whether they liked or hated or even were indifferent.  Similarly, there were characters that I liked and ones that I really didn't like.  One particular character that I didn't like very much was Diana who was their father's new wife, Daniel and Caroline's stepmother.  Even though she knew she was getting into a family with children and even had one of her own she was completely uninterested in them, very self-involved.  Another character was actually one of the main characters Caroline, I just could not seem to get on her side because of her attitude.  But even though I disliked one or two characters, it added to the  family dynamic in this story and set out a realistic feel of what families are, rather than just being happy and merry all the time.   

What I also thought was very interesting was the fact that this story spans decades rather than a matter of months or days.  I had never come across this type of story and really enjoyed it.  It gave me a great sense of history with this family as I followed them through the years.

What I was not fond of with this book... 
What I was not fond of with this book was the level of attention to detail that I didn't feel was necessary in the story and just got in the way.  Honestly speaking, if there was a little bit less description about every day matters this story would definately have been more of a 4 star or 4.5 star read for me.

Moira Forsyth is the author of four novels, and of short stories and poetry published in a range of magazines and anthologies. 

She lives in Muir of Ord, in the Highlands of Scotland.

Continue reading Book Review / The Treacle Well by Moira Forsyth