Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Deep in emotion with Amanda Jennings

Amanda Jennings read History of Art at Cambridge and spent sometime post-university working at the BBC. She is an active user of social media and has an entertaining blog www.amandajennings.co.uk. She is married with three daughters and lives in Henley.
http://www.amandajennings.co.uk/
Twitter: mandajjennings



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Your new novel is called 'The Judas Scar' please could you tell me about it?
It’s the story of Harmony and Will whose lives are turned upside down when Luke, an old school friend of Will’s, arrives on the scene. Bullying, betrayal, love, desire, guilt and revenge; it’s a tangled old web that develops.

Both in 'Sworn Secret' and 'The Judas Scar' the reader is taken on a journey of loss and discovery. What is your writing process for writing something that is traumatic and heartfelt?
This is a hard question. I don’t think it’s a process so much as a period of time, a long period, spent empathising with each character. I have to forget my own emotions and submerse myself in the past and present of each character and imagine how I would react or feel if I were them. It can be quite draining, and on occasion I’ve been known to write a scene with tears pouring down my cheeks! Empathy is one of the writer’s most important tools, in my opinion.

What can we expect next, is book number 3 in the making?
Yes, the first draft of Book 3 is written and awaiting its first big edit. As The Judas Scar focuses on betrayal, this one take identity as its central theme, what identity really means, what defines us as an individual. It’s set in Cornwall, around St Ives and Penzance where my mother’s family is from, which is an area I’m emotionally very attached to and I’m thoroughly enjoying having this story set here.

They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
It was quite long and beset with rejection, which I’m sure you hear a lot! Someone who offered me early advice said to get a book traditionally published a writer needs three things: talent, hard work and a little bit of luck. Of those I believe hard work is the most vital. It’s difficult to motivate yourself sometimes. Most of us write as a secondary occupation, fitting it in around jobs and families. But unless you make yourself (force yourself on occasion) sit down and get the words out, it will never happen. My journey was pretty standard. I wrote a book. It was rejected by all the agents in the world. I wrote another book. I was signed by an agent (a Champagne moment). That book didn’t find a publisher. I wrote another book. I signed a publishing contract (another Champagne moment). Eighteen months later I saw my book on the WHSmiths bestseller stand (yup, you guessed it... Another Champagne moment). The whole process from start (the moment I decided to officially start writing a book) to finish (the last Champagne moment) took just over seven years.

Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them. So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
I think I’d go out with Frank, the man who helps in Will’s wine shop. We’d sit in the sunshine and play with his cats, drink tea and dunk biscuits, then go for a walk into Chiswick and buy some delicious food for lunch, which we’d eat in the park. Then we’d go home, open some really good wine and chat long into the night about everything and nothing. He would relax me and make me remember that the relationships we have with family, friends and our animals is what’s important in life.



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If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
Tastes in fiction vary so much and I believe wholeheartedly that there is no one book that all people will enjoy to the same degree, or even all like. I, for example, hated Wuthering Heights and loved Perfume. Both these opinions would have violent opposition! However, if you like writing, want to write or, indeed, want to do anything that requires perseverance and inspiration, do read Stephen King’s On Writing. It is a fabulous book. Half of it describes his journey to publication, the other half offers brilliant writing advice that in many places can be applied to the pursuit of any dream. He’s a great writer and this is a great book.

If there was one saying that could sum up your life to date, what would it be?
Smile and the world smiles with you.


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What or who in life inspires you?
I’m lucky to have an inspiring family. My great grandmother was the first women to qualify as an optician in the UK, my grandmother was also an optician and worked full-time until she was 84, my mother is an architect who, along with my dad, brought my sister and I up to believe we could do anything we wanted to, that gender wasn’t important but that hard work and reliability was. My husband’s an amazing support and the energy he has when it comes to being dedicated in both the workplace and our family home is incredible and very inspiring.

What is your all time favourite book?
This is too hard! The Poisonwood Bible springs to mind, but then The Dark Is Rising Sequence was the first book to fire my imagination in a visceral way. And The Book Thief is up there. My Family and Other Animals? Oh hang on, Animal Farm. Oh, but then there’s Romeo and Juliet and James Herbert’s Magic Cottage. Arggghhh...Little Women! Nope...can’t do it.

If 'The Judas Scar' was to become a movie, who would your dream cast be?
Luke would be Michael Fassbender, fully sexed up with his darker side primed, Will would be Paul Bettany, but he would have to put a bit of weight on, and Harmony would be Cate Blanchett, she has that striking handsomeness that Harmony has.

Please would you share who your 5 dream dinner party guests would be?
Sir Patrick Stewart, Tim Minchin, Stephen Fry, Oprah Winfrey and Nora Ephron.

Quick fire round:

Cupcakes or Ice cream? Cupcakes
Books or e-books? Books
Cinema or DVD? Cinema
Staying in or going out? Going out
Email or letters? Oooo...letters but an email will do.

A big thank you to Amanda for talking to The Love of a Good Book

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Blurb:

Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault.

At least, that's what everyone seems to think when Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide.

Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community and the media.

But Sara is sure she hasn't done anything wrong. Emma brought it on herself. Emma stole Sara's boyfriend. Emma stole everyone's boyfriends. Surely Sara was the victim, not Emma.

During the summer before her senior year Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment - and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

A story of everyday jealousies and resentments, misunderstandings and desires, Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page.




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I would like to thank Books with Bite for allowing me the chance to review.

My Thoughts:

When I first read the blurb for 'Tease' I was intrigued to read the story from the narrative of the 'bully'.
Being bullied myself I expected to start reading and instantly hate Sara. I thought I would be angry throughout.
What I never expected was to be pulled into a world where suddenly I was learning the reasoning behind their actions.

There are times where I really felt for Sara and this surprised me, I found myself hoping she wouldn't get sentenced but also wanting her to realise that she still did wrong.
Although I felt for Sara I couldn't bring myself to like Brielle, there was only one time that I felt myself waver towards her.

The truth is, you aren't going to close this book and condone the behaviour of the bullies but you will understand how throw away comments to some really don't seem life threatening.

'Tease' explores bullying from all angles, the mental torture, the physical pain and even the new tool for bullies; social network.
With technology freely available now, bullying isn't just within the confines of schools anymore, it's through emails, fake profiles. It's something that can't be dealt with in just a classroom and this is highly emphasised throughout.

Yes this book was close to home for me. Not just because I was bullied but because I know how it feels to be in a family where someone you love feels they have no way out.
I know how it feels to live with the questions.
What if I had known? what if I had been there? The truth is after they are gone, these questions will never get answered!

It's with my personal experience that I say I want this book to be in schools, to be read by every teenager and adult. To show people the affect one word, one action can have on someone.
This really is a story that allows you to see behind closed doors, to give you an insight into someone you want to believe is evil but is in fact human.

'Tease' is an immensely thought provoking read. It's a story that gives you perspective and allows you to see the bigger picture.

What have you said to people today?

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings

Blurb:

Scars. We all carry them. Some are mere scratches. Others run deeper.

At a school rife with bullying, Will and his best friend Luke are involved in a horrific incident that results in Luke leaving.

Twenty-five years later their paths cross again and memories of Will's painful childhood come flooding back to haunt him. His wife, Harmony, who is struggling after a miscarriage that has hit her hard, wishes Will would open up about his experiences. But while Will withdraws further, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic stranger from her husband s past, and soon all three are caught in a tangled web of guilt, desire, betrayal and revenge.



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Thank you to Cutting Edge Press for sending me a copy to review.

My Thoughts:

There are stories that beg to be read in hours and then there are stories that demand to be savoured, to have the reader take in every word, every sentiment and most of all every emotion hidden with the page.
The Judas Scar is a book that deserves a reader who will take in every element of what is a breath taking and heartfelt read.

Through the pages you are pulled into the lives of Harmony, Will and Luke. Three people caught up in a world full of secrets and hurt.
Harmony is one of those characters who you instantly want to protect but sadly life is about to test her as husband Will is confronted by an old friend.

I take my hat off to Amanda Jennings, yet again she has managed to pull me into a world where I long to comfort characters whilst shouting at others.
The emotions that course through the pages flow fluidly with the story and culminate in an ending that leaves the reader with no doubt as to what has happened!

The Judas Scar is a story that is filled with intensity and shrouded in empathy, it's a story that deals with extremely tough issues in a way that gives the reader time to process.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Waiting for Prince Harry by Aven Ellis

Blurb:

Twenty-four-year-old Kylie Reed has always been a rule follower. Organized and cautious to a fault, her dreams for life are often filed away for future use—when she has a house, when she meets her future husband, when she has been at her visual display job at a chic Dallas boutique longer...Kylie always has a reason for living her life in the future, not in the present, and not living her life to the fullest and reaching her dream of becoming a fashion designer.

The only exception to rules, of course, would be running away with Prince Harry—Kylie’s ideal man. A hot, fun ginger boy would be worth breaking all the rules for, of course. And Kylie is sure Harry just needs the right, centering woman to settle him down. But living in Dallas and not knowing Prince Harry make this a non-option.

Or does it?

Because when Kylie accidentally falls into the lap of a gorgeous ginger boy—yes, even more gorgeous than the real Prince Harry—all bets are off. Could this stranger be the one to show Kylie how to take a chance, to face her fears, and live in the present? And could this stranger be the Prince Harry she has been waiting for? Kylie’s life takes some unexpected twists and turns thanks to this chance encounter, and she knows her life will never be the same because of it...



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My Thoughts:

I'm smiling whilst writing this, because I've just finished one of the most romantic and upbeat stories I've read this year,
'Waiting for Prince Harry' is a wonderful tale of love and discovery, it will warm your heart like a Dallas summer and will leave you feeling truly contented.

Kylie Reed is at her brothers wedding and in an attempt to evade yet another set up, she has escaped to a different bar in the hotel.
It's here that fate intervenes and Kylie finds herself falling into the lap of a man even more gorgeous than her crush Prince Harry.
In that instant life's about to change....

I'm in love with Harrison Flynn, the gorgeous athletic, intelligent, sweet, divine Harrison Flynn.
From the instant he entered my life, I mean the story, I just knew this man was something special.
Honestly though, if I had to lose out to one woman, I'm glad it was Kylie Reed. Kylie is great, she has dreams and aspirations for the future. She's a planner but she definitely never planned on meeting Harrison Flynn.

I loved reading as their relationship grew, as they discovered things about each other.
One of my favourite chapters is when they play pool, I can only dream of having a pool match like it.

Every page and every word of this story is captivating, it gave me hope and left me believing in endless possibilities.

It was pure bliss!

5/5

A really big thank you to Aven for sending me a copy to review!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Carry You by Beth Thomas

Today I am the 4th stop on the 'Carry You' tour, not only an I sharing with you my review but I am also sharing an excerpt of the book!



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Excerpt

I dunk my Jaffa cake into my hot chocolate as I work hard on suspending my disbelief for a bit longer. It’s an effort but so worthwhile. The disbelief thing, I mean. Not the dunking; that’s no effort at all. Dunking these delightful spongey confections in hot chocolate is one of God’s best and yet simplest ideas. If you get it right, the cakey bit soaks up hot chocolate without falling apart, and the chocolate and orange bit on the top go all warm and soft, so they just melt in your mouth. Too long in the heat, though, and it’s gooey mush at the bottom of the mug. Timing is everything; it’s a lot like life. Ooh, that sounds good.

Daisy Mack
is dunking Jaffa cakes in hot chocolate. The timing is everything: it’s a lot like life.


My laptop makes an electronic popping sound, and I glance down. It’s an instant message from my best friend Abby.

Abby Marcus Hey, what you doing?

Oh God. Quickly I grab my mobile phone on the sofa next to me and switch it off, dropping it back on the cushion. But I’m still not safe. I reach up to the landline on the wall next to me and break through the dust and cobwebs on the handset. Abby is the only actual human being dogged enough to ring it, and she will when she finds my mobile switched off. I press the ‘Call’ button so the dialling tone is audible. Colin lays Hugh out on the road with one good punch. Colin and Hugh really aren’t very good names for two drop dead gorgeous, Hollywood A-list actors are they? They sound more like a pair of nerdy IT geeks in specs. It’s not exactly Brad and Matt

Blurb:

“For you mum. This is all for you”

For anyone who has loved, lost or found it hard to let go, CARRY YOU will make you laugh, cry and celebrate your best friends. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Jo Jo Moyes.

Daisy has lost her mum to breast cancer. She’s at rock bottom and doesn’t think she’ll ever get back up again. Her best friend Abi has other ideas – she tells it like it is and she’s determined to make Daisy remember the person she used to be.

What Daisy doesn’t know is that, thanks to Abi, her life is about to take an unexpected turn, when she signs them up to do a charity walk. Added to which, someone is about to burst into Daisy’s world in a riot of colour reminding her that life can be full of surprises.



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My Thoughts:

6 months after her mums death Daisy finds herself caught in a downward spiral, having lost all hope, she is existing on Hugh Grant movies and Jaffa Cakes.
That's is until best friend Abby decides enough is enough.
So armed with a To Do list and a training plan, Abby sets Daisy on a walk to discovery....

There's something amazing about a story that can pull your emotions in and fuel them with every word. To make you feel every tear, smile and burst of anger that the characters feel.
I found myself feeling so many emotions as I read this but the one that had me turning the pages in rapid succession at times, was anger.
Never before have I felt so much anger towards a group of people, the need to jump in, shake them and slap them, was at times my driving force.
I wanted them to stop the hurt, the reasoning behind their actions and see the truth.
This is a credit to Beth Thomas' writing, to bring out such passion in a reader.

Daisy and Abby are wonderful characters and reading about their friendship was at times touching. They are so lucky to have each other and there are definitely times in the story where Daisy needs an Abby intervention.
It was great being taken back to how the two met, to discover the moment that their friendship started.
The time where without realising it their lives changed for the better because they both in that moment discovered someone they could share everything with.

What I loved most about 'Carry You' is that it starts as a story of loss but takes us on a road of discovery.
A road where we discover a strong friendship, a moonwalk of a different variety, a romance and a story to inspire us all.

'Carry You' will make you laugh, cry and look at life differently, a definite must read!

5/5

Thank you to Olivia at LightBrigade PR for sending me a copy to review

Friday, 25 April 2014

Book Tag: My reading habits

I was tagged by the beautiful Laura from She Loves To Read. The creator of this tag is TheBookJazz.

This post is all about reading habits, I apologise for what you are about to discover!

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
I love reading whilst lounging on my bed, but I also love reading in the garden when the sun is shining, oh and whilst lounging around a pool on holiday!



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Bookmark or random piece of paper?
Bookmarks all the way. I love bookmarks and love to have different ones for different books, I've a Hunger Games bookmark for Dystopian reads, a heart one for romance etc

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or certain number of pages?
I like to read to the next chapter, the only time I don't do this is when I'm reading on my lunch break at work and my lunch ends.

Do you eat or drink while reading?
I tend to drink a cup of tea or a glass of water whilst reading, I try not to eat whilst reading but sometimes I can't help it,

Do you watch TV or listen to music while reading?
If I'm not interested in what's on the TV I will pick up my book and start reading, but if I plan on reading I tend to have it quiet in my room.

One book at a time or several at once?
I try to do one book at a time but on several occasions I have had a few books on the go, all of different genres though. I would never read two books at the same time within the same genre.

Reading at home or everywhere?
Everywhere, I'm like Rory Gilmore, I've always got a book with me.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?
In my head, although I will admit that sometimes if something doesn't sound right I will read it aloud.

Do you ever read ahead or skip pages?
Noooooooooooooooo, someone has poured their heart and soul into writing what I'm reading, I will read every word!

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
KEEP IT NEW! I've blogged about books arriving damaged from shops, I am a freak with my books, I inspect their binds, their pages. They are beautiful and deserve to stay that way.

Do you write in your books?
No! If you want to make notes use a post it or write in a notebook, do not deface books!

So now you've discovered that I'm not just a bookworm, I am also a book freak,
I tag Victoria, Simona, Laura and Kelly

Holding Paradise with Fran Clark

Fran Clark was born and currently lives in West London. She is married with two sons and works professionally as a singer-songwriter and vocal coach. Fran recently released Beautiful People, her second album of original songs which she co-produced with her musician husband.

Fran's first novel, Holding Paradise, is published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams Publishing. She is currently studying for a Creative Writing MA at Brunel University while working towards the completion of her second novel.


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Your novel is called 'Holding Paradise' please could you tell me about it?
Yes Holding Paradise is about the journeys of main characters Josephine and Angelica, mother and daughter raised in different parts of the world and each with a dramatic coming of age story. When daughter Angelica's world begins to fall apart she must travel back to Josephine's island in the Caribbean to seek the wisdom of one of Josephine's, colourful stories that always guided her through life. Josephine's last story could change both of their lives.

'Holding Paradise' is about mother and daughter, Josephine and Angelica, please can you tell me about them? Josephine was born in the Caribbean and loses her father when she is aged 10. After that she vows never to marry and stay with her mother who is widowed and 30 and left with 8 children. Her fortune changes when she falls in love with marries the local womaniser. Following the sudden death of her third child, Josephine reluctantly comes to 1950s London with her husband to settle there. With 5 children to raise, Josephine weathers the misery of an adulterous husband and having to save her sister from and abusive relationship. She never has time to fulfil her own dreams.

Angelica is her middle daughter. A single mother she builds a successful business and eventually marries the man who seems the perfect match. When a hole is punched into her seemingly perfect life she loses her husband, her daughter and business partner. She begins a desperate attempt to rebuild her life.

Are any of the characters in 'Holding Paradise' anything like you?
Actually I don't think they are but I somehow believe that as writers we are writing at least a little piece of ourselves into our characters.

They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
It all happened quite quickly really. I sent in my manuscript to a writer's support agency who had contacts with various agents and publishers. They liked my manuscript and referred it to a few of their contacts. it was the small publishing company Indigo Dreams that liked the story and offered me a contract.


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Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?

I think I would choose one of my supporting characters. Her name is Jasmin and she is Angelica's best friend. She is fearless, carefree and she brings Angelica out of her shell. I'd love to go on a shopping spree with her, do lunch, maybe a mani and pedi and then hit a chic cocktail bar in the evening. She's good company and she knows how to enjoy herself. With all the work I have on at the moment I could do with a good night out.

If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
Easy - that would be To Kill A Mockingbird. This book has so many messages about the human condition that speak to me. Despite the era it is set there are themes that ring true even today. I had both of my sons read it so that it could teach them how important it is to stand up for what you believe is right, regardless of what anyone else says. If that has left you curious because you haven't read it then pick up a copy now, you'll love it. Even the film was good.

What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
Well when I finished writing Holding Paradise I wrote a follow up in the way of a short story collection. They are a mixture of background stories and follow up stories based on certain characters in Holding Paradise. The characters kept following me around as there was more to them that just what happened to Angelica and Josephine. For example there is a Caribbean love story that dates back to the 1800s and the moving tale of Josephine's sister in 1970s London after she loses the love of the man who changed her life when she escaped domestic abuse.

If 'Holding Paradise' was to be made into a film, who would your dream cast be?
What or who in life inspires you? I am inspired by people who work hard and show a lot of dedication to the things they love. They manage to keep going when everything is stacked up against them and always have a smile when they are under pressure. There are 3 people like that in my life. They include my mother, my husband and my son. I am very lucky. When I've got a lot on my plate I think of them and it pulls me through.

What is your all time favourite book?
That is really hard one to answer as I love quite a few. But the one that always comes first to mind is the story of love and recipes set in Latin America. It's called Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel


There is a cocktail/cupcake in honour of 'Holding Paradise' what are the ingredients?
It would definitely be a cocktail because of the parties that Angelica caters for. Firstly melted dark chocolate to represent the depth of emotion and the bitter sweet that runs through the book.
Then a large shot of rum for the Caribbean aspect of the story. Some sugar for the goodness in some of the characters and some spice for the troubles that befall some of them. Lastly an umbrella with a sparkler in the glass because there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Links:

http://www.franclark.co.uk/
http://franclark.blogspot.co.uk/
Bookshop
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Trailer
Twitter
Facebook</a:

Thank you to Fran for talking to The Love of a Good Book!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Book information: HarperImpulse - Crazy, Undercover, Love

If you like pacy, sexy romance and fancy a long weekend in Barcelona with a smoking hot guy this one's for you! Want to know more...?

When uber-feisty career girl Charley Caswell-Wright takes on the assignment as PA to the gorgeous Alex Demetrio, CEO of Demetrio International, she's there under entirely false pretences; to get her life back on track. Having lost the job she worked so hard to earn, she’s determined not to give it up so easily, especially when she didn’t deserve to lose it in the first place.
Mr Dreamy CEO is her only chance of clawing back her career – and her reputation. So she has to keep things strictly professional… boy, is she in trouble!
To buy Crazy, Undercover Love as an ebook:-

Amazon – http://amzn.to./1gdpOxb
Google Play - http://bit.ly/1rTMrQw
iTunes - http://bit.ly/1mkzpHP
Kobo - bit.ly/QlpKpC
Sainsbury's - http://bit.ly/1hoD1bj

Or to buy it as a paperback on pre-order, released on 26th June:-
Amazon - http://amzn.to/1rTKGmB



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What people are saying about Nikki's other stories...

The Love Letter and A Day in the Life... HarperImpulse short story collection Be My Valentine, with Teresa F Morgan and Brigid Coady, attracting 4 and 5 star reviews.

'I loved all 5 stories and will look out for more books by each author.'
CometBabesBooks, Amazon

'Whilst I enjoyed all of the stories, I particularly liked Nikki Moore's … her voice as an author really resonated with me and I can't wait to read more of her work.'
Kate Beeden, Goodreads

Nikki's short story A Night to Remember in the Mills & Boon/Romantic Novelists Association anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply which has also attracted 4 and 5 star reviews.

'My favourite story was A Night To Remember. I think what drew me to this … was its resonance with real life. I'm not going to spoil the story but I could feel the emotions spilling out of the page - it was beautiful.'
Beckie, www.beckiesbookmix.blogspot.co.uk

'A Night to Remember - Beautiful, devastatingly so.'
Cheryl M-M, Goodreads & http://mmcheryl.wordpress.com/

Nikki Moore lives in beautiful Dorset and writes short stories and sexy, pacy romances. A finalist in several writing competitions including Novelicious Undiscovered 2012, she graduated from the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers' Scheme after four years and and has contributed to their magazine Romance Matters. She has far too much fun attending the annual RNA conference and has previously chaired a panel and taken part in a workshop at the Festival of Romance.
She blogs about some of her favourite things – Writing, Work and Wine – at www.nikkimooreauthor.wordpress.com and believes in supporting other writers as part of a friendly, talented and diverse community.

You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NikkiMooreAuthor or on Twitter @NikkiMoore_Auth and she invites you to pop in for chats about love, life, reading or writing!

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Blurb:

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.
Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.
A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.



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My Thoughts:

Owen and Lucy are from different worlds, but one night a black out finds them thrown together and in that moment something changes for them both.
As the lights comes on and they return to their daily routine and start heading in different directions, Owen and Lucy find they can't forget that night, the night they found each other!

There's something magical within this story, something that captures your mind and leaves you wondering 'Is home where you lay your head or where your heart is'

For me, a lover of books that allow me to travel. I was captivated.
Through Lucy and Owen, I flew miles and I shared experiences but the most beautiful part of it all was them, their interactions, their postcards and the way each one often wondered what the other was doing.
The romantic in me loved how one night changed them, how in an instant it was as though two pieces of a puzzle clicked together!
But this story isn't just a journey of romance, it's a journey of discovering who you are, what makes you happy and how to find your voice.

My only wish would've been for an epilogue, purely to catch up further with two people who I felt I had shared so much with.

'The Geography of You and Me' is a captivating read that will fuel your wanderlust for travel, life and the chance to meet the one that completes you.

5/5

A big thank you to Frances at Headline and Bookbridgr for sending me a copy to review

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Soft Whisper of Dreams by Christina Courtenay

Blurb:

Some dreams shouldn’t come true …
Maddie Browne thought she’d grown out of the recurring nightmare that plagued her as a child, but after a shocking family secret is revealed, it comes back to haunt her – the same swing in the same garden, the kind red-haired giant and the swarthy arms which grab her from behind and try to take her away …
In an attempt to forget her troubles, Maddie travels to Devon to spend time with her friends, Kayla and Wes. However, it becomes clear that relaxation will not be on the agenda after a disturbing encounter with a gypsy fortune teller. Not to mention the presence of Wes’s dangerously handsome brother, Alex.
And then there’s the fact that Maddie’s dream seems to be coming true …
The Soft Whisper of Dreams is the follow-on to Christina Courtenay’s novel The Secret Kiss of Darkness.




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My Thoughts:

The Soft Whisper of Dreams is the follow on from The Secret Kiss of Darkness.

I haven't read The Secret Kiss of Darkness so instead it was read as a standalone book.

The story follows Maddie, who following a bombshell on the day of her parents funeral, travels to stay with friends in Devon.
It's here that Maddie meets Alex, a handsome man who is going to play a big part in Maddie's life.
But don't believe this is a tale of romance for, Maddie was warned by a Gypsy that danger was coming.
Could it be that the nightmare that had plagued Maddie since childhood, is about to come true..

This story has some great characters in it, people who help Maddie when she needs them most.
Like Kayla and Jayne.
Kayla is an old friend of Maddie's someone who opens her arms and home to welcome Maddie to Devon.
Jayne is a stranger to Maddie, but the way she helps her was an inspiration.

Christina Courtney has a descriptive ease to her words, a way in which you can instantly like, love or hate a character.
And I definitely loved Alex, he had this dreamy essence to him that if I had met him in real life I'm sure I would've been a giggling mess.

Blake Jones on the other hand, I hated that man, hiding behind his religion. He made my blood boil.

This is a wonderfully gripping story that keeps a dangerous intensity within the words to carry the reader to some climatic discoveries.

*My mum later read this, having read The Secret Kiss of Darkness, she read it as a follow on.
" it was lovely to get a chance to catch up with some characters who had captured my interest in the first book and watch their story develop. I enjoyed this story as much as the other and thank the author for returning to Marcombe Hall"

5/5 (from us both)

Thank you to Choc-lit for sending me a copy to review.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

BLOG TOUR: No-One Ever Has Sex On a Tuesday

Today I am very excited to be part of the blog tour for No-One Ever Has Sex On A Tuesday by Tracy Bloom.
I would like to thank Rose at Arrow for inviting me to be part of the tour!



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As part of the tour I'm pleased to share with you;

Chapter 2

Katy knew that the night was a disaster waiting to happen the moment she caught sight of herself in the grimy mirrors of The Pink Coconut toilets last summer. Surrounded by the nubile bodies and fresh faces of the under-twenty-five-year-old clubbing set, she realised she looked utterly ridiculous dressed in a schoolgirl costume.

How on earth had it come to this, she thought angrily as she eyed her smeared fake freckles and tatty pigtails tied up with fuchsia pink ribbon. She’d accepted the drop in standards that was necessary to remain a part of the singles social scene after her friends got married, but it was totally unacceptable to have to plunge to these depths. Initially she had been horrified when one by one her friends began muttering the most depressing words any female can say when being asked on a girl’s night out.

“I’ll have to ask David.”

Or even worse…

“Only if Steve doesn’t mind.”

Or absolutely the worst of all…

“Only if Edward can come too.”

She had quite literally wanted to shake them with their pathetically apologetic faces. But rather than witness her friends’ descent into domestic hell, she had left them to it, seeing them only on special occasions when they exchanged awkward conversation as they drifted further and further apart.

Somewhat depressed at this change in her social life and finding herself with extra time on her hands, she had thrown herself into her career and scrabbled around for new buddies with no such ties. Eventually and with considerable effort she forced herself to learn to appreciate the company of some gym bunnies she had somehow fallen in with during a social event at her local Fitness Forever.

She was surprised to discover she could tolerate their perfect spray tanned bodies, their fresh as a daisy make-up after 90 minutes of Step and Thrust and even their incessant giggling every time one of the buff personal trainers came within ten yards of them. She suspected they only adopted her once they learnt she was an Account Director in advertising, assuming that she might one day invite them to audition for a shampoo commercial. Still, after a few Bombay Sapphires she could find them quite entertaining and certainly a step up from the utter degradation of being at home on a Saturday night.

That was, however, until things finally went too far. The gym bunnies had almost wet their gym knickers with excitement when their favourite nightclub had decided to do a school disco night. Katy had been dismayed but reluctantly agreed to go as it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility she might meet someone interesting, even if he did look like Billy Bunter.

On the night in question they arrived at her riverside flat, just outside the centre of Leeds, in a cloud of designer perfume, a cacophony of high-pitched, excruciatingly girly laughter and a noisy clatter of six-inch high stilettos. Katy winced as they all trouped in knowing full well she should have called with an excuse – like the neighbour’s cat was dead.

Within moments there were suspenders, stockings, make up, fake hair, fake eyelashes, straighteners, curlers, push up bras, plunge bras, create cleavage visible from space bras, you name it, all strewn all over Katy’s flat. She looked at her beautiful vintage 1920s coffee table, bought during a weekend away in Brighton with a guy who might have been called Jonny, and wondered whether it would ever recover from one of the girls sitting astride it and giving it six of the best with her headmistress’s cane.

After the obligatory group photo, which Katy insisted on taking to ensure there was no record of her participation in this very grim pantomime, they set off with Katy skulking at the back praying none of her neighbours would choose that moment to go out.

The gym bunnies of course went crazy for the attention they got in every bar they visited, not seeming to notice that the quality of the attention was of a particularly poor standard. Unless of course acne-ridden, overly cocky teenage boys or middle-aged men pretending they were still overly cocky teenage boys was your thing.

By 11 o’clock they were in the club and in the middle of a heaving mass of bodies on the dance floor. It was dawning on her that maybe she was getting too old for this when Christy, the most pert and bouncy of the gym bunnies, proclaimed as soon as Going Underground by The Jam came on, that it was utter shit and who the bloody hell were The Jam anyway? How could she be out with someone who had never heard of The Jam? Katy stopped, swayed slightly, then turned around and stormed off to the bar, aghast that she had got herself into this situation. Old enough to know better, dressed as a stupid schoolgirl with so-called friends who were virtually half her age and, to top it all, had said bad things about the God that is Paul Weller.

As she made her way through the crowd cursing to herself, she didn’t see the bloke backing away from the bar with three pints in plastic glasses balanced precariously in his hands until she was virtually on top of him. She grabbed his arm to steady herself which caused him to lose his grip on the wobbly glasses, two of which dropped like stones to the floor whilst the third did a quick somersault, soaking Katy’s white shirt. She stood there for a moment wondering if her life could get any worse as the cold liquid seeped through her shirt, then her bra to her skin. She dared not look down at the carnage, knowing full well that her shirt was probably now completely transparent, displaying her wares for all to see.

“Why the hell don’t you look where you are going?” Katy screamed at him.

“Easy Tiger. It could be worse, it could have been bitter,” said the guy.

A wisecrack was the last thing she needed. What she needed was to let rip. And so let rip she did.

“You have just topped off nicely the most depressing night of my life. Not only am I way too old to be dressed as a bloody schoolgirl, I am here with a crowd of Barbie bloody bimbos with not a brain cell to share between them, who don’t even know who The Jam are, and think that this song – yes Going Underground – is shit.”

“My night is worse,” he said calmly.

“Look this isn’t a game. My night is utter crap and no-one is going to take that away from me.”

“Oh but I so can,” he challenged her.

“Bollocks you can,” she retorted. “Did I mention that a sweat monster from hell asked me how I liked my eggs in the morning?”

“Clearly desperate,” he nodded.

“Wow, thanks, I’m not that old,” she said in dismay.

“I didn’t mean you,” he said quickly. “I meant desperate if he had to use a line like that.”

“Really,” she said sarcastically.

“No honestly,” he said. “Anyway I like older women. They’re good for conversation.”

“I wouldn’t call this a conversation,” she said angrily. “This is you chucking beer all over me and then insulting me about my age.” She turned to go.

“No, please don’t go,” he said, catching her arm. “You’re right. I’m sorry. It’s all coming out wrong. You see I really am having a bad night. I’m a teacher, so a school disco is my idea of hell. My mates who dragged me here think it’s all dead sexy and I am like no, no, no, this is bad. I can’t look at a woman in school uniform and think it’s sexy.”

Katy turned back to face him, surprised to find herself wondering what he thought of her dressed the way she was.

“Besides I don’t get it,” he continued. “Tell me who wants to be reminded of their school disco days anyway? Crap music, crap dancing, sober and no way on earth you were ever going to snog who you wanted because they were way more popular than you.”

“Well I guess you have a point,” she said eventually. “But at least you’re here with mates, not lipsticks on legs.”

“There is that I suppose. But all that still isn’t the main reason why my night is worse than yours.”

“Go on then, put me out of my misery,” she said, noticing the look of mischief in his eyes and trying very hard not to like it.

“OK then,” he paused and drew breath. “I went to the men’s and the bloke next to me stared at my you know what and said, “Shame about the ginger pubes.””

Katy couldn’t help but giggle. Just like a schoolgirl.

“But surely you knew you had ginger pubes before you came out?” she said feeling a blush starting to emerge to her horror.

“Of course, but to have a total stranger point them out to you during what should be sacred time is wrong on so many levels.”

He looked genuinely upset which caused Katy to burst out laughing. He started laughing too, obviously pleased he had at last won her over.

“I’m Ben by the way,” he said, offering her his hand still sticky from spilt lager. “So now we are united in misery I can either offer to buy you a drink or we can make a run for it, and go really up-market and grab a kebab?”

Before she knew it she was sitting on a cold stone step outside Gonads’ Kebab House spilling chilli sauce on her black stilettos, knowing this was probably the highlight of her evening.

Talking had been surprisingly easy. She was relieved that he hadn’t offered any embarrassing chat-up lines or false flattery. There was no sob story of a wife who didn’t understand him or a tricky divorce, which seemed to be par for the course with the older men she had been attracting lately. He didn’t even ask her what she did for a living. He just talked utter nonsense about anything and everything which made a refreshing change to the "I'm more successful than you" conversations she was used to with the image-obsessed men she met through work. In fact she realised for the first time in a long time she was with a man and not worrying about what she said or how she looked.

Before long he finished his kebab, licked his fingers one by one then, screwing up the greasy paper, announced he had better be off.

“Football tomorrow,” he said. “You OK to get yourself a taxi?”

“Yeah fine.”

He turned to go and then at the last minute he looked back.

“Fancy a drink one night?” he asked.

She hesitated. She had enjoyed his banter but she didn’t want to give the poor lad false hope.

“OK, but just a drink, that’s all.”

“We’d better go out on a Tuesday then,” he said seriously.

“Why?” asked Katy.

“Because no-one ever has sex on a Tuesday.”

They had met for a drink on a Tuesday, then the following Thursday, then the Monday after that, then finally they had had sex on the Saturday.

“You see Tuesday is such a nothing day. Sunday you have end of the weekend sex. Monday you have - bloody hell I need something to cheer myself up because it is still the start of the week sex. Wednesday you have maybe post scoring nine goals at football or boring night on the telly sex. Thursday is the new Friday so you go down the pub and then have - oh dear, aren’t I wild and crazy I’ve had too much to drink on a school night sex. Friday you have - thank Christ another week survived at work sex. And Saturday. Well Saturday is - it’s bloody Saturday I should have sex, sex.

“But Tuesday you see is tricky. What reason on earth is there to have sex on a Tuesday? You ask everyone. I bet you no-one can remember the last time they had sex on a Tuesday.”

Now you've read Chapter 2, how would you like to read more?
Thanks to Rose, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky person in the UK.
The winner will be drawn at random on Monday 28th of April.
To enter, just leave a comment below




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Monday, 21 April 2014

Surrounded by Water by Stephanie Butland

Blurb:

Elizabeth's world is turned upside down when her husband dies in a tragic drowning accident.

How typical of her kind, generous husband - a respected police officer - to sacrifice his own life saving a complete stranger's.

Or so she thinks.

What exactly was her husband doing at the lake that night? And what if his death isn't the most difficult thing she will have to deal with?

Elizabeth must face the consequences of her husband's actions. As she does so, it seems that the end of Mike's life is only the beginning of his wife truly getting to know him.



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My Thoughts:

The story starts with the death of Elizabeth receiving the heartbreaking news that husband Michael has died.
Local policeman Michael drowned whilst saving a young woman and Elizabeth is left in a world surrounded by grief.
But as grief starts to take hold so do questions and soon people start to wonder how well did they really know Michael.

The truth is that it's taken me some time to get the wording of this review right, because although I found this story heartbreaking and I felt for the turmoil the characters were going through, I also felt an overwhelming surge of anger.

I know from experience that grief can manifest in different ways but something happens that left me angry, so angry and not at the person you would assume.
I won't say any more for fear of spoiling the story but I will say I think it's a credit to Stephanie Butland that she created a story that even now can evoke so much emotion.

I wasn't always angry whilst reading this and through the pages I did find a wonderful character in the form of Mel, Elizabeth's sister.
She travelled from Australia to be by her sisters side, to support her and be with her when she needed her the most.
Mel stays strong for her sister and even at a time when she could do with a supportive shoulder, she shows her strength.

Surrounded by Water takes you on an emotional journey through past and present.
A journey that deals with loss, love and lies.
A journey that will break your heart and your emotions through letters.
A journey that will stay with you!

5/5
Thank you to Patsy at Transworld for sending me a copy to review.

With the story evoking so much anger in me, I asked my mum to read it and describe for me her feelings.

Mums thoughts:

Viewing this story from Elizabeth's perspective, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion.
The story for me was heart breaking, to imagine losing your husband is devastating.
I found at first that I wasn't endeared to Patricia, Elizabeth's mother in law, but as I discovered more about her back story my opinion of her changed.
Ultimately this is a beautiful story of love and deceit!



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Q&A with Stephanie Butland

Stephanie Butland is a professional trainer specialising in creativity and thinking skills. She also uses her unique skills and first-hand experience to support people with cancer. She helps to raise awareness and funds for many charities and has written two books about her life with illness.


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They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
It probably won't surprise you to learn that my childhood ambition was to be a writer, but the journey that I went on to get here was circuitous and a little extreme - I developed a breast cancer! I was diagnosed in 2008 at the age of 37, and started blogging about my dance with cancer. The blog became popular, and inspired me to write a book, 'How I Said Bah! to cancer' (Hay House, 2010), followed by 'Thrive: the Bah! guide to wellness after cancer' (Hay House, 2011). Writing them made me fall in love with words and stories all over again, although I've always been an avid reader. So here I am. I still can't quite believe it.

Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
In 'Surrounded By Water' there's a character named Mel. She's the sister of the main character and she's clever, fierce, funny and sarcastic. She doesn't own a pair of shoes that aren't heels, she smokes like a chimney and she despairs of the fact that she can't get a decent Daquiri when she comes to the small town where her sister lives. So I'd take her to London, and we'd go to the British Library (she works as a translator, so she loves books) then go to the champagne bar in St Pancras station and drink too many cocktails and giggle a lot. I've chosen Mel because she's excellent company and because I'd like to show her that England isn't just a gloomy, damp cave full of people who tut at her footwear.

If you were told that you could live any day without repercussions for your actions, what would you do and why?
Wow. That's a great question. I would eat a lot of cheese and bacon, because I have type 2 diabetes and those are the things that I don't eat much of any more, and really miss. So I'd have a bacon sandwich for breakfast and baked camembert for lunch. Maybe I would arrange to have my trip with Mel on this day too, so I wouldn't have to worry about the hangover.....



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If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
Noooo. That's way too difficult! (I had a nightmare recently in which I was on 'Desert Island Discs' and Kirsty Young threw me out of the studio for refusing to select one book.) I'm changing the terms of this and saying instead of making everyone read one of my favourite books - which I couldn't choose anyway! - I would make everyone re-read one of their own favourite books. Sometimes it's nice to be given permission to go back and re-enjoy something,

If there was one saying that would sum up your life to date, what would it be?
'What's for you won't go by you'. My Grandma (the Isabel in the book dedication) used to say it. As far as writing is concerned, she was absolutely right!

A big thank you to Stephanie and Patsy at Transworld for letting me be part of the 'Surrounded by Water' blog tour.


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Friday, 18 April 2014

THE GREAT EASTER GIVEAWAY WITH THE DEAD WIFE'S HANDBOOK

The Dead Wife’s Handbook is the stunning emotional debut from author Hannah Beckerman.

‘Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.’

Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life – until the night Rachel’s heart stopped beating.

Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can’t forget her, Rachel can’t quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems.

As Rachel grieves for the life she’s lost and the life she’ll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for.

Hannah Beckerman gives an unforgettable exploration of love and loss in her first novel, The Dead Wife’s Handbook.



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THE GREAT EASTER GIVEAWAY WITH THE DEAD WIFE'S HANDBOOK

It's Easter and those nice people at Amazon have reduced the price of both the Kindle and the BEAUTIFUL paperback of The Dead Wife's Handbook.

So to celebrate, we're combining the two things we all love the best - books and chocolate - in a great Easter giveaway.

Just purchase a copy of The Dead Wife's Handbook on either Kindle (£2.62) or in paperback (£3.49), tweet a proof of purchase to @hannahbeckerman on Twitter, and you could win this DIVINE Hotel Chocolat Easter Bunny that will be delivered DIRECT TO YOUR DOOR (UK only) [pic attached]

What are you waiting for?!

Purchase in paperback or ebook

You can read my review here



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Unleashing Mr Darcy by Teri Wilson

Blurb:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman teetering on the verge of thirty must be in want of a husband.

Not true for Manhattanite Elizabeth Scott. Instead of planning a walk down the aisle, she's crossing the pond with the only companion she needs—her darling dog, Bliss. Caring for a pack of show dogs in England seems the perfect distraction from the scandal that ruined her teaching career, and her reputation, in New York. What she doesn't count on is an unstoppable attraction to billionaire dog breeder Donovan Darcy. The London tycoon's a little bit arrogant, a whole lot sexy…and the chemistry between them is disarming. When passion is finally unleashed, might Elizabeth hope to take home more than a blue ribbon?



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Today’s review is brought to you by my mum, Rachaell
Shell is a lover of books and can often be found reading her kindle or reading to her granddaughter. She loves the fact that both her children are avid readers, something they’ve been since children and knows that books can be enjoyed by all generations

Mums thoughts:

In this modern day take on Pride Prejudice, we not only get to see some of our favourite character recreated but we also get to share the story with our favourite furry friends.

We start the story in America, Elizabeth Scott a private school teacher is made to take 2 weeks holiday.
Elizabeth has a passion for dogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in particular. Whilst finding ways to keep her occupied she decides to take her spaniel Bliss to a dog show,
Whilst there she is introduced to Sue, who offers to change Elizabeth's life forever.
Forget going back to school, Elizabeth is crossing the pond to train dogs.
But could there also be romance on the cards...

Elizabeth and Donovan are wonderfully strong willed characters and definitely made the story worth reading,
There's also siblings David and Helena, who despite sharing a name are nothing alike. David is kind and considerate, where as Helena is is cold and calculating!

What I enjoyed about this story is that it has everything we know and love from the original but also adds to it, by introducing dogs into the mix.
A fun and endearing take on a classic.

4/5

Thank you to Cara at Harlequin for sending a copy to review.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Guestbook competition

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To celebrate the launch of TheGuestbook Carina are giving away an iPad Mini! All you have to do is enter the competition here: http://bit.ly/1ghbojW

Simply enter your details for your chance to win an Apple iPad Mini pre-loaded with all the holiday reading you could possibly need!
Also, make sure you keep an eye out for author Holly Martin’s daily holiday tips and fun over the next month by following @UKCarina

Holly Martin's The Guestbook welcomes you to Willow cottage - throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook.
You can buy The Guestbook here, available for 99p for a limited time http://amzn.to/1etluti

Beautiful Day by Kate Anthony

Blurb:

Beautiful day is Kate Anthony's poignant and heart warming debut novel.

Today is the day that things are going to change for Rachel Bidewell.

She will walk through the doors of Clifton Avenue Care Home and start a new life.

Rachel is returning to work. And as she discovers, juggling a new job, three children and an ex husband can feel like drowning.

Someone needs to throw her a lifeline...

Philip doesn't seem like an obvious lifesaver. He has just lost the one person who ever cared for him and, even as an adult, he doesn't know how to live in the real world.

But might Philip and Rachel each have something the other needs?

This is a story of unexpected friendship; of the messy, muddy territory of those broken by life - and what it takes to fix them. It reminds us that the very darkest of days can be funny, heart-warming and even beautiful.

Rachel finds hope in the places she least expects in Kate Anthony's stunning first novel, Beautiful Day.

.

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My Thoughts:

The story follows single mum of three Rachel as she starts working in a care home. Through the narrative of Rachel we follow her on a journey that's about to change everything,

There's something incredibly touching and thought provoking about a 'Beautiful Day'
A story that can tackle hard hitting issues and the public perceptions of them, in a way that stays with you long after finishing the story.

You can't help but like Rachel, it's clear from the beginning that she is determined to do her best by her family, her job and by Phillip, someone who enters her life during the story.

The thing I love about this story is how Rachel and Phillip help each other.
The bond that forms between them is incredibly moving and I could almost feel my heart swelling with love for the characters as the story unfolded,

Kate Anthony has a created a story full of wonderful characters, people who care and inspire others.
But deep within the pages is the truth that sometimes the care system fails, sometimes people judge others and life really is a struggle.

A poignant debut with an ending that completes the story beautifully!

5/5


I would like to thank Francesca at Penguin for sending me a copy to review.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

If I Could Turn Back Time by Nicola Doherty

Blurb:

If you love Lindsey Kelk and Mhairi McFarlane's YOU HAD ME AT HELLO, you'll love this book...

What if you found The One, then lost him again?

Or not so much lost him as became the neurotic, needy girlfriend from hell. The girl who tried to make him choose between her and his job, and got seriously paranoid about his relationship with his female best friend...

Zoë Kennedy knows she doesn't deserve another chance with David Fitzgerald. But if there's the tiniest possibility of making things right, she'll snatch it. Even if it means breaking the laws of physics to do so...

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My Thoughts:

Imagine being given the chance to go back in time.
To correct the wrong things you said and did, as well as salvage a relationship that you are lost without,
Well for Zoe Kennedy, this becomes a reality.

Zoe misses David and with Christmas fast approaching she wishes to have him back in her life.
Over night Zoe's life rewinds 6 months, to a time where her and David are still happy and her work aspirations are still in sight.
Will Zoe be able to make it right second time around?

After reading and thoroughly enjoying 'The Out of Office Girl', I have been eagerly anticipating the release of 'If I Could Turn Back Time'.
After a year and a half it was wonderful to be reunited with the writing of Nicola Doherty, to be able to once again get lost in the descriptiveness of her words and make new friends with the wonderful mix of characters before me.
'If I Could Turn Back Time' is pure escapism, with witty one liners, fantastic descriptions and wonderfully relatable characters, I couldn't put this book down!

It wasn't just the ability to imagine a life where you get to choose an alternative or the amazing sounding outfits that Zoe often puts together, what truly made this story for me was the friendship that was imbedded at the core of this wonderful story!

Zoe and best friend Rachel have this incredible friendship and I loved the fact that in someways they knew each other better than they knew themselves.

Stop the clock and lose yourself in 'If I Could Turn Back Time' chick-lit at it's best!

5/5

Thank you to Fran at Headline and Bookbridgr for sending me a copy to review.

BLOG TOUR: My top 5 favourite locations

Today I am very excited to be part of the blog tour for 'If I Could Turn Back Time'
In the first of two posts, Author Nicola Doherty is sharing her top 5 favourite locations featured in the book.
Then at 9:00 read my review.

A big thank you to Nicola, Frances and Bookbridgr for letting me be a part of the tour.




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Like Zoë, the main character, I’m from Dublin, but London has been my home for over a decade now and I love it. Most of the action in If I Could Turn Back Time takes place around Maida Vale, where I lived for a couple of years in my late twenties before moving to Queen’s Park, not too far away. Zoë lives on Elgin Avenue, not far from where I used to live on Wymering Road. And her boyfriend David lives on Warwick Avenue, in one of the massive white mansions I used to look at and wonder who could possibly afford to live there. (Answer: doctors from very wealthy families). That whole area, with Little Venice and Portobello Road in walking distance, really reminds me of that period in my life, summer and being single!

The Waterway, Maida Vale
This bar/restaurant is close to Warwick Avenue tube station, but quite tucked away, with an idyllic position overlooking the canal. It gets really busy on summer evenings, but if you can grab a spot it’s almost like a party. Next door is the Summerhouse, which is a gorgeous little restaurant right on the river – where Zoë and David go for their first date after she turns back time ...

Lucky Seven, Westbourne Grove
The scene of many a post-night-out brunch with me and my friends, Lucky Seven is a retro-style American diner with great pancakes and free coffee refills. You’ll probably have to share one of the leather booths but that makes for good eavesdropping …

The Boating Lake, Hyde Park
I love Hyde Park in summer, and especially this lake; there’s nothing nicer than to hire a boat on a summer’s day and row around, or better still be rowed around, dipping your fingers in the water and feeling like you’re in a Merchant Ivory film. It’s very typical of David to take Zoë boating here as he breaks the news about New York. Just watch out for swans, and out-of-control pedalos.

Saint Christopher’s Place, off Oxford Street
This hidden gem is reached via a Diagon Alley-style maneuver: you slip down the lane beside H&M on Oxford Street (the one opposite Bond Street station) and you’ll find yourself in a retail oasis. It’s a pedestrian square with shops and restaurants where you can sit outside having coffee, food or a beer. The pedestrian lanes running off also contain an eclectic mix of shops including Mulberry, L’Occitane and Marimekko. It was once a slum and was going to be demolished but was saved by an enterprising developer; whew. The Carluccio’s here is where Zoë has a fight with her friend Rachel, but I’m pretty sure they’ve come back again since.

Sevilla Mia
I love Sevilla Mia, and Bradley’s Spanish Bar, both tucked away on Hanway Place off Oxford Street, which I’m pretty sure has been christened ‘Little Spain’. They’re both nicely scuzzy and lively. Bradley’s has a jukebox and sticky floors, and Sevilla Mia has tapas and live Spanish music at night. Plus, it’s down another alley (what is it with me and alleys?) and feels truly off the beaten track although it’s minutes from Tottenham Court Road. There is, or was, a plan afoot to turn Hanway Place into a delivery bypass for lorries going to Primark on Oxford Street. If this happens I will be very sad – but at least I’ll still be able to visit it with Zoe and Max on their night out together.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Bring Me Sunshine by Janet Gover

Blurb:

Sometimes, you’ve just got to take the plunge …
When marine biologist, Jenny Payne, agrees to spend Christmas working on the Cape Adare cruise ship to escape a disastrous love affair, she envisions a few weeks of sunny climes, cocktails and bronzed men …
What she gets is an Antarctic expedition, extreme weather, and a couple of close shaves with death. And then there’s her fellow passengers; Vera, the eccentric, elderly crime writer and Lian, a young runaway in pursuit of forbidden love …
There’s also Kit Walker; the mysterious and handsome man who is renting the most luxurious cabin on the ship, but who nobody ever sees.
As the expedition progresses, Jenny finds herself becoming increasingly obsessed with the enigmatic Kit and the secrets he hides. Will she crack the code before the return journey or is she bound for another disappointment?

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My Thoughts:

When everything around you is changing, what do you do?
Well in Jenny's case you apply for a job on a cruise ship and get away from it all.
Leaving behind her cheating partner, the sister who didn't want to live together anymore and the job that she felt humiliated at, Jenny travels out to sea.
But is life calmer on the waves..

I find myself drawn to stories that have an element of travel, the chance to travel using my imagination instead of passport (although both are highly favourable)
What I really enjoyed about 'Bring Me Sunshine' was the descriptiveness that pulled me straight off my sofa and on to the cruise ship, setting sail to an unusual destination.

I admired Jenny, the way she raced to change her life and even when things didn't go quite according to plan, she still managed to inspire me.

Another great character for me, was Vera. Yes she was a bit of a busy body but she was lovely and I loved the fact that she was always seen with her big purple handbag,

This is a wonderful story that takes you on a journey, not just to a destination but also of discovery!

5/5

Thank you to Choc-Lit for sending me a copy to review.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Sharing secrets with Sarah Painter

Sarah Painter has worked as a freelance magazine journalist, blogger and editor for the last thirteen years, combining this ‘career’ with amateur child-wrangling (AKA motherhood).

She also writes books, and is represented by Agent Fabulous (AKA Sallyanne Sweeney at Mulcahy Associates. Her debut novel, The Language of Spells, is out now from Carina UK.

Sarah lives in rural Scotland with her children, husband, and two enormous cats. She drinks too much tea, loves the work of Joss Whedon, and is the proud owner of a writing shed.



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Your novel is called 'The Secrets of Ghosts' please could you tell me about it?
The Secrets of Ghosts is the follow up to The Language of Spells and is set in the same fictional town of Pendleford. Here's the blurb:

On her twenty-first birthday Katie Harper has only one wish: to become a real Harper woman. Mystical powers are passed down her family generation after generation – some even call them witches – yet every spell Katie attempts goes disastrously wrong.
When her magic does appear, it’s in a form nobody expected and suddenly Katie is thrown into a dangerous new world with shadowy consequences. For the realm of the deceased is not as peaceful as she once thought. The dead are buried with their secrets and only Katie can help the ghosts of the past finally find peace.
If that is what they are looking for…

Are any of the characters in 'The Secrets of Ghosts ' anything like you?
I like to think that I have Gwen's nurturing and caring side, but I know for sure that I have Katie's desire for control.

In 'The Secrets of Ghosts' Katie has the power to speak to people on the other side. If you had the same ability, who would you like to speak to and what would you want to know?
That’s a brilliant question - it's brought me out in goose bumps! I don’t believe in life after death so speaking to anyone at all would be mind-blowing. I suppose I’d want to know what happens after death… Although the meaning of life would be pretty handy, too.

Your previous book followed Gwen Harper, will we be meeting more of the Harper dynasty in the future?
Originally, I hadn't envisioned a follow up to The Language of Spells, and I deliberately wrote The Secrets of Ghosts so that it would work as a standalone story. At the moment it all feels quite complete to me, but never say never...

They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
Certainly. Like most (all?) novelists, I worked on my writing for a long time before getting published. In that time, I was lucky enough to receive encouragement from agents and editors, which helped me to keep going, but there was a part of me that thought I was fated to get ‘close’ but not actually make it. And then I landed my amazing agent and, shortly afterwards, the two-book deal with Carina. It felt fantastic (I don’t think I stopped smiling for a week afterwards), but I was also overwhelmed with a feeling of relief that it wasn’t just another close call.



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Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?

While I'm working on a book, I definitely carry my characters with me. They're in my head, jabbering away, forcing me to forget useful things like the need to cook dinner or to remember to phone my long-suffering friends (sorry, guys!). However, once I've finished a book, those characters disappear. So, at the moment, my head is completely filled with the characters from my current work-in-progress. It’s one of the things I adore about writing.

If there was one saying that could sum up your life to date, what would it be?
‘The harder you work, the luckier you get.’ I am aware, every single day, of my incredible good fortune. I was born in an affluent part of the planet to a loving and stable family, I’m happily married and have two fantastic children, and I get to earn my living making up stories. However, I do believe that lots of good things in life are down to hard work, perseverance and mental attitude. Plus, that phrase is something my beloved dad says, so it reminds me of him.

What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
I'm working on a new novel at the moment but I'm afraid I hate talking about books before they're finished - especially when they're just in first draft stage. It's not a contracted book, so it'll be going out on submission once it's finished. Wish me luck!

What or who in life inspires you?
So many things. Writer friends have inspired me with their perseverance, work ethic and creativity. My mother and grandmother, who are both strong, inspirational women. Women throughout the ages who have overcome inequality to make amazing contributions to the world.

Please would you share who your 5 dream dinner party guests would be?
Stephen Fry, Nora Ephron, Ann Patchett, Katharine Hepburn, and Neil Gaiman.

At your dinner party, there's a cocktail in honour of 'The Secrets of Ghosts' what are the ingredients?
Oh, I’d love a bespoke book cocktail! Um, Katie is big on control and doesn’t really drink much alcohol, so I guess something quite mild and fruity. With lots of lime, because I love lime.

Thank you to Sarah for talking to The Love of a Good Book.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Showcase Sunday #7

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea.
The aim of this event is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here:


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Hi Everyone

I hope you've had an incredible week and have read some wonderful books.

I've been working from home and getting lots of reading done in the afternoons,
I've been reading a great mixture of books and I can't wait to tell you all about them.

New to my collection this week:

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E.Smith: Amazon / To be reviewed

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Tease by Amanda Maciel: Amazon / To be reviewed


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Precious Thing by Colette Mcbeth: Amazon / To be reviewed


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The Accident by C.L.Taylor: Amazon / Easter gift


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As always I've been incredibly lucky with the books I've received this week.

This week I was lucky enough to be one of five people who were chosen to receive a copy of Tease from Books With Bite! The idea of reading a book told from the narrative of a bully really intrigues me and I'm eager to read it!
I have also been lucky enough to be bought a copy of The Accident as an early Easter gift.

My other two reads are curtesy of Bookbridgr, a fantastic site that is run by Headline.
I love BookBridgr and think it is an amazing opportunity for book bloggers to share and connect.

What have you bought or received this week? What books are you currently reading?
I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Have a fabulous week all!


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Xxx

Friday, 11 April 2014

Michele Gorman invites you to THE CURVY GIRLS CLUB

Imagine a place where nobody is judged by the size of their waistband, where you’re reminded every day how fabulous you are. That’s exactly what Michele Gorman did when she wrote THE CURVY GIRLS CLUB, and she had so much fun in that imaginary world that she’s creating the real thing!

Welcome to The Curvy Girls Club – a friendly, supportive, encouraging community where everyone is welcome, a fun place for people who want to love themselves. Think of it as the most flattering fitting room in the world - perfect lighting and mirrors that make you feel fantastic. Because you are fantastic. And that's the whole point.

Club members are treated to a daily dose of loveliness – empowering reminders that you’re pretty great just the way you are. Chat with one another, get involved in the book club and, once there are enough members, check out the real life social events. We’ve all got one thing in common: We want to live in a world where everyone is welcome no matter where they tip the scales.

Join the Club* for all the fun: http://thecurvygirlsclub.blogspot.co.uk/
And the Facebook group to get your daily dose of loveliness: https://www.facebook.com/groups/512009562242497/

* It’s not just for curvy girls, but for everyone who wants to feel great!



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SUNLOUNGER 2: A Great Opportunity

DO YOU DREAM OF BEING A PUBLISHED AUTHOR?

How would you like to see your words appear alongside stories from Milly Johnson, Alexandra Potter, Tracy Bloom, Rosie Blake, Julia Williams, Chrissie Mansby and Roisin Meaney.

Enter the Sunlounger 2 short story competition and the dream could become a reality.

Last years winner Holly Martin has since soared to #5 in the Amazon Kindle chart, with her debut women's fiction novel and is now signed with the Madeline Milburn agency along with other SUNLOUNGER authors Belinda Jones, Talli Roland, Carrie Duffy and Anna-Lou Weatherley!

Drop an email to sunloungerstories@gmail.com and the Belinda Jones Travel Club will send you a set of guidelines so you can get going along with your mini masterpiece.

WORD COUNT: 1000-3000 words
DEADLINE: May 7th 2014
SETTING: Somewhere summery (not UK)
SEND TO: sunloungerstories@gmail.com
WEBSITE: http://www.va-va-vacation.com/

THE WINNING STORY WILL APPEAR IN SUNLOUNGER 2 - out June 21st 2014

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Thursday, 10 April 2014

An interview with Isabel Wolff

About Isabel
I was born in Warwickshire, read English at Cambridge and after spells in the theatre and in advertising, I got a job at the BBC. I also wrote freelance articles for magazines and newspapers such as The Spectator, the Evening Standard, the Independent and the Daily Telegraph. Within a month of the first column appearing I'd been signed up by HarperCollins...
Facebook
http://www.isabelwolff.com/
Amazon.co.uk


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Your new novel is called 'Ghostwritten' please could you tell me about it?
‘Ghostwritten’ is set in present day Cornwall, and on Java during the Second World War. Its main character is a young ghost-writer, Jenni, who is asked to ‘ghost’ the memoirs of an elderly Dutch woman, Klara. Klara lives on a farm in Cornwall, but grew up on a rubber plantation in Java. When the Japanese invaded, Klara was interned in a prison camp with her mother and little brother. She has never talked about what she went through – the atrocious conditions and daily struggle to survive, not to mention the cruelty of the Japanese guards. Now, approaching 80, Klara has decided to tell her story at last. Jenni is very drawn to the idea of working with Klara - until she learns that Klara lives in the very Cornish village that was the scene of a tragedy that has haunted Jenni for twenty five years. Jenni had vowed never to return but now, after much soul searching, she decides to go back, not just to write Klara’s remarkable story – but to try and lay to rest the ghosts of her past.

'Ghostwritten' is about Jenni, please could you tell me about her?
Jenni is a very self-effacing person, happy to be an invisible presence, working for months on books that she knows will not even bear her name. I was very interested in why she would be like this, and what might have happened to her to make her shun the limelight and gravitate towards the shadows. I decided that it was because of a childhood tragedy that Jenni had never told anyone about – not even those closest to her. Haunted by it, she lives in fear of exposure, and is still filled with remorse. So being a ghost writer suits Jenni very well. It requires her to immerse herself in the lives of others, which stops her from thinking about her own life too much.

Are any of the characters in 'Ghostwritten' anything like you?
In a way they’re all a bit like me, because I created them, and I guess it ‘takes one to know one’. The characters in a novel come out of the writer’s psychology and their soul; they reflect that person’s morality and their view of the world. I think I’m a little like Jenni in that I’m a writer like she is and I love shaping and crafting words to make a compelling story. I’m not as reticent and shy as Jenni, nor as tortured a soul, thank goodness, although I do have a fragile conscience, perhaps from being Catholic and having to go to Confession from a very young age, I don’t know.



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They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
I got off very lightly in this respect. I’d always hoped to write a novel, but never thought I’d be able to take six months off work in order to do so. Then I began writing a comic girl-about-town column for the Daily Telegraph, ‘Tiffany Trott’, and within a month HarperCollins had asked me to turn it into a book. So I did, and it was a bestseller, and they then signed me up for another book, then another, and here I still am, nine novels on. So the journey to publication wasn’t hard for me, and I look back on it with relief, grateful that I didn’t have to suffer what so many aspiring authors go through.

Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them. So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
The character I’d most like to spend a day with is the heroine of my eighth novel, A Vintage Affair. She’s called Phoebe Swift and she’s a textiles expert who has opened her own vintage dress shop in south London. I love vintage clothing myself, and so it would be a great pleasure to help Phoebe in the shop, putting the glorious vintage gowns and suits on the rails, or helping customers find their perfect outfit, or perhaps going to someone’s house to value a collection, or helping Phoebe to restore and repair some beautiful ball gown by Balenciaga or Dior. Most of all I’d enjoy wondering about the history behind the clothes – who the women were who owned them before, and what their lives were like, because every vintage garment contains a story, if only we could know what it was.

If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
It would be ‘A Town Like Alice’ by Nevil Shute which I read when I was 12, at my mother’s insistence. Set in wartime Malaya its quiet heroine, Jean Paget, and the Australian who is crucified for her, Joe Harman, have stayed with me all my life. Just thinking about what they go through makes me cry, and the novel was one of the main inspiration for ‘Ghostwritten’ along with the TV series, Tenko.

Name one of your favourite places in the world?
My favourite place in the world is the tiny coastal hamlet of Rosevine, near Portscatho in south Cornwall. I bought a tiny house there seven years ago and spend a lot of time in Rosevine with my children. The views of the sea are lovely, and the beach is just down the lane. We love it, whatever the time of year, and are always counting the days ‘til we’ll be there again. It’s the model for the village of ‘Polvarth’ in ‘Ghostwritten’.

How would you describe your writing process?
I walk the children to school, then charge round the park with our cocker spaniel Alfie for an hour before getting down to work. I write in the mornings, and edit in the afternoons, then suddenly it’s time to collect the kids again and so the writing stops. Quite often I’ll go back to the book late at night when the family’s asleep but by then it’s late and I’m tired and I often wake up with my forehead on the keyboard and akjfhjkadhjahfjkahdalkdflkajdfkajfdklj on the screen.

Please would you share who your 5 dream dinner party guests would be?
1. The painter, Jonathan Yeo. I interviewed him for my ninth novel, The Very Picture of You which is about a portrait painter, and he was fascinating to talk to, and I would love to resume our conversation.
2. Professor Brian Cox, so that he could educate me about black holes, string theory, singularities and dark matter, added to which he has that lovely voice.
3. Thomas Clarkson, the unsung hero of the anti-slave trade movement. He devoted his whole life to the cause of anti-slavery, and is the father of modern campaigning. I would love to be able to tell him how much I admire him.
4. The American mezzo-soprano, Renee Fleming. She wouldn’t have to say much, but I would make her sing for her supper.
5. Jamie Oliver – he’d probably take over in the kitchen, which would be fine by me.

Thank you to Isabel for talking to The Love of a Good Book and to Jaime at Harper Collins for inviting me to be part of the blog tour

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