Thursday, 27 June 2013

Book of the Month - June


I've read some fantastic books since starting this blog and I'd like to give some of them a bit more recognition. So I've decided to add a new feature to the blog and give a special mention to one outstanding book each month. Feel free to add your thoughts of the chosen book in the comments below or even recommend an outstanding book of your own.

June

 


Jane Green's The Accidental Husband is a powerful story about two women connected by an earth-shattering secret.

Maggie and Sylvie are perfect strangers: two very different women, living very different lives on opposite coasts. But they share more in common than they could ever imagine.

Both women have beautiful children on the verge of flying the nest, the home they worked hard to build and always longed for, and a handsome and devoted husband they can't believe belongs to them. Both women think their lives are seamlessly secure, but they couldn't be more wrong . . .

For each is about to discover a secret that will shake their world to the very core, throwing into doubt everything they ever thought they knew, and bringing Maggie and Sylvie together in the most unexpected way.

 
 
It's been difficult to pick a Book of the Month for June as I've read some fantastic books and it was a toss up between The Accidental Husband by Jane Green and The Road Back by Rachel Abbott. The books are very different but they've been battling in my mind to become Book of the Month since I read them early on in June. But, after a LOT of thinking, I decided to fly the flag for chick lit and picked The Accidental Husband, which I thought was a fantastic read. I was hooked from the very beginning, desperate to see how the women would react when the big secret was revealed.
 
You can see my review of The Accidental Husband here and my review of The Back Road is over on Novelicious here
 
Click here to see all 'Books Of The Month'.


Monday, 24 June 2013

The Accidental Husband by Jane Green

 
 
Sylvie never thought she'd fall in love again after the death of her husband, leaving her to raise their young daughter on her own. But then she meets Mark who offers Sylvie love, passion and security as well as being a wonderful father to Eve. Sylvie and Mark don't have a conventional marriage, with Mark working away from home for large chunks of time but the marriage has worked for them until now. Until recently, Sylvie had been happy for Mark to work away, leaving her and Eve to spend time together but she's started to want him around more.
 
Maggie has what she always wanted; handsome, successful husband, happy children and a beautiful home to be proud of. Maggie enjoys her luxurious lifestyle, hosting lunches and jetting off on holidays but her lavish lifestyle is about to come crashing down around her.
 
Sylvie and Maggie don't seem to have anything in common but they are about to be bound together by a shocking secret.
 
It's been a long time since I've read a new Jane Green book but I'm glad I read this one as I thought it was a fantastic read that had me hooked. I didn't want to put the book down, especially at the beginning as I awaited the big reveal of the secret. It's quite clear what the secret is going to be but I was looking forward to seeing it unfold and the fallout that would ensue. My only criticism of the book would actually be at the beginning too because we only get to know Sylvie, Mark and Eve in the first part (approximately 150 pages). I can see why it was written this way as the first part is building towards the big reveal but, as it was obvious what the secret is, I didn't think it was necessary to keep Maggie held back for so long. Because of this, it took me a while to feel connected to Maggie whereas I felt the connection to Sylvie straight away.
 
I liked how the fallout was handled, with everybody coping in their own ways and while there wasn't anywhere near a fairytale ending, it was believable and, in some cases, heart wrenching.
 
The Accidental Husband is full of family drama, friendship and heartache. The women in the book are all different but are strong in their own ways and I loved it.
 
 
Thank you to Penguin for sending me a copy to review.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Two Awards!



Back in May I was nominated for two Liebster awards from Sylvia Ney and Sidonie Helena and have finally gotten round to responding (it's been a hectic time, blog-wise. Sorry).

Liebster Award Rules


1. List 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
3. Ask 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.
4. Choose up to 11 up and coming blogs to nominate.
5. Go to each blogger’s page and let them know about the award.
6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.

 


As I've been awarded two awards, I'm going to combine them and only post one set of 11 facts (I'm not interesting enough to have 22) and I'll answer half(ish) of the questions from each of my nominees.

So here goes.

My eleven facts:

  1. I'm embarrassingly thick when it comes to geography. I only found out this year that Transylvania is an actual place and not just made up for vampire stories. Seriously.
  2. I've never seen the film Mary Poppins all the way through. But I have seen the musical on Broadway. 
  3. I've also seen Billy Elliot on the West End. But I have seen the film all the way through. Many, many times.
  4. My favourite colours are pink, pink and more pink.
  5. I don't like cheese unless it's been melted in or on something.
  6. *whispers* I have never read the Bridget Jones books.
  7. The first film I watched at the cinema was The Little Mermaid.
  8. The last film I watched at the cinema was Identity Thief.
  9. I'm the youngest of 5. I have a sister and three brothers.
  10. I've been stung by a wasp once. I was about 11 or 12 and was innocently waiting outside the library for it to open when it jabbed me.
  11. I can't stand coffee. The smell alone makes me feel sick. 
 
Questions from Sylvia:

What do you hope to have accomplished five years from today?
I'd love to be a published writer.

What is the best trip or family vacation you have ever taken?
We went to New York for Christmas 2011 and it was amazing. I've always wanted to go, especially at Christmas (thanks to Home Alone 2) and would love to go again.

Name one children’s book that you think all adults ought to read and take to heart.

The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann

What fairy tale character do you identify with the most?

Sleeping Beauty. But only because I love to sleep.

What do you think is one of the worst movies or TV shows ever made?

All the TOWIE type programs

If you had a super power what would it be?

I'd love to be able to pause time. Think of everything you could get done in a day!


Questions from Sidonie

What was your least favorite subject in school?

I'd have to say languages. We learned French and Spanish at school but I really struggled with them.

Do you prefer talking over the phone or face to face?

Face to face. I hate using the phone, even though I was a receptionist in my younger days.

Where did you grow up?

Oldham, Greater Manchester. I've always lived within the same general area.

If you could live anywhere on earth, where would you live?

New York. Although I'm sure I'd miss home.
Your favorite film is...?

You've Got Mail.

Apple or PC?

PC. Apple is too confusing with its different kinds of clicking.



And now my questions:

  1. Who is your favourite author?
  2. And your favourite book?
  3. When and why did you start your blog?
  4. If you could live in any time period, what would it be?
  5. What is your favourite thing about summer?
  6. And your least favourite thing about summer?
  7. Tea, coffee or none?
  8. What is your favourite song?
  9. What are your current favourite tv shows?
  10. Do you have a party trick?
  11. If you could have one wish, what would it be?

And finally, I nominate the following blogs:

Shaz's Book Blog 
The London Diaries 
I heart Books
Georgina Troy 
Reading In The Sunshine 
Miss Bookworm Reviews
Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Victoria Loves Books

PS Please ignore any formatting issues within this post. It's been a bloody nightmare and I wash my hands of it.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Save The Date! by Allie Spencer

 
 
When Ailsa receives an invitation to her cousin's wedding, she isn't sure she wants to go. Even if it would mean an all expenses paid trip to Tuscany for a week. Ailsa's family are all a bit bonkers and there is the added trouble of the ten year rift between Ailsa's mum and her auntie Sheila, the mother of the bride.
 
But bride to be Jess convinces Ailsa to go to the wedding and so she flies over to Italy. While there, the last person Ailsa expects to run into is Nick, the man she split up with three months earlier and is still trying to get over so she is shocked to see him checking into the hotel.
 
Bickering with Nick is not the way Ailsa thought she would spend her luxurious week away. Nor did she expect to adopt a stray dog or become a referee between the bride and groom.
 
Save The Date! is a fun, summer read taking place in a beautiful setting that made me want to pack my suitcase and jet off to Tuscany. Jess starts off as a bit of a spoilt princess with an expensive, over the top wedding but we soon get to know her more and she really grew on me and I ended up thinking she was quite sweet, if a little ditzy at times.
 
There are loads of amusing moments in the book, most of which come courtesy of Arthur, a little stray dog who takes a shine to Ailsa. For me, Arthur completely stole the show. I thought he was an adorable character packed with personality.
 
As a main character, I really liked Ailsa. She came across as warm and witty and while she finds herself in the centre of many dramas throughout the book, I felt the drama wound itself around her rather than Ailsa actively seeking it out, which I liked.
 
 
Thank you to Arrow for sending me a copy to review.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Guest Post: Ellie Campbell

Jealousy – A Wasted Emotion? Discuss.

Not a sound is heard as it lands silently on the mat. No drums rolls, crashing thunder, shafts of light. The walls don’t start crumbling, the ground doesn’t vibrate with terrifying tremors and a yawning fissure fails to zigzag across the kitchen floor and separate my husband from his breakfast marmalade.

In short, I’ve no clue as to the impact it’ll have on our lives. Mayhem. Marital breakdown. Murder. It should at least have been written in blood or come in the beak of a dark-winged raven.

It is a postcard. “Love from London” blazoned above a giant pair of pouting lips kissing a cherry-red heart...

…I turn it over.

Dearest, sweetest Declan – it begins. My eyes widen as I take in the blue spidery handwriting and race to the signature. ‘Love from La La.’


From Looking For La La by Ellie Campbell


There I was this morning with a pair of slinky little knickers in hand. I’d just found them curled up inside my husband’s jogging bottoms (track suit pants for our American readers), almost as if some sultry mistress had placed them there to be found by my prying eyes. I knew they weren’t mine. I know my knickers (panties) – intimately. As most women do. I know they’re not my daughter’s. Even though she’s coming out of her teens, she still can’t seem to work out how to rotate that switch on the washing machine. Nor find it for that matter.

My son ambled past, yawning and stretching. “Here,” I chucked the knickers at him. “Do these belong to your girlfriend?”

“Maybe,” he looked them over, skimpy, lacy at the top, silky at the front, then left the room and came back moments later.

“Nah.”

“Is she there?” I asked, surprised. If so, she’d been very quiet all morning.

“No. But I took a photo of them with my phone. And she said they’re not hers.”

So should I confront my husband? After all they came out of his trouser legs.

Well, if I was a jealous woman I possibly would. Then again, if I’d been a jealous woman a few years back when “the postcard” dropped through the door, professing undying love for my husband, Lorraine and I might not be here, talking about our third Ellie Campbell novel, Looking For La La.

Just as in the novel, the postcard was from a woman, who called herself La La, addressed to my beloved spouse. Maybe fleetingly, a doubtful thought might have crossed my mind, and yes, I could have smacked him over the head with the toaster and demanded to know who she was, why she had written to him….barraged him with questions, accusations, burst into floods of tears.

Sad truth is, I’m used to it. It’s been a constant throughout our courtship, years of living together, and now our married life. As an athletic, good-looking, young (and, even now, not so young) man working in the leisure industry, my hubbie is constantly in the company of shapely young women with abs like the Baywatch babes. Teaching aerobic classes, acting as fitness instructor and personal trainer, he has been surrounded half his working life by semi-clothed health-conscious predatory females. Comes with the territory.

So like Cathy’s husband, Declan, in Looking for La La (who all Cathy’s friends drool over), ‘Him indoors’ has had a lot of attention from admirers over the years, to the point of acute embarrassment. I was once in one of his circuit training classes when the girl star-jumping next to me hissed, “Teacher’s a bit hot, isn’t he?” What could I reply? “Actually that’s my husband” or like I did at the time, mumble, “Not really my type”.

Another time he had a horrifying stalker, who having failed to seduce him, (he managed to push her out of the health club door late one night, locking it quick) ran up three flights of stairs, along a corridor, down another flight, to sneak back in through a fire exit, scaring him rigid. I had to make him a stiff drink when he arrived home.

In fact it’s almost surprising there weren’t a few more La La’s over the years, maybe not all sending him postcards but...you get my drift.

It’s hard enough keeping up with a husband who is two, (he says three) years younger than myself, who runs marathons like most people were going for a Sunday stroll. And, unlike me, relishes organising and taking part in various sporting challenges.

This Sunday he’s running his 10th marathon – having already done the biggies, such as Edinburgh, Brighton, London, Paris, Dublin. In a few months’ time he’s cycling from Redhill, Surrey to Paris, France – 175 miles in 24 hours. Shortly after that it’s the Three Peaks – three of the highest mountains in Wales, Scotland and England, all to be climbed again in 24 hours.



Mount Snowdon - Hubbie’s idea of A Good Time




Then it’s the North Downs Trek, the South Downs Trek, South Downs Way - 100 miles in a day off-road mountain bike challenge. Last year of his own free will (durr), he jumped out of an aeroplane, walked on burning coals, took part in a cycling road race, a gruelling walk through the boggy Yorkshire moors, bungee jumped off a bridge with a dodgy rope in South America. You get the picture. All for charity, of course, but still…

He’s on a high protein, no alcohol diet right now (for the marathon), while I’m on an eat as much as I can and drink till I drop phase. Well it is still winter, so I need a few layers around my middle. Can I keep up? Could I in any way be described as toned or in shape? No is the brutal answer. I walk the dog, play a bit of badminton, tend my allotment, do the odd bit of gardening, and am practically forced every year to join him on the tandem – he must still love me then? – to cycle long distance challenges…to Paris, Gibraltar, Montpellier, and this year 300 miles (in 3 days) to Copenhagen. I guess I must love him too.

Because frankly I’m basically lazy. If I could get away with it, I’d lie under my duvet every morning, tapping away on my computer writing the next “Ellie Campbell” novel. Exercising only my fingers and thoughts.

More importantly, should I be worried about the stray knickers at present lying neatly folded on his neatly folded jogging bottoms? No, I’m sure there must be a perfectly innocent explanation. Maybe he wanted to try them out himself before he bought a similar pair for me?

And what did I do when the postcards came through the door? Well, do writers ever waste anything? Being a trusting soul, (and an author) instead of leaping up to attack him, I leapt out of my chair, raced up the stairs to the attic, jumped onto my computer and furiously began typing the first few chapters of what was to become Looking for La La, roping in my sister and co-writer, Lorraine. We enjoyed ourselves hugely as we took what was likely a mean little prank and turned it into a funny mystery novel about a scatty housewife who stirs up a whole lot of trouble by turning sleuth.

They say jealousy is a wasted emotion. Lorraine and I believe it’s far more than that – it’s a wasted novel.

And the underwear? Turned out to belong to my daughter after all.



Book Blurb

In a recent survey 65% of mothers admitted feeling undervalued, over-criticised and constantly tired.

Cathy is no exception. Her dull, uneventful days as a stay at home, mother of two, are radically transformed however with the arrival of a heavily lipsticked postcard addressed to husband, Declan. Who is the mysterious La La? Could Declan really be having an affair? And is Cathy actually being stalked?

Whatever – it will definitely prove riveting gossip for the Tuesday Twice Monthlies, Cathy’s 'Mothers Restaurant Research’ group where scandal flows as recklessly as the wine. But what starts as a light-hearted investigation with best friend Raz, soon turns into something much more sinister.

With a possible murderer on the scene, a sexy admirer igniting long-forgotten sparks, and all her friends hiding secrets, it’s not only Cathy’s marriage that’s in jeopardy. Add in the scheming antics of Declan’s new assistant, the stress of organising the school Save The Toilet’s dance and the stage is set for a dangerous showdown and some very unsettling, possibly deadly, revelations.



Ellie Campbell is a pseudonym for sisters, Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell.  Transplanted from Scotland to England as teens, they took up writing between full-time work, world travelling and child-raising.  Each of them had over 70 short stories published in major UK and international magazines before they decided to collaborate in writing a novel based on their experiences as the youngest of four sisters, despite the fact that they now lived on separate sides of the Atlantic.  How to Survive Your Sisters, published by Arrow Books, was quickly followed by a second ‘Ellie Campbell’ novel, When Good Friends Go Bad and now a third, Looking for La La
 
Pam lives in Surrey with her husband and three children while Lorraine has settled on a ranch in Colorado with her husband, three horses, dog and multiple barn cats.  They still talk on the phone almost daily and regularly send ideas, chapters, and novel drafts to each other over the internet.

 

Their current Giveaway can be found here
 

Looking For La La is available from Amazon here

You can find out more about the book and its authors at their blog, Facebook or follow them on twitter: 
@ecampbellbooks

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A Cottage By The Sea by Carole Matthews

 

Grace's marriage is in trouble. After eight years together, she and Harry seem to have drifted in different directions and Grace is afraid they won't be able to reach each other again. So when Grace's friend invites them to spend a week at her remote cottage by the sea, Grace jumps at the chance, hoping time away from work and Harry's obsession with social media will do them good.

Ella and Art lead busy lives and, as Art is the manager of bands popular across Europe, they spend the majority of their relationship apart. Their lifestyle has always suited the pair but Ella has been re-evaluating her life lately and is drawn more and more to the tranquillity of the cottage.

Flick shared a house with Grace and Ella while they were all at university. She's always been unreliable and flaky, hopping from lover to lover but when she arrives at the cottage with her gorgeous new boyfriend, Noah, it seems she's finally ready to settle down.

The three friends arrive at the cottage for a week of relaxation and fun on the beach but will all leave with their lives turned upside down.

A Cottage By The Sea is a great summer read, from the fabulous setting to the hunky men and an array of secrets waiting to be spilled. I loved the idea of Cwtch Cottage, sat on a cliff in the middle of nowhere and cut off from technology and civilisation. It is the perfect place to switch off and hang out with friends for a few days.

Grace and her friends are a diverse bunch; Grace is quite serious and has never really let herself go while Flick is the complete opposite and is quite selfish in her quest to have fun in life. Ella is somewhere in the middle, living with her rock star wannabe boyfriend but acting like a mother hen to the group. You wouldn't necessarily put them together but they've been best friends for ten years and always look out for each other.

I was really enjoying A Cottage By The Sea until the end. I don't want to spoil what happens but it didn't sit well with me. Grace always puts others before herself but her understanding goes to the next level and she is on her way to sainthood by the end of the book. It wasn't a believable reaction to me and I couldn't help feeling slightly disappointed.


Thank you to Sphere for sending me a copy to review.

Monday, 17 June 2013

#AmReading Marshmallows For Breakfast by Dorothy Koomson

 
 
One of my reading goals for 2013 was to read some of my non-review books that have been neglected and left gathering dust.
 
The wonderful thing about discovering a new author already several books into their writing career is being able to catch up. After discovering Dorothy Koomson - who is now one of my favourite authors - I bought her backlist of books and am slowly working my way through them. Next up is Marshmallows For Breakfast:
 
When Kendra Tamale returns to England from Australia she rents a room from Kyle, a divorced father of two, and begins a new job. She's looking forward to a fresh start and simple life. Kyle's five-year-old twins, Summer and Jaxon, have other ideas and quickly adopt Kendra as their new mother - mainly because she lets them eat marshmallows for breakfast. Kendra eventually becomes a part of their lives, even though she's hiding a painful secret that makes her keep everyone - especially children - at arm's length. Then Kendra bumps into the man who shares her awful secret, and things fall apart: she can't sleep, she can't eat, she's suspended from work, and the kids are taken away by their mother. The only way to fix things is to confess to the terrible mistake she made all those years ago. But that's something she swore never to do . . .
 
 
What are you reading?

Friday, 14 June 2013

Guest Posters Wanted


 
 
For the past few weeks I've been hosting guest posts, doing my bit to spread the word about books and their authors so I thought I would continue to do so.
 
Are you an author - either traditionally published or indie? Or perhaps you're a book blogger who'd like to have a jaunt around the blogosphere? Then I'd love to welcome you here.
 
I'm looking mainly for authors or fans of chick lit/women's fiction. If you're interested in appearing on the blog, simply send me an email to jenniferjoycewrites@gmail.com with your guest post and the images and links to your book and/or social media so people know where to find you.
 
As a vague guide, guest posts should be around 3-500 words and must be about books or writing. Possible topics could be:
  • inspiration behind your book
  • book titles
  • when you decided to become a writer
  • favourite books/authors
  • favourite childhood book
But feel free to be creative and write about your own topic - as long as it centres around books or writing!
 
If I'm going to use your post, I will email you with a date of when it will go up on the blog. Please make a note of it so you can let your friends and followers know when the time comes and you can also answer any comments that may be left for you.
 
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me at the above address.
 
 
***Please note, non-book promotional posts and editorials and those looking to advertise on behalf of other companies will not be accepted. I am not looking to make a profit,  I'm only interested in spreading the good word of books***

Thursday, 13 June 2013

This Is How It Ends Blog Tour

I'm pleased to welcome Kathleen MacMahon onto the blog today to talk about the inspiration behind her debut novel, This Is How It Ends.


It started with the beach. A long, wide stretch of city beach, five minutes walk from my house. Every morning, I would walk the dog there. After I’d made the school lunches and cooked the breakfast and emptied the washing machine and the dishwasher, before I had showered and stepped into my suit and my high heels and slipped into the busy machinery of the newsroom where I worked. An hour stolen from the day, just me and the dog and the wide empty beach. The slow sweep of the tide and the swirl of the world all around us.

It was the Autumn of 2008 and in the United States, a black man was running for President. On Wall Street, venerable banks were tumbling to the ground, numbers disappearing off trader’s screens. There was a sense of history speeding up, of the unthinkable happening, both good and bad. It was that sense of the outside world spinning faster on its axis that made me look inwards. I watched the dog, tumbling after a tennis ball in the shallows. The Canada Geese, huddled on the football pitch, like refugees. I listened to Bruce Springsteen on my iPod and felt for that moment, joy, pure and free.

That was the starting point for the book. I had an image of a woman, sadder than she deserves to be, walking the beach with her dog. I had a sense of this terrible battle she was fighting, to find an anchor for herself in the world. It occurred to me that the book would have to be a love story. I would walk a good man into her life, a man who would change her view of the world and bring with him the joy that had until now eluded her. I decided to make him an American because that would bring a different energy into the story, and a different outlook on life.

Writing a book is a bit like trying to catch scraps of paper in a high wind. You have all of these ideas swirling around your head and you’re trying to grab them and pin them down on to the page. The book that emerges at the end is an imperfect collection of all of those ideas. There are always scraps that got away.

I wrote a lot of swimming into this book. The swimming is a great joy for me and I wanted to pour it onto the page. It became part of the story, just as Bruce Springsteen did, and the little bedraggled dog and the seabirds and the strand. Those things were all part of the inspiration behind the book, but they turned out to be more than that. They worked themselves into the fabric of the story, bending and shaping the plot.

Bits of my childhood made their way into this book, and bits of other people’s childhoods too. The widowed father who tries to reproduce the meals that his children have eaten in other children’s houses. The oldest daughter, thrown into the role of housewife when her mother gets sick. The old Super 8 footage of the dead mother, seen for the first time decades later. As I was writing the book these things darted out of crevices in my memory, like small fish darting out from behind a rock. It always surprises me, the things you’d thought you’d forgotten. They’re not gone, they’re just lurking there, waiting for an opportunity to come out.

What I’ve discovered is that a writer is a bit like a parsimonious cook. Nothing is ever allowed to go to waste. Every sound, every sight, every scrap of memory, they’re all stored up in some cavernous larder for future use. Every emotion you’ve ever experienced, every emotion you’ve observed in other people, they get boiled down to make a stock. And sooner or later, it all goes into the pot.



Kathleen MacMahon is a former radio and television journalist with Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTE. The grand-daughter of the distinguished short story writer Mary Lavin, Kathleen lives in Dublin with her husband and twin daughters. The hardback edition of This is How it Ends, her first novel, was a No.1 bestseller in Ireland for five consecutive weeks and spent nine weeks in the Top Ten bestseller list.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Guest Post: Debbie Howells


On Dreams...
 


Several years ago, I had this dream to have my own flower shop - preferably in the old barn next to the cottage where we lived, with rough wood shelves and metal buckets full of beautiful seasonal flowers, with which I’d decorate weddings for all the brides who’d flock to see me. There’d be a big sign outside so no-one would miss us. My children would run around and the chickens would potter outside. It was my idea of perfect…

It took a while but the dream came true – almost, only it was a different barn, which meant the chickens stayed at home, but inside we created our very own rustic flower shop. I’ve decorated hundreds of weddings. And I’ve loved each and every one of them.

The whole wedding madness thing kind of gets under your skin though and that’s where the idea for my book came from. I had a name for my protagonist, Frankie Valentine, and a picture in my head of her small flower shop. Just like we all do, Frankie has a dream. She wants to be a florist to the stars, only just like in real life it doesn’t go quite as she plans.

So, last year, I wrote my book. Then put it away. Read and re-read it. Wrote another draft, agonised over cover letters and synopses, like we do. Then earlier this year, I sent it off to a handful of carefully chosen agents.

Then came the waiting, but what happened this time is that over the course of one of the most magical fortnights I’ve ever lived through while I neurotically checked my emails every ten seconds, five agents asked to read the full MS.

Five. Oh, so exciting, I can’t tell you. I dared to allow myself to imagine, just for a second or two, that this time, it might actually be going to happen! Then I stopped imagining anything at all, because I have no illusions as to how hard it is to A, get an agent, then B, find a publisher.

BUT… Not one of the five loved it enough. I had an email back from Broo Doherty. A rejection, but quite a lovely one as these things go. She liked my story and told me where it was lacking – and I agreed, which is quite annoying because if I’d figured that out before submitting to her, she might have really, really liked it and my own story might have had a different ending.

But I didn’t. More work followed and now, it’s a better book. My daughter Georgie made me a cover and I published it online. So now, instead of checking emails all the time, I’m constantly looking up how many downloads!! But it is being downloaded, and people are enjoying it – it reached a very respectable number in the Amazon best-selling ebooks. Again, it’s hugely exciting!

As everyone who writes knows, there are ups and downs, snippets of hope – however small - outweigh all the disappointments and help you to somehow, find the inspiration to keep on writing.

Good luck to everyone trying to do this. I’m not giving up. Quite simply, it’s my dream and I’m hoping, like the last one I had, that if I keep working at it, one of these days it will come true…

PS this is my book:



 


You can find it here
And this is me:
www.debbiehowells.blogspot.co.uk


Thank you Jenni, for having me on Mama J Hearts.
 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

New Bloggish Bookmark

 
 
Sadly, my Hello Kitty bookmark (which I loved) was looking a bit worse for wear, which is understandable as I'd been using it since March 2012 (told you I loved it) so I decided it was time for a new one.
 
I could have bought one. Or used an old bus ticket. But I like crafts so I decided to make another one out of paint colour chart thingies, this time inspired by my blog colours. I know, I know, I really do need to get out more but it kept me busy for a few minutes.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Top Ten Karaoke Songs


Book 4 features quite a bit of karaoke so I've been looking up popular karaoke songs and decided to compile a top ten list of my favourites (to listen to, not to sing. Because I can't). So here they are:


  • Dancing Queen (Abba)
  • Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)
  • It's Raining Men (Weather Girls)
  • Livin' On A Prayer (Bon Jovi)
  • Love Shack (B52s)
  • Mustang Sally (Commitments)
  • River Deep Mountain High (Tina Turner)
  • She's Like The Wind (Patrick Swayze)
  • Without You (Nilsson)
  • Young Hearts Run Free (Candi Staton)

What are your favourite karaoke songs?


http://www.jenniferjoycewrites.co.uk/search/label/Top%20Ten%20Lists

Friday, 7 June 2013

Bad Mothers United by Kate Long

 

Back in 2004, we were introduced to Karen, Charlotte and Nan in The Bad Mother’s Handbook and they’re back in Bad Mothers United. Charlotte is now at York University, travelling back home to see her son, Will whenever she can while Karen is juggling her job as a teaching assistant with taking care of her two year old grandson. Karen is beyond frazzled but perks up when she meets her new sexy neighbour, Eric. Eric is a single father and starts to rely on Karen to help with his young son, Kenzie but Karen doesn’t seem to mind too much as the pair grow closer.
Charlotte is trying her best to separate her life as a mum to Will and her student life in York but feels she is missing out on both worlds and takes her frustration out on loyal boyfriend, Dan. Charlotte and Dan have been together for three years but they’re both feeling the strain and their relationship begins to crumble.
When I heard there would be a follow up to The Bad Mother’s Handbook, I assumed it would take place in the present day but it picks up a couple of years down the line from the previous book. Will is now two and Charlotte is at university. I did feel for Charlotte as she was pulled in two directions, wanting to further her education and make a better life for herself and her son but missing out on being a mum to him on a day to day basis but I also wanted to give her a good shake as she became stroppy and argumentative, pushing Dan away. Dan is loyal and patient but he can only be pushed so far and that is when the cracks start to appear in their relationship.
I also felt for Karen who wants the best for her daughter and makes sacrifices so that she can be there to care for Will but I don’t think Charlotte always appreciates what her mother is giving up for her and there is also the problem of their different approaches to parenthood. Karen and Charlotte don’t always have the most solid relationship but it was nice to see a better understanding develop between them towards the end.
I was sad to learn that Nan had died but she is still there in book through tape recordings Karen made while trying to learn more about Nan’s history and these were my favourite parts of the book. They were bitter sweet moments as Nan is suffering from dementia and her mind is deteriorating but they are still full of warmth and humour and the book wouldn’t be the same without Nan.
I liked how parts of the previous book flowed through to this one, such as Karen’s confused relationship with her ex husband, Steve and her adoption but I also liked the new elements too, with Charlotte’s life away in York and Karen’s new love interest. It has been a long time since I’ve read The Bad Mother’s Handbook but there were reminders of past storylines and I don’t think you have to have read the previous book to enjoy this one too.
 
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to review

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Jane Lark Giveaway: The Winner


Thank you to everyone who enter or tweeted about the giveaway of a signed copy of Illicit Love plus the goodies pictured above. Rafflecopter has selected a winner at random and that winner is:

Jo H


Congratulations Jo and thank you again to everyone who entered.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Guest Post: Shelley Hickman

Passing Judgement

Have you ever wondered what makes us so apt to judge others? I have. What is it, that, even if we mean no harm, we are so inclined to think that we know better than another? The whole, if I were you… idea we offer up so freely, often without invitation. It’s like we can’t help ourselves. It’s something I try very hard not to do, but I realize I’m guilty of it as much as the next guy.

But the fact of the matter is, like the old saying goes, unless we have walked in another’s shoes and have lived his life, we can never truly know the motives behind another’s actions. Maybe that person doesn’t even understand his motives, but I’m a firm believer that now and again, we just have to go through certain stuff, even if it doesn’t make much sense to those around us. Say what you want, but we grow and learn from our mistakes, and if we never take those missteps, sometimes valuable lessons are missed.

As a parent, one of the hardest things is to see your child headed for heartache, but at times the most powerful lessons are those that cause a fair amount of turmoil through firsthand experience. We can advise, warn the ones we love, but in the end, we are all imperfect, and being hurt and learning to forgive can be very meaningful. This idea is what inspired me to write Somewhere Between Black and White.



Somewhere Between Black and White is available from Amazon now

Monday, 3 June 2013

Cover Stars: The Bow Wow Club by Nicola May

 
This year I decided to start a Book Of The Month feature to give a special mention to the wonderful books I have read. So I thought why not celebrate wonderful book covers too?

They say don't judge a book by its cover but we all do, right?

Feel free to add your thoughts on the covers or even suggest your own 'cover stars'.
 
The Bow Wow Club
by Nicola May
 
I'm a huge fan of silhouette covers and I'm an even bigger fan of pink so this cover is perfect for me. My favourite part of the cover and the bit that drew me towards it are the leaves on the trees, creating a splash of colour amongst the sihouettes. But not only are the leaves colourful (and pink), they're in the shape of little hearts, which I love.
 
You can see my review of The Bow Wow Club here and you can click here to see all Cover Stars