Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween!

 
 
Happy Halloween! I hope you're all having a spooktacular day. I love Halloween as it's an excuse to lots of baking and crafts and have a bit of fun with the kids.
 
 
 
We've made our usual gingerbread biscuits and I made some sweet-filled pumpkins for the trick or treaters. When we went bowling, I suggested we made up (forced everyone to make up) Halloween-themed names for the scoreboard so I was Jenn O Lantern.
 

 
 
I also took part in the Spooktoberfest blog hop by writing a flash fiction piece (which you can see here) and you can see all my previous Halloween posts here
 


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Guest Post: Jayne-Marie Barker

Haunted! 
When I was a little girl I always wanted to write stories. You could say I was 'haunted' by a need to write, to twist and tangle words until they created an image. In actual fact, that's probably the wrong way around.... To find the words to describe your own imagination, yes, I think that's the best explanation.

People are always asking me where I get my ideas from but I can never find an answer to please them. In truth what happens is that my imagination works overtime, constantly. Even when I'm supposed to be sleeping, I find ideas popping into my mind. Some of my best moments of inspiration have erupted when I'm in bed, trying to go to sleep, or just waking up. Again, you could say I was 'haunted' by these thoughts but I find them rather reassuring. The day my mind ceases to function this way, I'll lose something precious, the ability to tell a good story.

Any published writer will tell you that it'ss not easy to win over the hearts of a publishing house. My first novel, 'Beneath The Daisies', was published in 2011. I was so excited when I signed the publishing contract, that I think I leapt to the ceiling. The plot runs over a duel timeline with diary entries from the 1930s' that take the reader on a journey towards a violent murder. In the modern day, the central character is unravelling the unsolved mystery, and finds herself threatened by an unknown hand claiming to know everything.

By the time the second novel was published in 2012, I had learnt a considerable amount about the publishing industry, and the world of commercial writing. This time around, I was better equipped to promote 'Distant Shadows', and had gained valuable experience in contacting with the reader in a variety of methods. Today, we are lucky to have an online world to aid communication. It truly is a wonderful tool for reaching people. For example, you're probably reading this on a screen now... It's funny how the world has changed so much in quite a short period of time. 'Distant Shadows' weaves the past and the present into one story of love under threat, a frightening stalker and murder. One shot in the dark in 1935, a tale of tangled love and a stalker in the fifties, and the police trying to solve an almost forgotten murder in the modern day. The link between the three timelines will keep the reader guessing until the very end.

'The Dancer's Ghost' is due for imminent release. I'm very excited about it as it represents a truly new piece of work. 'Beneath The Daisies', was first written four five years before it's publication and re-shaped three times into the final version. 'Distant Shadows', was redrafted twice and initially written at least ten years before publication. 'The Dancer's Ghost', I'm pleased to tell you, is completely fresh and from new thinking. I do hope you'll like it!

You'll find more information about the novels, myself and purchasing links on my website:
www.jaynemariebarker.com
In the meantime, a sneak preview for you....

The Dancer's Ghost - back cover
Where we come from can change everything.
When a baby is snatched the famous parents keep the tragedy secret, but this doesn't prevent Joyce Capelli from searching, attracting trouble at every turn. An anonymous writer claims to know everything, but it will cost Joyce more than she realises. When a shot is fired all she finds is an open window, and a room of photographs.
In the modern day Rebecca Houseman finds herself widowed, suffering persistent dreams, and threatened. What she doesn't know is why. When the unconventional DCI Allen says her husband's apparent natural causes was in fact murder, she wonders what he was trying to tell her in his final breath.
A stranger is watching the Houseman family, an unsettling familiarity that could change everything. As the attempts grow increasingly deadly, the inspector strives to solve the case, but can he crack the mystery before the assassin finds Rebecca?
Meanwhile, in the 1960s, Joyce's delight at finding her baby is tragically short lived. What could ink Rebecca Houseman and the young dancer's missing baby all those years ago?
HS ISBN 9781849633291



Pop along to the FREE 'The Dancer's Ghost' launch party on Thursday 7th November 2013 at Hitchin Library, Paynes Park, Hitchin, SG5 1EW. Doors open from 7pm. FREE feature cake and refreshments, book signing opportunity, talk and Q&A.


Looking forwards to seeing you there!

Jayne-Marie



My website: www.jaynemariebarker.com

website email: contact@jaynemariebarker.com

My own blog site: http://jaynemariebarker.blogspot.co.uk/?spref=tw

Twitter: @JayneMarieBarke

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jayne-Marie-Barker/143114655789739?ref=hl

Free newsletter: http://paper.li/JayneMarieBarke/1377204640

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

In October...

...I read:
 
 
  • The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway
  • Killer Queens by Rebecca Chance
  • Her Mother's Shadow by Diane Chamberlain
  • There's More To Life Than Cupcakes by Poppy Dolan
  • The Pleasures of Summer by Evie Hunter
  • The Flavours of Love by Rebecca Chance
 
... Revealed the covers of my novel, A Beginner's Guide To Salad and short story, A Beginner's Guide To Christmas
 
... Received the Shine On Award
 
... Took part in the There's More To Life Than Cupcakes blog tour
 
... had guest posts from Nigel Bird, Jody, Emma Louise, Zoe Miller and Jayne-Marie Barker
 
... took part in the Spooktoberfest blog hop
 
... and chose my Cover Star and Book of the Month
 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Spooktoberfest: A Halloween Short Story

 
 
Today, I'm taking part in Spooktoberfest. The idea is to write a flash fiction piece between 300 and 500 words, inspired by a selection of pictures and including 3 key words. More details here
 
I chose the staircase picture and the key words will be highlighted.
 
 


 
The concrete staircase was dark and narrow, enveloped by rough stone walls either side and the musty smell of years of neglect. Glancing up towards the heavy wooden attic door at the top of the staircase, Carrie felt a shiver, as though sensing something wretched had happened here.
 ‘Shall we see what’s up there?’
 Carrie turned to face her fiancé. Jason’s face was alive, his eyes bright and eager, a wide grin on his face. His grip on Carrie’s hand tightened and she feared he was about to drag her up the staircase against her will.
Should they venture up there? Who knew what lurked up there – spiders, rats, skeletons? Carrie gave herself a mental shake. Of course there weren’t any skeletons up there! Yes, the house was old and hadn’t been lived in for over a decade and the dark made it feel eerie, but Carrie was sure there was nothing untoward going on.
‘Let’s do it.’ Carrie attempted to mask her fear with a sunny smile but her hand tightened around Jason’s like a vice. Being so narrow, the pair had to climb the stairs in single file, Jason first and Carrie following. The smell and the dust were overwhelming so Carrie had to cover her mouth to prevent a coughing fit as they neared the heavy door.
‘Ready?’ Jason turned to Carrie, who gave an almost-nod of her head. She didn’t think she would ever be truly ready to step into the dark depths, despite the powerful torch they each held. A small squeak escaped Carrie’s lips as Jason let go of her hand to reach for the brass handle. ‘It’ll be ok, babe. I’ll protect you from the ghouls.’ Jason placed the torch under his chin, the beam creating spooky features on his face.
‘Not funny.’ Carrie gave Jason a nudge, though there was a smile on her face. ‘Let’s just get in there and then we can go back downstairs and let Mr Raven know what we think.’
Jason pushed the door. It stuck in its frame for a moment before it creaked open. Two torchlights shone into the room, illuminating the worn, grubby carpet covering the floor and the cobwebs draped across every available surface. The room needed a good scrub and the light fitting needed replacing but it had huge potential.
‘What are you thinking? Huge master bedroom with en suite?’ Jason asked as they stepped fully into the room.
Carrie turned in a circle, aiming the beam of her torch into every nook and cranny. A smile crept across her face. She was thinking nursery, with a wooden rocking horse and beautiful crib.
‘I’m thinking this house will be perfect for us.’
‘Shall we go and let Mr Raven know we want to put an offer in?’
By the time they’d found the estate agent down in the kitchen, Carrie had already mentally picked out the lighting and colour scheme to brighten the staircase.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Book Of The Month - October

 
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.


 
October
 

 
Every little girl grows up dreaming of marrying a prince - but what if the fairytale turns into a right royal nightmare?
Scheming kings, killer queens, evil princes, far-from innocent princesses, secret weddings, runaway brides, illicit affairs, death plots and lashings of steamy sex - it's just another day in the lives of the world's most powerful families. Find out what REALLY goes on behind closed palace doors…
 
 
I only discovered Rebecca Chance's books late last year but I've quickly become a fan. Rebecca's books are full of fantastic characters, brilliant plots and some very naughty scenes and Killer Queens is another example of this. The book tells the story of three women all connected to royalty. Belinda was once married to Prince Oliver, second in line to throne, but faked her own death to save herself. Engaged to Belinda's son, Prince Hugo, Chloe doesn't feel she really fits in with royal life but she loves her fiancee. Olympian Lori is swept off her feet by King Joachin of Herzoslovakia and is delighted when he proposes but marrying a king has its problems.
 
I loved Killer Queens and was sad to say goodbye to its wonderful characters.
 
You can see my full review here or see all 'Books of the Month' here
 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

There's More To Life Than Cupcakes by Poppy Dolan

 
 
Keen baker Ellie Redford has reached her thirties, bringing with it the question when are you going to have a baby? Suddenly everyone is interested in Ellie's womb; her mum, friends, mother-in-law and husband, Pete. It's no longer a question of if they have a baby but when but Ellie isn't ready for her life to change so drastically and she starts to panic that she never will be.
 
There's More To Life Than Cupcakes is a humorous tale of a woman fighting against her biological clock as it begins to tick louder and louder. Ellie is a brilliant, bubbly character who doesn't always make the right choices but is doing her best to cope with the pressures from both her home life and work. Ellie's life is surrounded by baked goods as she enjoys baking at home as well as working for Crumbs magazine. She then also joins a baking class, where she meets the flirtatious Joe, so the book is filled with yummy cakes as well as laugh-out-loud moments and wonderful characters.
 
There's More To Life Than Cupcakes is the perfect example of what chick lit should be; light and fun with memorable characters. Poppy Dolan's writing style and voice is exactly what I'm looking for in a book and I look forward to reading more from her.
 


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Guest Post: Zoe Miller


Hi everyone, I’m delighted to be a guest on Jennifer’s blog today.  Here is a little bit about me, my latest book, and the books that inspired me to write.

About Zoë:

I have always wanted to write, scribbling away since childhood. My publishing journey started with short stories and freelance journalism, but it took me a while to find time and space to finally knuckle down to write The Novel. It was a dream come true to be published and it still feels like a wonderful dream when I see my books on the shelves in book stores.

I like to write escapist reads about secrets and intrigue, hopes and fears, family drama, love and redemption, all combined with a sprinkling of glamour and sizzle.

My latest book:

The Compromise is about secrets and lies that threaten a group of friends caught up in political drama, forbidden passion and love. It opens with Juliet, finding herself trapped on a cliff, clinging to life as the night deepens around her and scenes from her past flash in front of her as she tries to work out if she fell or was pushed...

The inspiration behind it:

I started with the idea of three friends who were teenagers back in the early 70’s, when life was very different for women in Irish society. Quite by chance, the rebellious Juliet met the loyal and loveable Rebecca and her sister, the shy reserved Rose. It was a fateful encounter that resulted in Juliet finding out the consequences for rebelling too much, anxious-to-please Rose having her quiet life threatened and Rebecca standing by helplessly while her loved ones put their happiness at risk. One of the themes of the book is how far can you compromise, without losing the true essence of yourself.

My favourite reads:

The books that inspired me to write were the books of my childhood, in particular the entire Enid Blyton catalogue, which I devoured. If you want to write, you must read as widely as possible, so even though I’m busy juggling the day job with novel writing, I try to have 2-3 books on the go. I read bestselling authors in my own genre along with crime and suspense. My favourite book in the last year was Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes.

I love to hear from readers and you can contact me as follows:


Twitter: @zoemillerauthor

Facebook: /zoemillerauthor
 

Thanks again to Jennifer for the opportunity of featuring on her blog!

Zoë x

Monday, 21 October 2013

Presenting... A Beginner's Guide To Christmas


 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18798650-a-beginner-s-guide-to-christmas
 
Festive short story

Ruth usually spends Christmas curled up on her parents’ sofa, watching feel-good movies whilst being fed festive food and drink until she can no longer move. But Ruth’s perfect Christmas is shattered when her mum receives a DIY-induced injury and Ruth is forced to take over the preparations.
 
Shopping. Cooking. A house full of hyped-up kids.
Christmas may no longer be the most wonderful time of the year.
Available now. Download for FREE from
Smashwords here or Barnes & Noble here
If you've read A Beginner's Guide To Christmas, you can leave a review on Goodreads here


Book Extras: 

A Beginner's Guide To Christmas Quiz
Ruth's Christmas Playlist
Gingerbread Snowmen Recipe
 
 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Killer Queens by Rebecca Chance


Twenty years ago, fearing for her life, Princess Belinda faked her own death, leaving behind her two children, Prince Hugo and Princess Sophie. Nobody could know that she was still alive, so Belinda has hidden away with her lover, Rahim, watching her children grow from a distance via newspaper reports and articles.

Now grown, Prince Hugo is about to marry. His fiancee Chloe doesn't really fit in with royalty and the upper class but she loves Hugo too much to let him go, despite her future sister-in-law's efforts.

Olympic medallist Lori also doesn't fit in with royalty. After growing up in a small New York State town, she made it into the American volleyball Olympic team. After one of her games, she meets VIP spectator Joachim, the ruling King of Herzoslovakia. Joachim is charmingly old fashioned and sweeps Lori off her feet before proposing to her after a magical whirlwind romance. Lori can't wait to marry Joachim and become queen of the nation that has taken her under its wing, to start a family with her husband and produce beautiful heirs. But Lori soon realises that marrying King Joachim may not be as wonderful as the fairy tales make out.

I'd been looking forward to reading Killer Queens as I loved Rebecca Chance's Killer Heels and Bad Angels last year and I wasn't disappointed. It took me a little while to get into the book as I was introduced to all the characters but I was soon hooked. The book is full of big characters, from straight-talking Lauren (who was my favourite character), to the intimidating Prince Oliver and the wild-child antics of Princess Sophie and her cousin, Toby. I loved the relationship between Chloe and Hugo, which, despite Hugo being third in line to throne, was very down to earth and honest. Chloe has grown up in a secure, loving family and it was nice to see Hugo slotting into their life with such ease. I adored Chloe's parents, who I thought were hilarious, and would have liked to have seen a bit of more of them in the book.

Contrasting with Hugo and Chloe's easy relationship is Lori and Joachim, whose relationship mirrors Belinda and Prince Oliver's troubled marriage much more. Lori finds it difficult to fit into Joachim's life, which is the complete opposite to her own small-town lifestyle and I felt for her as she struggles with the changes.

I thought Killer Queens was a fantastic book, full of wit and Rebecca Chance's usual naughtiness and I was sorry to have to say goodbye to the wonderful characters.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Blog Tour: There's More To Life Than Cupcakes

Today I am pleased to be taking part in the There's More To Life Than Cupcakes blog tour, with a Q&A with the author, Poppy Dolan.



 
Can you tell us about your book?
There’s More to Life Than Cupcakes is about Ellie Redford. She feels like the whole world is telling her she’s ready to have a baby – her husband, her mum, her friends, her colleagues – but inside she’s not convinced. She’s not mature enough to have a credit card, let alone a baby. She knows she has to sort her head out but somehow finds herself signing up for a baking class instead and finds herself distracted by Victoria Sponge, chocolate brownies and the rather flirty Joe…
 
What was your inspiration for There's More To Life Than Cupcakes?
I’ve been married for a few years now and any time I stick to lemonade at the pub or say I feel tired, I can see the eyebrows of my friends and family raising – they’re on the look out for a sign I might be pregnant! It’s all well-meaning but also a bit scary as I’m not sure I’m ready for that stage of my life to start just yet. So I suppose I’ve used Ellie’s journey as a way to work through how I feel about these things. Also, it felt like a side of the whole baby topic that not a lot of people cover – the pressures and worries and nerves of would-be mums. So I hope other women get where I’m coming from.
 
What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?
My first book was self-published – The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp. And I had a great time self-publishing: getting to know so many other indie authors online, getting feedback from readers, actually selling some copies (which was unexpected but amazing!). But now I’m with Novelicious Books as my publisher I’m having so much more fun – I get great editing and proofreading, they have designed me some gorrrrrrrgeous covers, given me so much support along the way and a great PR campaign. Plus I know there is always someone there to share my worries or triumphs with. So signing with them is definitely my high point so far.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write. Write. Rewrite. No one gets it down perfectly the first time – not even authors that have ten books under their belt, from what I’ve read in their interviews. Sometimes the last thing you want to do after a hard day is lock yourself away at a laptop (being with mates at the pub would be preferable, any day of the week) but that’s the only way to get those words down on the page. Don’t think it’s a bed of roses – I’ve had more downs than ups but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Each knock makes you that much better at bouncing back up!
 
What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
Ooooh, great question! I think it must have been a Point Horror book. I can remember taking some birthday money to WH Smiths and buying one of those creepy little reads with the foil on the title. If I remember correctly, it was about a girl who meets a little girl ghost. She starts out as a friendly ghost but soon turns evil… Spooky stuff!

What was the last book you read?
I’m currently reading my Novelicious buddy Rosie Blake’s first book, How to Get a (Love) Life. I’ve been so busy editing like crazy on my own book, I’ve only just been able to rejoin the real world and read this for sheer pleasure. She is one funny broad.
 
Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a novella right now, which is something a bit different for me. I’m adjusting to the shorter length but loving it! It’s about office romances, unrequited love … and Jared Lato. It’s been fun so far and not just because I’ve been doing Google Images searches.


There's More To Life Than Cupcakes is available now here and you can find out more about Poppy and her books at

Website: http://poppydolan.com/
Twitter: @PoppyDWriter
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/poppydolanbooks
Novelicious Author Page: http://www.noveliciousbooks.com/#!poppy-dolan/c12xu

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Guest Post: Emma Louise

Hello to all of Jennifer’s reader,
 

I’m Emma Louise from www.emmaiswriting.wordpress.com

and I’m honoured to be guest posting on Jennifer’s blog today. Since I was little, I’ve always had a passion for reading, but then again, so have all the other book bloggers in the world.

So, who exactly am I?
 
Well, I’m Emma Louise. But you can call me Emma, Em or the future Mrs. Daniel Radcliffe. Whatever takes your fancy...

I’m twenty-two years old

I have a Bachelor Honours Degree In Creative Writing and Film Studies, and I also have a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. I’ve been called a smarty pants in the past, but honestly, I’m not! I can’t add up for toffee, nor do I know anything about Geography. I just know how to use my imagination.

I collect key rings and I have done for a couple of years now.

I’m a book blogger over at www.emmaiswriting.wordpress.com

I’m a survivor of panic attacks and anxiety

I fancy the pants off Daniel Radcliffe and I’ll always believe in the magic that is Harry Potter

Oh, and I love a good cup of tea!

Today, I will be sharing my Top Ten Books:
 
1. Harry Potter by J.K Rowling
- I realise that there are seven Harry Potter books, but I love them all. When I was seven years old, the first book was released. I was only in Primary School at the time of the first release and nobody had any idea of who J.K Rowling or who this magical boy was. When I turned eleven years old, I entered High School. Harry Potter saved me from the bullies. I would shut myself away and read about Hogwarts. I was jealous of the friendship that Harry, Ron and Hermione all had. I wanted friends like that! When the films were released, my Grandad took me to the cinema and we watched every single one together. It truly was a magical experience. When The Order Of The Phoenix went into production, I found out about the director David Yates and it turns out, he’s from my home town! For me, I’ll always love Harry Potter. The story saved my life.
 
2. Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck
- Without Lennie and George, I wouldn’t have got a B in my English Literature GCSE. I highly recommend this book to anyone! It’s one which you can read over and over and over again. From the themes, to the characters, to the heart breaking ending, I couldn’t have chosen a better book to study.
 
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Just like Of Mice And Men, I studied this during my education. This time it was for my A Level in English Literature. At first, I didn’t like it. I thought Nick was too quiet, too in his own skin and I wanted a character that popped up on the page. Then, we met Gatsby. Since seeing the 2013 film adaptation, every time I type Gatsby or think of him, the very handsome Leonardo DiCaprio struts his cheeky backside into my mind. So why do I love the book so much? Two words: Timeless Classic. I keep meaning to read it again, but I never seem to get the chance anymore.
 
4. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
- This is my favourite Nicholas Sparks novel out of them all. Before you ask, yes, I have read them all and I also own all the film adaptations. Sparks Fan for life! This genius of an author is genius! I know its bad literature to use the same word in the same sentence, but sod it, I just did. He is a genius in my eyes and I will never tire of his beautiful work. The Choice is my favourite because it’s fresh, it’s brand new, it’s beautiful, it’s realistic and most of all, I fell in love with the love story.
 
5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- I can’t quite remember how I came across The Help, but I’m glad I did. Wow. This is by far, the most powerful novel I have ever read. I’m very picky when it comes to historical fiction, but this, well, I’m glad I read it. The racism, the literature, the friendships all spoke out. My mum read this novel shortly after I did and she couldn’t believe how powerful it was. It’s one that every book blogger should have in their book shelf.
 
6. The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon
- Paige Toon is my favourite British romance author. I came across her novel whilst browsing in Tesco one afternoon. I bought it because the blurb and the front cover spoke to me. You know when you’re looking at books in Waterstones or a supermarket? And there are certain ones which just seem to speak to you? Well, this was one of those! I love Paige, she’s one of my writing idols and I had the pleasure of meeting her in June 2013 at a Manchester book signing of hers. She’s such a warm hearted person and she takes care in knowing all of her readers. The Longest Holiday is her latest novel and it was the first of hers which I read and I couldn’t wait to read the rest of her work. Guess what I did? I bought the rest of her books! All romance book lovers should read Paige Toon. In this particular novel, I fell head over heels in love with Leo. I can’t say anything more, you have to read it to understand who I’m talking about and why I love him.
 
7. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
- I seem to read a lot of novels which have a film adaptation; it may have something to do with the fact that I did a Creative Writing and Film Studies degree. I’m not sure... I honestly don’t know what to say about this novel apart from the obvious: I love it. It wasn’t an easy read, at times I began quite emotional and very attached to the main character Pat, but I ploughed through and I didn’t want it to end. The narrative unravelled at the right moments and I was shocked by the turn of events. It was a very powerful novel.
 
8. The Naughty Girls Book Club by Sophie Hart
- Sophie is a friend of mine who I speak to quite often on Twitter, so when I heard that she had published a novel, which I kept seeing everywhere, I knew I had to purchase it and read it. If you’re looking for a light hearted romance novel, this is one for you. It’s made me want to join a book club!
 
9. It’s Raining Men by Milly Johnson
- This was the first novel of Milly’s which I read and I can’t believe I haven’t read her work before. Where have I been? Walking round with my eyes and ears closed? Milly is a superb writer who knows her characters inside out and that was certainly shown in the narrative. All I wanted to do was go out and dance in the rain in my leotard. Yes, I do have one. I was a ballerina back in the day!
 
10. Shipwrecked by Siobham Curham
- Siobhan just happens to be a good friend of mine! When we were talking one day on Twitter, I asked her about her new novel, Shipwrecked. She sent me a signed copy along with a cute little card. I was honest with her, it didn’t sound like my type of novel, but I read it anyway. All I have to say is that I can’t wait for books two and three! It’s a trilogy you see and I’m aching for more! Siobhan was very cheeky and she text me the title of the second novel which made me sequel in the middle of the town centre (oops!). I’ve also read the prologue which has just made me even more excited to read the second one! I can’t wait for the release date!
 
Well, that’s my top ten. I’ve read some truly amazing books in my twenty-two years, but so far, those are my top ten favourites. If you’re a fan of romance or chick-lit books, hop over to my book blog:

www.emmaiswriting.wordpress.com where you can find reviews, author interviews, guest blogs, a very long TBR list, recommendations, my 2013 schedule and a list of more book blogs. Or if you just fancy a chat, I can be found on Twitter @EmmaIsWriting
 
Many thanks to the wonderful Jennifer for having me on her blog today! 
Emma Louise xx

Monday, 14 October 2013

Presenting... A Beginner's Guide To Salad

  
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20410405-a-beginner-s-guide-to-salad
 

Ruth loves nothing more than curling up in front of the telly with a family-sized bar of chocolate. She doesn’t do diets and she certainly doesn’t do exercise. But all that changes when she’s invited to her school reunion.

 

Bullied at school for being overweight, Ruth’s first reaction is to rip the invitation into a million pieces. But then Ruth hatches a plan. She’ll lose the weight and arrive at the reunion looking gorgeous and glamorous, leaving her old classmates in awe. Especially her former crush, Zack O’Connell.

With the help of her friends and a new, unbelievably hot colleague, Ruth begins her transformation. With six months until the reunion, losing weight will be a piece of cake, right?


Available now. Download from
Amazon or Smashwords
If you've read the book, you can leave a review here 


You can take a sneak peek at the first couple of chapters here 

 






Book Extras:



  Click here to see all Book Extras
 
 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Guest Post: Jody

Chick Lit 101: The Classics



As a genre, chick lit has been around since the late 1990’s and since then it has developed into a favourite type of books for many girls and women around the world. Often compared to the widely popular film genre of romantic comedies, or ‘chick flicks’ (think of classics such as ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘Sleepless in Seattle’), a chick lit novel usually focuses on a female protagonist and her relationships with her family, friends and, most of the time, possible love interests. Almost all chick lit novels have a romantic element in them (Prince Charming is usually just around the corner), and a well-deserved happy ending for the heroine. Like any other genre, chick lit has its classics; the novels every true chick lit fan must have read (and if not, you’re definitely missing out on something!). So, without further ado, sit down with a cup of tea (and preferably a bit of chocolate, some cookies, or a good old cupcake, in true chick lit style) and read through this quick version of Chick Lit 101 to see whether you’ve managed to pick up all the required reading the past couple of years!


The Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella

One of the most well-known and loved heroines of chick lit has to be Becky Bloomwood. In 2000, the first part of the series was published, ‘The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic’, and it became an instant hit. Throughout the six novels we follow Becky on her life adventures, which include a lot of shopping! Through the grapevine I’ve heard we can expect more Becky stories in the future, so make sure you are definitely not missing out on this fabulous series!

 
'P.S. I Love You’ by Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern has established herself as one of the top chick-lit authors in the UK over the past couple of years. Her novels have a distinctive magical feel to them, and can be described as modern-day fairy tales. It all started with the book ‘P.S. I Love You’, which is a real tearjerker! Due to a terrible illness, Holly’s husband Gerry dies and Holly is left alone, completely heartbroken. However, Gerry has left his wife a series of letters, to help her get back on her feet and start living again. A wonderful novel, and one of my personal favourites.
 


The ‘I Heart...’ series by Lindsey Kelk

Lindsey Kelk’s ‘I Heart...’ series encompasses what chick lit is all about: a great heroine every female can relate to one way or another, fabulous locations, a handsome love interest, great friendships, and almost too many laugh-out-loud situations. I personally can’t get enough of Angela Clark’s adventures. This series is, without a doubt, a definite must-read for any chick-lit fan out there!

 
‘Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe’ by Jenny Colgan

Almost every chick-lit fan loves yummy treats. Chocolate, cookies, pie, and of course, cupcakes! I had to add one of the numerous novels that focus on the delicious art of baking, and it had to be ‘Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe’ by the amazing Jenny Colgan, a household name within the world of chick-lit. This novel tells the story of Issy Randall, who can create the most stunning cakes, and decides to seize the moment and open up her own cupcake cafe. Will this be a recipe for disaster or for success?

 
'The Devil Wears Prada’ by Lauren Weisberger
 
Of course chick-lit is not just about finding love, eating cupcakes, and going through the motions with your girlfriends. It’s also about women and their careers, being independent, and working hard to achieve something. Well, if you’re looking for powerful women, look no further than ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, a brilliant read which will make you think twice about whether your own boss might not be so bad after all...
 

‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ by Helen Fielding
And then there’s that one heroine almost all women are familiar with, whether it’s because they’ve read the novels or seen the films (with both Hugh Grant and Colin Firth), Bridget Jones. Once again, a female protagonist which we all can relate to, whether it’s the many dieting attempts or the embarrassing family situations. A third book will be released this month, and it has already caused a bit of commotion... I’m personally quite curious to find out what Bridget will be up to this time around!
 
 
Of course this is just a start of everything the world of chick lit has to offer. Think of fabulous authors like Marian Keyes, Lisa Jewell, Emily Giffin, and Jane Green, who have turned chick lit into what it is today with their numerous novels, and new voices that are added to the mix every single day. No need to explain that I could possibly come up with an entire university course about this amazing genre, and these are just a few of many wonderful novels. Which chick lit novels do you definitely see as classics any fan should have read? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions!



Jody
 
 
Twitter: @happyspoonful
 
E-mail: spoonfulofhappyendings@gmail.com




Monday, 7 October 2013

Cover Stars: Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream by Abby Clements

 
 
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'.
 
 
Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream
 

 
 
It wasn't so long ago that I was writing a Cover Stars post about Abby Clement's previous novel, Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop. I loved the summery cover and I love the new, autumn-themed cover for Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream. The covers are similar in style, which I love, but this one captures the essence of autumn, through the images and the colours used.
 
 
Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream is available now and you can see my review here
 
Click here to see all Cover Stars
 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

 
 
Kate is a busy litiagtion lawyer as well as a single mother to fifteen-year-old Amelia. She is in an important meeting one morning when she recieves a phone call from Amelia's school. Amelia has been suspended from school and Kate must pick her up as soon as possible.
 
Kate rushes to the school but is held up. By the time she arrives at the school, Amelia is dead, having jumped from the school roof.
 
Kate is devastated. She'd always done her best to juggle her demanding job and caring for her daughter and now feels responsible for Amelia's death. She feels she should have known that Amelia was feeling so low she would choose to kill herself but in the coming weeks, Kate discovers she had little idea of what was going on in her daughter's life.
 
Reconstructing Amelia is told from both Kate and Amelia's point of view, switching between present day and the past, and includes text messages, emails and Facebook updates. It took a while for me to really get into the book. I was intrigued from the beginning but it wasn't until about a third of the way through that I became hooked and was desperate to find out what had happened to Amelia and why she ended up on the roof.
 
I felt for Kate as she began to delve into Amelia's past and discovered a whole new side to her daughter's life that she never had a clue about. I admired her strength as she ploughed on, despite how difficult it must have been for her to uncover some upsetting facts.
 
I also felt for Amelia too, knowing what fate lay ahead for her. We know that she ends up dead but we're not entirely sure what happened or why until the end. Although it took me a while to get into the book, I did become gripped and was kept guessing throughout. I thought it was a great book, full of layer upon layer of mystery.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Guest Post: Nigel Bird

It might seem odd for an author who has built his reputation in the area of crime and noir fiction to turn his hand to romance, but it’s happened.

As a crime writer, my work has appeared in 2 volumes of Mammoth’s Best British Crime collections. I’ve been in anthologies alongside the likes of George Pelecanos (of The Wire) and Kate Atkinson and my novella ‘Smoke’, published by Blasted Heath, has the rubber stamp of Ian Rankin on the cover. After such successes, a warm and cosy story may not have seemed on the cards.

The truth is that ‘How To Choose A Sweetheart’ was conceived and written about 20 years ago now, so the romance actually came first.

At the time of the idea, my life was in one of its lower points of the cycle. My marriage had broken down and I’d found solace in the bookies. Betting on horses was practically all I did when I wasn’t teaching and so I certainly didn’t sparkle in conversation. I didn’t really notice just how boring I’d become until a young lady walked into my life and bowled me over. It was one of those bolts-from-the blue that happens from time-to-time and it came when I least expected it.

As fate would have it, we were drawn together for a wonderful evening one summer and spent our time chatting on a balcony in Hampstead. It was a little more up-market than I was used to and I kind of liked it that way. The only problem was I had nothing to say. What had won the 4:30 at Epsom didn’t seem at all important all of a sudden.

The sad thing for me is that we didn’t click. It might be that I just couldn’t shake off the rust from my conversation skills in time.

It did the job for me though. Shook me out of my despair.

Not long after that, I was on my way to place my bets and decided to go into an Indian restaurant instead. I was the only one there and it was super-embarrassing, but I had something to show for my money and quite enjoyed that feeling.

The idea for ‘Sweetheart’ came to me a couple of days later when I was repainting my flat (repainting things has often be a way of trying to freshen life up and so there have been many shades on my walls over the years).

Imagine a single parent advertising for a piano-teacher for her child and for a young man to take up the position in order to meet the mum even though he couldn’t play a note.

I bought myself an electric typewriter and started bashing at the keys. It was all I did for months.

In my mind, I thought I was writing a script that would allow me to move out of the classroom and to be writing successful romantic-comedy movies of the kind they made before colour film was in use. I had stars like James Stewart and Veronica Lake in mind as I typed and visions of becoming a new Woody Allen.

When the final dot was put on my screenplay, I handed it over to a friend of mine who was working his way up in the film-making world. I’m not sure whether he hated it or was just very careless, but he told me he’d lost it and that was as far as I ever got with it.

‘Sweetheart’ has been niggling away at me ever since. I’ve tried to block it out, but it’s kept calling and I eventually decided to listen earlier this year.

Taking the script I’d written and turning it into a novel was no easy job. Thankfully, I’ve improved as a writer since my first effort and was able to spot some of my flaws. I actually think I managed to do the concept justice and believe I’ve put out something that has what a romantic comedy is supposed to have – romance and comedy.

It reminds me that I started out as a writer rather than as someone looking to focus on a particular genre. That desire to tell stories, not matter what type they might be, has never left me.

I hope that this book will offer readers a number of things - a cracking read; an entertaining time; some laughs; some tears; a dose of escapism; and, above all, a little hope.

A recent review of the book suggested that it had the feel of the film ‘Notting Hill’. Given the fact that I’d conceived this as a movie in the first place, you can imagine how much that comment meant to me. If it’s half as wonderful as ‘Notting Hill’ I can feel satisfied.

I’ve enjoyed working on this story so much that I may just put my mind to another romance if my muse allows.

Should you ever get around to reading ‘Sweetheart’, I’d love to hear from you whether you enjoyed it or not, so please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.


 






How To Choose A Sweetheart is available on Kindle and paperback