Tuesday 30 June 2015

Book of the Month: June

Love Notes For Freddie
by Eva Rice
Marnie FitzPatrick is a reclusive sixth-former from Hertfordshire with a dysfunctional family, a penchant for Pythagoras' Theorem and an addiction to doughnuts and gin. Julie Crewe is a disillusioned maths teacher who lives vicariously through the girls she teaches, yet who once danced barefoot through Central Park with a man called Jo she has never been able to forget.

This is the story of what happened in the summer of 1969, when the sun burned down on the roof of the Shredded Wheat factory, and a boy called Freddie Friday danced to the records he had stolen. This is about first love, and last love, and all the strange stuff in between. This is what happens when three people are bound together by something that can't be calculated or explained by any equation.

This is what happened when they saw the open door.
*     *     *     *     *
Set in the late 1960s, Love Notes For Freddie tells the story of three people brought together through dance. Although the book has a gentle, slow-moving feel, the story is a powerful cocktail of first love, heartbreak and reaching for your dreams.
Packed with character, nostralgia and intrigue, I thought Love Notes For Freddie was a fantastic read. My full review will be on Novelicious soon.
Click here to see all Books of the Month

Monday 29 June 2015

Greedily Yours: Episode 1 - Taste Test by Emma Hamilton

Food blogger Mia Maxwell is a bit fed up with her relationship with city banker, Paul. They don't spend a great deal of time together and the spice has vanished from their love life. When Mia travels to Cornwall for the weekend to run an annual food festival, she meets Tom, a disgruntled local who isn't at all happy at his town being invaded by Londoners for the weekend.
Greedily Yours is an eight-part series, with Taste Test being the first instalment. I thought the beginning was a little slow, but I suppose this is setting up the series rather than focusing on just this one part. Mia is quite a likable character and I loved her adoration of food. She likes food in most forms and doesn't mind telling everybody about it! I also liked her best friend, Lizzie who runs a cupcake café (who wouldn't like some who runs a cupcake café???) as she was often the voice of reason, particularly when it comes to Mia's relationship with Paul.
The descriptions in this novella are great, especially the ones centred on food. I really want to go to the food festival in Cornwall just for the fish and chips! Greedily Yours is a fun, food-tastic tale that is set out in bite-sized portions. It's a perfect read if you have a free afternoon to gobble it up all in one go. There are also some bonus recipes of some of the food from the novella, so if the descriptions leave your mouth watering, you can have a go at making them yourself!

Friday 26 June 2015

Coming Soon: My Summer Reads 2015

Last year, I ran a My Summer Reads feature throughout July and August, celebrating all things summer reading-related, from summer reading lists to favourite summery covers - and I'm going to be doing the same this year!
Coming Up This Year
My Summer Reads will begin next Friday, with a giveaway here on the blog. Look out for giveaways on Twitter and Facebook over the next few weeks too (you can find me on Twitter here and Facebook here)
I'll also be sharing my summer reading list and will be posting reviews and other summer-reading posts
Join In
Last year I was lucky enough to have some other bookish people joining in and I'm hoping others will this year - I'd love to know what you're planning to read this summer or what your favourite summery covers are (there are some GORGEOUS ones out there).
If you'd like to take part, email me at jenniferjoycewrites@gmail.com with your piece. Here are some ideas for you, but feel free to be creative - as long as it's summer reading-themed, I'm happy!
  • Your summer reading list
  • The book you're most looking forward to getting stuck into this summer
  • Your favourite place to read during the warmer months
  • Top 5 (or even 10) summer reads or summery covers
  • What you look for in a summer read
You can also see all previous My Summer Reads posts here
Remember to include any images or links to you and your social media you'd like included in the post
If you're an author with a summery book out, I'd love to hear from you too! Why not tell us your inspiration for the book? O any research you did?
I'm looking forward to getting stuck into my summer reading list this year - and shouting about the books I love!

Thursday 25 June 2015

Blog Tour: Greedily Yours by Emma Hamilton

Today I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour of Greedily Yours with a guest post from the author, Emma Hamilton.

The joy of picking blackberries

Foraging wasn’t a ‘thing’ when I was little but I still loved picking fruit from the hedgerows and farms in Essex during the summer and early autumn and those experiences perhaps helped me with Tom’s enthusiasm for ‘Manna from the hedgerows’. In fact, my memories of fruit picking go hand in hand with memories of my childhood -those hazy summer weekends in June or July or August in the late seventies and early eighties. I’d be dressed in some old clothes, shorts and T-shirt most likely and driven out in a rickety old VW with scratchy wool seats; my brothers by my side. The metal of the seatbelt buckle would have heated up and would be burning through my thin cotton clothes as the engine chugged and we headed out of London towards Essex. I still remember the smell of those plastic baby / small child seats, the ones where your legs would get stuck to the plastic as the temperature increased and tempers frayed. The back of the van would be full of shallow plastic trays and punnets still stained with last year’s raspberries and strawberries. Finally, we’d arrive at the farm and we’d fan out, armed with punnets, trays and baskets to get picking. My favourites were the strawberries and raspberries, it was only when I was older that I could be persuaded to brave the sour thorns of the gooseberries. Blackcurrants and redcurrants were OK but more fiddly and less juicy to eat as you picked. Sitting in the strawberry patches, the straw poking through my sandals, bees buzzing and insects slowly crawling over the humped earth I’d pick and eat, eat and pick; Tell-tale red juice splodges appearing periodically on my T-shirt when I forgot that I was meant to be filling the punnet and instead popped the choicest specimens straight into my mouth. At the end of the day, we’d head for home, a few insects buzzing around the back where the fruit trays were giving off a sweet warm aroma, a taste of the jam, fools, cakes and compotes to come. For days later, my mum would be busy boiling, bubbling and transforming the trays of fruit into delights to last us into autumn.

When I became a student, the joy of finding some unexpected blackberries for free in a hedgerow was even better. Blackberry crumble, blackberry compote, blackberry cupcakes or an autumnal Pavlova would follow as I picked, washed, cooked and hummed, happy at such a bounty from very little effort. As I was writing the first book last summer, the hedgerows in Cornwall where we holidayed were full of blackberries. I went out every evening with some bowls from the cottage and plundered, returning home with salty hair and purple stained fingers and bowl full of blackberries. I added peaches, pears and apples, some flaked almonds, and a crumble of flour, butter and more almonds, or sometimes just ground almond and butter and voila, a delicious blackberry and apple crumble to reheat you after a day spent surfing or walking along the windy clifftops of my favourite county in England.

Foraging like this makes me happy, it conjures up the simplicity of childhood, the happiness of transformation and the comfort of home cooking. In a world that sometimes feels like it’s speeding up, where almost everything can be obtained at the touch of a button, going back to nature, even for a city girl who can’t recognise half of the plants and flowers in the woodland, blackberry picking is easy, delightful, fun and delicious; and what could be better in life than that?

Greedily Yours,

Emma Hamilton

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Guest Post: Suz Korb

Exclusive Interview With Stella Andromeda Sunne
as interviewed by Ethel; an OAP turned age 18 again

Ethel: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Stella. As you know we could be gambling in Las Vegas right now, but the readers want to know!

Stella: No problem, Ethel. Thanks for having me! And you can’t gamble in Vegas anymore, you’re only my age thanks to melding with that alien Xygon and him de-aging you in less than thirty seconds flat.

Ethel: Yes well I know where we can get some fake IDs, but that’s beside the point…

Stella: I beg to differ. Where can we get these fake IDs like right now?!

Ethel: Seriously, Stella! Concentrate.

Stella: Okay.

Ethel: Now, for the first question. This is from a reader who heard we were doing this interview from on board the International Space Station and was well jel she couldn’t join us in outer-space. She asks what it’s like kissing the Xygon King in zero gravity.

Stella: Good question! What’s the reader’s name?

Ethel: Oh yes sorry, she goes by @FlashGordina online.

Stella: Oo! I like that name. Okay so yeah it’s kinda great kissing someone as hot as Zar in outerspace, but trying to walk in zero gravity isn’t easy I’ll tell ya! And Zar’s lucky, he just uses his tentacles for everything, including kissing! It’s amazing being wrapped up in his appendages while he smooches me without getting me pregnant in any way whatsoever.

Ethel: You do know how the birds and the bees thing works, right Stella?

Stella: Yeah, why? I’m just saying, Brux got me up the duff without even a kiss, remember?

Ethel: Yes, I remember. Brux is hot. I wish he’d impregnate me.

Stella: You wouldn’t like it.

Ethel: Why not?

Stella: Because becoming a parent requires great responsibility!

Ethel: You didn’t have a baby, Stella.

Stella: I know, but still. You can’t know what it’s like to be a parent…

Ethel: I’m a grandmother of six.

Stella: … in outer space. Let me finish what I was going to say next time.

Ethel: Anyway! Onto the next question. @KingLoq of Ubzervon 4 wants to know if you’ll become his queen…

Stella: Next question! I already have two royal husbands. I don’t need another.

Ethel: @51183422222 is offering laser gun shooting lessons on planet 666 if you’re interested please contact it via wormhole anti-matter mail.

Stella: Planet 666? Where’s that? Hell? No thanks! Freaky.

Ethel: Well that’s it then!

Stella: That’s it? Then what are all these other pages?

Ethel: Stella no! Oh great. Now there’s papers floating all round the ISS cabin. They’re never going to let us interview in space again and you know Jax isn’t in our quadrant of the galaxy until he reverses time…

Thank you for joining Ethel and Stella on their automatically computer transcribed interview. It sort of went downhill in the end there. Sorry about that. Stella isn’t one for sitting still, she’s been on intergalactic space adventures, what do you expect?! And if you want to find out more on Stella’s cosmic journeys, read her book by me: Superstellar; available now.

Love from,

Suz Korb xx


If you would like to appear here on the blog via a guest post, email me at jenniferjoycewrites@gmail.com
More details here

Monday 22 June 2015

#AmWriting Through The Slump

For Book 4, I set myself a target of writing 10,000 words per week. All was going well and I was reaching my target each week - until the inevitable happened as I approached 40,000 words: The Slump.

The Slump is an evil little sod. It doesn't matter if you've planned out the whole book (which I haven't this time) or have the story set in your head. If The Slump hits you, those words aren't coming out in a hurry.

There are three things I have done to try to combat The Slump:

Planning Chapters

Yep, I fell back on my old friend, planning. I usually plan to death, but I didn't with this book so I took out my notebook and started jotting down what should happen next in my book. I already knew in my head what should happen, but writing down a few notes helped me to separate the next chapter from the rest of the novel, and one chapter doesn't seem quite as daunting as 80-90,000 words. It wasn't a magic cure, but it did help me to focus and move on. Slowly.

Word Races

I've seen people taking part in word races on Twitter but I hadn't actually taken part in one as I was either at the wrong stage of writing (Draft 2 tweaking, edits etc) or I saw the call out tweet too late. But, being in The Slump, it seemed like the perfect time to pop my word race cherry.

Word races take place over an allotted time agreed by those taking part, with a specific timeframe. The ones I took part were an hour long. So, in that hour, you write like a demon, getting down as many words as you can in that hour. Afterwards, you let the others know how you got on. Simple.

Word races are a great way of giving yourself a kick up the arse and get the words down. You only have an hour (or however long is set) so you don't have time to mull over ideas or stare out of the window. The Slump can't win. You don't have time to let it.

Miranda Dickinson's vlog

Miranda Dickinson uploads regular vlogs about her books and writing and luckily a recent vlog covered getting the words down and reaching The End. So I watched that vlog a few times to remind myself that slumps do happen and they do pass. Eventually.

You can watch Miranda's vlog here 

Slowly, the words built up and surprisingly, I reached 70,000 words. I don't quite know how those 30,000 words made it onto my screen, but they did. And that means that The End is tantalisingly in sight. And there's no better motivation than that!

Friday 19 June 2015

Guest Post: Jenny Marston

My Favourite Children's Books

The reason I decided to write about my favourite children's books I read growing up was because the other day, I remembered the name of one of the best books I read when I was younger. I've been trying to think of the name of this book for, literally, years. I could remember exactly what the cover looked like and what the book was about but I just could not remember the damn title. Then the other day it just hit me. So I swiftly got on Amazon and bought myself an old, used copy of the book so I could re-read it. Isn't it funny how something that you read so long ago can come back and hit you like that? Here are some of the books I used to read as a child:

1) Harry Potter

Of course, Harry Potter would be on here. When I was younger, I didn't actually read these myself – my mum read them too me. Partly because I was lazy but partly because it was my mum who introduced me to books and my love for reading and when my dad used to work nights, I would sleep in my mum's bed and she'd read, not just to me but to herself too at night before we went to sleep. I think we only got up to the 4th book which is why I'm currently reading The Order of the Pheonix, because I'd love to finish the whole set.

2) Sheltie the Shetland Pony series by Peter Clover

I had absolutely no interest in ponies or horses – in fact, I was terrified of horses (and still am) but I completely and utterly loved these books and had every single one in the series. Shetlie the Shetland Pony is about a little girl called Emma who after reluctantly moving to the country, meets Sheltie, the Shetland Pony who quickly becomes her best friend and they go on lots of little adventures together and get up to lots of mischief. These books were just so fun and cute and light-hearted and Sheltie was just the cutest!

3) Jacqueline Wilson

I couldn't just pick one book under the Jacqueline Wilson umbrella and I'm sure 99% of girls will agree with me in saying that she is one of the most influential authors for pre-adolescent girls, ever. Her books come with so many viable lessons and messages which at the time, you probably don't immediately notice because they're so much fun to read as well. Sleepovers was a favourite of mine also The Lottie Project, The Illustrated Mum and of course, Tracy Beaker.

4) The Fire Within by Chris d'Lacey

This was the book in question in my first paragraph – the one that I couldn't think of the name of. I am so excited to receive this in the post so I can re-read it because I just know that as soon as I do, I'll remember reading it as a child. I think this was one of the first somewhat grown up books I read, or at least remember reading and I treasured this book so much because of that. The Fire Within is a fantasy novel about a series of dragons in the modern world and a young boy called David who is given his own special dragon and unlocks the mysteries surrounding them.

The books you read as a child are so important and I know when I have kids, I will surround them with not only modern children's books, but some of the books I used to read as well. I'd love them to experience all that children's literature has to offer.

Thanks for reading! You can find me at:

Blog: www.jennyinneverland.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jennymarston_xo

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Jennyinneverland

If you would like to appear here on the blog via a guest post, email me at jenniferjoycewrites@gmail.com
More details here

Wednesday 17 June 2015

The Good Girl by Fiona Neill

Ailsa is the head teacher of a Norfolk secondary school. She's only been in the position for a few months when a video that will affect her and the school is brought to her attention. Discovered on the mobile phone of a student, the video depicts a sexual act between two of Ailsa's students. And the girl in the video is Ailsa's seventeen-year-old daughter, Romy.
The video has already gone viral, spreading not only through the school and the country, but worldwide. There is nothing Ailsa can do to protect her daughter. Nothing to prevent the video from impacting Romy's life from this moment forward.
But why did Romy - studious Romy who has never given her parents cause to worry - make the video in the first place. Was she coerced into it? And who is the faceless boy in the video with her?
The Good Girl is a fascinating look at the way one moment, one ill-advised decision, can affect your life. Romy has aspirations of going to medical school but will the release of the sex video hinder her application? And how will it affect her life beyond this point?
The book starts as the video is brought to Ailsa's attention, before going back in time to before the video was created. Ailsa and her family have moved from London to the small village of Luckmore and while the story is that they moved due to Ailsa's new job, Romy isn't sure that is the truth. The family has secrets that we see unravelling over time as the pretence of the happy family unit is peeled away. The book is told alternatively from the prospect of Ailsa and Romy, which gave a rounded view of the mother/daughter relationship between the two. I found it quite a compelling read, knowing what was to come but not why and what would happen next.
Both Romy and her father, Harry are interested in science, with Harry being an ex lecturer on neuroscience who is now spending his time writing a book on the subject and Romy's desire to become a doctor. I did find a lot of the book was science-heavy and I can't say I really enjoyed this aspect. For me, there was far too much science-speak that went way over my head. Having said this, I did enjoy the rest of the novel and found it to be a compelling and thought-provoking read. It's pretty scary how quickly information can spread over social media and the internet in general and how one decision can have such devastating consequences.

Monday 15 June 2015

Book Crafts: Bookish Paper Roses

Bookish Paper Roses
I've never made paper roses before so I decided to head to Pinterest to learn how. I used a couple of the tutorials but they weren't really working out for me so I modified them a bit and this is how I made my paper roses:
You will need:
Pages from a book proof (or non-bookish pages if you prefer)
Double-sided tape or glue
Floristry wire
Cut out 4 squares from your paper
Fold each one in half, corner to corner. Do this twice more.
You should end up with a triangle with two folded edges and one 'open' edge.
Cut an arc along the 'open' edge of your triangle to create the petals. Do this for each triangle
Nip a tiny bit off the bottom corner of each triangle. This will create a hole in the centre of the flower and you want this to be as small as possible.
Unfold your petals.
Take your 1st flower and cut off 1 petal, cutting along the fold line.
Take your 2nd flower and cut off 2 petals.
Repeat for your 3rd and 4th petals, cutting off 3 and then 4 petals.
Make sure you keep the cut off segments as these will make up the centre of your flower.
Following the arc of the petal trim a small amount off each of the cut-off petals.
Starting with your two-petal segment (I don't use the smallest), place a small strip of double-sided tape or some glue along the edge and create a cone shape.
If you're using glue to make your flowers, always allow time for the glue to dry between each step.
Repeat for the next segments.
Now take your flower shapes and, gluing or placing double-sided tape along one edge, stick the ends of the petals together to create larger cone shapes.
Repeat for all flower shapes
Fold down the ends of the petals to give them a more natural-looking shape.
Now you have all your layers, it's time to assemble!
Take a length of floristry wire and bend in half.
You can attach a bead for the centre if you'd like but I'm going to attach a piece of book page to match (I'll use the smallest petal I removed and didn't turn into a cone shape). Twists the wire to create a single length
Starting with the smallest cone, thread your layers onto the wire, gluing or using double-sided tape to stick each layer at the base of the cones.
Keep going until all the layers have been attached.
And there you have it - your paper rose. It looks quite complicated but once you get the hang of it, it really isn't.
Click here to see all Book Crafts

Friday 12 June 2015

Guest Post: Sophie Schiller

A Fascinating Journey to Tibet by Sophie Schiller

Most people remember Brad Pitt as Heinrich Harrer, the Austrian climber who scaled the Himalayas to reach the Forbidden City of Lhasa, but he was not the first Westerner to enter Tibet. Many intrepid men and women attempted to enter the Forbidden Kingdom in the decades before Harrer, but very few accomplished this seemingly impossible task, but some fortunate ones did…

Race to Tibet is the story of Gabriel Bonvalot and Prince Henri d'Orléans, two unlikely partners who team up despite their opposing natures to be the first Westerners in the modern era to reach Lhasa. Together with a team of trusty caravaneers, the explorers tackle impossible odds, including high altitudes, mountain sickness, bitter cold, fierce winds, bandits, devious Chinese Ambans, and an alluring Tibetan Buddhist Princess with a deadly secret. Pushed to their limits, the intrepid explorers must decide what price they are willing to pay to reach the elusive Forbidden City. In some cases, the price was simply too high.

The novel is set in 1889, during the golden age of exploration, at the height of Europe's fascination with the Forbidden Kingdom at the Roof of the World. During the late Victorian era, no living European had visited Lhasa or seen the Dalai Lama. Lying at an altitude of 11,000 feet and shielded by the impenetrable walls of the Himalayas, reaching Lhasa was the goal of every explorer worth his salt. Before long, an informal "Race to Tibet" began, with only the bravest and hardiest of travelers attempting to penetrate this mysterious land of snows.

Potala Palace, Lhasa

The novel touches on such themes as pride, ambition, self-sacrifice, and courage. Explorers were willing to risk everything, including their lives, to achieve their goals. Many never made it back home. The novel also explores the tenuous position of Tibet in Central Asia as it struggled to maintain its freedom and independence from China, Russia, and Great Britain. The god-like positions of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama have been threatened by the Chinese Empire for centuries. By studying history, we can more fully appreciate the delicate position of Tibet in the world today. In many ways, the mystery of Tibet deepens with each passing year.

Gabriel Bonvalot and Prince Henri d'Orléans: unlikely partners who ended up hating each other.

About The Author

Sophie Schiller is a writer of historical novels. She was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies amid aging pirates and retired German spies. Among other oddities her family tree contains a Nobel prize-winning physicist and a French pop star. She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently at work on a new historical thriller set in the Caribbean.

Some useful links:




If you would like to appear here on the blog via a guest post, email me at jenniferjoycewrites@gmail.com
More details here

Wednesday 10 June 2015

The Liar by Nora Roberts

Shelby thought she knew Richard, the man she married and father of her child. But when Richard is killed in a boating accident, a grieving Shelby learns the devastating truth about the astronomical debt her husband has left her in. She’ll lose the house, but even that won’t be enough to pay off the credit cards and lawyer’s fees.

Packing up and selling off what she can, Shelby decides to move back home to the family she has rarely seen since she ran off to marry Richard. While sorting through Richard’s belongings, she finds a key to a safety deposit box. The contents of the box start to unravel the lies Richard has told during their marriage and Shelby realises she never really knew her husband at all.

I was looking forward to reading The Liar as I liked the sound of the mysterious plot surrounding Richard. The book got off to a great start with the discovery of the safety deposit key and I imagined there was going to be a fast-paced, intriguing story ahead. But the pace soon slowed down as Shelby went through the motions of selling up the house and its contents and moved back home to Rendezvous Ridge. Once she arrives in her former town, Richard and the mystery surrounding him takes a backseat as Shelby is reacquainted with old friends and enemies and catches up on the gossip of who is now married, divorced or still single. I really started to switch off until the Richard story was picked up again and there was much more action, particularly towards the end of the book.

The Liar wasn’t quite what I was expecting. There were flashes of a great story within the book, but there were far too many unnecessary distractions from the plot to keep me really interested. The whole book seemed really drawn out, which was a shame. Having said that, I did quite enjoy the ending. Although I’d guessed what would happen quite early on, it was full of action and really recaptured my interest.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Cover Reveal: Return To Bluebell Hill by Rebecca Pugh

Today I'm thrilled to part of the cover reveal of Rebecca Pugh's debut novel, Return To Bluebell Hill, which will be published by Carina UK on 18th June.

So, here it is!

As sweet and satisfying as strawberries and cream! This British summertime, get out in the garden with Rebecca Pugh’s sparkling debut novel.

Home is where the heart is…

Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Especially as she never considered she’d be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances…

Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents’ death is difficult for Jessica—they never had the best relationship and now it’s too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme—and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben!—opens Jessica’s eyes to the potential of Bluebell House… Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?

Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Rueben by her side. But when a deep, dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica’s world is turned upside down…

Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies?

An emotional tale of self-discovery, taking chances and romance! Rebecca’s unique British voice feels like coming home again and again.
About The Author
Rebecca Pugh grew up in the green county of Shropshire, with a mind full of fairy-tales and happy endings. Enchanted by true love and Disney Princesses, she decided that no matter what life threw her way, she’d continue to see the world through a child’s eyes. Through the pages of countless books, her adoration of reading blossomed, and it didn’t take long for her to fall under the spell of hundreds of authors’ words.

Now, Rebecca’s own story has taken a fairy-tale like turn, and at 22, her dream has come true. With her faithful companions: Bonnie the dog, her partner, and her gigantic family by her side, Rebecca is ready to share her stories with readers who enjoy falling in love and losing themselves within beautiful, fictional worlds.

Rebecca Pugh is the author of women’s fiction and romance, her all-time favourite genres. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good swoon?

Her debut novel, Return to Bluebell Hill, is due to be published June 18th 2015 by Carina UK.

Monday 8 June 2015

Cover Stars: Wellies and Westies by Cressida McLaughlin

Bookshelf, bookshelf on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
Wellies and Westies
by Cressida McLaughlin
Catherine ‘Cat’ Palmer realises, too late, that bringing an adorable puppy into work at the local nursery was a bad idea, especially after the ensuing chaos gets her the sack.

Determined to turn a negative into a positive, Cat decides this is the perfect opportunity to get her dog-walking business off the ground with the help of her flatmates, Polly and Joe. After all, Primrose Terrace where she lives, is full of home-alone hounds…
Wellies and Westies is the first part of a serialized novel told in four parts – all set in Primrose Terrace.

*     *     *     *     *
There's so much to love about the cover of Wellies and Westies, from the cartoon-style people and adorable dogs (who doesn't like a dog on a book cover?) to the little details like the polka-dot wellies and the gorgeous hanging basket by the door. But my favourite part of this cover is the colours used. I love the spring-like green, which sets off the bright and cheery pink perfectly. The colours and the images create a striking, attention-grabbing cover that makes me want to click on it to find out more.
You can see my review of Wellies and Westies here or click to see all 'Cover Stars'
If there's a cover you're bursting to shout out about, let us know by joining in Cover Stars!
More details here

Friday 5 June 2015

Guest Post: Pat Elliott

I'm Pat, a friend of Jen's from Twitter.
We were talking blogs – and here I am!

Talking writing, painting and feet.
What possible connection could they have?
To me, they go together as neatly as coffee, clocks and books.

Being self employed as a reflexologist gives me some free time, so I chose to learn to paint.
I have painted feet, but only on paper, not in real life!

and when I paint, sometimes if I concentrate hard enough, the painting tells a story.
Such as in Diva. See here for the painting and the story: http://patelliott.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/diva_18.html

and sometimes, when people tell me the story of their lives as I treat their feet, a seed is planted.
This is what happened with my first novel 'All in the Leaves'.
A young lady had her fortune told and we'd discussed all the things that had been predicted for her.
I took that seed and created a story around a tea leaf reading and the predictions it forecast. I chose a tea leaf reading, because my Irish aunties used to do just that! Read tea leaves and tell your fortune. They were never so accurate as the lady in my book, though.

Now you know how this author gets her ideas.
Either I stare at a painting until an idea comes, or I listen to people talk while I work - and later a seed will germinate.
My Twitter name should make perfect sense to you now - it's @Feetpaintwords
For me, they really do!

My website, if you'd like to visit, is http://www.patelliott.co.uk
This gives you a portal to my reflexology world, my painting world – and my writing world.
I hope you enjoy all three.

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Thursday 4 June 2015

A Chat With Gill Hornby

Can you tell us about your new book?

It’s called All Together Now and it is about a community choir in a small provincial town. That town is dying slowly, the choir is on its last legs but one last ditch recruitment drive brings in some new blood. The three main characters – Tracey, Annie and Bennett – are all struggling with different sorts of loneliness. This is the story of how they, the choir and the town itself are all brought back to life.

What was your inspiration for All Together Now?

 I belong to a choir! The novel started out as something slightly different. My first book, The Hive, was about a group of mothers in a primary school. The plan was that the next would deal with the next stage, of the empty nest. It is something that I and most of my friends are now facing and it is an interesting, challenging but in many ways positive time. Anyway, one by one all my characters seemed to sign up for a bit of singing, and the choir seemed a good enough metaphor for the process of finding your own voice. I have watched in my own choir how lives have been transformed – just a little bit- and a community has been built through the power of song and I find it extraordinary moving. Also, just as importantly, it’s very funny…..

What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?

 Well, all of it is rather astonishing. I have come to this business very late and sometimes have to pinch myself. But it is probably just that moment when you hold the published copy in your hands for the first time – not quite as thrilling as holding your own babies, but it might just be the next best thing.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

In the nicest possible way: get on with it. There is no point in thinking you might want to write and want to be published. Nothing can possibly happen unless you create something yourself. So get writing, and when you’ve got writing, keep writing. The whole time you are trying, you are learning and a breakthrough can come at any point.

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?

That’s quite hard to answer, because I went to the library every Saturday morning from the age of 4 until about 15 so although I read three or four books a week, I didn’t actually own very many. I do, however, remember saving up for all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. They were my absolute favourite and I read and re read and re re read them all.

What was the last book you read?

The new Anne Tyler, A Spool of Blue Thread – absolutely beautiful description of one ordinary family which, like all ordinary families, is extraordinary in its own way.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?

A third novel is cooking away gently. It will be a three generation family saga, from the 1960s to now, but with a narrative twist. I won’t go further than that…..

Gill Hornby is the author of The Hive and All Together Now which is published by Little, Brown on 4th June, £14.99

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Retro Review: One-Hit Wonder by Lisa Jewell

Ana Wills never really knew her older half-sister, Bee. Bee left home when she was fifteen and Ana was just four, moving to London where she pursued a singing career. Her debut single 'Groovin' For London' was a massive hit and Bea Bearhorn was said to be the UK's answer to Madonna. But when Bee's follow up singles failed to make an impact on the charts, Bee disappeared into obscurity and became yet another one-hit wonder of the 1980s.
When Bee is found dead in her flat aged just 36, Ana is sent by their mother to pack up Bee's things and sort out her affairs. Ana hasn't seen her sister for over a decade and knows nothing about her life, but as Ana sorts through Bee's belongings and meets her friends, she begins to get to know her and questions the circumstances of her death. Was Bee's death an accident? Or did she kill herself? And if she did, why would anyone who had so much want to end their life?
I recently blogged about re-reading books (the post is here) and why I chose to add 're-read a favourite' to my 2015 Reading Challenge. I chose One-Hit Wonder by Lisa Jewell to read again as it is one of a collection of books that I never grow tired of reading. I first read One-Hit Wonder in 2001, when I was 18 and discovering a brand new genre (to me) and wonderful authors whose books I would devour. I've lost count of the number of times I've read One-Hit Wonder but it's been a while since I picked it up so it was great to meet up with Ana and Bee again.
Although I've read the story many times, the book was still just as fresh as the first time I read it. I was quickly absorbed into the worlds of Ana and Bee, discovering the mysteries of Bee Bearhorn as Ana digs deeper into the life of her sister. It's quite a bittersweet book as Ana gets to know her sister more in death than in life, when there is no chance of them reuniting and healing the family rift that has kept them apart. Bee's life is cut tragically short and we discover that the Bee Bearhorn flashed across the press isn't a true representation of the real Bee. Although there are some poignant aspects to the book, it is still a fun and light read with a host of engaging characters. On the surface, Bee was always a larger than life character, which is the complete opposite of her sister. Ana lacks confidence, so much so that in the beginning she feels more like a shadow than a real person, so it was great to see her grow as the book progressed. Not only does Ana discover who her sister really was, she begins to find out who she is, which gives the book an uplifting boost amid the tragedy.
Lisa Jewell has a real knack of creating vibrant characters who you feel a real connection to, who you wish you could meet in real life. Bee's best friend Lol is a fantastic character and while she can be loud and brash, she is also fiercely loyal to her friends. She is confident and loves being the centre of attention but she isn't a hard character and there is a real warmth about her. And then there's Flint, the hero of the book. Every book needs a good hero and Flint fits the bill perfectly. He's loyal and protective (and seriously hot) but he isn't perfect so he feels much more real and relatable.
One-Hit Wonder is such a fantastic read. It's warm and packed full of character and life and I know I will read it again and again and love it just as much every single time.