Thursday, 22 December 2011

Interview with Stephanie Keyes - Author of The Star Child

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

Well, I am a mother to two boys. My oldest is 4 1/2 and I firmly believe that he will be running for political office any day now. My youngest is brand-new, only 4 months old! He's very sweet. I've been married to my husband for about ten years and he is my best friend, my partner-in-crime. When I am not writing I work full time in Training and Development. That involves everything from classroom training to graphic design and technical writing. I am an avid reader and I always have a book in hand.

2. How did you begin writing and what was your inspiration for Star Child? 
I started writing when I was very young, probably around fourteen. Initially it was articles for the school paper, but it very quickly turned into fiction. The Star Child was a project that started when my father was very ill and I needed an outlet for the emotions that surfaced as a result. I looked out the window and saw a single star and that planted the seed about a girl that lights the stars at night. The Star Child was born from that single idea. 

3. What do you like to do outside of writing?
My husband and I are also musical. We both sing in the church choir and he's a trumpet player. I play clarinet, saxophone, and sing. Often that singing takes place at work, in the grocery store, in the car, in my sleep... You get the idea!

4. What are your top 5 books? 
That is so hard. There are so many out there that I love, but here are some that I've really enjoyed. 1) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling), 2) The Summer King (Melling), 3) The Once and Future King (White), 4) Gone With the Wind (Mitchell), 5) Angels and Demons (Brown) 

Thanks Stephanie!
You can find Stephanie at:
Twitter @StephanieKeyes
Facebook: Stephanie Keyes

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Interview with Janice Horton - Author of Reaching for the Stars

Janice, tell us a bit about yourself and what made you get into writing?
When I was growing up I was a bit of a bookworm and my favourite place was the local library. My love of reading inspired me to write creatively from an early age. I remember getting into terrible trouble with my teacher at school, when she discovered that all the letters I’d written to my American pen-pal were complete fiction! As a young adult with a career, my writing had to take a back seat. When I started writing again, married and with three small children, I wrote freelance lifestyle articles for magazines and reviews for the local paper. Eventually, I realised that if I wanted to write the novel I’d always promised myself I would write one day, I’d better make a start. Reaching for the Stars is my third full length novel.

Tell us a bit about Reaching for the Stars and your inspiration for the book?
Reaching for the Stars is a romantic story about a Scottish celebrity chef called Finn McDuff, who is media stalked and disillusioned after winning his third star and losing his third wife. He decides he’s had enough of all the food campaigns, the TV cookery shows, the constant frenzy surrounding his private life and, after giving up all his accolades and closing down his restaurant, he disappears. Two rival newspapers, having lost their media meal ticket, begin to compete against each other to whip up further public curiosity in the missing chef. Then, love him or hate him, everyone is out looking for Chef McDuff.

I was inspired to write this story by my fascination for celebrity chefs. Writing the novel has been a labour of love over the past couple of years. Interestingly, although this story has often been on the back burner, I never lost enthusiasm for it and the premise of celebrity harassment and media intrusion seems even more current than ever before!

What are your favourite books?
I love reading - so that can be an ebook on my Kindle, a paperback or a hardback. I love biographies, travel books, and in particular I love fiction. My favourite books are glitzy romance novels that also have a bit of adventure and humour alongside the love interest!

What do you like to do outside of writing?
I live in the Scottish countryside and everyday I like to get outdoors and walk my two dogs; it’s how I avoid writer’s bottom! I also like taking occasional trips into the fabulous city of Edinburgh, which is about an hour’s drive from where I live. I enjoy red wine and champagne and cooking for family and friends. I also love to travel to far flung places. My husband and I hope to do lots more travelling now that our three boys have grown up.

Reaching for the Stars is available for your Kindle now at the special launch price of just 95p /£1.40
Buy from Amazon UK
Buy from Amazon US

Janice Blogs at:
Janice is a author
Follow her on Twitter @JaniceHorton
Facebook Author Page:


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Review of Reaching for the Stars by Janice Horton

Reaching for the Stars is Janice Horton’s third novel and the second that she has written as a kindle edition.

The novel opens with infamous Scottish celebrity chef, Finn McDuff, winning his third coveted Gold Star award for cuisine. However, losing his third wife Gina at the same time wasn’t part of his plan. Finn decides that he will do anything to get Gina back, even closing down the restaurant that he has worked so hard for, but will it be enough?

Raine Sanderson and Ross Campbell are two young rival journalists competing to win an exclusive with Finn McDuff. Their rivalry soon leads Finn to believe that he needs to escape the city and let the media furore quieten down. However, Finn doesn’t expect that Edinburgh’s two rival newspapers will soon be doing everything they can to find him.

I was so excited to receive an advance copy of Reaching for the Stars to review and it really lived up to my expectations. The plot is fast paced with some real surprises in store. I loved the setting in Scotland and felt that Horton’s writing actually transports the reader straight to the scene – I felt like I actually knew some of the characters.

This is a fantastic story with a great settig and characters. I liked Finn much more than I thought I would at first and felt that he does change a lot over the course of the novel. It was also really fun to feel like I was behind the scenes with a famous chef!

 I would highly recommend Reaching for the Stars – 5 stars from me!

Thanks Janice for sending me a copy to review.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Review of Breakfast at Darcy's by Ali McNamara

Last year I read Ali McNamara's debut novel 'From Notting Hill with Love Actually' and it really stood out as one of my favourite books of the year, especially with the spectacular ending.

I was very excited to receive a copy of McNamara's second novel; Breakfast at Darcy's, which is set on the fictional island of Glentara, affectionately known as Tara by the local residents and based on the real life Great Blasket Island.

The opening chapter begins at the funeral of Darcy's aunt Molly, who has died in Ireland. When a solicitor pulls Darcy aside and tells her that he needs to discuss the will, Darcy imagines that she may have inherited a few trinkets and perhaps a bit of money. However, a small Island off the Irish coast is not quite what she had in mind. Furthermore, in order to actually inherit anything Darcy must find a community of people including herself and live on the island for a whole year.

Breakfast at Darcy's is a fantastic read which had me laughing out loud in places. I loved the way that McNamara managed to weave in stories of myths and legends based around the island.

The characters who accompany Darcy to Tara really make the novel and there are some real twists and surprises along the way. The plot is fast paced and kept me wanting to read more. I also felt that compared to lots of other fiction on the market at the moment this is a unique storyline that stands out.

This is such a great book and I liked it even more than her first novel. Definitely something to put on your Christmas list this year!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Review of Olga A Daughter's Tale by Marie-Therese Browne

Olga A Daughter’s Tale is the story of Carmen Browne (Olga Browney), mother of author Marie-Therese Browne.
It is a true life history of Browne's life growing up in colonial Jamaica and journeying to England in 1939 where she stayed for the rest of her life.

The book is written mainly in journal format from the point of view of Olga. It was so interesting to read about life in Jamaica including the many prejudices and beliefs that existed during the early part of the twentieth century. There are some newspaper clippings and also diary and letter entries from Olga’s mother Becky and Aunt Lucy who had both emigrated from England. I found the details of their initial trips to Jamaica and the descriptions of the lush landscapes to be fascinating.

Olga travels to London in 1939 with the hopes of becoming a dancer and returning to her family in Jamaica. However, the dance school cannot accept her and world events mean that she cannot return home. Olga is subject to cruel and malicious attacks, but it is her courage and dignity that shine through in Campbell’s portrayal of this extraordinary woman.

Overall, this is a touching and fascinating story of Olga’s life that is very well written that I would highly recommend.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Interview with Monique Domovitch - Author of Scorpio Rising

Today we hear from Monique Domovitch, author of Scorpio Rising:

1. Tell me a bit about yourself and what made you get into writing.
 Writing is what I’ve wanted to do my entire life, but I kept putting it off for just a little while longer—until my children were self sufficient, until I had a less demanding career, until I could afford to retire. I finally came to the point, at the age of fifty-five, when I decided that if didn’t do this now, I never would. I felt that writing was what I was born to do, and to not do it would be to ignore my reason for being. You know that old question, ‘On your deathbed, what will you regret not doing?’ Well, for me the answer was, writing. So writing wasn’t really a decision so much as a necessity. 

2. How long did it take you to write Scorpio Rising?

I wrote Scorpio Rising years ago, when my children were still young. I would get up at five o’clock in the morning and write until my children got up for school. And then at the end of the day, when they were back in bed, I’d write until midnight or so. I did this in spurts of a few weeks on and then a few weeks off for two years. I remember the night I typed the words ‘The End’. I sat staring at those words and crying for the longest time. Come to think of it, I might have been crying from shear exhaustion. J  

3. Tell us a bit about Scorpio Rising and your inspiration for the book?

Scorpio Rising is the story of two people, both driven by their personal demons, the man’s for wealth and power and the woman’s for love. Their story is told in two books, Scorpio Rising being their early years—their rising years. And yes, the male protagonist is a Scorpio. The inspiration came from all around me. So many of my girlfriends were going through divorces and heartbreak, often after sacrificing their own careers for the betterment of their husband’s. It is such a universal story. 

4. What are your favourite books?

My favourite books…oh, gosh. Every time I am asked that question I give a different answer. I loved The Poisonwood Bible, Kane and Abel, Peyton Place, Gone With The Wind and, yes, Harry Potter. I love books that entertain, that keep me turning the pages, whatever the genre.

5. What do you like to do outside of writing?

Let’s see…outside of writing, I usually think about my last scene, my next scene, my next book, or of taking a break…which I rarely do. No, no, I’m not that bad. I am also a hobby beekeeper. My first hive, in my backyard, produced about forty pounds of honey this fall. We had a honey-harvesting party, after which I had sticky floors for weeks. Next year I hope to have about six hives, but not in the city—in the country. And the harvesting? Outdoors.

6. What are you currently working on?

I am almost finished writing the first of three murder-mysteries I’m contracted to do for Penguin. I write these under a pen name, Carol Ann Martin. After this, I’ll take a couple of days off and then work on finishing a novel I started last January. And then I’ll be jumping into number two for Penguin. I’ve never been so busy and I couldn’t be happier.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Review of Scorpio Rising by Monique Domovitch

Scorpio Rising is the first novel from debut author Monique Domovitch.

Set in the 1950s it follows the lives of Alex Ivanov and Brigitte Dartois. Coming from a poverty stricken home in Brooklyn, Alex is determined to make something of himself and will work harder than most people to prove this. Brigitte has survived terrible tragedy and an abusive childhood and feels that she constantly has to start her life over and over again.

The novel travels with Alex from Brooklyn to Manhattan and to Paris where Brigitte lives. It is fast paced and there are lots of shocks and surprises lying in wait for the two main characters. Jealousy is a strong theme in this novel and Domovitch expertly portrays the ways in which it can tear people lives apart.

I enjoyed the way that Domovitch has written this novel with chapters alternating between Alex and Brigitte, building up to the point in which they meet.
The cliff-hanger ending really left me in suspense and I am looking forward to reading the sequel to this book; ‘The Sting of the Scorpio’ to find out what happens next.

Thank you Monique for sending me a copy to review and thank you Samantha for including me as part of Chick Lit Plus blog tour.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Review of The Secret of Happy Ever After by Lucy Dillon

The Secret of Happy Ever After is Lucy Dillon's fourth book.

Lucy Dillon is, for me, one of those magical authors whose writing seems to make the outside world disappear. I instantly sunk into this book and loved returning to the world of Longhampton where her previous two novels were set.

The novel has two central characters; book loving step-mother to three girls and one dalmation Anna and local shop owner Michelle. The two meet on Michelle's first day in Longhampton in the dog friendly cafe and instantly strike up a close friendship. Both women are in relationship situations that are anything but straightforward. Anna is trying to be the perfect step mother and wife at the same time as longing for her own baby. Michelle has separated from her husband and seems to be running away from her own family. A shocking revelation at the end of the book really changed my view of Michelle and made her seem a much more vulnerable character than portrayed throughout the early part of the novel.

The setting of a bookshop was one of the biggest selling points for me. It is quite an unusual setting and worked perfectly and just sounded so gorgeous and cozy that I was quite mesmerized by it. Anna runs the bookshop on Michelle’s behalf and turns it into a haven for local book lovers, there is a magical atmosphere as Anna brings the neglected bookshop back to life. Dillon has very cleverly interspersed the novel with references to classic children’s novels and this all made me remember all of the childhood books that I read and now I feel like I want to re-read them again. There are lots of twists and turns in this novel and a good few surprises that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I love all of Dillon’s novels, the inclusion of dogs is a major selling point but I also love that this is chick lit without all of the pink fluffiness. Dillon writes about real life issues in an easy going way that many readers will be able to relate to. Going back to Longhampton was such a treat for me as a reader and I was pleased to see the inclusion of some of the characters from Dillon’s earlier novels set in the same location. The dogs are just divine and I felt like I wanted to scoop Tavish up and take him home.
I actually think that The Secret of Happy Ever After is my favourite of Dillon’s books so far and I would highly recommend it.

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

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Review of Home for Christmas by Cally Taylor

Home for Christmas is a heart warming tale of one woman’s search for true love – fairytale style.

Beth Prince is twenty four years old, living in Brighton and working at the old fashioned Picture Box cinema. She is in a relationship with Aiden and believes everything to be going well, apart from he hasn’t told he her loves her. In fact, none of the boyfriends she has had have ever said the L word.

The plot is quite fast paced and as well as struggling in the love department, Beth has a pushy mother determined to take her away from her beloved cinema and  set her up as a PA in Australia. When the Picturebox seems to be on the verge of a takeover by a major chain Beth feels that her mother’s dreams must be coming true, unless she can get the managerial position. Using her mothers’ business knowledge and sheer determination she sets off on a recruiting weekend to Wales determined to score top marks, but things don’t quite go to plan.

 Taylor’s writing style draws us straight into the text, especially as the chapters of the book were written in first person but from two perspectives; Matt’s point of view and Beth’s point of view. I really liked this element of the novel and it makes a refreshing change to read a book where the thoughts of two lead characters are equally prominent. I also felt that I knew both of the characters and what was happening in there lives.

Cally Taylor has written a lovely novel, which made me just want to curl up by the fire with a hot chocolate. There are some hilarious moments alongside some very cringe worthy ones where I felt so sorry for Beth. The ending was just fantastic and not quite what I had been expecting. This is the first book that I have read by Cally Taylor and I will now be on the look out for her first novel ‘Heaven Can Wait’. I also fell in love with the cover of this book - what a perfect Christmas present!
If you’re looking for a great read this festive season then look no further than Cally Taylor’s lovely ‘Home for Christmas’.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Review of Our Eyes Met Over Cantaloupe and Interview with the author Anne McAneny

Our Eyes met over Cantaloupe is an exciting and witty story from Anne McAneny. It follows reporter Millie Morris who is in the process of getting over a bad break up - her boyfriend ran off with the Estate Agent who closed the deal on their first home together. Reeling from this loss, Millie is shocked to receive calls from her ex a year later begging her to meet him. Will Millie choose her ex or the illusive stranger she saw in the supermarket when their eyes met over cantaloupe?

Millie's mum runs a cupcake shop called The Secret Lives of Cupcakes nearby and a shock moment occurs when her ex's new fiancé Laura M Fracas (who I hated!) enters to make an order for her upcoming wedding. Millie pulls herself together and even wants the order, as she knows it will benefit her mum's business.

Millie is the main character in this story and I adored her. However, there are also some fantastic supporting characters with great personalities; my favourites include Betty Boop, Millie’s mum Grace and baker Josh who is hilarious! The characters are really well balanced and don’t still any limelight form Millie.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Our Eyes Met Over Cantaloupe and I would recommend it to chick lit fans. It is fast paced and will have you laughing out loud in places. It may also leave you with a huge craving for cupcakes, which I had after reading this!

See below for a Guest Interview with Anne McAneny; Author of Our Eyes Met Over Cantaloupe

You can follow Anne McAneny on twitter @AnneMcAneny and visit her blog

Thank you to Samantha at chick Lit Plus Blog Tours for allowing me to take part in Anne McAneny’s blog tour.

Interview with Anne McAneny

1. Tell me a bit about yourself and what made you get into writing
 Well, Sarah, it all started in third grade… Snore! Actually, I started writing screenplays about ten years ago. The minimal descriptions and fun dialogue fit me to a tee, but Hollywood wasn’t exactly stampeding my door so I turned to writing books. I worried at first that I wouldn’t have enough words for a novel, but as it turns out, you’re allowed to repeat some of them.

  1. How long did it take you to write Our Eyes met over cantaloupe?
About 8 months. Not sure if that’s considered long for this genre but I have a tough time turning off the rewriting/editing button. It’s gotten so bad that I can spend an hour editing a STOP sign.

  1. Tell us a bit about Our Eyes Met over Cantaloupe and your inspiration for the book?
Millie Morris narrates OUR EYES MET OVER CANTALOUPE, primarily from the setting of a cupcake shop where she works with her mom, her best friend, her mom’s buddy, and a pastry chef. Millie’s got some old relationship baggage holding her back and it becomes tough to move on when the relationship keeps throwing itself in her face. While Millie dominates the story, all of the characters experience a personal arc. Hopefully, it’s all blended together like a smooth batter with a healthy dollop of humor.
The inspiration for the book came from my friend, Lisa, to whom the book is dedicated. She called last year as I was sifting through ideas.  I said, “Tell me what to write!” She launched right into, “I’ve always wanted to know what happens after people place those ads, you know, the ones where they see each other but don’t quite connect.” I literally replied, “Oh, like, ‘Our eyes met over cantaloupe?’” And that became the core of the story.

  1. What are your favourite books?
My favorite book of all time is A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, by John Irving. Relative to the style of my books, my favorite is GOOD GRIEF, by Lolly Winston. I read it years ago and really connected with Ms. Winston’s writing style. It made me believe I could attempt to write a bit of women’s fiction.

  1. What do you like to do outside of writing?
Whereas many people procrastinate from exercising by doing chores or being productive, I procrastinate from chores and productivity by exercising. Biking, running, hiking, lifting – I don’t care as long as it’s not dusting or laundry! I also love reading and baking, and am a bit of a news junkie.

  1. What are you currently working on?
I started a book similar to CANTALOUPE, involving… wait for it… competing yogurt accounts. Real attention grabber, eh? But I’m also tempted to turn a screenplay of mine into a book. The Hollywood folks consistently liked it but it never got made. It’s an action-filled, funny story with heart and, best of all, the kinks are all worked out. I just need to add another 80,000 words or so!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Festive Fiction

I love everything to do with Christmas and will be reviewing festive themed books in the run up to Christmas. Most of these will be new releases, but I will include some older books as well.

So far, I have reviewed Carole Matthews' Wrapped up in You and Scarlett Bailey's brilliant debut novel The Night Before Christmas.

Look out for more Christmassy reviews from me and the chance to win prizes in my Christmas Giveaway beginning on the 1st December.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Review of Highland Storms by Christina Courtenay

Set in 1754, Highland Storms is the sequel to the award winning Trade Winds and is Christina Courtenay’s third novel. I was mesmerized by this book from the very beginning; just looking at the gorgeous cover suggests a beautiful but isolated and wild land.

The story follows handsome Brice Kinross as he travels from Sweden to his inherited estate, Rosyth, in the Scottish Highlands. Devastated by the betrayal of his brother Jamie and the loss of the woman he believes to be his true love, Brice yearns for a new life far away from Sweden. Arriving at Rosyth, he finds that all at the estate is not as it should be, suspecting that foul play may be involved he sets out to find the truth.
After the Jacobite Rebellion and consequent persecution of Highlanders who were thought to be sympathetic, strangers were treated cautiously and Brice, himself receiving a very cold reception, is not exempt from this. It is a difficult start for Brice and he realizes that eh must prove to the locals that he is a trustworthy person who will bring them no harm.

Brice is the ultimate heroic figure; he is brave and handsome, adventurous and clever. Hurt from a previous relationship, he does not want to get involved with another woman. However, on the first day at rosyth he meets Marsaili, the beautiful red headed housekeeper and the two are instantly drawn to one another. Although both try to deny it. The momentum between Brice and Marsaili is one of the central themes to the novel; it will leave you wondering whether or not they will get together.

A novel with a hero at the centre must also have a villain and in this case the villain is the nasty Mr Seton – factor and caretaker at Rosyth. Blinded by his obsession to gain back his own lands lost to the English, Seton will stop at nothing in his quest to raise funds.

This book is full of adventure and has so many nerve wracking twists and turns that I could not put it down. It is beautifully written and full of interesting historical facts and has such likeable characters, which are sometimes hard to come across in historical novels. I also loved the fact that Courtenay included the loyal dog Liath as Marsaili’s companion and guardian.
This is a superb novel with the type of rugged setting that needs a brave hero as the central character. I really enjoyed reading Highland Storms and will definitely be reading Courtenay’s two other novels. For lovers of Historical romance this is the book for you.

Interview with Nicky Wells - Author of Sophie's Turn

Hi Sarah! I’m so excited to visit your fabulous blog for an interview today.  Thank you for this great opportunity! I loved your questions so let’s have a look at my answers… Here goes:

  1. Tell me a bit about yourself and what made you get into writing

I am a really chatty person with a very active imagination.  I’ve always made up stories, for as long as I can remember.  When I was little and couldn’t go to sleep, I used to amuse myself by making up long and complicated adventure stories (featuring, naturally, myself and my best friends!).  I guess most of us do that!  But as soon as I could write, I started to set these stories down on paper.  I doubt they were elegant or even remotely eloquent narratives, but I do remember sitting on my window sill after lights-out and scribbling furiously on a small note-pad.  A few years later, that enterprise turned into hacking things out on an ancient typewriter I’d been given.  So that’s kind of where it all started… there was always this idea that I would write books.  In fact, until half-way through secondary school, I would tell any adult who asked very earnestly that I would be a writer when I grew up!

Obviously years passed and this ambition never came to much.  As a teenager, I had other things on my mind (rock music and rock musicians, mostly!) and then I had a boyfriend and then I started studying… Life kind of took over.  But when I took a work sabbatical prior to the birth of my first child, I promised myself that I would, finally, write that book I’d been thinking of for some time.  And so I did!  I had the best time doing so, and I look forward to doing it all over again!

  1. How long did it take you to write Sophie’s Turn?

Well, I had four months in which to write (before birth of baby number 1) and so that’s how long it took!  I spent about a month planning in meticulous detail my characters and my plot, and then I sat down and just…wrote! It was a fabulous experience.  I write proliferate amounts very quickly, aided by the fact that I can touch type, and I would say I averaged probably 3000 to 4000 words a day, working probably five or six hours.  Does that sound a lot?  I don’t really know, I just get carried away.  Every day, I would re-read the previous day’s work, do some rudimentary proofing and editing (and occasional re-writing) and then write some more.  So the first draft seemed to go quite quickly.  Then my first baby boy arrived and nothing much happened to the book.  It wasn’t until a few years later that I got round to re-reading it and making some substantial changes, especially to the first half.  Those changes took me another six months or so.  So total working time on Sophie’s Turn was… 10 months, give or take.  That’s probably a lot more detail than you wanted! x

  1. Tell us a bit about Sophie’s Turn and your inspiration for the book?

I’ve come to call Sophie’s Turn a ‘rock star romance’… not least because, you guessed it, one of the protagonists is a rock star.  Sophie’s Turn tells the story of one young woman and her entanglement with a rock star, the man of her dreams.  Unfortunately she is already engaged to somebody else when this romance finally enters her life, and it all gets a bit messy.  Sophie is a fundamentally nice person and the presence of two men in her life gives her all manner of emotional nightmares.  She sorts it all out eventually, although perhaps not in the way she expected!

The inspiration for the book has its roots in my residual soft spot for all things to do with rock musicians, in particular the long-haired variety with nice voices.  There are quite a few of those about!  Anyway, I was watching TV one night with my husband and some kind of long-haired male creature came on… I can’t recall who it was, might have been an actor or a rock musician.  Anyway, I obviously liked that person because I said something like, “cor, now how would a girl ever turn him down?” My husband teased me about this all evening.  And it got me thinking.  What would a girl do if she was in a steady, happy relationship… and then suddenly met her teenage idol, and he proposed?  There was the core conundrum, and it fascinated me enough to spin a story around it when I couldn’t sleep that night (on account of big baby belly!).

  1. What are your favourite books?

Generally speaking, I read almost anything but I can never resist a good chick lit book, a thriller or a good contemporary literary read.  Favourite books of all time include Catherine Alliott’s “The Old-Girl Network,”  Stephen Fry’s “Making History” and Katherine Neville’s “The Eight.”  I also like books by David Baldacci and John Grisham.  Actually, the list is pretty long….

  1. What do you like to do outside of writing?

You mean, when I’m not writing, looking after the kids, doing the housework, or volunteering as a teaching assistant…. That’s a tricky one!  My life is so busy with all the above at the moment that there’s hardly any time to do anything else.  When I do get the time, I like to read the paper in a coffee shop with a big latte or a pot of tea.  I do like to sit on a rock on the beach just watching the waves come in, and listening to the surf (that’s probably one of my favourite pass-times!).  I like travelling and exploring new places—Hamburg is on the agenda next for our family!  And… actually one thing I do do even at the moment when things are so busy is… knitting.  I do like knitting.  I’m not a great knitter, I can just about manage my knits and purls but I find it very relaxing, especially when I’m stressed.  Oh, and talking of stressed, I do have a Pilates routine that I like doing at least once a day, especially when I’ve been hunched over the laptop writing lots.

  1. What are you currently working on? Is a sequel to Sophie’s Turn planned?

Brilliant question, and I’m delighted to announce that the sequel to Sophie’s Turn is not just planned, but fully planned out and actually being written.  In fact, I started writing properly just today as I’m answering the interview questions (10 October) and I’ve made a start, setting down a proud 12,000 words in total so far.  That almost covers the first two of my 21 pages of plan (one page for each core sequence or event) so I guess you can expect a fairly hefty book again!  What happens in the sequel, you want to know?  Well, Sophie will obviously continue to feature, as will Dan and Rachel.  There is also possibly someone else but I can’t give too much away here so as not to spoil Sophie’s Turn for those readers who haven’t finished it yet!  There will be travel, and trauma, and weddings (yes, plural!) but who’s marrying whom… well, you’ll just have to wait!  I’m hoping to bring the sequel to market within a year.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Review of The Night Before Christmas by Scarlett Bailey

The Night Before Christmas is Scarlett Bailey’s debut novel and is published on the 27th October.

I absolutely adore everything to do with Christmas, so you can imagine my excitement when I was offered the chance to review this book before publication.
The novel is set in a beautifully refurbished large country house hotel in the Lake District. Lydia and her three friends from university all arrange to meet at Katy’s new house with their boyfriends and husbands for the perfect Christmas. However, as soon as they arrive a huge snow storm sets in and they find themselves snowed in for Christmas. Perfect you might think for a cosy Christmas in front of the fire? Not quite and soon tempers are flared when Lydia discovers that her ex-boyfriend is present, along with her current boyfriend and Will the gorgeous local who comes to fix the boiler is stranded with them.

I settled down to read this on one of the colder days of the month with the fire going and I really felt that I was being transported into this gorgeous Christmassy world.
The characters are so likeable and I found that each had their own good points. Lydia, the heroine, was my favourite alongside Katy whose desperate attempts to be a modern day domestic goddess had me laughing out loud.

The story is really fast paced and there is not a dull moment, from the stunning setting to the hilarious scenes, this is the ultimate Christmas read. Set over the week leading up to Christmas, it is written almost like a countdown to the big day. I also really enjoyed the way that there are lots of other sub-plots to the story that are covered in equal detail and not just glossed over.

Scarlett Bailey has written a fantastic novel and she has created a winter wonderland scene with characters that actually feel real. This book is a really stunning debut and I can’t wait to read future works by this author. Make sure that you put The Night Before Christmas on your Christmas lists this year – you will not be disappointed.

I also can’t fail to mention the beautiful cover, I love it!

Thank you to Ebury for sending me a copy of The Night Before Christmas to review.

You can follow Scarlett Bailey on twitter @ScarlettBailey or find her on facebook.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Review of Sophie's Turn by Nicky Wells

Sophie’s Turn is Nicky Wells’ debut novel and has been self published as an e-book.

I was instantly hooked from the very beginning of the novel and found the writing style to be both easy to read and gripping at the same time.

Sophie Penhalligan is a twenty eight year old journalist who is in a comfortable relationship with Accountant Tim. Sophie is waiting for Tim to propose and is worried that he is missing every opportunity. When Tim does propose it seems like everything Sophie has wanted. However, things soon get even more heated when Sophie’s bumps into her rock star crush from 80s band Tusk at the airport and the two begin a series of romantic (and hilarious) evenings together. Before Sophie realizes it she is engaged to Dan as well and is not quite sure what to do!

I loved Sophie’s character and I think that only she could end up in the situation engaged to two men and still seem to be a lovely person.
The book itself is hilarious and had me laughing out loud in places – especially when we see Tim de-slugging the garden in the middle of the night.

The story is divided into three separate sections and flits back between present day and ten years earlier when Sophie first met the band. I liked the way that the author did this as it really made me think about the story and see how Sophie and Dan’s friendship began. The book is quite a whirlwind and you will see Sophie flitting from London to New York for work and then to Paris for romantic weekends. I found that I didn’t want to put it down as I was desperate to know what would happen with Sophie.

If you love chick lit then you will adore Sophie’s Turn; it is funny, gripping and will see you laughing (and possibly crying) in places and I loved the ending which was not what I thought it would be at all. Nicky Wells has written a fantastic novel and I look forward to reading her future work.

Thank you Nicky for sending me a copy of Sophie’s Turn. You can follow Nicky on twitter @WellsNicky and visit her website:

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Giveaway: Win a copy of The Lady of the Rivers by Phillippa Gregory

To win a hardback copy of Philippa Gregory's latest novel The Lady of the Rivers please leave a comment below with your twitter or facebook name. I will pick one entrant at random. Giveaway closes 31st October. Please also follow the blog in order to be entered.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Review of Nothing but Trouble by Rachel Gibson

Nothing but Trouble is Rachel Gibson’s fourteenth novel. It is based around Mark Bressler; ex-Captain of the Chinooks hockey team who is recovering from an horrific car accident, and twin Chelsea Ross; an out of work actress who takes on the tough role of carer/assistant to Mark with the promise of a 10,000 dollar bonus…if she can stick with the job for three months.

Mark is depressed after his accident and has already scared of a number of carers who have been sent to his aid, so he imagines that it won’t take much to send Chelsea on her way too. However, he soon finds that he has met his match and Chelsea is prepared to stay and earn her bonus whatever it takes. Nothing but Trouble is a fun read; I actually really enjoyed reading about Mark and Chelsea and seeing the way that their characters got to know each other.

This is the first book by Rachel Gibson that I have read and I really enjoyed it. The plot was light and easy to read with the story mainly focusing on Chelsea and Mark and not many sub plots to distract the reader elsewhere. That said, I thought it worked very well and I became totally engrossed in finding out what would happen between them. However, I did get a bit lost at points with some of the ice hockey explanations as I don’t know very much about this sport.

Overall, I found the book to be predictable, but also quite addictive – I really needed to find out what happened in the end. It was a good read and I will look out for future releases from this author. Nothing but Trouble is part of the ‘Chinooks’ series of books and I found that they do not need to be read in sequence.

I read this as part of the Transworld Reading Challenge

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Review of Persuade Me by Juliet Archer

I am a big fan of Jane Austen and have read all of her works, so I wasn't sure what to expect from a contemporary re-telling of her last novel 'Persuasion'. However, Juliet Archer has done an absolutely fantastic job and 'Persuade Me' has all of the charm and wit of the original but with a contemporary twist that today's readers will be able to relate to.

Persuade Me follows the story of Russian Literature Lecturer Anna Elliot, her somewhat eccentric family and Rick Wentworth the gorgeous celebrity on a book signing tour of the UK, who has made his name in Australian marine biology. After an intense summer romance and bitter break up ten years earlier, Rick and Anna still harbor feelings for each other, but neither will admit it. A chance sighting of Anna with two small children leaves Rick believing that she has moved on without him, even though Anna too is still stuck in the past. Will they be able to tell each other their true feelings and will those feelings still be present once they meet again after ten years?

There are some other very strong (and funny) characters in Persuade Me including Anna’s own family; her father Sir Walter Elliot, sisters Lisa and Mona and the questionable figure Cleopatra Cle – Walter’s personal trainer and masseuse. This intricate web of characters keeps the reader busy at all times and means that there is not a dull moment in this story. I loved the way that Archer has kept the names and personalities of characters and places from the original including setting the story between Kellynch (the Elliot family seat) and Bath.

Jane Austen fans don’t be afraid to read this book; it is brilliant and does not detract from the original. I fell in love with Rick’s character even his moodiness seem to make him more appealing – the ultimate choc lit hero perhaps?! Persuade Me is easily one of my favourite books of the year and is refreshingly different form other titles available.
After reading this book, I will definitely be reading Archer’s first novel in the series ‘The Importance of being Emma’ (Juliet Archer’s modernized version of Jane Austen’s Emma – another one of my favourites!) and be looking out for future works by her.
You can find out more about Juliet Archer here:

Thank you to Choc Lit publishers for sending me a copy of ‘Persuade Me’ to review.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Review of The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

I am a huge fan of Philippa Gregory and was so excited to receive a copy of her latest novel The Lady of the Rivers to review.

The Lady of the Rivers is the third book in the Cousins' War trilogy and focuses on the little known life of Jacquetta Woodville; the Dowager Duchess of Bedford and mother to Elizabeth Woodville, who is the White Queen in the first title in this trilogy. I have read all three of the books now, but I found that you could really read them in any sequence.

Jacquetta was an immensely interesting figure and this book talks of her life growing up in Luxembourg (she was daughter of the Count of Luxembourg) and in British controlled France. Jacquetta marries the British controller of France the Duke of Bedford, but it is her later marriage to his squire Richard Woodville and the births of their numerous children that occupies most of the novel. We also see her relationship with Margaret of Anjou in the book and her close and vital position at Court.

The novel tells us Jacquetta’s story from her point of view. It is fictional, although includes reference to the few facts known about her life. Despite studying history, I know little about the Wars of the Roses and found this element so interesting and particularly the constant battle to keep and hold France despite the cost.

There is a strong theme of magic in the novel, as a result of Jacquetta’s family link to the goddess Melusina. I actually really enjoyed this theme and loved the way it linked in with plots and suspicions of the time. In particular, the way that the book opens with the powerful and terrifying portrayal of Joan of Arc and her subsequent trial.

This is every bit as good as the White Queen and The Red Queen and is a must read for all historical fiction fans. Jacquetta is the ultimate heroine; she is beautiful and powerful, but likeable at the same time. As with other novels by Gregory the text really comes to life and makes you feel that you’re experiencing this piece of history with the characters themselves.

Philippa Gregory has also produced a book entitled The Women of the Cousins’ War to accompany her trilogy and this is now available to purchase. Look out for my review to follow soon.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of The Lady of the Rivers to review.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Review of The Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas

The Secrets Between Us is the first book by Louise Douglas that I have read and it did not disappoint. I was instantly drawn to this title after reading that comparisons had been made with Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, which is my absolute favourite book. The dark and haunting cover also made me instantly think of other gothic novels.

The book follows the story of recently bereaved Sarah whose first born child was still born and whose marriage subsequently falls apart. In order to escape, Sarah is persuaded to accompany her sister and brother-in-law on a holiday to Sicily. It is here under the hot Sicilian sun that Sarah meets Alex and his young son Jamie.
In her haste to get over her loss, she surprises herself and her skeptical family by moving to Burrington Stoke to live with Alex and Jamie as their housekeeper. However, it is here that things are not quite as they seem.

Alex tells Sarah that his wife Genevieve has left him, but things do not appear so straight forward once she is living in his house. Sarah is subject to many strange comments and is herself the subject of small village gossip which begins to turn sinister.
The description of the house, Avalon, and the beautiful, but isolated landscape adds to Sarah’s sense of unease, particularly as Sarah seems to be haunted by her own past as well as feeling the presence of Genevieve wherever she goes. The novel also brings all of those typically gothic elements to the forefront; the bad weather and isolated location among many present in the novel.

Chilling and full of suspense, this is a fabulous novel that you will find difficult to put down. The ending was such a surprise and totally pushed my own theories, built up throughout the novel, out of context.
This is definitely one of my favourite reads this year and I would highly recommend it. I will be looking out for more works by Louise Douglas.

I read this book as part of the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Review of Wrapped up in You by Carole Matthews

Wrapped up in You is Carole Matthews’ nineteenth novel and the first with her new publishers. I was instantly excited about reading this novel, as it revolves around two of my favourite things; Christmas and Africa.

The novel focuses on the life of Janie Johnson; a single hairdresser from Buckingham who lives with her cat in a quiet village. Having been dumped by her long term boyfriend, Janie is subject to blind dates arranged by her best friend Nina and dubious advice offered by many of her clients at the salon. After one disastrous date too many, Janie follows the advice of one of her older, wealthier clients and books a last minute holiday to Kenya. Here, her heart is stolen not only by the stunning landscape and animals, but also by Dominic, a maasai Warrior based at the camp. A holiday romance blossoms, but can love between two such different people really last long term and can Janie manage a cold, dreary English winter without Dominic?

This is a fantastic story that made me laugh out loud, particularly during Janie’s blind date escapade. The novel surprised me in that it is a Christmas novel, but not as you may imagine and instead is based partly in Africa. The setting in Kenya was one of my favourite parts of the book and made me want to go back to Africa! Matthews has described the sheer beauty of African landscape to absolute perfection.

I loved the idea of Dominic, the Maasai warrior, as hero of this book. Dominic is caring,
trustworthy and seems to really look after Janie; it is also a refreshing change to have a different style of hero to read about. I also cannot write a review without mentioning the lovely Mike who is Janie’s neighbour, I felt so sorry for him at various stages in the novel, but thought that he was definitely a heroic figure as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Wrapped up in You, it is like a modern day fairy tale and is a must read for this Christmas. The ending was not as I expected and is exciting and nerve wracking at the same time, it is the perfect book to snuggle up with on a cold winters evening.
I cannot finish this review without mentioning the gorgeous cover of this book, I loved it straight away and it made me feel very Christmassy!

Wrapped up in You is released in paperback on the 27th October 2011

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

Monday, 15 August 2011

Review of The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark

The Sandalwood Tree is a powerful story of love and scandal spanning almost one hundred years.

The story unfolds from two perspectives; that of Evie Mitchell who has arrived in India in 1947 just before the end of the Raj and through the letters and journals of two Victorian ladies living in the same bungalow in Masoorla in the 1850s.
Evie’s husband Martin Mitchell returns from the horrors of the second World War a changed man and when he is offered a Fulbright Scholarship to document the end of the Raj, Evie jumps at the chance of moving to India with their young son hoping that a new setting may reignite their marriage.

Moving to their small bungalow near to Simla, Evie unexpectedly finds some letters hidden behind a loose brick in the kitchen. While her marriage appears to deteriorate, she buries herself in the mystery of deciphering the letters and the identity of the authors.

The plot then moves between 1947 and the 1850’s following Felicity and Adela in England and India. Although, we only hear from felicity and Adela in the third person I felt as if I knew them and really liked Felicity’s character. In her desperation and loneliness Evie becomes obsessed with their story and their fate and it is here that the book excels by managing to intertwine these two different eras together perfectly.

The ending was fantastic and really put everything into place. I enjoyed this book very much; it was so evocative and mesmerizing that I really felt I was there in India smelling the spices and perfumes at the bazaar and hearing the jangling of the bracelets as people walked around. I will definitely be looking out for other works by Elle Newmark.

I read this book as part of the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Giveaway: Win a copy of Idol by Carrie Duffy

For your chance to win a copy of Idol by Carrie Duffy follow my blog and follow me on twitter. Leave a comment below with your twitter name to let me know you have entered. The giveaway closes on Friday 19th August at 5pm and the winner will be contacted by Monday 22nd August.
Idol is published on the 18th August and is Carrie Duffy's debut novel.
Read my review a couple of posts below to find out more about this fantastic read!
Good luck x
Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of Idol for this giveaway.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Chick Lit Plus Reading Challenge 2011

I have just joined the Chick Lit Plus Reading Challenge of 2011.

I will read twelve chicklit novels including two by debut authors who have released their first book in 2011.

I will be putting each book on this page as I read them. If you have any recommendations let me know.

1. Idol by Carrie Duffy

Friday, 5 August 2011

Wrapped up in You by Carole Matthews

I was very excited to receive a proof copy of Wrapped up in You by Carole Matthews this morning. Look out for my review in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Review of Idol by Carrie Duffy

I was so excited to receive a proof copy of Idol by debut author Carrie Duffy. This is one of the best books I have read this year and easily one of the most exciting debuts.

Idol follows the lives of childhood rivals Jenna Jonsson, an international pop star and Sadie Lane, an aspiring dancer.
Jenna has already found fame and fortune, but a chance meeting with rock band Phoenix could catapult her to superstardom. However, tensions between Jenna and the band make things not run as smoothly as she anticipated. For Sadie fame is still a dream, but an unexpected situation takes her to Las Vegas where her life changes in an instant. In Las Vegas, Jenna and Sadie are re-acquainted, but can they put events in the past behind them and work together to help one another?

Idol will take you on a non stop journey to some of the world’s most famous A-list destinations, from the recording studios of London to the laid back luxury of Ibiza and on to dizzying capital of gambling; Las Vegas. I loved Jenna’s character, despite her fame she comes across as very personable, whilst I liked Sadie, I found that I didn’t warm to her as much. There is lots of romantic detail in the book and although events seem to move quickly, there are a few twists and turns that surprised me.

Glamorous, exciting and romantic, I found that I couldn’t put this book down. It is a perfect holiday read and I certainly wanted to book a trip to Las Vegas straight after reading this! I am really looking forward to reading more books from Carrie Duffy.

Highly recommended for chick lit fans, Idol is this year's hottest read!

Idol will be released on the 18th August 2011.

Many thanks to Harper Collins for sending a proof copy.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Review of The Wish by Sasha Blake

Review of the The Wish by Sasha Blake

A great summer sizzler – don't miss out!

The Wish is based around the glamorous and, as we learn, dangerous Las Vegas lives of Ben Arlington 24 year old, super rich son of a casino owner, Lulu his lovely PA. Sasha Arlington Ben's mother and perhaps the coldest character I have ever come across and Bessie, a somewhat shady but elusive character from Sasha's past. Ben's long suffering father Frank also has a key role along with Ben's sister Ariel and other characters including Ben's fiance, Sunshine Beam. Lulu was my favourite character without a doubt, although both Ben and Ariel come across very well.
Sofia appears emotion less and cold hearted throughout and is in my opinion impossible to warm to. Whilst, Lulu is a delight and I found myself hoping that her wish would come true. There are a lot of characters in this novel, but they are all intertwined and link together very well.

Sofia and her assistant, the henchman like Sterling will stop at nothing to halt Bessie from revealing a secret, which could ruin her life. But, what is this secret? This book takes the reader on a journey from the glamour and glitz of Las Vegas, to icy cold Mont Blanc, the exclusive and intimate Bahamas and filthy trailer parks in the dusty Arizona desert. It is a whirlwind story and is worth every minute of it.

The book is divided into four parts allowing the reader to gain information on the early lives of Sofia and Bessie, an introductory part and a concluding part. The short chapters also made me want to read on and on. I thought this worked well and would really recommend this book. It is a great thriller and family drama in one and you will not be able to put it down!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Review of The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen is the second book in Philippa Gregory's trilogy 'The Cousin's War' based on the War of the Roses. In The White Queen Gregory brought the figure of Elizabeth Woodville to life and in the second book we learn about the life of Margaret Beaufort; mother of Henry Tudor and heir to the Lancastrian line often described as “ the most powerful line in Britain's history”.

Margaret Beaufort, a woman infamous throughout history for her pious and cold nature is brought to life as a cunning, scheming and unstoppable figure who will do and destroy anything to see her son on the throne of England. In the White Queen, Elizabeth Woodville is a much more personable character – determined and scheming, but likeable. Whereas, Margaret Beaufort is portrayed as cunning and someone who will stop at nothing to pursue her own dreams – that of becoming Margaret R, something she believes she is destined to become through God's own will. I found that she was much harder to connect with, however, this was perhaps due to her harsh and unthinkable upbringing – married at twelve and a mother at thirteen years of age.

I really enjoyed reading this book and found that I couldn't really put it down. I read this straight after reading The White Queen and the two books do overlap in terms of time frame, but are great to read together as the reader can see two different perspectives of events at the time. I also enjoyed reading about the figures on the such whom I knew much less about – such as the Stanley's and the Stafford's.

My only reservations about The Red Queen were that the events of the Princes in the Tower were slightly skimmed over. However, overall I thought this was a brilliant novel, well researched and which brought to life an infamous character who has perhaps been eclipsed by her more famous son and grandson.

I absolutely cannot wait to read the next installment of The Cousins War! This is historical fiction at its best.


Sunday, 1 May 2011

Review of The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series and it is a great start for debut author Julie Kagawa. I was instantly swept away by this book and found that I could not really put it down.

Meghan Chase, the protagonist of the novel, wakes up on her 16th birthday expecting a normal day, hoping that her mother will take her to get her drivers permit. However, before the day is out she finds herself transported to another world, the Faery Kingdom of Nevernever in a desperate search for her four year old brother who has been kidnapped by unknown (and un-human) forces.

I loved Meghan’s character and she really changes and becomes a stronger person by the end of the novel. I also adored the Grimalkin, the talking cat who helps Meghan in exchange for a favour.
Robbie/Puck and Ash were also interesting additions. I surprised myself by liking Ash by the end of the novel – he is the typical bad boy heartthrob!

The plot itself was fantastic and takes the reader on a non stop journey from small town America to the beauty of King Oberon’s Summer Court to the chilling, icy landscape of Queen Mab’s Tir Na Norg and onto the grey, terrifying land of King Machina and the Iron Fey. The plot itself is full of twists and turns as we follow Meghan, Ash, Puck and Grimalkin on their journey to rescue Ethan. The fantasy element and romantic side of the novel worked extremely well together.

Overall, I found that I couldn’t put this book down. I loved the main characters especially Meghan and Grimalkin. I did find the use of Shakespearian characters to be an unexpected addition, but it actually works very well. There is so much going on in this book that there was no opportunity at all to be bored, as I was always desperate to know what would happen next.
 I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Review of The Emerald Atlas: The Books of the Beginning by John Stephens

I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy of this book and it is fabulous!
The Emerald Atlas is by far the best book I have read in quite a while. I could not put it down. It is an action packed adventure involving three young orphans who find themselves being transported to one village in various different times.
There is a real fairytale element to this story and the sense that good must triumph over evil. Evil being the beautiful, but dangerous Countess who controls Cambridge Falls in the past that the children visit.
The plot itself jumps to various different times, but i didn't ever feel lost. The different places visited by the children, such as the kingdom of the dwarf King were mesmerising.
Overall, this is a brilliant book and  was so pleased to see that this is the first book in a trilogy, so i cannot wait to read the next one.
I would recommend this to children and adults alike, you will not be dissappointed. 

In my opinion this deserves 10/10!

Book Reviews

Welcome to 'Today I'm Reading'. I have started this book review site in order to share my views on the books that I am currently reading. My favourite genres are romance, historical fiction and mystery. I also enjoy reading biographies.
If publishers or authors would like me to review a copy of their book, please contact me through the website or email: