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
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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.