A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “December, 2014”

Guest Post by Valerie-Anne Baglietto


Book Blurb

Christmas in Fools Castle will never be the same again.

Nothing much happens around here, but that suits Antoinette Ellis perfectly. She wants the cocoon the village provides. Fate has taken too many of her loved ones, and all she has left is her brother, and their late sister’s daughter, Tabitha. Antoinette gave up her future to look after her young niece, but her sacrifice hasn’t gone unnoticed.

When a stranger called Rufus moves into the grim, grey house opposite her cottage, odd things start to happen in Fools Castle. He admits he’s not the person he appears to be, but he won’t reveal who he really is. And what secrets lie within that little old book of his, which no one is allowed to look inside?

A miracle is long overdue, but the season for miracles is just around the corner…

THE LITTLE BOOK OF LOST HEARTS is an enchanting, festive, contemporary novella perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern and Sarah Addison Allen. 


Valerie-Anne Baglietto has kindly written a guest post for my blog….

When I set out to write a festive story, I instantly homed in on the quote by Calvin Coolidge: ‘Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.’ The season ought to be about kindness and generosity and selflessness, yet those things shouldn’t be reserved only for December. So I wrote about a heroine who’d made a huge sacrifice in her life and how a little magic from an unusual source might help put things back in perspective for her. I also hoped I could capture some of the essence of those Christmas movies we all love to watch year after year, over and over. It’s a Wonderful Life, Nativity!, Elf (fast becoming a classic!) We all have our favourites. I wanted something almost cinematic for an ending, a grand gesture, a glittering homage to my own feel-good mini ‘movie’… Possibly I was being ambitious, but I sincerely hoped it worked (even on a small scale)!


About Valerie-Anne Baglietto


Valerie-Anne Baglietto wrote her first fairy tale at the age of four. A story about a little boy whose mother’s nose was incredibly long and spiral shaped. It should have been obvious where her predilection lay. Fast forward a couple of decades, when she won the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Award for her debut novel THE WRONG SORT OF GIRL. After three more romantic comedies – with no magical elements whatsoever – life with her young family took over.

But on Christmas Eve 2011 Santa brought her a plot to play with. It became ONCE UPON A WINTER, which reached #1 in both the Fairy Tale and the Contemporary Fantasy Charts on Amazon UK. This was followed by THE TROUBLE WITH KNIGHTS IN SHINING ARMOUR and two short stories in the Belinda Jones’ Travel Club SUNLOUNGER anthologies.

Valerie-Anne’s Christmas novella THE LITTLE BOOK OF LOST HEARTS is a standalone story but introduces the village of Fools Castle, where her next full-length, modern day fairy tale will be set (due out 2015).

Guest Post by Gina Henning

How_to_Bake_The_Perfect_Christmas_Cake How_to_Bake_The_Perfect_Pecan_Pie

Gina Henning has written an interesting guest post for my blog about how she researches for her books.


Research: Scoping out the Scene

I’ll let you in on a secret-one of my number one resources is: Google. Oh, I guess that wasn’t that big of a secret. True enough, however if you looked at my internet browser history you would find an array of searches. Including but not limited to various languages, restaurants, trees, architectural styles, cars, and the list goes on.

When I’m writing a story I research everything. I create a Pinterest board (I’m @henningland) of outfits, food, decorations, restaurants, trees, you name it. I look up weather history to determine what the temperature would be like during the time of year I’m writing and if snow is possible like in How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake. I also research stores and what they sell.

In How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie, there are few scenes that include being in a car. As I was writing I looked at dozens of images of the interior of cars, their buttons, stereo controls and dashboards. I needed to be in the car with my characters. How close would they be? Would their hands touch at any point? What roads would they encounter during their trip? What would they see?

In How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake, Lauren goes to a few restaurants, for these scenes I checked out places where each scene is set and what types of food they serve. Sometimes I might take something from a menu and other times I’m inspired by what I see or the characters let me know what they would prefer to order. Jack is not the kind of guy who likes having food ordered for him!

In both How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie and How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake, the readers get to enter the homes of Lauren and some of the other characters. While writing these scenes I checked out the architectural designs in the area and how it would look from the inside. What type of bedding does my character have? Does Lauren like to keep her home warm or cool?

Kitchens are important in both How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie and How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake as they revolve around baking. I had to decide what the kitchens looked like. Were they warm and sunny or cold and bleak?

Sometimes I have to determine the plausibility of a situation, could this happen in real life? Yes, in a fictional world anything can happen, but I want my readers to have confidence that whatever takes place in my stories is actually possible.

Besides the Home for the Holiday Series I have written a few other stories. One in particular revolves around an invasive species and how it happened. This story took a lot of research to determine if the plot could be possible.

In addition to the internet, I also use daily life in my stories. Some events or character traits that pop up in my books are pulled from things I or someone I know has experienced. When I’m watching a movie I take down notes about facial expressions and body movement. If a person is sad, how do they look? What do their shoulders do? When someone is nervous how do they act? Does their speech change? What do they do with their hands?

There are two funny quotes, I have recently seen about writing: “Yes, I am writing about you” and “Oh, this is so going in my next novel.” I think these both pretty much sum up the way I research things for my books.



How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie

Amazon US   Amazon UK     Nook US   Nook GB   Google Play   Kobo   iBooks

How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake

Amazon US   Amazon UK   Nook US   Nook GB   Google Play   Kobo   iBooks

Guest Post by Nicola May

Book Cover

The lovely Nicola May has kindly written a guest post for my blog.


All I want for Christmas….. by Nicola May 

Writing a Christmas novella is not always easy as you have to get your head into a sparkly, snowy mood way before the actual event.

However, for someone who loves Christmas this is not a problem at all. I even went out and brought some mince pies and mulled wine whilst writing Christmas Yves to get me in the mood. 

My perfect Christmas requests are very simple – Family, friends, snow, sherry, scrummy food, and ideally someone to cuddle up to in front of the fire. Mr Right is on my Christmas list. So come on Santa, push him down my chimney!


About Nicola May


Nicola May lives in Ascot with her rescue cat Stanley. Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, drinking bubbles and eating flapjacks. Christmas Yves is her first novella. She has written 5 novels and a non-fiction guide on How to Create & Maintain your author profile, plus increase Amazon Sales.

Cover Reveal – ‘The Man Who Can’t Be Moved’ by Tilly Tennant

Book Cover

This is the cover of Tilly Tennant’s brand new novel, ‘The Man Who Can’t Be Moved’ which is out this Friday the 19th December.


Book Blurb

Fledgling journalist Ellie Newton is keen to prove herself when she lands a hard-won job at the Millrise Echo.  So when reports come in of a man camped on the corner of a local street, refusing to move until the girl who has jilted him takes him back, Ellie is on a mission to get the scoop.  

She arrives to meet Ben Kelly, a man she is instantly attracted to. But she has a job to do and an incredible story to write and has soon pledged to help him win back the girl of his dreams.  With Ellie’s help, Ben’s plight captures the hearts and imaginations of the public. And when a TV film crew appears to make a feature on the most romantic gesture the town of Millrise has ever seen, Ellie’s mission gets its happy ending… 

But while Ellie has been busy fixing the lives of her wayward parents, providing shoulders for heartbroken friends to cry on, and worrying about her terminally-ill aunt, she hasn’t noticed that she has also been falling quietly in love – with the very man she has now ensured is hopelessly out of her reach

Ellie must choose between doing the right thing, and the thing that feels right. And whatever choice she makes, someone will get their heart broken.


About Tilly Tennant


Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing, graduating in 2009 with first class honours. She wrote her first novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor, and considers herself very lucky that this enables her to read many wonderful books before the rest of the world gets them.

The Man Who Can’t Be Moved is Tilly’s second full length novel. 



Connect with Tilly on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TillyTenWriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TillyTennant

or check out the blog: www.tillytennant.com

Guest Post – Karen Sullivan about Orenda Books


Karen Sullivan recently left Arcadia Books and took the very big step of starting her own publishing business.  Karen has written a guest post for my blog in which she explains what led her to make this decision and what she has already achieved.


That mystical energy …

Karen Sullivan – Publisher and founder of Orenda Books

Sometimes the best decisions are made on the hoof, without really contemplating the logistics or the practicalities. And sometimes things fall into place so perfectly, you know that a decision was right – something that was simply meant to happen.

Eight weeks ago, I got news that Arcadia Books, where I worked as Managing Editor, would be postponing the vast majority of the 2015 publishing programme in a restructuring programme. My job would no longer exist in its original incarnation, and I would no longer be doing what I love – acting as a midwife for wonderful authors, producing fabulous, beautiful books. Within the space of 24 hours, I made a decision to go it on my own – start a little independent publishing company, which would allow me to do what I like doing best, and help to bring some extraordinary books to the marketplace.

I’ve always had a passion for translated literature, so I instantly decided that half of my six titles per year would be in translation. I’d just spent a fabulous few days at Bloody Scotland festival, where my enthusiasm for crime and thrillers hit an all-time high, so that seemed the right genre on which to focus. But I also knew that I’d love the opportunity to publish books outside these genres – fiction that resonated with me, and deserved to be recognised.

Then came the issue of funding, but my extremely supportive ex-FD husband managed to secure enough to support the publishing programme for the first year or so. Domestic and international print and ebook sales and distribution were soon negotiated, and then it was time to get some ‘talent’ on board.

When I was at Arcadia, I’d stumbled across David F. Ross’s self-published The Last Days of Disco – a brilliantly authentic, funny and moving story set in 1980s Ayrshire. Contracts hadn’t been signed, and I was fortunate enough that David was keen to join my new venture. That book has been edited, partially rewritten, polished to perfection, typeset and proofread, and is now ‘queuing’ to go live on ebook on 15 December, with the print version following early in the New Year. The amazing jacket has had Twitter ablaze with comments, and some very special people provided glowing quotes! David is a tremendous writer, and I feel honoured to grab him at the beginning of what is bound to be a long and successful career.

Next up was Ragnar Jonasson, an Icelandic crime writer who I’d met at CrimeFest last May. I watched with surprise as dozens of avid fans lined up to buy his book after a successful panel – a book that didn’t actually exist! This scenario was repeated at Bloody Scotland, and I thought to myself: Someone is missing a trick! Crime author Quentin Bates had produced a sample translation for each of the five books in the Dark Iceland series, and having worked with Quentin before, he was an obvious choice to translate the lot. I marched down to DHH Literary Agency, where I had to persuade David Headley that this talented author would be in safe hands in a brand-new venture. Fortunately, he agreed, a deal was done for two titles – Snowblind and Nightblind – and I had my second, marvellous author on the team! The first title is currently being translated, and we’ll be launching at CrimeFest in May, with books available for Newcastle Noir. Watch this space! The crime community definitely swung into action when the news broke, and this is one series that is bound to soar!

On the same day, a second pitch was made to the lovely Broo Doherty, of the same agency. When I was at Arcadia, my colleague Gary Pulsifer had raved about Paul E. Hardisty’s Yemen-set eco-thriller The Abrupt Physics of Dying. I’d read enough of it to know that it would not only fit perfectly on my list, but give me a chance to ‘grow’ an incredibly talented debut author. The deal was sealed, and to my complete astonishment, its announcement brought interest from literary scouts, agents and film-makers both here, in the US and in Europe. Not just for this title, but my others as well. While I was completely confident about this signing, nothing prepared me for the utter brilliance of this author – who had produced an exquisitely written, fast-paced page-turner with a perfectly rendered setting and a protagonist who was crying out for a series. Was there a sequel? I asked Broo. There was indeed, and I purchased it – The Evolution of Fear – sight unseen. Already ebooked and about to go live on 15 December, with a print publication date in early March, The Abrupt Physics of Dying is receiving loads of early rave reviews, and the Canadian/Australian author will be flying over for publication day.

Next up was one of my all-time favourite Norwegian writers, Gunnar Staalesen, ‘the Norwegian Chandler’. He’s sold millions of books around the world and the time was clearly ripe to place him firmly on the crime-writing map in English. Only four of his 20-something Varg Veum titles have been published in English (at Arcadia), and rumour had it that his latest three, We Shall Inherit the Wind, Where Roses Never Die and No One Is So Safe in Danger, were the best yet. To my delight, Gunnar and his agent Henrik Francke at Gyldendal Agency in Norway were keen to be involved, and a three-book deal for World English rights was negotiated. Just as exciting was the fact that Don Bartlett, who has translated some of the finest Norwegian literature around, including Nesbo, Knausgaard and Pettersen, was keen to be involved, and he’s been signed up to translate all three! We Shall Inherit the Wind will be published officially in June 2015, but launched at CrimeFest alongside Ragnar Jonasson’s gorgeous Nightblind!

One of my favourite books at Arcadia, was Finnish debut author Kati Hiekkapelto’s The Hummingbird, translated by David Hackston. Not only is Kati herself the most extraordinary woman (a performance artist and punk singer, as well as an immensely talented writer), but the sequel, The Defenceless, was also up for grabs and I did not even think twice about purchasing the rights from Otava Agency in Finland. The same translator is available, and he’ll start working on this gritty, gorgeously written novel, which sees the return of police detective Anna Fekete and her partner Esko, on the trail of another murderer in a Northern Finnish town. Published in September, we’ll hopefully launch her at a rather wonderful Scottish crime festival!

Since then, submissions have been flying in and I can hardly keep up with the reading – a wealth of undiscovered talent certainly exists, and the most difficult thing is going to be sticking to a six-title limit!

In May, every one of my authors will be attending CrimeFest (including David F. Ross, who will be my honorary guest), where Orenda Books will be officially launched. It’s unlikely that I’ll get authors from Iceland, Finland, Norway, Scotland and Australia in one place at the same time, so it’s an obvious moment to celebrate a venture that has filled me with more excitement and enthusiasm than I can ever remember. I hope you can all join us!

Ragnar and Kati will also appear at Newcastle Noir earlier in May, and we’ve had a clutch of invites for the Edinburgh Book Festival too, with Bloody Scotland still to come.

Things have come together in such a way that it feels as though it was meant to happen. That’s not too say that it’s all been easy. The admin is threatening to drown me, and there are many, many fiddly, ongoing negotiations to be undertaken, problems to be ironed out. I’ve got some great editors helping out, some interns supporting the marketing and PR plans, some seasoned experts giving lots of advice and helping to fill the (sometimes seemingly vast) holes in my experience and knowledge. But every moment of it has been gratifying and positive. That split-second decision was undoubtedly the right one. And it has all come together in eight short weeks.

As for the name – this was an obvious choice. Not only is Canadian author Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda one of my all-time favourite novels, but the word itself – which loosely translates as ‘the mystical power that drives human accomplishment’ – is a nod to my Canadian heritage and a First Nations word whose provenance is a tribe that settled in a part of Ontario where I’ve spent every summer of my life. It often seems that there is a ‘mystical power’ afoot here, and an almost surreal energy pulling together events in such an extraordinary way. I’m humbled and thrilled by the support we’ve received, and in just over a week, you’ll see what we’re doing and why!

Our website www.orendabooks.co.uk will be launched just before Christmas, with a beautiful short story from every Orenda author. That’s our treat for you, and it comes with a big thank-you to everyone who has helped to get Orenda Books on the right path.

Blog Tour – ‘The Snow Globe’ by Sheila Roberts

The Snow Globe

Sheila Roberts’ novels, ‘Nine Lives of Christmas’, ‘On Strike for Christmas’ and ‘The Snow Globe’ were published by Piatkus on 2nd December in paperback.  This month a number of bloggers have been reviewing her books as part of a blog tour.  I have chosen to review ‘The Snow Globe’.

Kiley Gray is having a hard time of things.  She goes on a weekend break with her friends Suzanne and Allison.  Whilst away, Kiley comes across an antique shop and decides to take a look inside.  She can’t afford much but surely there’s no harm in looking.  As she wanders around Kiley comes across a beautiful snow globe and finds herself instantly drawn to it.  It seems that the snow globe has been passed around for many years from generation to generation creating magic wherever it goes.  Kiley decides to buy it but doesn’t realise just how much her life is about to change.

All Kiley wants for Christmas is somebody to love.  She shakes the snow globe and what she sees leads her on a big adventure.  When she shares what has happened with her two friends they don’t believe her.  Both women are about to discover for themselves that at Christmas time sometimes the impossible can be possible and that miracles do happen.

I really enjoyed ‘The Snow Globe’.  It’s a lovely little magical story which left me feeling nice and relaxed.  I loved reading about the toy shop.  If there was one like that near me I would probably spend ages in it.  The brownies and cookies that Allison baked sounded wonderful.

Suzanne definitely needed to be shown where she was going wrong.  She was so intent on making money and having a perfect house that she was missing out on the simple things in life and not spending enough time with her family.

If you still aren’t feeling Christmassy read this book.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

Quercus #GreatestGift Christmas Campaign + Giveaway


On Monday 1st December Quercus launched their Christmas campaign, The greatest gift is the passion for reading.

Quercus have invited as many readers, bloggers, Book Tubers and bookshops as they can to share their passion for books during December using the hashtag #GreatestGift.

I feel privileged to be part of this campaign and today I am sharing with everyone why I think books are the #GreatestGift to give.


I have a great passion for books and could never imagine a life without them.

I love how you can travel to so many places in the UK and abroad without actually moving from your chair.  You get to meet so many different characters and sometimes end up feeling as if you are a part of their life.  You can gain so much knowledge from books.

Books give so many hours of pleasure.  They are also a good form of escapism from the stresses of everyday life.

This year I am giving my family some books for Christmas.  I believe they truly are the #GreatestGift a person can give.


As part of this campaign Quercus are giving away some books.  I have been allowed to choose five which one lucky person will win.  Being as I read a mixture of genres I have selected a variety of books.

Peter May Lucy Atkins Tom Pollock




Hilary Boyd Alice Peterson





To win these books just tweet me on Twitter @destinylover09 and Quercus @Quercusbooks and answer the following question:-

What book do you want to receive as a present at Christmas?

This competition closes tomorrow at 6 p.m.


On Monday http://parmenionbooks.wordpress.com/ will be telling us why they think books make the #GreatestGift.

Interview with Amanda Egan


Amanda Egan has written several books.  Today sees the publication of her brand new novel and I asked her a few questions about it.


Can you tell me a bit about your new book please?

My latest chicklit novel is released on Wednesday 10th December and tells the story of Lizzie who is jilted on the day of her wedding and finds herself living in a ramshackle cottage, the one she should have been sharing with her new husband, with a various mix of waifs and strays.


How long did it take you to write it?

Books usually take me about six months to write and edit – that’s not taking into account the planning and note-making time – and the endless thought bubbles that need to form in my head before I get to that stage!  Hubbie calls that process my ‘plot-face’ – it’s when I kind of disappear to spend time with my characters and I adopt a ‘vague’/dopey look!


You have written several novels now.  Where do you get your ideas from?

Ideas can come from anywhere – a smell, a snippet of conversation, a character I see walking along the road.  One of my novels came from an old Mini I see parked every day, and another came from a TV ad.  See?  I told you.  They come from EVERYWHERE!


Will you be celebrating the publication of your new book?

I will indeed.  On the day the book comes out, I’ll be having a launch dinner complete with some daft games and probably some dancing with a few friends who have always been hugely supportive of my writing.  We’ve celebrated every book in the same way and it really helps to take the edge of those nerves as I set my next ‘baby’ off on its journey.


Where do you do most of your writing?

Most of my work is done in the kitchen or sitting room.  I’m either at my desk in the kitchen or flopped on a sofa with some dodgy daytime TV playing quietly in the background.  I love to have old sitcoms babbling away – sometimes distracting but usually just another source of inspiration.


Can we expect loads more books from you?

Well, I hope so!  I dread the day that the words, people and plots dry up.  I thank my lucky stars every time the seed of an idea pops into my head and I’d love to think that they will continue.


Did you always want to write?

I’ve always been a massive reader and scribbler.  I loved ‘Composition’ at school – the joy of putting pen to paper and letting my imagination run wild was just THE BEST!  Writing was the subject I got most gold stars for and I started my first (aborted!) novel aged 11 so, yes, I guess I have always wanted to write.  I suppose I just had to wait until the time was right.


Describe a day in your life.

I get up at about 7.30, kick the teen out to work and then check sales, Twitter, Facebook, email etc.  If I’m mid-novel, I try to aim for about 3k words a day.  That can take a morning if the words are flowing or what seems like an age if they’re not!  Editing days are like walking through treacle and I can’t wait for them to end.  I finish at 4.30 every day as I care for my mum so that’s OUR time.  If I’m really in the flow I’ll work for a bit longer in the evening and also read through chapters with my husband. The rest of the time is taken up with promoting – the hardest part of being an Indie.


About Amanda Egan


Born in London, Amanda trained professionally as an actress at ‘Studio 68’ and began writing chick/mummy-lit in 2011.

Her first two novels, the ‘Mummy Misfit’ diaries, have been enthusiastically received as a humorously perceptive insight into the easily recognised, self-obsessed mums found at prep school gates the world over.

Amanda now writes romcoms and has also released two Christmas novellas.

She has a passion for crafts and entertaining and enjoys actively engaging with her readers by sharing news and discussions on her ‘Diary of a Mummy Misfit’ blog. You can join in by following her on Facebook ‘Mummy Misfit – Amanda Egan’ or on Twitter @Mummy_Misfit.



‘Life After Seth’ is available to buy on Amazon:-

Links for UK Amazon

Links for US Amazon

Amanda Egan’s Blog


Blog Tour – ‘Petit Four’


Last month I took part in a book launch for ‘Petit Four’.  Click on the link below to be taken to my blog post.


I have since read ‘Petit Four’ and as part of a blog tour I am now reviewing it.

‘Petit Four’ has been edited by Lucie Simone who has also written the introduction.  I think it’s wonderful how this anthology was created simply by Sue Watson suggesting to Lucie that they write a book about cake.  ‘Petit Four’ consists of four lovely romantic short stories.


Après Vous’ by Lucie Simone

Tara takes her niece on holiday to Paris for two weeks as a graduation present.  But little is she prepared for events there.

In this story two people rekindle their love 32 years later.  I really enjoyed reading ‘Après Vous’.  The descriptions of the Eiffel Tower were wonderful.  Cake played a big part.


‘Cake Therapy’ by Cindy Arora

Olivia Cisneros starts working at SF Bridge News as a staff reporter with Tammy Kovac is her mentor.  Tammy is shocked to find that Olivia doesn’t eat cake and takes the necessary action to change her mind.  They soon become the best of friends.

Seven years later and lots has happened in Olivia’s life.  To top it all Tammy gets a new job which means a new colleague for Olivia to get used to.

I liked how Olivia’s friends and even her little girl all rallied together to get her out of the rut she was stuck in.


‘The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam’ by Sue Watson

Milly works as a waitress at the Victoriana Tea Rooms.  She loves baking and dreams of owning her own café.  For Milly cakes play a big part in her life, conjuring up various memories.  Capable of producing some wonderful creations Milly is constantly put down by her boss.  However, things are about to change.  It looks like the tea rooms are about to be taken over.  But what of Milly’s job?

This was a wonderful and often funny story.  The descriptions of the cakes were absolutely heavenly and made me salivate.  I would so love to eat rose-scented cakes and champagne cupcakes.  I was so happy when Mrs Jackson got her just desserts.


‘Her Charms’ by Joel Zlotnik

Scott is the Mayor of Ola Vista, a small and respectable town.  One day whilst in the park Scott meets a woman called Nicole who gives him a St Patrick’s Day cupcake containing a four-leaf clover charm.  He asks her out and they soon start dating.  Scott regularly finds cupcakes left by Nicole outside his front door with various charms and notes.

This story has been written from a man’s point of view which is a good idea as it is too easy to forget about how the male feels in romantic situations.  I think the whole cupcake thing was lovely.


I enjoyed reading all four stories.  They made me feel nice and relaxed and I felt at times as if I was sitting on a fluffy cloud somewhere.  My favourite story was ‘The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam’ by Sue Watson closely followed by ‘Après Vous’ by Lucie Simone.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

Book Launch – ‘Annie’s War’ by Mackenzie Brown


‘Annie’s War’ is Mackenzie Brown’s new book.  It is available to buy in paperback and from today it is also out on kindle.


Book Blurb

This is the true story of ordinary people living through extraordinary times.  Annie Newland’s life starts in 1914, in the worst of circumstances, but this is only the beginning – as life continues to put obstacles in the way of her happiness.Annie’s War is an epic tale of family drama and a love story set between two world wars. 

An uplifting and fascinating true story of the early lives of the author’s grandparents.


This is a photo of Mackenzie Brown’s grandfather.



Mackenzie Brown’s talented daughter has put together a trailer for this book.


‘Annie’s War’ is available to buy on Amazon:-

Paperback links (UK & USA)



Universal – worldwide kindle link 

‘Conditional Love’ by Cathy Bramley


Cathy Bramley is thrilled to announce that a new ebook edition of CONDITIONAL LOVE is being published by Transworld on Friday 5th December.  A paperback version is to follow in 2015.

Cathy first published CONDITIONAL LOVE herself on Amazon in October 2013 but now it has had the full Transworld treatment.


Book Blurb

A takeaway, TV and tea with two sugars is about as exciting as it gets for thirty-something Sophie Stone. Sophie’s life is safe and predictable, which is just the way she likes it, thank you very much.

But when a mysterious benefactor leaves her an inheritance, Sophie has to accept that change is afoot. There is one big catch: in order to inherit, Sophie must agree to meet the father she has never seen.

Saying ‘yes’ means the chance to build her own dream home, but she’ll also have to face the past and hear some uncomfortable truths…

With interference from an evil boss, warring parents, an unreliable boyfriend and an architect who puts his foot in it every time he opens his mouth, will Sophie be able to build a future on her own terms – and maybe even find love along the way?


Cathy Bramley asked her editor, Harriet Bourton to share her thoughts about this new edition of the book in her own words:

I first read CONDITIONAL LOVE before I’d met Cathy. I’d seen her on Twitter talking to bloggers I follow and I was impressed by her cover for the book and the reviews she had, so I bought it and started reading. That one casual purchase led to Cathy’s deal with Transworld and a creative, fun and rewarding new author relationship. Some happy months later, Cathy and I set about looking at CONDITIONAL LOVE with a fresh eye. I thought the novel was wonderful, full of Cathy’s trademark warmth, comfort and good humour, but being an editor we can never leave well enough alone, and I had some ideas for how Cathy could squeeze even more out of the story. The heart of the novel is still the same, and the over-arching plot and characters too, but I think of this new refreshed edition of CONDITIONAL LOVE as being the high-definition version: brimming with colour and romance, sharp witted and lively from beginning to end, and impossible to resist once you’ve taken a glance!


Author Bio

Cathy Bramley is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, a four-part serialised novel (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), and Conditional Love. Both are being published as paperbacks in 2015. She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog.

Her recent career as a full-time writer of light-hearted, romantic fiction has come as somewhat of a lovely surprise after spending the last eighteen years running her own marketing agency. However, she has been always an avid reader, hiding her book under the duvet and reading by torchlight. Luckily her husband has now bought her a Kindle with a light, so that’s the end of that palaver.

Cathy loves to hear from her readers. You can get in touch via her website http://www.CathyBramley.co.uk Facebook page Facebook.com/CathyBramleyAuthor or on Twitter twitter.com/CathyBramley


You can buy ‘Conditional Love’ on Amazon – http://smarturl.it/CL1

Emily St. John Mandel discusses ‘Station Eleven’

Station Eleven

‘Station Eleven’ is Emily St. John Mandel’s latest novel.  It is a book that everyone has been talking about and one I am very much looking forward to reading and reviewing.

Below is an interesting video in which Emily talks about the inspiration of her new book and the secrets of her writing technique.


Interview with Ian Jackson


Ian Jackson has just had his debut novel published by Percy Publishing.  He has kindly taken the time to answer some questions for me.


You’ve written your debut novel.  How do you feel?

Ecstatic! I love the process of writing fiction and have always wanted to complete a crime thriller. I’m very pleased with the finished result. Ruth Killeen my agent says that the book will ‘challenge a readers’ emotions and test their morals’ and I think she’s spot on.


Can you tell me a little bit about your book please?


Dead Charming is a psychological crime thriller based in Greater Manchester. The book tells the story of two central characters, Jenny Foster a novice criminal profiler and Joe Reed a serial rapist and later murderer.

Joe Reed is charming and charismatic and the book opens to describe his crimes against the women he has seduced. As the novel continues, all is not what it seems and Reed takes the reader through a series of twists and turns, analysing his psychopathy with terrifying results.

Jenny Foster is married with a daughter and her ambition has driven her on to secure her dream role as a criminal profiler attached to the Manchester Metropolitan Police. She is soon out of her depth as the investigation becomes more complicated and she is faced with real-life situations. At the same time, her personal life spirals out of control with catastrophic results putting her entire team in danger.


How long did it take you to write?

I began writing Dead Charming in February 2013 and finished in October 2013, so about nine months. Perhaps that’s why they call a finished novel, the writer’s ‘baby’.


Where did you get your ideas from?

I have always been interested in psychology and crime. The characters portrayed do not resemble anyone I know, but each of us has the capacity to be unkind, with that trait developing into evil for some people.

I spent two years as a volunteer at a Wirral hospital in the psychiatric unit and a further five years as a volunteer at a homeless shelter. I encountered many forms of mental illness, some of which could clearly lead to violence if left unchecked.

I became interested in what triggers would be necessary to turn a sufferer of somewhat mild or common psychological imbalances into a person that might commit despicable acts. I asked myself who might be to blame when a person who might be a borderline sociopath escalates their behaviour to act out their psychotic fantasies.

That journey of discovery continues.


What are you working on now if anything?

I work full time, running my own business in Chester and write when I find the time.

I am currently writing my second novel, with the working title Dead Precious and have committed to a completion deadline of April 2015.


Where is your favourite place to write?

Someone mentioned to me recently that many novelists tend to write sitting up in bed, but I would be asleep with my head lodged into my laptop keyboard after ten minutes.

I enjoy writing in public when there’s a great deal going on. Somehow, it helps my train of thought to look up every now and again and perhaps see a glimpse of one of my characters’ personalities in a passerby.


Would you like to see your book made into a film?

Of course, I think every writer dreams of having their characters come to life on film. If casting was up to me, I would choose Sheradin Smith (Cilla, Mrs Biggs) to play the part of Jenny Foster and Richard Armitage (Spooks, The Hobbit) as Joe Reed.


Is 2015 going to be a good year for you? 

I sincerely hope so. My daughter, Anna is due back from Australia in May, my son, Tom will hopefully take up his chosen profession as a Speech and Language Therapist at UCL and I get married to my fiancée, Susie in June. This all means that 2015 should be a very special and memorable year.


About Ian Jackson

I was born in Liverpool in 1964.

I am a local magazine and sports programme publisher and I run a small advertising business. I have been in advertising and publishing since 1989. I also organise events and awards.

I have written many articles for consumer magazines such as Concept for Living and Style Guide for The Daily Mail and I am an accomplished feature writer.

My debut novel, Dead Charming, stems from a keen interest in psychology and crime, where the experiences of both perpetrator and victim can be analysed through their emotional and psychological turmoil with often terrifying results.

I have two children, Tom, 23 who has gained a Masters Degree in Psycholinguistics and is currently studying to work in the NHS with stroke victims and Anna, 20 who is currently working and travelling in Australia.



Katy Haye – ‘The Last Gatekeeper’ Guest Post


‘The Last Gatekeeper’ by Katy Haye was published on 28th November 2014.  Katy has written a guest post about her new book for my blog.



Zan knows she’s different. Today she discovers why …

Zanzibar MacKenzie knows she’s a freak. She has EHS – electrical hypersensitivity – which leaves her trying to live a Stone Age life in the twenty-first century: no internet, no phone, no point really. Then Thanriel knocks on her door and the dull summer holiday becomes maybe too exciting. Zan discovers fairies and angels are real beings from other planets, she herself is half alien, and the future of life on Earth rests on her shoulders.



The Last Gatekeeper relates the story of Zanzibar, a teenager discovering what she’s capable of and the responsibility that comes with that power.  It’s full of action and drama and in writing it I’ve stuck firmly with the notion that you should write the book you want to read.  I grew up in the house Zan lives in (although, sadly, it was close to a railway line rather than the sea, and instead of a millpond we had a vegetable patch, but the apple tree in the corner of the garden and the general isolation are the same).  The book is really written for my 15 year old self who longed for a life full of drama and would have loved the ability to travel to other worlds in order to escape mundane reality.

It’s hard to say where the idea for this story came from apart from that. All my ideas start with a character in my head talking to me about what’s happening to them. That was Zan and really the story just grew from there. I’m sure the ideas in The Last Gatekeeper were also shaped by the bizarre weather we’ve been having (and still are) – what if it’s not global warming but something more sinister behind freak floods, wildfires and droughts?

There’s a big thread of romance through the novel as Zan falls in love and experiences the highs and lows that come with trusting your heart to someone else. All my novels feature a love story in some form, because I truly believe love is the most important human emotion and the strongest motivator – whether positive or negative. In The Last Gatekeeper we see the positive as Zan falls in love with Thanriel, but we also see the negative in both the Fane queen who is willing to destroy the Earth for the sake of her people, and in Zan’s parents who try to protect her from the truth about her origins and only succeed in making things harder for her.

I write YA because it’s what I love to read. Favourite YA writers such as Imogen Howson, Kim Curran and Rachel Ward are writing some of the most exciting, dramatic and intelligent fiction currently available and that’s exactly what I want to write myself.

With the help of the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writers’ Scheme (a fabulous organisation which provides the opportunity for unpublished writers to submit a manuscript each year for a romantic novel and receive professional-quality feedback on it), beta readers the Paisley Piranhas and super editor Rachel Daven-Skinner, not to mention a stunning cover by JD Smith Design I’ve created a book I hope my 15 year old self would love reading.




Katy Haye spends as much time as possible in either her own or someone else’s imaginary worlds. She has a fearsome green tea habit, a partiality for dark chocolate brazils and a fascination with the science of storytelling.

When not lost in a good book, Katy may be found on her allotment growing veg and keeping hens in order  to maximise her chances of survival in the event of a zombie apocalypse or similar catastrophe (you never know).

Find out more at: www.katyhaye.com

Or chat with Katy on twitter: @katyhaye

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