Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Blue by Lucy Clarke

They had found paradise. 
What would they do to keep it? 
With a quick spin of the globe, Kitty and Lana escape their grey reality and journey to the Philippines. 
There they discover The Blue – a beautiful yacht, with a wandering crew. 

They spend day after languorous day exploring the pristine white beaches and swimming beneath the stars, and Lana drifts further away from the long-buried secrets of home. 
But the tide turns when death creeps quietly on deck.

A dangerous swell of mistrust and lies threatens to bring the crew’s adventures to an end – but some won’t let paradise go…whatever the price.

In Lucy Clarke’s new book she whisks us away to sail the sea on a yacht called The Blue. Best Friends Lana and Kitty join the crew when they meet them in the Philippines and they soon fit in with the routine on board and enjoy the carefree life. Things take a turn when one of the crew goes missing and tensions are running high as secrets are being hidden. Things are not what they seem and things are about to be revealed.

What another absolute corker by Lucy Clarke. I loved her debut Sea Sisters and she then topped her debut with her second release A Single Breath and now The Blue which is the authors third book is easily another 5 star read.

I loved each of the characters even though I was also suspicious of them all too! Lana and Kitty have a believable strong friendship and each of the girls although they have different characteristics they were both a joy to share their adventure with.

The book is told in two different time frames Then and Now which worked really well for this book and it helped to  bring more suspense and tension to the storyline as clues were revealed in the Then parts which are like parts of the jigsaw fitting into place to then work out how the events in Now have come to place.

The book is about friendships, lies and deceit, secrets and a splash of romance which were all weaved together to create an explosive captivating read. There are many twists and turns in this book that are completely unpredictable which made this book so gripping I was always on edge. I felt like just as I felt like I got to know each of the crew members I would then find out something about their past and then it was as though I was seeing them in a different light and my opinions of them all began to change.

What I have loved about this authors writing style in her past books as well as this one is the way she manages to describe the setting and especially the ripple and tranquility of the sea, it feels calm and yet eerie at the same time. There really is no reason to use your imagination as the author paints the scene perfectly.

I am so excited by this author her books are just flawless and with each book being set around the sea Lucy Clarke sets herself apart from other authors and brings us something completely different and yet so addictive and tense with each book she delivers. This book gets another big thumbs up from me I just don’t know how we will cope with the wait for her next book.

Paperback                  Kindle

Alexandra Brown Interview

Today is the paperback release date for Alexandra Brown's 5th book The Great Village Show and because I am a huge fan of Alexandra I was over the moon when she agreed to come on to the blog for a chat about her new book.

1) For those who have yet to read The Great Village Show can you tell us a little of what they are missing?
A slice of warm, quintessential, and very real village life in the summertime – think The Archers in book form. My books are set in the fictional village of Tindledale following the lives of all the people that live there, and The Great Village Show follows Meg’s story. Meg is missing her son, Jack, who has recently left for uni, so when her cosy cottage feels empty, Meg decides to bring out the bunting and get involved in helping to organise the village show. There are also two newcomers to the village – mercurial celebrity chef, Dan, and shy Jessie Cavendish, who appears to have it all, but as is often the case … appearances can be so very misleading. 

2) In the film adaptation of The Great Village Show who would you pick to play Meg?
Sheridan Smith. I’m a huge fan, and she’s such a versatile actress that I reckon she could portray Meg perfectly. 

3) Tindledale has to be my favourite village I have ever come across in a book, is it based on anywhere you have been? 
Thank you. Well, I live in a rural village surrounded by fields and populated with some very interesting characters! I’m saying no more … :) 

4) Where is your favourite place to write and do you have a writing schedule?
I’m not one of those authors that can write in cafes, so all my books are written in my office to the sound of my black Labrador, Puppy Oscar, snoring loudly. I’m very superstitious and always light a candle and make sure my lucky poncho is on me or my chair before I begin. I write from about 10ish, after I’ve taken QT to school and walked Puppy Oscar down by the lake behind my house, and then usually break for lunch around 12ish to listen to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 while I hang out on social media for half an hour or so, depending on how many words I need to write that day. I work on until 5ish, unless I’m on a deadline then it’s all different and I write all day and night long, breaking only to sleep, and food tends to be Konditor & Cook’s Curly Wurly cake brought to me by my husband, followed by Haribo and chocolate and crisps, and well, any kind of junk food at my desk – I get very angsty and irritable when I have to break away from the story and end up being an utter nightmare for a few weeks. But when it’s done, I’m a dream, until it starts all over again. 

5) Your characters in both the Carrington’s and Tindledale series are all so well developed do you ever find it hard to leave the characters behind after you finish a book?
Ahh, thank you. And yes, very much so, I still think about Georgie, Sam and Eddie from Carrington’s, and Syb’s from Knit Off, I guess it’s inevitable when I’ve spent so long with them inside my head. 

6) Before becoming an established author what was your job and has it always been your dream from early on to become an author?
Yes, my dream was always to write, and as a child, reading and writing were my escape, but I never imagined that I could become a proper author who wrote books for a living. I ran way from home when I was 16yrs old, with two qualifications in English language and English literature (they were the only subjects that I was naturally good at, as homework and revising was impossible at home). I managed to find a place to live and a job in an office, nobody really checked CV’s in those days, so I ended up doing that for twenty years before I was able to leave the corporate world and realise my dream to write full time. Six books on, I thank my lucky stars every day that I now get to write instead of wrangle my way through the politics of office life, which I found very stressful at times.

7) When you begin a new book do you have a beginning, middle and end in mind or does the storyline usually develop and take its own direction as you progress?
It varies. Some books are almost fully formed in my head, whereas with others I may only know the beginning and the ending – I often write the ending first, I like knowing where I’m heading, it feels comforting, like a life raft that I can cling on to when the words won’t come. I’m also terrible for tinkering with the prologue when I don’t know what to write next. My agent has told me to leave it alone, so I’m trying to do that now …. fifteen page prologues are rubbish, nobody wants to wade through that to get to the real story. 

8) Has your husband Paul read any of your books and if so is he good at giving advice?
He never reads my books, he’s dyslexic and doesn’t enjoy reading fiction for pleasure, but he’s brilliant at plot brainstorming and comes up with all the good ideas and plot twists. It’s very infuriating at times, especially when I’ve been pondering on a plot problem for days - I tell him, and he casually comes up with the perfect solution, as if by magic.

 9) Can you tell us a little about the book you are currently working on and does it mean a return to Tindledale for us?
Ooh, well, I actually have two more Tindledale books on the go, The Mystery of Orchard Cottage and Not Just For Christmas. The Mystery of Orchard Cottage is about newcomer, April, and what happens when she visits her elderly great aunt, Edith, who lives in Orchard Cottage in Tindledale. Edith has always wondered what happened to her sister, Winnie, who disappeared many decades earlier. Not Just For Christmas is Kitty’s story – readers of The Great Christmas Knit Off and The Great Village Show will know her. Kitty runs the Spotted Pig cafĂ© & tearoom in Tindledale, having come to terms with her husband Ed’s death on active duty. When she hears Ed’s army dog, a black Labrador called Monty, is being retired and needs a home, it awakens Kitty’s heartache once more.

10) Finally, as you know I am such a fan of yours that I am often found stalking your twitter posts and as well as details of your wonderful upcoming releases you also often show us the gorgeous shimmering nails you are sporting, can we have a pic of what colour you are sporting at the moment? 
Ta-dah!!!! My current colour is a very summery Raspberry with a Silk Sari top coat.

What a gorgeous colour! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us Alexandra. 
Happy Publication Day!

You can read my review of The Great Village Show bu clicking HERE 

Paperback              Kindle

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Cover Reveal

I am so excited to share with you the cover reveal for 
The Day of Second Chances by Julie Cohen

Can you imagine keeping a secret so devastating, you couldn’t even tell the people you love?
 Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years. Jo’s secret could smash apart the ‘normal’ family life she’s fought so hard to build. 
 Lydia’s secret could bring her love - or the loss of everything that matters to her.
 One summer’s day, grandmother, mother and daughter’s secrets will collide in a single dramatic moment. 
Is it too late for second chances?

I love the sound of this book as I love books about hidden secrets and it sounds like the family in this book have their share of secrets to hide. 

What are your thoughts on the cover?
 I love the soft and delicate look that they have created with the colours used.

The Day of Second Chances will be published 28th January 2016.

The Little Flower Shop by the Sea by Ali McNamara

The blossom is out in the little Cornish harbour town of St Felix But Poppy Carmichael's spirits aren't lifted by the pretty West Country spring.

Inheriting her grandmother's flower shop has forced her to return to Cornwall, a place that holds too many memories. Poppy is determined to do her best for the sake of her adored grandmother, but she struggles with the responsibility of the more-shabby-than-chic shop. And with the added complication of Jake, the gruff but gorgeous local flower grower, Poppy is very tempted to run away... 

The pretty little town has a few surprises in store for Poppy. With new friends to help her and romance blooming, it's time for Poppy to open her heart to St Felix and to the special magic of a little flower shop by the sea!

I have loved reading Ali McNamara’s books and Breakfast at Darcy’s has been a long standing favourite of her books but having just finished The Little Flower Shop by the Sea it sure did come extremely close of knocking it off the top spot!

Poppy Carmichael has a new start ahead of her after inheriting her grandmothers flower shop in St Felix, sound like an idyllic opportunity?
Poppy doesn’t agree!

Never one to give up on a promise she accidently agrees to make a go of running the flower shop and bring the magic alive again to the town and the loyal community but this will mean facing her demons. Will a touch of romance help to soften Poppy and make her set down roots or will her past once again stop her from accomplishing the task at hand?

After struggling with my previous book this book was an absolute joy to pick u and fall into such a cosy, bright and uplifting storyline. I blame Ali McNamara for not getting anything done today because once I picked this book up I didn’t move for the rest of the day as I was so absorbed in the events in the book and when I reached then end I didn’t want to leave the characters behind, I really hope that there will be a follow on to this book as I still feel like there is so much that could be done with all of the characters in this town not just out main characters Poppy and Jake but also Stan and Amber.

Poppy was a wonderful main character, she was our flawed heroine and although she has had many years where she has fallen from grace I could feel that she had something heartbreaking that she was holding back from sharing and I love how the author managed to keep the mystery as to what had happened in Poppy’s past concealed right the way through the book and it did bring a little lump to my throat not just because of the tragic event that happened but because of how Poppy has felt about it all these years.

I am not into flowers myself, I couldn’t tell the difference between a flower and a weed so I wasn’t sure if I would appreciate the storyline but I didn’t need to worry there is so much more to this book than just flowers but they added a meaningful touch.

As much as I love Poppy I have to say her character was completely upstaged by Miley! Miley is an adorable cheeky monkey who brought a fun and witty part to the storyline and I looked forward to her appearance throughout the book and she particularly made me chuckle with her torment of Basil the dog!

The storyline has an uplifting and magical feel to it but also covers some difficult topics all which were delivered with such tenderness.

Paperback                Kindle

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Very Big House in the Country Blog Tour

For one long hot summer in Devon, three families are sharing one very big house in the country. The Herreras: made up of two tired parents, three grumbling children and one promiscuous dog; the Littles: he's loaded (despite two divorces and five kids), she's gorgeous, but maybe the equation for a truly happy marriage is a bit more complicated than that; and the Browns, who seem oddly jumpy around people, but especially each other.

Today I am joined on the blog by Claire Sandy ahead of the release of her new book A Very Big House in the Country.
What can you tell us about AVBHITC?
A Very Big House in the Country is a summery romp, packed with secrets and revelations and home truths. Three families rent a grand country house for two weeks during a heatwave. As a storm approaches over the hills, the Herreras, Ling-Littles and Browns discover how different they are. And how similar. If it doesn't make you laugh (and maybe get a little teary eyed) I haven't done my job.

And was there any particular inspiration for it?
Being a writer I spend an awful lot of time not writing i.e. noodling about on the internet, pretending to do research. As summer approached I noticed how many articles and blogs etc were about luxury holidays. I saw carefully photo-shopped shots of imposing houses and luxurious villas, bluer-than-blue skies and posher furniture than I have in my own home. I wondered how those same interiors would look after 48 hours of six adults and numerous children and oddly enough there were no photos of that. We're all encouraged to have a lifestyle rather than a life, I think, and I felt it would be interesting to examine how three couples would fare living in such sunny perfection for a fortnight.

What’s your favourite thing about writing these sorts of books?
I love EVERYTHING about writing my books. Getting to know characters who didn't even exist before I conjured them up is a joy, particularly as they soon start to misbehave and do as they please. I love locking myself away from the family and the dogs, and disappearing into a dream world. And I really love the satisfaction of typing 'THE END', even though they don't actually print that in the book and my editor always puts a line through it. 

Who should we be reading next? 
The list is long, so I'll truncate it for you because let's be honest you haven't got all day. Contemporary authors whose books I greedily await include Marian Keyes, Louise Candlish, Kate Furnivall, Chris Manby, Michele Gorman, Lucy Dillon, Lucy Diamond, David Nicholls ... I'll stop there, leaving out various faves. Classic writers I return to include Flaubert, Zola and (she's still very much alive but I consider her a classic) the peerless Edna O'Brien.

A Very Big House in the Country will be out on the 30th July, be sure to check out the other blogs on the book tour to read their reviews of this new release.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse

Once upon a time, Jacks Morgan had dreams. She was going to have a successful career and travel the world. She would own a house on the beach, and spend long nights with her boyfriend strolling under the stars. 
But life had other ideas. 
First Martha came along, then Jonty. Then Jacks' elderly mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and had to move in. Now their little terrace in Weston-super-Mare is bursting at the seams. Jacks' dreams were put on hold long ago. 
But if she can save up enough to give her teenage daughter a bright future, then all her sacrifice will be worth something... won't it?

Amanda Prowse is a relatively new author to me and when I read the synopsis for her latest novel Perfect Daughter something stuck a cord with me and I couldn’t wait to try another book by this author and having finished this book now I have to say I wasn’t disappointed and it has to be my favourite one by this author so far.

Jacks has a less than glamorous life, juggling looking after her two children Martha and Jonty as well as being a full time carer to her mother who has Alzheimer’s it doesn’t leave room for a life of her own. Her life has turned out completely different from what she dreamed of and so she is determined to insure that her daughter Martha has a bright future.

I was sat all day absorbed by this book, the author has taken a number of topics from Alzheimers to difficult family dynamics which many readers will be able to relate to which makes this book such a realistic read. The characters were each so well developed and they each brought something different to the storyline. Little Jonty brings a touch of humour to lighten the storyline at times, Pete is a rock to Jacks even if at times she doesn’t realise it and he is such an easy character to love and as more of his back ground was revealed I loved him even more.

Jacks and her mum both pulled at my heart strings for many reasons from their relationship with each other which I could 100% relate to, also the feeling of Jacks feeling so low and worthless and looking to the life she could have had and also having her silver lining pulled from beneath her. It was heartbreaking to see her so low which then didn’t allow her to see that what she already has is what really matters and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  I also feel that the way the author wrote about the constant care and demand on looking after someone with Alzheimers was delivered with such detail and grace.

The chapters alternate between the present day and nineteen years earlier when Jacks was younger and this worked perfectly for this storyline, as we get to see a part of Jacks’s background we can then see why she was keen to push Martha to do well in school and make something of her life and in a way live the life she didn’t have through her daughter.

This was simply a stunning read that was so beautifully written with characters you love and want to wrap up in cotton wool. You will be reaching for the tissues one minute and chuckling away with Jonty the next.

Kindle                     Hardback

Monday, 20 July 2015

Redemption Road Blog Tour

 After reading Redemption Road I have been eager to share my review with you all
and I am really delighted be part of the blog tour for this compelling and thought provoking read. 
Lisa Ballantyne now joins us and has taken the time to answer some burning questions.

Redemption Road was an addictive and compelling read. Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
When I first began to work on REDEMPTION ROAD, I was interested in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the mechanism of memories from the past impacting on the present. The first scene of the book – involving the car crash and the strange, scarred saviour – came to me quite quickly and I knew that the burned man who rescues Margaret would be the key to her past. In writing the 1980s scenes, I knew I wanted to write about a man who steals his daughter and for the journey they undertake to be a redemptive one, spanning the whole country. I wanted the relationship between father and daughter to gradually soften as the road trip progresses, from one of captor and captive, to one of genuine mutual affection and love. 

I loved the character of George and despised the character of Angus, but I felt like I should feel the opposite way around with these characters because of their actions, which really made me question myself. Was this something you were hoping to achieve when you first set about writing these characters?
I am eternally interested in the subjects of nature and nurture, good and evil, parents and children, the past and how it impacts on the present. I wanted moral ambiguity to be at the heart of my new novel. George is a gangster, a murderer, a kidnapper, and a thief and yet we love and support him. Angus is an upstanding member of the community, with a good career, a family and a staunch belief system, but we learn that he is truly evil. We recoil from Angus and his arrogant certainty and gravitate towards George and his dreams. For me, REDEMPTION ROAD is not high realism like my first novel, THE GUILTY ONE; there is something of a fairy tale or a fable about REDEMPTION ROAD. Villains and heroes are turned on their heads, but I am so glad that you loved Big George. He is the soul of the novel. Despite his background, he is a classic example of the tragic questing hero, struggling to escape his past and – ultimately – himself. We want him to win, and his failures are heart-breaking.

Where is your favourite place to write and do you have a particular writing schedule?
If I am at home, the ONLY place that I write is at my kitchen table, looking out of two big windows onto trees, hills and a railway track. If I am trying to finish, or break the back of a novel, I go to a little caravan by the sea. Watching the ocean move, and being somewhere I can smell nature (and have no phone signal) is the ultimate inspiration. I am pretty busy, but I try to write every day - that is my schedule. I try not to worry about how much I write or its quality, so long as I have done something. But I love getting away to write, with absolutely no one around and only me and the book in my world. 

Do you get time to read alongside writing your book and, if so, do you find you need to read something from a different genre?
I read a lot, but at any one time I am reading about ten books and this can be a fatiguing situation. I usually have about four or five books (sometimes more) that I am reading for research, then I usually have a novel I am reading for my own pleasure, and usually something non-fiction as well, just for me. Then there are books that I am sent to review and I often stop and focus on them so that they are not lost in the pile. At the moment, for sheer pleasure, I am reading Marilynne Robinson’s GILEAD and Barack Obama’s DREAMS FROM MY FATHER. 

Can you tell us anything about the book you are currently working on?
No, sorry. I don’t like to talk about works in progress, but I am writing a new novel! I’m so grateful to you and all your readers for your interest and am thankful for your support!

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Lisa, I have to say I really admire you being able to read that many books at one time, I need you to teach me!

The crash is the unravelling of Margaret Holloway. Trapped inside a car about to explode, she is rescued by a scarred stranger who then disappears. Margaret remembers little, but she's spent her life remembering little - her childhood is full of holes and forgotten memories. Now she has a burning desire to discover who she is and why her life has been shrouded in secrets. What really happened to her when she was a child? Could it have anything to do with the mysterious man who saved her life? Flitting effortlessly between past and present, this is a suspenseful, gritty and emotionally charged journey of an estranged father and daughter, exploring the strength of family ties and our huge capacity for forgiveness.

One of the best things about being a book blogger is that every so often I am sent a book to review which wouldn't be a book I would typically pick up in the local bookshop. When I was sent Redemption Road it didn't shout out to me not because it has an awful cover or anything it just didn't appeal to me and yet when I opened the book just to have a little read of the first chapter before I knew it I was over half way through this book before I looked up!

Margaret Holloway finds herself trapped in her car after she has a fatal crash, unable to get out and with the smell of petrol getting stronger she fears for her life until a man who has horrendous scaring over his face and body comes to her aid and smashes her window and drags her out minutes before the car explodes. As Margaret turns to thank him the strange man mysterious man who had saved her is walking away. 
The crash has opened up questions for Margaret and she is determined to find the answers.

This was such a flawless read that had me captivated the whole way through. The pace of the book doesn't falter the whole way through and there is a constant tense feel to the book which left no safe place to put the book down.

Each of the characters were extremely well developed from Margaret who we instantly fear for at the start of the book to little Moll who was such a brave and intelligent little girl, to George who was such a complex character, he had such a big heart and yet there is a stigma attached to him which makes him fearful to others. George was by far my favourite character in this book and I was confused about my feelings for him during the book because I felt as though I should despise this man and yet I couldn't help but feel for him as I know his actions were not malicious. 
The character of Angus really freaked me out, I found him to be quite a disturbing character.

The book is told in two time frames 1985 and 2013, I preferred reading about the events in 1985 but it was the events told in 2013 which wound the story together. I had an idea of what the connection was going to be and I was correct but this really didn't ruin the book for me as there were still little things revealed as we went along. I loved watching the relationship between Moll and George progress and I was really hoping for a happy ending for them both.

The ending of this book tied everything up perfectly and I have to confess to the lump that appeared in my throat, which is a great sign of a great read and having to leave great characters behind.

I highly recommend this book and this will be one that I am sure when I come to do my top 10 reads at the end of the year will still be on my mind as a strong contender. I found myself totally compelled by this storyline I now can't wait to go and grab a copy of her previous book The Guilty One.

Paperback               Kindle

Thank you to Jo Wickham at Little Brown for sending this little gem my way to read and review.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...