Sunday, 29 October 2017

Authors and their animals - Carly Kade

Author and their animals - Carly Kade

A big welcome to Carly for coming on my blog to talk more about her gorgeous horse Sissy. I was excited to learn more about her beautful horse, being a horse lover myself. My horse Bella was the main influence in my upcoming YA novel 'Rafferty Lincoln Loves...' so I was delighted to meet another horse lover and learn about how horses feature in her novels.

Over to Carly...

 Photos by Melanie Elise Photography
Im Gonna Kiss You (Barn name = Sissy) is my adult horse, and the one I always dreamed of owning. She is a registered Paint mare and the inspiration behind my In the Reins horse book series. 
I became Sissy’s owner when she was young and did a lot of her training myself (with the help of a good coach and a lot of horse training books) so the lessons learned through those experiences helped bring Faith’s training to life in my book, In the ReinsShe's taught me that good horse(wo)manship is a journey, not a destination. Sissy keeps me on my toes and perpetually teaches me something new, even after all of these years

Sissy and I share a very close bond much like my leading lady, Devon Brooke, and her horse, Faith, do. Sissy is a lot like Faith because she is forever forgiving of my equestrian mishaps and loves me unconditionally. There is nothing more peaceful to me than the quiet bond between a woman and her horse. If you’ve taken a tour of my website or followed me on my Carly Kade Creative Facebook page, you’ll notice Sissy stands in as Faith in my promotional videos for In the Reins. I do all the marketing for the book so it helps to have my own horse to stand in as I film the footage!
I think my history with horses is a reason why other horse lovers have been drawn to my book. I know what it feels like to enter a show pen and be nervous. I know what it feels like to be stuck with my horse’s training. I know what it feels like to swoon over a cute cowboy. Ha! I hope that sort of authenticity comes through in my writing. I’m a horse owner. I’ve shown competitively most of my life. I write about my lifestyle, not something I’ve researched, but what I do.

About In the Reins
In the Reins, Carly's novel inspired by the equestrian lifestyle has been an Amazon bestseller for more than 10 weeks, is an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award Winner for Best Western Fiction and has earned two Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories. The book is available now in Paperback and eBook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

 A city-girl-gone-country, a handsome cowboy and a horse meet by fate on a southern farm. She's looking for a fresh start and unexpectedly falls for the mysterious cowboy. But can a man with a deeply guarded secret open himself up to the wannabe cowgirl in the saddle next to him? Deeply romantic and suspenseful, In The Reins captures the struggle between letting life move forward and shying away from taking the reins. Passionate, captivating, and full of equine epiphanies, this is a love story sure to touch your inner cowgirl.

Buy the book here:
Cowboy Away, the sequel to In the Reins, will release in 2017. Early reader, Laurie Berglie, author of Where the Bluegrass Grows says, "Sequels can be difficult to write, but not for Carly Kade. Cowboy Away is fantastic and without a doubt one of the best sequels I have ever read. This follow-up to In The Reins brings McKennon’s and Devon’s story full circle, yet leaves you hungry for more! I very highly recommend this equestrian romance!"
More about the author:
Carly Kade is an award-winning equestrian author from Arizona. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!  She writes fiction about horses, horse shows, western pleasure and a handsome cowboy or two.  Her books are for people just like her ... crazy about reading, horses and cute cowboys! 

Thank you so much, Carly for sharing on my blog today. It was lovely to read more about your novels and about your lovely horse, Sissy. If you would like to take part in my author animal feature, please contact me on

Authors and their animals - Chantelle Atkins

Authors and their animals - Chantelle Atkins

Welcome to my blog and today we are going to meet another fabulous author and her gorgeous pets. I had read and loved several of Chantelle's books and delighted that she is going to share more about herself and her lovely dogs. I am a huge dog lover having two myself so really enjoyed learning more about Chantelle's.

Over to Chantelle... 
I have two lurchers, Tink the scruffy one, and Skipper the smooth haired boy. As a family we also have three ducks, eight chickens, two rats, two guinea pigs and a giant rabbit, but it's the dogs who influence and aid my writing the most.

There are several reasons for this. It is on our walks that I think about my writing. Plot holes are fixed. Characters come to life and chat away inside my head. Secrets are revealed. Connections are made. I am in a world of my own, wandering along with my dogs at my side. Out with the dogs, I am free of the home and the constant noise and chatter four children bring. I am free of the cooking and the cleaning and the planning and the rushing about. Out on our walks, it is just me and the dogs and a head full of ideas. I am lucky to live in a beautiful place, with woodland, heathland, fields and rivers all on my doorstep. But Sopley Common is our favourite place. We hardly ever see a soul there, so it feels like it is ours. It is wild and free, an ancient landscape of heather, fern and gorse. Sandy hills and dark woods. Narrow trails and wooden bridges. This place enchants and inspires me every day of my life.

I even set one of my novels there, and in my village of Hurn. This Is Nowhere is about a young drifter who returns to the tiny village he fled from as a teenager, in order to solve the mystery of what really happened to his mother who vanished without a trace in 1996. Two lurcher dogs feature heavily in the novel, their need to run reflected in the missing Kate's inability to stay put for long. My beautiful Tink even features on the front cover! My dogs helped inspire this novel. The plot, the characters, the setting, even the themes. And I'm very thankful to have them in my life.
Learn more about 'This Is Nowhere': 
 Jake Morgan has never been scared of dying. It’s living he can’t quite commit to. Homeless, jobless and aimless, he thinks he is happy. Then one night his estranged sister Gina calls him back to the home he ran away from as a teenager. Their father is suffering from dementia and she thinks it is about time Jake grew up. With nowhere else to go, and loan sharks on his back, Jake returns to the small village he grew up in. He goes back to help his father but ends up being forced to face the question he ran from. What really happened to his mother who vanished in 1996? Jake decides it’s time he had some answers, if only to stop himself constantly wondering what the point of his existence is. Will he be able to get Gina on side to uncover the truth? Will his confused father be able to help him work out what was wrong with his mother? And when he finds it, will Jake really be able to handle the truth? This Is Nowhere is a story about a family blown apart by untold truths. A mystery that must be solved in order for a fragile young man to find some meaning in life.
More about the author:

Bio; Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to both reading and music, and is on a mission to become as self-sufficient as possible. She writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere, This Is The Day and a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. Her most recent release is The Tree Of Rebels, a YA dystopia

Thank you so much, Chantelle for appearing on my blog today. I am really looking forward to reading 'This is Nowhere'. I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Boy With The Thorn In His Side.'

If you are an author or book blogger and would like to take part in my 'Authors and their animals' feature, please get in contact.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Authors and their animals - Carol Thomas

Welcome to my new feature 'Authors and their animals' where authors have a chance to talk about another love in their life, not reading or writing, but their pets! As a big animal lover and soon to release my new novel about a racehorse, I thought this the perfect opportunity to run this feature on my blog. So today we will be meeting Carol Thomas, a fabulous author of both children's and women's fiction books, and she will be introducing us to her pets.
Over to Carol...

This photograph shows me with my chocolate Labrador, Benson, and black Labrador, Milo, enjoying a walk at Burpham, near Arundel, and the latest addition to our family, Hubble.

For almost sixteen years, Benson was my constant companion and my best (furry) friend. I could rely on him for a cuddle no matter what the ups and downs of life. He was generous with his affection, strong and yet gentle. He was playful, with the mind of a puppy, throughout his life. Milo was an affectionate boy too. He was caring and protective. Milo was Benson’s shadow for twelve years; he loved to be near him and never wanted to miss out on anything he was up to. I miss them both every day.

Both Benson and Milo have been the inspiration for dogs in my novels. Bramble in Crazy Over You is based on Benson, sharing many of his characteristics, and Jack in my (as yet untitled) novel, to be published by Ruby Fiction in 2018, is based on Milo.

Since Benson and Milo passed away in recent years, I now have a cheeky Labrador puppy called Hubble. He is a lovely boy, with an unhealthy habit of eating things he shouldn’t.

When it came to writing a children’s book, it seemed very natural to write about a puppy and his search for a forever friend. The expressions and actions of the puppy in the book are a combination of each of the three Labradors I have been lucky enough to have in my life.

More about the author...

Author Bio:

Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and lively young Labrador. She has been a playgroup supervisor and taught in primary schools for over fifteen years, before dedicating more of her time to writing. Carol is a regular volunteer at her local Cancer Research UK shop. She has a passion for reading, writing and people watching and can often be found loitering in local caf├ęs working on her next book.

Carol writes for both adults and children:

Her contemporary romance novels have relatable heroines whose stories are layered with emotion, sprinkled with laughter and topped with irresistible male leads. 

Carol’s children's books have irresistibly cute, generally furry characters, young children can relate to.

Finding a Friend 
When Little Pup finds himself at the shelter,
he doesn’t know quite what to do.
Big dogs all around, feeling lost and alone,
Little Pup needs a friend… but who?

“A delightfully written and wonderfully illustrated picture book, with a heartwarming ‘tail’ of friendship.” M. Kidman, Class Teacher.

Thanks so much for sharing with us Carol and thank you for appearing on my blog today to talk about your beautiful labradors. I had the pleasure of reading your lovely children's book 'Finding a Friend' with my children and we recommend it to all animal loving children and adults!

Please contact me if you are an author or book blogger and would like to tell us about your animals at home!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Update on Charity Novel 'Rafferty Lincoln Loves...'

Update on Rafferty Lincoln Loves...

I am so excited to be nearly finished with this novel. I have finally pressed submit for last review and am waiting for the proof copies to arrive (second edition). Then I can send a copy to the charity to approve and adjust if necessary.

I am so grateful for all the people that have helped me so far with the novel, the beta readers Hayley, Pip, Meggan and Chantelle's fab teenager Daisy, were amazing. All of their thoughts and opinions helped to adapt and certainly improve the novel. I'm very impressed by how fantastic they were. Meggan was awesome helping transform my scribbles into an amazing newspaper article. Thank you! Kristin @theedifyingword amazingly trawled her way through all of the errors. I am very grateful.

All that's needed now is a final proof read through from the hard copy to check all the formatting is correct before a release date will be announced. Hopefully before Christmas! I still need help with the cover as I'm finding the font a little tricky on the engraved tree. But I am totally thrilled how it's gone and couldn't have done it without everyone's help.

Will keep you updated...

Book review - Hens Dancing by Raffaella Barker

Review of 'Hens Dancing' by Raffaella Barker

 Venetia Summers appears to lead a fairy-tale rural existence with her husband and two sons in her tumbledown Norfolk cottage. But when her husband leaves her for his masseuse, not even the arrival of a splendid baby daughter can make up for the sense of loss she feels for her newly lopsided family. Hens Dancing follows Venetia's diaries over the course of a year. It tells of domestic battles - with an unruly garden, errant cockerels, Orcs and War Hammers and a traumatic bathroom conversion. But there are also consolations: a passion for fun fur, the severe beauty of the Norfolk landscape, the regal serenity of The Beauty (Venetia's baby daughter) and perhaps, amongst it all, the promise of new love.

It has been a while since I last read this book, but I love reading books again, they become like old friends. Something familiar to settle down to and enjoy. This book has become so tattered with my reading time and time again that I thought it deserved a review!

My review

I just love this enchanting book. The jumbled colourful lifestyle in the countryside makes me smile every time. This book also inspired my love of chickens as the protagonist has three fluffy ones and now I also do too! It did annoy me that the baby is called 'The Beauty' throughout, as I really wanted to know her name, but I can let that go! (If the author would like to drop me a line and enlighten me I'd be very grateful!).

I love everything about this book, the alcohol loving mother, country picnics, and the wild family. Perfect book for garden and countryside lovers. A witty book I will turn to time and time again when I need a good escape into someone else's shambolic lifestyle!

More about the author:

Raffaella Barker was born in London in 1964 and moved to Norfolk when she was three. She spent her childhood in Norfolk sulking and refusing to get dressed, going everywhere in her nightie.

Her house was always full of her parent's friends and family and from the age of six she was constantly running away from home with her siblings in a bid for attention. It was always her idea: "We usually took the dog, left the baby, but then invariably we ran back again a few hours later because in the melee at home no one had even noticed we were gone."

The Norfolk landscape which provided her childhood self with a playground of infinite possibility would later feature as the backdrop and inspiration for her novels when she returned to Norfolk as an adult in 1992: "The adventures we had were all played out in the fields and woodland behind our house, and were the foundation of so much of what I love still today, in terms of storytelling, nature and the worlds that lie within the imagination."

Monday, 16 October 2017

Book review of 'The Red Grouse Tales' by Leslie Garland

'The Red Grouse Tales' by Leslie Garland

 Comprising four intriguing novella length contemporary adult fantasy stories which contain mystery, a hint of the supernatural or paranormal, together with a passing nod towards philosophy and religion - though in these modern fairy or folk tales the fantastic doesn't happen in some remote fantasy world, but right here in this one, in very ordinary, almost everyday circumstances!

The Little Dog - a story of good and evil, and retribution.

This tales is told by Bill, a retired forester, and takes the form of most of the stories in our lives, namely, that we have no idea that we are living a story until later when previous events suddenly seem to fall into place and make some kind of sense.

Bill recounts a week in his early working life when, paired with an older, unsavoury and unpopular colleague, they find a little dog sitting beside the forest haul-road way out in a remote part of the forest. What is the little dog doing there? As the week progresses Bill finds himself becoming emotionally attached to it while also becoming increasingly concerned about just who is his objectionable workmate, and when he notices that the little dog is no longer present at its usual spot his concerns heighten, as he cannot help but feel that his workmate has something to do with the dog's disappearance.

Although a troubled Bill has a conversation with his local priest and learns of the nature of sin and evil, he remains blind to that which is right in front of him. However the very next day events suddenly take an unexpected turn and the young naive Bill starts to learn some awful truths.

The Crow - a poignant tale of misunderstanding, dying, blame and bitterness.

This story, which centres on our almost desperate desire to leave something to mark our lives upon this earth, is told as a history recounted by Dave, of the time when he, as a child, was taken by his mother to a hospice where he met a dying and embittered old Irish priest known as Mad Father Patrick, who told him about the school days and subsequent rise of a local councillor, Reginald Monday, and of his (Monday's) involvement in the construction of a dam which flooded a valley. Father Patrick's increasingly mad tale is told with a blend of biblical quotations, philosophical musings and wild fantasy, but how does it end and just why is he so bitter?

The Golden Tup - a dreadful tale of paradise being cruelly taken by latent evil.

Can evil be in a place? The tale opens with Verity, a farmer's wife, recalling how a young couple were arrested a few years previously for killing their new born baby. How could such a nice young couple have done such a dreadful thing? Through a series of flashbacks we learn how they had created their rural idyll, how an enigmatic man had come into their lives and how their idyll and relationship had gradually fallen apart - how, with references to Milton's Paradise Lost, their paradise was lost. Gradually the young wife reveals a dreadful past, but Verity realises that she is holding something back, but what? What is the terrible truth that caused her and her husband to kill their baby?

The White Hart - a happy ghost story, if there can be such a thing!

Told by a likeable male chauvinist, bachelor and keen fell-runner, Pete Montague recalls three strange incidents which he initially thought were unconnected. The first is his encounter with a little albino deer which he found in the forest when he was out for a jog. The second is that of a chance meeting with a beautiful, young but somewhat enigmatic girl in a remote chapel, and of their conversation in which she told him of the tragic story of the daughter of the family which built it. And the third incident .... A ghost story with a happy ending!

My review 

I love short stories. With a busy life and little time to sit down, these stories fill a nice gap in the day. I found this book to be an immensely enjoyable read, with well planned and delivered stories. I particularly found The White Hart and The Little Dog to be great reads, and they were favourites. I loved Bill's relationship develop with the dog. The detailed and enchanting stories had a religious tone, which wouldn't be something I'd particularly choose, but however I found that the focus of this was mainly on impact and life decisions which is very true to life. 

The characters are brought to life by the author and each story is formed nicely in an easy to read manner. The author uses the accent and dialect well, although this became a little confusing and maybe overdone in 'The Crow', it gave an authentic feel to the delightfully portrayed characters. I found them to be an interesting collection of stories. For those that enjoy great novellas, I would recommend. I'd love to read more short stories by this author.

More about the author:

 Leslie Garland was born in 1949, qualified as a Chartered Civil Engineer and worked for several years on projects in the UK, the Far East and Africa. During this period he won the Institution of Civil Engineers “Miller Prize” for a paper on tunnelling. Changing times resulted in a change in direction and after qualifying as an Associate Member of both the British Institute of Professional Photography and the Royal Photographic Society he started his own stock photograph library and wrote for the trade press. An unexpected break in his Internet connection fortuitously presented the time to make a start on a long cherished project of a series of short stories, and the first two of “The Red Grouse Tales” were drafted. Two more have followed and he is now working on a second batch of tales. He lives with his wife in Northumberland. More information is available on

Review of High Spirits by Rob Keeley

I was thrilled to recieve a copy of this children's book 'High Spirits' by Rob Keeley.

“Millions of people will die in the war, Ellie. And it’s our job to make sure it happens. That’s why our work isn’t easy.”

It’s been two years since Ellie last spoke to Edward. She thinks she’s left the spirit world behind. But the spirits won’t take no for an answer... When Ellie’s Mum returns to Inchwood Manor, Ellie finds herself going too... and is transported back to the 1930s, discovering a plot to impersonate the King of England.

With the Second World War coming, and the first evil spirits starting to escape into the mortal world, Ellie is fighting alongside some unexpected allies...

Rob Keeley is back with High Spirits, the fourth instalment in his multi-award-listed Spirits series. The series allows young people to learn more about other times, as well as the time in which they live.

Buy the book here: Out on October 28th 2017
My review:

I haven't read any other of the books in the series but this didn't stop me from getting stuck straight into Ellie's story and enjoying it immensely. She jumps back to 1930 into an all action plot. She tries hard to not meddle with the timeline, could this affect the present? Ellie's adventures are full of well-researched history and intrigue and there is a nice balance between this and her life in the present with her family. 

There is a good pace and appropriate vocabulary for the 10 years plus age group. As well as the time travel element there is also the supernatural, which makes an exciting touch, however I'm not sure if this complicates matters somewhat. Maybe I need to have read the other books. An enjoyable read as a stand-alone book and would be interesting to find out what happens in the next book in the series. I would recommend this exciting book and look forward to reading more from the author.
More about the author:

I'm a writer of novels, short stories and drama, particularly for children and a family audience. I have written three novels and three collections of short stories for the 8-12s. I am the creator of the "Spirits" series of ghost novels and the third of these, "The Sword of the Spirit" was published in July 2016. The first in the series, "Childish Spirits", was longlisted for the Bath Children's Novel Award as well as being nominated for the People's Book Prize and the International Rubery Book Award. The second in the series, "The Spirit of London" was highly commended for the Independent Author Book Award. I also had a collection of short stories for children ("The Dinner Club and Other Stories") longlisted for the Rubery Award.
I have also written for BBC Radio and am currently looking to get into theatre, TV and film. I have a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing with Distinction from Lancaster University and in 2015 completed a course in Filmmaking from the National Film and Television School, with a course in Screenwriting following in 2016. In 2016 I have also been a judge for the IGGY and Litro Young Writers' Prize.

I hold author workshops in schools and other venues and one teacher described these as "inspirational"!

For more information, please visit or follow me on Twitter @RobKeeleyAuthor

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Blog Tour - The Second Son - Review

 The Second Son Blog Tour
Review of 'The Second Son'
9th October 2017

I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for 'The Second Son' by Andy Blackman. I am also lucky enough to have an extract from the book, which I will post later today along with more information about the author.

As the second son of the Duke of Hampshire, Grenville St John Hampton isn’t likely to inherit his family’s title or estate, leaving him pondering an empty, aimless future. During the summer break from university, he impulsively decides to go backpacking with one of his oldest friends, Johnathan; their destination is Belize.

One sultry night on the Central American coastline, Grenville and Johnathan meet Tom. A game of darts takes a vicious turn. Realising he has nothing to look forward to back at home, Grenville decides to stay on in Belize with Tom, in pursuit of adventure. Together, the new friends establish an import business, and for the rst time in his life, Grenville has a sense of purpose.

But back in England all is not well. The sudden death of his brother leaves Grenville with an unexpected – and now unwanted – inheritance, with new consequences and responsibilities. He will return to claim the family’s seat with a dark secret in tow.

Andy Blackman is the author of For the Love of Grace (published by Clink Street, 2016).

Buy the novel here:

My review

This book was a thought provoking and interesting read. I enjoyed the aspect of the book that took Grenville away from his home after thinking he won't inherit his family estate. There is an ease about Blackman's writing that I enjoyed. With his oldest friend Johnathan, he sets off travelling and encounters Tom.

There is mystery and intrigue with this novel. Will he return to his family estate to claim what he might be entitled to after the death of his brother, or will he continue to pursue the freedom and adventure he has enjoyed in America? A good read with plenty of twists and turns and mystery to keep your interest until the end. I look forward to reading more from this author.

More about the author Andy Blackman:

After  serving  in  the  British  Army  for  over  twenty-five  years  in  the  Parachute  Regiment, Andy Blackman today lives in Bedworth, Warwickshire and works within in the IT sector. In his spare time he can be found visiting his three daughters and grandchildren. His previous novel, For the Love of Grace, was published in 2016.

Blog tour - The Second Son - Author Spotlight and extract

 Author Spotlight and extract - Andrew Blackman

I am delighted to have Andrew Blackman today on my blog to talk more about himself and his writing in an author spotlight.

Welcome Andrew...

My name is Andrew Shaun Blackman but I prefer Andy, I was born in 1960 in Brighton, England, making me 57 years old.  I came from a loving working-class family, I have one older brother and one younger sister, and although we are do not live close as siblings we keep in touch.

I was once married and got divorced in 1997, so I class myself as single. I have three grown up daughters and 3 grandchildren. I have always been very close to my girls and keep in constant contact, they are without doubt my greatest critics in all things and keep me level headed.

I went to a secondary modern school and did not achieve any qualifications; school in the 1970 was so different than today there was no pressure to gain academic prowess.  So, I left school at sixteen with little education.  I joined the British Army in 1976 and joined the Parachute Regiment, eventually serving for twenty-six years, leaving in 2000, although I only planned to stay for three.  Life in the Army was good; I was like a duck to water.  Although I had a good Army career it did not define me as a man, I am not a looking back person, but a looking forward one, the Army was something I did and now it is over I do not dwell on the past. I do not like the phrase ex-military, I prefer the here and now!

Since I left the Army I eventually joined a large international company, working in the field of IT.  I have continued to do so for the past fifteen years, at present I am the IT desktop support engineer in the Bedworth office.

I currently live alone in my house in Bedworth, Warwickshire.  Bedworth is a little market town between Coventry and Birmingham, in the middle of England.  I love my job and meet various and some interesting people, I think it was because of my job that I had the ability to write my first book, as the characters although not based on any one person, I took traits of different people and merged them into a character, 

This book, of course, is a work of fiction, places are real, but that is where the similarities ends. Everything else came from me, apart from a little help from the internet, which in this day and age is our friend, it came from me is a strange statement to write, for I know I am not special. I was never a gifted child and did not achieve anything of note before I left school at 16, but since I left school my education started, I have heard the phrase “school days are the best days of your life”, well I am sure whoever said that never went to my school, and it was only after I left school my education started.   

Which brings me onto my book. I have always been an avid book reader, I can remember at work one day during lunchtime thinking of the awful book I had just finished the previous evening, when the thought popped into my head why not write one yourself. This idea I thought stupid, me a common man writing a book, surely authors are people that have been to university and have a degree in literature and understand writing techniques, I am just a normal man. Then a vision popped into my head of an old teacher, I had not thought of for well over forty years, and clearly as the sun was shining I remembered what he told us one day in class, he said “the only thing holding you back from achieving great things is yourself”.  As these words filled my mind all doubt left me and I knew I would try and write a book.

I am so excited about having an extract from your new book on my blog, thank you for sharing it with us.

This is where Grenville Father first meets his future wife, Grenville’s mother realising he had fallen deeply in love,

James turned and stared at both ladies. James bowed deeply and said, “Nice to make your acquaintance.” Both held out their gloved hand to him. James had known Daphnia since childhood, so took her hand and quickly kissed her gloved hand, and said, “Daphnia, a pleasure as always.” James took Sofia’s hand and held it for a few moments before kissing it, all the time staring deeply into the most beautiful blue eyes he had ever seen. Sofia stared back into his brown wide eyes, and smiled. James had fallen deeply in love and was lost for words, but managed to mumble out, “The pleasure is all mine, my lady.” Daphnia looked from Sofia to James, and knew a spark had been lit that would be hard to extinguish.  

There was a whirlwind courtship which was a surprise to some – Sofia was always talkative and outgoing, happy and carefree, where James was always quiet and serious, totally un-suited as a couple, as it had been pointed out on more than one occasion. But it was also pointed out that opposites do attract.  The first-time James presented Sofia to his family, even his normally reserved mother the Duchess of Hampshire was impressed, but being a woman knew where Sofia was coming from, and knew as she did that Sofia saw something in her son James that others missed and he was worth investing in, and much to her husband’s surprise took to Sofia and welcomed her into the family. Later the Duke asked his wife what she thought of the match.

“Perfect,” she said.

“Not beneath him, then,” said the smiling Duke.

“Not at all, a nice presentable young lady, I thought,” replied the Duchess.

“Family is new money, not blue,” said the Duke.

“Sometimes, Julian, you can be an awful snob,” said the Duchess, tutting. The Duke tried hard not to laugh at his wife, the most snobbish person he knew.

Thank you so much for joining my blog today. Congratulations on your new book.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Review of 'Who Killed Vivien Morse' by Diana J. Febry

Review of 'Who Killed Vivien Morse' by Diana J. Febry

 Vivien Morse, a young social worker is discovered battered to death in Silver Lady Woods. Everyone assumes she was attacked by her estranged husband until her supervisor disappears. The connection appears to be Vivien’s last client. A damaged and disturbed girl who believes a bundle of rags is her lost baby and never leaves the family farm while she awaits the return of her lover.

The matter is confused by the arrival of a stranger to the area clearly searching for something or someone and an escaped convict with connections to the area.

DCI Hatherall has to separate fact from fantasy to discover who did kill Vivien Morse.

Buy the book here: 

My review 
Oooh how I love a good mystery! Although this book is part of a series, I didn't feel lost starting at the fourth book. I didn't need knowledge of the previous books to enjoy this one as it was well-written with a well-researched and rounded plot. It had me hooked from the start. What an exciting book filled with vivid descriptions and characters with depth. I love a good mystery and this certainly provided me with that.

This book had a good range of characters and a great setting. The characters were revealed and as to the relationship with Vivien as the book progressed. I enjoyed seeing DCI Hatherall investigate this mystery with colleague Fiona.

This book was filled with twists and turns and leads to a satisfying conclusion. A well thought out book for the genre that I thoroughly enjoyed. I look forward to reading more from this talented mystery writer.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Interview with Vivien Brown - Lily Alone

Interview with author Vivien Brown

I am delighted to welcome Vivien Brown to my blog today for her blog tour of Lily Alone. Congratulations on your superb novel. Vivien has joined me today to talk more about her novel and writing process.

Tell us more about your novel 'Lily Alone'.
‘Lily Alone’ is my first novel written as Vivien Brown. It is a domestic drama, which is a move into a new genre for me after many years of writing romcom fiction and short stories for magazines as Vivien Hampshire. The novel asks the question: Would you leave a very young child at home on their own, knowing that terrible things can happen in the blink of an eye? Lily, who is not yet three years old, wakes up alone with only her cuddly toy for company. She is hungry, afraid of the dark, can’t use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers. In the flat downstairs, an elderly woman keeps herself to herself, She wonders at the cries coming from upstairs, but doesn’t like to interfere. Lily’s father has been abroad, absorbed in his new job and his new girlfriend, and her granny lives miles away. Meanwhile, a young woman has had a road accident and now lies in a coma in hospital. No one knows her name or who she is, but in her silent dreams, a little girl is crying for her mummy… And for Lily, time is running out.

What made you think of the idea for the novel?
I once lived in a flat and I know that, despite having just a floor between them, close neighbours may know very little about each other. My elderly character Agnes has come from a detached home in the country and is struggling with a soulless and solitary city life. She wonders what is going on in the flat above but doesn’t want to stick her nose in where it may not be welcome. Next thought: What if a road accident victim fails to come home one day, yet nobody notices, and nobody misses her? From those two ideas, it was just one small step to thinking about a small child who that person may have left behind, and who nobody realises is now all alone and vulnerable.

Was it hard to write? ‘Lily Alone’ was a very gripping and emotional novel to read.
I actually enjoyed writing it very much. I wouldn’t call it hard in an emotional sense, as I love tackling stories that pull on the heartstrings. In my magazine fiction I have touched on all sorts of sad and challenging topics, from a blind baby to a Downs syndrome heroine, and those have often turned out to be my best stories. In a physical sense though, it was hard. Sitting down day after day to write a long and serious novel takes its toll, eating up time, creating back problems, making it tough to snap out of the story sometimes and get on with my own life. But in a way that’s true of writing any novel. The characters and their problems become very real.

Who was your favourite character to write in the novel?
I love all my characters and can empathise with them all, no matter what they have done, because I understand their motivation and their back story. I know what has happened to them in the past to make them what they are, and this is especially true of young mum Ruby and of Geraldine, her one-time mentor and little Lily’s gran. I suppose I have two favourites though. One is elderly neighbour Agnes, who reminds me very much of my own grandmother, living alone, with stiff knees, wearing cardigans and tweedy skirts, and sitting in her old armchair with a cup of tea. But I also love Smudge, her cat! He is old too, but still likes to wander around his territory, curl up on a lap or a warm bed, and make his mark – in more ways than one, as you will find out if you read the book!
How do you select the names of your characters? Was the name 'Lily' difficult to choose?
I enjoy choosing just the right name for every character. Their age and social standing, which part of the country they come from, their ethnic roots, the time period in which a story is set, all have an impact on what name suits them best. Quite often I will start to write a story and only a good part of the way through do I realise that a character’s name just isn’t right, so I change it. ‘Find and replace’ is a wonderful tool, except when you find that it has not only changed every mention of Ben to Paul but that words like ‘benefit’ have suddenly changed to ‘Paulefit’ too! Lily was always Lily, right from the start. I like flower names for little girls – Poppy and Daisy are also favourites and may well turn up in future novels. Finding the right title for the novel was much more difficult, and took a lot longer, than naming the characters.
Are any of your characters or their characteristics based on real people?
It is very dangerous to base characters on real people, who may well spot themselves, or imagine that they do. They might be thrilled, or annoyed, or insulted, and I’m sure friendships have probably ended as a result.  Of course, all authors draw partly on their own experiences and it is inevitable that little real-life scenarios and memories play out on the page in some way, but I make sure everything is fictionalised and that characters are made up of many component parts, never copied from just one individual. There are even bits of me in some of them, but I would never say which bits! Lily, and how she copes with being alone, came from a big melting pot of all the wonderful little toddlers I had the privilege of meeting, observing and working with over my many years in the childcare profession.
Do your story ideas come to you easily?
For a short story, yes. I might just get an opening line in my head or picture a scene, and the story grows from there, often written and submitted in no more than a day. But a novel is a whole different ball game! It’s almost impossible to see the whole picture from the start, to know what characters are going to appear and how the plot will pan out. Ideas fly around all the time but they don’t all have the meat to fill a sandwich! I have often started, written a chapter and then realised I have no idea about, or interest in, what happens next, so have abandoned the project in favour of one that grabs me more firmly and fires my imagination. When that happens, the story just takes off and even I don’t know exactly where it will take me. You can probably guess that I am not a planner.

Do you have any hobbies?  
Do pets count as hobbies? I have two beautiful little cats, Pixie and Dixie, and two goldfish called Pip and Mandy.

As you can imagine, I have to keep the two species apart, so the fish live in my study and, unless I am in there to supervise, the door is kept shut! I am also really into cryptic crosswords. My dad taught me when I was very young and I love the intricacies of the clues, playing around with words, all the little tricks the compilers use to lead you up the wrong path, and learning how to spot them. I turned my hobby into a money-maker in 2013 when I wrote my book ‘How To Crack Cryptic Crosswords’ for How-To Books, under my then name of Vivien Hampshire. It has sold really well, and I now also compile personalised crosswords, based on the recipient’s own life and interests, and sell them as unique gifts. You can visit my facebook page:  to see some examples and prices.

Are you working on a novel at the moment?
Yes, I am! It is another domestic drama, tracking the course of a failed marriage over forty years while also looking at its impact on the lives of the now adult children.
What is your favourite children's book?
In my day job, I used to read and recommend picture books to children and their parents in libraries and children’s centres, just about every day for twelve years, so I have so many favourites! Julia Donaldson books stand out for me. They have such lovely natural rhyme and characters that leap off the page, so it’s a tie between The Gruffalo and Stick Man.
What made you leave your previous job to become a writer?
The time was right. The urge to write was strong, doing it at night while holding down a busy day job was becoming tiring, and the right financial package was on the table. It can be a bit lonely writing at home alone when I have been used to being part of a friendly and lively team though, and I definitely miss all the children.

Where can we find you on social media?
I use facebook and twitter every day, not just to promote my books, but to chat to readers and friends too.
Twitter: @vivbrownauthor

Many thanks for taking part in this author interview! I really enjoyed having you on my blog today. Congratulations again on your novel and I look forward to reading more of your books in the future.

Emily xx
Thank you for inviting me. I have had fun chatting, and hope your readers will enjoy the book!